A Timeline of Israel & Palestine’s Claim to the Land: Who Came First?
Until now, I paid no attention to the Israel-Palestine conflict. I knew that there was a famous person named Yaseer Arafat who struggled for independence; and from a perspective of a traveler who has a Bangladeshi passport, I knew that I was not allowed to go to Israel as Bangladesh does not have any diplomatic relation with them – and that was the extent to my knowledge about Israel and Palestine.
Recently Israel launched an offensive against Gaza Strip (what is Palestine?) called Operation Protective Edge. Massive activities broke out in different social media and I tried my best to ignore them as much as I can, like always. But as the civilian death toll gradually increased one-sidedly, we had to pay attention.
The first thing I did was I read some recent online newspapers. I couldn’t quite get my head around the answer “why?”. Why is this happening? What is the cause of the conflict? Why is it going on for ages? I asked around – but I was not satisfied with the answers which seemed biased. And I always inquire before giving-in to biased news from social media.
I started doing my own research about the origin of the problem. The research was not conclusive as it was all based on secondary information and cross-checking & filtering opinions (facts?) of others. Though I was unable to draw a conclusion, I was able to see, atleast some of it, why are the things that are happening, actually happening.
What is Palestine? What is Israel? Who holds the better claim?
I have put together a time-line of events that has lead to today’s crisis which is provided below:
Disclaimer: I tried my best to present the facts and leave biasness and misinterpretations out of it. But as I am just an individual conducting this research for my personal clarification of thoughts... there may have some unnoticed errors. Feel free to point that out and I will correct it (after cross checking it). Also, I have left out almost all the battles which did not directly involve Israeli and Palestinian interests.
Please note that, in this timeline I have mentioned the term “the region” quite a few times which refers to the region of Palestine & Israel together.
- Moses (PBUH) crossed the Red Sea and led followers (Jews & Muslims) to the region.
- Romans controlled the region in and round Israel/Palestine.
- Roman Emperor Hadrian joined 2 provinces Iudaea (Samaria, Judea, Idumea) & Galilee to form a few province Syria Palaestina (mostly consisting of current Israel/Palestine region).
- Romans feared the popularity of Moses and massacred Jews, some say more than Hitler
- The region was known as Palaestina under Byzantine Rule (on and off)
- Ottomans ruled over the region (on and off)
- It is supposed that at that time 1/4 was Muslim and 3/4 was Jews
- Ottoman’s influenced massive Muslim immigrants to the region
- (Time unknown) Birth of political Zionism which believed that Jews needed a separate state with the motto “A land without people for people without land”.
- Political Zionists wanted a Jewish state in the region.
- (Time unknown) Arabs & Ottomans sold land to (immigrant?) Jews
- (Time unknown) More Jews started coming to the region
- Arabs stood against the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine
- Up to this point politics in the Palestine/Israel region was local, village oriented and tribal
- British forces attacked Ottoman Empire in WW1; British won
- British proposed The Belfourord Declaration which supported political Zionism and proposed creating a Jewish state (though the location of the sate was not decided) keeping the interest of both the Palestinians and the Jews intact.
- An undercover organization named The Black Hand (Syria) started movement in order to remove the outsider Jews form the region.
- British mandate over the region started and the name Palestine was introduced
- Up to this point Jews and Muslims lived in this region relatively peacefully. After 1930 massive Jewish immigrants started to come and purchase lands from Palestinians.
- Adolf Hitler has started isolating Jews and limiting their rights within Germany and many began immigrating to other countries.
- British investigation about whether Arabs were forced out of the country by Jews found that they left voluntarily by selling their lands
- The British could not honor the Belfourord Declaration and as a result they were considered betrayers by the both sides.
- The British limited Jewish immigration to Palestine to a total of 75,000 in the next 5 years. They hoped that this decision will convince the Arabs to fight for Britain against Germany.
- Germany started killing Jews and sending them to concentration camps. More than 6,000,000 Jews were killed.
- USA’s Truman administration pushed for the immediate admission of 100,000 Jew survivor refugees (of German Holocaust) into Palestine.
- British government did not let the Jews in as they feared a civil war
- Armed Jewish groups within the refugees started attacking British troops
- Underground Jewish group Irgun blew up the British headquarters in Palestine.
- British called for UN’s assistance to solve Palestine Crisis
- UN declared around 55% land to Jews and around 45% land to Arabs. The population was 30% to 70%. Arabs rejected this declaration.
- British mandate over Palestine ended and the day after an independent State of Israel was announced
- First Arab-Israeli war broke out which is also known as the War of Independence for Israel. Israel fought against Trans Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and won. After this war Israel now controlled 78% of the region.
- Around 750,000+ Arabs fled the region during the time of war. Some to fight against Israel and most to safety. Many Palestinians moved to Gaza & West Bank from what is known as Israel today.
- After the war these refugees were not allowed to enter the region and became refugees on bordering countries.
- Egypt nationalized Suez Canal and Israeli ships were not allowed to use it. France, UK and Israel fought against it and Israel captured the canal. UN announced the canal and surrounding area as international property.
- Gaza Strip came under direct administration of Egyptian army.
- Palestine Liberation Organization or PLO is formed. The initial goal was an independent state of Palestine through armed struggle. Also, for the refugees to come back.
- The charter of PLO or Palestine Liberation Organization claimed the boundaries of Palestine to be same as the boundaries of the British Mandate but does not claim the lands of Gaza & West Bank as Gaza was occupied by Egypt and West Bank was occupied by Jordan
- Six Day War broke out and Israel captured Gaza, Sinai Peninsula & West Bank (and some other areas) from Egypt and Jordan. Now Israel controlled 100% of former British Mandate Palestine. Israel started to build settlements in the captured areas.
- Egypt again attacked Israel to regain the lost areas (Gaza & Sinai Peninsula) But failed. This war ended in 1970.
- PLO rewrote its charter and claimed land of Gaza & West bank
- Egypt attacked to re-capture Sinai Peninsula
- Egypt & Israel signed a treaty and Israel started to withdraw its troops from the canal and Sinai Peninsula. Also demolished their settlements in the captured Sinai. Israeli ships were allowed to use the Suez canal.
- USA worked as the mediator between Egypt and Israel. For the first time Egypt (an Arab nation) recognized Israel as an independent country. It further detached Egypt from Arab Legion. Egyptian president and Israeli prime minister received Nobel Peace Prize.
- Hamas – a Palestinian with an armed wing is formed. Many countries like Israel, USA, European Union, Jodan, Egupt, Japan consider Hamas as a terrorist organization. But many countries like Russia and China do not consider them as terrorists.
- The first suicide attack was initiated by Hamas.
- Israel agreed to recognize PLO and gave it limited autonomy over Gaza & West Bank.
- Israel removed their troops from Jericho and Gaza City
- Israel agreed to more rights of the Palestine Authority in Gaza Strip and West Bank.
- Palestinian Parliament with limited authority was formed with Gaza Strip and West Bank.
- Israel withdrew soldiers form most parts of Hebron and some other rural areas of West Bank.
- Construction of new Jewish settlements in West Bank (Palestine) harms the peace talks.
- After winning the majority in the Palestinian Parliament Hamas started governing Gaza Strip.
- The Palestinian Parliament is not technically functional since 2007 due to arrest of some members and postponing the next election for uncertain period.
And it continues! Currently In Gaza Strip & in West Bank “Palestinians” consist of 80% Muslims, 20% Christians. In West Bank around 6% land are occupied by Israeli settlements, but the highways, military bases, power grid etc built solely for these settlements take up 40% of the total land of West Bank.
Some questions are still not clear to me
- What is Palestine?
- Who are the governing body of Palestine? PLO, PA, PNA?
- Does Israel consider Gaza Strip and West Bank as their states?
- Is there any solution?
Maybe I will do some more digging and post an update.
Today is its 15th day of Operation Protective Edge that started with the abduction and killing of 3 Israeli teens by unknown entities. The death toll till today is 600 for Palestinians and 24 for Israel. 72% of the Palestine casualties are civilians. As of today over 3000 have been wounded and 100,000 have been moved from their homes. These stats are not acceptable in 2014.
I thank you for taking the time to read this very long post. Now it’s your turn to speak up!
If you want to further know about this issue, there are tons of videos and documentaries on youtube (but be sure to keep your eyes open to spot biasness). Some videos you may watch: