At all times there was a Jewish presence in Palestine: after the Roman conquest, after the Arab conquest, after the Crusader conquest, during the Ottoman period, etc. However, this presence had become very marginal. At the end of the 19th century, a very slow movement of Jewish immigration began following the numerous pogroms in Russia and the birth of Zionism. At the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1917, the Jewish population represented 12.5% of the total population of Palestine, Arabs 77.5% and Christians 10%.
Jewish immigration to "Israel" increased following the Balfour Declaration in 1917 - in which the British Government (which was later granted a mandate over Palestine in 1920) declared that it was favourably disposed over the establishment of a national home for Jews in Palestine - and following the rise of Nazism in Germany. With the pressure of this emigration, the cohabitation between Arabs and Jews in Palestine, which had previously been peaceful, became increasingly tense. In 1947, 2/3 of the population were Arabs and 1/3 Jews.
The conflict between Israel and Palestine officially started in 1947, when, after the Second World War, the United Nations decided to proclaim a state for the Jewish people, who until then had no state. This war caused the death of about 6 million people of the Jewish faith. As result of this tragedy, the demands of the Zionist movement acquired a certain legitimacy, which allowed the creation of Israel.
The United Nations Resolution 181 decided on the partition of Palestine into in two parts: the Jewish state of Israel, covering 55% of the territory, and Palestine, an Arab state, with 40% of the land. Jerusalem, for its part, was under an international regime, with access to the holy places remaining free for everyone. However, the status of this city will evolve over time.
When the UN announced the partition project in 1947, the Nakba, an Arabic word meaning "catastrophe", began. This Nakba lasted until 1949. No less than 750,000 Palestinians fled the country following the destruction of their villages by the Israelis who came to settle there. This event triggered a first war, the first one of a long series. In 1948, despite the refusal of the Arab world, Israel declared itself independent. This, again, led to the departure of many Palestinian citizens who found refuge in the closest countries such as Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. In 2015, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) estimated the number of refugees in these differents territories to 5 millions.
In 1967, the "Six Day War" broke out and pitted Israel against its neighboring countries, namely Syria, Egypt and Jordan. This conflict, took place from June 5th to 10th 1967 and allowed the Israeli authorities to acquire more Arab territories, which they considered usefull for their security. Indeed, Levi Eshkol, the Israeli Prime Minister, felt threatened by Egypt as well as by the new Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) which was created in 1964 by Yasser Arafat. So, Israel quadrupled[ii] its surface area by occupying 70,000 km2 of land. Who belonged to neighboring countries, including the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Egyptian Sinai and the Syrian Golan. In July 1967, Israel annexed East Jerusalem and two months later, the Israeli authorities built their first four Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Israel's policy during this war was strongly condemned by several Third World countries and by various Western countries, including France. Following this conflict, Resolution 242 was voted by the UN Security Council on November 22 1967, in an attempt to reconcile the differents actors. However, a "vagueness" was deliberately left in this text, which allowed the Israeli authorities not to return all the territories annexed during this war : Israel has annexed more and more Palestinian territory, despite international law and with a consequent reduction in Palestinian freedom. For those who remained in Palestine, their lives are, now, marked by occupation, attacks, humiliation, imprisonment and destruction of their property.
Children are also greatly affected by this situation. Israel, as the occupying power, is responsible for implementing the International Convention on the Rights of the Child in the territories it occupies. However, the authorities refuse to concede this duty. This has many consequences for the level of welfare, both health and social, of young Palestinians who have to live in a country constantly in conflict.
The pervasive poverty in Palestine also has an impact on the future of these young people. Many are forced to stop their studies in order to work and support their families. This leaves them with an incomplete education, which is a handicap for their future. Palestine is, in fact, a fairly poor country, with 26% of Palestinians living below the poverty line in 2012, and the restrictions on the free movement of goods and people are a brake on its economic development. As a result, the country is heavily dependent on international aid. The financial resources are scarce within the territory. This also has consequences for education itself: classrooms are generally overcrowded and schools and materials are of poor quality.
The wall separating the occupied territories from Israel also has an impact on access to education. Unicef conducted a study in 2013 which found out that more than 2,500 children had to cross one or more checkpoints per day to get to school. This situation is a fence to the proper education of students and often contributes to the cessation of studies.
This is why Hope wishes to act with these young people. They are the hope of Palestine, and their education is therefore of primary importance for the recovery of the country.
If you would like to know more about this topic :