How 20th-century colonialism plunged the Gaza Strip into war

Over the centuries, the region has become a complex mosaic of historical, religious and cultural changes, while the coastal region has always been favored by ancient empires as part of the Mediterranean’s trade and maritime routes.


Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Israel were considered lands of the Jewish Kingdom in the Hebrew Bible, but ended up in the hands of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century..

The Gaza Strip or Gaza is one of two Palestinian territories, the other being the West Bank north of Jerusalem. In the middle stretches the Hebrew state of Israel.

Gaza, with its Muslim majority, is becoming an enclave between the Israeli border, the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula to the northeast and the Mediterranean Sea.


Gaza is a colonial act that passes from hand to hand
After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the region passed into the hands of the United Kingdom.

On November 2, 1917, the then British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour wrote a letter to Lionel Walter Rothschild, a respected figure in the British Jewish community.

known as the letter Balfour Declaration and anticipates significant geographic changes for territories in the Middle East.

The Balfour Declaration gave Britain a founding mission “A National Home in Palestine for the Jewish People“Native Palestinian Arabs, who represented more than 90 percent of the population, took the decision badly.

Gaza was occupied by the United Kingdom between 1918 and 1948. During this period, the British facilitated large-scale Jewish settlement in the Palestinian territories. Many of the new residents fled Nazism in Europe.

In April 1936, the newly formed Arab National Committee encouraged Palestinians to boycott Jewish goods to protest British colonialism and increasing Jewish immigration. These demonstrations were suppressed by London, which launched a campaign of mass arrests and carried out punitive house demolitions.

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After World War II, in 1947, the UN to divide Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. Jerusalem became an international city. Resolution 181 was adopted.

In 1948, Israel was declared a state, establishing itself in the midst of Palestine. For Jews, these vast territories were their ancestral home, but Palestinian Arabs also claimed the land and opposed the move..

Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq occupied the newly created territory, while some 750,000 Palestinians fled to neighboring countries or were expelled by Israeli troops.

It would have started for the Palestinians NakbaIt signifies “destruction” or “catastrophe” and corresponds to the beginning of a national tragedy.

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After the First Arab-Israeli War that year, Egyptian forces entered Gaza, which came under Egyptian control from 1948 to 1967.

In the June Six Day War 1967, Israel captured the Gaza Strip and occupied it for the next 27 years.. The Hebrew state also absorbed the West Bank from the Jordan.

After the Oslo Accords 1994, Israel transferred the administration of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority (AP). However, tensions persisted, sparking violent uprisings such as the Intifada.


Gaza under Israeli rule
During the 38 years of control, the Israeli Govt He built 21 Jewish settlements. This occupation of the Gaza Strip led to conflicts between those who lived there and the settlers. The first intifada was sparked, resulting in nearly four years of continuous bloodshed.

In 1992 Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin revealed: “I want Gaza to sink into the sea, but that’s not going to happen and we have to find a solution”.

A year later, the negotiations became known as The Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization aimed at fulfilling the “right to self-determination of the Palestinian people”.

In 1994, the Palestinians seized the governing authority of Gaza.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dismantled Israeli settlements in 2003.

In 2005, under internal and international pressure, Israel relinquished control of the Gaza Strip and removed nine thousand settlers and Israeli military forces from the territory.

Remember that over the past 50 years, Israel has built settlements in the West Bank, the other Palestinian territory, and in East Jerusalem, where more than 600,000 Jews now live.


Settlements are considered illegal under international law
L – This is the position of the UN Security Council and the UK government, among others – although Israel rejects the idea.


And who will rule Gaza?

First rebellion or The Palestinian Intifada dates back to 1987. It all started in December of that year, after a traffic accident involving an Israeli truck. Four people were killed when a heavy vehicle hit a car carrying Palestinian workers in the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza. Protests by Palestinians were followed by stone pelting and strikes.

In this angry environment, the Muslim Brotherhood, based in Egypt, created an armed Palestinian branch, Hamas, based in Gaza.

oh Hamas became one of the two main political parties in the Palestinian territories and from the beginning advocated the destruction of Israel and the restoration of Islamic rule in occupied Palestine.

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A Palestinian boy in military fatigues holds a toy gun during a rally marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas in Gaza City on December 8, 2012. Photo: Ahmed Jadallah – Reuters (File)


when The Oslo Accords were negotiated in the 90s, when Hamas clashed with other Palestinian leaders, namely the Fatah party, Dominated Palestine since the 1950s.

In 2006, the people of Gaza were called to elect the next rulers. Hamas won a majority in the election, and as a government, since then, it has not allowed for any further scrutiny.

Hamas’s extremist political vision has prompted a blockade by Israel and Egypt, while the months-long Fatah-Hamas civil war has erupted, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians.

In June 2007, Hamas took full control of Gaza, ousting the enclave from the enclave’s Fatah party, which had only taken over the government of the West Bank.

Fatah is one of the strongest factions of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and recognizes Israel’s right to exist, highlighting the role of Palestinian leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Yasser Arafat (1929–2004).

In turn, most Western countries view Fatah as the representative of Palestine.

However, in the opposite direction, Hamas – a militant Islamist group that has expressed its commitment to the destruction of the Hebrew state – has been designated a terrorist group by countries such as Israel, the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom.

Hamas – Israel: Tensions mount against 16-year blockade

While on the one hand Israel is said to have relinquished control of the Gaza Strip, on the other hand it is a Land, air and sea blockade since 2007.

This suffocation results in the poverty and dependency of the Palestinians, as noted by the United Nations. In 2009, the UN issued warnings to Israel and Egypt causing “devastating livelihoods” and gradual “underdevelopment” in Gaza.

Israel has argued that the blockade exists to guarantee control of the Gaza Strip, prevent Hamas from strengthening, and protect Israelis from Palestinian attacks.


The UN estimates that the blockade has already cost the enclave’s economy nearly $17 billion over the past decade.

Even the International Committee of the Red Cross says the ban violates the Geneva Conventions. Jewish authorities deny such accusations.

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Of the two million people, about 1.4 million in the Gaza Strip are Palestinian refugees, according to the UN.


Gaza Impact

According to World Bank figures, the territory has one Highest unemployment rate in the worldAbout 80 percent of the population relies on international aid to survive and access basic services.

“For at least the past decade and a half, socioeconomic conditions in Gaza have been steadily declining,” the UN said.

“The people of Gaza, who live under collective punishment as a result of the blockade that continues to have a devastating effect, now have very few options for people to travel to and from Gaza, and access to markets is severely restricted.”He adds.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency describes living conditions in Gaza as bleak 95 percent of people do not have access to drinking water – This makes the territory extremely vulnerable as it depends not only on water but also on Israel’s food and electricity.

As an economic activity, some agriculture is practiced along with light industry and handicrafts. Many residents cross the border into Israel daily for work. However, due to restrictions, they cannot stay overnight.

A general view of Gaza in 2021. | Photo: Mohammed Salem – Reuters (File)

Gaza’s unemployment rate was 46.4 percent in the second quarter of 2023, compared to 13.4 percent in the West Bank, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

Israel’s restrictions on the movement of people and goods have been cited as one of the main factors behind Gaza’s low economic status.

UNICEF estimates that about one million children live in Gaza. This means that half of the population is children. According to a report by the German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle, 40 percent of the population is under the age of 15.


Problems keep coming back

Peace talks between Israel and Palestine have been ongoing since the 1990s, but broke down in 2014.

The issues come up again and again: What to do with Palestinian refugees, removing or perpetuating Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, dividing Jerusalem and lifting the siege on Gaza? The possibility of a Palestinian state alongside Israel has long been debated. No practical consequences.

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