The Israel-Palestine issue is one that is frequently being discussed across media platforms these days. The pandemonium going on in this region has affected opinion worldwide but the plot of this tragic play spanning across centuries is comprehensibly understood not by many.
We bring you the backdrop of the whole issue for your better understanding of the conflict and its repercussions on the society in the present scenario.
The problem dates back to the year AD 71, when the Roman Emperor drove the Jews out of Palestine, their homeland. This led to their relocation towards Europe, mostly in the eastern part. Having to face persecution in Russia, Germany (anti-Semitic policy) and France; the situation worsened during the World Wars. Thus, in an attempt to regain lost ground they started to trickle back to Palestine nearly around 1700. Under such hostile circumstances the World Zionist Organization was founded in 1897 in Switzerland. The members believed that the Jews ought to return back to their righteous “Jewish Homeland”. The number of Jews in Palestine by the end of the 19th century alarmed the Arabs there. Conflicts occurred; the USA and the British government intervened, but no agreement could be signed. The Arabs wanted the migration of Jews to end, whereas, the Jews wanted to return back to their land following the horrors of the World Wars.
Finally in November 1947, the UN voted to divide Palestine. One half of the land would become the independent state of Israel and the other half would be with the Palestinian Arabs. In May 1948, Jewish leader Ben Gurion declared the independence of the new state of Israel. This outraged the Arabs and Israel was attacked immediately by Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon.
Israel defeated the Arabs in this war and captured even more of Palestine. They now had half of Jerusalem under their control. The USA and Britain guaranteed Israel’s frontiers. Since then numerous conflicts and wars have continued. The Suez war of 1956, the Six-Day war of 1967 and the Yom Kippur war of 1973 are the most prominent ones. It was during these wars that Israel acquired the much disputed Gaza Strip, West Bank and Jerusalem.
Meanwhile an organization named The Palestine Liberation Organization under Yasser Arafat carried a series of terrorist attacks to draw attention towards the injustice being done to the Arabs of Palestine. The Arabs living in these occupied areas are worst affected by the whole issue. According to the UN report Israel is accused of causing humanitarian catastrophe among the Palestinians: the economy has been destroyed, 65 to 70% of the population is unemployed, the houses and schools have been bulldozed and demolished. They are also accused of disproportionate violence and use of force against the enemies which has led to many civilian deaths.
To ease the conflict a Peace Conference took place in 1993, in Oslo. Here Israel agreed to give away parts of Palestine back which they had acquired during the war of 1967 (Gaza Strip and West Bank). PLO in return agreed to give up terrorism. Everything was going well, however in 1996 four suicide bombing incidents carried out by Palestinian militia group Hamas killed 63 people; another incident happened in the northern Israel where Hezbollah shelled villagers. Any possibility of peace was lost and hard-liner Binyamin Netanyahu managed to exploit the situation to become the Prime Minister of Israel. In 1994 Israel granted the right of self-governance to Gaza through the Palestinian Authority.
Hamas continued its strikes and in retaliation Israel assassinated a leader of PLO and surrounded Arafat’s headquarters in 2002. Temporary ceasefire lasted for four weeks and the Palestinians started their attack again. Israel this time sent 150 tanks and 20,000 soldiers into West bank and Gaza Strip, what followed was an unfortunate massacre by the Israelis. Kofi Annan condemned the offense and accused Israel of “illegal occupation”.
In 2007, after the Battle of Gaza, Hamas fighters took control of the Gaza Strip and removed Fatah officials after Fatah lost the parliamentary elections of 2006. The battle resulted in the dissolution of the unity government and the de facto division of the Palestinian territories into two entities, the West Bank governed by the Palestinian National Authority, and Gaza governed by Hamas. Since then continuous conflict has occurred between Israel and Hamas.
The world stands spectator as Israel bombs Palestine civilians in Gaza, calling it their fight against the militant group Hamas. Recently two incidents – the killing of three Israeli’s in West Bank and burning of a Palestinian youth in East Jerusalem – have triggered events which may endanger thousands of innocent lives. The air strike carried by Israel has cost more than 193 lives and thousands have been injured. According to the UN 77% of casualties have been civilians. Israel authorities say they are retaliating to the 700 rockets launched by Hamas targeting their cities even though in actuality not a single rocket has managed to go beyond the Iron Dome of Israel.
This forces us to ponder that whether the retaliation of such scale and nature by Israel is justified? And that should the international community play a more important role to ease down this conflict which is only causing more misery and suffering to the Palestinian Arabs.
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