- Violence in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict
The conflict between various Palestinian groups and Israel has existed in one form or another since the first half of the 20th century, and has left much bitterness and death on both sides. This article summarizes some aspects of the violence.
Overview and Background
The conflict has undergone 5 or 6 distinct phases since it began. (Timings are approximate):
Prior to 1940-45
World War II, violence in Palestinewas sporadic, and intensified in relation to increased Jewish immigration as part of the Zionist movement, which sought to create a Jewish statein the Land of Israel. At the time, it had an overwhelmingly Arabpopulation, however some cities, most notably Jerusalem, had a Jewish majority (see also Demographics of Jerusalem).
Jews settled in what was then part of the
Ottoman Empire, which includes the modern day Gaza Strip, Jordan, Israel, and West Bank. They bought land for farming.
After 1917 and the Balfour Declaration,
Arabs became concerned at the British support and influx of Jews, whose policy was to buy land and immigrate to what was then the British Mandate of Palestine. Initial violence was small and localised, such matters as new land purchases, or synagogue locations. After the 1920 Palestine riots, the Jewish community ("Yishuv") set up its own defence irregulars, Haganah, and intelligence operation. The aim at this time was to gain foreknowledge of future attacks and be able to protect the Yishuv against such attacks.
Violence escalated in 1929 after confrontations between Jews and Arabs over control of the
Western Wallof the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaismand third holiest in Islam. After rumours that Arabs had been killed in one such confrontation, Arab riots broke out across Palestine. The worst affected localities were Hebron, where rioters killed 67 Jews, and Safed, where 18 Jews were killed and 80 wounded. A total of 133 Jews and 116 Arabs were killed during the unrest (the latter mostly by the British authorities).
The years 1930-1935 were marked by activities of the Black Hand
Islamistmilitant organization led by Izz ad-Din al-Qassamwho was killed by the British in 1935.
In 1936-1939, the Arabs - led by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem,
Haj Amin al-Husseini- launched the Great Arab Revolt, a campaign of violent riots and attack on Jews - which lead to hundreds of casualties and ended after the British officers deported Husseini and hanged many rioters. While mainstream Zionism, represented by Vaad Leumiand the Haganah, practised the policy of Havlagah(restraint), Irgunchose to retaliate, furthering chaos in the region.
WW2 and prior to formation of State of Israel
With the rise of
Nazismin Europe, and again after World War II, Jews sought to relocate to this area in larger numbers.Although this plan to create a Jewish statein Palestine has its roots as far back as the 1897 First Zionist Congressin Basel, the Nazi Holocaustprovided an urgency to the Zionist project.
Intense conflict arose as the Arab and Jewish sides jockeyed for position and the land, under British rule. The first Jewish defence forces such as
Haganahwere set up, along with the Lochamei Herut LeIsrael ("Lehi"), led by Yitzhak Shamir, and the Irgun Tzvai Leumi ("Irgun" or "Etzel"), led by Menachem Begin, which sought to obtain security for the Jewish community, but were also preparing for the day when open conflict would break out. At this point the conflict was characterised by sporadic violence, and small scale terrorist incidents and guerilla attacks, until 1946.
In 1944, the
Grand Muftiof Jerusalem, Amin al-Husayni, the senior Islamic religious authority of the PalestinianArabs and close ally of Adolf Hitler, sponsored an unsuccessful chemical warfareassault on the Jewishcommunity in Palestine. Five parachutists were supplied with maps of Tel Aviv, canisters of a German–manufactured "fine white powder," and instructions from the Mufti to dump chemicals into the Tel Aviv water system. District police commander Fayiz Bey Idrissi later recalled, "The laboratory report stated that each container held enough poison to kill 25,000 people, and there were at least ten containers." [http://www.wymaninstitute.org/articles/2003-03-chemical.php]
On the 22nd of July 1946, the conflict took a significant turn with the bombing of the
King David Hotel- Jerusalem's most famous hotel and the fortified military and civilian headquarters of the British occupation. Operation Malonchikwas led by Menachim Begin, head of the militant Zionist underground assault unit, the Irgun. Dressed as Arabs, the Irgun militants drew a truck up to the kitchen of the King David Hotel and began to unload a cargo that looked like milk, but was in fact at least 500 lb of high explosives. Despite several warning phone-calls from the Irgun, the British commander refused to believe them, and refused to evacuate. As the BBCput it "the entire wing of a huge building was cut off as with a knife" [http://www.wetheliving.com/pipermail/atlantis/Week-of-Mon-20020722/009783.html] . At least 88 people were killed - including British, Arabs and 15 Jews who worked inside.
As Begin - later elected Prime Minister of Israel - wrote in his famous book "": "The revolt sprang from the earth... A new generation grew up which turned its back on fear. It began to fight instead of to plead. For nearly two thousand years, the Jews, as Jews, had not borne arms, and it was on this complete disarmament, as much psychological as physical, that our oppressors calculated... We fight, therefore we are"  .
David Ben Gurionadmitted to the Jewish Agencyin regard to stopping the upsurge in Jewish terrorism in Palestine: "We cannot do it because, as I told you, it is futile, sir, it is futile." [http://www.apo.org.au/webboard/print-version.chtml?filename_num=00047]
1947 to 1970 (approx)
The conflict at this point was characterised by being inter-state. Israel was attacked twice by its neighbours, in the
1948 Arab-Israeli Warand 1973 Yom Kippur War, and launched two invasions of its own, of Egypt in 1956 and - in what it characterised as a pre-emptive strike- of a combined Arab alliance in the 1967 Six Day War. In the course of the latter, Israel captured and occupied the territories of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heightsand Sinai Peninsula, areas which included several million mostly PalestinianArabs. Disputes over the final status of these occupied territories - and the ultimate destiny of the Palestinian population within them - would do much to shape the course of the conflict in coming years.
Popular Palestinian guerilla movements came to the fore in this time. Aircraft hijackings and bombings took place, the 1972 Israeli Olympic team was attacked and eleven athletes were killed. This led Israel to launch reprise assassinations in
Operation Wrath of God. Palestinian groups later on adopted suicide bombings. These actions were operated by a large number of groups and individuals, which made detection and prevention difficult, and were targeted not only at Israelis, but also at the nationals of other countries felt to be aiding them, principally America. Many of these actions were supported at State level, with countries such as Syria, Libyaand others openly sponsoring attacks of this kind.
There were several attacks by the Israelis, including armed incursions into Lebanon, especially the
1982 Lebanon War.
Various peace initiatives, such as 1978
Camp David Accordsand 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, 1993 Oslo Accordswith Palestinians, 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty and 2000 Camp David Summitwith Palestinians were brokered. That those countries which agreed to peace, such as Jordanand Egypt, were given back by Israel the land which had been occupied, upon conclusion of the peace process.
1987 onwards: The Intifadas
The popular uprising known as the
First Intifadain 1987, and the Second Intifada(al-Aqsa Intifada) in 2000, brought violence to the everyday street in a greater way than previously, and the response by the Israelis was also escalated.
Timeline of violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
List of organisations on both sides which are or have been responsible for violence
Palestinian, Arab, Islamic
* Quwwat Al-Sa'eqa
* Black September (operated mainly in the 1970s)
Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades
Abu Reish Brigades
Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
Omar Ben al-Khatib Warriors
Palestine Liberation Front
Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement
Palestinian Popular Struggle Front
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Popular Resistance Committees
15 May Organization
Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades
Arab Liberation Front
Lehi (group)(1940-48)After 1948:
Kach(banned by Israel government, membership is illegal)
Crime in Israel
List of massacres committed during the al-Aqsa Intifada
Child suicide bombers in the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts
Female suicide bombers
*Jihad (the concept)
Peace Process in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
#Begin, Menachim. "The Revolt". WH Allen, London. 1951
* [http://www.luntz.com/Docs/Survey_102103.pdf Survey of Israelis, Israeli-Arabs, and Palestinians on opinions and attitudes of peace, terrorism, religion]
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