The term “terrorism” is often associated with Palestinian Arab groups in the Middle East, and news about their campaigns has for a long time been the subject of lengthy discussions. However, historical truths largely been swept under the rug reveal that Jewish terrorism was indeed the first of such action in the region. It was meant to frustrate the operations of British security forces and therefore eroding their capability to control Palestine (Pedahṣûr & Perliger, 2009, p. 12). The area where modern Israel stands today had been in control of the Ottoman Empire as a Syrian province belonging to the Mamluk Sultanate until its conquest in 1917 after the end of First World War. It was the Lawrence of Arabia who had successfully invaded the Ottoman outposts with Bedouin tribes that had been promised their own nation (Ciment, 2015, p.28). At the time, the Belfour Declaration of 1917 with Lord Rothschild had also promised a “national home” for all persons of Jewish descent who wished to settle in the area after the war. It was these two agreements that set the stage for conflict especially when its appeared as through the British were not keen on living up to their end of the bargain and were simply wanted to govern the area. In this essay I, will explore ways in which terrorism played a role in the creation of the state of Israel.
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The formation of armed movements in the 1940s within the Palestine region aimed to carry out acts of terrorism to critical cripple British installations and ultimately force them to leave. These Zionist movements were committed to seeing the creation of a Jewish homeland by any means possible. The untenable contradiction that the British had gotten into before the end of the First World War was the reason Jewish immigrants were keen on carrying out these symbolic acts (English, 2016, p. 23). Some, like the Labor Zionists, stood for a strategy of active defense while the Revisionists were more of a nationalist front that was keen on carrying out offensive acts on anyone deemed as an enemy of the creation of this state. The Holocaust further fueled these efforts, especially when the Zionists realized that the Jewish people were almost annihilated. Underground groups, therefore, began a series of coordinated attacks on police boats, British railways and oil refineries that marked the beginning of their insurgency (Hoffman, 2016, p. 29). Additionally, some movements went on to use pressure tactics to force a change on the Jewish immigration policy. Nonetheless, the campaign continued with its activities and carried out one of its most significant operation; the bombing of the King David Hotel located in Jerusalem which served as the British headquarters in Palestine. In the Empire, a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) series, Jeremy Paxman interviews one of the terrorists, Sara Agassi (BBC Empire Episode 1: A Taste of Power, 2017). Agassi claims (52:10) that even though the attack killed 92 people, she still had a sense of satisfaction at the end as it was a mission just like any other meant to achieve a specific political goal.
The Zionist carried two front attacks to gain legitimacy to rule over themselves in the region. They would employ tactical paramilitary methods that were now meant to reduce anarchy in the country which would then enable them to govern in a stable state after the British exit. It was at this point that the insurgents introduced Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s) well disguised along the roads as stone markers. These devices would blow up vehicles, killing and maiming the occupants, which was a method aimed at reducing British mobility. Bombs put in abandoned cars, British officers executed after mock trials and attacks on economic targets were some of the terrorist acts frequent in the region. It was terrorist attacks that informed the British decision to quit their Palestine Mandate in September 1947 and led to the formation of the state of Israel the following year.