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Israel-Palestine Conflict | Hamas, Hezbollah, Arab World vs. Israel

Israel-Palestine Conflict

  • Context (TH): Palestinian militant group Hamas launched an attack on Israel.
  • The leader of Hamas’s military wing said the attack was in response to the:
    • Continued illegal occupation of Palestinian lands by Israel.
    • Continued blockade of Gaza
    • Israeli raids inside West Bank cities over the past year
  • Some experts believe the recent attacks are Hamas’s response to normalising relations between Israel and other West Asian countries.
  • Hezbollah declared its solidarity with the “Palestinian resistance.”

Hezbollah (Party of God)

  • Hezbollah is a Shiite Muslim political party and militant group based in Lebanon.
  • Hezbollah originated during the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990).
  • It wields significant power in Lebanon. It currently holds 13 of the country’s 128-member Parliament. Along with allies, it is part of the ruling government.
  • Iran provides funds and training to the budding militia of Hezbollah.
  • In the past, it has carried out global terrorist attacks.
  • Parts of Hezbollah in some cases, the entire organization — have been designated as a terrorist group by the United States and many other countries.

What are Hezbollah’s aims?

  • It functions as a proxy for Iran and opposes Israel and Western influence in West Asia.
  • Israel and Hezbollah first fought a war in 2006.

Iran-Israel proxy conflict

  • Iran and Israel are engaged in a proxy war.
  • Supporters of Israel believe Iran threatens Israel and wants to eliminate it.
    • Iran has provided financial support, weapons, and training to groups like Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
    • These groups have attacked Israel, and many countries label them terrorist organizations.
  • Supporters of Iran argue Israel’s presence in the Arab region justifies Iran’s actions.

Genesis of the Conflict Between Isreal and Palestine

  • During the late 19th century, Zionism emerged, aiming to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
  • Zionism tried to bring the Jewish people back to their historic homeland.
  • It gained momentum with the publication of Theodor Herzl’s pamphlet “The Jewish State.”
  • Herzl’s pamphlet proposed a Jewish homeland as a solution to the “Jewish question.”
  • As a result, many Jews immigrated to the Ottoman Empire and later Palestine.

Israel Palestine Gaza West Bank

After World War I

  • After the Ottoman Empire was defeated in World War I, Britain took control of Palestine.
  • Palestine was inhabited by a Jewish minority and an Arab majority.
  • Many Jewish people moved to Palestine in the 1920s and 1940s to find a safe place to live because they were facing a lot of problems in Europe. For Jews, Palestine was their ancestral home.
  • The international community gave Britain the task of establishing a “national home” for Jewish people in Palestine.
  • Palestinian Arabs claimed the land and opposed the move. From then, tensions between Jews and Palestinian Arabs grew.
  • The Ottoman Empire controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries.

Hamas (Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya)

  • It is a Palestinian political group with military capabilities founded in 1987.
  • Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006. It has run the Gaza Strip since 2007.
  • It is a de facto governing authority of the Gaza Strip.
  • It refuses to recognise the state of Israel and violently opposes the Oslo peace accords.
  • It is designated as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the US, the EU, Canada, Egypt, and Japan.
  • The elections did not happen in Palestine since 2006.


  • It is a city in Western Asia, on a plateau in the Judaean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea.
  • Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital.
  • It is considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religions:
    1. Judaism
    2. Christianity
    3. Islam


  • Jerusalem has been the holiest city in Judaism.
  • It has been the ancestral and spiritual homeland of the Jewish people since the 10th century BC.
  • During classical antiquity, Jerusalem was considered the centre of the world, where God resided.


  • In the Christian faith, Jerusalem is where Jesus was brought as a child to be presented at the Temple.
  • According to the Gospels, Jesus preached and healed in Jerusalem, especially in the Temple courts.


  • In Sunni Islam, Jerusalem is the third-holiest city after Mecca and Medina.
  • Muslims believe Muhammad was transported to Jerusalem during his Night Journey.

Arab World vs. Israel

First Arab-Israeli War

  • In 1947, the United Nations voted to divide Palestine into:
    • Separate Jewish and Arab states
    • With Jerusalem under international administration.
  • That plan was accepted by Jewish leaders but rejected by the Arab side and never implemented.
  • The British rulers left in 1948, and Jewish leaders declared the creation of Israel.
  • The creation of Israel sparked the first Arab-Israeli War in 1948.
  • The war ended in 1949 with Israel’s victory. After the war:
    • Israel controlled most of the territory.
    • Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes.
    • Territory was divided into three parts:
      1. State of Israel
      2. West Bank (of the Jordan River): occupied by Jordan.
      3. Gaza Strip: occupied by Egypt.
  • Jerusalem was divided between Israeli forces in the West and Jordanian forces in the East.
  • Over the following years, tensions rose, particularly between Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.

Second Arab-Israeli War

  • On 26 July 1956, Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal and closed the canal to Israeli shipping.
  • In October 1956, Israel invaded the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip with British and French military support.
  • In November, the UN called for Britain, France, and Israel to withdraw their troops from Egypt.
  • In January 1957, Israel withdrew from Egyptian land, except from the Gaza Strip and the Gulf of Aqaba, arguing that the Gaza Strip never belonged to Egypt.

Six-Day War (Third Arab-Israeli War)

  • In June 1967, Israel attacked Egyptian and Syrian air forces and started the Six-Day War.
  • After the war, Israel gained territorial control over:
    • The Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip from Egypt
    • The West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan
    • The Golan Heights from Syria.

Camp David Accords

  • In 1979, representatives from Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David Accords.
  • It ended the thirty-year conflict between Egypt and Israel.
  • It led to Israel’s complete withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula.
  • The two countries agreed to allow self-rule for Palestinians living in occupied territories.

First Intifada

  • In 1987, Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip revolted against the Israeli government and started the first intifada.
  • The first lasted from 1987 to 1993, and the second from 2000-2005.

Oslo Accords

  • Oslo Accords are a series of agreements between Israel and the Palestinians signed in the 1990s. 

Oslo I Accords (1993)

  • It set up a framework for the Palestinians to govern themselves in the West Bank and Gaza.
  • It enabled mutual recognition between the newly established Palestinian Authority and Israel.

Oslo II Accords (Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement) (1995)

  • The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement sought to implement the first Oslo peace deal.
  • It expanded the first agreement, adding provisions that mandated the complete withdrawal of Israel from six cities and 450 towns in the West Bank.
  • The interim pact was only supposed to last five years, but it has tacitly been rolled over for more than two decades.
  • The question of Jerusalem was left undecided under the Oslo Accords.

Aftermath of Oslo Accord

  • After a wave of violence in 2015, the Palestinian President announced that Palestinians would no longer be bound by the Oslo Accords.
  • In January 2020, the Trump administration released its long-awaited “Peace to Prosperity” plan. Palestinians rejected it.

Abraham accord

  • Abraham accord (Israel-Arab normalisation) is an agreement for normalising relations between Israel and four Arab countries:
    1. Bahrain (August 2020)
    2. United Arab Emirates (September 2020)
    3. Sudan
    4. Morocco
  • In 2020, Israel, UAE and Bahrain signed an agreement to normalise ties. The USA brokered it.
  • Subsequently, Morocco and Sudan were added.

UNESCO, US and Israel

  • UNESCO criticised Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem and granted full membership to Palestine in 2011.
  • Accusing UNESCO of anti-Israel bias, the US and Israel formally quit UNESCO in 2019.
  • US rejoined the UNESCO in 2023.

Current Status

  • Most Palestinian refugees and their descendants live in Gaza and the West Bank.
  • Israel has withdrawn from Gaza, but it continues to occupy the West Bank.
  • Israel considers the “complete and united Jerusalem” its capital, while Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
  • The US is one of only a handful of countries to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Yom Kippur war (October war / Ramadan war / Fourth Arab Israeli war)

  • The Hamas surprise attack is being compared to the Yom Kippur War.
  • The Yom Kippur War was fought between Israel on one side and Egypt and Syria on the other, from October 6 to 25, 1973.
  • Egypt and Syria launched a coordinated attack on Israel. While Israel was aware of troop mobilisation, it had not expected an attack in the Holy Islamic month of Ramadan.
  • Caught by surprise, Israel took time to mobilise its own soldiers, many of whom were on leave for Yom Kippur.
  • Thus, initially, both Syria and Egypt made some gains. However, Israel soon launched its own counterstrike and beat back both attackers.
  • However, the significant number of casualties it incurred highlighted Israel’s vulnerability in combat.

Yom Kippur

  • Yom Kippur is a Jewish holiday called the “Day of Atonement.”
  • On this day, the Jewish people seek forgiveness for their sins, both towards God and other people.
  • They do this through prayer, fasting, and reflection.

Consequences of the Current Conflict

  • It has an immediate impact on the 90 lakh Indian community that lives and works in the Middle East.
  • Following groupings or deals will face difficulties due to the unrest in the Middle East.
    • The US-brokered Abraham Accords.
    • I2U2 (India, Israel, US, and UAE), which is an economic grouping.
    • The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor.

India’s Enduring Support for the Palestinian Cause

  • India’s support for the Palestinian cause is an integral part of the nation’s foreign policy.
  • In 1974, India became the first non-Arab state to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
  • In 1988, India became one of the first countries to recognize the Palestinian State.
  • In 1996, India opened its Representative Office in Gaza, which was later shifted to Ramallah in 2003.
  • India voted in favour of Palestine becoming a full member of UNESCO.
  • In 2012, India co-sponsored and voted in favour of the UNGA Resolution that enabled Palestine to become a ‘non-member Observer state’ at the UN without voting rights.
  • In 2015, India supported the Bandung Declaration on Palestine at the Asian African Commemorative Conference.
  • In 2015, the 60th Asian African Commemorative Conference adopted the Bandung Declaration on Palestine. It sought the liberation of Palestine from illegal Israeli Occupation.
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