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Palestine is located at a strategic point between Asia, Africa and Europe and it is a small region of land that is around 2,400 miles.
The history of Palestine is long and fascinating in terms of its culture, religion, commerce and politics.
If you have a question that why is it important to understand the history of Palestine then, the following quote from Yasser Arafat is the answer to you:
Palestine is the cement that holds the Arab World together, or it is the explosive that blows it apart.Yasser Arafat
What Is Palestine:
Geographically until 1948, Palestine referred to the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan.
The Arab People are called Palestinians but, the most of the area is known as present-day Israel.
Palestine today consists of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (the territory that separates the present day Jordan and Israel).
Around 135 United Nations member acknowledge Palestine as an independent state. It is a country that is located in Asia and has a population of around 5.052 million (2020).
The capital of Palestine is Jerusalem while the administrative centre is in Ramallah currently.
Who Ruled Palestine:
In ancient times, Palestine was controlled by certain independent realms and powers such as Persia, ancient Egypt, Alexander the Great and his successors, the Roman Empire and several Muslim dynasties.
Later on, Palestine was ruled by the great Ottoman Empire and then the United Kingdom after World War 1 (1914-1918).
Since 1948, Palestine has been partitioned into Israel, Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
The area of Palestine was conquered by the Umayyads after the Battle of Yarmouk in 636 CE during the Muslim Conquest of Syria. Similarly, the Abbasids replaced the Umayyads in 750.
However, Egypt ruled Palestine from 878 CE. Later in 1516, the Ottoman Turks told control of Mamluk Palestine and Syria.
A point to note here is that during this time, the emergence of Zionism brought many immigrants from Europe.
The History Of Palestine:
According to the Scholars, the word Palestine has been derived from the word “Philistia” referring to the Philistines who captured area of the region in 12th Century B.C.
When World War 1 ended in 1918, the British took control of Palestine as the Ottoman Empire broke apart as a result of its defeat.
In 1947, the United Nations proposed a partition plan which referred to the creation of a Jewish state and an independent Arab State with Jerusalem as an internationalized area.
This partition plan was welcomed by the Jewish leaders while the Arab leaders greatly opposed it. But why?
Why the Arab leaders opposed this partition plan?
This is because the Arabs were larger in number, and they wanted more territory (and control) which they tried to justify.
In 1948, the British withdrew from Palestine and thus Israel became an independent state. As a result, around 100,000 to 900,000 people fled.
Almost immediately, war broke out between the two states. This Arab-Israeli War of 1948 involved Israel and five Arab Nations – Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon.
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO):
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed in 1964 to have a platform to establish a plan for the Palestinian state within Israel.
The same point can be defined as the liberation of Palestine through armed struggle.
The response to Zionism by the Arabs came through this organisation but the PLO established a link with violence and extremism.
Yasser Arafat became the leader of the PLO in 1969. He remained at this position till he died in 2004.
The Sixty-Day War:
The attack from Israel on Egypt, Jordan and Syria is known as the sixty-day war because it was a brief conflict.
Due to this war, Israel took over the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights. Thus, this war caused some serious land gains for Israel.
Although this conflict of June 1967 was brief this was bloody as well. This caused widespread casualties and the violence intensified.
Stories From The First Intifada:
The First Intifada broke out in December 1987. The main reason was the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The conflict caused the death toll to rise up to 3000 (Palestinians), 1000 (Israelis) and 64 (foreigners).
The first intifada came to an end in September 1993 due to the Oslo Accords that provided a framework to Palestine and Israel for peace negotiations.
This was the period when Israel had the greatest per capita prison population in the world.
The Oslo Accords:
The first Oslo Accord (Oslo I) proposed a timetable to bring peace in the Middle East. It also Proposed a plan for the Palestinian government regarding the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
This agreement was signed in 1993 in the presence of Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin (Israeli Prime Minister).
During this time, the Norwegians played a vital role as mediators between the two sides.
Just Before signing the first Oslo Accord, both sides signed a “Letter of Mutual Recognition” in which Palestine recognised Israel as an independent state and Israel recognised the PLO as a “representative of the Palestinian people”.
It was also agreed that Israel will withdraw its troops from Gaza within a period of five years.
The Oslo II aimed to solve the following issues:
- Discussion about the governance of Jerusalem
- To solve the border issues
- Discussion regarding security and the rights of the people
The second Oslo Accord was signed two years later (in 1995) in Taba which explains why this agreement is sometimes called the Taba agreement.
This agreement reduced the control of the Palestinian Authority in the region which allowed Israel to take control of most of the West Bank.
As a part of the agreement, the two states could not cause any kind of violence or conflict against each other.
The Second Intifada (Al-Aqsa Intifada):
This unforgettable event from history began in September 2000. The reason behind this intifada is very interesting, but what is it?
Ariel Sharon (the one who will become the Prime Minister of Israel in later years) visited the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The Palestinians took this action as an offensive move and thus they protested on a large scale.
Due to the second intifada, large scale violence broke out. Suicide bombing was followed by riots and attacks.
Therefore, the peace process started by the Oslo Accords came to an end. This violence continued up to five years until Israel withdrew its forces from Gaza.
Note: There is no clear ending date of the second Intifada. Some believe that it ended with the death of Yasser Arafat in 2004 while some say that it ended in 2008.
What Next In The History Of Palestine?
The Hamas is a Palestinian Sunni Organisation. Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006 which paved its way forward.
Fatah (a political group that controlled Palestine) came in a clash with Hamas and finally in 2007, Hamas defeated Fatah to take control of Gaza.
The reputation of Hamas is not very good. It is considered a terrorist organisation as it is involved in violence and conflicts.
The history has witnessed several bloody conflicts between Hamas and Israel. The strength of Hamas is unknown as its official members are unknown.
One thing we know that it has tens of thousands of supporters and followers.
One of the most commonly asked question about Hamas is that who funds it. Well according to Mahmud Abbas (President of Palestinian National Authority), Iran funds Hamas.
The strength of Hamas is mostly in the Gaza Strip and some areas of the West Bank.
The Operation Cast Lead (in December 2008), Operation Pillar of Defence (in November 2012) and Operation Protective Edge (in July 2014) are some conflicts when Israel and Hamas came head to head.
Timeline on The History of Palestine:
- 1799: An offer from Napoleon about Palestine as a homeland for Jews.
- 1882: The Settlement Rishon Le Zion is established in Palestine.
- 1885: The phrase “Zionism” is invented.
- 1896: The call is raised for the creation of a Jewish state.
- 1897: The rise of Zionism by the creation of the first Zionist Organization.
- 1907: Chaim Weizmann (Zionist Leader) visits Palestine.
- 1908: Zionist Colonization is openly opposed by some prominent Palestinian writers.
- 1915: The support to the Zionist settlement increases.
- 1916: Skyes-Picot (secret) agreement is signed in which the Middle East is divided between the French and the British.
- 1919: The future of Palestine is discussed in Washington’s King-Crane commission.
- 1922: The League of Nations accepts the British Mandate for the establishment of a Jewish state
- 1929: The Arabs protest against the increased Jewish immigration to Palestine through the Al-Buraq uprising.
- 1933: More protests take place against Jewish immigration to Palestine.
- 1935: Izz Ad-Din Al Qassam (a revolutionary leader in Palestine) is killed.
- 1936: The protest against Jewish immigration is carried out through a six-month-long strike.
- 1937: The Peel Commission talks about the partition of Palestine to create a separate homeland for the Jews.
- 1938: Irgun (an armed Zionist group) comes into action and carries out attacks on the Palestinians.
- 1939: The Arab revolt is crushed by Britain that lasted around three years.
- 1946: The King David Hotel in Palestine is bombed which leads to 91 innocent people lose their lives.
- 1947: The Resolution 181 (partition plan for Palestine) is adopted by the United Nations. Palestine opposes it and rejects it.
- 1948: A wave of violence and disturbance in Palestine. Hagana (an armed Zionist group) carries out multiple attacks on hotels which leads to the death of 20 people.
Folke Bernadotte (a Swedish diplomat and UN-appointed mediator in Palestine) is killed by the Stern Gang. The UN passes the resolution 194 in December (discussion on the rights of the Palestinian refugees).
- 1949: Israel signs the Armistice Agreements with Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. UNRWA is established by the UN which is an agency for the Palestinian refugees.
- 1950: Jordan takes (administrative) control of the West Bank.
- 1956: Widespread killing of the innocent Palestinians by the Israelis causing numerous casualties.
1964: The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is formed in Cairo.
- 1967: Israel forcefully takes over the West Bank, Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the Egyptian Sinai.
Due to this, the UN passes the resolution 242 and calls Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.
- 1968: In Jordan during the “Black September”, Israel attacks the Palestinian volunteers.
- 1973: The United Nations passes the resolution 338 that called Israel to withdraw from the territories it occupied in 1967.
- 1974: The PLO is recognised as the sole representative of the Palestinian people by the people of Palestine.
- 1976: Israel takes thousands of acres of land, unlawfully, of the Palestinian citizens. The Palestinians organised massive protests due to this.
1978: The Camp David Accords are signed between Israel and Egypt.Source: interactive.aljazeera.com
- 1982: Israel invades Lebanon with the intention of attacking the PLO.
- 1987: The First Intifada begins by the Palestinians to liberate Palestine from the Jewish people. A wave of violence and unrest also started.
- 1988: The PLO recognises the state of Israel.
- 1992: Talks begin to settle the issues between Palestine and Israel.
- 1993: The disturbances caused by the First Intifada come to an end with the signing of the first Oslo Accord between Israel and the PLO.
- 1995: The second Oslo Accord is signed granting Palestine some authority in the West Bank.
- 1997: Israel and PLO sign an agreement in which Israel promises to withdraw its troops from Hebron.
- 2002: Israel recaptured the areas in West Bank due to the widespread of the second Intifada.
- 2004: A massive blow to Palestine as their prominent leader Yasser Arafat dies.
- 2006: The 2006 Lebanon War (Second Lebanon War) breaks out.
- 2008: Israel invades the Gaza Strip. This is what they call, “Operation Cast Lead”.
- 2012: Israel strikes once again in Gaza. This is what they call, “Operation Pillar of Defense”.
- The “Operation Protective Edge” is launched. This was a massive military strike since 1967.
The article on the History of Palestine has come to an end. The major events from 1799 to 2014 on the history of Palestine are covered.
What are your thoughts about the violence in Palestine that is going on for more than two decades?
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