Israel and Palestine – endless war

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By BRUNO FABRICIO ALCEBINO DA SILVA*

The conflict between Israel and Palestine, based on historical events and geopolitical dynamics in the region, reveals an intricate reality marked by decades of tensions and confrontations

The conflict between Israel and Palestine, one of the most complex and persistent issues in contemporary geopolitics, has spanned decades of tensions and confrontations. Since the end of the British Mandate in Palestine and the subsequent creation of the State of Israel in 1948, this region has been the scene of endless conflicts and significant changes.

Amid the 50th anniversary of the start of the Yom Kippur War, also known as the Ramadan War by the Arabs, a conflict that left profound marks and shaped regional dynamics, it is crucial to reflect on the events that continue to influence the present and the future of Israel and Palestine.

However, tragedy and violence remain entrenched in the region. Last Saturday (7 October), we were confronted with news of a new and surprising attack by Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement), which launched a large-scale offensive against Israel. This is one of the most serious attacks in recent decades, resulting in significant loss of life on both sides, with around 500 dead in the early hours of the conflict. The rapid and intense escalation of this confrontation serves as a grim reminder of the instability and unpredictability that continues to surround the region.

It is important to emphasize that attacks on civilian targets are condemnable, regardless of the side involved in the conflict. Hamas considers the military offensive as a defensive action against more than seven decades of violence, humiliation, genocide and terrorist actions by Israel against the Palestinian population. It is essential to understand the broader and more complex context surrounding this conflict, in which both parties have suffered significant losses and damages over the years.

Israel's vaunted security excellence has been challenged by Hamas' retaliation, which represents a response to the decades of barbarism the Palestinian population has faced. This population has faced a series of challenges and adversities over the years, including loss of land, restrictions on movement, economic hardship, scarcity of basic resources and the constant Israeli military presence in their daily lives.

The living conditions of Palestinians in Gaza, for example, are especially precarious, with a strict blockade limiting access to food, medicine and other essential resources. This, coupled with the lack of adequate infrastructure and the damage caused by previous conflicts, made life in the region extremely challenging.

Tel-Aviv's reaction to the Hamas attack is a cause for concern, as military operations often affect densely populated areas, putting civilians at risk. Many Palestinians and Israelis, including children and the elderly, suffer the direct consequences of these conflicts, facing death, injuries and lasting psychological trauma.

The State of Israel, through Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, responded with force, declaring war and stating that Hamas will face a “unprecedented price” for his attacks. The current conflict is characterized by a combination of infiltration, rocket attacks and multi-front clashes. As a result, the region is once again plunged into uncertainty and human suffering.

This situation, unfortunately, fits into a historical pattern of intermittent conflicts, frustrated peace efforts, and renewed cycles of violence. Hamas justified its attack based on “increasing attacks” of Israel against Palestinians in several regions, including the West Bank and Jerusalem (see map 1).

Map 1 – Occupation of Palestinian territory

At this critical moment, it is essential that the international community acts urgently to seek a peaceful and lasting solution to this conflict. Global leaders have expressed concern and called for restraint, but the path to peace remains fraught with complex and deep-rooted challenges.

This conflict does not just affect Israel and Palestine, its ramifications extend far beyond the region's borders and have global implications. The UN Security Council, chaired by Brazil during the month of October, will meet to discuss the situation, and pressure for a ceasefire and meaningful negotiations should be intensified.

As events unfold, it is critical to remember that behind the numbers and headlines are human lives, families and entire communities in pain. The search for peace in the Holy Land is a complex task, but it is a task that must be faced with determination and international cooperation.

Israel and Palestine: a historic conflict

The conflict between Israel and Palestine is one of the longest and most complex in contemporary history, and its roots extend deep into the history, religion and geopolitics of the Middle East region. To fully understand the nature of this conflict, it is essential to analyze the historical events and factors that shaped it over time.

The fundamental basis for the conflict lies in the claim to territory by different groups with different cultural and religious meanings. God's promise to Abraham gave rise to the belief that the land of Palestine was the rightful inheritance of the Jewish people, a belief that has been maintained and strengthened over the centuries. However, as also mentioned, the region was not unoccupied, and Arab and Palestinian people already lived there.

Religion played a central role in creating and maintaining this conflict. For Jews, the Promised Land is part of their sacred history, while for Palestinians, the region is also of great religious and cultural significance. This clash of religious meanings made the issue even more intricate, with both parties claiming rights to the same territory based on their spiritual beliefs.

The creation of the State of Israel in 1948 marked a crucial point in the conflict. The Jews' search for an independent state after the Holocaust and historical persecution triggered a series of tensions and hostilities with the Palestinians, who felt harmed and displaced by this policy. The formation of Israel itself was accompanied by wars and massive population displacements, contributing to the feeling of injustice among Palestinians.

Furthermore, the role of external actors, such as the United States, in maintaining the conflict cannot be underestimated. The US has historically been a close ally of Israel, providing political, economic and military support, which has often led to a perceived imbalance in peace negotiations. This external influence and the involvement of regional powers such as Iran also further complicated the conflict.

The issue of occupied territories, such as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, is also central to the conflict. The construction of Jewish settlements in these territories and the dispute over Jerusalem are points of ongoing conflict, making it even more difficult to find a peaceful solution.

However, it is important to recognize that despite the deep roots and decades of hostilities, many efforts have been made to resolve the conflict. Peace agreements have been negotiated and signed on several occasions, but have often not been fully implemented. The search for a lasting solution continues, with many international actors and organizations working to mediate and promote peace in the region.

The conflict between Israel and Palestine – the Zionist movement and its implications

To fully understand this conflict, it is essential to analyze the central role played by the Zionist movement in the creation of the State of Israel and the ongoing tensions in the region.

Zionism is a Jewish nationalist movement that seeks the creation of an independent state for Jews in the land of Canaan, which is considered the Land Promised by God. This movement gained strength in the late XNUMXth century and early XNUMXth century, mainly in response to anti-Semitism and persecution that led to the Jewish diaspora around the world. Zionists believed that the only way to guarantee Jewish survival and identity was through a sovereign Jewish state.

Theodor Herzl, often called the “father of Zionism,” played a key role in promoting the Zionist movement. In your book the jewish state [1896], Theodor Herzl argued for the creation of a Jewish state as a solution to anti-Semitism and as a safe haven for Jews. He organized the First Zionist Congress in 1897, with the aim of presenting the movement's vision and objectives to the world. However, the congress faced resistance from Jewish religious leaders, who feared excessive exposure and that Zionism's secular agenda would conflict with their religious beliefs.

The most significant achievement of the Zionist movement was the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. This achievement was accompanied by wars, displacement of populations and continuous conflicts with the Palestinians. The creation of Israel was seen as a triumph by the movement. However, for the Palestinians, this was a catastrophe as it resulted in their displacement and loss of land.

Today, Israel and Palestine continue to be the scene of tensions and conflicts. Zionism, although it achieved its goal of creating a Jewish state, also left a legacy of hostilities and territorial disputes. The idea of ​​peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians remains elusive, with significant challenges such as the construction of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories and the dispute over Jerusalem.

The British Mandate in Palestine – roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict

To fully understand the origins and evolution of this conflict, it is essential to turn our eyes to the period of the British Mandate in Palestine, a critical phase in history that played a crucial role in shaping the tensions that persist to this day.

After the end of the First World War (1914-18), the victorious and industrialized powers sought a way to administer territories that were not ready for immediate independence. This led to the creation of the Mandate System, a structure that classified territories into three categories based on their degree of political preparation for independence. Palestine, along with Transjordan, was placed under the Class A British Mandate, implying that the region was being prepared for self-determination. However, this preparation was not uniform for all parties involved.

Between 1922 and 1948, Palestine was officially under British administration, with the High Commissioner exercising maximum authority in the region. However, the fundamental aspect to understand is how this British administration affected the demography and relations between the Jewish and Arab communities in Palestine. Although the Arab population was numerically dominant in Palestine, the British administration often favored Jewish interests. This translated into policies that allowed for significant European Jewish immigration and land acquisition.

The World Zionist Organization (OSM), which sought the establishment of a Jewish state, identified three crucial elements for achieving its goal: territory, government, and population. The British, through their administration, made possible the acquisition of land and the immigration of Jews to Palestine. Between 1920 and 1939, around 332.000 Jews migrated to Palestine. However, despite these impressive numbers, the majority of the population was still Arab, which fueled growing tensions between the two communities.

Large-scale Jewish immigration and pro-Jewish policy by the British provoked resistance and conflict from Palestinian Arabs. They saw the arrival of the Jews as a threat to their culture, identity and land, which further intensified the conflict.

Internal and external conflicts, combined with international pressure and the increasing cost of the British occupation, finally culminated in the end of the British Mandate in Palestine (1948). However, the legacy of this period left an indelible mark on relations between Jews and Arabs in the region.

Palestine and Israel – endless conflict

The conflict between Israel and Palestine dates back to the British Mandate period, but for a deeper analysis, it is essential to consider events after this period and the creation of the State of Israel.

In early 1947, Britain, which administered Palestine after the First World War, recognized the impossibility of resolving the growing conflict between Arabs and Jews in the region. This led to the British decision to end its mandate in Palestine, paving the way for the creation of two states: one Arab and one Jewish. This proposal for the partition of Palestine was approved by the United Nations General Assembly through 181 Resolution, in November 1947. It designated around 56% of the territory for Jews and 44% for Arabs.

The UN proposal received support from the Jewish Agency, representing Jewish interests, but was rejected by the Arab High Commission, which believed that a more balanced alternative proposal should be sought. However, one day before the end of the British Mandate, on May 14, 1948, the Jewish Agency proclaimed Israel's independence. This resulted in the first conflict between Arabs and Jews, who have since been called “Israelis”.

The Arab League, made up of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, did not accept the creation of Israel and, in response, invaded the newly created Palestinian territory, starting the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. ceasefire that established the so-called Green Line, dividing Palestine between Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

In the following years, Israel became a member of the United Nations and, with a majority Jewish population, faced challenges arising from the massive immigration of Holocaust survivors and persecuted Jews in Arab countries. Conflicts persisted, especially with Palestinian groups seeking self-determination and resisting Israeli occupation.

In 1967, another war, known as the “Six Day War,” broke out when Egypt, Jordan and Syria sent troops to Israel's borders. Israel's victory in that conflict led to the occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights. These conquests expanded Israel's borders and generated increasing tensions in the region.

The 1970s were marked by significant events that had a profound impact on the conflict between Israel and Palestine. During this period, Palestinian groups, notably the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), adopted armed struggle as a means of seeking self-determination and independence. One of these pivotal events was the Yom Kippur War in 1973, which occurred when Arab countries, led by Egypt and Syria, launched a surprise attack against Israel during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

The Yom Kippur War had profound consequences, including the perception that the Palestinian issue would continue to be a focus of instability in the region. After this war, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was not only a standoff between Israel and neighboring Arab countries, but also involved Palestinian groups, which increased their presence and influence on the international scene.

However, as the 1980s unfolded, opportunities for dialogue and negotiation emerged. Egypt, under the leadership of President Anwar Sadat, signed the Camp David Agreement in 1978, establishing a historic peace with Israel. This agreement, although it focused mainly on relations between Egypt and Israel, paved the way for a broader understanding in the region.

In the following years, intermittent conflicts, the construction of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories, and the deterioration of Palestinian socioeconomic conditions undermined peace efforts. The First Intifada, a popular Palestinian uprising, broke out in 1987, marking a new wave of violence.

The 1990s brought hope with the Oslo Accords, which aimed to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, the lack of progress on these agreements led to a Second Intifada and a resurgence of violence.

The beginning of the XNUMXst century saw more conflicts, such as Hamas rocket attacks and Israel's construction of the West Bank barrier. The conflict has become even more complex with the rise of Islamic extremist groups, such as Hamas, Hezbollah and the Islamic State, which have also called for the destruction of Israel.

In 2008, 2012 and 2014, recurring wars in the Gaza Strip saw Israeli shelling and rocket fire by Hamas, resulting in a high number of casualties. The civilian population was seriously affected, and the international community called for a peaceful solution.

Map 2 – Gaza Strip

In 2018, residents of the Gaza Strip launched a series of protests known as the “March of Return”, which took place near the border with Israel. Tragically, these protests were marked by deadly clashes in which Israeli snipers killed hundreds of protesters.

The tragedy was repeated in 2021, when a new war between Israel and Hamas caused the loss of hundreds of lives in the Gaza Strip. The situation remained volatile and tensions persisted.

And now, in 2023, Hamas has broken the blockade and launched a surprise attack on Israel by land, water and air. Israel responded with bombings and declared war. The search for a lasting solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine remains one of the most challenging and urgent issues in international politics, with the region continuing to be a scene of violence and instability.

An endless war

The conflict between Israel and Palestine, based on historical events and geopolitical dynamics in the region, reveals an intricate reality marked by decades of tensions and confrontations. The Middle East, in particular the Palestine region, has become an epicenter of conflict due to a series of key events, which include the two World Wars, the creation of the State of Israel and the discovery of vast oil reserves.

It is undeniable that the great world powers, such as the United States, Russia, France and England, played significant roles in this complex scenario, often worsening tensions. The creation of the State of Israel in 1948, without consultation with the Arab-Palestinian population, was a crucial turning point, triggering conflicts that persist to this day.

The region, often called a “powder keg”, continues to be marked by territorial disputes, armed clashes and deep-rooted hostilities. The issue of Jerusalem, a city of profound religious significance for Jews, Christians and Muslims, exemplifies the complexity of this conflict.

The presence of radical Islamic groups, such as Hamas, Hezbollah and the Islamic State, also played an important role in escalating violence and perpetuating the conflict, making it even more difficult to resolve.

Despite decades of international efforts and negotiations, peace in the region remains elusive. The Oslo Accords, signed in 1993, represented an important step, but the intransigence of radical sectors on both sides, the settlements of Jewish settlers in Palestinian areas and the issue of control of water sources continue to hamper progress towards a lasting solution.

In this context, the search for a fair and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains a concrete challenge. Dialogue between the parties is constantly interrupted by violence, making the vision of two states coexisting peacefully in a “land of peace” an elusive goal. However, the recognition of Palestine as an observer state by the United Nations and the Vatican demonstrates a desire for progress despite obstacles.

As the international community continues to seek ways to promote peace and stability in the area, it is imperative to consider all the historical, political, cultural and religious elements that shape this complex conflict landscape. Only through a deep understanding of these factors can a fair and lasting solution to this historic conflict be envisaged.

Bruno Fabricio Alcebino da Silva He is majoring in International Relations at the Federal University of ABC (UFABC).


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