Israel's Incredible History
Part 2: From The Balfour Declaration To Today

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country,
and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that
I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will
bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee:
and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Gen. 12:1-3)

1917 - England issues The Balfour Declaration - From 1517 to 1917, most of the Middle East was ruled by the Ottoman Empire. World War I drastically changed the political landscape and balance of power. On November 2, 1917, at the height of the war, British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour wrote to Britain’s most illustrious Jewish citizen, Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild, expressing the British government’s support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” It was hoped that the formal declaration would garner support for the Allied forces. The letter would later become known as the Balfour Declaration.

When WW I ended in an Allied victory, the 400 year reign of the Ottoman Empire came to an end. In 1922, Britain was entrusted by the newly formed League Of Nations with the administration of the land called Palestine, which consisted of modern-day Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, with the understanding that it would establish a homeland for the Jews. This Declaration gave the Zionist movement international recognition, and allowed the massive migration of Jews from all over the world. Eventually, it paved way for the formation of the State of Israel. Arabs vehemently opposed the Balfour Declaration, afraid that a Jewish homeland would be detrimental to Arab Palestinians. The British remained in control of Palestine until Israel became an independent state after the end of World War II.

1938-1945 - The Holocaust - Holocaust refers to a systematic, state-sponsored prosecution and mass murder for religious, racial, or political purposes. Adolf Hitler, a German nationalist, believed the Aryan race to be superior, and that it must remain untainted and pure. He also believed the Jewish race to be both an inferior race, and a threat to the German race and community. He blamed the Jews for Germany’s defeat in the first World War. Hitler joined the National Socialist German Workers’, also known as the Nazi party, a political group promoting Arayan pride and anti-Semitism, and quickly became it's leader. In 1924, he was sentenced to 5 years in prison for an attempted coup in Bavaria, a state in southern Germany, but only served one year in prison. It was here he wrote "Mein Kampf" ("My Struggle"), where he predicted “the extermination of the Jewish race in Germany.”

Over the next few years, Hitler rose to power quickly, becoming chancellor of Germany in 1933, and in 1934 he anointed himself as “Fuhrer,” or "supreme ruler". In 1933, Jews comprised only 1 percent of the total German population. Under the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, Jews became routine targets for persecution. They were not considered to be German citizens, although many had assimilated to such an extent that they were no longer practicing Jews. They were not allowed to marry or have extramarital intercourse with those of true German blood. They were often stripped of their businesses and clients. During the next six years, Hitler's Nazi party systematically persecuted Jewish business owners, doctors and lawyers. This culminated in the “night of broken glass” in November 1938, when Hitler's stormtroopers burned synagogues and smashed windows in Jewish shops. That night, some 100 Jews were killed and thousands more arrested.

From 1933 to 1939, hundreds of thousands of Jews escaped from Nazi Germany. With the start of the Second World War, Jews from all over the continent, as well as hundreds of thousands of European Gypsies, were incarcerated in the Polish ghettoes, with mass killing centers constructed in the concentration camps . Approximately six million Jews died in the Holocaust, along with some 5 million others. More than one million of those who perished were children.

Hitler's death camps and the extermination of Jews continued with increasing atrocities until Allied forces liberated the concentration camps at the end of the war. Knowing that defeat was imminent, Hitler committed suicide the day after the Dachau concentration camp was liberated and the horrible atrocities were discovered. The Nuremberg Trials of 1945-46 exposed all the horrific atrocities committed against the Jews, Romanians gypsies, homosexuals, the elderly, disabled, and handicapped, as well as the horrible medical experimentation performed on so many prisoners, especially twins. The Allied powers were increasingly urged to create a homeland for Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, which eventually led to the creation of the nation of Israel in 1948.

Gen. Omar Bradley, Gen. George Patton, and Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who later became President of the United States, visited the Ohrdurf concentration camp one week after it was liberated by Allied forces, led by the United States. Today there are many who would deny the horrors of the Holocaust. Knowing that such might one day be the case, Eisenhower advised that pictures be taken of all the atrocities, the dead bodies stacked like firewood, and the starving, emaciated bodies of the survivors. Such pictures could not be staged or faked; they serve to remind the world that such horrors DID happen, and must never be allowed to happen again.

1948 - The Nation Of Israel Is Born - Just a few years after Hitler had killed more than 6 million Jews, their dream of establishing their own country in the land God had promised them was finally fulfilled. On May 14, 1948, Israel proclaimed its independence and became a sovereign nation in its ancestral homeland. Less than 24 hours later, the nations of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq formed a coalition to destroy the newly formed country. Their armies invaded Israel, forcing Israel to defend the sovereignty it had finally regained. In what became known as Israel's War of Independence, the newly formed, poorly equipped Israel Defense Forces (IDF) fiercely fought for some 15 months before finally defeating the invaders . This war for independence and sovereignty claimed over 6,000 Israeli lives, amounting to nearly one percent of the country's Jewish population at the time.

In 1949 the United Nations conducted negotiations between Israel and each of the invading countries, except Iraq, which refused to negotiate with Israel. This Iraqi refusal to recognize Israel as a sovereign nation exists to this very day, and Iraqi leaders to this day are quite vocal about their desire to not only refuse to acknowledge Israel as a state, but to totally annihilate the tiny nation. These negotiations resulted in armistice agreements, in which the Coastal Plain, Galilee and the entire Negev were within Israel's sovereignty, Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) came under Jordanian rule, the Gaza Strip came under Egyptian administration, and the city of Jerusalem was divided, with Jordan controlling the eastern part, including the Old City, and Israel controlling the western sector.

With the war over and a fragile peace agreement in place, Israel focused on building the nation they had fought so hard to establish. David Ben-Gurion became the first Prime Minister of the new country, and on May 11, 1949, Israel became the 59th member of the United Nations. Believing that every Jew had a God-given right to return to their homeland, the new nation welcomed Jewish immigrants from other countries. In the first four months of independence, some 50,000 immigrants, mainly Holocaust survivors, relocated in the new country. By the end of 1951, a total of 687,000 refuges had arrived, over 300,000 of them from neighboring Arab lands, doubling the Jewish population. When Israel celebrated its 10th anniversary, the population numbered over two million; today they number slightly less than 9 million people.

1956 - The Suez Crisis - The next crisis for the fledgling nation of Israel was caused by the rise to power of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was extremely hostile toward Israel. Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956, which had previously been controlled by France and Britian. France and Britain struck a deal with Israel: Israel would invade Egypt, giving France and Britain the opportunity to intervene and regain control of the canal. Nassar had banned Israel's ships from the Straits of Tiran and blocked Israel's southern port of Elat. Barring Israel from use of the canal and the Gulf would literally cripple them and destroy their economy.

In response to Nassar's blockade of their waterways, Israel invaded Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in October 1956. In five days the Israeli army captured Gaza, Rafa, and Al-Arish. They took thousands of prisoners and occupied most of the peninsula east of the Suez Canal. In December, after the joint Anglo-French intervention, the United States and the UN declared a ceasefire in the region. Israel was asked to withdraw their troops from the Egyptian territory and Egypt was asked to stop the blockade and allow Israel navigation in the region. Israeli forces withdrew in March 1957.

The United Nations established an Emergency Force to oversee the demilitarization in Egypt. They remained active in the area for 10 years, until being expelled from the area in 1967; when 100,000 soldiers were stationed in the Sinai Peninsula and the Strait of Tiran was once again closed to Israeli shipping. Though Egyptian forces had been defeated on all fronts, the Suez Crisis, as it is sometimes known, was seen by Arabs as an Egyptian victory.

1967 - The Six Day War - What came to be called the Six-Day War (or June War), occurred from June 5–10, 1967. It was a result of years of increasing and vicious border skirmishes between Arabs and Israelis. Syrian forces continued to launch unprovoked attacks against Israeli villages, bombing them from various positions in Golan Heights. In their own defense, the Israeli Air Force shot down six Syrian MiG fighter jets. In retaliation, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser mobilized his forces near the Sinai border, dismissing the UN force there, and again sought to blockade Israel's southern port of Elat.

The Israelis were determined never to make the same mistakes they had made previously. Instead, they determined they would always fight back, and sometimes fight first if it was deemed necessary for their national security. Thus, they launched a pre-emptive air strike against the forces assembled against them, destroying Egypt’s air force while they were still on the ground. The Israeli victory on the ground was also overwhelming. Israeli units drove back Syrian forces from the Golan Heights, took control of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, and drove Jordanian forces from the West Bank. More importantly, the Israelis gained sole control of their holy capital of Jerusalem. This stunning victory left the Israel in control of territory four times its previous size.

1973: Yom Kippur War - The hostilities that continued sporadically after the Six-Day War again developed into full-scale war again in 1973. Also known as the Ramadan War, because it continued through the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, the Yom Kippur war was fought from October 6th - 25th, by a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria against Israel. Rather than simply allowing Israel the right to exist peacefully, the Arab coalition wanted to avenge the humiliation of their defeat in the Six Day War, and regain the territories they had lost, namely the Gaza strip, the West Bank, and Golan Heights. The Soviet Union continued to provide them with arms, giving them the tools necessary to attack Israel. In addition, the Arab states were beginning to use their oil resources as a source of political power.

When Anwar el-Sadat became president of Egypt in 1970, he realized that his economically troubled nation could not continue its endless wars against Israel. He wanted to make peace with Israel, but with terms favorable to Egypt. He devised a plan to attack Israel, hoping it would convince the Israelis to make peace. Thus on October 6, the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, Israel was again attacked by Egyptian forces crossing the Suez Canal and by Syrian forces crossing into the Golan Heights. Taken by surprise, the Israeli forces suffered heavy casualties.

The Camp David Accords were signed in 1978, which resulted in Israel and Egypt signing a peace treaty on March 26, 1979. This formally ended 30 years of hostilities between the two countries. Under the terms of the treaty, Israel returned the entire Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, and, in return, Egypt recognized Israel’s right to exist. The two countries have subsequently established normal diplomatic relations. Anwar el-Sadat was assassinated in 1981 by Muslim extremists.

1982: First Lebanon War - On June 5, 1982, less than six weeks after Israel’s complete withdrawal from the Sinai, increased tensions between Israelis and Palestinians resulted in the Israeli bombing of Beirut and southern Lebanon, where the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had a number of strongholds. The following day Israel invaded Lebanon, and by June 14 its land forces reached as far as the outskirts of Beirut, which was encircled, but the Israeli government agreed to halt its advance and begin negotiations with the PLO. After much delay and massive Israeli shelling of west Beirut, the PLO evacuated the city under the supervision of a multinational force. Eventually, Israeli troops withdrew from west Beirut, and the Israeli army had withdrawn entirely from Lebanon by June 1985.

1991 - The Persian Gulf War - The Gulf War began because of Iraqui President Saddam Hussein's invasion of the neighboring nation of Kuwait in August of 1990. Kuwait is rich in oil, and Hussein invaded and took over the country, giving him access to their oil supply and and allowing him to control pricing and production in the world market. Faced with the forced military takeover of a neighboring country, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab countries asked the United States and other Western nations to intervene. As a result, there was widespread international condemnation for Hussein, and the United Nations Security Council immediately enacted economic sanctions were enacted against Iraq.

Iraq threatened Israel with various types of weapons, including non-conventional weapons, and to destroy a large part of the country. Israel was faced with a very real threat of destruction. The Israeli Defense Forces were especially concerned about Saddam Hussein's stockpile of Russian-made Scud missiles. Those missiles had a range of about 375 miles and the IDF had no effective countermeasure at that time. Of grave concern was the fear that those missiles might be equipped with chemical warheads, which Saddam was reputed to have perfected.

The UN Security Counsel demanded the that Hussein withdraw all Iraqi troops from Kuwait by mid- January, 1991. Hussein defied the UN order, and coalition forces from 35 nations led by the United States began the Persian Gulf War with a massive air offensive known as Operation Desert Storm. At the urging of the US, who was concerned that Israel's participation may alienate some of the Arab partners in the coalition, Israel refrained from active participation in the war.

In response, Iraq fired salvos of ground-to-ground missiles into Israel. Over the next month, Iraq fired about 38 missiles into Israel in 19 attacks, concentrating on the regions of Tel Aviv and Haifa, both heavily populated areas. In addition, the Iraqi military set fire to between 600-700 oil wells in Kuwait. These fires created a massive environmental hazard, as well as the destruction of billions of gallons of oil. The fires continued burning for more than 8 months before the last one was finally extinguished in November 1991.

1987-1991 - The First Palestinian Intifada - Not actually classified by the IDF as a war, this intifada ostensibly began when an Israeli Defense Forces' (IDF) truck collided with a civilian car, killing four Palestinian workers. Palestinians charged that the collision was a deliberate retaliation for the killing of a Jew in Gaza days earlier. Israel denied these allegations. Palestinians began a series of protests and violent riots in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and within Israel. The crash a merely an excuse, the protests were really against the the Israeli occupation of these areas, which Israel had occupied since the Six Day War in 1967.

In response to the widespread riots, Israel deployed some 80,000 soldiers using live rounds. The IDF was criticized for a disproportionate response and for employing lethal force. Israel held that the violence from Palestinians required a forceful response; however, they changed to semi-lethal rubber bullets in response to the criticism. By the end of the first infatada, more than 1000 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces, including 237 under the age of 17. Many tens of thousands were injured. Among Israelis, 100 civilians and 60 IDF personnel were killed and more than 1,400 Israeli civilians and 1,700 soldiers were injured. Palestinian violence against their own people also resulted in widespread executions of an estimated 822 Palestinians believed to be Israeli collaborators.

2000-2005 - The Second Intifada - In October 2000, after seven years of fruitless negotiations and the lack of success in the Camp David peace talks, a second Palestinian uprising took place, sparked by a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Palestinians deplored Sharon for what they saw as his record for brutality, both while serving as an officer in the IDF and while serving as Prime Minister. The visit itself was peaceful, but it sparked protests and riots which the Israeli police quelled with rubber bullets and tear gas. The Israelis engaged in gunfire, tank and air attacks, and targeted assassinations, while the Palestinians engaged in suicide bombings, rock throwing, gunfire and rocket attacks. This second infatida was far more violent than the first, resulting in higher causalities among both combatants and civilians. The death toll was estimated at some 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis, as well as 64 foreigners.

2006 - Second Lebanon War - In July 2006 Hezbollah, a Lebanese terrorist group, fired rockets into Israeli border towns as a diversion for their main goal, which was a cross-border raid into Israel. Their objective was to capture Israeli soldiers patrolling their side of the border, in an effort to force the release of Lebanese prisoners being held in Israel. This ambush killed three Israeli soldiers, and resulted in Hezbollah taking two Israeli soldiers prisoner. Israel launched an counter-attack into southern Lebanon to recover the captured soldiers. Five more Israelis were killed in a failed rescue attempt.

Lebanese fighters offered the two captured soldiers as exchange for Lebanese prisoners. Israel refused to negotiate with the terrorists, andd launched airstrikes and artillery fire on both Hezbollah miltary targets and civilian infrastructure, most notably, Beirut's international airport.The IDF also launched a ground invasion into southern Lebanon, as well as air and naval blockades. Hezbollah responded by firing even more rockets into Israel and engaging the IDF with guerilla warfare from fortified positions.

The war lasted 34 days, and by the end, there were between 1,191 and 1,300 Lebanese deaths, and 165 Israeli deaths. Approximately one million Lebanese and 300,000-500,000 Israeli people were displaced. A number of Arab leaders ostensibly criticized Hezbollah for inciting the conflict, however, most of the Arab world still celebrated Hezbollah’s ability to fight the Israel Defense Forces.

2008-2009 - Gaza War - Known as Operation Cast Lead to the Israelis, and Battle of al-Furqan to the Muslim world, this was a three-week armed conflict between Hamas and the IDF that began in December 2008.The goal was to stop Palestinian rocket fire into Israel, and weapon smuggling in the area. Hamas claimed their rockets were fired in response to what they classified as a cease-fire violation, when Israel raided a tunnel leading from Gaza. Israel defended their action, stating the raid was a pre-emptive strike, as the tunnel could be used to abduct Israeli soldiers guarding the borders.

During the first week of the operation, IDF conducted airstrikes targeting known Hamas strongholds, military operations, including weapons stashes and known firing teams, police stations, and even mosques and houses where Hamas headquartered. The Israeli ground invasion began on January 3, with air support and artillery fire. and the IDF began operating in the more populated urban areas of Gaza. After hostilities broke out, Hamas intensified its rocket and mortar attacks against mostly civilian targets in southern Israel. These missiles penetrated deeply into Israel, reaching the heavily populated cities of Beersheba and Ashdod for the first time during the conflict. In the final week of the conflict, Israel concentrated on targets that had previously been damaged, and struck Palestinian rocket-launching units, before ending the war on January 18, 2009 with a unilateral cease-fire. The conflict resulted in between 1,166 and 1,417 Palestinian and 13 Israeli deaths.

2012 - Operation Pillar of Defense - In November 2012, the Israel Defense Forces launched Operation Pillar of Defense, an eight-day campaign in the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip. According to the Israeli government, the operation began in response to over 100 rockets fired by by Gaza militants at Israel during a single 24-hour period, including attacks on IDF soldiers patrolling their own side of the border. The Israeli government stated that the aims of the military operation were to stop such rocket attacks against civilian targets from the Gaza Strip and to disrupt the capabilities of militant organizations. The Palestinians blamed the Israeli government for the upsurge in violence, accusing the IDF of attacks on Gazan civilians.

During the operation, the IDF struck more than 1,500 sites in the Gaza Strip, including rocket launchpads, weapon depots, government facilities, and apartment blocks. Terrorist groups in the region, including Hamas, the al-Qassam Brigades and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) further intensified their rocket attacks on Israeli cities and towns, firing over 1,456 rockets into Israel, and an additional 142 which fell inside Gaza itself. These rockets were fired into heavily populated cities in Israel, including Beersheba, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Jerusalem, and even Tel Aviv was hit for the first time since the 1991 Gulf War.

By the end of the operation, 174 Palestinians were killed and hundreds were wounded, and six Israelis had been killed, with two hundred forty more injured. Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other Western countries expressed support for what they considered Israel's right to defend itself, or at least condemned the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, while China, Iran, Russia, Egypt, Turkey, and several other Arab and Muslim countries condemned the Israeli operation.

2014 - Gaza War - (also known as Operation Protective Edge) After the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by two Hamas members in June 2014, Israel launched a crackdown on Hamas. Then on July 7, 2014, seven Hamas terrorists were killed in a tunnel explosion. The cause of the explosion is uncertain: Hamas claimed it was the result of an Israeli airstrike, while Israel claimed it was an accidental explosion of Hamas's own munitions. The operation officially began the following day, when Hamas began firing 40 rockets into Israel. The result was a seven week conflict, one of the deadliest conflicts between the Palestinians and Israel in decades.

Hamas stated their goal was to bring international pressure to force Israel to lift their blockade of the Gaza Strip, end Israel's offensive and obtain a third party to guarantee compliance with a ceasefire, release Palestinian prisoners, and overcome its political isolation. In response to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, Israel launched air raids on Gaza. Ten days later, Israeli forces expanded their operations to include a ground invasion of Gaza, with the stated aim of destroying Gaza's tunnel system; Between the Israeli airstrikes and ground bombardment, as well as Hamas rockets falling into their own country, there were thousands of casualties, mostly Gazans.

The conflict ended when Israeli ground forces withdrew in early August, and on August 26, an open-ended ceasefire was reached. By that date, the IDF reported that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups had fired 4,564 rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel, with over 735 intercepted in flight and shot down by the Iron Dome Defense System. The IDF had attacked 5,263 targets in Gaza; at least 34 known tunnels were destroyed and two-thirds of Hamas's 10,000-rocket arsenal was used up or destroyed. All in all, between 2,125 - 2,310 Gazans were killed and another 10,626 - 10,895 were wounded. 67 Israeli soldiers, 5 Israeli civilians, one Thai civilian were killed, and 469 IDF soldiers and 261 Israeli civilians were injured.

2021 - Operation Guardian of the Walls - This war between Israel and Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) began on May 10 with barrages of rockets fired toward Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. Over the course of the next 12 days, Hamas and the PIJ fired almost 4,400 rockets at Israel. These rockets were fired not at miltary forces or strategic miltary sites, but indiscriminately at Israeli civilians. Approximately 680 of these rockets misfired and fell within the Gaza Strip, causing casualties to their own Palestinian people. Israel made great efforts to protect its civilians via a combination of bomb shelters and the deployment of the Iron Dome Aerial Defense System. The Iron Dome successfully intercepted 90% of the rockets fired at its civilians - but that still leaves hundreds of rockets that successfully hit their targets in Israel.

In response to Hamas and PIJ attacks on Israeli civilians, the IDF struck over 1,500 terror targets, including launch sites, command and control centers, and weapon depots. The IDF destroyed many kilometers of Hamas’ extensive tunnel system, through which these terror groups conducted military training, and were able to carry out operations without exposing terror organizations operatives. The IDF also neutralized hundreds of Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror operatives.

As is always the case, it is Israel that comes under criticism for defending itself against these terror attacks. It has been suggested that Israel simply could have hunkered down, let its Iron Dome air defense system intercept incoming Hamas' missiles, and wait for international pressure to stop Hamas' bombardment. However, Hamas and its allies have an arsenal of upwards of 30,000 rockets and mortars and Iron Dome is at best only 90 percent effective —meaning that hundreds of Hamas' rockets still struck their targets. Moreover, the Iron Dome's interceptors cost an estimated $40,000 or more each, and Israel does not have an unlimited supply. Above all, the international community does not seem to have either the will or leverage to stop Hamas and its fellow Palestinian groups without that Israeli military pressure.

No other nation in the world is asked or expected to passively ignore attacks on them, and few, if any, states will turn the other cheek when faced with similar situations. It is unreasonable to ask any nation to sit back and do nothing as their country and citizens are attacked repeatedly, and their lives, livelihoods, and even their very existence is in immediate jeopardy. The Jewish people have never lived in safety and security since the days of King Solomon. To this day, much of the world hates them and vows to wipe out that tiny nation of God's chosen people. However, even though their battles continue to this very day, so does God's original promise to them.

And I will make of thee a great nation, and
I will bless thee,and make thy name great;
and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will
bless them that bless thee, and curse him
that curseth thee: and in thee shall all
families of the earth be blessed.
(Gen. 12:2-3)

Israel's Incredible History
Part 1: From The Divided Kingdom To The Rise Of Zionism

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