Recently, the conflict took an unfortunate turn again when Israeli military action started against Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan. Neither the conflict, nor the bloodshed is over yet.
By Shaheer Pulikkal
Palestine, the land having blood-stained history; known for birthplace of two religions of the world – Christianity and Judaism, and having sacred places of Muslims, is longing for peace but unfortunately it’s never happened since 1948.
Palestine has a tumultuous history as a crossroad for religions. Palestine is one of the complex issues in modern World Politics. The goal of the Palestine people is to be a fully Independent Nation.
Medieval Arab geographer Al-Muqaddassi described Jerusalem as a “golden vessel full of scorpions”. It is at the same time the most important holy city and the bloodiest city in the world. If the figures are checked Jerusalem has been attacked 52 times, captured and recaptured 44 times, besieged 23 times, and destroyed twice.
The oldest part of the city was settled in the 4th millennium BCE, as Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world.
In the mid-19th century, with the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the city was a backwater, with a population that did not exceed 8,000. Nevertheless, it was, even then, an extremely heterogeneous city because of its significance to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The population was divided into four major communities – Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian – and the first three of these could be further divided into countless subgroups, based on precise religious affiliation or country of origin. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was meticulously partitioned between the Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Armenian, Coptic, and Ethiopian churches. Tensions between the groups ran so deep that the keys to the shrine and its doors were safeguarded by a pair of ‘neutral’ Muslim families.
At the time, the communities were located mainly around their primary shrines. The Muslim community surrounded the Haram ash-Sharif (northeast); the Christians lived mainly in the vicinity of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (northwest), the Jews lived mostly on the slope above the Western Wall (southeast), and the Armenians lived near the Zion gate (southwest). In no way was this division exclusive, though it did form the basis of the four quarters during the British Mandate (1917–1948).
The modern history of Jerusalem is redder than its medieval history and ancient history. After the Crusades, there were many more battles in Jerusalem. Even today in history there have been many martyrs who are not clearly documented. The Israeli army has sheathed Jerusalem from the Palestinians since the wars of the Israel-Arab states.
Jerusalem was ruled by the English army from 1917 to 1948. It was ruled by the English by order of the League of Nations. In fact, it was World War II and its aftermath that pushed the Palestinian people into such an unbearable situation.
However, it was during this time that the Arab opposition to Zionist immigration intensified. The Palestinian Arab National Movement was led by the great Mufti of Jerusalem, Iz-aman al-Usaina. The city developed rapidly under British rule.
In 1920 and 1929 there were bloody clashes between Arabs and Jews. The general strike by the Arabs in 1936 turned into a revolt against British rule. The city was captured by rebels during the uprising. The Mufti, accused of being the main instigator of the riots, had fled. The clashes continued until the day before World War II.
During World War II (1939-45) Jerusalem was generally quiet. But after a while, the violence started again. Between 1945 and 1948, Jewish extremists bombed the British. In 1947, large-scale hostilities erupted between the Arabs. Both sides committed heinous atrocities.
In November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly decided that Palestine should be divided between Arabs and Jews, and that the surrounding areas, including Jerusalem and Bethlehem, should become a corpus separate under an UN-appointed governor. This project has not been implemented yet. The order came to an end on May 14, 1948, when the British High Commissioner and all remaining British troops withdrew from Jerusalem. Then the nation of Israel was proclaimed.
Israel captured West Jerusalem in the early stages of the Arab-Israeli war, which followed the declaration of the state of Israel. Trans Jordan took control of the old city and East Jerusalem.
With the exodus of Arabs from West Jerusalem and Jews from the Jewish foothills of the Old City, racial segregation of habitation became complete.
In December 1949, Jerusalem was declared the capital. However, none of the major centers approved the move. Until 1967, the city was divided by barbed wire, outposts, and walls.
During the Six Day War in June 1967, Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan, including East Jerusalem and the Old City. The East Jerusalem Municipal Council was subsequently dissolved.
Israel later ruled as part of its sovereign territory, unlike the rest of the West Bank, which Israel considered a military-occupied territory.
Most countries were on the side of the Palestinian Arabs in considering the occupied territory of East Jerusalem.
After the war, only two parts of Palestine remained under Arab control. The West Bank (East – Jerusalem) was occupied by Jordan during the Six Day War of 1967. The Gaza Strip (occupied by Egypt).
In 1993, Oslo established peace agreements between Israel and the PLO. Further developments have not been approved or implemented. In recent history, relations between Israel and the Palestinians have been marked by repeated military conflicts. In particular, the Islamic group Hamas continues to be a headache for the Israeli military.
In 2021, the conflict took an unfortunate turn again when Israeli military action started against Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan. Neither the conflict, nor the bloodshed is over yet.