It is occupied Jerusalem, the Arab and Islamic city, and the biggest city in historic Palestine in terms of size and population, and the most important religious, economic and historical center, which the Palestinians consider the capital of the State of Palestine, and fight for it, paying dearly and generously for its liberation, fighting what the Israelis claim to be their eternal religious capital.
Location and inhabitants
The city of Jerusalem is located in the center of Palestine, about 60 kilometers east of the Mediterranean Sea, about 35 kilometers west of the Dead Sea, 250 kilometers north of the Red Sea, about 88 kilometers west of Amman, 388 kilometers south of Beirut, and 290 kilometers south-west of Damascus.
According to the 2011 census, the Palestinian population of Jerusalem is 839,000. The Palestinians are fighting a demographic war in the city to face the occupation’s efforts to increase the Israeli population in the city to ensure Israeli dominance over it. The Israeli government is trying to increase the number of Jews in many different ways, including replacing displaced Arabs by Jews. Those Arabs get pushed out of the city following the demolition of their houses under the claim of building without permit.
Israeli statistics in 2007 estimated that 64% of the city's population are Jewish, while Muslims are 32% and Christians are 2% (including Western Jerusalem). Another statistical report from the same year shows that the proportion of the Jewish population is gradually declining while the proportion of Arabs is increasing steadily, due to the higher rate of births among Arabs and the migration of some Jews to other cities and countries.
The city of Jerusalem dates back more than five thousand years ago and is one of the oldest cities in the world. The many names the city has reveals the ancient history of the city as different peoples who lived in the city called it by different names.
The Canaanites who migrated to it in the third millennium BC called it Ursalem, meaning the city of peace or the city of God Salem. The name ‘Yerushalayim’ which means the Holy House, was mentioned in the bible 680 times. During the Greek era, it was also known as Eliaa’, which means the House of God.
The city was under Egyptian Pharaonic influence from the 16th century BC and then was under Jewish influence for 73 years. King David took over the city in 977 or 1000 BC. He controlled the city and called it City of David and built a palace and several fortifications. He was succeeded by his son King Solomon, who ruled the city for 33 years.
In 586 BC, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II conquered it after defeating the last king of the Jews, Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, thus transferring the remaining Jews to Babylon, including King Zedekiah himself.
Alexander the Great took over Palestine, including Jerusalem, in 333 BC. After his death, his Macedonian and Ptolemaic successors continued to rule the city until the Roman army commander Pompeii captured it in 63 BC and annexed it to the Roman Empire.
In 326 AD, the Roman Emperor Constantine I transferred the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to Byzantium, and declared Christianity the official religion of the state. It was a turning point for Christians in Jerusalem where the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built.
The Roman Empire was divided in 395 AD into two antagonistic parties, which encouraged the Persians to invade Jerusalem from 614-628 AD. The Romans regained the city, and it remained in their hands until the Islamic conquest in 636 AD.
In the year 621 AD, Jerusalem saw the visit of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, who engaged in a journey at night from the Grand Mosque in Makkah to the Aqsa Mosque in Palestine, and from there ascended to the seven heavens.
In 15 AH (636 AD), the Muslim Caliph Omar ibn al-Khattab, entered the city, after the Muslim army led by Abu Ubaydah Amer bin Jarrah besieged it. The Patriarch Sophronios insisted that Omar should receive the keys of the city himself. Omar came and wrote with the Christians of Jerusalem the Pact of Omar, a pact that granted Christians in Jerusalem their religious freedom and protection in return for taxes. He changed the name of the city from Eliaa to Jerusalem, and the document stated that no Jews should be allowed to live in the city at the request of its Christian inhabitants then.
The city has since taken its Islamic character, and was taken care of by the Umayyad and later by the Abbasids, and witnessed a renaissance and development in various fields, and the most important Islamic monuments in that period was building the Dome of the Rock, which was built by Abdul Malik bin Marwan.
The city was unstable for a while due to the conflicts between the Abbasids, the Fatimids and Qarmatians, and then it was ruled by the Seljuks until 1071 AD.
On December 28, 1516, the Ottomans entered the city of Jerusalem. Two days later, the Sultan visited the holy city. Sultan Selim I was welcomed by scholars and elders, who and handed him the keys of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy city. Jerusalem became a city of the Ottoman Empire and remained in their hands for almost four centuries.
Since the conquest, the Ottoman sultans have paid special attention to Jerusalem, granted it a special administration, established many urban projects, developed services, and initiated charitable endowments.
In December 1917 Jerusalem fell to the British army after General Allenby entered it. The League of Nations granted Britain the right to mandate Palestine. Jerusalem became the capital of Palestine under British Mandate (1920-1948). Since then, the city has been witnessing a new era, the most prominent feature of which was the increase in the number of Jewish migrants, especially after the Balfour Declaration in 1917.
In 1948, Britain announced the end of the mandate in Palestine and the withdrawal of its forces. Zionist gangs exploited the state of political and military vacuum and declared the establishment of the state of Israel.
On December 3, 1948, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion declared West Jerusalem as the capital of the new-born Israeli state, while East Jerusalem remained under Jordanian sovereignty until June 1967, when Israel defeated the armies of Syria, Jordan and Egypt, and annexed the entire city of Jerusalem to it.