What was the history of Palestine between Biblical times and the modern era?
Canaanites are known to be the earliest population that inhabited Palestine who lived in the land around 3rd millennium BC. The 2nd millennium saw the area taken over by Pharaonic Egypt and their rule was weakened by new invaders, who included the Hebrews from the Semitic tribes of Mesopotamia and a group of Aegean people from Indo-European stock, the Philistines. The country was given the name of “Philistine” because of their Philistine inhabitants. The Israelites were an alliance of Hebrew tribes, who although defeated the Canaanites, found defeating Philistines much difficult. The philistine population took over the southern coast of Palestine and established an independent state there, controlling Jerusalem, the Canaanite own, and defeated Israelites in 1050 BC.
Construction and Destruction of the First and Second Temple
One feature which gave Israelite tribe recognition was their unity which enabled Prophet Dawood to work for an independent state for his people, which he did, making Jerusalem the capital of this state. A place of worship was built by Prophet Dawood’s son, Prophet Suleyman and this magnificent structure was named The First Temple. This temple was destroyed by the pagan Assyrians as it housed the Ark of Covenant.
After Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem, they built another temple deciding the site of The First Temple for this purpose. The Second Temple which was further expanded by King Herod but was turned to rubble and the city along with it, when Romans reached Jerusalem in 70 CE.
Muslim Rule in Palestine
In 324 CE, Constantine of Byzantine marched into the city, rebuilt it and opened it for Christian pilgrimage; however, they were harsh on the populace. Their discrimination was not only limited to Jews who were banned from entering into Jerusalem but they were equally unjust to those Christians who would not act upon the same teachings as they did. The situation was completely different with Muslims who were known to have compassion and mercy as victors. Therefore, when Muslims entered the region, the people of Palestine gave up the city without much struggle and there was no bloodshed or massacres. Instead, people were given the freedom to leave the city with all their goods if they wished or stay with compete religious freedom and security.
Peace and prosperity in the region was introduced by Muslim Conquerors who put an end to oppression and tyranny which prevailed in the land for centuries. Palestine flourished to the extent that it became a learning center and produced a large number of scholars. Muslims ruled over Palestine for 1300 years, with the exception of a period where Crusaders took over it and named it Filastin. The Crusader occupation brought injustices and massacres whose targets were Muslims, Jews and Christians equally. Palestine was liberated from the Crusader clutches by Salahuddin Ayyubi, who worked once again to bring peace and justice to the land and to implement Islamic law.
Israel and Palestine Today
The First World War brought the fall of the Ottoman Empire, following which the French and British victors divided the Arab region. It was also the start of British occupation in Palestine. While this was going on, the population of Jews in Palestine started increasing through immigration with the help of non-Muslim countries.
In 1917, Britain issued the Balfour Declaration which stated Palestine as a homeland to Jews and after the defeat of Ottoman Empire, it encouraged Jewish immigration from European countries to Palestine. The population of Jews in Palestine kept increasing so that by 1947, total Jews in the area had become 650,000. They began establishing organizations to train the Jews in arms and terrorist activities. They prepared to the extent that Jews had thousands of trained and armed people at their disposal at the time Division of Palestine was announced.