Plight of the Palastinian

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History of Palestine

The Plight of the Palestinians: A Nation Denied A Homeland
Key Historical Events


As Israel continued to pound the Gaza strip Palestinian civilian casualties rose to more than 1,200 of which over half were women and children and injuring over 5000 people.


In June, Hamas and Israel reached a ceasefire to halt the cross-border rocket attacks to end Israeli offensives in Gaza. The truce ended six months later. Palestinians accused Israel of never completely opening its border, while Israel accused Hamas of continuing its rocket attacks.

Israel launched an onslaught against Gaza targets in late December.


In March, a unity government was formed between Hamas and Fatah to try to stop the violence and ease an international boycott against the Palestinians.

Hamas later seized by force control over Gaza, including all the institutions previously under control by the Palestinian National Authority. As a result Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the Hamas-led unity government on June 14, and formed a new government headed by Dr. Salam Fayad.


In January, Hamas won a surprise victory in Palestinian Authority parliamentary elections, taking 76 of the 132 seats. Hamas and Fatah struggled to find a way to work together. Hamas said it had no plans to pursue peace talks with Israel, while Western nations refused to work with the new Hamas-dominated parliament.

On June 25, Hamas militants killed two Israeli soldiers and abducted Cpl. Gilad Shalit inside Israel. Israel closed the border with Gaza, cutting off the flow of people and many goods to the strip. The blockade was occasionally lifted to allow in humanitarian aid, but Gaza’s economy was further crippled.

Israel continued its campaign of targeted assassinations against the Hamas leadership. Hamas fired rockets into southern Israel.


Israel withdrew its settlers and troops from the Gaza Strip as part of its “Disengagement Plan” while it retained effective control over its borders, seashore and airspace. Palestinians celebrated the end of Israeli 38-year presence in Gaza. After that a more intense power struggle grew between Hamas and Fatah for control of the strip.


The International Court of Justice ruled that the separation wall built by the Israelis at the West Bank within the Occupied Palestinian Territory was illegal and dismantled, but Israel continued to build the wall ignoring the ruling by the international court.


The Middle East Quartet – US, EU, Russia and the UN – released a detailed road map to a two-State solution.


The UN Security Council adopted a resolution affirming a vision of two States – Israel and Palestine, living side by side within secure and rcognised borders.


The controversial visit by the Israeli leader Ariel Sharon to Al-Haram Al-Sharif (Al Aqsa Mosque) led to the second intifada. There was a massive loss of life, the re-occupation of territories under Palestinian self-rule, military incursions, extra-judicial killings of suspected Palestinian militants, suicide attacks, rocket and mortar fire and the destruction of property.


The signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements by both Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation in Washington eventually led to the partial withdrawal of Israeli forces, the elections of the Palestinian Council and the Presidency of the Palestinian Authority, the partial release of prisoners and the establishment of a functioning administration in the areas under Palestinian self-rule.


A Peace Conference on the Middle East convened in Madrid resulted in the mutual recognition between the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, which represented the Palestinian people.


There was a mass uprising against the Israeli occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (the intifada) resulted in heavy loss of life among the Palestinians as Israelis used strong tactics and force to fight off the Palestinians.


The International Conference on the Question of Palestine adopted the Geneva Declaration which contained the following: “The need to oppose and reject the establishment of settlements in the occupied territory and actions taken by Israel to change the status of Jerusalem, the right of all States in the region to existence within secure and internationally recognised boundaries, with justice and security for all people, and the attainment of the legitimate, inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.”


In June 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon with the intention to eliminate the PLO. A ceasefire was agreed upon and PLO troops withdrew from Beirut to neighbouring countries after the safety of thousands of Palestinian refugees were guaranteed. However, a large-scale massacre of refugees took place in the camps of Sabra and Shatila.


The Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) was conferred by the UN the status of observer in the General Assembly and in other international conferences held by the UN.


The UN reaffirmed the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty and to return.


A three week war beginning 6 October 1973 between Syria, Egypt, and Israel took place to reclaim the territories taken by Israel.


In the 1967 war Israel occupied the remaining territory of Palestine which was under Jordan and Egypt (West Bank, including East Jerusalem, some parts of the Lebanese territory, Golan Heights from Syria, Sinai peninsula in Egypt, and Gaza Strip). This resulted in a second exodus of half a million Palestinians. That same year the UN Security Council called on Israel to withdraw from the territories it had occupied .


The UN proposed the partitioning of Palestine into two independent states – one Palestinian Arab and the other Jewish. Resolution 181, which was passed on 29 November 1947, gave the Israelis 56 percent of Palestinian territory. The Jewish side proclaimed its independence as Israel in 1948. Jordan and Egypt controlled the other parts of the territory assigned to the Palestinian Arab state which did not come into being.

The 1948 war between Israel and Palestinians enabled Israel to occupy 78 per cent of the territory of Palestine, gaining an additional 22 percent over what was stipulated in the resolution. Over half of the indigenous Palestinian population were then expelled or displaced.


Palestine, along with other Arab states in the Middle-East, was a territory under the control of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Following the defeat of Turkey in the First World War Palestine was among the several former Ottoman Arab territories which were placed under the administration of Great Britain. Palestine was viewed as an important territory because places sacred to three world religions were located here.

The root of the Palestine situation can be traced to a declaration issued by the British Foreign Secretary, Sir Arthur James Balfour, and which became known thereafter as The Balfour Declaration. The declaration made on 2 November 1917 was as follows: “His Majesty’s Government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

From 1922 to 1947 large numbers of Jewish people migrated, mainly from Eastern Europe into Palestine. The numbers increased in the 1930s following Nazi persecution of the Jewish population. Palestinians’ resistance to this influx of Jews led to an uprising in 1936 which resulted in violence. Unable to cope with the increasing violence, Great Britain, in 1947, handed the problem over to the United Nations for resolution.

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From Grim to Bleak

An overview by Limkokwing University of Creative Technology

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