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Palestine - Introduction

Documents dated back to the third millennium BC found in north Syria, Tigris and Euphrates areas mentioned that the name of the area located south of the Levant region as Amourou or the Western Land.

The word Palestine was originally generated from the word Philistia. In Judges 15 we read that when Samson came unto Lehi, "the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands. And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith. And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men."

In 1 Samuel 7 we learn that "as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel. And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Bethcar.... So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into the coast of Israel: and the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. And the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron even unto Gath; and the coasts thereof did Israel deliver out of the hands of the Philistines. "

And in 1 Samuel 23, we read that "David inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the LORD said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines... So David and his men went to Keilah, and fought with the Philistines, and brought away their cattle, and smote them with a great slaughter...." And again in 2 SAMUEL 5, we read that "David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the LORD said unto David, Go up: for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into thine hand. And David came to Baalperazim, and David smote them there ...."

Since the 18th century Palestine was known as Canaan's Land. Based on Aramian records, the word Palestine means the Coastal Land located south of Syria extending from Sinai Peninsula to the Jordan Valley in the East. In the Roman time, the word Palestine was used to refer to the holy Land and it was mentioned in the Christian pilgrims' anecdotes.

Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem during the 1967 War. The West Bank and Gaza Strip now are administered to varying extents by Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Pursuant to the May 1994 Gaza-Jericho Agreement and the September 1995 Interim Agreement, Israel transferred most responsibilities for civil government in the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank to the PA while retaining responsibility for external security; foreign relations; the overall security of Israelis, including public order in the Israeli settlements; and certain other matters (this annex on the occupied territories should be read in conjunction with the report on Israel).

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement started in 2005, when more than 170 Palestinian groups endorsed the call for boycott and encouraged people around the world to join their campaign. The goal of the movement is to end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem, to ensure equality for Palestinians living in Israel and implement Palestinian refugees' right to return to communities they and their families were expelled from in 1948, when Israel was founded.

The call to boycott Israel has since been taken up by hundreds of progressive organisations in the US. It has found success on college campuses, where Students for Justice in Palestine chapters have helped pass student government resolutions that endorse divestment from companies supplying the Israeli military. It has also found success in academic associations and among churches, some of which have voted to divest pension funds held in companies such as Caterpillar and Hewlett-Packard, which sell equipment to the Israeli army.

In 2015 the US Congress passed a trade law that includes language requiring the US to discourage European boycotts of Israel. And in February 2016, Democrats and Republicans introduced legislation, backed by the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee, that would authorise states to take funding away from companies that boycott Israel.



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