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Israel, Palestine and Hamas: Understanding Conflict

ANM Bureau

Since October 7 when Hamas, a dominant militant group in control of Palestine attacked Israel thousands have died from both sides and nearly 12,000 injured with no sign of cease fire in sight.

With Israel Defence Forces (IDF)’s announcement Sunday that they were in the final stages of preparing for a significant ground assault in the Gaza Strip and asking the residents to move towards safety the situation seems to be escalating putting several lakhs of Gaza residents’ life in danger.

According to Lebanese militant group Hezbollah retaliatory shelling from Israeli killed a Reuters video journalist and two Lebanese civilians. Hamas’ Al Qassam Brigades continued firing rockets from Lebanon at Israeli settlements.

While the world specially the US and the Arab world appear divided over their support for Palestine and Israel, Hamas is trying to mobilise support. Its leader Ismail Haniyeh met Iran’s foreign minister in Qatar last week to discuss the attack and sought cooperation.Further Iran’s president spoke with France’s leader amidst warning of escalation if Israel’s Gaza blockade continues.

Why does Hamas, a militant outfit, holds such a significant position and has direct reach to various governments. What are its interests and role in Israel-Palestine conflict?

What is Hamas?

Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, has been in control of the Gaza Strip since 2007. It is committed to Israel’s destruction and aims to establish an Islamic state in its place. Over the years, Hamas has engaged in multiple conflicts with Israel, involving rocket attacks and other lethal actions, sometimes carried out directly, and other times by permitting other militant factions to do so. In response, Israel has conducted airstrikes and deployed troops into Gaza during several wars.

Together with Egypt, Israel has maintained a blockade on Gaza since 2007, citing security concerns. Hamas, and sometimes its military wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, is classified as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States, the European Union, the UK, and other nations. Meanwhile, as per reports Iran provides support to Hamas, offering funding, weapons, and training.

The attack on October 7 by militants was unexpected, but not impossible as this year has seen record levels of violence for Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which could have motivated Hamas to launch a significant attack on Israel.

Some speculate that Iran, a staunch opponent of Israel, may have orchestrated the attack, though Iran’s Supreme Leader denies involvement. Both Iran and Hamas are against the growing possibility of a peace agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which could be jeopardised if Israel’s military response to Hamas’ actions sparks widespread anger in the Arab world.

The Israel – Palestine Timeline: The Reason of War?

1. Late 19th Century: The conflict’s origins can be traced back to the late 19th century when Jewish immigrants began arriving in Ottoman-controlled Palestine as part of the Zionist movement, with the goal of establishing a Jewish homeland.

2. Balfour Declaration (1917): During World War I, the British government issued the Balfour Declaration, which expressed support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine.

3. British Mandate (1920-1948): Following World War I, the League of Nations granted Britain the mandate to govern Palestine. Jewish immigration increased during this period, leading to tensions with the Arab population.

4. United Nations Partition Plan (1947): The United Nations proposed a partition plan in 1947 to divide Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem under international administration. The plan was accepted by Jewish leaders but rejected by Arab leaders.

5. Israeli Declaration of Independence (1948): On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, declared the establishment of the State of Israel. This declaration led to the first Arab-Israeli war.

6. First Arab-Israeli War (1948-1949): This conflict, also known as the War of Independence, erupted as neighbouring Arab states opposed Israel’s existence. Armistice agreements were signed in 1949, leaving Israel with expanded territory compared to the UN partition plan.

7. Six-Day War (1967): In June 1967, Israel launched a preemptive strike against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. The war resulted in Israel gaining control of the West Bank, Gaza Strip,
Sinai Peninsula, and Golan Heights.

8. First Intifada (1987-1993): The First Intifada, or Palestinian uprising, began in 1987 in the West Bank and Gaza, leading to clashes with Israeli forces.

9. Oslo Accords (1993): The Oslo Accords marked a significant step toward a peace process, leading to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in parts of the West Bank and Gaza. However, a final peace agreement remained elusive.

This historical dateline sets the stage for the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict, marked by territorial disputes, wars, and attempts at peace negotiations.

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