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Israel-Palestine 101: What happens when two countries don’t want to admit the other exists9 min read

May 17, 2021 6 min read


Israel-Palestine 101: What happens when two countries don’t want to admit the other exists9 min read

Reading Time: 6 minutes

A historic glossary (Part 1)

Have you heard of the Gaza strip recently? Israel or Palestine? Perhaps, an atmospheric iron dome? Chances are you’ve recently heard some chatter around these subjects. All of it pertains to regions in the Middle East that are currently undergoing deadly violence. Let’s get into what’s behind all this fighting and how it came to this. 

Israel Sightseeing Guide | Sightseeing, Israel, Tiberias
A modern map of Israel. Image: Pinterest

Israel is a tiny country near the Mediterranean Sea in the middle-east. It is surrounded by Arab-Muslim nations but is primarily a Jewish state or state populated by Jews. It neighbours an area or Nation called Palestine. 

MrDonn.org - The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Simulation for the Classroom  (Middle East/North Africa)

However, Israel believes that Palestinian land belongs to the Jewish state. Israel even denies the existence of Palestine. This is where the conflict lies. But, things aren’t nearly as simple as that. This conflict itself is 73 years old, and the situation in the area has been especially tense for a while now. 

Rockets and missiles are being fired on both sides, and innocent people die every day. Before we can understand why things have got to where they are today, you need to know about two nations. Watch this video to understand the ups and downs of the history of Israel and Palestine.

To better understand this week’s events, let’s go over a few key terms and historical incidents.

British Palestine:

Before Palestine was divided into Israel and Palestine, it was controlled by the British Empire. You’ll probably remember the British empire from the fact that they came and took over India too, and it was a pretty big deal. Once they were done with their colonising business, the British found that the Jews and Arabs were fighting a lot amongst themselves.

The Arabs wanted to kick out the Jews from their land, and the Jews wanted to make a country for themselves in Arab land. So, they told the UN to divide British Palestine and went packing. They also left behind the infamous conflict that has plagued tens of thousands of people.


A nationalist movement started by a group of Jewish people. Zionists believe that Judaism is not just a religion but also a national identity. They also feel that a Jewish way is their only way of safety from racism and persecution in Europe.

Israel - Zionist Heroic Girl Holding Israeli Flag - Walls of Jerusalem -  Vintage Airline Travel Poster by Renluc c.1949 - Master Art Print - 9in x  12in: Amazon.in: Home & Kitchen
An artwork depicting a Zionist girl holding Israel’s flag. Image: Wikipedia

Jewish people from around the world headed to Israel to have a safe state where they are not unfairly treated or attacked. One example of the ways in which Jewish people were attacked was the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. Under Hitler’s rule, thousands of Jews were tortured, killed and treated as prisoners.

You can read Anne Frank’s diary, the story of a young Jewish girl, to get a better picture of what Nazi Germany was like for the Jewish community.

The UN proposal of 1947:

The United Nations proposed that British Palestine be divided into two parts after continued fighting between the Jews and Arabs in the region. One region was a Jewish State (Israel), the other belonged to the Arabs (Palestine). 

The creation of Israel:

Israel came into existence in 1948, just one year after India got its independence. Soon after Israel declared that it was a nation, many of the surrounding Arab nations declared war on Israel.

The 1948 Arab-Israeli war

Many Arab locals saw this division as unfair, and several Arab nations declared war against Israel. Israel won the war and then took over even more land!

File:Map of Palestinian territory never legally annexed to Israel.gif -  Wikiquote
Eventually Israel expanded far beyond the land agreed upon by the UN charter. Image: Wikicommons


Nakba (meaning disaster or catastrophe) refers to the displacement of over 750,000 Palestinians from their homes. After the war of 1948, the Israeli forces occupied the land that the United Nations Charter had given to Arab Palestinians. They then forced the Arabs out of their homes and made them refugees. Many of those families continue to live in refugee camps around the world!

Nakba is commemorated by Palestinians every year on the 15th of May.


Jerusalem is an international city that was created in the United Nations proposal in 1947. They left it out of the Israel-Palestine divide as it is an important holy site for the people of three religions: The Jews, The Muslims and the Christians. However, the Israeli government and military took over the eastern part of the region after Israel won the ‘Six-Day War’ in 1967. 

Dome of the Rock ⬇ Stock Photo, Image by © lenmdp #39465801
The holy city of Jerusalem. Image: Depositphotos

The Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO):

A group created in 1960 that advocated for the freedom of Palestine of Israel. They also wanted to dissolve Israel and make the entire Israel-Palestine region into one unified Arab state. 

Intifada (Shaking-off)

Two large scale protests and Boycotts organised by Palestinians against the Israeli state’s takeover of Palestine. Historically, these have sometimes been violent.

Victory To the Intifada! | Palestine art, Political art, Palestine history
A poster from the Intifada movement.


Hamas is a violent extremist group that is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. They use techniques such as bombings where they even sacrifice their own to fight Israel. They operate mainly out of the Gaza strip.

Letter: BDS, ISIS, Hamas Don't Care About Palestinians - Atlanta Jewish  Times
A cartoon suggesting that Hamas may be bad for the innocent people it claims to defend. Image: The Times of Israel

The Hamas is also responsible for social development in Palestine. Namely, the development of schools, hospitals and mosques in Arab areas.

Oslo Accords:

Peace talks that were held in 1993 with the help of the United States. These Accords created an environment for Israel to finally leave Palestine. An official Palestinian government, The Palestinian Authority, could legally govern some parts of Palestine. However, some people on both sides opposed these peace talks. These people held extreme views that didn’t want the Israelis and Palestinians to mix or compromise. On the one hand, Hamas opposed the Accord and launched bomb attacks. On the other hand, The Israeli president that signed the Accords was shot dead by an Israeli extremist. 

These Accords were unsuccessful.

Our Boundaries verses our Barriers - Wisdom Room - London Hypnotherapy -  Chiswick, W4
A wall that surrounds Gaza. The Israeli authorities built it to protect themselves from attacks planned by Hamas. However, the wall has caused pain and suffering for the common people that live in the poor country. Image: Wisdom Room

The Gaza Strip: 

It is a piece of land given to the Muslim Palestinian population by the United Nations that was once occupied by Israel but is now controlled by Hamas. It has been blocked by Israeli forces, even though the country is not occupying the Gaza strip any longer. Israel has walled Gaza in and limited access and the supply of various natural resources to the people.

The West Bank:

A piece of land that the UN proposal of 1947 gave to Palestine. Over the years, Israel has taken over a lot of the West Bank. The Israeli’s that moved to the area removed the Palestinians living there from their homes and denied them citizenship and rights.

Israel, including the West Bank and Gaza - Traveler view | Travelers'  Health | CDC
The West Bank was given to Palestine in an agreement made in the United Nations, however a lot of it it is under Israeli rule as of now. Image: CDC


The growth of Israeli settlements, explained in 5 charts - Vox
The growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank region that was given to Palestine by the UN. These settlements have been created by removing the older Palestinian residents from their homes. Image: Vox

Once Israel occupied Palestine, they started removing Palestinians from their homes and settling down in the area. They brought Israel’s powerful military along with them. Now, they have been accused of using up all the resources and not allowing the Palestinians in the region even basic amenities that they require to live. This is where the fighting that is on today begins.

Woah! That’s a lot to take in, come back this Sunday for Part 2.

With Excerpts From: The Wire, The Indian Express, TRT World, Wikipedia, Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, The Hindu, Al Jazeera, AJ+, Vox, Vox, Hindustan Times, The Hindu, and Scroll.

Click on the image to head to Part 2 of our story.