Once again, the peace in Middle-East has jolted due to the war-like situation between Israel and Palestine. On Tuesday, the Israeli capital Tel Aviv, Ashkelon and the city of Holon were targeted by Palestinian radical organisation Hamas. On Monday, Hamas fired hundreds of rockets from its occupied Gaza Strip on Israel’s Jerusalem. In response, the Israeli Air Force carried out an airstrike on the Hamas-occupied Gaza Strip targeting the 13-story building here. The entire building collapsed in this attack. Israel says that the building housed the office of the political wing of Hamas. More than 38 people have died in this conflict since Sunday. An Indian woman was among those who died. The reason for this conflict between Israel and Palestine is years old. Since the independence of Israel in 1948, Arab countries and Israel have come face to face many times. There are clashes between the Palestinian protesters and the Israeli police in Jerusalem and its surrounding areas.
What is the present conflict?
The latest reason for the conflict is the eviction of Muslims from Sheikh Jarrah by Israel. Sheikh Jarrah is the area of East Jerusalem from where Israel is evacuating Palestinian families and settling Jewish people.
Last Friday, due to Ramadan, a large number of Muslim people had gathered to offer prayers in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque. After the prayers, these people started protesting against the eviction from Sheikh Jarrah. These protests turned violent and during this time there was a clash between the Israeli police and the Palestinians.
There have been reports of clashes between the Israeli police and the Palestinians since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Jerusalem. The number of Muslims coming to Al-Aqsa in Ramadan is higher than on normal days. Israeli police barricaded the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem city. Muslims said that this is an attempt to curb their religious freedom. Measuring the heat of the moment, the police removed the barricading from there, but this was also a major reason for the instigation of Palestinians.
Another reason for the dispute is also being told to Jerusalem-Day. Jerusalem Day is celebrated as a celebration of Israel’s victory in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Israel won this war in 6 days and captured East Jerusalem. On May 10 this year, Jerusalem Day was celebrated.On this day, the Israelis march to Jerusalem and pray to the Western Wall. The Western Wall is considered a sacred place for Jews. Violent clashes also occurred during this celebration march. On May 10, the case of the eviction of 4 Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah was to be heard in the Israeli Supreme Court. It has also been postponed because of the growing conflict.
Historical traces of this conflict
This struggle has been going on for at least 100 years. In the present map where Israel is situated, there was once a Turkish rule called the Ottoman Empire. The first World War began in 1914. Turkey supported the central powers against the Allies in this world war. The Allies also won the war which also included Britain. So Turkey and Britain came face to face. After the war, this area came under the British Empire.
Contemporary to this period, the spirit of Zionism was at its peak. It was a political ideology aimed at establishing a separate and independent Jewish state. As a result of this, Jews from all over the world started coming to Palestine. In 1917, Britain’s Foreign Secretary James Belfor made an announcement stating that Britain was committed to making Palestine the homeland of the Jews.
Later, after the conclusion of World War II in 1945, Britain suffered huge losses in this war and was no longer the same power. Here Jews continued to enter Palestine and other countries began to pressurize Britain to rehabilitate Jews. Eventually, Britain withdrew from the matter and the issue went to the United Nations, which was formed only in 1945.
On 29 November 1947, the United Nations divided Palestine into two. One part was declared as Arab part and another became Israel. Jerusalem was kept under the international government by the United Nation.
Arab countries refused to accept the UN’s decision. They said that they got less land commensurately to the population. In fact, Palestine gained less than half of the land after partition, whereas 90% of land was occupied by Arabs before partition.
The following year, Israel declared itself an independent nation. The US immediately recognized Israel as a country. This was followed by several wars in Arab countries and Israel. Israel defeated the Arab countries in every war.
Jerusalem: A bone of contention
Jerusalem is a centre of faith for people of Muslim, Christian and Jewish faith. Al-Aqsa mosque situated here is believed by Muslims that Prophet Mohammad came here from Mecca. There is also a ‘Dome of Rock’ near this mosque. According to Muslims, this is the place from where Prophet Mohammed travelled to heaven. Muslims consider it the third holiest place after Mecca and Medina.
The place is very pious for Christians also , ‘The Church of the Holy Sepulchre present here is very revered by the Christians. Christians around the world believe that Jesus was crucified at this place and this is also the place where Jesus resurrected.
Western Wall present in the city is the holiest site for Jews people. The Jews people say that they once had their holy temple here and this wall is the remnant of that. For Jews, this place is the ‘Holy of Holies’. The Jews believe that it was here that Ibrahim sacrificed his son Issac. The Jews also believe that the world was created from this place.
Jerusalem is the reason for the dispute, along with the holy sites of the three religions. Israel also captured East Jerusalem after victory in the 1967 war. Since then Israel considers this entire place as its capital. However, the international community does not recognise this claim. Moreover, the Palestinians say that it will be their capital once Palestine becomes an independent nation.
Demand of Palestine
Palestine demands that Israel should go oblige to the international borders as they were before 1967 and wants to establish an independent nation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Besides, Palestine wants Israel to renounce its claim on East Jerusalem, because Palestine wants to make it its capital after independence.
Israel’s say on this
Israel has been rejecting Palestine’s demands. Israel is not ready to give up its claim from Jerusalem. Israel says that Jerusalem is its capital and is an integral part of Israel.
Area of disputes between the two
- West Bank: The West Bank is between Israel and Jordan. Israel held it after the 1967 war. Both Israel and Palestine claim this area.
- Gaza Strip: The Gaza Strip is between Israel and Egypt. This region is currently occupied by Hamas. It is an anti-Israel group. In September 2005, Israel withdrew its army from the Gaza Strip. In 2007, Israel imposed several restrictions on the area.
- Golan Heights: This plateau region is politically and strategically important for Israel. It has been under Israeli occupation since 1967. There have been several attempts for peace talks on the issue of occupation in this area, but there was no success.
Contentious policy on the citizenship of East Jerusalem
Since the occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel considers the Jewish people born here to be Israeli citizens, but Palestinians born in the same area are only allowed to live several restrictions. Moreover, this limited right will be taken away from them if they stay out of Jerusalem for more than a certain period. Many human rights groups call this policy of Israel discriminatory, but Israel has always denied these accusations.