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Israel and Palestine are two countries belonging to the Asian region and are a part of the Middle East region. The two countries co-exist in a very strange manner; this is majorly because of the West Bank. In the West Bank, there is Palestinian governance, mixed governance of both, Israel and Palestine, Israeli governance, Israeli Military Control and disputed Israeli governance as well. All of this leads to a lot of cluster and inconvenience for the people living in the West Bank. Right in the middle of the West Bank and Israel is the holy place of Jerusalem, which is in fact a very holy place for Christians, Jews and Muslims. In relation to Judaism, Jerusalem has been given the special status of The Holiest City in the religious Jewish laws. Jews residing outside Jerusalem, pray facing it’s direction. For Christianity, Jerusalem is of great importance because Jesus was brought here as a child to attend festivals and Jesus also, preached and healed in the holy land of Jerusalem. For the religion of Islam, Jerusalem is of utmost importance owing to the Al-Aqsa Mosque which is holy to the whole of Islam. If we look at the map of Israel, we can also clearly notice a small strip on the south-eastern part of Israel, this strip is called the Gaza Strip and is controlled by the militant/political group, HAMAS. There have been a lot of questions about whether HAMAS is a terrorist organization or not and different countries have stated their opinions on the same. Countries like USA and Japan are of the opinion that HAMAS is a terrorist organization, whereas China and Russia think that HAMAS is not a terrorist organization. Terrorist organization or not, people do reside in the Gaza strip but the strip is literally cut off from the rest of the world, economically as well as otherwise. Only Palestinians reside in the Gaza Strip however no Palestinian Governance has control in this area. Rockets are launched from the Gaza strip into Israel. To further understand the conflict which happened between Israel and Palestine, it is essential to have knowledge about the history of the countries.
HISTORY OF ISRAEL AND PALESTINE-
When we talk about the history of Israel and Palestine, we mainly need to look into the hatred the Jews had to go through and one always relates the hatred against the Jews to the time of Hitler, but the atrocities against the Jews dates back to thousands of years ago.
It was said that Jesus Christ was born in a Jewish family but some Christians believed that Jews wanted to crucify Jesus Christ and hence the hate began. There were a lot of rumors being circulated against the Jews due to which a lot of Jews were killed by Christians in the crusades which happened thousands of years ago. After the 1800s, the rampant hatred increased even more not only because of religion but also because the Jews were now being seen as a different ethnicity altogether. It was because all this that in the late 1800’s, the Jews felt that no country will ever accept them and in order to live in peace they will have to make their own country. This gave rise to a very famous movement, Zionism. Theodor Herzl, a famous journalist at the time, wrote in his pamphlet that the Jews should make their own country. This gave rise to the first significant migration of the Jews in the country of Palestine, they did so because Palestine was a holy area for them and Jerusalem is very close to Palestine as well, Jerusalem being the holiest area for Jews, they started building permanent settlements and living there. During the time, this area came under the Ottoman Empire. If we move ahead to 1915, World War I was about to be initiated, the British, French and the Arabs were starting to fight off the Ottoman Empire. Before the start of the war, British promised the Arab Revolutionaries to give them the Palestine area, if they support them in bringing down the Ottoman Empire, the Arabs at the time were fighting to create a unified Arab Nation from Syria to Yemen and hence agreed to the British. However, the British also promised the Jews that in return for their support towards the British, they will give the Jews the Palestine area. But in reality, Britain made a secret deal with France and after the end of the War, the French and The British divided the Middle East area equally among themselves. So, from 1918-1948, the entire Palestine area was under the control of the British. During the time, Adolf Hitler came into political power in Germany and hence the infamous genocide against the Jews started, Jews were killed in millions in Germany but many of the Jews escaped from the terrible turmoil and migrated to the neighbouring countries of Germany in Europe itself and many of them also reached Palestine. Britain who was in control of Palestine at the time, allowed the Jews at first but then stoped them and this led to the start of the Palestine Nationalist Movement around the 1940’s. Finally in 1948, the British departed from the Palestine area and left the responsibility of giving the Jews and Palestinians their separate countries to The United Nations. UN came up with a partition plan in 1947 and gave 55% of the Palestine state to the Jews and 45% of the state to the Palestinians. Jerusalem being a historical area for the three religions was to be under International control to avoid conflict. The Jewish state is now known as Israel. After the partition, the First War between Arab and Israel known as the First Arab Israeli War took place, Israel won the war and Israel occupied several areas of the Palestinians and hence Palestinians did not have any country. The Palestinians still demanded their own country and hence The Palestinian Liberation Organization was founded. After a whole lot of trouble, The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) recognized PLO as the representative of the Palestinians. Now the Israeli population started establishing permanent settlements in the West Bank which was supposed to be the area for the Palestinians according to the UN Partition Plan, all the International communities saw these establishments as illegal owing to the UN Partition Plan. In 1992, Yitzhak Rabin came into power in Israel and he said that PLO is not a terrorist organization, they just want their country and it should be given to them, after this Israel and PLO both recognized each other as separate countries and the Oslo Accords took place, the accords stated how the area can be peacefully divided among the two countries. As a result of the Oslo Accords, for the first time, in 1994, Palestinian government was established and named the Palestinian National Authority. Finally, it was decided to divide the West Bank into three areas. Area A, B and C. Area A was to be controlled by the Palestinian Government, Area B was to be controlled by both the governments and Area C was to be controlled by the Israeli government. Peace between Israel and Palestine was actually increasing when the Israeli Prime Minister was assassinated by the extremists Jews. Also, presence of HAMAS, which was founded in 1987, was increasing. HAMAS was a militant group that took part in armed rebels and was willing to do anything to have a separate country for Palestinians. Elections were held in Palestine and HAMAS came into power in Palestine, however, soon enough, PLO and HAMAS got in the midst of a civil war among themselves and as a result of that, the Palestinian area in the West Bank was governed by PLO and HAMAS took control over the Gaza Strip. It was actually HAMAS which attacked Israel with bombs and also facilitated suicide bombing in Israel, PLO was and still is a peaceful organization.
CURRENT SITUATION/RECENT CONFLICT-
The recent conflict between Israel and Palestine started with the topic of Sheikh Jarrah. Sheikh Jarrah is a neighbourhood in East Jerusalem where a lot of Palestinians reside, these Palestinian families were ordered to leave their homes by the Israeli Government. Also, some of the extremist Jews also conducted provocating rallies against the Arabs in East Jerusalem, this led to huge fights between the Jews and the Arab Muslim communities. On 7th May, the Palestinians were protesting against the eviction in East Jerusalem and these protests got violent, stones were pelted and the Israeli police tried to control the situation, people on both sides were injured during the protests. On 10th may, the Israeli police entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque, holy to the Muslims, stun grenades were thrown and rubber bullets were shot by the Israeli Police on the Palestinians present there. In defense, the Israeli police stated that they had intel that the Palestinians were collecting stones inside the mosques to pelt at the Israeli protestors. When HAMAS got to know about the situation, it presented an ultimatum before the Israeli government to stand down from the Al-Aqsa Mosque, however, this ultimatum was wayward because the Palestinians living in the West Bank hardly have anything to do with HAMAS, still HAMAS posed itself as a protector and a representative of the Palestinians and gave the threats to the Israeli government. A few hours later, thousands of rockets were fired from Gaza, targeted at Israel and in retaliation, Israel also fired airstrikes in Gaza. These airstrikes led to deaths and turmoil in Gaza more than in Israel due to the Iron Dome defense mechanism owned by Israel, the Iron Dome was able to block most the attacks from Gaza but Gaza could not do the same. This huge conflict continued for eleven days, starting on 10th May and killed over 181 Palestinians and 9 Israelis, this huge conflict finally came to a halt at the end of 21st May, when ceasefire was announced by both the sides. The United Nations Security Council held an open meeting on the matter on 16th May 2021, where both Israeli and Palestinian Ambassadors took stance for their respective nations. The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres stated that, “the current hostilities are utterly appalling and the fight must stop immediately”. It will be safe to say that the conflict between Israel and HAMAS was stopped just at the right time as it could have escalated to a much large scale war, even World War. Most of us would say that it is absurd to write or state that this conflict could’ve lead to World War, but, what people do not know is that Russian President Vladimir Putin, said that the conflict between Israel and Palestine was a direct threat to the Russian security (Ameer, 2021). The problem Russia had with the conflict was that Russia has numerous military bases, air bases and navy bases in Syria, which is a neighbour of Israel. One of the main Russian air base named Khmeimim Air Base is located in the city of Latakia in Hmeimim, Syria, it is operated by the Russians. Also Russia has a huge Naval facility in Tartus, other than these two, Shayrat Airbase is also located in Syria. Having all these important bases in a country, close to which a huge conflict is going on, could be fatal. It was also said that, Vladimir Putin told the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Russia could declare war on Israel amid the Palestine row (Bet, 2021). This could’ve led to the involvement of The United States of America, since Israel and USA are allies, which could further lead to much more problems, war wise. Therefore, what was a cross-country, cross-religion conflict could’ve easily turned into a much large scale war, if not another World War.
INTERNATIONAL LAWS VIOLATED
During the huge conflict between Israel and Palestine in May, 2021, Israel violated a lot of International laws, HAMAS too violated International laws but since it is considered a terrorist organization, it is not answerable to United Nations but Israel is answerable to the United Nations. The conflict is basically governed by the International Treaty Law, common article 3 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, rules of Customary International Humanitarian law, which are reflected in the Additional Protocols of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions. Among the laws of war is the rule that the parties to a conflict must distinguish at all times between the military and civilians. Civilians must never be the deliberate target of the attacks. Parties in war are required to take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians and civilian objects. Attacks may target only military objectives. Attacks targeting civilians or that fail to discriminate between military and civilians, or would cause harm to the civilian population compared to the anticipated military gain, are prohibited under the law. (-, 2021). So when Hamas indiscriminately fired rockets at Tel Aviv, capital of Israel, it was a clear violation of international law. Similarly, Israeli attacks on residential high-rises were for many in the international community a war crime, because they were disproportionate and did not offer a definite military advantage. Israel, however disagreed to this and claimed that those buildings were used by Hamas to advance it’s military campaign. It should also be noted that in March 2021 an International Criminal Court prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda opened an investigation against Israel into alleged disproportionate attacks on Gaza similar to the ones which happened in May 2021, the investigation also covered the permanent Israeli settlements in the West Bank. (Lubin, 2021).
From all the readings, books, websites and any other type of information available on the conflict, it is really tough to decide who is in the wrong because the matter in hand dates back to centuries and both the sides have received a fair share of criticism for their acts but Israel sending police in Jerusalem, occupying the West Bank, pushing Palestinians out of the country was right or wrong is debatable and was the firing by HAMAS into Israel right or wrong is, again, debatable, but one thing which isn’t debatable is that, amidst this conflict, lives were lost, rather a lot of lives were lost and was killing people to decide who stays on the land right? It is again dependant on the readers, however whatever happened, was wrong and both sides have invariable excuses, but something like this should never happen in today’s era, settlements should be made with understanding , peace and not war.
 Digital Desk, “UNSC Convenes Meet On Israel-Palestine Conflict, Invites ‘partners To Negotiate’, RepublicWorld.com
2 Ayman Ameer, “Vladimir Putin calls Israel Conflict a ‘Direct Threat’ to Russia’s Security”, Ceylon Independent, 2021
3. Martina Bet, “ (Bet, 2021)
Author: Viditveer Singh Yadav, Amity Law School, Noida
Editor: Kanishka Vaish, Senior Editor, LexLife India