Israeli-occupied territories

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Israeli occupied territories[change | change source]

A map of the Palestinian occupied territories in Israel, including zone A, zone B, and the Golan Heights.

The Israeli Occupied Territories are areas of the Palestinian territories controlled by Israel. The current borders were established during the Six-Day-War in 1967 when Israel took control over the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. After the Israeli Independence war in 1948, or referred to by Palestinians as the Nakba, Jordan took over the West Bank. East Jerusalem, Egypt the Gaza Strip[1] and Syria the Golan Heights.[2] During the Fourth Geneva Convention ( regarding the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War) the occupation was written down. It stated that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories involves: denying human rights, denying full citizenship, and lacking humanitarian protection. Israel controls the land and sea borders, trade and airspace[3].

West Bank[change | change source]

The West Bank is the area west of the Jordan River between Palestine and Jordan and is the most prominent Palestinian area of the Israeli Occupied territories. The area was first controlled by Jordan. But after the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 was taken over by Israel in the Six-Day-War. The West Bank is in total 5,640 sq km, with a population of 3,2 million people (2023), with approximately 470.000 Israeli settlers (2022)[4]. The Palestinian National Authority (PA) and the Israeli government rule the different areas of the West Bank.[5]

The West Bank is divided into three distinct areas between the PA and Israel, resulting from the Oslo Accords (1993-1999). An agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation to resolve the tension. They agreed upon the Israeli withdrawal from the A areas, keeping the Israeli military for shared security in B areas, including Israeli control of the Palestinian borders. After turbulent times between Palestinians and Israelis, for security reasons, Israel started building a wall surrounding the West Bank in 2002, consisting of concrete walls and fences.[6]

The PA exercises civil and security control over the A areas (18%), while the B areas (22%) are under the PA's civil authority and have a shared security authority with Israel. The C areas (60%) (including settlements and the non-inhabited regions) are under complete Israeli authority. Despite these divisions, Israeli checkpoints are scattered throughout the different areas of the West Bank for Israeli security reasons, further complicating the governance structure.[5]

Permits and Citizenship[change | change source]

A large aspect of the Israeli-occupied territories is the bureaucracy of citizenship and permits, as a result of the Oslo Accords[7]. Palestinians can have three different kinds of citizenship: Israeli citizenship, Israeli residency, and Palestinian citizenship. Several Palestinians living in Israel have Israeli citizenship, including Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem, being able to vote. The other Palestinians living in East Jerusalem are not citizens but residents, having voting rights and their status can be revoked. The Palestinians in the West Bank have Palestinian citizenship, being able to experience full citizen rights in the Palestinian A areas[8].

Palestinians from the West Bank with Palestinian citizenship are under Israeli military law in the West Bank[7]. Reflected in military court systems for Palestinians when arrested by the Israeli military, and checkpoints in B and C areas, where Israel has security control. These checkpoints are most often on main roads connecting the Palestinian A areas[9]. Permits that are enforced by the Israeli military are required for Palestinian citizens to travel through these checkpoints. Permits are also needed for construction in the B and C areas, and to work in Israel or East Jerusalem. The Israeli settlers in the West Bank have Israeli citizenship, creating a complex law system in security situations between Palestinians and Israeli settlers. Palestinians are disadvantaged by not enjoying citizen rights in the B and C areas [7].

Gaza[change | change source]

The area of the Gaza Strip borders the Mediterranean Sea, Egypt, and Israel. The strip of land is 360 sq km and has a total of 2.2 million people. After the Arab-Israeli war, the Gaza Strip became part of Egypt until in 1967 when during the Six-Day-War Israel took control. The Palestinian Authority gained civil and security control over the Gaza Strip after agreements made in the Oslo Accords. Nowadays, different than the West Bank, the Gaza Strip is ruled by Hamas, a separate organization from the PA, which won elections in 2006. The political differences between Hamas and the PA caused violent clashes, breaking the political unity between the West Bank and Gaza in 2007[10].

The Gaza Strip has its own full authority; since 2005, all Israeli settlers withdrew from Gaza due to security reasons. But since 2005 Israel has controlled Gaza in different aspects, together with Egypt.[11] The Israeli and Egyptian sided borders of Gaza are controlled and surrounded by a fence, restricting and controlling all movement of Palestinians living in Gaza. Also, the airspace, communication networks, and sea borders of the Gaza Strip are controlled by Israel.

Hamas-Israel War 2023[change | change source]

Tensions between the Gazan people and the Israeli government have also been present, also after Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Over time, these tensions have led to several outbreaks of violence, with rockets fired from Gaza often followed by Israeli responses with airstrikes. With a peak in violence, when Hamas committed an air, ground, and sea invasion of southern Israeli areas on the 7th of October 2023[10]. By the name Operation Al-Aqsa Flood[12]. In the attack, many Israeli soldiers and civilians were killed, injured, or taken hostage in Gaza. The attack was followed by large-scale Israeli airstrikes and an Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, continuing in 2024[10]. The operation highlights a critical moment in Palestinian resistance against Israeli control and occupation, dismissing Israel's status of indestructibility[12].

East Jerusalem[change | change source]

East Jerusalem was divided into two parts; East (Palestinian/Jordanian) and West (Israeli) after the Israeli Independence War/Nakba of 1948. In 1967 during the Six-Day-War, Israel took control over East Jerusalem to re-unify the city[13]. After 1968, the Palestinian people who lived there at the time were officially considered "Arabs in Israel". [14] With the building of the Israeli West Bank barrier, the lives of these Arabs got more restricted. According to Israel, the wall was a way to stop political violence by Palestinians. For the Palestinians, the barrier is a symbol of radical segregation and Israeli apartheid.[15]

The barrier consists of a 708 kilometres long wall, which is double the length of the Green Line.[16] The wall blocked the entrance to the West Bank and surrounding villages, separating Palestinian communities. Next to social consequences, the West Bank wall also worsened the economic situation for Palestinian inhabitants who worked in the agriculture sector.[17]

The Golan Heights[change | change source]

The Golan Heights passed from Syrian to Israeli control during the Six-Day War (June 1967).[18] Just like the experience of the Palestinians during the Nakba, the everyday life of the Golani people came to an abrupt stop. Over 130,000 people were displaced, after which the population existed of 6000 individuals.[19] By July of that same year, Israeli forces had taken in 2/3 (1250 km2) of the Golan Heights.[19] After the takeover, many of the villagers fled to the villages that were still under Golan control. A village called Majdal Shams was one of the most well-defended because of its strategic location.[20] Situated in the middle of apple orchards at the foot of Jabal El Sheikh.[19]

This former southern region of Syria was home to the original community that mostly identifies as Druze. A religious sect that finds its origin in Shia Islam.[21] The Druze religion is a monotheistic mix of Islam in combination with mainly Christianity, Hellenism, and neo-Platonism influences.[22] With prophet Muhammad as a prominent figure. The community got a lot of criticism, which is why they came up with the concept of Taqiyya.[23] Meaning, in order to protect yourself, you hide what you truly think and what religion you believe in. [24] This is also why this is a very closed and secretive community, leaving it to be hard for outsiders to join the community. As you can only become a Druze if you are born a Druze. Not even through marriage can one become a Druze, because marrying outside of the sect is forbidden.[25]

Inhabitants of the territories[change | change source]

The inhabitants of these regions that fall under Israeli occupation share the Arab language and are considered a minority.[26] However, there are some differences between the Palestinians and the Druze. The residents in the Golan hills see themselves as different from the Palestinians.[27] The Golan community holds on to their (Druze) Syrian identity.[28] Given that the Golan Heights previously belonged to Syria, the people don't share the Palestinian identity. While the residents in the West Bank and Gaza, identify as Palestinians.[27]

  1. Efrat, Elisha (2006). The West Bank and Gaza Strip: a geography of occupation and disengagement. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-38544-2.
  2. Davis, U. (1983-01-01). "The Golan Heights under Israeli occupation 1967-1981". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. Shafir, Gershon (2017). A half century of occupation: Israel, Palestine, and the world's most intractable conflict. Oakland (Calif.): University of California press. ISBN 978-0-520-29350-2.
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  5. 5.0 5.1 Singer, Joel (2021-06-03). "West Bank Areas A, B and C – How Did They Come into Being?". International Negotiation. 26 (3): 391–401. doi:10.1163/15718069-bja10030. ISSN 1382-340X.
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  9. "West Bank Access Restrictions | May 2023 | OCHA". 2023-05-26. Retrieved 2024-05-11.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 "Gaza Strip", The World Factbook, Central Intelligence Agency, 2024-05-01, retrieved 2024-05-05
  11. Anderson, Betty S. (2020-06-30). "A History of the Modern Middle East". Rulers, Rebels, and Rogues. doi:10.1515/9780804798754.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Mercan, Muhammed Hüseyi̇N (2023). "Operation al-Aqsa Flood: A Rupture in the History of the Palestinian Resistance and Its Implications". Insight Turkey. 25 (4): 79–91. ISSN 1302-177X.
  13. Rempel, Terry (1997). "The Significance of Israel's Partial Annexation of East Jerusalem". Middle East Journal. 51 (4): 520–534. ISSN 0026-3141.
  14. Pappe, Ilan (2013). The Forgotten Palestinians: A History of the Palestinians in Israel. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 102.
  15. Stewart, Dona J (2009). The Middle East Today: Political, Geographical and Cultural Perspectives. London: Routledge. p. 233.
  16. "Barrier Update" (PDF). United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, occupued Palestinian territory. July 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-09-12. Retrieved 2024-05-12.
  17. "The Separation Barrier". btselem. 11 November 2017.
  18. Mason, Michael, Munir Fakher Eldin, and Muna Dajani. (2022). The Untold Story of the Golan Heights : Occupation, Colonization and Jawlani Resistance. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 6–8.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Mason, Michael; Dajani, Muna (2018). "A Political Ontology of Land: Rooting Syrian Identity in the Occupied Golan Heights". Antipode. 51 (1): 193. doi:10.1111/anti.12412. ISSN 0066-4812.
  20. Eldin, Munir Fakher (2019-11-01). "Power, Politics, and Community: Resistance Dynamics in the Occupied Golan". Journal of Palestine Studies. 49 (1): 77–92. doi:10.1525/jps.2019.49.1.77. ISSN 0377-919X.
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  23. Kennedy, R. Scott (1984-01-01). "The Druze of the Golan: A Case of Non-violent Resistance". Journal of Palestine Studies. 13 (2): 49. doi:10.2307/2536896. ISSN 0377-919X.
  24. Hughes, Aaron W. (2013). Muslim Identities: An Introduction to Islam (2nd ed.). New York: Equinox Publishing Ltd. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-80050-210-9.
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  28. Eldin, Munir Fakher (2019-11-01). "Power, Politics, and Community: Resistance Dynamics in the Occupied Golan". Journal of Palestine Studies. 49 (1): 78. doi:10.1525/jps.2019.49.1.77. ISSN 0377-919X.