History was made Monday when Israel observed its seventieth anniversary as a nation and the United States officially moved its embassy to Jerusalem. However, the day was historic from a very different perspective as well.
Palestinians mark May 15 each year as “Nakba Day” (“Nakba” means “catastrophe”). This designation refers to the fact that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled their homes or were displaced in the 1948 War of Independence.
In the weeks leading to yesterday’s anniversary, Hamas called for massive demonstrations against Israel and the US. According to Israeli officials, some forty thousand Palestinians took part in “violent riots” yesterday at thirteen locations along the Gaza Strip security fence.
As protesters approached the border fence hurling stones and incendiary devices, Israeli soldiers responded with live ammunition and tear gas dispersed from drones.
The resulting death toll has risen this morning to sixty-one. More than 2,700 were injured in the deadliest violence since the 2014 Gaza war. A senior Hamas official said last night that protests would continue: “This blood will keep boiling until the occupation leaves forever.”
What my Palestinian tour guide experienced
Since I wrote yesterday from Israel’s point of view, today I will overview the conflict from a Palestinian perspective. (For a larger introduction to the region, its history, and its significance, I invite you to read my Israel and the Two-State Solution on our website.)
On one of my travels to Israel, I became friends with our Palestinian Christian tour guide. He and his family lost their home in Jerusalem when Israelis took the city in 1967. He still had shrapnel in his neck from that conflict and sometimes drove past his family’s home with a mixture of bitterness and nostalgia.
In his view, the Palestinians owned the land for twenty centuries, after the Romans expelled the Jews following the Bar Kochba revolt of AD 135. He was largely right.
According to Daniel Gordis’s Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn, there were roughly seven hundred thousand Arabs living in Palestine when Jews began their migrations back to their Holy Land in the latter part of the nineteenth century, a movement known as the “First Aliyah” (“Aliyah” means “ascent”). By contrast, there were twenty-seven thousand Jews living in Palestine, concentrated primarily in Jerusalem, where they constituted a majority.
In the following decades, Jews migrated back to Palestine by purchasing land from the Arabs and/or the Ottoman Empire. By 1946, the Jewish population had grown to more than five hundred thousand, while the Arab population exceeded 1.2 million.
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Source: Christian Post