Jerusalem Through History

Condensing Palestine’s vast history into a few pages is difficult indeed. But for the purposes of this setting, I’ll try to summarize the varied and dramatic history of the area, by date, up to the British Mandate of 1917 A.D.









Historical setting:

3000 B.C.Kannite immigration
2400 B.C.Yabusiaus builds Jerusalem
1900 B.C..Hebrew immigration from Iraq, by Abraham and Lot
1800-1660 B.C.The Hesosian Era
1400-1300 B.C.The Pharonic Era
1200 B.C.Hebrews from Egypt led by Moses
1200-1020 B.C.Hebrews in Habroon (The Judges Era)
1020 B.C.Sha’oul founded the Hebrew Kingdom
1006-966 B.C.David's reign
963-922 B.C.Solomon’s Era in Jerusalem
923 B.C.The division of the Israeli Kingdom into north and south
722 B.C.Israel destroyed by the Assyrians in the north (Samaria)
586 B.C.Babylonian destruction in the south (Judea) and Babylonian captivity of the Hebrews
538-332 B.C.Persian Era return of some Jews from captivity
332-167 B.C.The Greek Era
167-63 B.C.The Mekabians
63 B.C.-324 A.D.The Roman Era
324-636 A.D.The Byzantine Era
636-1099 A.D.The Islamic Era
1099-1187 A.D.The Holy Kingdom of the Crusades
1187-1250 A.D..The Ayyubid Era (Salah El Din)
1250-1517 A.D.The Mameluke Era
1517-1917 A.D.The Ottoman Empire
1917-1948 A.D.The British Mandate


That brings us to recent history, where I’ll elaborate on historical events that took place from the era of the British mandate up to the Israeli occupation of the holy city of Jerusalem.

In 1919, the Palestinians convened their first National Conference and expressed their opposition to the Balfour Declaration, which was a guarantee by the British government, then, a major power, to secure a “national homeland” for Jews in Palestine. Later on, in 1920, the San Remo Conference granted Britain a mandate over Palestine and two years later Palestine was effectively under British administration. Sir Herbert Samuel, a declared Zionist, was sent as Britain's first High Commissioner to Palestine. The Palestinians held a six-month general strike in 1936 to protest against the confiscation of their land and Jewish immigration. The British government published a new White Paper in 1939 restricting Jewish immigration and offering independence for Palestine within ten years. This idea was rejected by the Zionists, who in turn organized terrorist groups and launched a bloody campaign against the British and the Palestinians. The Zionist aim was to drive both the Palestinians and the British out of Palestine to pave the way for the establishment of a Zionist state.

It was the United Nations 1947 Partition Resolution, under which the Palestinian Arabs, who accounted for 70% of the population and owned 92% of the land, were allocated 47% of the country, that gave the Zionist movement its grand victory. According to the resolution, the Jewish minority was granted more than one-half of the area of Palestine. The Zionist movement eagerly accepted the territory, but ignored the plan’s racial duality provision and sought systematically to deport the Palestinians through terror, mass intimidation, and armed attacks on villages and townships. For example, Eliahu Golombo, head of the militant terrorist organization (Haganah) which was created to garrison Palestine, stated “The Arabs (Palestinians) should be accustomed to the idea that we (Israelis) are destined to rule this country (Palestine) and we should put a fear among them which prevents them from doing anything.” This policy inevitably prevented the indigenous Palestinians from fulfilling their national aspirations of establishing a Palestinian state. British forces withdrew from Palestine in May of 1948 and the Zionists movement did not succeed in developing a constructive policy toward the Palestinian presence and aspirations. By mid 1948, 800,000 Palestinians had thus been forced to flee Palestine; 77% of the land fell into Jewish hands and the State of Israel was proclaimed without defining its borders. Arab armies moved to defend the Palestinians. In 1949 a cease-fire was finally agreed. The West Bank was put under Jordanian control and the Gaza Strip under Egyptian control. The Palestine Liberation Organization was established in 1964 and the 'Fateh Revolution' began on January 1, 1965.


Israel launched a new war against the Arabs in 1967 and the Israelis realized their goal of seizing the rest of the land; the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Syrian Golan Heights and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. The Six Day war was accompanied by another exodus of Palestinians - almost half a million. Subsequently, Israel resorted to further expulsions and, by 1968, more Palestinians had been forced out of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In addition, the Israeli Census Bureau denied Palestinians who happened to be outside Palestine during the census of 1968 the right to return to their homeland. Thus, all of Jerusalem was under the control of the State of Israel. By 1970, of the more than three million Palestinians worldwide, less than half lived within the borders of Palestine or what was called the Occupied Territories. It was apparent that the condition of Palestinians living under occupation did not improve, and, moreover, it deteriorated. Consequently, this lead to the birth of the Intifada (popular uprising) on December 9, 1987. The Palestinian Intifada broke out throughout the Occupied Territories, including Jerusalem. The terrorist methods used by the Israelis to stop the uprising of the people led the Palestinian National Congress to declare the Palestinian Independent State with Arab Jerusalem as its capital. During this period, settlement by the Israeli in Gaza, and the West Bank, including Jerusalem continued. Israel stated that there would be no negotiation with the PLO and no Palestinian State. The situation continued to deteriorate. In December of 1989 a human chain was formed around the walls of Jerusalem's Old City by Jewish and Palestinian peace activists to protest the current situation. Israeli police reaction was to try and break up the crowds by firing water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets. Israel established a new police unit (Gid'onim) to deal with the uprising in Jerusalem.


A protest against the attempt of extremist Gershon Solomon's "Temple Mount Faithful" to enter the compound of Al Haram Al Sharif and place a cornerstone for the building of "a Jewish third temple" led to the massacre at Al-Aqsa mosque. Israeli forces killed 18 Palestinians and injured 150 more. This action was condemned by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 672. During most of the Intifada period Jerusalem was surrounded with roadblocks to prevent Palestinians from the West Bank from entering Jerusalem to work, visit family or attend religious services. Israeli terroristic policies of enforcing curfews were still imposed on the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. In early 1991 Israel imposed a total ban on Palestinian entry into Jerusalem. This all led to the Middle East Peace Conference in Madrid. At the Madrid conference it was agreed to hold a series of negotiations between the Arab States participating in the conference and Israel. The bilateral negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis produced no solution about the question of Palestine. As a matter of fact, a roadblock was reached and negotiations ended. It was not till the Labor Party, led by Itzhak Shamir, won the elections in 1992, that secret negotiations began in early 1993. These secret negotiations eventually led to the Oslo Accord and on September 13, 1993 declarations of joint principal were officially signed at a White House ceremony. An agreement was reached on Palestinian interim self-government. In May 1994, the first Palestinian police force arrived to the proclaimed self -rule area. In July of that year, Chairman Arafat returned to the homeland accompanied by some Palestinian refugees, but it was not until November that authority was actually transferred to him.

In conclusion, all thepreviously mentioned peace agreements between the Palestinians and the State of Israel did not solve the issue of Jerusalem. To this day, Jerusalem lies captive in the hands of the Israelis, and justice to the holy city and its inhabitants has yet to be served.

Palestinian am I

No one can take away from me
My identity,
For it is mine.
Palestinian am I.

I am the river that flows
Through my land.
I am the mountain
Noble and magnificent
Rising up out of chaos and destruction.

I greet the morning sun
That shines down on my fertile valleys
And parches my barren desert.

I am the red poppy and yellow daffodil
That grow upon my bloodstained hills.
I am the battle cry of freedom
That echoes through my corridors
And every fibre of my being.

Palestinian am I.
I am the proud owner of
Orange orchards and lemon blossoms
And honey bees, wild and free.

I am the David child wielding a single stone
Against the Israeli Goliath.
I am not afraid,
For truth is with me and God is on my side.
If I die,
A choir of angels will honour me
And later, my parents
will grasp my outstretched hand
And join me in Heaven.
I am the tears of
Mothers weeping for their dead sons.
I am the footsteps of ancient prophets
Who foretold of doom and destruction
To those who torture and oppress me.

My brethren are the doves
hummingbirds and seagulls
That fly unhindered above my sea.
I am Palestinian,
Therefore, I am.

No one can take my identity
Away from me,
Not tanks or guns or bombs
Meant to desecrate me and kill me.
My country lives in me.

I am the cry of liberty
No matter what they take from me,
They can?t take away my identity
Or my dignity.
Palestinian am I.

By Edna Yaghi