While most of us know about the conflict happening between Israel and Palestine right now, not many know what the root of the issue is.
In the early 1900s, the region along the eastern Mediterranean that we now know as Israel/Palestine had been under Ottoman rule for centuries. It was a religiously diverse area, but many ethnic Arabs were developing a national identity as Palestinians. Also, at this time, many Jewish people were joining the movement of Zionism, which stated that Judaism was not just a religion but a nationality that deserved a nation of its own.
After years of religious persecution, many felt that a Jewish state would be their only form of safety, and saw their historic homeland in the Middle East to be a good place to establish that. In the beginning of the 1900s, tens of thousands of European Jews moved there.
After World War I, the British and French Empires took over a lot of the Middle East. The British took control of a region called “The British Mandate for Palestine.” At first, the British allowed Jewish immigration, but as more Jews arrived, tension between Jews and Arabs grew. This caused the British to start limiting Jewish immigration. In response, Jewish militias formed to resist British rule and fight local Arabs.
In 1947, the United Nations devised a plan to divide British Palestine into two separate states, one for Jews (Israel), and one for Arabs (Palestine). The city of Jerusalem became an international zone, since many different religions have holy sites there. The Jewish people embraced this and declared independence as Israel, but Arabs saw the plan as European colonialism trying to steal their land. Many Arab states then declared war on Israel. Israel won the war, but in the process they pushed past the borders of their U.N plan, taking much of the land that was supposed to be part of Palestine.
This began the Arab-Israeli conflict. In this period, many Jews in Arab majority countries fled to Israel. But in 1967, Israel and neighboring Arab states fought the six-day war. From this war, Israel gained parts of Syria, Jordan, and Egypt, as well as many Palestinian territories. In 1978, Israel and Egypt signed the Camp David Accords, a peace treaty that led to Israel giving Egypt some of their land back.
The Palestinian Liberation Organization fought against Israel, especially through acts of terrorism. Fighting between these groups continued for years, including a 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Then, many Israelis started moving into Palestinian territories. These people were referred to as “settlers.” Many of these settlers forced Palestinians off of their land.
The uprising of Palestinians really started in the late 1980s. This often became violent and many Arabs and Israelis died as a result. At the same time, Hamas, a violent extremist group, formed in Palestine, which has declared that it is dedicated to destroying Israel.
In the early 1990’s, leaders from both sides signed the Oslo Accords, which was supposed to be a step towards Israel one day withdrawing from the Palestinian territories and allowing an independent Palestine. The Oslo Accords also allowed Palestinians more freedom, however, many extremists on both sides used violence to get in the way of peace and keep the conflict going.
In the early 2000s, there was another surge in Palestinian uprising. This has caused Israel to be more strict in order to control Palestinian uprising. Then, Israel withdrew from Gaza and Hamas gained power but split from Palestinian authorities, therefore dividing Gaza from the West Bank.
As of today, fighting between Israelis and Palestinians has continued and many people have been injured and killed.