A Timeline Of The Colonization Of Palestine

Featured image: Image by Abed Rahim Khatib on Shutterstock. For audio, see the video recording on YouTube. (It’s about 10 minutes. I guess I’m a slow reader.)


4 for Now

Israel’s colonizing of Palestine has been going on for decades. And the history doesn’t start there, either. Below is a brief (and incomplete) timeline of significant events with links to more information. This will take at least 7 minutes. If you have longer, I highly recommend checking out the reference links. As usual, there are more sources in 4 for Later, below.


The Early Years

1267 BCE Philistines first come to the area, known as Canaan. By 1185 BCE, they were firmly established in settlements along the coast called Philistia.

722 BCE Assyrians conquered both the Israelites in Judah and the Philistines in Philistia. They remained until the fall of the empire in 612 BCE.

598 BCE Babylonians invaded Palestine. They returned in 589 BCE, and through 582 BCE, they destroyed the rest of Judah and scattered the Philistines.

539 BCE Babylon fell to Cyrus the Great, and the region became part of the Achaemenid Persian Empire until its fall in 332 BCE.

Hellenistic Period

c. 330 BCE Alexander the Great conquered Palestine, ruled until his death in 323 BCE.

Roman Period

66 BCE Pompey conquered Palestine, then known as Judea after the kingdom of Judah which had been destroyed by Babylonians.

31 BCE Palestine became a province known as Roman Judea.

136 CE Hadrian renamed it Syria Palæstina and banished Jews from the region.

285 CE When the Roman Empire split, Palestine became part of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire.

Muslim Period

c. 634 Muslim armies from Arabia took Syria Palæstina and renamed it Jund Filastin (“Military District of Palestine”).

1096-1099 First Crusade to win back Palestine from the Muslims. Many more Crusades, supported by the Byzantine Empire, occurred through 1272.

Mamluk Period

1260 Mamluks, a military class of formerly enslaved Turks in Egypt, conquered Palestine.

1291 Last of the Crusaders are driven out of Acre.

Ottoman Period

1516 Battle of Marj Dabiq, the Mamluks were defeated by the Ottomans, who took control of the Levant. The Ottoman Empire welcomed Jewish refugees fleeing persecution.

1897 The First Zionist Congress met in Basel, Switzerland. 204 delegates from all over Europe participated in issuing the Basel Program, which called for colonizing Palestine.

1914-1918 World War I. Arabs were promised independence after the defeat of the Ottomans, so they sided with the British.

1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement sought to divide the Ottoman Empire among the victors of WWI, awarding Palestine to Britain.

1917 Balfour Declaration, the British government promised to support the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.

Mandatory Period

Between 1919 and 1936, the British supported giving the land of tens of thousands of Palestinian villagers to European Zionist settlers.

1923 Palestine officially becomes mandate per the League of Nations. Jewish immigration skyrocketed.

1928 Palestinian leadership voted to allow Zionist settlers equal representation in the future bodies of the state, but Zionists rejected the gesture.

1936 to 1939 The Great Palestinian Rebellion in protest to Britain’s rule. It was eventually crushed, after 5,000 Palestinians were killed and nearly 15,000 wounded.

1947 Britain declared Palestine “unworkable” and handed it off to the United Nations. The UN suggested partitioning Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, but both parties rejected this.

Between 1947 and 1949, there were 45 reported massacres of Palestinians.

Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories

1948 Britain terminates mandate. The “State of Israel” is established, transferring the British colonial system to Zionists. al-Nakba (The Catastrophe) is recognized every year on May 15, the day Israel came to be.

1950 to 1953 Israel establishes several laws supporting Jewish immigration and transferring Palestinian property to them.

1967 The Six-Day War allowed Israel to conquer West Bank, Gaza, Sinai desert (Egypt) and Golan heights (Syria). Palestinians refer to the war as al-Naksa (The Setback). After the war, Israel imposes martial law regulations in West Bank and Gaza.

1973 The October War was an Egypt and Syria-led attack on Israel, in response to the Six-Day War.

1978 The Camp David Accords (US, Egypt, and Israel) called to return Sinai to Egypt and dismantle the Israeli colonies within it in exchange for peace, normalization, and Egyptian recognition of Israel.

1980 The “official” annexation of East Jerusalem, followed by the 1981 annexation of Golan Heights (both illegal).

1987 The First Intifada (Uprising), sparked when an Israeli Defense Force truck crash killed workers from Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza. Palestinians began protests, civil disobedience, boycotts, and other forms of resistance. Israel responded with extreme violence.

1993 to 1995 The Oslo Accords established Palestinian Authority (PA) as an interim government. A second Accord was made, resulting in the division of West Bank into three areas with varying Israeli control and occupation.

Occupied Palestine in the 21st Century

2000 to 2005 Ariel Sharon’s visit and threat, to al-Aqsa Mosque triggered the Second Intifada. Nearly 5,000 Palestinians were killed.

2005 The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement was formed by over 170 Palestinian NGOs, unions, and civil groups.

2006 Hamas won the parliamentary election. As Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by some, this sparked sanctions from Israel and other countries.

2007 As punishment for electing Hamas to Palestinian parliament, Israel laid siege to the Gaza Strip.

2008 The Gaza war (2008), a three-week military offensive against Gaza killing almost 1,400 Palestinians and wounding thousands more.

2012 The Gaza war (2012) was an eight-day attack that killed 167 Palestinians.

2014 The Gaza war (2014) killed almost 1,500 Palestinians and displaced around 100,000 people.

2018 to 2019 The Great March of Return, weekly protests at the borders of Gaza. Over 9,000 Palestinians were killed.

Present Israel shows no signs of stopping the attacks on Palestinians.


4 for Later

  1. Israel and Palestine: A Very Short Introduction [YouTube] (6:30 video)
  2. Palestine 101 on Decolonize Palestine (a series of six articles, average 23-minute read each)
  3. A collection of visual data on Visualizing Palestine
  4. Continuously Updated Masterlist of Sources on Palestine by @yafasorange on Twitter