History and Timeline - Book | Pictures of Palestine

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History and Timeline

This guide to Palestine's history can be only cursory, since its history is complex.
Here are two timelines:
one covers a wide sweep of historical periods going back to Antiquity,
and one covers the last century or so of Palestine's history, lower down.

Historical Periods

  • 4000-3300 BCE Urban development, copper technologies, agriculture.
  • 3300-1000 BCE Canaanites and Egyptians. Invasion of Palestine by Egyptians. Fortified cities, bronze technology, writing. Influences from Egypt and Mesopotamia. Decline around 1100 BCE with invasions by 'Sea Peoples' (probably Greek) - increased settlement of West Bank highlands and East Bank.
  • 1030-732 BCE Israelite period. 1030-930 united kingdom if Israel. 928 separation of Israel and Judaea. Assyrian intrusions.
  • 732-539 BCE Assyrian and Babylonian periods. 732 Assyrian invasion, Israel destroyed. 627 Babylonian ascendancy. 609-605 conflict in Palestine between Egypt and Babylon. 587 Babylonian invasion, Jerusalem destroyed, Babylonian Captivity of Jews. Enf of Judaea.
  • 539-332 BCE Persian period. Jewish revival in Judaea.
  • 332-63 BCE. Greek period (invasion by Alexander the Great 332). 167-160 Jewish Maccabean revolt restores Jewish autonomy in highlands. 160-63 BCE Hasmonean kingdom of Israel.
  • 63 BCE - 132 CE. Early Roman period. 37-4 BCE Herod the Great, Jewish vassal king under Romans (reconstruction and building of Temple). From 6 CE direct Roman rule. 66-73 CE First Jewish Revolt (destruction of Jerusalem and Masada).
  • 132-324 CE. Late Roman period - direct Roman rule. 132-34 Bar Kokhba Jewish revolt, defeated. Jews dispersed around Roman empire.
  • 324-638 Byzantine period. Christian ascendancy, redevelopment of Palestine.
  • 638-1099 Arab Caliphates, following 638 invasion of area by Arabs under Caliph Omar. 661 Ummayad Caliphate (Damascus). 750 Abbasid Caliphate (Baghdad). Tulumids, Fatimids and Seljuk Turks later dominate area.
  • 1099-1260 Crusader and Ayyubid period. Crusader kingdoms, defeated and reduced 1187 by Saladin. Ayyubid dominance, with Crusader coastal enclaves.
  • 1260-1517 Mamluk (Egyptian) period. Crusaders finally leave coastal enclaves in 1291.
  • 1517-1917 Ottoman period. 1540s > Suleiman the Magnificent builds up the area. Long stable period. 1832-40 Egyptian invasion, beaten.
  • 1917-1948 British Mandate period. Great Arab Revolt 1936-39.
  • 1948-today, state of Israel. 1967 invasion of West Bank and Gaza.

Modern Times

  • 1832 Palestine conquered by Egypt, under Muhammad Ali.
  • 1834 Arab revolt against Egyptians (‘first formative event of Palestinian people’).
  • 1840 Palestine returned by British to Ottoman control.
  • 1882-1903 First aliyah (immigration) of Jews from Europe.
  • 1896 Theodore Herzl’s Der Judenstaat or The Jewish State published, advocating a Jewish return to Palestine.
  • 1897 First meeting of the World Zionist Organisation in Basel (resolving to establish a homeland for Jews).
  • 1901 Jewish National Fund set up to buy land in Palestine.
  • 1903 About 25,000 Jews lived in Palestine, mostly from Eastern Europe.
  • 1909 Founding of Tel Aviv as a Jewish city outside Jaffa.
  • 1914 About 40,000 Jews entered Palestine in the ten years between 1904 and 1914, owning 2% of the land.
  • 1916-18 First Arab Revolt against Ottomans.
  • 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement (secret) divides the Middle East into British and French zones of influence.

British Mandate

  • 1917 British troops capture Sinai and Gaza, Jaffa, then Jerusalem.
  • 1917 Balfour Declaration, committing Britain to supporting ‘the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people’; British defeat of Ottomans in Palestine. British occupation begins.
  • 1918 End of the Ottoman empire; fighting between Arabs and Jews.
  • 1920 First Palestinian revolt against British.
  • 1922 A British census notes that Jews constitute 11% of Palestine’s 750,000 population (80,000 Jews).
  • 1923 British Mandate officially begins.
  • 1927 (July) Powerful earthquake in Jordan Valley.
  • 1927 Jewish immigration to Palestine sinks to a low level.
  • 1928 Founding of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (later to be very influential).
  • 1929 Second Palestinian revolt against British and Jews. 133 Jews killed by Palestinians and 110 Palestinians killed by the British.
  • 1929 Founding of the Jewish Agency (representing Jews in Palestine, encouraging Jewish immigration and buying of land).
  • 1933 Jewish immigration increases (Hitler) – 30,000 immigrate in one year.
  • 1935 61,000 Jews immigrate to Palestine during 1935.
  • 1936-39 General strike and Arab Revolt against British (‘birth of Palestinian identity’). Jewish militia Irgun begins terror attacks on Palestinian and British targets, seeking to take Palestine and Transjordan.
  • 1937 British Peel Commission recommends partitioning Palestine into a Jewish state (one third) and a Palestinian state (two-thirds). Palestinians reject this and demand an end to Jewish immigration, a single multicultural state and guarantees of minority rights.
  • 1938 Violent protests against the British are suppressed. British troop numbers increase.
  • 1939-44 Second World War. Threat of German invasion in 1942 (Rommel in Libya, Nazis in Caucasus).
  • 1943 Syria independent of France (Vichy regime), though French leave 1946.
  • 1944 Initially supporting the British, the Jews (Irgun, Menachem Begin) turn against them.

Founding of Israel - The Nakba

  • 1947 British announce departure from Palestine, handing over the problem to the UN. Partition plan approved in UN, Arabs reject it, Jews accept it while developing other plans. Partition plan gives 56% of the land to the Jewish state and 43% to Palestinians, with an international enclave in Jerusalem. Plan never implemented. US begins pressure to allow more Jewish immigration (beginning of US support for Zionism). Mobilisation of Jewish and Arab forces. ‘Clearing’ of Palestinian villages by Jews begins in December.
  • 1948 End of Mandate period on 15th May, declaration of state of Israel on 14th May – to Palestinians this is called al Nakba, the disaster. Conflict escalates: Jewish forces seize Jewish-allocated areas, also advancing into Palestinian areas. Crucial massacre of the village of Deir Yassin near Jerusalem causes panic amongst Palestinians, who flee to the West Bank, Jordan and other neighbouring countries. Arab retaliations fail. Armistice fixes the West Bank and Gaza as Palestinian enclaves under the rule of Jordan and Egypt – 25% of Mandate Palestine.
  • 1949 Armistice between Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Israel, demarcating the Green Line. Occupation of the West Bank by Jordan and Gaza by Egypt recognised.
  • 1956 Sinai Campaign (Suez Crisis): UK, France & Israel invade Sinai and Suez Canal area after Egypt (Nasser) nationalises canal. UK & France withdraw, USSR & USA force Israel to withdraw from Sinai.
  • 1964 Creation of Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) by neighbouring Arab governments. Foundation of Fateh as a fighting militia by Palestinians.

Occupation of West Bank and Gaza

  • 1967 Six Day War, 5-11 June. Israel seizes Gaza and the Sinai from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria and the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan. Israel doubles in size. UN Security Council resolution 242 demands ‘withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict’ – never fulfilled. Conflict displaces 500,000 Palestinians to Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.
  • 1969 Yasser Arafat takes over the PLO and separates it from control by neighbouring Arab governments, making it a genuine Palestinian organisation.
  • 1970 Beginning of a decade of attacks by PLO and other groups on Israel and internationally.
  • 1973 Yom Kippur or Ramadan War launched by Egypt and Syria, making initial gains. After many losses of land and lives, Israel reclaims the upper hand. UN, USSR and US intervene, forcing a ceasefire (risk of international proliferation) – UN SC resolution 338. US involvement in military support for Israel increases. Oil embargo led by Saudi Arabia causes global oil price rises.
  • 1974 PLO recognised by UN as representing Palestinian people. Yasser Arafat proposes peace in an historic speech at the UN (signifying beginning of acceptance of Israel).
  • 1977 Ascendancy of right-wing forces in Israel, including Likud, advocating Israeli rule of all of former Palestine. Settlement building increases in the West Bank and Gaza (Ariel Sharon).
  • 1978-79 Peace between Israel and Egypt – Camp David Accords. Egypt’s Sadat visits Jerusalem (assassinated 1981). Sinai returned by Israel to Egypt.
  • 1982 Israeli invasion of south Lebanon. PLO beaten, evacuates to Tunisia. Palestinian refugees in Lebanon left exposed – massacres of Sabra and Shatila.

First Intifada and the Oslo Peace Process

  • 1987-91 First Intifada starts in Gaza and spreads to West Bank. Civil disobedience and protest – massive Israeli retaliation. 1,000 Palestinians die up to 1993. Rise of Hamas.
  • 1988 PLO accepts a two-state solution for building peace. Israel (Shamir) refuses to talk.
  • 1991 Madrid Summit. Israel refuses to ‘talk to terrorists’. USA temporarily withholds loan guarantees to Israel over settlement building. Negotiations inconclusive. Arafat loses money and support over his backing of Saddam Hussein.
  • 1993 Oslo Peace Process: left-wing government in Israel (Rabin) and PLO secretly discuss peace in Norway. A peace plan is agreed – historic handshake between Rabin and Arafat.
  • 1994 Massacre in Ibrahimi Mosque, Hebron, by Israeli settler. Founding of Palestine Authority, to govern Gaza, Jericho and parts of the West Bank (return of the PLO ‘Tunisians’). Oslo Accords incomplete, based on trust in further talks and founding of a Palestinian state shortly after 2000. Peace agreement between Jordan and Israel.
  • 1995 (Nov) Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin assassinated by right-wing Israeli – peace process begins to unravel. Settlement building accelerating in West Bank.

Second Intifada

  • 2000 Second (or Al Aqsa) Intifada. Begins as street protests, develops into full-scale war, with Palestinian suicide bombing and Israeli lock-downs, occupations, curfews, house-demolitions and control of West Bank and Gaza.
  • 2002 Beginning of construction of Israeli separation wall in West Bank (officially to stop suicide bombers, fixing a new border between Israel and Palestinian territories). Significant Palestinian losses of land.
  • 2005 Israeli disengagement from Gaza (closure of settlements in Gaza). Death of Yasser Arafat.
  • 2006 Second Lebanon War, Israel against Hezbollah. 1,600 people killed. Uncertain outcome, with moral victory for Hezbollah.
  • 2009 (27 Dec 2008-18 Jan 2009) War in Gaza (Operation Cast Lead). Major Israeli bombardment of Gaza to destroy Hamas and stop Gazan rocket attacks on Negev area of Israel. Ascendancy of settler movement in Israel.
  • 2011 Palestinian application for recognition as a nation by UN. Palestine granted membership of UNESCO.
  • 2012 Outbreak of Arab Revolutions in Egypt and Syria remove world attention from Palestine.
  • 2014 Failure of peace talks with Israel. Israeli attacks in the West Bank and on Gaza.
© Text and pictures copyright Palden Jenkins 2011. This is online material supplementing the book Pictures of Palestine by Palden Jenkins. You may print it out in single copies for your own non-commercial use or forward it by e-mail as long as the piece is unaltered and properly attributed to the author. The book's website is at  www.palden.co.uk/pop

The history of this area up to World War One

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