Timeline: A look into the long history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Thousands have been killed in the ongoing conflict.

November 10, 2023, 11:15 AM

The Hamas terrorist attack on Israel this weekend comes amid the backdrop of a longstanding history of conflict over land and independence that has plagued the region.

The early 1900s: British promote Zionist movement for a 'national home' for Jewish populations

The Balfour Declaration, issued by the British government in 1917, announced Britain's promise for a "national home for the Jewish people" in Palestine, which was then under the rule of the Ottoman Empire.

The promise appeased the Zionist movement, who believe in a Jewish right to the land of Jerusalem -- or Zion.

Following the end of World War I, the region of Palestine was conceded by the Ottoman Empire and was placed under the rule of the British via a mandate from the League of Nations.

The mandate was criticized for not taking into account the wants and needs of the Palestinians who resided in the land and wanted independence.

Britain's promise, as well as Nazi persecution and the Holocaust during World War II, is cited as what led tens of thousands of Jewish civilians to migrate to Palestinian land into the 20s and 30s.

Ongoing clashes between Palestinian Arabs and Jewish migrants in the region led to hundreds of deaths.

1947-48: Partitioning Palestine into two states, the Arab-Israeli War begins

1947 UN Partition
1947 UN Partition
Library of Congress / IDF Mapping Unit / ABC News Illustration

In February 1947, the British proposed that the United Nations consider the future of Palestine and take over relations in the region amid ongoing tension.

The United Nations later adopted a resolution to split Palestine into two independent states -- a "Jewish State" and an "Arab State" with Jerusalem under UN trusteeship, despite opposition from Palestinian Arabs of the region.

Jerusalem, a city with religious significance to many groups, would remain under international control administered by the United Nations.

Palestinians refused to recognize the resolution, and violent conflict between both groups continued.

On May 15, 1948, Israel declared independence, thus beginning the Israeli-Arab War, with five Arab states fighting against the creation of the state.

Palestinians were forced off their lands or fled en masse, marking the first large-scale exodus in what would become a decadeslong battle over land ownership, according to the United Nations.

Israel, backed by foreign powers, won the war, and the territory was divided into three parts -- Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Egypt and Jordan retained control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, respectively, until 1967.

The Gaza Strip is a 140 square mile strip of land along the Mediterranean Sea surrounded by Israel and Egypt. It is currently home to roughly 2 million people.

The West Bank is a landlocked 2,200 square mile region bordered by Israel and Jordan with a population of roughly 3 million people.

1967: Six-Day War

On June 5, 1967, after a prolonged attrition war between Israel and Egypt, the Six-Day War broke out between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

PHOTO: FILE - Israeli Centurion tank corps prepare for battle during the Six-Day War.
Israeli Centurion tank corps prepare for battle during the Six-Day War.
Three Lions/Getty Images, FILE

After six days of war, Israel captured Palestinian Arab territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the Sinai Peninsula, as well as the Syrian territory of Golan Heights.

The Six-Day War forced a majority of Palestinians to once again become refugees and began a decadeslong Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

1987: First Palestinian 'intifada,' or uprising, occurs

The first yearslong uprising from Palestinian forces in their struggle for self determination began in 1987.

It ended in 1993, when Israel's then-Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin, and then-leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Yasir Arafat signed the Oslo accords, which declared the PLO as a representative for the Palestinian people and recognized Israel's "right to exist in peace," according to the United States Department of State.

PHOTO: Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres signs the historic Israel-PLO Oslo Accords on Palestinian autonomy in the occupied territories, Sept. 13, 1993 in a ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C.
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres signs the historic Israel-PLO Oslo Accords on Palestinian autonomy in the occupied territories, Sept. 13, 1993 in a ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C.
J. David Ake/AFP via Getty Images

A second Intifada (2000) from Palestinian forces, which ended in 2005, led to the Palestinian people's autonomous control of the West Bank and Gaza.

In 2005, Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip, uprooting its settlements in the region.

The following year, Hamas won an election to control the Gaza Strip, kicking out representatives of the PLO. The armed takeover of Gaza by Hamas in 2007 prompted Israel to impose a blockade on Gaza.

Israel imposes blockade

Following the armed takeover, the surrounding countries of Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip which greatly restricts the movement of people and goods into and out of the area.

These restrictions have been a concern of humanitarian groups around the world about the conditions in which Palestinians are forced to live.

According to the European Commission, Palestinians are "denied adequate housing, access to services while subjected to forced evictions and movement restrictions."

"In Gaza, recurrent cycles of hostilities, greater divisions, and a blockade have considerably worsened people's living conditions," the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations states on its website.

According to the United Nations, 81% of the population in Gaza lives in poverty with food insecurity plaguing 63% of Gaza citizens. The unemployment rate is 46.6%, and access to clean water and electricity remains inaccessible at "crisis" levels, the agency states.

In the years following, Hamas and Israel continue to engage in combat.

Roughly 6,400 Palestinians and 300 Israelis had been killed in the ongoing violence since 2008, not counting the recent fatalities, the UN reported.

Hamas launched missile attacks on Israel, and Israel fired massive strikes in retaliation.

Israel engaged in major, large-scale military operations including: the 22-daylong 2008 "Operation Cast Lead;" the 2012 "Pillar of Defense" eight-day operation; and the "Protective Edge" operation in 2014.

PHOTO: A person walks through the destruction by Israeli bombing in Gaza City, Oct. 11, 2023.
A person walks through the destruction by Israeli bombing in Gaza City, Oct. 11, 2023.
Fatima Shbair/AP

2023: The incursion against Israel by terrorist group Hamas

Thousands of people have died and thousands more have been injured since the militant group Hamas launched an unprecedented surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7. Israel retaliated with a bombing campaign and total siege of the neighboring Gaza Strip.

In Israel, at least 1,400 people have been killed and 6,900 others have been injured since Oct. 7, according to Israeli officials.

In the Gaza Strip, at least 11,078 people have been killed and another 27,490 have been injured, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

The attacks by both Hamas and Israel's military have put a harsh spotlight on the region's ongoing conflict, prompting protests around the world.

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