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The Past Month in Palestine from a Historical/Political Perspective

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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Hofstra chapter.

This past month, media outlets covered little else as much as the Israel-Hamas War, yet clear, accurate information on the conflict remains practically nonexistent, particularly in Western media. While many news outlets claim the violence between Israel and Palestine began with the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023, it emerged as early as 1919 due to an influx of Jewish settlers taking Palestinian land.1 The geopolitical history of the region originally belonging to the Palestinian people alone plays an immense role in defining the causes of today’s conflict.

November 2, 1917, Britain issued the Balfour Declaration supporting the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine without consulting Palestinian representatives.2 Britain’s interest lay in creating a pro-British Jewish state to secure their advances on the Suez Canal in order to protect their interests in colonial India.3 From the time of the declaration to Britain’s withdrawal from Palestine in 1947, tensions rose between the Arab population and the steadily increasing Jewish settler population, causing loss of land as well as social and economic misfortune amongst Palestinians.4

In late 1947, the United Nations took control of Palestine, proposing a two-state solution to partition Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states with Jerusalem under UN control.5 According to UN figures, out of the total population of 1,845,000 people, 67% were Arabs and 37% were Jewish, however 49% of the population would end up in the Jewish state with a 45% Arab and 55% Jewish population, nullifying the purpose of partitioning the land. Another 40% of the population comprised almost entirely of Arabs would be placed in the Arab state and the final 11% lived in Jerusalem which was split in half between Arabs and Jews.6 Due to this resolution heavily favoring Jews, Arabs rejected this policy, leading to war breaking out between Palestinians and Jewish settlers in 1948, commonly referred to as the “Nakba,” or “catastrophe” in Arabic.7 Apart from terrible violence, between 520,000 and 1,000,000 Palestinians were displaced from their homes, fleeing to the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and surrounding Arab countries.8

By 1967, Israel entered a war with the combined forces of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan called the Six-Day War, claiming even more land in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, leading another 250,000 Palestinians to flee the country.9 The following years continued the trend of mistreatment, injustice, and loss of land for the displaced Palestinian population, now a minority in the state of Israel.10 Following the first intifada, or uprising, in late 1987 due to poor conditions, Hamas emerged as a political organization with its goals being the removal of Israel and establishment of an Islamic state in historic Palestine.11

In 2006, Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip democratically elected Hamas to the majority amount of seats in the Palestinian Authority, however the people have not voted since.12 With 40% of the population under the age of 15 and a median age of 18, the majority of Palestinians did not vote for Hamas and simply live under its rule.13 On October 7, 2023, Hamas launched a strategic, large scale attack on Israel, killing 1,400 Israelis, declaring the cause of attack to be Israel’s blockade of Gaza and its crimes against Muslims.14 Israel promptly declared war on Hamas, stating its goals to be eliminating Hamas and freeing some two hundred hostages.15

Since then, Israel has implemented carpet bombing on civilian populations in the Gaza Strip, heavily targeting hospitals, with the current death toll among Palestinians as of Friday November 11, 2023 climbing past 11,000.16 Thus far, Israel has confirmed that it has rescued one hostage and another four were released by Hamas since the start of the fighting, demonstrating how minimal the progress towards its rescue goal has been.17 Little information is available about Israel’s exact advances on Hamas, however, in the West Bank where Hamas does not exist at all, more than 160 Palestinians have been killed as of November 9, 2023.18 Consequently, other reasons must exist for this continuous bloodshed.

Many sources have suggested religion as the root of conflict between Palestinians and Israel, however this claim falls flat as “Hamas said that its fight was against the ‘racist, aggressive, colonial and expansionist’ Zionist project, Israel, but not against Judaism or Jews” in its updated 2017 manifesto.19 In comparison, Israel’s historic conquest for Palestinian land and resources remains an issue today with another 1.1 million Gazans ordered to evacuate their land.20 After expelling the Palestinians from Gaza, Israel hopes to relocate them in the Sinai Peninsula and use the Gurion Port in Gaza to build the Ben Gurion Canal, which would otherwise have to be rerouted around Gaza.21 The Ben Gurion Canal would directly compete with the Suez Canal in Egypt, which is of utmost strategic, political, and economic importance, a fact that the United States is well aware of.22 While hiding behind democratic ideals, the U.S. has always taken a wholly self-serving stance in regards to affairs in the Middle East, with President Joe Biden stating back in 1986, “Were there not an Israel, the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect her interest in the region.”23

Considering these underlying causes of the Israel-Hamas War, thorough research is necessary to make sense of the conflict. A long history of Palestinian injustice and lack of political support add far more depth to the October 7th attack that must be understood in order to have a productive conversation about what a modern road to peace could look like.


1 The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Palestine | History, People, Conflict, and Religion.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 8 Nov. 2023, www.britannica.com/place/Palestine/World-War-I-and-after.

2 The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Balfour Declaration | History and Impact.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 26 Oct. 2023, www.britannica.com/event/Balfour-Declaration.

3 The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Balfour Declaration | History and Impact.”

4 The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Palestine | History, People, Conflict, and Religion.”

5 “About the Nakba – Question of Palestine.” United Nations, 16 May 2023, www.un.org/unispal/about-the-nakba.

6 “Part II (1947-1977) – Question of Palestine.” United Nations, 3 Jan. 2019, www.un.org/unispal/history2/origins-and-evolution-of-the-palestine-problem/part-ii-1947-1977.

7 “About the Nakba – Question of Palestine.”

8 The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Palestine | History, People, Conflict, and Religion.”

9 The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Palestine | History, People, Conflict, and Religion.”

10 The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Palestine | History, People, Conflict, and Religion.”

11 Robinson, Kali. “What Is Hamas?” Council on Foreign Relations, 31 Oct. 2023, www.cfr.org/backgrounder/what-hamas.

12 Robinson, Kali. “What Is Hamas?”

13 “Gaza Strip – The World Factbook.” The World Factbook, www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/countries/gaza-strip.

14 Robinson, Kali. “What Is Hamas?”

15 Robinson, Kali. “What Is Hamas?”

16 Al-Mughrabi, Nidal. “Israel Faces Pressure Over Gaza Deaths as Fighting Rages Near Hospitals.” Reuters, 11 Nov. 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/gaza-death-toll-rises-israel-faces-pressure-protect-palestinian-civilians-2023-11-11/.

17 Today, USA. “Israel Confirms Rescue of Soldier Kidnapped by Hamas; Skull of Another Hostage Found.” USA TODAY, 31 Oct. 2023, www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2023/10/30/israel-confirms-release-of-kidnapped-soldier-another-hostage-has-died/71382881007.

18 The Associated Press. “Israel-Hamas War: Live Updates and Latest News | AP News.” AP News, 10 Nov. 2023, apnews.com/article/israel-hamas-war-live-updates-11-09-2023-f11425ba2ed0bcd9dc8aee6c456c7233.

19 “Doctrine of Hamas.” Wilson Center, www.wilsoncenter.org/article/doctrine-hamas.

20 Al-Mughrabi, Nidal. “Israel Faces Pressure Over Gaza Deaths as Fighting Rages Near Hospitals.”

21 Helmy, Dr. Nadia. “American -Israeli Plan to Establish the ‘Gurion Port at Gaza’ as an Alternative Waterway to the Suez Canal.” Modern Diplomacy, 9 Nov. 2023, moderndiplomacy.eu/2023/11/08/american-israeli-plan-to-establish-the-gurion-port-at-gaza-as-an-alternative-waterway-to-the-suez-canal.

22 Helmy, Dr. Nadia. “American -Israeli Plan to Establish the ‘Gurion Port at Gaza’ as an Alternative Waterway to the Suez Canal.”

23 Ayyash, M. Muhannad. “Biden Says the U.S. Would Have to Invent an Israel if It Didn’t Exist. Why?” The Conversation, theconversation.com/biden-says-the-u-s-would-have-to-invent-an-israel-if-it-didnt-exist-why-210172.

Emily Carroll

Hofstra '27

Emily is a freshman at Hofstra University majoring in computer science. She is from Long Island and loves reading and writing!