Israeli/Palestinian Conflict

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  • Created by: Megan
  • Created on: 04-03-14 15:14

Protagonists

Israelis:

  • Population: 8million
  • Predominantly Jewish
  • Religious and historical ties to Palestine
  • Since WWII, Jewish refugees from all over the world have fled here
  • 1/5 of people are Arab - descendants of those who remained despite the war of 1948
  • Backed by USA and most allied European governments

Palestinians

  • Population: 11million (4million in the occupied territories)
  • Predominantly Muslim
  • No country of their own but most of their land was given away to Israel
  • Palestinian government currently in control of the Gaza ***** and West Bank
  • Palestine Liberation Organisation - has numerous militant groups associated/allied to it
  • Backed by the Arab League of Nations include nations such as Iran
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Biblical/Historical Background

  • The tribes of Israel were nomadic people who settled in Palestine - Jerusalem was there main holy site. The Old Testament says that God promised this land to them
  • In the second century AD, Jews staged and lost an uprising against the roman rule, losing their land - the Jewish Diaspora as they fell throughout the Middle East/Europe
  • Their cultural seperateness has repeatedly led to persecution and anti-semitism was common 
  • The zionist movement began in the late 19th century - dedicated to setting up a separate Jewish state and saw Palestine as the natural location for this. Jews were encouraged to mvoe there with the long term prospect of forming the future state of Israel. 
  • After the Ottoman empire, Britain ruled most of Palestine and there were regular conflicts between Arabs and Jews
  • There was rapid increases in migration to the area after WWII as survivors sought refugee there
  • Britain handed the region to the UN after WWII 
  • International Sympathy for Jews lead to the establishent of Israel despite strong protests from the Arab World
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Israeli War of Independence - 1948

  • Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt invaded the newly declared Israel in hope of preventing the Palestinian land being partitioned
  • Guerilla Warfare ensued
  • The Newly formed Israel managed to restructure its military into the Israeli Defence Force and prevented the invasion
  • Israel captured additional land beyond that which was awarded to them in 1947
  • In 1949, peace talks brokered a ceasefire but none of the nations involved signed peace treaties with Israel
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The Six Day War - 1967

  • Isreal launched air strikes on Egypt, Jordan and Syria in response to Egyptian forces mobilising on the Israeli border
  • Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan, the Golan Heights from Syria and the Gaza ***** and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt
  • After 6 days, a ceasefire was declared but again, no peace treaties were signed
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Causes of Conflict

  • Palestinians do not recognise the state of Israel so as far as they are concerned, illegal immigrants are occupying their land
  • Both groups have historical, cultural and religious ties to the area
  • Israel have taken control of 80% of the land, not the 56% they were allocated
  • In Gaza and the West Bank - Israeli poverty is about 20% where as Palestinian poverty is estimated to be about 60% but in areas of East Jerusalem has reached 73%
  • Jerusalem - For the jewish community, it is the holiest city in the world as it was given to them by God. However for the Islamic community also consider the city holy, second to only Mecca. THere is conflcit as holy sties overlap int he South East of the City - Al Aqsa Mosque and the Weeping Wall are adjacent
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Causes of Conflict

  • Southern Israel is dominated by Judean desert - an arid environment with little water.
  • Gaza is located on the coastal plain bordering the Mediterranean Sea so is one of the best regions for growing citrus fruits - Israel's largest export
  • The River Jordan flows through the Jordan Valley, through both the Golan Heights and West Bank. This river also drains into the Sea of Galilee, which is Israel's most important freshwater lake, before reaching its end at the Dead Sea. 
  • The lack of water in itself caused conflict as people fight for the resource
  • The River Jordan and Sea of Galilee irrigate the valley, creating important arable land that both population groups heavily rely on. 
  • Israel has a large proportion of the best arable land
  • Within the West Bank, the Palestinian communities occupy the slopes of the Judean Hills were water is limited
  • Israel will not move from the high ground as it could be used as a miltary advantage against them 
  • This has made is very difficult for Arab farming communities to earn a sufficient living or feed themselves
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The West Bank Barrier

  • Approx 725km long and aims to prevent entry into Israeli territory except thgough assigned checkpoints
  • In open country is is 50m wide and has electric fences topped with barbed wire
  • In Populated areas it is a tall concrete wall with observation points and small access doors.
  • Both are heavily armed by Israeli forces
  • The barrier keeps 10,000 palestinians out of Israel and should restrict another 50,000 upon completion
  • The barrier cuts off access between Palestinian homes, schools, workplaces and farming land as well as medical services

Why was it built?

  • as a security measure to prevent suicide bombers
  • allows Israel to perform identity checks 

It is frustrating to Palestinians who are not a danger as it restricts their movement. The barrier has also encroached on Palestinian land - it has been seen by some a tactical reason for the siting and construction of the barrier

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Gaza *****

Occupies 363km2 northeast of the Sinai Peninsula and was a prosperous trading centre for much of the region's history

  • The area's main economic problem is now the extreme poverty of the large number of Palestinian Arab refugees
  • Gaza is one of the most crowded areas in the world, unemployment is high, people are poor and the economy is crippled by international boycott and Israel is withholding desperately needed Palestinian tax revenue
  • Gaza is awash with illegal weapons
  • Israel now allows only the barest essentials into Gaza. There is little, so the streets are full carts pulled by horses/donkeys. The economy has collapsed - 87% of private businesses have gone bust.

In some areas of the region, water is only avaliable for 8 hours a week. In Gaza city, over 50 million liters of raw sewage is being pumped directly into the sea every day. Not only is it causing problems for the immediate coastline, but the Mediterranean drift is taking it north into Israeli Waters

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Gaza - 2007/8 Conflict

  • In 2006, Palestinian elections were held in a peaceful process brokered by the international community. These elections were won by the radical group, Hamas (an Islamic Resistance Movement that calls for the establishment of an Islamic state and does not recognise the state of Israel. 
  • The USA, Israel and European governments refused to acknowledge the result and imposed sanctions on the Palestinians.
  • A power battle ensued. Fatah gunmen are loyal to the Palestinian President (Chairman of the PLO)  whereas Hamas gunmen are loyal to the Palestinian Prime Minister.
  • Despite repeated ceasefires, street battles in Gaza are commonplace, preventing people going about their lives and crippling investment in the area.
  • Since October 2007, Hamas has been in control
  • 150 Palestinians died and 650 were wounded in the first 8 months of 2008
  • Egyptian security delegation stationed in Gaza publicly appealed to the factions for a lull, to allow people to stop for food and to go to mosque
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Israel/Gaza Conflict

  • Israel is conducting air strikes - Israel says these are pinpointed attackes on Hamas targets in Gaza in response to volleys of rockets regularly aimed at Israeli towns by the movement's military wing. Israel's military made footage publicly avaliable to show the high-tech precision of it air strikes. However, in crowded Gaza, innocent bystanders often get hurt
  • Israel has said it will continue to do whatever it takes to stop the rocket fire and has stationed a number of armoured vehicles on or just over the Israeli-Gaza border to act as a deterrent. The land of the border has been flattened by Israelis to give soldiers on the high concrete border wall a clear field of fire
  • Niether Israeli incursions, no air or artillery strikes have stopped the rocket fire from Gaza
  • Armed Palestinian groups say that it will continue as long as Israel occupies land they view as Palestinian
  • In Jan 2008, militants blasted a hole in the Egyptian border near the town of Rafah in defiance of the blockade of Gaza. Thousands streamed across the border to stock up with much needed food and fuel. The Egyptian side of the border became an open air market and police could not control the numbers involved - it closed under pressure from the US and Israel
  • During 2008, Israeli soldiers continued to raid refugee camps (Bureij Camp) seeking terrorists - it is inevitable that innocent people are killed in these raids
  • In 2008/9 Israel invaded Gaza and over 1000 palestinians (often children) died
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Social Impacts

  • 50,000 civilian deaths and 100,000 military
  • 10,000 people injured
  • Unexploded mines are a risk to civilians
  • human rights concerns about the treatment of civilians and political prisoners - it is believed that the Isreali army is too harsh on Palestinians
  • Suicide bombers have killed civilians
  • live in fear of military strikes/attacks
  • 700,000 Palestinians were forced to leave their homes as refugees. 4 million still live in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and Gaza
  • Places of worship destroyed
  • movement of Palestinians restricted
  • 50% of Gazanz are under 17 and have no prospects of escaping
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Environmental Impacts

  • Large military structures: - damage agricultural, affect drainage patterns, destroy natural habitats
  • damage and pollution fomr explosions
  • The Mediterranean Sea is being polluted by untreated sewage from Gaza 
  • Loss of agricultural land has led to overgrazing elsewhere which has caused desertification
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Economic Impacts

  • 40% of Palestinians are unemployed
  • As Palestinians don't have a country, they can not trade internationally
  • The conflict has hindered economic growth because large amounts of money are spent on security instead of development
  • Palestinians rely on international aid 
  • The West Bank does not have a viable economy because it has few resources beyond agriculture
  • It has cost trillions of US dollars since 1948
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Attitudes towards Peace

Palestinians

  • majority desire peace with the Israelis
  • there is a willingness to negotiate with Israel and seek a two state resolution emerging
  • People mistrust Israel's actions and motives
  • The Right of Return by Palestinian refugees in Israel is one of the most important Palestinian aims
  • Do not like the barrier

Israelis

  • insist the President must negotiate not the Hamas Prime Minister
  • People are convinced that peace in a two state solution is not possible
  • There is a belief that Israel deserves ownership of all of the Palestinian land
  • Peace is impossible because of the terrorism and mistrust Palestinian leadership
  • To create a better atmosphere for talks, Palestinian prisoners have been released
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Resolution

  • Both sides need viable economies for a two state solution -the west bank and gaza do not have enough resources for this. People used to work in Israel and cheap labour has been taken by immigrants from Europe and elsewhere
  • Israel would have to give up strategically important land - ie on West Bank Hilltops, which prevents Palestinians firing down on them or the Golan Heights which strengthens the northern border with Syria, preventing Syrian survelliance
  • Religious sites - Israel and Syria claim Jerusalem as their capital but Israel is in control and is the seat of government as people settle around it to affirm this control. Muslims still visit their holy sites but are heavily restricted

Water:

  • There is a chronic water shortage and both groups rely on the rainfall for water - agriculture is dependent on recycled low grade water that is unsuitable for drinking
  • West Bank and Gaza have desperate shortages as they don't have the modern infrastructure Israel has developed
  • Sources of Water for Israel:- Lake Kinneret, The Coastal Aquifer and Mountain Aquifer
  • Water would need to be accessible for both groups for a two state solution
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