The Middle East was already on the Boil with the Sectarian Clashes between Assad Regime & the Sunni rebels in Syria, where as per latest UN Estimates over 1 lac people have died. After a lull of years after American Troops pull out in 2011 winter Iraq has once again gone in the crisis as the blowback of Syrian War engulfs the Iraq with Sunni Militant Group ISIS against the Shia Dominated Iraqi Govt lead by PM Maliki. While the heat was on in Syria-Iraq; the most old conflict in the region between Israel & Palestine once again erupted a few backs leading to Invasion of Gaza by Israel. The dominant narrative around the world is Israel is the culprit of illegal occupation & war crimes and that the Palestinians are the victims. This is one conflict, which has always divided the world sharply with opinions mostly loaded in favour of Palestine in Arab states & some parts of Asia as well. The imbalance of the narrative was visible even during UNHRC Resolution dt 23.07.2014 where 29 Countries voted against Israel, with US voting against it & most EU nations abstaining from the vote. But the overwhelming sense of the meeting was Israel must stop its aggression in Gaza and come to peaceful solution.
There are always two sides of a coin, every incident or dispute cannot be one sided but has to have other perspectives as well. The imbalance of narrative against Israel is what intrigued me to look into what’s the issue all about. Are the dominant views that we hear that Israel is the Occupier, the aggressor true ? Why is there so much anti semitism that is used as rallying point in many countries specially arab & Islamic states?. On being confounded with these questions, with full sympathy to the innocent Palestinians who are caught in the cross-fire; one must hear the objective view & time line of Jewish History and the Palestinian dispute.
History of Jews in Israel & Palestinian Dispute:
Israel has been holy land of Jews for over 3300 years beginning in 2nd Millennium BCE under Various Kingdoms & Kings beginning from the time of Abraham. The People of Israel trace back their origin to King 'Abraham' who established the belief that there is one god the creator of the universe (Torah). Abraham his son Yitashak (Issac), Grandson Jacob (Israel) are Patriarchs of people of Israel who lived in Land of Canaan or Israel as we know. Jewish people shared same language, culture shaped by Jewish Heritage & religion passed through Generations of Founding Father Abraham from 1800 BCE. The Descendants of Abraham Crystallised as a Nation in 1300 BC, after Exodus from Egypt under leadership of Moses (Moshe). After 40 years in Sinai Desert, Moses lead them to the Current State of Israel, that is Cited in Bible as land promised by God to its people.
The Rule of Israel starts with Conquest of Joshua in 1250 BC. Period between 1000 - 587 BC is known as "Period of the Kings"(i.e David, Solomon). King David (1010-970 BC) established Jerusalem as Capital of Israel & King Solomon (970-931 BC) built first temple as stated in Old Testament. In 587 BC, first time Jews were Driven out by Babylonian Army & the first temple was destroyed. This started period of Conquest on this area. Many armies invaded Jewish land from Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Hellenstine, Roman, Bazyentine, Islamic, Christian, Ottoman & British Empire. Jews returned from Exile from Babylon in Persian Rule (538-333 BC) & constructed 2nd Temple, which was desecrated during Alexander Rule. In 70 CE Roman Army lead by Titus invaded & Jews were exiled again; 2nd Temple was destroyed. Then Arabs (633-1099 AD) lead by Caliph Abd-el-malik built a Dome of Rock on foundation of Temple. Then Crusaders from Europe (1099-1291 AD) conquered the holy land and persecuted the non christian population. After that during the reign of Sultan suliman of Ottoman Empire (1516-1918 AD) walls of the Old City of Jerusalem were re-built where the jews settled. Finally British Colonial rule from 1917 to 1948 over this area which was later partitioned under UN Guidance and separate State of Israel was created along with a Palestinian state giving homeland to the Arabs living there.
Not to forget that in WWII the Holocaust in Nazi Germany where Hitler Massacred Million of Jews & deported equal no of jews. Hence Many jews after facing persecutions during the Holocaust & elsewhere returned back to Israel after it gained Independence in 1948. Jews have been one community that have been exiled & persecuted many times by Arabs, Christians etc & yet despite hostile neighborhood their self determination to exist as nation has been incredible. Unfortunately in highly imbalanced narrative against Israel, these facets are never brought to light & discussed.
Arab States attacked Israel on Independence where it managed to survive, thereafter in 1964 Arab League Setup PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation) targeting Palestinian Independence of occupied territories militarily & technically rejecting the Israeli claims as per the partition plan of UN. From 1949-1967, it was Egypt that controlled Gaza & Jordan controlled West Bank including East Jerusalem. Then there was the famous 6 day Arab-Israel war in 1967. In the 1967 War, Israel defeated 9 Arab Armies & captured Sinai Peninsula & Gaza from Egypt, and when peace overtures failed with Jordan it captured West Bank from Jordan. Israel later Captured Golan Heights from Syria. Meanwhile the UN resolutions in November 1967 called on Israel to vacate the Conquest Territories according to Partition Plan approved in 1948.
PLO setup by Arab League in 1964 was lead by Yaseer Arafat (an Egyptian) till the time of his death in 2005, PLO was first was against the existence of Jewish State of Israel & rather aimed for a Military Solution. It was for this reason that PLO was designated as Terrorist Organization by many countries in West & Israel. PLO finally gave in when in 1988 Charter it Promised to Recognize Israel. The year 1988 was the Turning Point when PLO turned to Political Authority & Offered to Recognize State of Israel that lead to talks with US and finally resulted in Oslo Accord down the years in 1993. Secret Talks between Israel & PLO facilitated by the west lead to Oslo Accord in 1993 when Yaseer Arafat wrote to Israel recognizing it as State & Shunning violence as a means to which Israel reciprocated in similar sense. Meanwhile Hamas (a militia group) was formed in 1987 which Disagreed with PLO on Political Recognition of Israel and believed that Jews were the occupiers leading to suicide bombings from mid 90s that mainly originated from Gaza. Hamas's charter Article-7 Clearly states that destruction of jewish state is the will of the almighty & we shall fulfill it. Therefore negotiations with Hamas be it 2009 2012 or 2014 have always failed.
After the failed conference Henry Kissinger started conducting shuttle diplomacy, meeting with Israel and the Arab states directly. The first concrete result of this was the initial military disengagement agreement, signed by Israel and Egypt on January 18, 1974. The agreement commonly known as Sinai I had the official name of Sinai Separation of Forces Agreement. Under its terms, Israel agreed to pull back its forces from the areas West of Suez Canal, which it had occupied since the end of hostilities. Moreover, Israeli forces were also pulled back on the length of the whole front to create security zones for Egypt, UN and Israel, each roughly ten kilometres wide. Thus Israel gave up its advances reaching beyond the Suez canal, but it still held nearly all of Sinai. It became the first of many such Land for Peace agreements where Israel gave up territory in exchange for treaties.
Another Egyptian-Israeli disengagement agreement, the Sinai Interim Agreement, was signed in Geneva on September 4, 1975, and was commonly known as Sinai II. This agreement led Israel to withdraw from another 20–40 km with UN forces buffering the vacated area. After the agreement, Israel still held more than two thirds of Sinai, which would prove to be a valuable bargaining chip in the coming negotiations. A peace agreement between Israel and Egypt was finally reached in September 17, 1978 in the famous Camp David Accords after negotiations hosted by President Jimmy Carter. In accordance with the treaty, Israeli forces withdrew gradually from Sinai with last troops exiting on April 26, 1982. Israel also struck Peace deal with Jordan in 1994.
After Death of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, the peace process of Oslo received a deadly blow. Violence by Hamas Escalated later in 2000s despite the peace efforts by US in Camp David. In 2000/01 During the Camp David Summit held in US mediated by the Bill Clinton almost came to a negotiated settlement on the lines of 2 state theory. Israel accepted all the Clinton Parameters which stated that 94-96% of West Bank & Full Gaza would go to sovereign Palestine state. In East Jerusalem Israel would get jew dominated areas in swap for arab dominated areas to Palestine. Israel has reservations over the Temple Mount & wanted to retain sovereign right of it, also that it would not accept any more refugees. There will be an International Monitoring Force on Jordan/Palestine border. These broad terms were accepted Israeli Cabinet & endorsed by Saudi Arabia as well; the Palestinian Liberation Authority headed by Yasser Arafat rejected the Terms. This was termed by Clinton & many other as historical blunder as two sides were close to achieving sovereign Palestine state & a peaceful Israeli nation. Arafat once called said "You are a Great Man", Clinton replied, "I am not a great man but a failed person & you made me one".
In 2005 Israel finally left Gaza to end its occupation but Sea & Air Blockade continued which was partially relaxed years later. After death of Yaseer Arafat, PLO factions Fatah Ruled West Bank under Prez Abbas with Hamas Capturing Power in the Elections held in Gaza in 2006. This is the History of Israel Palestine dispute running from ancient times. There has been twice Invasions of Gaza by Israel in 2008/09 & 2012, which were preceded by Rocket Fire Provocations of Hamas just like 2014. Meanwhile there are Disputed Territories in West Bank near Jerusalem & Ors are matter that can be sorted out with talks but not on gun point by Hamas which not only continues to fire rockets in Israel but also put lives of innocent Gazans in Peril by such provocations. In the latest Conflict in 2014, Hamas has fired more than 1650 Rockets into Israel in last 15 days most of them were intercepted by the Missile defence of System of Israel called "Iron Dome". 'Iron Dome' has been instrumental in limiting the casualties in Israel to minimal.
It is no one's case that occupation of areas in West Bank & Gaza by Israel is Justified. It is equally condemnable the actions of Hamas a designated terrorist organization whose aim is not peaceful coexistence of Gaza but mainly destruction of State of Israel. No country can live under continuous barrage of Rocket Fire, Terror Tunnels which are used by Hamas to infiltrate into Israel for terrorist attacks. To stop these illegal activities when Israel acts in its Legitimate Right to self defense, then Hamas uses places like schools, hospital to arms, ammunition & rockets; putting the ordinary Gazans in peril using them as human shields - Hamas's Human Shield war. Even the Correct & Balanced approach of International Law on Israel-Palestine Conflict would indite Hamas for provocations by Firing Rockets & then using Human Shields when Israel acts in Self Defense. This is double war crime by Hamas.
Any war or military conflict does not only affect the military or armies but there is always collateral damage which in the present case seems to be Innocent Ordinary Citizens of Gaza who are caught in this cross fire. This is unfortunate and condemnable but then blame can not be only put on Israel for Dis-propionate use of Force but rather should fall equally on Hamas for provocating Israel & putting Ordinary Gazans in peril for its objectives. Some References are - Gaza conflict takes toll on Hamas rocket stocks and tunnels , UNRWA condemns placement of rockets for a Second time in One of its Schools. Gaza’s underground: A vast tunnel network that empowers Hamas.
Israel Palestinian conflict have had the complexities of Jews vs Arabs in the regions but the Dynamics have changed over last few decades & years. Israel brokered peace in exchange of land with Egypt in 1981 & a peace treaty with Jordan in 1994 which has been honoured till date. Furthermore, even Saudi Arabia has hinted making peace with Israel given the common threat of Iran perceived by both the nations. Meanwhile Egypt tried to strike ceasefire between Israel & Hamas a week back, which was promptly accepted by Israel and had the Backing of UN & US but was rejected by Military Wing of Hamas. It is amply clear that an incident of Kidnapping of 3 Israeli youths snow balled into a armed conflict started by Hamas Barrage of Rockets & later lead to Invasion of Gaza by Israel to disrupt the terror activities & network of Hamas. Another facet of this long dispute is Iran's tacit support to Hamas arming it with Rockets just like it created Hezbollah in Lebanon to target Israel via Proxies.
The dispute between Israel & Palestine is an old one but it is also a fact that the State Of Israel & Jews who have been persecuted & exiled many times over from their land have full right to existence in as much as the Palestinians have right to co-exist; and as stated by many countries only a negotiated settlement between the parties on the lines of 2 States Formula can bring peace in the region but groups like Hamas never wants to Recognize State of Israel or believe in the 2 State Formula. Hamas doesn't wish to live in peace else after Israel left Gaza in 2005, if properly governed Gaza would have become Singapore but Hamas's main objective is destruction of Israel based on anti semitism for which it invested Billion of $ of aid in creating Terror infrastructure & tunnels to target Israel and not for the welfare of Gazans. Hence the demand of Israel for demilitarization of Gaza looks justified and the blockade of gaza can be lifted once the threat of armed militia like Hamas & Palestinian International Jihad wanes out. No country can live under constant threat of gun put to its head. There has to be assurance that territory of Gaza will not be used directly or indirectly by outside players for attacks against Israel only then can Israel trust Opening up Gaza blockade fully leading to final settlement.
Further given the fact that Israel lives in a Hostile Neighborhood & the constant threat to its existence from groups like Hamas and countries like Iran, Israel claim of systematic targeting of it by vested interest in Middle East is not unfounded. This gives further legitimacy to Israel's Right to Self Defence for its peaceful existence in wake of these threats. Unfortunately the history of Jews & their legitimate rights have never been told correctly in highly one sided narrative against it, though giving rightful coverage to the Justiciable Rights of the Palestinians.