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The Israel-Palestine Protests

A black and white photo of a protest with signs that say "Free Gaza"
Photo courtesy of Louis George 2011/Creative Commons

This year, instances of violence occurred between Israel and Palestine from May 6 to May 21 with a ceasefire being called on May 21. By the time of the ceasefire, 256 Palestinians and 13 Israelis had been killed. In May and June of 2021, international protests calling for the liberation of Palestine took place in regards to a flare up in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Presently, Israel occupies West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. In West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians say they are suffering due to the actions and restrictions of Israel, though Israel claims it is only protecting itself from Palestinian violence. Currently, no defense weapons can reach the Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, due to the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty that solidified borders and military relations. In East Jerusalem, there is the threat of some Palestinians being evicted from their homes, which has led to rising tension and anger.

The conflict between Israel and Palestine has been an ongoing issue for close to 100 years. In the 1920s, the territory of Palestine fell under British control after the fall of the Ottoman Empire during World War I. At the time, the land was inhabited by both Jews and Arabs, with the Arabs being in the majority. Both groups worked toward attaining sovereignty in the Middle East for their people. Tensions began to rise between them as Britain was tasked with establishing a “national home” for Jewish people in Palestine.

The Jewish population in Palestine grew during World War II as people fled persecution in Europe. It was during this time that violence both between Jewish and Arab people and against British rule grew. In 1947, the United Nations voted to separate Palestine into two separate states: Israel as a Jewish nation and Palestine as an Arab nation. Jewish leaders accepted the plan to establish Israel, but Arab leaders did not. They felt that this was a violation of their right to the land and refused to honor the plan.

Unable to resolve these tensions, British rule retreated in 1948, and Jewish leaders proceeded to establish the state of Israel. It was after the creation of the state that the Arab-Israeli war broke out, with neighboring Arab countries invading Israel, which displaced many Palestinians and forced them from their homes. A ceasefire was called the following year, leaving Israel controlling the majority of the territory, though their control reached beyond the borders designated by the UN. A peace agreement was not signed following the ceasefire, leading to more violence between the peoples.

In 1967, the Six Day War occurred. This war occurred between Israel and Syria, Egypt and Jordan, with Israel coming out the victor. Following their victory, Israel proceeded to take land from all three countries, while taking virtually all of Palestine under their control. The Camp David Accords were signed in 1978 between Israel and Egypt, which ended much of the conflict between Israel and the Arab nations. This did not, however, change the Israeli occupation of Palestine. After the signing of the Israeli-Egypt peace agreement, the Palestine Liberation Organization began to fight back. This saw a rise in the number of Israelis moving into Palestine and taking land, houses and more.

Tensions remain high between Israel and Palestine due to unsuccessful attempts for peace. In 2003, U.S. President George W. Bush introduced the Road Map for Peace, a plan to establish Palestine as an independent state and resolve conflicts with Israel. This plan was accepted by both Israeli and Palestinian leadership but never fully executed. Additionally, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has not met since 2014. Protests calling for Palestine to be an independent state are ongoing internationally.

Meredith student Rania Abushakra, ‘24, attended a pro-Palestine protest in Raleigh, NC, at the state’s Capitol Building on May 22. Abushakra said, “There were a lot of people from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. From what I saw and heard, it was peaceful but people made sure that they were heard by chanting.” For ways to get involved in Palestine’s fight for independence, visit American Friends Service Committee.

By Maggie Barnhill, Staff Writer



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