[Diplomacy] Israel, Palestine, Hamas, Gaza-strip, West Bank, PLO: Conflict, Origin, Explained

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Pavan Kumar

To understand the Israel-Hamas conflict, we must start from the very beginning- the factors that led to creation of Israel and the current disputes.

  1. Geography: Israel Palestine, Gaza
  2. What is imperialism?
  3. Why imperialism and colonialism?
  4. Rise of Germany
  5. First World War and Palestine
  6. The Treaty of Versallies (1919)
  7. Hyperinflation
  8. Rise of Hitler
  9. Nazism, Eugenics, Jews
  10. Eugenics, Jews
  11. Ghettos
  12. Holocaust
  13. What is Anti-Semitism?
  14. What is Zionism?
  15. World War II and Zionism
  16. Arab Nations
  17. End of World War II, 1945
  18. UN resolution on Palestine
  19. Birth of Israel, 1948
  20. West Bank
  21. Gaza Strip and Palestinian Refugees
  22. Yasser Arafat and PLO, 1964
  23. Hamas, 1987
  24. Oslo Accords, 1993
  25. Palestine Authority (PA)
  26. Gaza Blockade, 2007
  27. Mavi Marmara incident, 2010
  28. Gilad Shalit
  29. Summary of the issue

Geography: Israel, Palestine, Gaza

Any discussion on this topic is useless, unless and until you know the map of region like the back of your hand.

map israel

PalestineA patch of land between Israel and Jordan.
JerusalemCity located within Palestine region, it is the sacred place for Christians, Muslims and Jews.Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel, (although not recognized by some countries).
Tel AvivSecond largest city after Jerusalem.
KnessetName of Israel’s parliament.
MossadSpy agency of Israel. Just like CIA of USA.

What is imperialism?

  • When a country establishes its economic and political dominance over other nations- it is known as imperialism.
  • There are many ways to achieve imperialism: one of them is colonialism- that is what Britishers did in India and Africa. Colonialism means practice of acquiring colonies by conquest (war) or purchase or any other thuggery and making them dependent on your home country (UK).
  • After end of Second World War, most of the colonies achieved independence. But nowadays the powerful nations such as US and China, colonize poor countries via providing financial aids, weapons to kill opposing sects/tribes, installing puppet regime etc. this is known as Neo-Colonialism.

Why imperialism and colonialism?

  1. For getting free labourers to work cotton gins. (slave trade)
  2. To establish monopoly of trade over with given country (e.g. India’s silk and spices)
  3. The Industrial Revolution led to factories, mass production but still you needed raw material. Colonies supplied that raw material (cotton, coal, iron ore and other minerals).
  4. Colonies also gave new customers for your finished factorymade products. (because local handicraft artisan get destroyed due to heavy taxation, so juntaa has no option other than buying your machine and products.)

Rise of Germany

  • Between 1800 and 1900, majority of Asia and Africa had been colonized. Britain and France were main players here.
  • Earlier, Germany was made up of small princely states. It was Otto von Bismarck, who unified them and created the modern German empire. Our Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is often called “Bismarck of India” for this reason.
  • But the challenges that Sardar Patel faced, were tougher, both in size and complexity than of Bismarck’s.
  • Anyways, after the unification, Germany transformed into an economic powerhouse.
  • By 1914, Germany’s iron ore, steel production =higher than France + Germany. Germany had entered the shipping trade in a big way. Similarly Italy too was rising.
  • France and Britain didn’t like it- not one bit.
  • For them, Germany = A serious economic threat to their status and their colonies.
  • USA  had not yet become supercop, superpower of the world. On July 4, 1776, it declared independence from Britain. But the Northern and Southern States of USA, had opposing idea about abolition of black slavery. That led to their internal Civil War from 1861 to 1865. So, USA was busy with its domestic troubles.

First World War and Palestine

  • The superficial reason for First World War (1914-1918) = Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, but actually it was this rivalry between nations for economic reasons and control over colonies. The world was divided into two gangs
Allied power (won)Central Powers (lost)
  1. Britain
  2. France
  3. USA
  4. Russia (October revolution- Lenin in power, Withdrew from war)
  5. Italy
  6. Japan +some misc. nations
  1. Germany
  2. Austria
  3. Hungary
  4. Ottoman Empire (led to Khilafat movement in India)
  • Prior to First World war, the Jerusalem and surrounding Palestine region was under the control of Ottoman Turks.
  • But as you can see from above table, they had sided with Central Powers (Germany) in First World War.
  • During the course of First world war, British army captured Jerusalem and put this Palestine region under military administration.
  • This created resentment among the Native Arabs residing in Palestine. Especially after the Jewish people started immigrating here, due to the oppression by Hitler.

The Treaty of Versailles (1919)

After the war, the Allied nations held a conference in Versailles, near Paris in France.

The Allied nations (US,UK,France) forced Germany to sign this treaty else face another military invasion. So Germany had to sign this humuliating treaty under which

  1. The coal mines of Germany were transferred to France
  2. Germany cannot maintain an army bigger than one lakh troops.
  3. Germany cannot build airforce or submarines.
  4. Colonies of Germany, were taken over and distributed among the Allied nations.
  5. Germany had to pay $65 crore as war-reparation to these Allied Nations. (Compensation for injury).

Hyperinflation

  • The German economy had already collapsed due to heavy loss of man and material during World War I.
  • The treaty of Versailles only added insult to this injury.
  • During this time, German Government resorted to “printing more currency”. (Name of German currency=Mark)
  • That led to hyper-inflation (because truck load of paper-cash on one side but not truckload of potatoes on the other side).
  • So paper currency lost its value. Check this photo: A German woman burns currency, because its paper was cheaper fuel than coal!

hyperinflation

Result of Hyper-inflation

  1. A loaf of bread that cost 20,000 marks in the morning would cost 5,000,000 marks by nightfall.
  2. Restaurant prices went up while customers were eating.
  3. It took 4.2 trillion German marks to buy a single American dollar!
  4. A lifetime of savings would no longer buy even a railway ticket!
  5. Pensions planned for a lifetime were wiped out completely.

Rise of Hitler

  • During these hard times, Hitler used to attract German crowds with his charismatic and fierce speeches.
  • He wanted Germany to withdraw from Treaty of Versailles.
  • He identified Jew as the enemy responsible for all of Germany’s ills.
  • His argument: Jews own big business, big banks, big department stores, and big labour. And Jews have been profiteering during First World War, during the Treaty of Versailles, during this hyper-inflation. So, they’re leading happy life at our expense. Jews are basically responsible for anything and everything that is bad in Germany.
  • German public and war veterans were already distressed by the hyperinflation and unemployment- So many of them started worshiping Hitler as their savior.
  • 1933, Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. Within a week, He dismissed all Jews from civil services.

Nazism

  • Now in power, Hitler started economic reconstruction of Germany on one hand and simultaneously the “racial purification” on the other hand.

His main policies/beliefs were following

  1. One party rule: all the opposition leaders killed, jailed or expelled from Germany.
  2. Complete ban on Communist activities, Trade unions and Labour strikes. This was done to increase industrial output and make Germany war-ready.
  3. He openly defied treaty of Versailles, by increasing troops in the army, construction of submarines, aircrafts etc.
  4. He made friendship pacts with unhappy nations from the Allied gang: Italy and Russia.
  5. He decided to unify all German-speaking areas of Europe.

Eugenics, Jews

  • Eugenics means selective breeding of humans.
  • Hitler’s opinion: World is divided into Aryan (pure blood/Germans) and Non-Aryans (including Jews, Gypsies and other minorities in Germany).
  • The Non-Aryan are polluting human race with their inferior quality genes and bloodline. So, under Hitler’s rule, following laws/policies/rules were created:
  1. Forced sterilization (vasectomy) of Jews, people suffering from disability, diseases etc.
  2. To increase the birth rate of “pure” Germans, newly married couples were given loans. And  these loans would be forgiven with the birth of each child.
  3. Marriage or sexual relations between Jews and Germans were prohibited.
  4. Jews given a lower class of citizenship. They were ineligible to apply for most Government jobs, college admissions.
  5. Only “racial” Germans were entitled to civil and political rights.

When Indian Parents try to find “bride with fair white skin” for their son, it is also one (stupid) idea indirectly related to Eugenics. That’s why Skin whitening creams make huge business in India. Eugenics is now making re-entry, indirectly through the research related to “designer babies.” Anyways back to the topic:

Ghettos

  • Under Hitler’s laws, Jews could reside in only some specific areas, known as as “Ghettos”.
  • Ghettos were enclosed with walls and gates and kept locked at night.
  • Outside the ghetto, Jews had to wear a yellow colored identifying badge.
  • More recently, the term ghetto has come to apply to any urban area exclusively settled by a minority group. In the United States, Mexicans and blacks have been compelled to live in ghettos, by economic and social pressures.

Holocaust

  • In 1942, Hitler decide to get “final solution to the Jewish problem.
  • All the Jews were rounded up by Secret Police (Gestapo).
  • The physically fit Jewish men were sent to work in labour camps (to aid German war production during Second World war),
  • While pregnant women, young children, the elderly, handicapped and sick were killed in gas-chambers.
  • Holocaust is the term used to describe this mass murder of 60 lakh Jews under Nazi regime from 1941 until 1945.
  • In many nations of Europe, it is a criminal offense to say that “Holocaust did not happen.” Some poets, authors, fashion designers and other self-proclaimed intellectuals cum drug addicts have denied holocaust and run into legal trouble.
  • Iranian President Ahmedinijad also ‘denied Holocaust’, led to big uproar.

What is Anti-Semitism?

  • Term used to describe the harassment done to Jewish people.
  • What Hitler did, was one example of Anti-Semitism, but same things were also happening in Russia, Austria as well.

What is Zionism?

  • What is Zion?=Name of the hill on which the Temple of Jerusalem was located.
  • Zionism is the term used to describe the Jewish political movement of the late 19th century.
  • Their Objective= to unite the Jewish diaspora all over world and settle them in Palestine.
  • They started taking donations from wealthy Jews, helped the Holocaust survivors to migrate to Palestine and surrounding regions.
  • This movement led to establishment of Israel in 1948.

World War II and Zionism

  • Recall that after First World War, Palestine region was under British Administration.
  • Official policy of British = Prevent Jews from settling in Palestine region because it was leading to riots between Jews and native Arabs.
  • But during the course of World war II, the US army discovered Nazi extermination camps. This created deep sympathy for Jewish people in USA. The Senators and Congressmen of USA, started lobbying for Zionist cause.
  • Therefore U.S. President Truman requested British Government to immediatly admit 1 lakh Jewish Holocaust survivors into Palestine, and unrestricted Jewish immigration in Palestine in future.

Arab Nations

  • As the second world war came to an end (1945), the neighboring Arab countries began to take a more direct interest in Palestine.
  • They held a conference in Egypt and made official statement. The gist of their position was
  1. We’ve sympathies for the European Jews who suffered under Hitler’s dictatorship.
  2. But the issue of European Jewish survivors ought not to be confused with Zionism.
  3. If you (Allied champions:US,UK) allow Jews to settle in Palestine, it’ll cause great injustice to the Native Arabs and therefore we will oppose it.

End of World War II, 1945

  • The Jews that survived holocaust and extermination camps, had no home of their own- everything was destroyed in the war. The Zionists helped them immigrate and settle in Palestine.
  • But the Palestinian Arabs decided that no more Jews should arrive and that Palestine should achieve independence as an Arab state. (in 1946 there were 12 lakh Arabs and 7 lakh Jews in Palestine). There was rioting and violence everywhere, from both sides.
  • The area was still under British administration. But during this time, Britain lacked the money, political will and military force to maintain hard control over its colonies.
  • In Feb 1947, Britishers were busy negotiating independence of India. They were also eager to decrease costly military presence in Palestine.
  • So British Government decided to handover the Palestine question to United Nations.

UN resolution on Palestine

  • In late 1947, The United nations General Assembly passed a resolution: This Palestine region be partitioned into an Arab State and a Jewish state, and Jerusalem will become an International centre. (something like Chandigarh between Punjab and Haryana). Check the map:

UN partion plan for palestine

  • Arab nations opposed this resolution.
  • The Zionists welcomed the partition proposal because it recognized a Jewish state and because it allotted more than half of (west-of-Jordan) Palestine to them.
  • Soon after the UN resolution, rioting and civil war broke out in Palestine, between the native Arab and Jews. You can imagine the hardship of people- similar to partition of India-Pakistan.

Birth of Israel, 1948

  • As the civil war, rioting, murder, loot, plunder, assassinations spread, on 14th May 1948, the Last British high commissioner left Palestine.
  • Immediately, the Zionist leaders declared Israel a free Nation. Within a few hours, USA also recognized Israel as a nation.
  • In the upcoming days, the Arab nations: Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt sent their armies but were defeated by Israeli forces. (this is known as First Israel-Arab War)

West Bank

map israel West Bank

  • Recall that UN General Assembly had favored the partition of Palestine region into an Arab State and a Jewish state.
  • While Jewish State (Israel) came into existence, but there was no Palestine Arab State because Palestinian Arabs were not organized, unlike Zionists, they lacked the money and gun power of their own. They relied on the armies sent by Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt, to fight for their cause.
  • The problem was: What to do with Jerusalem city?
  • After The First Israel-Arab war, the Jerusalem city and surrounding was divided between Israel (West) and Jordan (East).
  • West Bank is the region on the west side of Jordan River.
  • From 1950 to 1967 it was ruled by Jordan.
  • But Israel captured it in 1967’s war (also known as 6 Days war, or Third Israel-Arab war).

Gaza Strip and Palestinian Refugees

  • Again recall that UN General Assembly had favored the partition of Palestine region into an Arab State and a Jewish state.
  • Under that resolution, UN General Assembly had said that Gaza strip will be given to Arab State. (observe the map).
  • After Israel became an independent nation (1948), the Arabs from Tel-Aviv and other parts of Israel/Palestine region, had started migrating to this Gaza strip, to save themselves from riots and looting.
  • These are called Palestinian (Arab) refugees.
  • During the first Israel-Arab war, the Egyptian army had captured Gaza strip. But In 1967’s war, Israel re-captured Gaza Strip.
  • But The Egyptian government did not consider Gaza Strip as a part of Egypt and did not allow those refugees to become Egyptian citizens or to migrate to Egypt or to other Arab countries. (their side of border was opened in 2011)
  • On the other side, Israel did not allow these refugees to return to their former homes.
  • So these refugees are stuck from both the sides, live in poverty and food aids from United Nations.
  • Ever since, there is rioting and violent street clashes between Gaza’s Palestinians (refugees/Hamas) and occupying Israeli troops.

Yasser Arafat and PLO, 1964

  • So far, the Palestinian Arabs were relying on outside support (Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon), but later realized they had to get themselves organized to fight for their own cause. Thus came Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
  • Soon, Yasser Arafat became the leader of PLO.
  • PLO launched guerrilla war against Israel during the 1960s to 1980s from its camps in Jordan.
  • But later on PLO got into power-struggle with Jordanian King, and were expelled from there. So PLO shifted their base to Lebanon.
  • 1982, Israel launched military attack on Lebanon to destroy the PLO camps.
  • Ultimately Yasser Arafat concluded that military fight with Israel = useless and futile.
  • So, He decided to accept the earlier UN resolution (recall: UN wanted Palestine region to be divided between a Jewish State and an Arab State).
  • He proposed, “Our PLO is the Government-in-exile. We’re representing that “Arab State” envisioned under UN resolution. We recognize Israel as the Jewish state, we accept their right to exist. Now give us our land, Gaza Strip and West Bank.”

Hamas, 1987

  • They’re political-militant organization stationed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They run their own schools, charities, clinics, and schools in these areas.
  • They get money and weapons from tunnels through Egypt-Gaza border.

tunnel smuggling

  • They want to destroy Israel and the create an Islamic state in Palestine.
  • The Difference between Hamas and PLO = both started as militant movements for Palestinian Arabs But PLO has (almost) ceased violence while Hamas continues to remain armed and dangerous.

Oslo Accords, 1993

Israel-PLO accords for Palestine 1993

After many rounds of talks, Israeli Government and Yasser Arafat’s PLO entered into peace agreement, according to which

  1. Israel and PLO will formally recognize eachother’s right to exist.
  2. A new Palestine authority (PA) will be formed, it’ll have elected Arab representatives.
  3. Israel will gradually handover the administration of Gaza strip and West Bank, to this Palestine Authority (PA).

But Hamas was opposed to Oslo accords.

Palestine Authority (PA)

  • It was formed under the Oslo Accord.
  • Elections were held, Yasser Arafat’s  Fatah party won majority seats and he became the first President of Palestine Authority (PA).
  • Israel withdrew its military from Gaza strip, and handed over the civil functions (police, municipality etc) to this Palestine Authority. (1994)
  • Yasser Arafat died. (2004)
  • Yasser Arafat’s Fatah Party was defeated by the Hamas Party, in 2006’s election for Palestine Authority,
  • Hamas and Fatah eventually formed a coalition government, but there was violence and power struggle between these two camps.
  • Ultimately, Hamas got control of the Gaza Strip, while Fatah took control of the West Bank.

Gaza Blockade, 2007

Gaza wall blockade

  • In 2007, Gaza strip was under Hamas rule. The acts of terrorism continued.
  • Israel declared them as a hostile entity and approved sanctions against Gaza strip- including electricity cuts, heavily restricted imports, and border closures.
  • Hamas retaliated by launching rockets at Israeli cities.
  • So, Israel started military invasion on the Gaza, mainly to destroy those tunnels through which Hamas gets rockets and other weapons.
  • In this clash, more than 1,000 were killed. Finally Israel and Hamas declared a unilateral cease-fire.
  • Since then Gaza strip is in control of Hamas but Israel has blocked the whole area with huge wall.

Mavi Marmara incident, 2010

  • Some NGOs, Peace workers wanted to deliver food, other humanitarian aid and construction materials to Gaza refugees.
  • They came by sea using a ship named Mavi Marmara, wanted to land on Gaza strip But were intercepted by Israeli military.
  • Each side accused other one for starting trouble. Led to much uproar about human rights violation.
  • This was asked in UPSC’s General Studies (Mains) 2010 paper.

Gilad Shalit

  • Israeli soldier, abducted by Hamas during a raid in 2006.
  • They kept him as a hostage for five years and returned him to Israel for the release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, in 2011.

Summary of the issue

  1. Originally, Palestine was under control of Ottoman empire, but British captured it during first world war.
  2. In the inter-war years, facing the Antisemitism in Germany and Russia, the Jews started “Zionist movement” to create a separation nation for them in Palestine. But the native Palestinian Arabs opposed it.
  3. After second world war, British Government referred the matter to United Nations.
  4. United Nations, passed a resolution that Palestine will be divided into a Jewish State and an Arab State. And Gaza strip will be given to the Arab State.
  5. When Britisher left the area, Jews declared their own nation “Israel”, but Arabs of Palestine couldn’t declare their own nation.
  6. The neighboring Arab nations (Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon)  sent their armies, leading to Israel-Arab wars. In the end, Israel won and captured Gaza Strip and West Bank.
  7. Two resistance movement started against Israel: (1) Yasser Arafat (PLO) (2) Hamas.
  8. PLO entered into peace with Israel under Oslo Accords, while Hamas continued the path of terrorism and suicide bombers.
  9. A Palestine Authority (PA) was created and Israel handed over the civilian administration of Gaza and West bank to this PA.
  10. Initially Yasser Arafat’s Fatah party used to win elections to Palestine Authority (PA) and all was going good.
  11. But Hamas party won 2007’s election. So, Israel started blockade of Gaza strip. Both went into military conflicts with sporadic ceasefires and fighting every now and then.
  12. The current Israel-Hamas conflict being one of them. Hamas wants Israel to lift Economic blockade of Gaza and Israel wants Hamas to stop its militant movement and arms-smuggling through tunnels.
  13. India’s position (yes you guessed it right): “both sides should exercise restrain and settle the matter via peaceful talks and negotiations.”

India’s Stand on Palestine

(this portion is contributed by Mr.Palas Nuwal)

  • India supports a united, independent, viable, sovereign state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secured and recognized borders side by side at peace with Israel.
1936Congress working committee sent greetings to Palestine and on 27th September first observed Palestine day.
1939Session of INC adopted a resolution on Palestine and looked forward to the emergence of an Independent democratic state in Palestine in which Jews rights would be protected. India was the member of UN special committee on Palestine.
1974India became the first non – Arab country to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestine people.
1980GOI announced in Parliament India’s decision to accord full diplomatic recognition to the PLO office in New Delhi. It was after this that Yasser Arafat paid a three day visit to India, during which he described India as an ‘eternal friend’.
1988India recognized Palestine as a state. Indian Government has constructed the Palestine embassy building in New Delhi, as a gift of the people and GOI to the Palestine people.
  • India also supports Palestine in a variety of tangible ways, including the contribution of millions of dollars as budget support for the Palestine National Authority and assistance to Palestine in developing its human resources through India’s technical cooperation programme.

For the entire archive of Diplomacy and International Relations (IR) related articles, visit: mrunal.org/diplomacy

MCQs

1. Which of the following not correctly matched?

CountryCapital
  1. Beirut
Lebanon
  1. Syria
Damascus
  1. Jordan
Amman

2. What is the correct order of these water bodies from North to South: Red Sea, Black Sea, and Dead Sea.

  1. Black > Red > Dead
  2. Dead > Black > Red
  3. Black > Dead> Red

3. Which of the following countries don’t share land border with Israel?

  1. Jordan and Egypt
  2. Lebanon and Jordan
  3. Saudi and Iran
  4. Egypt and Lebanon

4. Find correct Statement

1. Gulf of Aquaba is linked with Red Sea
2. Gulf of Suez is linked with Red Sea

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both
  4. One

5. Which of the following is not a member-state of United Nations:
1) Palestine, 2) South Sudan 3) Kosovo

  1. Only 1 and 3
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. All of them

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179 Comments on “[Diplomacy] Israel, Palestine, Hamas, Gaza-strip, West Bank, PLO: Conflict, Origin, Explained”

  1. This one gave me a thorough background of the whole issue. You write so good !! Thanks!!

  2. The concept of “Semitic” peoples is derived from Biblical accounts of the origins of the cultures known to the ancient Hebrews. In an effort to categorise the peoples known to them, those closest to them in culture and language were generally deemed to be descended from their forefather Shem.

    In Genesis 10:21–31, Shem is described as the father of Aram, Ashur, and Arpachshad: the Biblical ancestors of the Arabs, Aramaeans, Assyrians, Babylonians, Chaldeans, Sabaeans, and Hebrews, etc., all of whose languages are closely related; the language family containing them was therefore named “Semitic” by linguists.

    Kindly, update the article with the india’s present stand over the issue, cause it was silent during the recent Gaza Pounding.

  3. 1)c
    2)c
    3)c
    4)a

  4. Excellent explanation…….

  5. Great article Sir :) Happy to know the history of this ISSUE, was wandering here and there but got it right here!

  6. Sir please upload answers of these questions

  7. simply…..superb

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