PRE-HISTORIC ERA: Some archeologists believe that they have found human remains in parts of what was to become Palestine that date back to 600,000 B.C. There is also extensive archeological evidence that shows that settled agricultural communities were established in different parts of Palestine as early as 10,000 B.C. Copper and stone tools as well as other artifacts have been found near Jericho, the Dead Sea and Bi’r As-Sabi’ that date back to about 5,000 to 4,000 B.C.
(3,000 - 2,000 B.C.) CANAAN IN THE EARLY BRONZE AGE: There is written documentation of the existence in what was then called Canaan of a great urban civilization. The Canaanites shared a cultural tradition derived from Mesopotamia and the civilization identified with the city of Ebla, in northern Syria. The Canaanites controlled Palestine west of the Jordan River and parts of Phoenicia (coastal Lebanon) and southern Syria. During this period, the Canaanites acquired the use of iron and the practice of alphabetic writing. Their alphabet was in fact transmitted to Greece and became the basis of Western writing systems.
(2,000 - 1,000 B.C.) MIGRATIONS TO CANAAN, ABRAHAM, MOSES, AND PERIOD OF TURMOIL: A variety of nomadic groups began entering Canaan around 2200 B.C., many of them refugees from neighboring lands that were experiencing a great deal of turmoil at the time. In about 1800 B.C., the most famous of the migrants, Abraham (Prophet Ibrahim) who was fleeing religious persecution in his native Mesopotamia, migrated to Canaan with some followers. Unlike most of the other migrants, Abraham was a monotheist and did not adopt the polytheistic religion of the Canaanites. While during his long life, Abraham visited Mecca in the Arabian Peninsula many times and took one of his sons, the Prophet Ismail, there to live, he died and was buried in the city of Hebron (Khalil) in Canaan. His descendants from his second son Isaac (Prophet Ishaq), led by his grandson Jacob (Prophet Yacub, also known as Israel) and his son Joseph (Prophet Yusuf) however migrated to Egypt during a terrible famine. At the time, Egypt was led by the Hyksos, a group of mostly Semitic peoples. The Hyksos had recently subdued the Pharaohs and welcomed the children of Jacob as well as other Semitic peoples into Egypt. The Egyptians rose against and expelled the Hyksos around 1560 B.C. and the children of Jacob, who had enjoyed a privileged status under the Hyksos rule, began being subjected to increasingly oppressive living conditions under the Egyptian Pharoahs. Around 1250 B.C., Moses (Prophet Musa) led the children of Jacob, or the Israelites, out of Egypt and into the Sinai Peninsula and areas east of Canaan. Moses’ successor, Joshua, invaded Canaan around 1200 B.C. At about the same time, the Philistines, a non-Semitic people who had recently been driven from their homes in Crete, also invaded Canaan from the Mediterranean. For the next two hundred years, there was heavy fighting in the area among the Philistines, Canaanites and the Israelites, who also came to be known as Jews or Hebrews after they made common cause with some other Semitic tribes who adopted their monotheistic faith.
(1000 - 927 B.C.) KINGDOM OF ISRAEL: About 1000 B.C., Saul (Talut) was able to unite the Jews and his successor David (Prophet Dawud) was able to defeat the Philistines, Canaanites, and other peoples in the area and establish the Kingdom of Israel. While the Philistines, Canaanites and other religious and ethnic groups were subjugated by Israel, they remained in the land allowing for the establishment of a multinational state. For a brief period, David was even able to expand his Kingdom northward through much of Syria to the Euphrates River. David died in 965 B.C. passing power to his son Solomon (Prophet Sulieman) who built the first Jewish temple in Jerusalem and added to the wealth of the Kingdom by expanding its trading networks, establishing contacts as far south as Yemen.
(927 - 539 B.C.) JEWISH DISUNITY AND ASSYRIAN AND BABYLONIAN CONQUEST AND RULE: After Solomon’s death in 927 B.C. the united Kingdom of Israel broke into two parts after ten northern tribes refused to accept the principle of hereditary succession within the family of David. The two states were Israel in the north and Judah, which included Jerusalem, in the south. Neither state was particularly strong and they were both inflicted by internal religious and political strife. In 722 B.C., the northern kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyrians, who forcibly resettled thousands of its inhabitants to Mesopotamia. In 586 B.C, Judah was defeated by Nebuchadnezzar, leader of the Babylonian Empire, which was the successor to the Assyrians in Mesopotamia. The Jewish religious and political elite were transported to Babylon after the conquest and the Jewish temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. The region from that time onward was usually part of a greater empire. When the Persians conquered Babylon under the leadership of Cyrus the Great in 539 B.C., Jews were given a privileged status and while they were permitted to return to Palestine, most of them chose to remain in Mesopotamia.
(539 - 168 B.C.) PERSIAN AND GREEK RULE: Under Persian rule, the Jews in Palestine were permitted to pursue their religious observances and they were allowed to rebuild their temple in Jerusalem. They however remained a minority in Palestine and internal squabbles kept them weak and divided. They did not even begin trying to rebuild their Temple until 15 years after they were not only given permission but extensive funding to do so from the Persian state. In 333 B.C., Persia was conquered by the Macedonian Greek leader Alexander the Great who established a huge empire that included Palestine. In 323, Alexander died and his empire was divided. Palestine was subsequently ruled alternatively by the Greek Ptolemies based in Egypt and the Greek Seleucids based in Syria.
(168 - 63 B.C.) REVOLT AGAINST THE GREEKS AND THE MACCABEAN PERIOD: As the Greek empire began coming under increasing pressure from the Romans in the second century B.C., the Seleucids, under their leader Antiochus Epiphanes, attempted to implant Greek culture throughout their domain and in 168 B.C. rededicated the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem to Zeus. A Jewish group called the Maccabees, with Roman encouragement and support, responded with a violent rebellion that by 140 B.C. enabled them to kick the Seleucids out of Palestine and establish a new Jewish state led by the Hasmonean dynasty. The Maccabees instituted an eighty year reign of terror during which they forcibly converted non-Jews in areas that came under their control and even oppressed Jews who did not belong to their party. Open Jewish revolt against the Maccabees was met with violent suppression and bloody massacres with the final result being a stalemated Jewish civil war. The Romans, who had been allied with the Maccabees from the beginning and had by this time replaced the Seleucids in Syria, were asked to arbitrate the internal conflict and the Roman General Pompey came down from Syria in 63 B.C. and promptly took the country over making it into a Roman province.
(63 B.C. - 395 A.D.) ROMAN ERA: The beginning of the Roman era was more a period of Jewish-Roman cooperation than conflict, and the Jews enjoyed substantial autonomy especially in religious matters. In fact, one of the early Roman Governors of Palestine was Herod, a Jew who was married to a Maccabean princess and who was thus seen by many as a continuation of the Hasmonean line. It was during his reign that Jesus (Prophet Issa) was born in Palestine. The followers of Jesus were persecuted by the Romans at the instigation of Jewish leaders who considered him a Jewish heretic. The conflicts that had tore the Jews apart before the Roman conquest however continued and while many Jewish parties counseled continued cooperation with Rome, others considered Roman rule intolerable. In 66 A.D. a Jewish group called the Zealots began a bloody seven year rebellion which the Romans retaliated against by destroying the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. After the revolt, the Romans restored autonomy to the Jews who again revolted in 132 A.D. Although the Bar Kochba revolt led to heavy Roman casualties, the Romans were able to suppress it after three years. During the revolt, the Romans killed and enslaved thousands of Jews and after it was put down they passed a decree forbidding Jews from entering Jerusalem. Even before the revolt, Jews outside Palestine far outnumbered those within it. Afterwards, many Jews who had remained in Palestine also left, leaving Jews as only a small minority in the area. Meanwhile throughout the Roman Empire Christianity was spreading and becoming seen as a challenge to the Romans. While most of the followers of Jesus had been forced to leave Palestine early on because of persecution there, Christians began being persecuted throughout the Empire in about 160 A.D. Under the pressure of severe persecution, the Christians divided into a number of sects but their numbers continued to grow. In 313 A.D. Constantine, one of the contenders for power in the Roman Empire at a time of political discord, changed the entire situation by issuing an edict that Christians under his rule would be given freedom. In 323 Constantine became the sole ruler of the Roman Emperor and set himself the task of strengthening the Christian Church. Constantine built numerous churches and frowned upon what he considered heretical sects and schisms hoping that he could gain unity in his empire through a united Christianity. In 330, Constantine formally converted to Christianity and moved his capital from Rome to Constantinople. In 383, Christianity was declared the imperial state religion.
(395-638 A.D.) BYZANTINE RULE WITH BRIEF PERSIAN INTERLUDE: The Roman Empire formally divided in 395, with Palestine becoming part of the Eastern or Byzantine Empire with its capital in Constantinople. Under Byzantine rule, Palestine, as the birthplace of Jesus, acquired a significance that had been lacking in the earlier Roman attitude toward the area. Many of the Christians in Palestine did not however escape persecution since most of them belonged to sects that the state considered heretical. Persecution of the Jews was even more severe. While over the centuries, the Romans had stopped enforcing laws restricting Jewish practices that were instituted at the time of the Bar Kochba revolt, the Byzantine Christians looked upon the Jews of Palestine as the people who rejected Jesus and they passed strict laws limiting Jewish practices. Some laws even directly interfered with the internal affairs of the Jewish community, something the Romans had never done. In 615, the Persian Sassanid dynasty briefly occupied Palestine as well as Egypt and other parts of North Africa during its extended war with Byzantine. During the Persian rule, Jews were given control over Jerusalem and they returned the centuries of Byzantine persecution by burning churches and killing thousands of Christians. By 622, the Byzantines led by Heraclius were able to regain Palestine and other areas after a number of surprising victories against the Persians. The Byzantines increased their suppression of both Jews and what they considered heretical Christians after they regained control over Palestine. Like the Romans before them, they reinstituted strict edicts banning Jews from living in Jerusalem.
(638 - 750 A.D.) EARLY ISLAMIC AND UMAYYAD RULE: In 638 A.D., Omar ibn al-Khattab, the Second Caliph of Islam, peacefully entered Jerusalem after having defeated the Byzantines in a number of battles in nearby lands. Most of the followers of Islam at that time were Arabs, a Semitic people, racially and linguistically related to the northern Semitic tribes out of which came the Canaanites and the Hebrews, all of which had originated in Mesopotamia about two or three thousand years earlier. The Arabs constituted those Semitic tribes that had continued to inhabit the desert while those in Palestine at the time were from other tribes that long ago had settled down for mostly urban or rural life. The majority of people in Palestine were still Semitic, though only a minority were Jewish. In the Greek, Roman and Byzantine eras, only a very thin layer at the peak of power were assimilated into the cultures of those great empires while the vast majority maintained separate cultural and linguistic traditions. More importantly, as followers of Islam, the Muslims considered themselves the natural successors of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and all the other Prophets and thus, for them, Palestine was of extreme religious significance. The Jews and even most of the Christians, especially the Monophysites which were perhaps the largest non-Byzantine Christian sect in Palestine, welcomed the Muslim conquest. These Jews and Christians had been severely oppressed in the aftermath of the wars with Persia and welcomed Muslim promises of tolerance. Jews especially enjoyed more freedom under Muslim rule than anywhere else in the world as the Muslims in Palestine and elsewhere granted Jews and Christians considerable autonomy to make and enforce their own religious, judicial, and social rules and a number of Christians and Jews held important posts under the various Muslim Caliphs. Muslims removed the restrictions the Romans and Byzantines had placed on the right of Jews to visit and inhabit Jerusalem. Despite this tolerance, or perhaps because of it, the native inhabitants of Palestine were gradually Arabized and Islamized. In 661 the Umayyad dynasty was established and the center of Islamic Civilization moved from the Arabian Peninsula to Damascus, a city close to Palestine. During the Umayyad period, Palestine enjoyed an era of unprecedented prosperity and the Dome of the Rock and Masjid Al-Aqsa were built at an area in Jerusalem that Prophet Muhammed had described as the third most sacred area on the earth and from which he had earlier ascended to Heaven during his Nightly Journey (Isra’ and Mi’raj). By the end of the Umayyad dynasty in 750, the vast majority of inhabitants of Palestine had converted to Islam, though a small minority maintained their Jewish and Christian faiths.
(750 - 1099 A. D.) ABBASID RULE WITH FATIMID INTERCESSION: The Abbasid Caliphate replaced the Umayyads in 750 and moved the capital from Damascus to Baghdad. At the time the Islamic state stretched from Spain to beyond India but after a century of Abbasid rule the state began gradually fragmenting with some provinces ruling almost independently from Baghdad. For some brief periods of time, Palestine came under the rule of such nearly autonomous governors, most notably in the 870s when the Egyptian governor Ahmad ibn Tulun brought Palestine under his sphere of influence. In 972, the Fatimids, an anti-Abbasid dynasty that had begun in North Africa and had conquered Egypt in 969, took control of Palestine. The Fatimid rulers were Ismaili Shi’is but during their rule very few people in Palestine or elsewhere adopted their beliefs. While there were some notable instances of Fatimid persecution of Sunni Muslims, as well as Jews and Christians, such periods were rare and did not last long. In 1055, the Seljuks, a Turkish group renowned for their military skills and strict devotion to Sunni Islam, came to dominate the Abbasid court in Baghdad. The Seljuks took Syria and Palestine from the Fatimids and restored Abbasid rule over those areas in 1071.
(1099 - 1187 A.D.) CRUSADER OCCUPATION: Taking advantage of the fragmented nature of the Abbasid state, Christian Crusaders from Western Europe took Jerusalem and surrounding parts of Palestine in 1099, subjecting much of its citizenry, Muslim, Jewish, and Eastern Christian, to a bloodbath. On the day the city was taken, seventy thousand defenseless Muslims who had surrendered, were slaughtered on the grounds of the Noble Sanctuary that houses the Dome of the Rock and Masjid Al-Aqsa. The Crusaders established Jerusalem as a Christian city from which Muslims and Jews were forbidden to live. They transformed the Dome of the Rock into a Christian Church and they used Masjid Al-Aqsa as a stable for their horses. While many of the Fatimids initially welcomed the Crusaders, hoping that they would aid them against the Seljuks, the Europeans invaded Egypt in 1117 leading to a period of intense turmoil within the Fatimid dynasty. In 1154 Nur al-Din Zanji, a strict Sunni from Kurdistan, was able to garner a powerful military force in Syria that fought the Crusaders. While some of the feuding Fatimi rulers allied with the Crusaders, others allied themselves with Zanji who came to Egypt in 1169 to oust the Crusaders. The Fatimi caliph at the time appointed Zanji as vizier, or leading minister. A year later Zanji died and he was replaced as vizier by his nephew, Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi. In 1171, with the support of the Egyptian people, Salah al-Din declared his allegiance to the Abbasids, bringing a quiet end to the Fatimid era. Salah al-Din then set out to unite the entire Muslim world and he caused all the rulers in what had become a fragmented Islamic world to sign a truce swearing to keep peace among themselves. After that he concentrated on removing the Crusaders from Palestine and won a major victory against them in 1179 at Marj Uyun. In 1187 Salah al-Din dealt a crushing blow to the Crusaders at the Battle of Hittin after which he quickly liberated the rest of Palestine including Jerusalem. The Crusaders remained only on a thin strip of land from Tyre to Jaffa on the Mediterranean coast.
(1187 - 1516 A.D.) AYYUBI, MONGOL, AND MAMLUK RULE: Salah al-Din died in 1193, but Palestine and Egypt continued to be ruled by his family, the Ayyubis, who remained nominally loyal to the Abbasids. In 1250, the last Ayyubi leader was killed by the Mamluks, a military regiment made up of Turkic-speaking forces that was ultimately able to usurp power from their enfeebled political masters. The leader of the Mamluks, Baibars, had won a number of victories against repeated Crusader attempts to reestablish a foothold in the region before he formally took power from the Ayyubis in 1250. The Abbasid dynasty was soon thereafter crushed by a new force from the east, the Mongol horde, which under the leadership of Hulagu destroyed Baghdad in 1258. The Mongols quickly occupied vast areas of the Islamic world until Baibars defeated them in Palestine at the Battle of Ayn Jalut near the city of Nasira in 1260. From then until 1516, Palestine remained under the Mamluks who were based in Cairo, which by that time had clearly replaced Baghdad as the economic, political, and intellectual capital of the Muslim world.
(1516 - 1832 A.D.) FIRST PERIOD OF OTTOMAN EMPIRE: In the 13th Century, not only did the Mongols destroy Baghdad in 1258 decimating the Seljuks, but they also drove a number of Turkish tribes from their homeland in Central Asia. These Turks quickly embraced Islam and settled in Anatolia, on the traditional battle lines between the Islamic world and the Byzantine Empire. While Egypt, Palestine, and Syria had come under the control of the Mamluks, a number of Turkish ghazi emirates or military principalities were established to the north of Syria with the aim of fighting the Byzantine Empire. The most successful of these emirates was that of Osman (or Ottoman) which defeated the Byzantines on a number of occasions. In 1453, the Ottomans successfully captured Constantinople bringing an end to the Byzantine Empire and establishing a growing Islamic state that soon reached far into Eastern Europe. By this time the Mamluk rule had started weakening leading to much turmoil at the heart of the Islamic world. In 1516, the Ottomans quickly took over Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and the Hijaz from the Mamluks moving the center of the Islamic world from Cairo to Istanbul, the City of Islam as Constantinople was renamed after its capture. While the Mamluks remained as regional governors in Egypt under Ottoman suzerainty, Palestine was incorporated into the province of Syria. The Ottomans continued expanding into the Muslim world as well as into Europe establishing the largest Islamic state that had yet existed. The huge multinational state was an epitome of tolerance and a model of administrative efficiency. The Ottomans established a centralized administrative framework by which the sultans maintained effective control over the extraordinarily diverse peoples in the vast empire. An important part of this framework was the millet system - essentially a division of the empire into a communal system based upon religious affiliation. Each millet was relatively autonomous, was ruled by its own religious leader, and retained its own laws and customs. The religious leader, in turn, was responsible to the sultan or his representatives for such details as the payment of taxes. There was also a territorial organization of the empire, at the upper levels of which was a unit called the muqata'ah under the control of a noble or administrator who could keep some portion of the state revenues derived from it. The amount varied with the importance of the individual noble or administrator, and he could use it as he saw fit. Such rights were also given to some administrators or governors in place of, or in addition to, salaries, thus insuring a regular collection of revenues and reducing record keeping. This system of administration and tax collection led to the establishment of a number of prominent families who served as local notables throughout the empire, in Palestine the most famous such families were the Khalidis, Nusaybas, Alamis, Husaynis, and Nashashibis. The Ottoman Empire, however, slowly began declining as indifferent sultans began to neglect administration. In a series of eighteenth-century wars, the Ottomans lost substantial territories. Because of administrative paralysis, local governors became increasingly independent and, eventually, revolts broke out. Even the various reform movements were balked, and with the invasion of Egypt in 1798 by the French General Napolean Bonaparte it became obvious that the once powerful empire was weakening even if Bonaparte’s incursions into Palestine were quickly repulsed.
(1833 - 1840 A.D.) MUHAMMAD ALI'S OCCUPATION: The three-year French occupation of Egypt ended in 1801 with a humiliating defeat, but it left Egypt in a turbulent state during which the Mamluks, the Ottomans, as well as the British, who had played a role in the defeat of France, all tried to put different candidates in power as governor of Egypt. Finally by 1805, Muhammad Ali, the leader of an Albanian wing of the Ottoman forces in Egypt, was able to consolidate power. Muhammad Ali, with French backing, gradually broke away from Ottoman control as he set up what was essentially an independent state that, at times, even went to war against the Ottomans to expand the amount of territory under his rule. For a brief period, 1833-1840, Muhammad Ali occupied Palestine, Syria, and parts of Lebanon, a region which he placed under the governorship of his son Ibrahim. Seeking European support and aware that the local Muslim population remained loyal to the Ottomans, Ibrahim undertook a policy of favoring local Christians for administrative posts. The Ottomans could not match Ibrahim’s modernized army which in 1839 seemed on the verge of marching on Istanbul. The British, who distrusted the pro-French Muhammad Ali, ultimately intervened to help the Ottomans push Ibrahim out of Syria and Palestine in 1840. Muhammad Ali’s descendants continued to rule Egypt however although European influence increased dramatically over the years and Britain was able to take full control in 1881.
(1840 - 1914 A.D.) LATE OTTOMAN PERIOD: Ottoman weakness at the time was exemplified not only by the fact that they had needed British help to remove Ibrahim from Syria but also by the fact that they were forced by Britain and other European powers to allow European traders and government consuls to maintain Ibrahim’s former policies of favoring Christians in economic and administrative posts. These policies were later expanded upon by European powers, which began demanding extraterritorial legal rights (known as capitulations) over the Christian communities throughout the Ottoman Empire, and European traders, which began hiring Christians to represent them in the selling of cheap European goods that undermined the local markets. These policies often led to tension between Muslims and the increasingly wealthy Christian communities in the Ottoman Empire, which were often seen as betraying the state, but such tensions were much more prominent in Syria and Lebanon than they ever were in Palestine where the Muslims, local Christians, and Jews had had especially cordial relations throughout Islamic rule. That began to change in the late 1800s with the birth of the Zionist movement in Europe which called for Jews to escape from persecution in Europe by colonizing Palestine and establishing a Jewish state in its place. The first Zionist colony (Petach Tiqva) was established in Palestine in 1878 and from 1882 to 1903 about 25,000 Zionists migrated to Palestine to escape persecution in Russia and Poland. The Zionists at the time had the financial backing of the French Baron E. de Rothschild, a scion of the wealthiest European banking family, and organizational support from the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA). In 1897, the First Zionist Congress in Switzerland issued the Basle Program "calling for a home for the Jewish people in Palestine" and established the World Zionist Organization (WZO) to achieve that goal. A second wave of approximately 40,000 illegal Zionist immigrants came to Palestine from 1904 to 1914, more than doubling the total number of Jews in Palestine at the time. While the Ottomans realized the danger of allowing Zionists to settle in Palestine and passed restrictions on Jewish immigration to Palestine in the wake of the establishment of the Zionist movement, Jews circumvented these restrictions by acquiring the protection of foreign consuls under the capitulations laws.
(1914 - 1920 A.D.) WORLD WAR I AND BRITISH MILITARY OCCUPATION: Three months after World War I started on Aug. 1, 1914, the Russians, British and French all declared war on the Ottoman Empire. The British and French almost immediately began secret negotiations discussing how they would divide the Empire between themselves. On Nov. 2, 1917, the British signed the Balfour Declaration formally promising Zionist leaders that they would view with favor the establishment of a "national home for the Jewish people" in Palestine despite the fact that Jews constituted less than 8% of the population of Palestine at the time. Palestine served as an important staging area for Ottoman troops resisting British incursions from Egypt throughout much of the war. In December, 1917, the British General Edmund Allenby was able to occupy Jerusalem and subsequently the rest of Palestine. The war led to the impoverishment of wide sectors of the Palestinian population, as well as malnourishment and susceptibility to disease. On October 30, 1918, the Ottoman Empire capitulated and signed the Armistice of Mudros, leaving all of Palestine, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq under direct British occupation and Syria, which was nominally ruled by Faysal ibn Husayn, the son of the guardian of the holy places in Mecca who had led a British-backed revolt against the Ottomans, under indirect occupation. Lebanon was under French occupation. Turkey, which had avoided direct occupation, was established as a strictly secular state and the Caliphate was soon thereafter abolished. The Palestinians, as well as other Arabs, clearly hoped that an independent state comprising Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and perhaps the Arabian peninsula, which was increasingly coming under the control of the British-subsidized Ibn Saud, would be established—probably under the rule of Faysal. This was in fact the recommendation of the American sponsored King-Crane Commission, a group sent to the region in 1919 specifically to ascertain the wishes of the peoples living there. However the British and the French refused to relinquish their control over the area. In late 1919, the British withdrew from Syria after agreeing to allow the French to take direct control over that area. In March 1920, before the French were able to occupy Syria, the Syrian National Congress, which included representatives from Palestine, most notably Hajj Amin al-Husseini, proclaimed Faysal king of a united Syria. At the San Remo Conference in April, 1920, however, the British and French agreed to give mandatory rights to the French in Lebanon and Syria and to the British in Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq. The Balfour Declaration was included in the obligations for the mandatory power in Palestine, thus binding the British to establish conditions whereby Jewish immigrants would be assisted in their path toward ultimate dominance. The French invaded Syria in May and by July occupied Damascus sending Faysal to Palestine. The British later made Faysal the king of Iraq and his brother Abdullah the king of Jordan. On July 1, 1920, the British military administration in Palestine was dismissed and a civil administration led by the ardent British Zionist Herbert Samuel was established. The British Mandate over Palestine was officially approved by the League of Nations in 1922.
(1920 - 1947 A.D.) THE BRITISH MANDATE: During the British Mandate, Jewish immigration into Palestine increased dramatically as did their land holdings. More than 400,000 Jews immigrated into Palestine during the Mandate, increasing their percentage of the overall population from about 8% in 1920 (with the vast majority of those being recent immigrants) to about 30% at the end of the Mandate. The percentage of Palestinian land owned by Jews increased from 1.7% of the total Palestinian land in 1920 to about 6% in 1947. The economic situation for the vast majority of Palestinians also deteriorated throughout the British occupation. Over 90% of the Palestinian Muslims were farmers whose economic livelihood was decimated by British exploitation. According to the terms of the Mandate, Palestine could not create any tariffs against members of the League of Nations allowing countries with excess surpluses to dump both agricultural and industrial goods in the Palestinian market. This became a frequent practice after the onset of the worldwide Depression. Agricultural production in the Palestinian sector dropped dramatically during the Mandate as imports increased and peasants went further into debt and were increasingly being forced off the land. The Jews, on the other hand, had access to huge amounts of external capital that poured into the area from wealthy American and European Jews. Politically, the Zionists had formal representation in the Mandate government, something the Palestinians never enjoyed. Even more importantly, the Zionists wielded considerable influence over the Mandatory power from their ability to influence British policy through Zionist representatives in London. In addition to Zionist political and economic prerogatives, the British, especially during the 1936-1939 Arab Revolt, organized and armed Jewish military formations while Palestinians were prohibited from owning any weapons. Organized Jewish terrorist attacks on Palestinian buses, marketplaces and places of worship began in earnest in 1937 and after World War II were expanded to include British targets, such as the King David Hotel. The Palestinians resisted both the British occupation as well as Zionist incursions and thousands were killed or executed during the Mandate. Hajj Amin al-Husayni, who quickly emerged as the unquestioned leader of the Palestinian resistance, was forced into exile in 1937. Throughout the Mandate, the Palestinians maintained a consistent refusal to admit that any part of Palestine could be given to the Zionists. Hitler’s extermination of millions of Jews during World War II (1939-1945) increased international sympathy for the Zionist cause.
(1947 - 1949 A.D.) THE BRITISH WITHDRAWAL AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ISRAEL: During World War II, the international Zionist movement moved its headquarters from London to the United States, which emerged from the war as the most powerful economic and military power in the world. After the war, Zionist terrorist attacks in Palestine were accelerated making the occupation increasingly expensive for the British. All British attempts to stem the terrorism were criticized by the United States which increasingly pressured the British to accede to all Zionist demands, including most prominently, the issuance of 100,000 new immigration certificates for European Jews. Facing such pressures, the British in February 1947 declared that they would hand over the Palestinian issue to the newly established United Nations. In August, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) called for the end of the British Mandate and the creation of procedures leading to the independence of Palestine. The majority of UNSCOP members advocated the partition of Palestine into Palestinian and Jewish states. Before the UN even voted on the proposal, the British declared that they would withdraw from Palestine on May 15, ending the Mandate unilaterally. On Nov. 29, after strong American pressure on a number of member countries, the UN voted to partition Palestine, a plan quickly rejected by the Palestinians. Hostility between Palestinians and Jews increased after the vote as the well-armed Jewish troops that had been organized during the Mandate period began a war of terror in the cities and began establishing military control over the areas granted to them under the UN plan. The Palestinians also began organizing their forces, but they were short of weaponry and lacked the kind of coordination that would enable them to mount a sustained resistance. The Zionists undertook a major offensive in early April, 1948 which involved the undertaking of brutal massacres, such as that at Dayr Yassin on April 9, and other terrorist acts. By May 14, the Zionists had taken control over all the areas granted to them by the UN and, one day before Britain formally handed over its powers in Palestine, declared the state of Israel. Within hours, the United States declared its recognition of the new state. After the British withdrew, fighting units from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia entered Palestine but were outmaneuvered by the Israeli forces and lacked any coordination. Jordan, which had the most powerful army, did not even undertake any sustained offensives, preferring to establish defensive perimeters around the areas they coveted. The Jordanian leader, King Abdullah, had in fact been in contact with Zionist leaders since 1947 and had expressed to them his support for partition of Palestine with Jordan taking control of the Arab section. Sharing similar aims with the Zionists, little actual fighting took place between the two armies. During the wars which lasted from May until July of 1948, the Israelis were able to substantially expand their holdings beyond what they were given by the UN. When Count Folke Bernadotte of Sweden, the first UN mediator to try to bring an end to the hostilities, challenged some of the Zionist assumptions he was assassinated by a Zionist terrorist group. His successor, Ralph Bunche of the United States, negotiated a cessation of hostilities between Israel and the Arab states that was concluded in July 1949, enabling Israel to keep the territories they had taken by force, while placing the remaining parts of Palestine under Jordanian and Egyptian control. Even before the negotiations had started, King Abdullah formally proclaimed the unity of Arab Palestine (usually referred to as the West Bank) and Jordan. During the war, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced from their homes. Of the 860,000 Arabs who lived in the parts of Palestine that came under Israeli occupation, only 133,000 remained. Of the rest, 470,000 entered refugee camps in the Jordanian-controlled West Bank and the Gaza Strip, then held by Egypt. The remainder were dispersed into Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan proper.
(1949 - present) ISRAELI OPPRESSION AND EXPANSION: While Israel’s existence is largely due to the UN, Israel has consistently refused to adhere to dozens of UN resolutions that have been passed over the years calling for peace, the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes, an Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories, and the establishment of permanent boundaries. Israel has in fact expanded its borders dramatically over the years, most notably when they undertook a surprise attack on Jordan and Egypt in 1967 occupying the rest of historic Palestine, including the city of Jerusalem. Israel also invaded Lebanon in 1982 and has continued to occupy a swath of Lebanese territory until the present. The Palestinian population living under Israeli occupation has suffered from persecution and a violent occupation regime, that seems intent on continuing to colonize and Judaize all parts of Palestine. In 1987, the Palestinian people began a sustained revolt in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that came to be known as the Intifadha. The revolt lasted until 1993, when the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) negotiated a secret peace deal with Israel that called for limited Palestinian autonomy in unspecified parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in return for formal Palestinian recognition of Israel, and PLO help in suppressing continued Palestinian resistance.
INTIFADA 2000: On September 28th, 2000, Ariel Sharon, an Israeli right-wing politician and an indicted war criminal under the Fourth Geneva Convention, visited Al-Haram Al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) with an escort of 2000 armed guards. Sharon's visit to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, one of the holiest Islamic sites, ignited the recent clashes that have killed hundreds and injured tens of thousands of Palestinians.