History of the Holy Land

Jericho is believed to be the oldest inhabited city in the world, with evidence of settlement dating back to 9000 BCE, providing important information about early human habitation in the Near East. By the early Bronze Age (3000–2200 BCE), independent Canaanite city-states situated in plains and coastal regions and surrounded by mud-brick defensive walls were established and most of these cities relied on nearby agricultural hamlets for their food needs.

Then Pharaonic Egypt controlled the area for much of the second millennium BC. When Egyptian power began to weaken, new invaders appeared: the Hebrews, a group of Semitic tribes from Mesopotamia; and the Philistines, after whom the country (Philistia) was later named, an Aegean people of Indo-European stock. The Israelites, a confederation of Hebrew tribes, defeated the Canaanites, but the struggle with the Philistines was more difficult. The Philistines had established an independent state on the southern coast of Palestine and controlled the Canaanite town of Jerusalem. The Philistines were superior in military organization and severely defeated the Israelites in about 1050 BC.

The conquests of Alexander generally led to the spread of Hellenistic (Greek) civilization. The Greeks, Ptolemies, and Seleucids worked hard to spread their languages, ideas, traditions, sciences, and religions throughout the east (Levant) by building cities and schools. It was said that Palestine absorbed Greek character, including the spoken language despite the fact that this was confined to the major cities. The inhabitants of the villages, however, chose to preserve their traditions and use their own language.

The Romans seized the countries that were governed by the successors of Alexander the Macedonian. They conquered Macedonia and Greece and controlled a large portion of Asia Minor also. They marched onto Syria and Palestine and wrested control over them in 62 BC

Rule was then transferred to the Herodosian Idumeans (37 BC-100 AD) in deference to Herod, who helped in consolidating Roman rule in the country and built many cities such as Caesarea and built several palaces and fortresses, including Massada.

Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem in about 4 BC, sixty years after the Romans entered Palestine. He lived and grew up in Nazareth, and when he became thirty years old he began to travel throughout Palestine preaching the unification of God. Palestine is considered the heart of Christianity, where Jesus was born and lived all his life, and it was from Jerusalem that he was resurrected and it was there that he preached and called people to the faith.

Constantine, the Roman Emperor, became a Christian and in 326 AD his mother, Queen Helena, visited Palestine and built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Resurrection) in Jerusalem and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the place where Jesus was born. Roman rule in Palestine endured from 62 BC to 395 AD.

In the year 570 AD, Prophet Mohammed  was born in Mecca. The revelation of the Holy Koran to Prophet Mohammed began in the year 610 AD, marking the beginning of the third monotheistic religion of Islam. Islam gave a distinct and special status to the city of Jerusalem, to which the Prophet Mohammed was taken and from which he ascended to heaven in the “night journey”. The Muslims directed their prayers towards Jerusalem before they did towards Mecca.

In 1090, the Roman Pope Urban II called for a rescue of Jerusalem from the Muslims and began preparations for the Crusades. The Crusades were a series of military campaigns sent to Palestine and the Levant to capture as much territory as possible. In 1096, the armies marched by land, reaching and surrounding the city of Jerusalem by 1099. Within one month, a small Fatamid force surrendered and the Franks occupied the city, desecrating Al-Haram Al-Sharif and massacring the population. The Crusaders then established the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, as well as the three other Emirates in the rest of Greater Syria.

Salah Al-Din Al-Ayyoubi ruled Egypt, annexed Syria and took control of Tiberius and began to fight against the Crusaders. In 1187, the Battle of Hittin took place against King Ghe of Jerusalem and Reynald de Chatillon, the Prince of Kerak. Salah Al-Din achieved great victory in this battle, after which he regained control of the cities and finally surrounded Jerusalem, which surrendered in the autumn of that same year. He allowed the Christian Arabs of the city to maintain their properties and to buy the properties of the departing Franks. He also forced the defeated Franks to leave the city without their weapons, but only after also paying a ransom.

In 1516, the Ottoman Sultan Salim II defeated the Mamluks, capturing Greater Syria and Egypt in 1517. Palestine then became part of the Ottoman Empire for the next 400 years.

During Ottoman rule, several important developments took place, such as the establishment of the rule of Sheikh Zaher Al-Omar in the north of Palestine (1749-75). He aimed to control Palestine before he was killed near Acre.

In 1799, Napoleon occupied southern Palestine and entered Jaffa, but his siege of Acre failed.

 The Founding of Palestine and Israel Today

The first serious plan for the establishment of the country of Israel was in the Bale conference in Switzerland in 1897 CE. The conference succeeded and was attended by 204 of those invited, where they decreed the establishment of a nation for the Jews in Palestine.

After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War, Britain and France signed the Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916, which divided the Arab region into zones of influence. Palestine submitted to the British occupation and at the same time the ratios of Jewish migration began to increase with support from the non-Muslim countries.

In 1917 CE the British government made promises to Arab leaders for an independent Arab state that would include Palestine (the Hussain-McMahon correspondence). Simultaneously, and secretly, it issued the Balfour Declaration, which declared Palestine to be a homeland for Jews. At that time Jews made up approximately 8% of the population of Palestine and owned approximately 2.5% of the land.

In 1918 the British and their Arab nationalist allies defeated the Ottomans. The British dismembered the Ottoman Empire and occupied Palestine. The British immediately began a campaign of immigrating European Jews to Palestine.

By 1947, the number of Jews in Palestine had reached approximately six hundred and fifty thousand (31% of the total population). They began to establish organizations, which were trained in organized terrorism. From these a large number were trained in and participated in the Second World War in order to gain experience and skills to go to battle in Palestine in the next stage. So when the United Nations decreed the division of Palestine, the Jews had seventy five thousand armed and trained members. The division in 1947 was that: Jewish state on 56.47% of the land excluding Jerusalem, and Arab Palestinian state on 43.53% of the land excluding Jerusalem.

In 1948 the Jews claimed the establishment of a state for themselves over 78% of the land of Palestine and called it Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced out of Palestine under the military pressure of Jewish terrorist groups such as the Irgun, Levi, and Haganot, which were financed and armed by the British army as well as US Jewry.

In the course of the Six Day War in June 1967, Israel captured the rest of Mandate Palestine, taking West Bank (including East Jerusalem and AL Masjid Al Aqsa for the first time) from Jordan and the Gaza Strip from Egypt.

The Camp David Accords were signed by Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1978.

In December 1987, the Palestinians began an uprising (Intifada) in the West Bank and Gaza Strip against the continued Israeli occupation.

Following the historic 1993 Oslo Peace Accords between Palestinians and Israel (the « Oslo Accords »), which gave the Palestinian Arabs limited self-rule in some parts of the Disputed Territories through the Palestinian Authority, and other detailed negotiations, proposals for a Palestinian state gained momentum. They were soon followed in 1994 by the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace. To date, efforts to resolve the conflict have ended in deadlock, and the people of the region, Jews and Arabs, are engaged in a bloody conflict, called variously the « Arab-Israeli conflict » or « Israeli-Palestinian conflict »

« The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, known variously as the Interim agreement, or Oslo II, or the Taba accord, was the second phase of the process that had begun with the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and Jericho in May 1994, and it set the stage for the final status talks to begin by May 1996.

On September 28, 2000, Ariel Sharon broke into Masjid Al-Aqsa with 3000 soldiers profaning the Masjid Al-Aqsa to provoke the Palestinians. Palestinians protested and the second intifada began. Since then thousands of Palestinian civilians have been killed by the Israeli army.

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