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Palestine – A Tale of Land…

By Anonymous

The unique history of Palestine was the history we truly never knew we needed. Palestine is located in the eastern Mediterranean region, with parts of modern Israel and the Palestinian territories of the Gaza strip. The Gaza strip is also along the Mediterranean sea and the West bank.

When facing many ups and downs, Palestinians are one of a kind who are up to anything just to hold on to their beautiful land and heritage. Their history all began 1834 when they were under the Ottoman occupation which did not last for long. The Palestinian identity mainly grew progressively at the beginning of the 20th century or in 1901. Following that, The British mandate then took advantage and ruled over Palestinians after the Ottomans were defeated. The British mandate/the UN created what is called “The Balfour Declaration”. The Balfour Declaration was made after WW1, announcing support for a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine although Palestine used to populate Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Later on, on Nov 15, 1988, Palestine was finally said to be independent however not as a country, but as its own sovereign state.

Though before any of that had happened, Palestinians had to face a violent dispossession that was called “Al-Nakba” in Arabic or “The Catastrophe” in English. Many like to describe this conflict as an “Ethnic cleansing” towards the Palestinians. Al- Nakba was caused after Israel declared its independence as a Jewish homeland (with the help of the UN) without giving Palestinians any say. This left the Palestinians to turn to a “refugee nation” with a “wandering identity”. When the neighboring Arab countries heard this, they were quick to show their disapproval and were up to help the Palestinians get their land back, but it was not very successful. In early April 1948, the Israelis launched Plan Dalet, a large-scale offensive to capture land and empty it of Palestinian Arabs. During the offensive, Israel captured and cleared land that was allocated to the Palestinians by the UN partition resolution. This War led to the destruction of their society, culture, identity, political rights, and national aspirations. At the time, dozens of massacres targeting Arabs were conducted. About 400 Arab-majority towns and villages were either depopulated, destroyed, or repopulated by the Jewish residents and given new Hebrew names. More than half of Palestine’s Arab population (About 750,000 People) fled or were expelled by Zionist militants. 276,000 had moved to the West Bank and between 160,000 to 190,000 fled to the Gaza Strip. More than one-fifth of Palestinian Arabs left Palestine altogether. About 100,000 of them went to Lebanon, 100,000 to Jordan, about 75,000-90,000 to Syria, 7,000- 10,000 to Egypt, and 4,000 to Iraq. That led Israel to cover 75% of the former land of mandatory Palestine.

The Nakba as a whole, covers the creation of permanent Palestinian refugees, the long-running rejection of the Palestinian right of return, and the “shattering of Palestinian society” for the establishment of a Jewish state.

Al-Nakba was not the only conflict that impacted Palestine greatly, The Six-Day war was also one of the most important conflicts in the history of Palestine. The 1967 Six-Day War happened between the 5-10th of June as the 3rd Arab-Israeli war to exist. This conflict was triggered by a series of border disputes and mainly by Israel and Egypt’s concern with the rights of Israeli shipping through the Suez Canal and the Red sea. The conflict included Palestine, Egypt, Israel, Syria, and Jordan. It did not do any good for the Arab countries leaving the Gaza strip, the West bank, East Jerusalem, the Syrian Golan heights, and the Egyptian Sinai to be occupied by Israel throughout the couple of days of the War. This affected the Palestinians because it led to 18 of them dead and 54 strongly wounded. The conflict created hundreds of thousands of refugees and brought more than one million Palestinians in the occupied territories under Israeli rule. Israel then gained 3 times more its original size, while also becoming the preeminent military power in the region. The United Nations passed Resolution 242 in November 1967, which called for a “land for peace”. Jordan and Egypt agreed to a Ceasefire on June 8th, Syria on the 9th, and it was signed with Israel on June 11th.

Yasser Arafat was elected chair of the Palestinian National Council (PNC) in 1969, two years after the Six-day War. Arafat confounded Fatah, a paramilitary organization which sought Israel’s replacement with Palestine’s which was yet again not successful. He was born August 24, 1929, and he held his title for a long time until November 11th, 2004 when he died at the age of 75. His death came unexpectedly after a short period of illness.

After that, Mahmoud Abbas was elected on January 9th, 2005, to serve as the second President for the Palestinian National authority. Abbas was supposed to serve until 15 January 2009, but extended his term until the next election for another year. In December 2009, Mahmoud was voted into office indefinitely by the PLO Central Council. He is Palestine’s leader till this day.

As for Palestine’s religions, the majority of the Gaza strip and the West bank are of Muslim Religion. Most Arabs of Muslim religion celebrate main holidays like Eid al-Adha and Eid-al-Fitr. Eid al-Fitr is celebrated after the month of fasting called Ramadan. In Ramadan, Muslims tend to fast start from sunrise until sunset for 29-30 days when the celebration of Eid al-Fitr comes. The majority of Muslims go to the Al-Aqsa Mosque located in Jerusalem which is one of Islam’s holiest sites. While the smaller part of Palestine is the Christian Religion who celebrate Easter, Christmas, and other celebrations. The Jews population is more in Israel than Palestine because of the conflict that split them apart. Other than Palestine’s religions, comes their traditions and cultures. Palestinian culture and traditions are influenced by many diverse cultures which have existed in the historical region of Palestine. Their culture and heritage are shared with Lebanese, Syrian, and Jordanian people that are in the Levantine countries. The people in Palestine are usually famous for their rich variety of traditional clothing among each other. Dabke, a folk dance made up of “Intricate steps and stomps,” is also popular for both men and women. It is often performed at weddings, celebrations, and festivals.

Palestine will always be unique, and its people won’t be forgotten for their bravery throughout all of their struggles. Even if there is conflict there today, we must understand the background behind it. Each innocent civilian deserves peace and basic human rights. But if Palestinians don’t have that, we mustn’t stay quiet as they are human just like us.

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