Because of this, poverty, disease, and malnutrition was very common. The land basically served as a passage between Europe, Asia, and Africa, thus having little importance. It was also near the Suez Canal, which connected the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea. Palestine was now important to the British, because they occupied Egypt. Egypt is where the Suez Canal is located and the British controlled it. In operating the Suez Canal, the British now had an excellent source of income.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Zionist movement gained strength in Europe and large numbers of Jews immigrated to Palestine. Many Jewish immigrants had picked up and moved into the countryside of Palestine. For the Jews to do this they had to buy land from local Arab landholders who owned small pieces of land. As a result, Jews and Arabs were now coming in contact with each other more often. Jewish purchases led to the displacement of Arab peasants from the land. The Ottoman government tried to slow the Zionist movement down, but the Jews were settling the land at a very rapid rate. Their success made the world debate about wh