Restricted movement, high unemployment and widespread poverty are just a few examples of the sufferings experienced by families currently living in the occupied Palestinian territories. The situation, in this region of the world is a result of on going Israeli and Palestinian conflict, the seeds of which were sown back in 1948 during the formation of the state of Israel. Since then, there has been a constant struggle to reach any peaceful agreement between the two, resulting in violence, human suffering, and the formation of terrorist groups on both sides. In order for us to understand the current status in this region, we must take a look back at the historical events that have led to the situation today.

Against a backdrop of fear after the Holocaust many Western nations felt the Jewish people were entitled to a homeland in which they could feel safe and settled. On 14th May 1948 the State of Israel was proclaimed with the declaration taking full effect on the following day. A section of Palestine was used to carve out the new State of Israel, the first Jewish state for nearly 2000 years. However, neighbouring Arab nations rejected the new country and on 15th May 1948 Israel was invaded by Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq which sparked the ten month long Arab-Israeli War of 1948. Eventually a final armistice was reached in July 1949, however, by this time Israel had increased it’s territory forcing around 700,000 Palestinians to flee the newly occupied areas.

Since 1948 pressure had been culminating amongst Arab nations to lead an attack against Israel. Events such as the Suez Canal Crisis in 1956 had contributed to rising tensions. In 1964 the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organisation) was formed, democratically voted for by the Palestinian people. Three years later, in 1967 these tensions developed themselves into six days of fighting between Israel and it’s Arab neighbours starting on 5th June. The result of which was Israeli victory, and an increase of it’s territory by 50%.

With no progress in regaining the territory lost in 1967 through diplomatic means Egypt and Syria attack Israel on 6th October 1973 on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur. This ended in a ceasefire on 11th November as a result of U.S and Soviet Union pressure to stop the fighting. In the following years, under Arafat’s leadership, a number of attacks were launched by the PLO against Israel. However, to the surprise of many, Arafat made a dramatic appearance at the United Nations suggesting a peaceful solution to the troubles. He stated: “Today I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter’s gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.” Five years later, in 1979, Egyptian President Sadat became the first leader of an Arab leader to recognise Israel forming the basis for potential peace between Israel and Egypt. However, in 1981 Sadat was assassinated by Islamic extremists who opposed peace with Israel.

Between the years of 1981 and 1987 tensions in the region were still manifesting themselves with events such as the invasion of Lebanon in 1982. The Palestinians living in the Israeli occupied Gaza Strip and the West Bank had not accepted Israeli rule during the 20 years after the war of 1967. In November 1987 an intifada, or uprising broke out amongst the Palestinian population and despite the strength of the Israeli military it was unable to quell the uprising.

Failed peace talks in Madrid in 1991 led to the Oslo peace process which began in 1993. In September 1993 the Declaration of Principles was signed on the White House lawn in the presence of Rabin, the Prime Minister of Israel and Arafat the leader of the PLO who historically shook hands as 400 million people from around the world watched. The agreement stated it was time to “recognise their mutual legitimate and political rights, and strive to live in peaceful coexistence and mutual dignity and security and achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement and historic reconciliation through the agreed political process.”

During the mid to late 90s the deadly phenomenon of the suicide bomber emerged. Hamas, an Islamic military group founded in 1987, carried out a number of suicide bomb attacks in Israel between the years of 1996 and 1999. In 1994 the Palestinian Authority was created and by the end of the September 2000 a second intifada had broken out. By 2002 a number attacks had been carried out by Palestinian militants including a suicide bomb at a nightclub in Tel Aviv on 1st June 2001 killing 21 Israeli teenagers. Outside events such as the attacks on 9/11 added tension to an already exacerbated problem in the Middle East and the intifada continued.

On 8th February 2005 leaders from both sides met and announced an end to the violence. Israel agreed to withdraw it’s troops and release Palestinian prisoners. However, despite this, Hamas launched a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv in the same month causing Israel to halt it’s withdrawal plans.

In recent years leading up to now the conflict has done little else other than intensify. Between the years of 1965 and 2013 there have been around 21,500 casualties as a result of the fighting. On 8th July this year Israel launched it’s deadliest air strike and in June three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed while hiking through the West Bank. These incidents have increased tensions and hatred between the Israelis and the Palestinians. It is a continuous cycle of revenge tactics from both sides. The reasons for current situation are deeply rooted in history and today the Arab world and Israel remain incompatible and the day to day sufferings for the people of this region continue.










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