In the midst of the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, it is imperative to delve into the historical context of Israel in order to grasp the underlying reasons for this conflict. To do so, we must journey back in time to explore the origins of Israel and gain a comprehensive understanding of the history of the Jewish people.
The birthplace of the Jewish people is the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael). There, a significant part of the nation’s long history was enacted, of which the first thousand years are recorded in the Bible; there, its cultural, religious, and national identity was formed; and there, its physical presence has been maintained through the centuries, even after the majority was forced into exile. During the many years of dispersion, the Jewish people never severed nor forgot its bond with the Land.
In the 17th century BCE, patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob settled in the Land of Israel, becoming the bearers of a belief in one God. However, famine later forced the Israelites to migrate to Egypt. In the 13th century BCE, Moses led the Israelites in the Exodus from Egypt, and they received the Torah, including the Ten Commandments, at Mount Sinai. In the following centuries, Israelites settled in the Land of Israel, and the Jewish monarchy was established around 1020 BCE, with Saul as the first king.
Around 1000 BCE, Jerusalem became the capital of David’s kingdom, and in 960 BCE, King Solomon built the First Temple, the national and spiritual center of the Jewish people, in Jerusalem. However, in 930 BCE, the kingdom was divided into Judah and Israel. Later, in 722-720 BCE, Israel was crushed by the Assyrians, and the Ten Lost Tribes were exiled. In 586 BCE, Judah was conquered by Babylonia, and Jerusalem and the First Temple were destroyed, leading to the exile of most Jews.
During the Second Temple Period, from 538 BCE to 142 CE, significant events occurred, including the return of many Jews from Babylonia, the conquest of the Land by Alexander the Great, and the Maccabean revolt against Hellenistic rule.
In the following centuries, the Land of Israel experienced foreign domination, including Byzantine rule (313-636 CE), Arab rule (636-1099), Crusader domination (1099-1291), Mamluk rule (1291-1516), and Ottoman rule (1517-1917).
The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw significant developments, such as the First and Second Aliyah, the First Zionist Congress, and the issuance of the Balfour Declaration in 1917, which expressed support for the establishment of a “Jewish national home in Palestine.”
The State of Israel was officially established in 1948, following the end of British Mandate. Israel faced immediate challenges, including an invasion by five Arab states, but the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were established, leading to the War of Independence.
Subsequent years were marked by a series of conflicts, diplomatic agreements, and significant events, such as the 1967 Six-Day War, the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, and the 1993 Oslo Accords, among others.
Throughout its history, Israel has faced periods of tension, conflict, and diplomacy, shaping the country into the nation it is today. The story of Israel is one of resilience, determination, and the preservation of a deep historical and cultural connection to the Land of Israel.