The long conflict between Israeli and Palestine witnessed in world has been a subject of intense political debate between the allies of the two nations. The main allies of the Palestinians are mainly the Arab league countries, which include Iran, Syria, Jordan and other Middle East Arab countries; while the main ally of the Israeli is the United States of America.
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Primarily, the allies of both the countries are of the view that atrocities are being done on the country they support. In the US, support for the Israeli is a very important political issue and has been a subject of campaign by various presidential candidates.
The methods used by the Palestinians and the Israeli in the conflict are far much different. For instance, Israel has more economic and military strength than the Palestinians have, and hence uses its power to intimidate the Palestinians. On the other hand, the Palestinians have many radical Islam groups, which use tradition methods in fighting the Israeli. However, the methods used by both the Israeli and the Palestinians only help to fuel the conflict further.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been a subject of so much diplomatic action. The diplomatic action mainly involves the Americans, whose establishments are strong supporters of the Israeli. The Arab league countries also help in mediating peace between the two countries. One notable example is Egypt, which has up to date helped in brokering the signing of different peace deals between the two conflicting nations.
However, despite the signing of very many peace agreements, the conflict continues, leading to the death of many citizens, both Palestinians and Israeli. In most cases, these peace agreements are broken by one of the parties involved, leading to prolonging of the conflict. However, in order to understand the conflict one must first know its history.
History of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
The land, which the Palestinians and the Israeli occupy, is relatively small and occupies an area of about 10,000 sq. miles. Primarily, the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be traced long before the beginning of modern civilization.
The Israel are said to be the original inhabitants of the land which in ancient history was known as Canaan, having settled on the land at around 1800-1500 BC (Isseroff, part 1). According to the bible, a Jewish historical and religious book, David, an Israeli king, formed an Israelite kingdom which included Jerusalem and a large part of Canaan. The kingdom was later divided but still Jerusalem remained as the pinnacle of Jewish rule and religion (Isseroff part 1).
However, the land occupied by the Jews was subjected to the rule of several different empires after being conquered. Even after being conquered severally, the Jews managed to form an autonomous Jewish kingdom whose capital was Jerusalem thus driving out all the other communities out of their kingdom.
History states the earliest existence of Palestine as 135 AD. The Romans who had conquered Jerusalem at the time expelled the Jews from Jerusalem after an attempted revolution against the Roman Empire and renamed the region as Palaestina, which loosely translates to Palestine in English (Isseroff part 2).
The land known as Palestine was later conquered by the Arabs at around 600 AD who introduced Islam into it. They considered Jerusalem holy to the Muslims and built a mosque on the site which was specifically designed for Jewish temples. Palestine was later invaded by Crusaders (Christians who were conquering nations to establish Christian rule) with an aim of capturing Jerusalem but were unable to do so.
However, they established their rule on an area, which was along the coastal strip of Palestine. These crusaders later left the area after they were defeated by the Arabs. However, Jews would from repeatedly inhabit Jerusalem due to formation of various kingdoms (Isseroff part 3).
Napoleon later established his kingdom in the area; he subjected the Jewish and Arab inhabitants to severe rule, which made them to flee the area to other lands. The Turks also conquered the land and allowed the formation of Jewish and Arab settlements under the Ottoman government.
In addition, the ottoman government invited Muslims from other parts of the empire to settle in Palestine and at the same time, imposed strict measures to prohibit Jewish immigration and settlement in Palestine. However, the measures did not deter Jews from immigrating to Palestine and usually bribed the government officials to settle on the land (Isseroff part 3).
Even after being expelled from Palestine by several different empires, Jews still streamed back into Palestine from their places of exile in small numbers over time. They regarded Palestine as “the holy land” and associated it with their religious dream of messianic redemption (Isseroff part 3).
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The Jews who lived in exiled lived in specific parts of towns that were specifically designed for them, known as “ghettos.” However, social revolution in various parts of Europe made the Jews to move out of the ghettos, hence exposing them to many modern liberal ideas. This made the Jews form a movement known as Zionism, which propagated the formation of a Jewish state in their “homeland” which should be governed by either the Turks or the Germans (Isseroff part 3).
The Zionist formed farming settlements in various regions of Palestine. They also formed a new city which they called Tel Aviv. Their population increased and by 1914, it was about 85,000-100,000; however, fate would soon drive the Jews out of Palestine. During the First World War, the Turkish government instructed that all foreigners including the Jews should be deported to their original countries.
This led to the deportation of many Jews, who had mostly immigrated into Palestine as Russian citizens. However, a small group of Jews remained to form NILI, an organization that provided the British, who were at war with Turkey, with intelligence that later helped them to invade Palestine (Isseroff part 3).
The British eventually defeated the Turks and divided the Ottoman Empire between themselves and the French. Part of Palestine was placed under the British rule and the rest was governed by joint allied government which comprised of the Arabs and the British. In this case, the British promised to support the Arabs in their fight to obtain independence from the Turks if they give Syria to the French (Isseroff part 4).
Since the British intended on conquering Jerusalem, the Zionist lobbied for the formation of a Jewish state. The British gave the condition that the Zionists must have written agreement with the Arabs who occupied the land. This was achieved when Dr. Weizmann, a Zionist based in Britain, and Emir Feisal, an Arab leader, signed an agreement declaring Arab support for the formation of an independent Israeli state (Isseroff part 4).
However, Feisal put the precondition that Syria would be given to the Arabs – this did not happen as the League of Nations gave Syria to the French. This made Feisal to withdraw his support for the agreement; he even said that he had never even appended his signature in the agreement (Isseroff part 4).
When the League of Nations divided the Ottoman Empire into territories, which were offered to the nations that had won the First World War; the British requested to be offered Palestine so that it may provide a permanent settlement for the Jews. The setting up of a permanent home for the Jews angered the Arabs as they felt that they had been shortchanged by the League of Nations. This marked the beginning of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The British were given Palestine by the League of Nations. This area occupied a large part, more than even what the Zionist had requested for the establishment of their homeland. The Arabs resisted this organization and eventually rioted against the British, killing many Jews. In response to the riots, the British restricted immigration of the Jews to Palestine to 15000 for five years and after that period, the immigrating Jews would have to obtain approval of the Arabs (Isseroff part 4).
During the world war, the Nazi Germany killed about six million Jews who were in other parts of Europe. After the Second World War, the UN proposed the division of Palestine into two states in order to receive land for settlement of the Israeli. The UN proposed the formation of a Jewish state, which was completely autonomous from the Palestine.
However, since both the Arabs and the Jews claimed ownership of Jerusalem, it would be internationalized to accommodate both the Arabs and the Jews. This arrangement was ridiculous as it gave majority of the land to the Jews who in fact formed a minority of the population (less than a third of the population) and the rest of the land was given to the Palestinians (Isseroff part 4).
Conflicts and treaties signed since the formation of independent Israeli state
The formation of an independent Israeli state by the United Nations did not bring peace between the Arabs and the Palestinians. The conflict has still been ongoing, and having a solution may take a long time. The first Arab-Israeli war occurred in 1948, followed by eviction of the Palestinian-Arabs from their homes and became refugees. However, some Palestinians remained in their homes and therefore became Arab citizens but in the nation of Israel (Eisenberg and Caplan 15).
Due to the war, the borders of Israel stretched far beyond the limits, which had been set by the United Nations, and the state of Palestine as drawn out by the UN became simply nonexistent. The control of the land which belonged to the state of Palestine was divided between Egypt and Transjordan. Egypt controlled the Gaza strip which was a coastal strip of land along the Mediterranean.
Transjordan controlled the land that was on the west bank of the Jordan River, while part of the city of Jerusalem the rest of the city was under the control of Israel and the rest was taken by Israel (Eisenberg and Caplan 15).
The disappearance of the state of Palestine led to a war between Israel and its neighboring Arab countries. The reason for the war was due to the fact that Israel was trying to develop a Jewish nation and the Arab nations opposed to the existence of an autonomous Jewish state in their midst (Eisenberg and Caplan 15). The United Nations passed a resolution to help solve the problem of refugees who were scattered in both the Arab countries and Israel.
The resolution ordered that the refugees should either be taken back to their original homes in Israel or be compensated and resettled in another place. The Israeli wanted the refugees to be compensated and the Arabs wanted the refugees to be taken back to their homes. This disagreement made the problem of refugees to persist (Eisenberg and Caplan 2010 p 15).
These disagreements later led to many different wars between Israel and the Arab nations. The second Arab Israeli war occurred in 1956. Egypt lost the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza strip to Israel which was aided by France and Britain. The French withdrew due to international pressure by the US and the UN but Israel refused to withdraw until UN sent its forces to create a buffer zone along the Egypt-Israeli border (Eisenberg and Caplan 2010 p 17).
The third Arab-Israeli war was triggered by the removal of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) from the Sinai Peninsula by the Egyptians, hence facilitating them to block ships from entering Israel through the Strait of Tiran. In the ensuing war, Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, West Bank and Jerusalem from Jordan and the Golan Height from Syria. When the war ended, Israel offered to give the captured territories back to the countries in exchange for the countries agreeing to sign peace treaties with Israel.
However, Israel refused to give Jerusalem back to Jordan and instead made it its capital city. The Arabs strongly disagreed with the terms set by Israel in a meeting of Arab league in Khartoum, Sudan. Hence, this war ended without any political reconciliation (Eisenberg and Caplan 2010 p 19). However, the UN passed a resolution to bring peace between the Arabs and the Arabs and the Israelis but it was not implemented by the Arabs and the Israelis.
In the preceding years, many resolutions and treaties have been signed but at one point, one or both the parties fails to honour the agreements leading to escalation of the Middle East conflict.
Terrorism can be defined as “deliberate inflicting (either directly or indirectly) of harm, injury, death and/or destruction upon a civilian target sufficient to cause horror, revulsion or despair among civilian populations and/or their political leaders” for the benefit of the terrorists (Kapitan 4).
- There are mainly four types of terrorism.
- Strategic terrorism: this uses violence to achieve a certain political goal.
- Reactive terrorism: this is a form of terrorism which is practiced so as to make the respondents react in a certain way which suits the terrorists.
- Direct violence: this is a form of terrorism which results in inflicting physical injuries to the people. This form of terrorism may also take the form denying of the people there basic needs which they need to survive eg food, healthcare supplies and even water.
- Structural terrorism: this is a form of terrorism, which is generally undertaken through the implementation of institutions or policies that inflict harm to people who are just civilians (Kapitan 4)
Terrorism by the Israelis
The terrorist activities of the Israelis date back to a very long time. When the UN advocated the division of Palestine into two autonomous states in 1947, there was so much violence between the Arabs and the Jews. The Jewish Irgun and Lehi militia groups attacked Palestinian villages and killed very many Palestinians, as well as evicting the remaining Palestinians from the land. The Palestinians retaliated by killing 70 Jews. This led to a horrible massacre which led to the death of very many Arabs.
About 300,000 Arabs fled the area and moved into lands, which they considered as safe, hence leaving the Jews in most of Israel. Several other wars occurred which led to further fleeing of the Arabs and by the time when Israel was declared by the UN to a sovereign nation, the Jews were the majority in the state of Israel. Here, the Israelis used strategic terrorism to ensure that they had control of the region by ensuring that they were the most populous community (Kapitan 7).
The Israeli also use structural terrorism against the Palestinians to ensure that they maintain the control of West Bank and the Gaza strip. They usually claim that they control the area to protect themselves since there is no peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestine.
However, the Israelis have gradually been taking over public land and building Jewish settlements in these lands. The ultimate aim of the Israelis is to gradually incorporate this land into their territory. The Israeli have also put in place many policies, which ensure control of the land as they literally allow what passes through the Gaza strip; this amounts to structural terrorism (Kapitan 10).
In the modern world, the use of the word “terrorism” has been used to justify the military use of methods, which are inhuman in order to wipe out the terrorist. This is known as the “rhetoric of terror”.
Here the Israeli not only depict the Arabs as their enemies but also as the foes of the whole world due to their terrorism (Kapitan12). The Israelis have used this terror rhetoric very effectively by terming the activities of the Palestinians as terrorism. This is usually a political justification of the Israelis use of weapons and methods, which are very cruel.
The Israeli soldiers have been reported to use white phosphorous on villages, which are occupied by civilians, including women and children. The white phosphorous kills people indiscriminately. The soldiers also have also been reported to kill unarmed and innocent civilians using tank shells. The Israeli soldiers direct the shells to the villages. The soldiers also use flechette shells.
These are weapons which contain thousands of metal darts which resemble nails and are very sharp. These darts are about four centimeters long. These weapons can be used to wipe entire populations due to their wide range of action. The Israeli use these weapons on Palestinian villages in Gaza and other Palestinian occupied lands. They end up killing very many people in the area, most of whom may be innocent (Gaza case studies: Weapons use 2009).
By using the rhetoric of terror, the Israelis have been able to convince the world that there is no need for dialogue with Palestinians since they are terrorists, and you do not involve terrorists in dialogue you simply combat them. This has helped the Israelis occupy vast territories of the Palestinians to protect itself from the terrorism of the Palestinians (Kapitan 14).
Terrorism methods used by the Palestinians
The Palestinian forms of terrorism usually are due their eviction from their land by the Israelis. This Israelis also control their land and economic activity. In essence they are just like a colonized state. The Palestinians do not have the military might equal to that of the Israeli and are generally less organized. They therefore result to other means to show that they can inflict pain on the Israelis so that their grievances may be heard. This makes them turn to terrorism to express their grievances and achieve their goals (Kapitan 9).
The use of terrorism shows that they can inflict harm upon their enemy. This helps to build unity and confidence among the Palestinians. This helps increasing the Palestinians determination to resist the rule of the Israelis (Kapitan 9). Use of terrorism also makes the Israelis feel insecure as their citizens continue to be killed. This would encourage the Israelis to seek negotiations as their presence leads to death of many of its citizens.
Terrorism also helps to attract attention of the world towards the issues of the Palestinians, which they feel have been neglected by the political leaders of the world. The Palestinians mainly use militia, private organizations, and individuals who are not attached to any group to undertake their terrorism activities (Alexander 228). The methods used by the Islamic militia groups are crude and mostly target the Israelis, whether civilian or not.
These methods kill any Israeli, civilian or not. The terrorists carry out their activities using mainly three methods. The organizations, which are regarded by the Israelis to be involved in terrorism activities, are mainly Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (Alexander 230).
The main form of terrorism is the use suicide bombers. These bombers usually detonate the bombs in buses, which carry civilians or in crowded areas mainly markets and streets. The bombs usually kill the people indiscriminately. Those who are not killed suffer physical injuries, some of which may be serious. The suicide bombers may also be targeting a specific person or persons. He may detonate the device when he comes to the vicinity of this person or persons (Alexander 230).
The suicide bombings have also be used against Israeli planes. The suicide bomber detonates the bomb while in a plane which is heading towards Israel or even kill Israeli who are in foreign countries as happened during the Munich Olympics in Germany in 1972 (Alexander 230).
The organizations which undertake terrorist activities give religious reasons for their actions. They also use self-defense to justify their actions. They term the dispossession of their land by the Israelis as terrorism. They also see that the Israeli seem intent on taking the remaining land from them. Therefore, this necessitates them to fight for self-defense to protect the remaining part of land from being disposed (Alexander 346).
Different people have different views concerning the terrorism activities in the Middle East. However there has been a general partisan view regarding the terrorism activities carried out by both sides. Israel on its part uses very cruel military measures against the Palestine. While executing attacks on the militia groups they kill many civilians. They also use inhuman methods to kill the militia.
However most of the western media has selective in the classification of terrorism. When Israel does acts which can be termed as terrorism, this is not big news. This media mainly concentrate on the terrorism activities of the Palestinians. The terrorism activities of the Israeli are also termed as retaliatory to the attacks by the Palestine. However the media needs to avoid the partisan views and concentrate on the main issues.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to be far from over and there is generally a lack of political willingness of both sides to end the conflict. The expansion of Israel into the Palestinian lands which continues to take even up to date is the greatest hindrance to the solution of the Middle East conflict.
Alexander, Yonah. Combating terrorism: strategies of ten Countries. CA: University of Michigan Press. 2002.
Eisenberg, Laura Z. and Caplan, Neil. Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace: Patterns, Problems, Possibilities. Indiana: Indiana University Press. 2010.
“Gaza case studies: Weapons use.” BBC news. 2009. Web.
Isseroff, Ami. Israel, Palestine and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Arab-Israeli Conflict) – A brief history – Part I. 2009. Web.
Kalning, Kristin. “Profiles of victims in Virginia Tech massacre.” Profiles of victims in Virginia Tech massacre. 2007. Web.
Kapitan, Tomis. Terrorism in the Arab-Israeli conflict. 2004. Web.