1920-1921: Arab Riots/Terrorism in the early Mandate Period
Palestinian leader Haj Amin al-Husseini repeatedly fomented riots against Jews. Forty nine Jews were killed and 347 were wounded during this period. In response, Jews organized defensive forces that would later become the Haganah, the forerunner of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).
1929: Massacres instigated by Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem
Mobs attacked Jews in Jerusalem, Safed, Jaffa and Kfar Darom. The ancient community of Hebron was destroyed, with 67 Jews murdered. The rest fled. British authorities reported incidents of rape, torture, beheadings of babies and mutilation. In total, 135 Jews were killed and 350 were wounded.
1936-1939: The Great Arab Revolt
With support from Nazi Germany, Haj Amin al-Husseini led a three-year rebellion against the British and their allies to force an end to Jewish immigration and land purchases. An estimated 415 Jews, 200 Britons and 5,000 Arabs were killed.
1948-1949: Israel’s War of Independence
On May 14, 1948, the British Mandate ended and the State of Israel was established. Within 24 hours, Israel was invaded by the armies of five Arab nations: Egypt, Syria, Transjordan (later Jordan), Lebanon and Iraq. After 15 months of war, the newly formed Israel Defence Forces (IDF) prevailed, but more than 6,000 Israeli lives—roughly 1 percent of the population—were lost.
1949-1956: The Fedayeen Raids
Arab terrorists (“Fedayeen”), trained and equipped by Egypt, repeatedly attacked Israeli civilians from bases in Lebanon, Gaza (then controlled by Egypt) and Jordan. Thirteen hundred Israelis were killed or wounded.
1956: The Sinai/Suez Canal
Egypt increased its fedayeen attacks, prevented Israeli shipping through the Suez Canal and blockaded the Israeli port of Eilat, violating international law and threatening Israel’s economic survival. With support from France and Britain, Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza, but withdrew six months later when Egypt guaranteed her safe passage.
1959: Al Fatah Raids
The Egyptian-born Yasser Arafat formed Fatah—an acronym for the “Movement for the National Liberation of Palestine”—in 1959 to conduct guerrilla warfare operations against Israel. In 1965, Fatah adopted its “entanglement theory” with the goal of inciting Israel to respond aggressively against Arab states that were hosting Arafat’s fighters, thereby escalating the animosity between Israel and her Arab neighbours.
1964: Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Formed
The PLO was formed in Egypt, with the support of the Arab League, as an umbrella organization for anti-Israel militant groups. In 1968, Arafat’s Fatah joined the PLO and eventually dominated it. For decades, the PLO carried out thousands of terrorist attacks against Israelis and others around the world, including the first airplane hijackings.
1967: The Six-Day War
Israel was forced to defend herself when Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq intensified attacks, culminating in Egypt illegally blocking Israel’s access to international waters and expelling United Nations (UN) peace-keeping forces. The four Arab countries mobilized more than 250,000 troops, armed with Soviet-supplied tanks and aircraft, on Israel’s borders in preparation for a full-scale invasion. The Iraqi defence minister ordered his troops to “strike the enemy’s civilian settlements, turn them into dust and pave the Arab roads with the skulls of Jews.” Israel launched a defensive war and captured the West Bank from Jordan, Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, and the Golan Heights from Syria.
1967-1970: The War of Attrition
Shortly after the Six-Day War ceasefire, Egyptian President Gamal Nasser ordered attacks on Israelis in the Sinai. During the three year conflict, 1,424 Israeli soldiers and more than 100 Israeli civilians were killed.
1972: The Munich Massacre
After 1967, Palestinian terrorists began targeting Israelis worldwide. In their most public operation, the group Black September held hostage and murdered 11 members of the Israeli Olympic Team at the 1972 Munich Olympics. It is widely believed that Yasser Arafat’s Fatah faction of the PLO orchestrated the attack.
1973: The Yom Kippur War
Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack against Israel on the holiest day of the Jewish year. Caught unprepared, the IDF nonetheless managed to fend off this assault, cutting off Egyptian forces across the Suez Canal and pushing Syrian troops back from the Golan Heights. While Israel was won militarily, the human toll was devastating—2,688 Israeli soldiers were killed. Egypt claimed to have restored its own honour because of its success in the war’s first 48 hours.
1982-1985: The Lebanon War
After being expelled by Jordan in 1970, the PLO entrenched itself in southern Lebanon, from which it launched rocket attacks and incursions into northern Israel. Israel entered Lebanon in June 1982 to drive out the PLO (to Tunis). In 1985, Israel withdrew to a four-mile wide security zone, which it patrolled—occasionally skirmishing with Hezbollah—until it unilaterally withdrew in 2000.
1987-1992: First Intifada
After years of resentment and then false rumours of Israeli atrocities circulated through Palestinian territories, the Intifada (“shaking off”) broke out. Initially a series of grass-roots (albeit violent) protests against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, PLO operatives and other militant groups took it over. After years of violence, 27 Israelis were killed and more than 2,100 Israeli civilians and soldiers were injured. Almost half (1,000) of the Palestinian casualties were caused by other Palestinians in the “Intrafada,” internal fighting among Palestinian factions.
1991: Persian Gulf War
When the U.S.-led coalition fought to expel Saddam Hussein from Kuwait; Hussein attempted to draw Israel into the war by firing 39 Scud missiles into Israel. To avoid disrupting the U.S.-led coalition, Israel did not retaliate.
1994: First Suicide Bombing in Israel
In a tactic that would be increasingly used by international Islamic terrorists, eight civilians were killed in a suicide bombing on a bus in central Israel.
2000-2006: Second “Al Aqsa” Intifada
A campaign of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks began in late September 2000 and, within five years, had killed 1,068 Israelis and left 7,000 injured—69 percent of them civilians. Israeli retaliation, “work accidents” (when terrorists accidentally blow themselves up while preparing explosives), and killings of suspected “collaborators” killed approximately 3,000 Palestinians.
2006: “Acts of War” against Israel
After Israel completely withdrew its military and civilian presence from Gaza in 2005, Hamas and other terrorist groups responded with daily rocket fire into Israel and other attacks. In June 2006, terrorists from Gaza tunnelled into Israel, killing two soldiers and kidnapping one. Two weeks later, Hezbollah attacked Israel across the Israeli-Lebanese border, killing eight soldiers and kidnapping two. Simultaneously, rocket attacks were launched against purely civilian towns in northern Israel. Israel responded with a military operation that lasted 34 days.
2008; Cast Lead
Was a three-week armed conflict in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Palestinian militants that began on 27 December 2008 and ended on 18 January 2009 in a unilateral ceasefire. Israel’s stated goal was to stop rocket fire into Israel and weapons smuggling into the Gaza strip. At the beginning of the conflict, Palestinian groups continued firing rockets at 1 million Israeli civilians. The IDF attacked police stations, military targets including weapons caches and suspected rocket firing teams.
2011: Operation Pillar of Defence
Was an eight-day Israel Defense Forces (IDF) operation in the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip, officially launched on 14 November 2012 with the killing of Ahmed Jabari, chief of the Gaza military wing of Hamas.
According to the Israeli government, the operation began in response to Palestinian groups launching over 100 rockets at Israel over a 24-hour period, an attack on an Israeli military patrol jeep within Israeli borders by Gaza militants,[and a tunnel explosion caused by IEDs near Israeli soldiers on the Israeli side of the fence. The Israeli government stated that the aims of the military operation were to halt rocket attacks against civilian targets originating from the Gaza Strip and to disrupt the capabilities of militant organizations.