Defend Truth


Understanding the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 5 charts

Understanding the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 5 charts

Understanding the current war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza requires context and history. These charts aim to show changes in the region that have occurred over time to put some of the events in perspective.

This first chart shows the history of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The map shows when and where those settlements were built – the darker-red colour indicates a more recent settlement, while pink is older. The grey dots indicate settlements that didn’t have verified establishment dates.

Settlement started to become a policy of the Israeli government in earnest after the 1967 Six Day War, which resulted in the Israeli seizure of the West Bank and Gaza from Jordanian and Egyptian control, respectively. Some settlements are small, with fewer than 100 people, while others have grown into large towns of thousands with their own industrial areas.

The data was collected from a number of sources, including the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); Peace Now, an Israel-based NGO that tracks settlements; and B’Tselem, another Israeli-based organisation that tracks human rights violations allegedly committed by Israel in the Palestinian territories.

The legality of these settlements is a source of much debate, though under international law – specifically Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention – they are considered illegal.

To get a deeper picture of how the settlements have encroached on Palestinian land, we need to rewind to the 1990s and the Oslo Accords. These were a series of agreements between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) that sought to establish the boundaries of control in the West Bank and Gaza.

The Oslo II Accords divided the West Bank into parcels that were controlled by Israel, the Palestinian Authority or a joint operation. Initially, Oslo II was designed to provide a framework to hand over territory in the West Bank and Gaza to the government of an eventual Palestinian state. Settlement has made this eventuality near impossible.

The borders on the map above are complex and are close to overlapping, leaving some Palestinian-controlled areas completely cut off from one another.

The West Bank is split into three main areas, called Area A, Area B and Area C.

In Area A, which is red on the map, the Palestinian Authority has civil and security control.

Area B, in blue, is a joint control zone, with Israel maintaining security and the Palestinian Authority looking after civil affairs such as schools, health and the economy.

Area C, in green, is the Israeli-controlled sector. Israeli settlements are mostly built in these areas.

The major West Bank city of Hebron was also split internally into H1 and H2, pink and yellow respectively on the map. H2 is controlled by Israel and H1 by the Palestinian Authority.

Displaced people and conflicts

Conflicts over the years in the Gaza strip have forced many people to evacuate their homes. Many of these internally displaced people find their way to refugee camps and shelters run by various organisations.

Israel’s 2004 disengagement policy was a plan to remove Israeli troops and settlements from Gaza. Before the policy, there were 21 civilian settlements in Gaza, with about 8,500 Israelis. Also, the expansion of the buffer zone at the Rafah crossing (at the border with Egypt) from 2000 resulted in the destruction of a third of the refugee camp there and 16,000 Palestinians being internally displaced.

The chart below shows the recent build-up of internally displaced people in UN Relief and Works Agency-run shelters in Gaza during October. The sudden increase in the Deir al Balah, Rafah and Khan Younis areas, all in the southern end of Gaza, since October 12 came after Israel ordered residents in northern Gaza to evacuate to the south. Many expected Egypt might also open its borders at Rafah.

Since Hamas’s attack on October 7, which started the recent hostilities, there has been a sharp increase in conflict events within Gaza and the West Bank. The map below shows where and when those events have occurred. The data is from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, a US-based organisation that collects information on crisis events, including violence and protests.

The volume and swiftness of the events means that data tracking is a few days behind the most recent action.

And the blast at al-Ahli Arab Hospital on 18 October, which killed hundreds of Palestinians, is the latest in a upward trend of incidents involving health care workers in Israel and the Palestinian territories. The chart below tracks those incidents since 2018. The data is from the OCHA and was filtered down to show the four main perpetrators.

The Conversation

Matt Garrow is an editorial web developer. Andrew Thomas is a lecturer in Middle East studies at Deakin University.

First published in The Conversation


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Eyes Wide Shut says:

    Is there a part two of this article?

  • Rit S says:

    Article 49 of the Geneva Convention doesn’t refer to building in occupied territory.
    It discusses deportations and evacuations.
    In fact I couldn’t find anything in that chapter which does discuss it.

  • Denise Smit says:

    One sided. please give the whole history of Israel ,the forming of the state Israel and developments since then. Denise Smit

    • Bennie Morani says:

      How will that help? Land has been expropriated by Israel. It is what it is.

      • Denise Smit says:

        You must go back 2000 years to get the history of the area now called Israel. Definitely it is very narrow to start in the 1960’s. Deliberate ignorance. Denise Smit

        • Neo Manyaapelo says:

          The State of Israel was only formed in 1948. When discussing this conflict, I think it’s important to make a distinction between the State of Israel (which is the one actually engaged in this decades-long conflict) and Jewish people (who have historical ties to the land). This is a conflict between the Zionist State of Israel and the Palestinian people. It is NOT a conflict between Jewish people and Palestinian Muslims. In fact, not all Palestinians are Muslim. Some Palestinians are in fact Christians themselves. And not all Jewish people are in support of Israel’s handling of the conflict (or the ideology of Zionism).
          So, I repeat, this is NOT a conflict between Jewish people and Muslims. This IS a conflict between THE STATE OF ISRAEL and the Palestinian people. This is a very important distinction to be made.

          • Ben Harper says:

            Wrong, the conflict is between Israel and Hamas

          • Ben Harper says:

            Who controlled Gaza between 1948 and 1967? Egypt
            Who controlled the West Bank between 1948 and 1967? Jordan.

            Stop with the lies

        • Bennie Morani says:

          Denise, what do you think of going back only 600 years in our country to determine who is entitled the land here?

  • Cornay Bester says:

    It started 1400 years ago when an illiterate business man failed to convert people to his version of their holy books.

  • Louise Louise says:

    I am sure your data is pretty correct, but your “history” doesn’t go back far enough. To fully understand why we are where we are in Palestine, one needs to go back to 1917 and the Balfour Declaration. Thank you.

  • Herbert D Brave says:

    You fail to mention that the West Bank was acquired as a result of the war AGAINST Israel. The “Arabs” attacked Israel and were forced back to maintain a buffer to prevent a reoccurrence.

    • David Mitchley says:

      Also fails to mention that the Palestinians are the ones who over the years have rejected the 2 state solution and other offers of peace.
      The Palestinians (Hamas and Hezbollah) stated aim is the complete destruction of Israel and to wipe the Jews from the face of the earth.
      Up to now, Israel has not called for the complete elimination of all Palestinians, Israel has called for the destruction of Hamas in retaliation to the atrocities committed by Hamas on 7 Oct 2023.

      • Ben Harper says:

        Yup, it’s very convenient of people to ignore the fact (deliberately) that every time the two-state solution is on the table and close to being signed, Israel as been attacked by at least one, but often multiple radical groups or neighbouring states

      • Caroline de Braganza says:

        Please brush up on history. The Oslo accords in September 1993, between Prime Minister Yithak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, in which both recognized the rights of Israel and Palestine to exist were a path to peace. At the ceremony on the White House lawn, Rabin said, “We say to you today in a loud and a clear voice: enough of blood and tears. Enough.”

        Sadly, at a peace rally attended by over 100,000 Israelis in Tel Aviv on 4 November, 1993, Yigal Amir, a 25-year-old Israeli Jew and fervent right-wing nationalist, halted the Middle East peace process by assassinating Rabin.

        Rabin’s last words to the crowd: “Let’s not just sing about peace – let’s make peace.”

        Hamas and Islamic Jihad opposed the accords, as did the Israeli right, especially settlers in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

        The leader of the opposition at the time was Benjamin Netanyahu who spoke at demonstrations where slogans included “Death to Rabin.” Netanyahu walked at the head of a mock funeral procession featuring a fake black coffin. Israel’s head of internal security asked him to desist from the rhetoric, he refused.

        Rabin’s assassination sadly succeeded in its aim to kill the peace process.

        Netanyahu is now in his sixth term as prime minister of Israel, leading the most far-right government in the country’s history comprising ultra-orthodox parties, an ultra-nationalist faction and Likud. Many oppose Palestinian statehood and aim to expand settlements in the West Bank.

        Doves and hawks on both sides.

  • T Mac says:

    The article completely ignores the history of the conflict between the Jews and their enemies over thousands of years. This is not a modern problem.

  • Ben Harper says:


  • pgstevens says:

    Definitely every one who does not know God’s word, The Bible, need to read it and understand who Israel, and especially Jerusalem, belongs too. The land of Israel, promised to Abraham and all his decendants, ie the 12 tribes of Israel, is actually a lot bigger than commonly known today and actually extends from the Mediterranian Sea to the Euphrates river and includes Lebannon, most of Syria, Jordan and Iraq and part of Egypt. That is the land and everything in it that rightly belongs to the Israelis. Most importantly including all of Jerusalem God’s city. That is the Promised Land so no human being should be fighting about what Israel has done. Psalms:105 7-11, Ezekiel: 47 14, Acts: 17 26, Ezekiel 47: 22-23. The biggest problem is most people, even Israelis, do not believe God’s word let alone read it!

    • Ben Harper says:

      Can’t exactly rely on a fairy tale though

      • Caroline Rich says:

        Exactly. She quotes as if it’s a text book. That is the real issue here. Religion. Without it, this situation wouldn’t exist.

        • Paul T says:

          100%! Without all this religious mumbo jumbo, you’ve just got 2 sets of people who need to learn to live together or they will wipe each other out. The creation of a “Jewish State” on land that has been home to other people for centuries is obviously not going to be well received.

          • Ben Harper says:

            Not quite! Tow groups of people that have been living on the same land for centuries and still to this day cannot get along. It’s not unique, just look at the Zulu and Xhosa here in SA, they still hate each other to this day

          • Bhekumuzi Buthelezi says:

            Your assumption on Zulu/Xhosa hatred is totally unfounded. I’m one of thousands of Zulus living among Xhosas and know our history.
            Retract the statement and make examples about facts e.g. British and Irish people.
            It’s clearly stated that before posting, make sure you bring truth to the table.
            In the process please tell the world when the war between the Zulu and Xhosa people took place.

          • Ben Harper says:

            @ Bhejumuzi – hahahahahaha keep telling yourself that

    • Dietmar Horn says:

      It is a tragedy that biblical arguments, especially presented by evangelical Christians, are used to support the right to exist of the current state of Israel. They have the exact opposite effect. The regime in Tehran just as rightly refers to its holy book with God’s help and citing Abraham, to wipe out the state of Israel. The very first precondition for peaceful coexistence would be verbal disarmament in all religious-fundamentalist circles and the realization that there is more than one truth.

    • Truth Only says:

      The Arab people are semitic too. The European Ashkenazi Zionist are not semitic and does not have a drop of semitic blood. The original people of the region are the Palestinians, there were Conversions to Christanity and Islam. Prior to 1948 Christians Jews and Muslims lived peacefully, except when there were external interference. Zionism changed all that in 1948. Zionist quote biblical literature to justify their genocidal murders but ironically most of them are atheists. And if you quoting the bible please also research how many times the covenant between God and the so called “chosen” was broken and God’s punishment on them. Ask any orthodox true practicing Jew and you will get the truth. This is not about religion, Zionism is not a religion its a doctrine of lies to control. And using the scriptures to condone and justify wholesale murder of innocent babies children and women is disgusting. Return the land to its rightful owners.

    • Bernhard Scheffler says:

      “Abraham and all his decendants”. Please do read your Bible — Genesis 16:1-16 in particular. Ishmael was the first son of Abraham, through his wife Sara’s handmaiden Hagar.

  • Enver Klein says:

    Well said, Kanu. Nice alliteration 😉
    The author should also not forget that Marc36, the class monitor, is taking the names of anyone who says anything negative about “Israel”.

  • I’m not sure why you began the story in the 20th Century when it goes back some 3500 years haha LOL! Forget half this is only a small piece of the puzzle

  • Vincent Britz says:

    A eye for a eye! Palestinian started it all, Israel will end it for good!

    • Truth Only says:

      Ok so you completely ignore that Hamas a product of Israel and supported by them to weaken the PLO. As well as the 75 plus years of oppression and occupation. Ghaza refugee camp exists because the Zionist Israeli people raped murdered and stole land that was not theirs, killed most of the men and sent the rest of the people to Ghaza. So NO Palestinians didn’t start it all. Would you accept your land to be forcefully taken from you? None of us would. So how can you expect it from a Palestinian?

  • Truth Only says:

    Prior to the formation of “Israel” with stolen Palestinian land in 1948, Christians, Jews and Muslims lived peacefully. Palestinians welcomed the Jewish refugees. The balfour Declaration- who gave the Brits the right to give an entire country still inhabited by its indigenous people to another people with no tie to the land. Please tell me which people in the entire world will be OK to have another race of people steal their land and then place them in an open air prison Ghaza and no repercussions. Most of the Zionist in Israel are not indigenous to the land but hail from Europe and those that support Israel claims its their. Please research the Massacre of TANTURRA, and the Israeligovernmentwants to suppress so desperately. That was just one town, the zionist raped murdered and stole what was never theirs. It is PALESTINE it was always PALESTINE and will ALWAYS BE PALESTINE. From the river to the sea it is PALESTINE

    • Ben Harper says:

      Really? Care to elaborate what the conflict between the Jews and Arabs was about prior to the 1917 Balfour agreement? Sheesh, how come all the fanatics think everything was just hunkey dorey prior to 1948???

      • Deirdre Lubbe says:

        Below the Wikipedia answer to your question:
        Before the British occupation, Palestine was part of Ottoman Syria. The British army ruled Palestine until a civil administration was established on 1 July 1920.

        Having secured the oil supply, Britain left Palestine in shambles (my comment).

      • Stephen Paul says:

        Indeed. When they need to vent their venom they just write ZIONIST ZIONIST ZIONIST.
        There can be no having rational debate with brainwashed propagandist haters fixated on the Palestinians. Historical and rhetorical accuracy and their own bigotry is completely lost to them. Today the biggest crimes against humanity perpetrator is Russia and the imperialist power practicing the true meaning of ethnic cleansing characterized as genocide is China, but that seems o k to some of our dear readers and ANC leaders. I will be accused of whataboutism as if that excuses their own moral hypocrisy. And we are expected to take them seriously ?

        • Truth Only says:

          No the biggest perpetrators of crimes against humanity is the so called people fighting for human rights USA, Europe. Remember the weapons of mass destruction that was supposed to be in Iraq? None was found! After more than a million people were killed. Afghanistan Syria Sudan just a few. But seems colonialists will protect their fellow colonialists. taking from other countries what is not theirs. If they can’t they create a problem that they apparently have the only solution, failing that they create wars. Any loss of life no matter who or where it is, should not happen and is a sad loss and none of us should be supporting and justifying a genocide of any people, whether white, black pink or blue. A sad day if we can’t find our humanity for another people’s pain and suffering. Shame on us

          • Stephen Paul says:

            And who pray tell are you assuming cannot find humanity for another people’s pain and suffering ?. What would you have done about Hitler? What are you going to do about Hamas? Your original and subsequent posts are so full of ignorant canards and insulting language that I would not know where to begin so I am not going to try. If I repeat often enough Colonialist Imperialist Apartheid does that make it true ? If I repeat often enough all Palestinians are terrorists does that make it true ?. Please do not insult our intelligence by accusing Hebrew speaking Jewish Israelis of being non-semitic colonialists.

          • Mark Parker says:

            Can I assume that when you refer to genocide, you are referring to the biggest genocide ever perpetuated when the Nazi’s exterminated 6 million Jews, and although not achieved, the continued call by Hamas to exterminate the entire Jewish race in a supreme act of genocide? I mean let’s be fair, when it comes to the “recipients of genocide” championships, the Jewish race wins Gold, Silver and Bronze. The Rwandans and Bosnians are definitely worth a mention though. Also if we keeping scores on the “colonialists death charts” by Europe and the US, I think the 20m (Stalin) and the 60-70m (Mao) takes some beating on the “let’s murder our own people” charts. Do you include these in your shame? Furthermore I think we should throw in the Sunni vs. Shia “rumbles in the deserts”. These two have “no rules” with even chemical warfare allowed. What is your take on this or are we still discussing just the “colonialists”? (Are Israel colonialists?… asking for a friend). I dunno but reading your posts on DM you may have selective and prescriptive condemnation and shame. But I don’t want to be rude and presume.

          • Ben Harper says:

            Really? What about the 20 Million Russians murdered by Stalin? What about the estimate 70 million Chinese murdered by the Chinese Communist Regime, what about the 10 Million slaughtered by the Japanese across SE Asia in WW2.

            Suggest you try the truth sometime

  • Alex Malamatas says:

    Palestine was a name given to the territory by the Romans, do the research, there is plenty of evidence. The land belongs to Israelis and it always will. The Bible is a history book , with maps read it to gain some knowledge, then you will get the bigger picture. Also all the prophecies in the bible have come true, just waiting for a couple that is still to happen, like the jews building their temple again on the temple mount. God will not be thwarted, you can mock Him as much as you like, with time all will fall into place. The signs of what’s happening there right now is right on schedule.

    • Dietmar Horn says:

      Fact is that the Romans named the province in the 2nd century AD after the ancient people of the Philistines, who in the 5th century BC already disappeared as an independent ethnic group. But this is not in the Bible. The Bible is a man-made literary work that testifies exactly what its authors believed. They projected their own will onto an anthropomorphic image of God and thereby achieved divine authority for themselves. This enabled them to exercise political power over a population of little faith and fear. To this day, the Bible is misused as a manual for the autocratic exercise of political power. This applies equally to the Koran: just look at the old men who represent the Iranian theocracy. For the people of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, there can only be peace if they can put their religious extremists in their place and if they understand that they must sincerely forgive each other for their sins.

      • Mark Parker says:

        I agree with you Dietmar, but you are slightly wrong on the Philistines. The name given by the Hebrews for the people on the Levantine coastal areas that arrived by sea was Paleshtun (sic), translated as “invaders”, no pun intended. The Romans in naming the area Palestine were indeed denigrating and rubbing Jewish noses in their own destruction and loss of their land and by using “Paleshtun” added even greater humiliation. A bit similar to the naming of Triomf in SA. I must say I also switch off immediately when the Bible texts and references come out as evidence in the comments.

  • Ryan G says:

    I assume that the Daily Maverick intends on publishing the opinion(s) of the other conservant(s), including the one that at least acknowledges that history predates 1967 (e.g 1918 and 1948 at the very least).

    P.S. a time-lapsed graphic that commences in 3500 BCE and illustrates the various inhabitants of the Near East would add much needed historical context.

  • dinahendler says:

    It has been proven that the Al Ahli incident was the result of an Islamic Jihad missile that misfired after its launch at Israel from within Gaza. Mainstream media retracted their reporting on this issue and apologised for failing to check their facts before placing blame on Israel. Perhaps the web developer who auhtored this piece of anti Israel propaganda should stick to his field.

  • nevillemlthiplano says:

    This singularly horrific situation is unlikely to be resolved to the mutual benefit of the involved parties in this dimension.

  • Beezy Bailey says:

    When I asked a well informed journalist based for a number of years in the Middle East on behalf of a much known TV media network, to please explain the seemingly endless conflict in the Holy Land he answered, it’s quite simple to explain: watch the Life of Brian by Monty Python…

  • Telana Magill says:

    If we go back hundreds of years, we might see that this land was the sovereign ancestral land of Israel. Full

    • Caroline de Braganza says:

      Applying your logic, Azania is the ancestral land of the Khoi-San, and North and South America the ancestral lands of Native-Americans. What do you plan to do about that?

      • Stephen Paul says:

        Only that the Khoi-San and ancient Native-Americans (as far as I know) were not around in any numbers to have a political national liberation movement (heard of them ?) to re-claim and re-settle their ancestral homeland. On the other hand Jewish civilization and People-hood with it’s center in Zion/Jerusalem has sustained unbroken for 3 500 years.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.8% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.2% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.2% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.2%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options