The Team
November 15, 2023

How Israel was created — 1800s to today

To understand the Israel-Palestine conflict, let’s trace the Zionist movement, World Wars, partition plans, and key events. 

The Zionist movement 

In the 1800s, European Jews were immigrating to Palestine to escape horrific persecution. By the late 19th century, while Palestine was under Ottoman rule, the Zionist movement further fueled the immigration. 

In 1896, Theodor Herzl published — Judenstaat (the Jewish State) — emphasising the need for a Jewish Homeland. In 1897, Theodor organised the first Zionist Congress to promote Jewish settlement in Palestine. 

Theodor Herzl and his boo

Theodor Herzl and his book, Judenstaat (the Jewish State)

The Balfour Declaration and the British mandates 

After WWI, the British took over based on the mandate system. On November 2, 1917, Britain's foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, wrote to a British Jewish figure, Lionel Walter Rothschild. This letter made the European powers commit to a "Jewish homeland" without consulting the 90 per cent Arab majority of Palestine.

The British Mandate (1923-1948) strongly supported Zionist aspirations, leading to increased Jewish immigration and the formation of their militia — the Haganah.

Palestinians supporting the British over the Ottomans realized that their country had been gifted to the Zionists. In 1936, Palestinians went on strike but were met with mass punishment, execution, and joint raids by the British and Haganah forces. 

The Peel Commission’s solution 

The unrest in Palestine led the Peel Commission to divide Palestine into Jewish, Arab, and International states for the first time. 

250,000 Palestinians were removed forcefully to make the Jewish state. This solved nothing, the revolt continued, and by 1939, 10 per cent of Palestine's male population had vanished. 

Another solution, a white paper limiting Jewish land purchase and immigration, led to Zionist opposition and violence against Palestinians.

In WWII holocaust survivors started migrating to Palestine in large numbers, ignoring British restrictions. 

The Zionists' military dominated the Palestinians — and the British were weak due to the war. So after 30 years of occupation in Palestine, the British transferred their mess to the United Nations (UN).

UN’s partition of Palestine 

It was November 1947, and the UN decided to carve 55 per cent of Palestine's land for Jews. Just like its predecessor, this division also favored the Zionists — offering more areas, fertile coastal regions, and power to Jews. 

Evidently, the Palestinians and all the Arabs rejected the plan. 

The Nakba (catastrophe)  

After the British left, Haganah forces initiated bombings and displacements from villages. And the 1948 massacre at Deir Yassin set off a series of events. From 1947 to 1949, over 500 Palestinian communities were destroyed — resulting in 15,000 Palestinian deaths.

On May 15, 1968, Palestinians marked 69 years since the ethnic cleansing of Palestine [Reuters]

Aftermath: 78 per cent of Palestine was captured and the rest was divided into the West Bank and Gaza — creating 6 million Palestinian refugees. 

In 1948, Israel announced its foundation, leading to the first Arab-Israeli war (Israel won). 

In 1967, Israel occupied the rest of Palestine — The Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Syrian Golan Heights. 

The first Intifada and the Oslo Accords  

In 1987, the first uprising started in Gaza and spread to the West Bank. According to B'Tselem, Israeli forces killed 1,070 Palestinians, including 237 children, and arrested over 175,000 individuals in response. 

In 1993, the Oslo Accords ended the conflict and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) recognised Israel based on a two-state solution. However, in 1995 Israel gained control over 60 per cent of the West Bank, and its water resources, and implemented electric fences and erected the Wall to divide Palestine.

The second Intifada, Gaza Strip and West Bank wars 

The year 2000 saw the second intifada with Ariel Sharon's provocative visit to The Temple Mount. Aftermath: 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis were killed. The 2005 ceasefire made Israel withdraw its forces and settlers from Gaza. 

Later on, Hamas won the election. But In 2007, Israel imposed a blockade in the Gaza Strip. 

The Israel military campaigns continue. In 2014 alone, thousands were killed, 11,000 were injured and 20,000 homes destroyed. 

On 7 October 2023, Hamas attacked Israel — killing 1,400 people while Israel killed 8,525 Palestinians including at least 3,257 children. 

The West Bank is not free from raids — 130 Palestinians have been killed since October 2023. 

Today, half a million illegal Israeli settlers continue to thrive while the genocide lurks in Gaza.