Who supports Palestine against Israel and why

Who are the Palestinians in Israel?

Missiles and military offensives, that is the obvious level in this new escalation in the Middle East. There is another dimension to this: two population groups are clashing with each other in unprecedented severity throughout Israel, namely Jewish and Palestinian Israelis.

How explosive is the situation?

In the city of Lod, southeast of Tel Aviv, security forces had to prevent street battles between the two groups, and even firearms and knives were used. Also in Lod, a synagogue and a yeshiva, i.e. a religious Jewish teaching facility, were set on fire.

  • In pictures: spiral of violence in the Middle East conflict

    Israeli retaliatory strikes

    The wave of destruction never ends. Israeli fighter planes bomb the southern Gaza Strip. The attacks target members of the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas.

  • In pictures: spiral of violence in the Middle East conflict

    Israel mobilizes more reservists

    The Israeli military is gathering combat troops and tanks on the border with the Gaza Strip. That brings back memories of the wars of 2008/2009 and 2014.

  • In pictures: spiral of violence in the Middle East conflict

    Red sunrise

    Smoke rises this Wednesday morning in Chan Junis in the Gaza Strip. Since the beginning of the week, the Middle East conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has been carried out with open violence.

  • In pictures: spiral of violence in the Middle East conflict

    Desperate escape

    In Gaza City, these Palestinians escaped from Israeli reprisals on Tuesday. At least eight Israelis have died and the Palestinian Ministry of Health has reported at least 109 dead since Monday.

  • In pictures: spiral of violence in the Middle East conflict

    Destruction in Gaza City

    Israel says it has targeted targeted buildings like this one in Gaza City, where there are offices of militant groups or where leaders of the radical Islamic Hamas live.

  • In pictures: spiral of violence in the Middle East conflict

    Missiles on Tel Aviv

    The ruling Hamas in the Gaza Strip fired rockets into Tel Aviv on Wednesday night. The Israeli missile defense system protects the city and destroys or redirects missiles in the air so that they do as little damage as possible.

  • In pictures: spiral of violence in the Middle East conflict

    Anxious wait

    But the missile defense - known as the "iron dome" - does not offer one hundred percent protection. When the sirens wail, the Israelis have to get to safety in shelters as quickly as possible. Even if it is 3 in the morning like here.

  • In pictures: spiral of violence in the Middle East conflict

    The danger remains

    Even if Palestinian missiles could be repelled, falling debris remains dangerous. A house was destroyed here in Yehud, just north of Israel's main airport, Ben Gurion. According to the Israeli army, the Palestinian side has fired more than a thousand rounds at Israel since Monday.

  • In pictures: spiral of violence in the Middle East conflict

    Hands over head

    Anyone who cannot get into a shelter in time in the event of an alarm tries as best they can to take cover, like these people in Ashkelon around ten kilometers north of the Gaza Strip.

  • In pictures: spiral of violence in the Middle East conflict

    Stones and tear gas

    In the past few days there have been repeated massive riots between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli security forces in various cities, such as here in Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Protesters threw stones, among other things.

    Author: Uta Steinwehr


In the old port city of Akko and in the greater Tel Aviv area, men were dragged out of their cars in the midst of the crowds and severely beaten. In Akko it was a Jew, in Bat Yam the driver was mistaken for an Arab.

These are just a few examples of the violence that flares up between its residents in many parts of the country. Hundreds of people have already been arrested after such actions. A state of emergency was declared in Lod.

Violent Palestinian Israelis have clashed with Jewish Israelis in Israeli cities

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin warned of an impending "civil war". Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "I want to say to the Israeli citizens: I don't care if your blood boils. You must not go to vigilante justice. Nothing justifies the lynching of Arabs by Jews and vice versa. It is not acceptable."

What proportion do Palestinians make up in Israel?

At the same time as the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, around 700,000 Palestinians had to give up their homeland. From the Palestinian point of view, it was the "Nakba", the catastrophe, an ethnic cleansing operation by the Israeli military. According to Israeli statements, it was a question of a voluntary escape that followed appropriate Arab calls. The population groups who remained in what is now Israeli territory were given Israeli citizenship. However, the Palestinians in Israel do not include the residents of East Jerusalem, who in turn have a special status.

Palestinians in Israel, often referred to as Israeli Arabs, made up around 21 percent of Israel's population in 2019. This value has been rising steadily in the tables of the Israeli statistical office CBS for more than 50 years because the fertility rates are higher in this population group. Right-wing national Israeli politicians see this as a problem because the hegemony of the Jewish population is in danger. Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jewish families with many children ensure that this development is slowing down.

The old city of Akko, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is mainly populated by Palestinians

The Palestinians in Israel enjoy on average a higher standard of living than those in the West Bank or even in the Gaza Strip. But compared to the majority of the Jewish population, the Palestinians usually have less participation in education and prosperity: According to data from the state insurance institute, almost half of Palestinian families in Israel lived in poverty in 2016 - compared with 13 percent of Jewish families. (This statistic excludes the Haredim, the ultra-Orthodox Jews, of whom 45 percent of families lived in poverty.)

What political influence do Palestinians have in Israel?

The nation-state law, initiated by the right-wing Netanyahu government in 2018, reduced the influence of the Palestinian population group: it declared Israel the "national home of the Jewish people" under the undivided Jerusalem as the capital. Hebrew is therefore the only national language, while Arabic is downgraded to an unspecified special status.

Mansour Abbas is arguably one of the most influential Palestinian politicians in the Knesset

With reference to the law, Palestinian groups called for a boycott in the subsequent Knesset elections. As a result, their political forces were less represented in the Knesset than demographics would suggest. Their "United List" joined the anti-Netanyahu camp. Before the most recent election in March 2021, however, the Ra'am party under its boss Mansour Abbas broke out of the bloc. Abbas wants to use the rifts between the Jewish parties to the advantage of the Palestinians and, before the election, declared his readiness to support a future government with the greatest possible concessions to this group. In the meantime, the four MPs from Ra'am were even considered kingmakers - but the latest escalation has also shaken up negotiations on an anti-Netanyahu coalition.