Also known as the Western Wall Disturbances, these were the first large-scale occurrences of fighting among Arabs, Jews, and the British mandatory administration of Palestine. Though the deeper causes can be linked to growing tensions over increasing Jewish immigration, the fighting began over Jewish access to the Western Wall, known as Al-Buraq Wall in Arabic or HaKotel in Hebrew, an important holy site to people of both faiths. Rumors of a Jewish plot to seize control of the holy site began to spread in the late 1920s, and violence erupted in August 1929 when a group of Jews organized a demonstration at the Western Wall, raising the Zionist flag and singing the Zionist anthem. A week later, some Palestinians murdered a group of Jews in Jerusalem’s Haredi neighborhood of Meah She’arim. The riots spread and religious Jewish communities (particularly in Hebron and Safed) were violently attacked, with retaliatory Jewish riots taking place as well. 133 Jews and 116 Palestinians were killed (some from Jewish rioters, but most from British troops/police). The British set up a commission of inquiry known as the Shaw Commission, which found that the fundamental cause of the riots was "the Arab feeling of animosity and hostility towards the Jews consequent upon the disappointment of their political and national aspirations and fear for their economic future. ... The feeling as it exists today is based on the twofold fear of the Arabs that by Jewish immigration and land purchases they may be deprived of their livelihood and in time pass under the political domination of the Jews." See "Ad hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question, Communication from the United Kingdom Delegation to the United Nations," United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine, October 2, 1947.
This was the longest sustained nationalist rebellion to British mandatory control of Palestine. The Arab Revolt was instigated by a massive influx of Jewish immigration, partly due to the rise of Nazism in pre-war Germany. Following increased tensions and a number of violent incidents perpetrated by both Palestinians and Jews, Palestinian rioting erupted on April 19, 1936 in Jaffa and Tel Aviv, quickly spreading throughout Palestine, resulting in the killing of 16 Jews and five Palestinians. An extensive general strike was declared and other forms of political protest (such as non-payment of taxes), led by an Arab Higher Committee, presided over by Jerusalem mufti Hajj Amin al-Hussein. In addition to the political protest, Jewish-farmed orchards were destroyed, and Jewish civilians murdered. The goals of the revolt were to shift British policy by limiting or ending large-scale Jewish immigration, to ban further land sales to Jews, and to enable Palestinians to establish their own national government. Britain established the Peel Commission to investigate the rebellion, which recommended the partition of Palestine into two states (one Arab and one Jewish) with a retained British mandate in Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem, and a corridor from Jerusalem to the sea. The Commission’s recommendation of partition (though not the boundaries proposed) was accepted at the 20th Zionist Congress (in part because it called for population transfer of Palestinians from the designated Jewish state to the designated Arab state, which many leading Zionists advocated) but it was rejected by the Arab Higher Committee, leading to a resumption of the revolt, which now targeted British forces militarily. The riots were ultimately suppressed by harsh British measures, including the exiling of many Palestinian leaders, disbanding the Arab Higher Committee, and the establishment of military courts. See U.S. Library of Congress Country Study. See also Yale Law School’s Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy and "From Law and Order to Pacification: Britain's Suppression of the Arab Revolt in Palestine, 1936–39," Matthew Hughes, Journal of Palestine Studies/University of California Press, 2010.
Known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation and to Palestinians as Al-Nakba (Arabic for "the catastrophe"). Fighting between Arab and Jewish populations in British Mandate Palestine began on November 30,1947 in response to the UN Partition Plan. Israel declared its independence on May 14,1948 and troops from Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq attacked the next day in support of the Palestinians. Israel (whose army was comprised of numerous pre-state Zionist militia groups, such as the Haganah and the Irgun) was overwhelmingly successful against the Arab countries’ armies and greatly expanded beyond the territory it would have received under the Partition Plan, taking control of nearly 60% of what had been earmarked for an Arab state. The war displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians (most estimates fall in the 700,000-800,000 range), who either were expelled by pre-state militias/Israeli forces, or fled (intending to come back after the end of hostilities). Most of them went to neighboring countries, the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. In January 1949, armistice agreements with four Arab states ended the hostilities, with the nascent state of Israel controlling the vast majority of British Mandate Palestine, Jordan controlling the West Bank, and Egypt controlling Gaza. No Palestinian state was created. See "A Country Study: Israel," U.S. Library of Congress,1988; and "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited," Benny Morris, Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Also known as the Sinai Campaign and the Suez Crisis. A brief military campaign in October and November of 1956, during which Israel, France and Britain colluded in an attack on Egypt. Israel was determined to punish Egypt for raids against its communities from the Gaza Strip, while France and Britain were responding to Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez Canal, which had been operated and owned by a private Anglo-French company. As arranged by the three countries beforehand, Israel entered the Sinai Peninsula on October 29, 1956 and swiftly conquered it, reaching the Suez Canal itself. This was followed by British air raids of military targets near Cairo and the Suez Canal on October 31, and a British and French paratrooper drop just north of the Suez Canal on November 5. On November 6, Britain and France agreed to a United Nations (UN) sponsored cease-fire demanded by the United States and the three countries were forced to withdraw entirely following enormous pressure from the US and Soviet Union. Britain and France withdrew in December 1956 and Israel withdrew in March 1957. The war resulted in a sweeping political success for Nasser and a significant loss of remaining British and French influence in the Arab world. The UN established a peacekeeping presence to protect the passage of Israeli ships through the Straits of Tiran, leading to the growth of Eilat, an Israeli port city on the Red Sea, and trade with the Far East. See "The 1956 Suez War," Al Jazeera English, Feb 29, 2008.
Commonly referred to by Palestinians as the June War or Al-Naksa (Arabic for "the setback"), and by Israelis as the Six-Day War. Tensions, which had been escalating for months, sharpened on May 13, 1967, when the Soviet Union gave false intelligence reports to Syria (who told Egypt) that Israel was planning an attack on Syria for their support of Palestinian guerillas and was amassing troops on the Syrian border. Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser deployed Egyptian troops to the Sinai Peninsula and demanded the removal of the United Nations troops there, who obliged and left. On May 22, Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships. The war began in the early morning of June 5, 1967, when the Israeli air force preemptively attacked and destroyed most of the Egyptian air force while still on the ground, launching a simultaneous ground invasion in Gaza and into the Sinai Peninsula. Jordan and Syria began attacking that day, but were quickly rebuffed. The war lasted six days, during which Israel captured the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) from Jordan. Israel annexed the Golan Heights and eventually returned the Sinai Peninsula in a peace deal with Egypt. The war resulted in hundreds of thousands of new Palestinian refugees, and the start of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, which continues until today. See "Six Day War," Encyclopedia Britannica. See also "Six days of war, 40 years of failure," Ian Black, The Guardian, June 4, 2007.
Also referred to as the October War, Ramadan War, or Yom Kippur War. A coalition of Egyptian and Syrian forces launched a surprise attack on Israeli forces on October 6, 1973, crossing the Suez Canal into the Sinai Peninsula and attacking the Golan Heights. The Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights had both been captured by Israel during the 1967 War. While Israel suffered severe military setbacks, particularly at the beginning of the campaign, the Egyptian and Syrian attacks were ultimately repelled and Israeli troops crossed to the west side of the Suez Canal before United Nations Resolution 338 halted the fighting. The ability of the Egyptian troops to breach the Israeli Bar Lev line east of the Suez Canal at the beginning of the war served as a major victory for Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, paving the way for his historic trip to Jerusalem in 1977 and the Camp David Accords of 1978. See "Legacy of 1973 Arab-Israeli war reverberates 40 years on," Kevin Connolly, BBC, Oct 5, 2013; and "Remembering the war in October," Hussein Elrazzaz, Al Jazeera English, Oct 7, 2013.
Also known as the Lebanon Invasion (to Arabs) and the First Lebanon War, or Operation Peace in the Galilee (to Israelis). In June 1982, Israel invaded South Lebanon in the midst of the Lebanese Civil War, purportedly in retaliation for the attempted assassination of the Israeli Ambassador to England. Though the would-be assassins were sworn enemies of the Arafat-led Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon had been seeking a pretext to eliminate the PLO from Lebanon (where they had been based since being expelled from Jordan). Despite original statements that Israeli troops would only advance 40 km, Israeli forces quickly reached Beirut, where they laid siege to the Lebanese capital, with the goals of expelling the PLO and installing a pro-Israel Maronite Christian government. International forces led by the United States facilitated the departure of the PLO from Lebanon to Tunisia. Israel encouraged the election of Bashir Gemayel (a Maronite Christian) as Lebanon’s new President in August 1982, but Gemayel was soon assassinated by a member of the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party, after which a Maronite-aligned militia massacred hundreds of Palestinian men, women and children in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps, which the Israeli army had granted the militia access to. Israeli forces remained to occupy much of southern Lebanon and engaged in a low-level guerilla war with Lebanese Shi'a groups such as Hezbollah, which formed to fight the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. The war (and especially the Sabra and Shatilla massacre) inspired protests in Israel and empowered the Israeli peace movement, eventually leading to Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s retirement and withdrawal from politics. In 1985, Israel withdrew to a 12 km security zone in southern Lebanon, where it remained until 2000. See " Lebanon Invasion," BBC, May 6, 2008; and "Arabs are 'losing faith' in America: lessons from Lebanon 1982," Ian Black, The Guardian, Jan 4, 2013.
Military action by a United States-led coalition of 32 states to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990, and claimed it as an Iraqi province. On January 18, 1991, two days after the American air campaign against Iraq began, Iraqi scud missiles were fired into Israel. In total, Iraq launched approximately 40 scuds against Israel in the month that followed. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), unlike most Arab states, supported Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. As a result, the PLO lost diplomatic and financial support from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. Kuwait also expelled most of the large Palestinian community in Kuwait, many of whom had lived there for decades, accusing them of supporting the Iraqi invasion. See "The Gulf War: Chronology," PBS, August 24, 2011; and "Arafat’s Costly Gulf War Choice," Al Jazeera English, Aug 22, 2009.
During the first two weeks of December 1992, six members of the Israeli armed forces were killed by Palestinian militants. On December 16, the Israeli government ordered deportation for up to two years of "inciters, those inhabitants of the area who endanger human lives by their activities, or those who incite others to such actions." Though the pretext for the deportation was the killing of the six soldiers, Israel never tried to claim that those being deported were responsible for the killings. Without being given any prior notification, 415 Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territories (most of whom were members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad) were handcuffed, blindfolded, put on buses and driven north towards Lebanon. The Israeli military tried to censor news of the deportation, but word leaked out, and several human rights organizations immediately filed petitions with Israel’s High Court of Justice, which issued a temporary injunction against the deportation. The court held a hearing on the deportation which lasted 14 hours, during which the deportees remained on the buses blindfolded and handcuffed. Though no specific deportee was discussed, the High Court allowed the deportation to continue in a five to two decision. The deportees were left in no-man’s land on a hilltop area in Southern Lebanon, as the Lebanese army prevented the deportees from continuing any deeper into Lebanon. In ensuing weeks, it was announced by the Israeli military that 16 of the deportees had been deported by mistake and would be allowed to return to the Occupied [no-lexicon]Palestinian Territories[/no-lexicon]. Five more were allowed to return for health reasons. In February 1993, Israel made an agreement with the United States to let the deportees return early. Hamas’s political strength was increased due to the incident, and several of its future leaders (including Ismail Haniyeh and Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi) rose to political prominence while in deportation. The mass deportation was condemned by prominent human rights groups as a flagrant violation of human rights, collective punishment, and a violation of Israeli and international law. See "The Mass Deportation of 1992," B’tselem, Jan 1, 2011; and "Hamas win sparks soul-searching," Jim Muir, BBC News, Jan 28, 2006.
Known in Lebanon as the July War and in Israel as the Second Lebanon War. This military conflict began on July 12, 2006 when Hezbollah militants ambushed an Israeli army border patrol in a cross border raid, kidnapping two Israeli soldiers and killing three others. Context to the attack includes the ongoing conflict related to Sheba’a Farms, a small stretch of land bordering Israel, Syria and Lebanon, which Israel controls but Hezbollah claims is Lebanese. Hezbollah spokespersons described the kidnapping as a strategy to secure the release of Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Five more Israeli soldiers died in an operation to rescue the abducted soldiers. During the 34-day war that followed, Israel’s military actions targeted Lebanese infrastructure and Hezbollah bases and also widely damaged civilian areas, killing at least 1,109 Lebanese (the vast majority civilians) and displacing an estimated one million. 119 Israeli soldiers were killed during the fighting. Israel also implemented a blockade of the entire Lebanese coast. Concurrently, Hezbollah launched hundreds of missiles into northern Israel, killing 43 Israeli civilians and causing 300,000-500,000 Israelis to flee from the north of the country. A United Nations-brokered ceasefire went into effect on August 14, 2006, though the Israeli naval blockade of Lebanon lasted until September 8. Hezbollah remained largely intact after the war, despite Israel’s stated goal of neutralizing the party. An Israeli government panel, called the Winograd Committee, concluded that the war had been a "big and serious failure" for Israel, in part because it undermined Israel’s military deterrence. See "Civilians under Assault: Hezbollah’s Rocket Attacks on Israel in the 2006 War" Human Rights Watch, August 2007; and "Why They Died: Civilian Casualties in Lebanon during the 2006 War," Human Rights Watch, September 2007.