Arab-Israeli Conflict

The Arab Israeli Conflict is an example of a major international conflict and is a possible case study for the AQA A-Level Conflict module.

In biblical times the tribes of Israel were nomadic people (wanderers), many Jews chose to live near Jerusalem as this is their main holy site. In the Old Testament the area of Jerusalem was promised to Jews by God. However in the 2nd century the Jews tried to lead an uprising against the roman occupiers and were banished from this land. The Jews were scattered across much of Europe and Asia in an event known as the Jewish Diaspora. In all the countries that Jews settled in they kept their identity, culture and religion. The cultural separateness in many cases led to persecution.

As a result of this persecution a movement began entitled the Zionist movement. The main aim of this movement was the creation of a sovereign jewish state. These Zionists naturally saw Palestine as the ideal location for this state as it had been promised to the Jews in the Old Testament. Many Jews travelled to Palestine both legally and illegally and set up houses on nomadic farmland (travelling farmers visited this area from time to time) along with others who bought land. It is important to note that the views of the different members of the Zionist movement varied drastically with some wanting to set up a Socialist utopia while others wanting a devoutly religious land.

Between 1800 and 1947 the number of Jews living in the area rose from 24000 to 630000 (a rise of just over 600000) while the Palestinian population had grown from 550,000 to 1310000 (a rise of over 750000). This shows that over this period of time the demographic of the area showed a drastic proportionate increase in the Jewish population.

Before WW1 Palestine was a district of the Ottoman Empire (Turkish). After WW1 the Turks were defeated by the British and control over Palestine was passed over to Britain. During the time that Britain were in charge there were a large number of conflicts between the Arabs and the Jews in the area. Following WW11 Britain gave control over the decision on what to do with Palestine to the United Nations. The UN gave the recommendation that the country should be split into two, one area for the Arabs and one for the Jews (a safeplace following the Holocaust). Arab leaders didn’t like this idea but the Jews did and the state of Israel was formed in 1948. When the state of Israel was declared a large number of Arabs fled the area to the West Bank and Gaza strip as refugees. This continued to occur in the 6 day war (1967) and Operation Protective Edge.

Current Conflict:

In 1987 Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip began an uprising against their Israeli occupiers. This is commonly referred to as intifada. The uprising was orchestrated by the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organisation). In 1990 after peace talks the Israelis agreed to leave the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Peace didn’t last for long with another uprising in 2001.

Occupied Territories:

There are the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Following the 1948 agreement, Jordan controlled the West Bank and Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip. During the 1967 war Israel seized both and began building many structures in these areas. This was illegal under international law. In 2005 all Israeli troops and settlers were removed from the Gaza Strip, this move was not widely supported by Israelis. The continued oppression of the Palestinians has led to 4 million refugees having left to neighbouring Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. It is alleged that the Israelis are responsible for serious human rights abuses.  A large barrier has been erected in the West Bank, which is said to make the Palestinians feel like they’re constantly in prison and is believed to have separated some farmers from their land.

Gaza specifically has one of largest population densities in the world with a population of over 1 million in a confined area. There are high levels of unemployment (according to Oxfam highest in the world), there is an exceptionally youthful population with over half of the population being below the age of 18. It was previously a prosperous trading area but extreme poverty and lack of tax revenue being returned by the israeli government has inhibited this. There are large numbers of illegal weapons and since 2006 the israelis have passed all control onto a Palestinian government.

The current government of the Gaza strip is the armed militant group Hamas who don’t recognise Israel as a nation. In the West Bank many urban areas are controlled by a Palestinian authority that is made up of members of a non religious organisation called Fatah and Hamas. In rural areas and Israeli settlements Israel still acts as the main government.

Recent Developments:

Recent developments in this conflict include the creation of a Security Fence surrounding the West Bank, which began in 2002, and Operation Protective Edge (a 100 day war) between the Israelis and the Palestinians in 2014.

The security fence is running along a 725 km route that prevents entry into Israeli territory except through checkpoints. The fence is 50m wide and when complete will completely divide families from their livelihoods and education. The stated reason for it’s creation has been to prevent militant Palestinians from crossing the border and becoming suicide bombers. Although the checkpoints are aimed at preventing militant palestinians they have the result of seriously impacting upon the lives of those living near the fence. Furthermore the fence has encroached upon Palestinian land. This land is now on the wrong side of the fence and is being inhabited by Israelis. The fence requires a permit for Palestinians to pass through which lasts 3 months, many farmers are having to wait over a year for a permit. Once a permit is received there are limited times when Palestinians are allowed to pass across the fence. These impacts have led to it being declared unlawful by the International Court of Justice.
Bombers are choosing to attack Israel as they believe that Israel is occupying land that belongs to them. The formation of Israel was not done with the support of those living in the area or surrounding nations such as Egypt or Lebanon. With very few ways of legally making their point to Israel, many Palestinians have taken to committing acts of terrorism to make their point known.

Impacts

Below are effects of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Some come from the 50 Day War (Operation Protective Edge) during 2014 and others come from the building of the security fence surrounding the West Bank in 2008.

Social Economic Environmental Political
Social impact of rising segregation could lead to further radicalisation with an “us and them” mentality. (Security Fence). Fence is 300 metres wide in some areas and 430 miles long. It runes along the 1949 armistice line. Palestinians have lost valuable farmland which has been built on with the Security Fence. Furthermore it has led to separation of the village of Jauz to the residents farmland. They must obtain permits to travel through the gate, which is open 3 times a day for 2 hours. These permits last 3 months and can take a year to get. (Security Fence) Ageing sewage system beneath Gaza has been neglected for years due to lack of resources. Since Protective Edge began the system is now nearing collapse. Should the Sewage System break in a number of places contamination of groundwater could occur. This would result in there being no clean water available for people to wash and clean in. Israel don’t want to lose the valuable water aquifers beneath the west bank which are an important source of water in the arid environment
2139/2200(approx) of deaths have been of Palestinians (50 Day War) Jewish settlements in the West Bank seem to have higher incomes and quality of life. For instance Al Fay Manashi. 8 areas of piping were seriously damaged during protective edge engineers have tried to repair them but due to import bans on pipes and other important resources they are struggling to repair. Permeable rocks add to this problem. Creation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank is seen as a land grab. Israeli councils jurisdictions extend to 42% of the West Bank. Between 2001 and 2007 more than 10,000 Israeli buildings were built.  
500,000 Gaza Citizens displaced (50 Day War). 20,000 homes in Gaza were destroyed Israel spending more on defence, as a percentage of gdp, than any other developed country. UN Food and Agricultural Organisation reported that as a result of the war almost all of the 13,000 families who rely on agricultural have faced impacts on their assets, some have even seen their farms destroyed. $6.5 million grant in emergency agricultural aid to try and support the farming industry by FAO.   International Course of Human Rights has found the Security Fence to be illegal.
Further impacts from the ongoing conflict have led to social impacts including impacts on education. Farms and Factories in the areas surrounding the Gaza Strip stop working as employees feared for their safety due to the rocket attacks. Lack of nutritious food at a low price (this is what local farmers provided) could lead to increasing malnutrition. Political reason for the creation of the fence is to protect the Israeli population from terrorists.
Restrictions on Women’s freedoms by Hamas Gaza have been asking countries for help in meeting the $4bn cost of rebuilidng damaged areas after Protective Edge. Greater demand for Water

-Fires

-Treating wounds

Gaza Strip has highest unemployment in the world partly due to destruction of workplaces and poor business environment meaning TNCs don’t choose to invest.
International Boycotts on Palestine, and sometimes Israel.
Israel +Egypt control Palestine’s borders.