What are the origins of the Israeli-Palestine conflict?

While Saturday's shock attack by Hamas was one of the deadliest in Israel's history, the conflict has been rumbling on for decades.

How did it all come to this? ITV News’ Rachel Younger explains the origins of the violence

A coordinated attack on Israel by Palestinian militants over the weekend has brought renewed attention to a historic problem.

The Middle East has been embroiled in strife for decades, with the latest round of attacks in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict leaving a death toll of over 1,500.

Thousands more have been wounded after Hamas launched an incursion out of Gaza on Israel on Saturday morning.

But while this radical upsurge of violence is fresh, it is just the latest installment that stems from a deeply unsettled past.

Fire and smoke rise following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City / Credit: Fatima Shbair/AP

A history of conflict

Home to over two million people, the Gaza strip and the West Bank are known as Palestinian territory.

The two areas, along with the rest of Israel, are what Palestinians have defined as Palestine for 2,000 years.

But the Jewish claim also spans back that far, when they were exiled from what they would define as their ancestral homeland.

In 1948, in the wake of the Holocaust, the state of Israel was declared – which received widespread Western support.

But Hamas and other Palestinian groups believed the territory to be stolen from Palestinians, leading to several wars over the following decades.

Whereabouts did Hamas strike and how did the attack unfold?

Israel eventually occupied the West Bank and Gaza – illegally, according to the United Nations.

Palestinians reacted to the Israeli control with two uprisings which included suicide attacks and bombings, killing hundreds.

Israeli soldiers were also accused of human rights abuse in the ongoing occupations.

In 1993, the Oslo Accords – aimed at achieving peace in the region – offered a glimmer of hope under a two-state agreement, but the fighting continued.

By 2005, Hamas had taken control over Gaza and Israeli troops were pulling out of the region.

Already this year, a spate of violence has been recorded across the border with a total 758 attacks on Palestinians by Israeli settlers, according to the UN.

The beginning of 2023 was also marked by the killing of seven Israelis at a Synagogue at the hands of a Palestinian gunman in East Jerusalem, West Bank.

How could the conflict escalate?

The Hamas group is allied with Middle Eastern countries like Syria, Lebanon and Iran.

The latter is one of it’s most vocal supporters and has been supplying Hamas with weapons for decades – though the country has denied involvement in this attack.

But senior Iranian officials praised the attack – President Ebrahim Raisi spoke by phone with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nakhalah, the state-run IRNA news agency reported on Sunday.

Meanwhile, there are fears a wider conflict could break out between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, an armed party backed by Iran that has previously gone to head with Israel.

On Monday, the group launched a revenge artillery strike on Israel after a shelling killed three members of the Hezbollah.

But Israel argues it targeted Lebanon after cross-border fire was launched from the group following the Hamas attack.

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