image The Space Between Israel and Palestine, a Fragile Peace

We were told a number of times to not take photos, but always wanting to be a CIA operative, felt like I had to try and get a few in. The situation was very odd for me to witness, and experience. Why would there be so much barbed wire? What could they have against each other that would make them want to arm their borders with landmines etc…I had to home and research this fragile space of peace between Israel and Palestine.

I started to research the Six-Day War as its 50th anniversary was this year (2017), I wanted to learn more about this & what would make two different people be at odds with each other so much so that they would require this level of border security.

The Jewish people are no stranger to being singled out and systematically executed. It has happened multiple times in their history, the most recent being during World War II. In 1947 the United Nations Partition Plan, proposed a sanctuary state for the Jewish people; this was encouraged by those who believed in a sort of Zion for their people (called Zionists). Up until this time, there had always been smaller Jewish settlements in the then Palestinian State (under British Rule). What the U.N. was proposing though, was setting up a Jewish State (Israel) for those fleeing from the Holocaust, and the Palestinians would get an Arab State and their Independence; with the Holy Sites becoming a special International area with common rule. Once this was established, the British Rule ceased and they no longer controlled the area, and it officially became a Jewish State. The Palestinians were not happy about this, and several other Arab states were not either. The four other Arab states, who had recently won independence in their own countries, felt this was just another way of establishing European colonialism. Thus ensued the Arab-Israeli War from 1948-1949.

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A boy flying a Palestinian flag near Jewish Settlements

Despite Palestinian’s being supported by forces of Syria, Egypt etc… By 1949 Israel forces controlled 70% of the land of Palestine & had pushed well past their borders established in the U.N. plan of 1947. When the 750,000 Palestinians who fled due to fighting tried to return to the now Israeli State, they were permanently barred by the Israeli government. The descendants of those refugees number around 7 million. Given the tensions, and the recent Genocide, I can see their point of view of wanting to be overly protective of their people. I also see the Palestinian view of frustration, because no matter where you are in this world, home is still home, and never being able to return would be very heart breaking. To this day there are millions of Palestinian refugees that have a very hard time finding decent jobs & many more still living in refugee camps in the Gaza strip, west bank, Lebanon and Jordan. The Jewish people needed a refuge from the storm of World War II & a safe place to be able to heal; but in giving them that, a large number of Palestinian refugees was created.

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Jewish Men praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem

As the Israeli state became more established, there was segregation, there were rights denied to Palestinians who had stayed — including privileged housing that is and was denied to them, but allowed for the Jewish people. This gave rise to the 6 day war, where Israel was able to seize the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank from Jordan, and the Sinai & Gaza strip from Egypt’s control; the Israeli State now controlled all of Israel, including the Holy Sites within Jerusalem.

Israel now was able to govern those Palestinians that they had fought for decades. Then in 1978, Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David Accords, and gave the Siani Peninsula back to Egypt. This was very controversial to many Arab states, but over time the other Arab states were able to come to peace with Israel even if they never formally signed a peace deal.

The Gaza Strip and the West Bank were intended to be areas where Palestinians were allowed to live and raise their families. When I visited Israel, it seemed that the Palestinians were boxed in with barbed wire and from friends I have living there, the living conditions are not good at all. There is rationing of power, water, infrastructure and resources. While on the Israel side, the Jewish people have managed to turn it into a thriving Metropolis that attracts thousands of visitors and tourists every year.

The Palestinians were not happy with the Israeli rule, and the Israeli & Palestinian conflict ensued. The Palestinians began to fight back, including with acts of terrorism; backpack bombs, bombs in Maternity wards and buses– none of this was going to help with peace talks for either side. The Palestinians who were struggling against Israel wanted to end the Israeli occupation entirely. The fighting was very brutal, at one point Israel actually began to invade Lebanon (1982).

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Police fences were randomly placed throughout the city in Jerusalem for precaution

Unfortunately, the State of Israel, has started putting Jewish settlements inside the Gaza strip, they partition those areas off, and when the Palestinians complain, they are hushed quietly but also forcefully at times (according to reports). Because they are backed by the Israeli army, they have allowed them to come into Palestinian sections and destroyed hundreds of homes, orchards and agricultural lands. If there is resistance by the Palestinians, they are punished with raids, arrests and assassinations. Some assume that this is an attempt to make life so hard for the Palestinians that they will be too afraid to resist, or they will just leave. Why would the Jewish people want to live in these areas at all? Some chose to move to these settlements for religious reasons, some for political reasons, and some… just because the housing was so much cheaper than the housing near all the Holy sites throughout Israel.

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By placing these settlements within the Palestinian occupied lands, it will make it much harder for the Palestinians to ever have a Palestinian state. Currently the settlers have been numbered above 700,000. In 1987-1999 was the first Intifada, or the first Palestinian uprising; the Israeli’s lost several hundred and the Palestinians over 1,000. About this same time that this was happening in the West Bank, Gaza created its own army called Hamas; a group of violent extremists that felt they were defending their ‘state’. By 1993 it was clear from the destruction and devastation on both sides, that a peace deal would need to be made. This is when the Oslo Accords was signed by leaders on both sides. This accord was suppose to be the first step in Israel withdrawing from Palestinian lands, and potentially allowing a Palestinian state. This was when the Palestinian authority was established and allowed Palestinians a little bit of authority to govern themselves in certain areas. Members of Hamas launched a series of bombings to try and sabotage the process. Because of this, the Israeli’s began to protest the peace talks, and called the Israeli Prime Minister of the time Hitler and a Nazi. After the 2nd round of the Oslo Accords was signed, the Prime Minister was then shot to death by a far right Israeli in Tel Aviv.

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An Israeli flag flight near the traditional site where Jesus Christ was believed to be Baptized

By 2000-2005 with the failure of Camp David II summit, Palestinians began to give up hope for peace. The Palestinians rose up with the Second Intafada or uprising, and this one ended up being MUCH more violent than the first Intafada. This conflict produced 1,000 Israeli deaths, and 3,200 Palestinian deaths. This uprising change the tone of the conflict for Israeli’s, they became much more doubtful and skeptical that the Palestinians actually wanted peace, and not just their total destruction. This is when all the walls, checkpoints, and increased Israeli military presence came into Israel to not make peace, but manage the violence and protect its Jewish citizens.

Barbed wire along the road to the Jordan River, where Jesus Christ was believed to be Baptized

This left the Palestinians feeling that peace will never come, and are feeling the growth of an ever increasing Israeli occupation through the settlements. Israel ends up withdrawing from Gaza, Hamas then gains power, ends up splitting from the Palestinian authority rule in a short Civil war. This is when Israel places the Gaza strip under a massive & suffocating isolation, because of all the violence originating from the Gaza strip. Unemployment in the Gaza Strip rises up to 40%, and living conditions have deteriorated even further with nearly 1.8 million Palestinians living within a 25 mile by 7 mile wide area, and an estimated 1.1 million Palestinian refugees between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

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The Area of the Gaza Strip Compared to Los Angeles in the United States

In the West Bank the Israeli government is still putting up settlements, and the Palestinians are getting increasingly frustrated by this… which then leads to violence and riots. Because of the continued and long history of war, and violence, most Israeli’s have become apathetic to the situation; and the government manages the conflict to the point that most Israeli’s don’t know about it. There are brief periods when the violent groups will rise up, and the deaths that occur from this violence are largely Palestinian (due to US backing of the Israeli Army).

So as you can see, on both sides, there are extremists that use Violence to derail peace. It is a thin line that both leaders must walk in order to make peace talks both happen and take effect without risking their own lives & keep the area relatively stable. Until BOTH sides are able to be at peace, and not seek for the opposing sides total destruction… peace will not happen, only relative stability.

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A flag and Menorah are proudly displayed atop an Israeli buidling

The Israeli occupation on Palestinian lands (according previous accords signed), cannot peacefully last much longer. Whatever we see come next will be much worse, it is a struggle on both sides of each one wanting the other’s destruction.

I don’t know what the right answer is, and I have friends on both sides of this conflict. I have to be careful of what I call the land there. If I’m talking to my Jewish friends, it is ‘Israel’; if I’m talking to my Palestinian friends, then its ‘Israeli occupied Palestine’.

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Dome of the Rock in Israel a Sacred site to Muslims

Now I feel I have a better understanding of why there is a need for the barricades, barbed wire etc…. on both sides. All in all, it just makes me sad. Its not just about religion, its about both sides wanting to protect their lands, people, and children. I do not personally feel the US should solely be involved in this, especially if they have something to gain through some export from Israel. I don’t really want to get into that political portion of this conflict.

All I can do is listen to both sides, encourage peace, pray for it & try not to ruffle anyone’s feathers by talking about my opinions on the matter.

Don’t let this conflict discourage you from visiting Israel though, it really is incredible to be a witness to thousands of years of history & see for yourself what Israel is today. Much love to both sides, and may God bring you both peace in this time of heartache and turmoil.

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  1. This was really informative. Of course we’ve all seen the situation there on our news, but I’ve never really understood why it is happening. Now I do. I just hope that peace can be found, somehow.

    • Yes me too. It’s so complicated for sure. Jared Kushner is actually over there right now hoping to take part in peace talks. Hopefully a small step can be made & then over time a solution formed. Thanks for being here and reading it, it seriously means a lot.

  2. Wow, you really have done an extensive research and wonderfully put into words. We were aware about the tortures done to Jewish community in WWII but it seems like to be still continued in one way or the other. I’ve saved your post for learning more on the topic. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you so much! Yeah it was ALOT of work, but after going over there and having a ton of friends there as well- I just felt like more people needed to know how complicated it is for BOTH sides. Appreciate you being here & taking the time to read it. It means a lot.

  3. The Israeli-Palestine conflict is one that goes back centuries. It seems difficult to resolve. I personally do not like to visit countries that are experiencing civil unrest because I don’t like to feel so vulnerable. Kudos on a well-researched blog post about the issue. I certainly learned a lot!

    • Thanks Suzanne- yes it is a delicate issue, but when I was there you don’t really SEE it. I really appreciate the compliment, I spent a lot of time on this one and wording it properly so as not to offend either side, merely to help educate

  4. Wow, really interesting stuff and powerful pictures. I especially like the one of the men praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. I also love the positivity around not letting it impact people’s visit… History is so important and I think you did a great job showing both sides of the conflict.

    • Thanks Christie & I totally agree about it not impacting the way you travel – at our core I feel like we are all human & all want the best life has to provide for us & those we love. So thanks for being here & being human

  5. I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to really break down this conflict! I’ve always found the history really confusing, but this made me understand the background a lot more clearly. Also, what an interesting time to have this experience!

    • I know! Me too, I was super confused about everything as well—thus the post 🙂 Now that I know the background and history it makes a lot more sense as to why there are radical factions created.

  6. Very interesting post. Your pictures are beautiful too. It’s a very delicate situation that has been going on for a long time, I guess there are rights & wrongs on both sides, but I just can’t understand how people can keep fighting, instead of finding a solution…

    • I totally agree, I think pain from seeing loved ones die creates a rage that feeds into the idea of vengeance.

  7. Oh! Those are traditional jewish graves? I went to the Jewish Memorial in Berlin and it was very similar to this. Now I understand the connection! Its really difficult situation that they are facing. Being an Indian, I can relate to it as the situation is the similar, never ending conflict between India & Pakistan!!!

    • Yes, I have been reading about that actually, for some reason it has been coming up in the news as well. So sad that power/war have to divide a nation. — I actually don’t know why they are like this, I know in Israel that have to bury them above the ground because it is too hard to dig through the rock to bury people. There is also another tradition they do, is where they place a stone on top of the grave of a family member or loved one. I still am trying to look that one up as well– its all so fascinating!

  8. A lovely read. This area has always fascinated me. Such old civilizations yet so much suffering, violence, and tragedy! Loved some of your photographs that are very touching. Like the Palestine youth waving the flag and the men at the wailing wall. Any remnants of any war is painful but it is necessary to visit them and learn from the past.

  9. I visited Israel and Palestine earlier this year but never read up on the history of how Israel was created. It reads like as usual the British were in power before leaving everything in a mess (Like India / Pakistan!). I would encourage people to visit this part of the world as there is so much history and at the moment it is safe.

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