By Mayank Jain:
Social media is filled with reportage, videos and tweets from the gruesome war that has been raging between Israel and Palestine sinceÂ years, which has recently escalated again. The current conflict has taken ugly turns in recent days and Israel’s military operations have claimed many lives. Israel has pounded Gaza with bombs in ‘retaliation’ to the rockets fired by Hamas.
The conflict is much deeper at its roots than it appears on ground and a look at the background and histories of the two regions will put things in context:
1. AboutÂ Gaza:
Gaza strip is a region on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The strip is sandwiched between Egypt and Israel’s borders and that is where the problems begin. It is a relatively smaller area but one of the most densely populated in the world. Gaza was given freedom from Israel’s military occupancy to govern itself through Palestine Authority in 1994.
Since 2007, it has been governed by the Hamas. Hamas is one of the largest Palestine Islamic militant groups and it rejects the existence of Israel, and the Palestine authority.
2. Israel’s Problem
Israel has been constantly eyeing control over Gaza Strip, even after letting it go. Israel still controls most of Gaza’s borders, waters and airspace. Egypt isn’t far behind either which controls Gaza’s southern border. This control comes with tight restrictions on the movement of goods and people in the region.
The restrictions and ever increasing population on the small patch of land have become a constant source of socio-economic hardships that the people face. This has led Hamas to retaliate and its charter is committed to Israel’s destruction.
3. First Sparks Of Violence
On June 12, 2014 three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped while they were hitchhiking in the West Bank and killed. Their bodies were discovered on June 30th. Israel then arrested more than 300 Palestinians and many of them were members of Hamas.
Rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israel on the same night when the bodies were found and Israeli warplanes also carried out numerous airstrikes.
4. Multiple Offensives, Numerous Casualties
The attacks from each side escalated quickly into rockets launched in the cities, on ground offensives to demolish and destruct towns and air raid sirens in far off cities like Jerusalem and Haifa.
Israel’s drone defence system is intercepting many of the missiles but there have been reports of some Israeli injuries.
According to the Israeli Defence Forces which is on the forefront of the attacks, they have hit 1,576 ‘terror’ targets in Gaza with air and naval bombardment. The official stats areÂ varied but more than 190 people have been killed and at least 1300 people have been injured since the conflict began.
5. Peace Proposition That Couldn’t Hold Up
The fragile hopes of peace on the horizon in the troubled regions were shattered as soon as they were built up by the Egyptian proposal for both parties to abide by ceasefire and engage in dialogue instead.
A statement from the Egyptian foreign ministry called on “Israel and all Palestinian factions to immediately enforce a ceasefire, in view of the fact that escalation and mutual violence … is not in the interest of either party”.
Israel finally agreed to the peace proposal as President Netanyahu convened his cabinet 2 hours before it was supposed to take effect but Hamas continued firing rockets and refused to agree to the proposal. Hamas has argued that the current government is hostile to the group and its proposal didn’t deal with Palestinian demands at all.
6. Arab League’s Lacklustre Response
After multiple calls from the United Nations to international organizations for intervening in the conflict, Arab League has finally woken up to the reality of the war that is wagingÂ in its backyard for over a week now.
Arab League has called for protection of Gaza by the international community in a report which says, “The Arab League affirmed the necessity of urgent steps for an immediate end to the Israeli aggression on Gaza and providing protection for the Palestinians, air strikes on Gaza have become a matter that cannot be met with silence anymore,” it said.
7. No Place For Peace
Israel is unlikely to abide by the peace process since the strikes have resumed already. The United States of America had also endorsed the peace process as a solution before it fell through, but the conflict needs more than just that to cease right now.
As we monitor the situation and horrific images continue to surface on the internet, Israel has called up 40,000 reserved forces and armed tanks to line along the border just to hit Gaza where it hurts them the most, in cramped cities.
UPDATED: 28th July, 2014
8. Hamas Not Responsible For Kidnapping Three Teens: Micky Rosenfeld
The kidnapping and killing of three teenagers from Israel were the epicenter of the whole violence and offensive towards Hamas in Gaza. The war has claimed hundreds of lives by now and it is in its third week already.
But, according to the Israel Police Foreign Press Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, the kidnapping was done by a group of people operating as a lone cell rather than on Hamas’ orders. They are said to be affiliated to Hamas but “not operating under their leadership” which is a clear divergence from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement, “Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay.”
The statement became the tipping point between the strained relations of the two regions and the violence only escalated after the claim but the claims seems to have been falsified by a report of BBC who tweeted:
Israeli police MickeyRosenfeld tells me men who killed 3 Israeli teens def lone cell, hamas affiliated but not operating under leadership1/2
— Jon Donnison (@JonDonnison) July 25, 2014
Seems to contradict the line from Netanyahu government. 2/2
— Jon Donnison (@JonDonnison) July 25, 2014
9. Clashes Erupt Amid A 10,000 Strong Solidarity March:
As a protest against Israeli offensive in Gaza, 10,000 people took to a march from Ramallah to Jerusalem in the West Bank. The demonstration is one of the biggest in nearly a decade and marked civil unrest prevailing in the area because of repeated offensive that haven’t spared anyone including new born children.
The march didn’t go as smoothly as it was planned and clashes erupted continually with police and four Palestinians were shot dead, according to the reports.
To know more about this story and what I think, follow me on Twitter atÂ @mayank1029