Violence in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict

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

Up until World War II, violence in Palestine was sporadic, and intensified in relation to increased Jewish immigration as part of the Zionist movement, which sought to create a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. At the time, it had an overwhelmingly Arab population, 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 Wall of the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism and 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 Islamist militant organization led by Izz ad-Din al-Qassam who 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 Leumi and the Haganah, practised the policy of Havlagah (restraint), Irgun chose to retaliate, furthering chaos in the region.

WW2 and prior to formation of State of Israel

With the rise of Nazism in Europe, and again after World War II, Jews sought to relocate to this area in larger numbers.Although this plan to create a Jewish state in Palestine has its roots as far back as the 1897 First Zionist Congress in Basel, the Nazi Holocaust provided 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 Haganah were 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 Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husayni, the senior Islamic religious authority of the Palestinian Arabs and close ally of Adolf Hitler, sponsored an unsuccessful chemical warfare assault on the Jewish community 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." []

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 Malonchik was 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 BBC put it "the entire wing of a huge building was cut off as with a knife" [] . 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" [1] .

As David Ben Gurion admitted to the Jewish Agency in 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." []

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 War and 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 Heights and Sinai Peninsula, areas which included several million mostly Palestinian Arabs. 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.

1970 onward

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, Libya and 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 Accords and 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, 1993 Oslo Accords with Palestinians, 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty and 2000 Camp David Summit with Palestinians were brokered. That those countries which agreed to peace, such as Jordan and 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 Intifada in 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
* Fatah Hawks
* Force 17
*Islamic Jihad
*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

Israeli, Jewish

Before 1948:
* Haganah (1920-1948)
* Irgun (1931-1948)
* Lehi (group) (1940-48)After 1948:
* Kach (banned by Israel government, membership is illegal)

ee also

*Crime in Israel
*List of massacres committed during the al-Aqsa Intifada
*Islamist terrorism
*Child suicide bombers in the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts
*Female suicide bombers
*Martyr (shahid)
*Jewish terrorism
*Jihad (the concept)
*Peace Process in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict


#Begin, Menachim. "The Revolt". WH Allen, London. 1951

External links

* [ Survey of Israelis, Israeli-Arabs, and Palestinians on opinions and attitudes of peace, terrorism, religion]

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