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A Breif Palestinian History

Dome of the Rock & Al-Aqsa Mosque

To many, the name Palestine evokes strong and defineite emotions. To some it is a lost homeland, taken from them by force by a coalition of Western colonial powers and Zionist jews shortly after WWII. To others, it is a name they would rather forget since although it is not officially in existence, it gives its name to a people, the Palestinians, who are very much in existence.

Palestine is the name given to a small geographical area between the Mediterranean sea to the West and the Jordan River to the East. It extends no more than a few hundred kilometres north to south, from {Lebanon} to the Red Sea respectively. For centuries it was home to Palestinian Arabs and a very small number of Jews. Many armies had invaded Palestine durring the millenia that history can recall, but always the inhabitants remained. The original inhabitants can trace their origins to Semitic tribes, who travelled from the Arabian peninsula to Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon at around 3000 BC.

Those remaining in Palestine became known as the Canaanites. The Ottomans (emanating from present day Turkey) invaded in the 16th Century and occupied until the British defeated the Turks towards the end of the First World War in 1917. Britain was given the League of nations mandate over Palestine and shortly after the mandate was instigated it issued a declaration stating that it supported the creation of a "National home for the Jewish people in Palestine. The declaration, infamously known as the Balfour Declaration was a catastropy for the Palestinians, because their homeland and birth right were signed away in just a few sentences which were the culmination of Zionist pressure on Britain and Britain's own imperialist ambitions.

Encouraged by the declaration, massive Jewish immigration to Palestine took place between the two world wars, ceased briefly durring the years of WWII and then resumed, fuelled by Europian guilt at having allowed the genocide of Jews in Nazi Germany.

As the situation became more politically unstable, with Palestinians resisting further Jewish immigration, the British pulled their forces from Palestine and left each side to fight it out. Similtaneously the newly created United Nations announced a plan (UN Res. 181, 29 Nov 1947) that would partition Palestine 51% in favour of the Jewish population. With such huge support from what was effectively the western allies acting through the UN, Israel declared itself a state shortly afterwards. Outraged, the Arab Armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan rose to defend Palestine but were hoplessly defeated by the well organised Zionist militias. 1948; The Palestinian tradgedy begins.

Al-Aqsa Mosque

For decades after the creation of Israel there was an almost universal denial of the existence of a Palestinian people. Golder Mier, a former prime minister of Israel infamously once said that "There are no Palestinians". The world was subjected to a constant stream of propaganda claiming that the "promised land" was a barren and empty place with nothing but a few primitive Bedouin and that the new occupiers had made the "desert bloom.

Hundreds of Palestinian villages that supposedly did not exist were razed to the ground. The inhabitants were either chased into the remainder of Palestine (euphemistically known as the West Bank) where they lived in refugee camps, or they were hounded into neighbouring Arab countries where they remain stateless to this day.

In June 1967, fearing that Palestinians would no longer tolerate being refugees in there own homeland and also driven by economic and resource (mainly water) crises, Israel launched a vicious and ruthless attack on the remainder of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza. The Six Day War as it came to be known, was a crushing defeat to the Palestinians and the Arab armies that rallied to defend them. More refugees were added to the hundreds of thousands that already existed and Israel moved quickly to ensure that none who fled the boarders with Jordan and Syria could return. Durring subsequent years much land was expropriated from Palestinian peasents, sometimes uprooting whole villages to make way for Israeli settlements. To this day land theft by Israel continues and the settlements increase, "manned" by extreem right wing jews.

The situation now

The Palestinians have become effectively a surf class providing a cheap source of labour and a captive (sic) market for Israeli goods. Palestinians are forced to pay taxes to Israel in contravention of international law governing the administration of occupied land. They are not free to move without identy cards issued by Israel and even where such movement is allowed it is restricted and frought with delays and humiliating interogations. Travel to Israel is srictly forbidden except where a work permit is issued for work with an Israeli employer.

Lengthy cerfews are imposed on whole towns, villages and refugee camps for reasons ranging from anti-Israeli graffiti to stone throwing at Israeli patrols.

Palestinian land is still being "confiscated" by the Israeli government for Israeli settlements and many families who once lived in beautifull homes are forced into the refugee camps.

Al-Aqsa Mosque

Durring the Intifada, the mass Palestinian uprising that started in 1987, tens of thousands of young palestinians were detained for months without charge under a law entitled "Administrative Detention" dating back to when Britain had control of Palestine. Detainees are routinly {tortured} and denied access to family and legal representatives. Israel is the only country in the world that legitimises torture. Many Palestinians have died in Israeli jails and thousands remain detained indefinatly without charge or trial.

The above can only be the briefest history of the Palestinian struggle against oppression and a more detailed and comprehensive treatment can be found in the many other web pages and books written on the subject.