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Israel Palestine conflict

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Israel Palestine conflict:


Context:

At the United Nations Security Council, India has reiterated its strong support for the just Palestinian cause and its unwavering commitment to the two-state solution.

Background:

  • There is an ongoing fight in Israel and the Gaza Strip. Roughly 200 Palestinians have died, and officials say nearly half of them are women and children. Israel has reported at least 10 dead.
  • An escalation of fighting between Israelis and Palestinians has led the UN to warn of a “full-scale war”.

Firstly, where is the Gaza Strip?

The Gaza Strip is an entirely artificial creation that emerged in 1948 when roughly three-fourths of Palestine’s Arab population was displaced, in some cases expelled, during the course of Israel’s creation. And most of the refugees, they were sort of scattered across the region in neighboring countries like Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

  • Some went to the West Bank, which came under Jordanian rule after 1948. And a very large number went to the Gaza Strip, which is this tiny little coastal strip between Egypt and what is now Israel. Today, the population of Gaza, about 70% of Gaza’s population are refugees.

Who controls it?

Hamas forcibly took control over the Gaza Strip in 2007. Shortly thereafter, the Israelis imposed a complete closure on Gaza’s borders. They declared Gaza to be an enemy entity. Of course, Gaza is not a state.

  • Hamas, of course, is viewed by Israel and by much of the international community as a terrorist organization, including the United States, for their history of attacks on civilians and so forth.

Israel- Palestine conflict- Historical Background:

  • The conflict has been ongoing for more than a 100 years between Jews and Arabs over a piece of land between Jordan river and the Mediterranean sea.
  • It was between 1882 to 1948, when the Jews from around the world gathered in Palestine. This movement came to be known as Aliyahs. 
  • Then in 1917, Ottoman Empire fell after World War 1 and the UK got control over Palestine.
  • The land was inhabited by a Jewish minority and Arab majority.
  • The Balfour Declaration was issued after Britain gained control with the aim of establishing a home for the Jews in Palestine. However during that period the Arabs were in majority in Palestine.
  • Jews favoured the idea while the Palestinians rejected it. Almost 6 million Jews lost their lives in the Holocaust which also ignited further demand of a separate Jewish state.
  • Jews claimed Palestine to be their natural home while the Arabs too did not leave the land and claimed it.
  • The international community supported the Jews.
  • In 1947, the UN voted for Palestine to be split into separate Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem becoming an international city.
  • That plan was accepted by Jewish leaders but rejected by the Arab side and never implemented.

The creation of Israel and the ‘Catastrophe’:

  • It was in the year 1948 that Britain lifted its control over the area and Jews declared the creation of Israel. Although Palestinians objected, Jews did not back out which led to an armed conflict.
  • The neighboring Arabs also invaded and were thrashed by the Israeli troops. This made thousands of Palestinians flee their homes. This was called Al-Nakba, or the “Catastrophe”.
  • Israel had gained maximum control over the territory after this came to an end.
  • Jordan then went on a war with Israel and seized control over a part of the land which was called the West Bank, and Egypt occupied Gaza.
  • Jerusalem was divided between Israel in the West, and Jordan in the East. However, no formal peace agreement was signed, each side continued to blame each other for the tension and the region saw more wars.
  • Israeli forces captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank, various areas of Syrian Golan Heights, Gaza and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula in the year 1967.

Present scenario:

  • Israel still occupies the West Bank, and although it pulled out of Gaza the UN still regards that piece of land as part of occupied territory.
  • Israel claims the whole of Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
  • The US is one of only a handful of countries to recognise Israel’s claim to the whole of the city.

What’s happening now?

  • Tensions are often high between Israel and Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank.
  • Gaza is ruled by a Palestinian militant group called Hamas, which has fought Israel many times. Israel and Egypt tightly control Gaza’s borders to stop weapons getting to Hamas.
  • Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank say they’re suffering because of Israeli actions and restrictions. Israel say it is only acting to protect itself from Palestinian violence.
  • Things have escalated since the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan in mid-April 2021, with nightly clashes between police and Palestinians.
  • The threatened eviction of some Palestinian families in East Jerusalem has also caused rising anger.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Where is the west bank?
  2. Gaza strip.
  3. Golan heights.
  4. Who are Hamas?
  5. What is Al-Nakba?
  6. About the conflict.

Mains Link:

Suggest solutions to end the long standing Israel- Palestine conflict.

Sources: the Hindu.