Israel and Palestine: What is Happening?

On October 17, 2023, hundreds of people were killed in an explosion at an overcrowded Gaza hospital. While the cause of the explosion is yet to be confirmed, both sides of the war are accusing the other. Palestine accusing Israel and Israel accusing a Palestinian military group. This has further escalated the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. 

At the beginning of last month, war broke out between Israel and Hamas, a group who has been in control of Gaza since early 2006. Hamas fired first on Israel on October 7, 2023 by sending rockets into Israel and then storming the southern cities which border the Gaza strip. Hundreds of civilians and soldiers died, with more taken as hostages as Israel was caught off guard by the attack. This led to Israel quickly declaring war on Hamas, and the defense minister of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) sent out an order to lay siege to Gaza. Israel had ordered over one million of the Palestinians living in northern Gaza to evacuate amidst the ongoing assault, but this did not help everyone. Currently, Gaza is running out of food, water, fuel and supplies due to an Israeli aid blockade. 

How did this happen and why are Israel and Palestine in such a conflict? 

This conflict can be dated back to the end of the nineteenth century, and has mainly centered around arguments over The Holy Land. This land has historical significance to Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike. A solution was created in 1947 to divide the British Mandate of Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish states, and less than a year later, Israel was created. This creation sparked a war between Israel and Palestine which Israel won which meant the displacement of over 750,000 Palestinians. It also resulted in the territory being divided into three separate states: the State of Israel, the West Bank (of Jordan), and the Gaza Strip. 

Though these separations seemed helpful, many tensions arose over the years between Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Following these rising tensions, the world was witness to the 1956 Suez Crisis, the Six-Day War in 1967, the Yom Kippur War in 1973, which were all fought over territories. Finally, in 1979, following a series of cease-fires and peace negotiations, representatives from Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David Accords, a peace treaty that ended the thirty-year conflict between Egypt and Israel. This did well for a while, but did not stop the wars in completion. Palestinians were not happy living under Israeli rule and rose up in 1987, which then resulted in the 1995 Oslo II Accords which mandated Israel’s withdrawal from many places along the West Bank. 

Throughout the early 2000’s, these fights over territories continued, specifically over control of the West Bank. Palestinians did not like Israel’s control over them, and Israel wanted to expand their jurisdiction over the West Bank. In 2006, the militant group Hamas won the elections in Palestine which cemented their authority over the Gaza Strip. Since the United States and European Union did not acknowledge Hamas as a political leader due to them being categorized as a terrorist group since the 1990’s, war broke out between Hamas and Fatah, and this did not settle until 2014. Another clash between Israel and Palestine broke out in the summer of 2014, it was quickly resolved, but not after the deaths of 73 Israeli’s and 2,251 Palestinians. Conflicts like these continued throughout the past few years and were not helped when former president Donald J. Trump canceled funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency which provided aid to Palestinian refugees in 2018. Trump again failed to reach peace when Palestine rejected his “Peace to Prosperity” plan due to its support for future Israeli annexation of settlements in the West Bank and control over an “undivided” Jerusalem.

Israel and Hamas finally agreed to a ceasefire on May 21, 2021, brokered in Egypt, with both sides claiming victory. More than 250 Palestinians were killed and nearly 2,000 others wounded, and at least 13 Israelis were killed over the eleven days of fighting. But it all seemed to be over for a while. 

What is currently happening in Gaza? 

As of November 14, 2023, around 11,300 people have been killed according to the Hamas-run health ministry. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) warplanes are bombarding Gaza from the air while its troops and tanks are advancing on the ground. Israel has drafted 300,000 reservists to boost its standing force of 160,000.

The Prime Minister of Israel is refusing to call for a ceasefire until their hostages are returned. According to the IDF, Hamas is holding 242 hostages in Gaza.

In Gaza, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that Al-Shifa, Gaza’s largest hospital, was not functioning anymore, and was “nearly a cemetery”, with bodies piling up inside and out.Between 2,300 and 2,650 patients, staff and displaced people are thought to be trapped inside, according to the UN. There is particular concern for dozens of premature babies in incubators, and kidney patients needing dialysis.

For more information on what is happening in Gaza:

The History Behind Tensions Between Israelis And Palestinians : NPR

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