Two thousand years ago, the region gave birth to the Prince of Peace. Today it is mired in a seemingly intractable conflict. How did this come to be, and what is the fighting all about?
Blasts of anger and wails of grief sounded the push of a dispossessed people to reclaim their lost land back as far back as the 1930s. Today the same sounds are still being heard — same place, same reason, but from a different people.
The Jewish people believe this is their holy soil, given to their forefathers as a gift from God himself. The Palestinians believe the same thing.
Both sides seek to hide it, but both sides are guilty. There are extremist factions which will not be satisfied until their opponents are completely eradicated.
The origins of this conflict are rooted deep in history. An uprising by Jewish Zealots against Roman occupation between 66 and 74AD saw Emperor Nero order the rebellion crushed in a manner that would serve as an example to the rest of the Empire.
The foundation stone of the Jewish faith — the Temple of Jerusalem — was soon toppled and more than 100,000 Jews dispersed among the Empire as captives.
In the late 1800s, a Zionist movement was formed in Europe — campaigning to reclaim the long-lost homeland for the Jewish race.
Migration rapidly gathered momentum. After World War One, amid the shattered remains of the Ottoman Empire — the Holy Land was managed as a 'Protectorate' by Britain — the onrush of Jewish settlers triggered fears among the majority Arab population.
In the 1930s, this erupted into revolt. The Arabs feared such large-scale immigration would mean becoming a minority in their own land.
The uprising was suppressed by the British — and Jewish militias.
This was the start of the cycle of clashes that continues to this day.
Then came World War Two and the outpouring of shock and grief at the Holocaust inflicted upon the Jewish race by Adolf Hitler and his Nazis. Six million Jewish people had been murdered.
The United Nations set out to make amends: The floodgates were opened for dispossessed and displaced Jews around the world to build a new state in their ancient holy land.
Read full article: Two peoples fighting for the same thing: examining the Israel-Palestine conflict, from 66AD to today (news.com.au)
Br Peter Bray: Palestine, Bethlehem University & Religious Freedom in the Holy Land (CathNews YouTube Channel)
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Israel launches Gaza ground invasion (Al Jazeera)
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Through Lens, 4 Boys Dead by Gaza Shore (The New York Times)
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Pope Francis appeals for peace in the Holy Land (Vatican Radio)