American media has been flooded with breaking news and coverage on the increasing conflict between Israel and Palestine these past few weeks. The lack of knowledge surrounding a historical international conflict like this should raise discussion about the depth of the American education system. In an ethnically and racially diverse country, we should learn and know about international history and how that affects members of those groups within the US and globally. In order to fully understand the implications of this conflict, it’s important that the 1000 + years of history behind it is acknowledged first.
This conflict goes all the way back to the end of the nineteenth century when Palestine came under British rule after the leader of The Ottoman Empire was defeated in World War I. The land had a Jewish minority and an Arabic majority. However this changed as Jewish people fled to Palestine after the Holocaust. Jewish people were migrating to Palestine after Britain supported them to go establish a national home for themselves. Zionism began to gain popularity which was then primarily focused on reestablishment of a jewish nation in their ancient homeland in Palestine. In 1947, the United Nations adopted Resolution 181, known as the Partition Plan, to divide Palestine into Arab and Jewish states. This resolution was accepted my Jewish leaders but rejected by Arab leadership. The State of Israel was created on May 14, 1948, which sparked the beginning of the first Arab-Israeli War.
The war ended in 1948 with Israel’s victory and over 700,000 Palestinians displaced from their homes. The war, coined Al Nakba by Palestinians, which translates to “The Catastrophe,” resulted in the territory being divided into the State of Israel, West Bank occupied by Jordan and the Gaza Strip occupied by Egypt. Jerusalem was divided by Israeli forces in the west and Jordianan control in the east. Israel continued to expand in The Six Day War which occurred in early June of 1967. Israel gained control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, the Golden Heights from Syria, and the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt.
In 1967, the Palestine Liberation Organization was formed with core values that included the right to an independent state and the destruction of Israel. PLO and its leaders were identified as a terrorist organization by Israel and the US while they were seen as freedom fighters by Palestine and their allies. PLO was recognized by The Arab League and The UN as the sole representative of Palestinians in 1974.
In October of 1973, a third Arab-Israeli war broke out which involved Egypt and Syria against Israel which ended in a ceasefire. Peace talks in 1979 were initiated by US President Jimmy Carter amongst Israel and Egypt where Israel withdrew from the previously captured Sinai Peninsula. This peace had no endurance as tensions continued to rise in response to years of occupation, repression and confiscation of land with The Intifada in 1987. Palestinians rose up against Israel with protests and forceful attacks which were met with harmful tactics where they were killed, injured, deported, or arrested.
In 1993, the Oslo Accords were agreed upon where Israel actually gave back portions of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to the Palestines in an attempt towards peace and some form of statehood. There was an attempt to negotiate another agreement but it failed and a second Intifada uprising started. Suicide bombings by Palestinians and forceful resistance from Israel left thousands of Israelis and Palestinians dead and even more with trauma and conflict from the violence.
Control over the Gaza Strip was shifted to the Islamic militant group, Hamas, in 2007 after a surprising election against Fatah, the main political party under PLO. Fatah currently serves as the Palestinian ruling government in West Bank.
Hamas and its leaders are considered a terrorist group by many countries including Israel, the US, Japan and Europe. Hamas believes that the State of Israel should be destroyed and Palestinans have the right to their land. Conflict between specifically Hamas and Israel has occurred frequently throughout the years with the most recent violent clash earlier this May. The battle started on May 10 after clashes at a holy temple in East Jerusalem with Muslims and Jews as well as threatening evictions of Palestinian families by Jewish people. Hamas began firing rockets at Israel after warning them to remove the military from the site. Israel fired back in response and a 11 day battle ensued. It left over 250 people dead and thousands injured, most of them Palestianian. A cease-fire was announced on May 20 and both sides declared themselves victorious. Now they have to rebuild their communities, replenish their weaponry, and hopefully negotiate a solution.
This conflict is something that will continue to evolve and grow over the years. To be fully aware of all its implications and history, it’s important to continuously research and gather information about this topic. I encourage you to look further past what I’ve written here and do your own deep dive into this complex matter, so that you can understand this on your own level.
By Kyla Hubbard, Second-Year Broadcast Journalism Scholar, Florida A&M University