Arab–Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Saturday, 6 January 2018 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Editorial, General, Union for the Mediterranean

© Oncenawhile

© Oncenawhile

(Latest update: 18 January 2021) The Arab–Israeli conflict is the political tension, military conflicts and disputes between a number of Arab countries and Israel. The roots (European colonial period, Ottoman Empire, widespread Antisemitism in Europe, Jews in the Russian Empire, Baron Edmond James de Rothschild (Jewish land purchase in Palestine), Theodor Herzl, Jewish National Fund (Israel Bonds), timeline of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, World War I, Sykes–Picot Agreement (San Remo conference, Mandate for Palestine, UN Charter, Chapter XII – International Trusteeship System, Article 80 (commonly known as the “Palestine Article” used by both conflict parties, Israel and Palestine, to create the wildest interpretations, speculations and conspiracy theories to assert the respective alleged right to the total land area), McMahon–Hussein Correspondence), Balfour Declaration, World War II, The Holocaust (International Holocaust Remembrance Day), Évian Conference, Mandatory Palestine, Forced displacement, and United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine) of the modern Arab–Israeli conflict (or the history of collective failure) are bound in the rise of Zionism and Arab nationalism towards the end of the 19th century. Territory regarded by the Jewish people as their historical homeland is also regarded by the Pan-Arab movement as historically and currently belonging to the Palestinians, and in the Pan-Islamic context, as Muslim lands. The sectarian conflict between Palestinian Jews and Arabs emerged in the early 20th century, peaking into a full-scale civil war in 1947 and transforming into the First Arab–Israeli War in May 1948 following the Israeli Declaration of Independence (Nakba and the assassination of UN mediator Folke Bernadotte by the terror organization Lehi/Stern gang. Among them, the later Israeli PM Yitzhak Shamir). Large-scale hostilities mostly ended with the cease-fire agreements after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War, or October War. Peace agreements were signed between Israel and Egypt in 1979, resulting in Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula and abolishment of the military governance system in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in favor of Israeli Civil Administration and consequent unilateral, internationally not recognized, annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. Even when the text is about 291 pages long, it is just a summary. The multitude of links point out that there is a lot more to learn in detail. At first, it is a timeline of the major developments in the region and it leads to today’s challenges. The starting point is the view of the international community, especially the European Union and North America, on the conflict, enriched with excursions into the ideas, convictions, believes, and thoughts of the direct and indirect involved parties to the conflict.


Timetable of wars and violent events

The nature of the conflict has shifted over the years from the large-scale, regional Arab–Israeli conflict to a more local Israeli–Palestinian conflict, which peaked during the 1982 Lebanon War. The interim Oslo Accords led to the creation of the Palestinian National Authority in 1994, within the context of the Israeli–Palestinian peace process. The same year Israel and Jordan reached a peace accord. In 1988 the Palestinian Authority recognized the state of Israel. A cease-fire has been largely maintained between Israel and Baathist Syria, as well as with Lebanon since 2006. However, developments in the course of the Syrian Civil War reshuffled the situation near Israel’s northern border, putting the Syrian Arab Republic, Hezbollah (whose military arm is classified by the Western community as a terrorist organization – The Guardian, 25 February 2019: UK to outlaw Hezbollah’s political wing) and the Syrian opposition at odds with each other and complicating their relations with Israel. The conflict between Israel and Hamas-ruled Gaza, which resulted in the 2014 cease-fire, is usually also considered part of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and therefore the Arab–Israeli conflict. Its 2006–2012 phase is, however, also attributed to the Iran–Israel proxy conflict in the region (Government of Syria and Hezbollah are being supported by Iran). Since 2012, Iran (predominantly Shia) has cut ties with the Sunni Hamas movement on account of the Syrian Civil War. Despite the peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, interim peace accords with Palestine and the generally existing cease-fire, the Arab world and Israel remain at odds with each other over many issues.

National movements
The roots of the modern Arab–Israeli conflict lie in the rise of Zionism and the reactionary Arab nationalism that arose in response to Zionism towards the end of the 19th century (at that time, Zionism was still a liberal, political, religious, nationalist movement with a clear democratic orientation, which has only experienced a major right-wing, racist, nationalist spin during the past decades and is therefore discussed controversially in the diaspora, in particular because the Zionist movement in Israel isn’t only claiming to speak for all Jews worldwide, but also to determine who is a Jew and how Jews have to live. As expected, this is received well only in parts of the diaspora). Territory regarded by the Jewish people as their historical homeland is also regarded by the Pan-Arab movement as historically and presently belonging to the Palestinian Arabs. Before World War I, the Middle East, including Palestine (later Mandatory Palestine), had been under the control of the Ottoman Empire for nearly 400 years. During the closing years of their empire, the Ottomans began to espouse their Turkish ethnic identity, asserting the primacy of Turks within the empire, leading to discrimination against the Arabs. The promise of liberation from the Ottomans led many Jews and Arabs to support the allied powers during World War I, leading to the emergence of widespread Arab nationalism. Both Arab nationalism and Zionism had their formulative beginning in Europe. The Zionist Congress was established in Basel in 1897, while the “Arab Club” was established in Paris in 1906. In the late 19th century European and Middle Eastern Jewish communities began to increasingly immigrate to Palestine and purchase land from the local Ottoman landlords. The population of the late 19th century in Palestine reached 600,000 – mostly Muslim Arabs, but also significant minorities of Jews, Christians, Druze and some Samaritans and Bahai’s. At that time, Jerusalem did not extend beyond the walled area and had a population of only a few tens of thousands. Collective farms, known as kibbutzim, were established, as was the first entirely Jewish city in modern times, Tel Aviv. During 1915–16, as World War I was underway, the British High Commissioner in Egypt, Sir Henry McMahon, secretly corresponded with Hussein ibn Ali al-Hashimi, the patriarch of the Hashemite family and Ottoman governor of Mecca and Medina. McMahon convinced Husayn to lead an Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire, which was aligned with Germany against Britain and France in the war. McMahon promised that if the Arabs supported Britain in the war, the British government would support the establishment of an independent Arab state under Hashemite rule in the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire, including Palestine. The Arab revolt, led by Thomas Edward Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) and Husayn’s son Faysal, was successful in defeating the Ottomans, and Britain took control over much of this area. A very relaxed phase reached the relationships, as Baron Edmond James de Rothschild 1882 began to buy land in Palestine. All parties were satisfied with the solution, especially as Rothschild pushed ahead with his own goals, while the Arabs laughed that they had sold another piece of desert to the “batty European”. This could have gone on happily and endlessly, if there had not been fundamental upheavals in Europe and finally the Holocaust (Haaretz, 3 October 2020: Jewish Soldiers and Civilians Looted Arab Neighbors’ Property en Masse in ’48. The Authorities Turned a Blind Eye (these are Netanyahu’s heroes whom he celebrates year after year. It will certainly not please the Israelis at all to have to pay billions in reparations to the Palestinians), Haaretz, 7 January 2021: How Israel Tormented Arabs in Its First Decades – and Tried to Cover It Up).


Following the Camp David Accords of the late 1970s, Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in March 1979. Under its terms, the Sinai Peninsula returned to Egyptian hands, and the Gaza Strip remained under Israeli control, to be included in a future State of Palestine. The agreement also provided for the free passage of Israeli ships through the Suez Canal and recognition of the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba as international waterways (Foreign Policy, 15 January 2019: Club Med: Israel, Egypt, and Others Form New Natural Gas Group, Al Jazeera, 17 June 2019: Egypt in $500m settlement with Israel Electric Corp, Times of Israel, 17 June 2019: Egypt agrees to pay Israel $500 million to end gas dispute, Bloomberg, 24 July 2019: Israel Gas Partners to Change Egypt Deal to Avert Supply Halt, Arab News, 25 July 2019: Israel to start exporting natural gas to Egypt in November — minister, Israel Hayom, 7 August 2019: At summit, Israel, US, Greece, Cyprus agree to boost energy cooperation, Reuters, 8 September 2019: Pipeline operator EMG signs terminal deal for Israel-Egypt gas exports, Reuters, 9 September 2019: Plans for Israeli gas exports to Egypt on track: Egyptian minister, The Wall Street Journal, 12 September 2019: Security Threats Delay Egypt-Israel Gas Deal, Says U.S. Official, Bloomberg, 2 October 2019: Israeli Gas Shares Soar After Egypt Planned Supply Boost, Al Jazeera, 16 December 2019: Israel authorises gas exports from offshore fields to Egypt, Times of Israel, 15 January 2020: In milestone, Israel starts exporting natural gas to Egypt, Israel Hayom, 17 January 2020: Growing Hamas-Iran ties spark concern in Egypt, Times of Israel, 16 February 2020: Worshipers fete ‘very emotional’ Shabbat in refurbished Alexandria synagogue, Jerusalem Post, 5 April 2020: German sub about to be delivered to Egyptian Navy – report, 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Egypt, The Guardian, 1 May 2020: Egyptian TV show about Israel’s destruction opens real world rift, The Hill, 7 May 2020: Trump administration approves $2.3B helicopter deal for Egypt, $556M in vehicles for UAE, Jerusalem Post, 8 May 2020: Steinitz: US, Israel to discuss drawing down peacekeeping force in Sinai).

In October 1994, Israel and Jordan signed a peace agreement, which stipulated mutual cooperation, an end of hostilities, the fixing of the Israel-Jordan border, and a resolution of other issues. The conflict between them had cost roughly 18.3 billion dollars. Its signing is also closely linked with the efforts to create peace between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) representing the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). It was signed at the southern border crossing of Arabah on 26 October 1994 and made Jordan only the second Arab country (after Egypt) to sign a peace accord with Israel (BBC, 21 October 2018: Jordan seeks to end Israel land lease, Al Jazeera, 30 October 2019: Jordan recalls ambassador in Israel to protest citizen detentions, Jerusalem Post, 9 November 2019: Israel to lose Naharayim, Tzofar to Jordan on Sunday, Haaretz, 9 November 2019: Twenty Five Years After Peace Treaty: Jordan Resumes Control of Enclaves Leased to Israel, Times of Israel, 9 November 2019: Gate closes at ‘Isle of Peace’ park as border lands to return to Jordan, Times of Israel, 22 November 2019: King Abdullah: Israeli-Jordanian relations are at ‘an all-time low’, Haaretz, 23 November 2019: Relations Between Israel and Jordan at an All-time Low, King Abdullah Says, Times of Israel, 23 November 2019: Jordan FM: Amman not enjoying full ‘peace dividend’ from ties with Israel, The National, 23 November 2019: Jordan’s King Abdullah says Israel relations worst ever, The Guardian, 26 November 2019: Jordan and Israel’s 25-year peace deal under more strain than ever, Israel Hayom, 6 December 2019: Preserving the peace with Jordan, Haaretz, 8 December 2019: Israel’s Campaign to Destabilize Jordan, France24, 26 January 2020: Jordanian charged with ‘terror’ over tourist stabbings, Arab News, 30 April 2020: Last Israeli farmers leave enclave after Jordan deal ends, Der Spiegel, 15 May 2020: Jordan’s King Abdullah II: “The Danger of People Starving to Death Is Greater than the Danger from the Virus”, 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Jordan).

Israel and Iraq have been implacable foes since 1948. Iraq sent its troops to participate in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and later backed Egypt and Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War, or October War (Haaretz, 9 May 2020: Military Intelligence Chief Misled Israeli Leaders Ahead of 1973 War, Declassified Doc Reveals). In June 1981, Israel attacked and destroyed newly built Iraqi nuclear facilities in Operation Opera. During the Gulf War in 1991, Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles into Israel, in the hopes of uniting the Arab world against the coalition which sought to liberate Kuwait. At the behest of the United States, Israel did not respond to this attack in order to prevent a greater outbreak of war (BBC, 25 October 2019: Iraq protests: 40 dead as mass unrest descends into violence, The Guardian, 25 October 2019: At least 40 killed and dozens injured in Baghdad amid protests sweeping Iraq, Arab News, 25 October 2019: At least 40 dead in renewed Iraq protests, 11 die setting fire to armed faction HQ, Al Jazeera, 25 October 2019: Dozens killed as fierce anti-government protests sweep Iraq, The National, 25 October 2019: More deaths as Iraqis resume anti-government protests, France24, 26 October 2019: Deadly protests flare again in Iraq after day of bloodshed, Arab News, 27 October 2019: Iraqis defy bloody crackdown, protest for third day, The National, 28 October 2019: Iraq protests continue despite mounting death toll, Saudi Gazette, 28 October 2019: 2 die, 112 hurt as Iraq declares Baghdad curfew amid protests, Al Jazeera, 29 October 2019: Iraqi protesters pack Baghdad’s Tahrir square, The National, 31 October 2019: Iranian general met Iraqi security officials as Baghdad and Kerbala continue to rage, Arab News, 31 October 2019: Iran’s theory on events in Iraq, Lebanon, The National, 31 October 2019: Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi willing to resign, says Barham Salih, France24, 1 November 2019: Iraq’s top clerics warn of foreign interference amid largest anti-government demonstrations yet, The National, 1 November 2019: As Iraq protests enter month two, on the streets people vow to remain peaceful, Al Jazeera, 10 November 2019: Iraq gov’t urged to rein in security forces to end ‘bloodbath’, Gulf Times, 17 November 2019: Strikes resume in Iraq to bolster anti-regime protests, The New York Times, 18 November 2019: The Iran Cables: Secret Documents Show How Tehran Wields Power in Iraq, The Guardian, 18 November 2019: Leaked cables reveal scale of Iran’s influence in Iraq, The National, 18 November 2019: Iraqi officials say Iran runs ‘shadow government’ in Baghdad, The National, 19 November 2019: Iraq: threats, violence and kidnap taking a psychological toll on protesters, Arab News, 19 November 2019: Iraqi protesters block commercial ports, split capital, Arab News, 23 November 2019: Protester shot dead and dozens wounded in Iraq, France24, 24 November 2019: Deadly clashes in Iraq as protests flare once again, Al Jazeerra, 24 November 2019: Death toll rises as anti-gov’t protests grip Iraq, Al Jazeera, 28 November 2019: Why are Iraqi protesters targeting Iranian buildings?, BBC, 28 November 2019: Iraq unrest: 24 killed in fresh wave of protests, France24, 28 November 2019: Dozens of Iraqi protesters killed in crackdown after Iranian consulate torched, Al Jazeera, 28 November 2019: ‘Bloodbath’: Dozens of protesters killed as army deploys south, Arab News, 28 November 2019: Iraqi forces kill 22 protesters in Nassiriya after Iranian consulate torched, The Guardian, 29 November 2019: Iraqi PM says he will resign after weeks of bloody protests, Times of Israel, 30 November 2019: Iraqis keep up anti-regime demos despite PM’s vow to quit, The Guardian, 30 November 2019: Iraq risks breakup as tribes take on Iran’s militias in ‘blood feud’, France24, 1 December 2019: Iraq parliament approves PM Abdul Mahdi’s resignation as thousands mourn fallen protesters, Al Jazeera, 1 December 2019: Uncertainty remains as Iraq parliament accepts PM’s resignation, The National, 1 December 2019: As Iraq uprising intensifies, parliament accepts Abdul Mahdi’s resignation, Arab News, 3 December 2019: Talks in Baghdad as violence hits Iraq’s shrine cities, Al Jazeera, 8 December 2019: Tensions flare as unidentified gunmen kill protesters in Baghdad, The National, 8 December 2019: ‘Outlaw criminals’ responsible for Baghdad protest shooting, says Barham Salih, Arab News, 9 December 2019: Iraq summons Western ambassadors for condemning protest attacks, Al Jazeera, 29 December 2019: US ‘strikes’ target pro-Iran militia bases in Iraq, Syria, The National, 18 January 2020: Renewed clashes leave two protesters dead in Baghdad, The National, 20 January 2020: Iraq’s protests escalate as frustration grows over lack of reform, Al Arabiya, 20 January 2020: Iraqi protesters block main roads on day of deadline for government, Jerusalem Post, 20 January 2020: Dozens of Iraqi protesters wounded as anti-government unrest resumes, Jerusalem Post, 24 January 2020: ‘Million-Man March’ in Baghdad against US presence in Iraq, France24, 24 January 2020: Loudspeakers blast ‘No, no America!’ as Baghdad protesters demand US troops quit Iraq, BBC, 25 January 2020: Iraqis security forces raid Baghdad protest site, l Jazeera, 25 January 2020: Tensions high in Baghdad as police fire tear gas, live bullets, The National, 25 January 2020: Iraqi security fire on crowds as Baghdad crackdown begins, Arab News, 2 February 2020: Iraqi protesters dig in heels despite new PM-designate, Al Arabiya, 7 February 2020: Nearly 550 Iraqis killed in anti-government demonstrations: Commission, France24, 13 February 2020: Rocket hits Iraq base hosting US troops: military, Al Jazeera, 13 February 2020: Rocket attack hits northern Iraq base hosting US troops, The National, 13 February 2020: Nato chief: Iraq gives permission for training mission, Al Arabiya, 13 February 2020: Iran-backed Hezbollah steps in to support Iraqi militias after Soleimani’s death, The National, 24 February 2020: How Nato’s Iraq expansion is a test for its Middle East plans, Al Arabiya, 9 May 2020: Who is Iraq’s new Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi?, 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Iraq).

In 1970, following an extended civil war, King Hussein expelled the Palestine Liberation Organization from Jordan. September 1970 is known as the Black September in Arab history and sometimes is referred to as the “era of regrettable events”. It was a month when Hashemite King Hussein of Jordan moved to quash the autonomy of Palestinian organisations and restore his monarchy’s rule over the country. The violence resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people, the vast majority Palestinians. Armed conflict lasted until July 1971 with the expulsion of the PLO and thousands of Palestinian fighters to Lebanon. The PLO resettled in Lebanon, from which it staged raids into Israel. In 1978, Israel launched Operation Litani, in which it together with the South Lebanon Army forced the PLO to retreat north of the Litani river. In 1981 another conflict between Israel and the PLO broke out, which ended with a ceasefire agreement that did not solve the core of the conflict. In June 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon. Within two months the PLO agreed to withdraw thence. In March 1983, Israel and Lebanon signed a ceasefire agreement. However, Syria pressured President Amine Gemayel into nullifying the truce in March 1984. By 1985, Israeli forces withdrew to a 15 km wide southern strip of Lebanon, following which the conflict continued on a lower scale, with relatively low casualties on both sides. In 1993 and 1996, Israel launched major operations against the Shiite militia of Hezbollah, which had become an emergent threat. In May 2000, the newly elected government of Ehud Barak authorized a withdrawal from Southern Lebanon, fulfilling an election promise to do so well ahead of a declared deadline. The hasty withdrawal lead to the immediate collapse of the South Lebanon Army, and many members either got arrested or fled to Israel. In 2006, as a response to a Hezbollah cross-border raid, Israel launched air strikes on Hezbollah strongholds in Southern Lebanon, starting the 2006 Lebanon War. The inconclusive war lasted for 34 days, and resulted in the creation of a buffer zone in Southern Lebanon and the deployment of Lebanese troops south of the Litani river for the first time since the 1960s. The Israeli government under Ehud Olmert was harshly criticized for its handling of the war in the Winograd Commission (see Israeli–Lebanese conflict, Israel–Lebanon relations, and Palestinian insurgency in South Lebanon).

The 1970s were marked by a large number of major, international terrorist attacks, including the Lod Airport massacre and the Munich Olympics Massacre in 1972, and the Entebbe Hostage Taking in 1976, with over 100 Jewish hostages of different nationalities kidnapped and held in Uganda. In December 1987, the First Intifada began. The First Intifada was a mass Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule in the Palestinian territories. The rebellion began in the Jabalia refugee camp and quickly spread throughout Gaza and the West Bank. Palestinian actions ranged from civil disobedience to violence. In addition to general strikes, boycotts on Israeli products, graffiti and barricades, Palestinian demonstrations that included stone-throwing by youths against the Israel Defense Forces brought the Intifada international attention. The Israeli army’s heavy handed response to the demonstrations, with live ammunition, beatings and mass arrests, brought international condemnation. The PLO, which until then had never been recognised as the leaders of the Palestinian people by Israel, was invited to peace negotiations the following year, after it recognized Israel and renounced terrorism. In mid-1993, Israeli and Palestinian representatives engaged in peace talks in Oslo. As a result, in September 1993, Israel and the PLO signed the Oslo Accords, known as the Declaration of Principles or Oslo I; in side letters, Israel recognized the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people while the PLO recognized the right of the state of Israel to exist and renounced terrorism, violence and its desire for the destruction of Israel. The Oslo II agreement was signed in 1995 and detailed the division of the West Bank into Areas A, B, and C. Area A was land under full Palestinian civilian control. In Area A, Palestinians were also responsible for internal security. The Oslo agreements remain important documents in Israeli-Palestinian relations (see Israeli–Palestinian conflict and the film “The Oslo Diaries” by Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan) – 2020 coronavirus pandemic in the State of Palestine.

The Second Intifada forced Israel to rethink its relationship and policies towards the Palestinians. Following a series of suicide bombings and attacks, the Israeli army launched Operation Defensive Shield. It was the largest military operation conducted by Israel since the Six-Day War (“Censored Voices” by Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan). As violence between the Israeli army and Palestinian militants intensified, Israel expanded its security apparatus around the West Bank by re-taking many parts of land in Area A. Israel established a complicated system of roadblocks and checkpoints around major Palestinian areas to deter violence and protect Israeli settlements. However, since 2008, the IDF has slowly transferred authority to Palestinian security forces. Israel’s then prime minister Ariel Sharon began a policy of disengagement from Gaza from the Gaza Strip in 2003. This policy was fully implemented in August 2005. Sharon’s announcement to disengage from Gaza came as a tremendous shock to his critics both on the left and on the right. A year previously, he had commented that the fate of the most far-flung settlements in Gaza, Netzararem and Kfar Darom, was regarded in the same light as that of Tel Aviv. The formal announcements to evacuate seventeen Gaza settlements and another four in the West Bank in February 2004 represented the first reversal for the settler movement since 1968. It divided his party. It was strongly supported by Trade and Industry Minister Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni, the Minister for Immigration and Absorption, but Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly condemned it. It was also uncertain whether this was simply the beginning of further evacuation. On 16 March 2003, Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist was crushed to death by an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) bulldozer in Rafah during a non-violent protest of the Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes. Corrie stood in confrontation with the bulldozers for three hours wearing a bright orange jacket and carrying a megaphone. Although the Israeli government has denied responsibility in the incident and ruled her death as an accident, several eye-witness reports say that the Israeli soldier operating the bulldozer deliberately ran her over. In June 2006, Hamas militants infiltrated an army post near the Israeli side of the Gaza Strip and abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Two IDF soldiers were killed in the attack, while Shalit was wounded after his tank was hit with an RPG. Three days later Israel launched Operation Summer Rains to secure the release of Shalit. He was held hostage by Hamas, who barred the International Red Cross from seeing him, until 18 October 2011, when he was exchanged for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. In July 2006, Hezbollah fighters crossed the border from Lebanon into Israel, attacked and killed eight Israeli soldiers, and abducted two others as hostages, setting off the 2006 Lebanon War which caused much destruction in Lebanon. A UN-sponsored ceasefire went into effect on 14 August 2006, officially ending the conflict. The conflict killed over a thousand Lebanese and over 150 Israelis, severely damaged Lebanese civil infrastructure, and displaced approximately one million Lebanese and 300,000–500,000 Israelis, although most were able to return to their homes. After the ceasefire, some parts of Southern Lebanon remained uninhabitable due to Israeli unexploded cluster bomblets. In the aftermath of the Battle of Gaza, where Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in a violent civil war with rival Fatah, Israel placed restrictions on its border with Gaza borders and ended economic cooperation with the Palestinian leadership based there. Israel and Egypt have imposed a blockade of the Gaza Strip since 2007. Israel maintains the blockade is necessary to limit Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza and to prevent Hamas from smuggling advanced rockets and weapons capable of hitting its cities. On 6 September 2007, in Operation Orchard, Israel bombed an eastern Syrian complex which was allegedly a nuclear reactor being built with assistance from North Korea. Israel had also bombed Syria in 2003. In April 2008, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told a Qatari newspaper that Syria and Israel had been discussing a peace treaty for a year, with Turkey as a go-between. This was confirmed in May 2008 by a spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. As well as a peace treaty, the future of the Syrian Golan Heights is being discussed. President Assad said “there would be no direct negotiations with Israel until a new US president takes office.” Speaking in Jerusalem on 26 August 2008, then United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized Israel’s increased settlement construction in the West Bank as detrimental to the peace process. Rice’s comments came amid reports that Israeli construction in the disputed territory had increased by a factor of 1.8 over 2007 levels. A fragile six-month truce between Hamas and Israel expired on 19 December 2008; attempts at extending the truce failed amid accusations of breaches from both sides. Following the expiration, Israel launched a raid on a tunnel suspected of being used to kidnap Israeli soldiers which killed several Hamas fighters. Following this, Hamas resumed rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli cities, most notably firing over 60 rockets on 24 December. On 27 December 2008, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead against Hamas. Numerous human rights organizations accused Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes (United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (Goldstone Report). European Coalition for Israel, which one day dreams of having the same power over the EU Parliament as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has over parts of the US Senate and Congress). In 2009 Israel placed a 10-month settlement freeze on the West Bank. Hillary Clinton praised the freeze as an “unprecedented” gesture that could “help revive Middle East talks.” A raid was carried out by Israeli naval forces on six ships of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in May 2010. After the ships refused to dock at Port Ashdod. On the MV Mavi Marmara, activists clashed with the Israeli boarding party. During the fighting, nine activists were killed by Israeli special forces. Widespread international condemnation of and reaction to the raid followed, Israel–Turkey relations were strained, and Israel subsequently eased its blockade on the Gaza Strip. Several dozen other passengers and seven Israeli soldiers were injured, with some of the commandos suffering from gunshot wounds (The National, 9 July 2019: Israeli court rules Palestinian Authority responsible for Second Intifada attacks).

Following the latest round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, 13 Palestinian militant movements led by Hamas initiated a terror campaign designed to derail and disrupt the negotiations. Attacks on Israelis have increased since August 2010, after 4 Israeli civilians were killed by Hamas militants. Palestinian militants have increased the frequency of rocket attacks aimed at Israelis. On 2 August, Hamas militants launched seven Katyusha rockets at Eilat and Aqaba in Jordan, killing one Jordanian civilian and wounding 4 others. Intermittent fighting continued since then, including 680 rocket attacks on Israel in 2011. On 14 November 2012, Israel killed Ahmed Jabari, a leader of Hamas’s military wing, launching Operation Pillar of Cloud. Hamas and Israel agreed to an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire on 21 November. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said that 158 Palestinians were killed during the operation, of which: 102 were civilians, 55 were militants and one was a policeman; 30 were children and 13 were women. B’Tselem stated that according to its initial findings, which covered only the period between 14 and 19 November 102 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip, 40 of them civilians. According to Israeli figures, 120 combatants and 57 civilians were killed. International outcry ensued, with many criticizing Israel for what much of the international community perceived as a disproportionately violent response. Protests took place on hundreds of college campuses across the U.S., and in front of the Israeli consulate in New York. Additional protests took place throughout the Middle East, throughout Europe, and in parts of South America. Following an escalation of rocket attacks by Hamas, Israel started Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip on 8 July 2014 (Palestine Chronicle, 17 December 2019: Dugard: ICC Prosecutor Bensouda Biased In Favor Of Israel, Unwilling to Deliver Justice for Palestine, France24, 20 December 2019: ICC to investigate alleged war crimes in Palestinian territories, The Guardian, 20 December 2019: ICC to investigate alleged Israeli and Palestinian war crimes, BBC, 20 December 2019: ICC wants to open ‘war crimes’ investigation in West Bank and Gaza, Arab News, 20 December 2019: International prosecutor from ICC preparing to open Palestine war crimes probe, Al Jazeera, 20 December 2019: ICC to investigate alleged war crimes in Palestinian territories, Haaretz, 20 December 2019: Fearing Investigation, Israel Says Hague Has No Jurisdiction in West Bank or Gaza, Times of Israel, 21 December 2019: Israel fears ICC could issue global arrest warrants for top officials — report, Haaretz, 21 December 2019: Israeli Attorney General ‘Resolutely Rejects’ ICC Prosecutor’s Call to Probe Israel’s War Crimes Against Palestinians, Jerusalem Post, 21 December 2019: Palestinians welcome ICC ‘war crimes’ probe, Times of Israel, 22 December 2019: International Criminal Court probe of Israel is ‘pure anti-Semitism,’ says PM (for these hateful lies alone, Netanyahu should be jailed for 2 years straight), Haaretz, 22 December 2019: ‘Anti-Semitic Decrees’: Netanyahu Slams ICC Prosecutor’s Call to Probe Israel for War Crimes, Haaretz, 22 December 2019: The Road to an ICC Probe of Alleged Israeli War Crimes: What Happens Next?, Israel Hayom, 22 December 2019: Netanyahu accuses ICC of waging ‘political war’ against Israel, Jerusalem Post, 22 December 2019: It’s as if ICC issued guilty war crime verdict for Israel without a trial, Haaretz, 23 December 2019: ‘What About Hamas?’: Fact-checking Israel’s Response to ICC Prosecutor’s Call to Probe War Crimes, Times of Israel, 23 December 2019: The Hague vs. Israel: Everything you need to know about the ICC Palestine probe, Haaretz, 23 December 2019: The Right Has Eroded Israel’s Protection Against an International Probe, Israel Hayom, 24 December 2019: How B’Tselem is helping the ICC target Israel, Haaretz, 24 December 2019: Fearing Israel Will Shun ICC Proceedings, Prosecutor Presents Its Legal Opinion to Judges, Palestine Chronicle, 24 December 2019: Israel Considers Preventing Entry of ICC Investigators, Jerusalem Post, 25 December 2019: European hypocrisy (“Netanyahu clan’s nut jobsy” would had been the far better and more precise headline), Israel Hayom, 25 December 2019: Siding With Israel, Germany Says ICC Has No Jurisdiction in Palestinian Territories“>Defense minister warns ICC: ‘Israel will provide a legal Iron Dome to its service members’ (which, in return, means “We absolutely don’t care about (international) laws and never will. For us, the rules of the Torah apply only.”), Jerusalem Post, 25 December 2019: Naftali Bennett: The Hague’s ICC is home of modern antisemitism, Arab News, 25 December 2019: Israel will discredit the ICC ahead of historic probe, Times of Israel, 25 December 2019: Australia rejects ICC Palestine probe; Germany warns against politicization, Jerusalem Post, 26 December 2019: The ICC decision on Israel would make Himmler proud (conspiracy theories have never really worked. Certainly not if they are directed against fully integre institutions such as the International Criminal Court), Times of Israel, 26 December 2019: From The Gambia to The Hague: Meet Israel’s new public enemy number one (priceless, how a “possible investigation” is making that much waves. Most likely, because the Israelis know themselves, that International Criminal Court prosecutor Bensouda’s conclusions are spot on. Hopefully everyone got enough popcorn to enjoy the show), Jerusalem Post, 26 December 2019: Refusing to play the Palestinians’ ICC game, Israel Hayom, 27 December 2019: They say every Jewish settler is a ‘war criminal’ (and when looking at international law, “they” are absolutely right, except you are a Likudnik or another type of right-wing fruit cake, because then of course there are no laws, but the Torah only), Israel Hayom, 27 December 2019: Tiptoeing around the ICC (so the Israeli answer shall be: criminal acts of serious violence against the ICC, which, of course, would finally add-up to an image of Israel as a criminal country in general and not only on some aspects), Jerusalem Post, 29 December 2019: Think about it: Israel and the ICC, Arab News, 1 January 2020: ICC poses real threat to Israel’s hypocrisy and lies, Jerusalem Post, 2 January 2020: ICC Prosecutor to ‘Post’: Probe of Gantz, IDF officers, is premature, Israel Hayom, 6 January 2020: ICC is undercutting its own legitimacy, Times of Israel, 8 January 2020: ICC probe won’t deter Israel from expanding settlements, Netanyahu vows, Palestine Chronicle, 8 January 2020: Justice at Last? ‘Panic’ in Israel as the ICC Takes ‘Momentous Step’ in the Right Direction, Haaretz, 11 January 2020: Hungary Backs Israel in Fight Against ICC Call to Probe War Crimes Against Palestinians, Times of Israel, 11 January 2020: Backing Israel, Hungary says it opposes potential ICC probe of Jewish state, Jerusalem Post, 11 January 2020: Netanyahu asks friendly countries to say ICC has no jurisdiction over Israel, Israel Hayom, 12 January 2020: The legal threat posed by The Hague is real, Times of Israel, 14 January 2020: