October 14, 2023

The Israel - Palestine Gaza Conflict : A complete story

 The Israel – Palestine conflict is rooted in pre-biblical times. Though its borders have shifted over the years, Palestinian territories used to be what is now Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank. 

Both Israeli Jews’ and Palestinian Arabs’ history, culture, and identity are linked to the Palestinian territories and to the ancient city of Jerusalem, “one of the most bitterly contested cities on earth,” according to The Associated Press.

The Ottoman Empire controlled the region for about 400 years before its defeat, along with Germany, in World War I. Britain was given control of Palestine by the League of Nations in 1920, under an order called the British Mandate.

In 1917, the British government signaled its support for the establishment of a Jewish state in Israel with the Balfour Declaration.

While the declaration stated support, it also said that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestinian territories, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

Jewish migration from eastern and central Europe surged from 1922 to 1947 as Jews fled persecution and the destruction of their communities during the interwar period and during World War II. By the end of the Holocaust, more than 6 million European Jews had been murdered, and many survivors were left stateless.

As the number of Jewish immigrants increased, many Palestinians were displaced. They began pushing back and violence resulted.

In 1929, 67 Jews were killed in the Hebron massacre, part of Palestinian riots against Jewish immigration in Palestine.

1. Current Dispute

Gaza: Also known as the Gaza Strip, it’s the home to about 2 million Palestinians, many of them displaced after leaving or being driven from Israel during the War of Independence.

West Bank: Smaller than Delaware, the West Bank is east of Israel. About 3 million Palestinians live there, most of them Muslim Arabs. The West Bank contains a number of Jewish holy sites, which are visited by thousands of pilgrims every year.  

East Jerusalem: Jerusalem itself is a divided, disputed city. It was cut in two after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Israel controlled the western portion and Jordan controlled the east. Israel captured the entire city in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Though Jerusalem's ownership is disputed, Israeli officials claim it as the undivided capital of Israel. In 2017, the Trump administration moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, a formal recognition of Jerusalem as the capital.

However, most nations do not acknowledge Jerusalem as belonging to either Israelis or Palestinians.

2, Groups participating in the fight


Hamas is the largest Palestinian militant group and has fired rockets from Gaza at Israeli cities in the fighting.

It was founded in 1987 during the first Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank and hasand has controlled Gaza since winning elections in 2006, then wresting military control from another leadership group in 2007. It's committed to the destruction of Israel and is considered a terrorist group by the U.S., the U.K. and other nations.

Israeli Defense Forces

The IDF is the combined armed forces of Israel, including the army, navy, and air force. It was established in 1948, two weeks after Israel declared itself a state.

3. Timeline of conflict

1947: The U.N. votes to divide Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states and make Jerusalem an international city. Arabs reject the plan, which is later dropped.

1948: After the British Mandate expires on May 14, the Jewish People's Council meets in Tel Aviv and establishes the State of Israel. The U.S. officially recognized the new nation later that day; the USSR acknowledges it three days later.

1949: The Armistice Agreements is a U.N.-mediated attempt to bring peace to Palestine. Israel signs agreements with Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon to reach a formal peace treaty within six months, but the effort ultimately fails.

1956: Egypt nationalizes the Suez Canal and bars Israeli ships from using it and the Straits of Tiran, another shipping route. Israel, aided by Britain and France, invades Egypt. The Soviet Union, an ally of Egypt, threatens nuclear retaliation, and the U.S. pressures British, French and Israeli forces to withdraw. The U.N. deploys a peacekeeping force.

1964: The Palestine Liberation Organization, a group with the goal of uniting Arab groups and liberating the Palestinian territories through armed struggle, was formed in Egypt.

1967: The Six-Day War grows out of the Suez Canal conflict. Egypt orders the U.N. force to leave, closes the Straits of Tiran to Israel again, and plans a secret attack against Israel. In a preemptive strike, Israel attacked Egypt and later Jordan and Syria, capturing Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula.

1973: The Yom Kippur War starts with Egypt and Syria attacking Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. The war is an attempt to reverse the defeat of the 1967 war. The Israelis counterattack and win. The U.S. helps secure disengagement agreements from combatants, laying the groundwork for future peace efforts.

1979: The Camp David Accords, an Israeli-Egyptian peace deal, is set up by President Jimmy Carter and signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

1979: Israel begins gradual withdrawal from the Sinai.

1987: Palestinians stage the first of two uprisings, or intifadas, in Gaza, Israel and the West Bank, using mass boycotts, civil disobedience and attacks on Israelis. More than 50 Israeli civilians are killed. The intifada lasts more than five years, ending in September 1993. 

The Israeli military kills 1,070 Palestinians, including 237 children. Jewish settlers kill 54 Palestinians. The U.S. and the U.N. criticize Israel's use of lethal force.

1991: In response to the intifada, the Madrid Conference, a historical gathering of all participants in the Arab-Israeli conflict, is chaired by the U.S. and Russia.

1993: Oslo I, known as the Declaration of Principles, is signed by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. It establishes a timetable for a Middle East peace process.

1995: Oslo II is signed, a second agreement in which the Palestine Liberation Organization recognizes the state of Israel and Israel allows Palestinians limited self-government in Gaza.

2000: President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat gather at the Camp David summit, a meeting intended to end hostilities. It ends without an agreement. Palestinians, frustrated over failures to create a Palestinian state, began the second intifada in September, which lasted until February 2005. An estimated   3,100 Palestinians and nearly 1,000 Israelis were killed.

2005: Israel withdraws from Gaza but retains control.

2007: Hamas, the militant Palestinian group, wins elections in Gaza.

2008: Israel launches a major military campaign against Hamas in Gaza after increased rocket fire from militants. The fighting ended on Jan. 18, 2009, with 1,440 Palestinians and 13 Israelis killed.

2012: Israeli forces kill Ahmed Jabari, a Hamas military chief, in a missile strike. The strike is part of an Israeli operation to eliminate weapons and militants in Gaza. Hamas says the killing has "opened the gates of hell."

2014: Hamas kidnaps and kills three Israeli teens in the West Bank, igniting the Gaza War, in which rocket attacks and airstrikes kill 2,251 Palestinians and 73 Israelis. A senior Hamas leader praises the kidnapping and says it was intended to spark a new Palestinian uprising. The war lasted for 50 days.

2017: The Trump administration says it will move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, in effect an official U.S. recognition of Israel's claim to the city. The embassy is relocated in 2018.

2018: Protests break out on the Gaza-Israeli border as the U.S. Embassy is relocated. Demonstrators throw explosives and rocks across barrier fences and are met with gunfire and tear gas. At least 58 Palestinians are killed, the Gaza health ministry says.

2021: Fighting erupts again as Israeli police raid the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on April 13, the first night of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and disconnect speakers broadcasting prayers as Reuven Rivlin, the Israeli president, is speaking at the Western Wall, a site sacred to the Jewish people. The raid, on what's considered a holy Muslim site on one of the holiest nights of Ramadan, is viewed by Muslims as an insult.

2022: In the spring and summer of 2022 Israel experienced a string of terrorist attacks that led it to take what it described as preemptive action, including airstrikes targeting senior commanders and weapons depots, against Iran-backed militant groups such as Islamic Jihad. At least 44 Palestinians, including 15 children, were killed in three days of violence in August 2022.

2023: In January, Israel launched the first of two raids against the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, where it said Palestinian militants and activists were hiding out. The second raid, in July 2023, saw Israel send about 1,000 soldiers, backed by drone strikes, to Jenin to demolish what it characterized as a militant "command center."

October 2023: In the biggest offensive in years, dozens of gunmen from the Palestinian militant group Hamas infiltrate southern Israel in a stunning surprise attack that coincided with a major Jewish holiday. Overnight and into the morning, Hamas launched thousands of rockets into Israel. Israel’s national rescue service said at least dozens of people were killed and hundreds wounded.

Research article: USA Today (main). Other reference: The Associated Press; United Nations; Reuters and U.S. State Department


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