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What Unfolded Between Israel And Gaza Recently?

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It was the night of 13 April, the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. It was also a Memorial in Israel, honouring those who died fighting for the country. The Israeli president delivered a speech at the Western Wall, a Jewish holy site belonging to an Islamic church, and Israeli officials were concerned that the prayers would be immersed.

That drop is worse, farther away and faster than anyone thought. It has led to more violence between Israelis and Palestinians in recent years — not only in the fight against Hamas — which has killed at least 145 people in Gaza and 12 in Israel but in a wave of mob attacks in Israeli-Jewish Arab cities. Most of the dead were Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

palestine israel flags
Representative Image.

Britain took over what became known as Palestine after the ruler of that part of the Middle East, the Turkish Empire. The country was inhabited by a handful of Jews and a majority of Arabs. The rift between the two peoples grew when the international community gave Britain the task of establishing a “national home” in Palestine for Jewish people.

To the Jews, it was their ancestral home, but the Palestinian Arabs also took over the land and opposed it.

The crisis came at a time when the Israelite government was struggling to survive; as Hamas — which Israel sees as a terrorist group — sought to expand its role within the Palestinian organisation; and as a new generation of Palestinians, it affirmed its values ​​and aims.

It was also the culmination of years of restrictions on Gaza, decades of operation in the West Bank, and decades of Arab discrimination in the state of Israel, said Avraham Burg, a former speaker of the Israeli parliament and former chairman of the United Nations.

Gaza is ruled by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which has repeatedly fought Israel. Israel and Egypt tightly control Gaza’s borders to prevent weapons from reaching Hamas. Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank claim to be suffering because of Israel’s actions and restrictions.

Israel claims to have played a role in defending Palestinian violence. Things have been tense since the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in mid-April 2021, with overnight clashes between police and Palestinians. The threatening of eviction of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem has also caused outrage.

Hamas is the largest of several Palestinian militant Islamist Groups

Its name in the Arabic dictionary is the Islamic Resistance Movement, which dates back to 1987 after the start of the first Palestinian intifada, or rebellion, against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Under its constitution, it committed itself to the destruction of Israel.

Hamas initially had a twofold mission to carry out an armed struggle against Israel — led by its military unit, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades — and to bring about social welfare programs.

But since 2005, when Israel withdrew its troops and residents of Gaza, Hamas has also been involved in the Palestinian political process. They won a legal election in 2006 before consolidating influence in Gaza the following year by launching a Fatah dispute with President Mahmoud Abbas.

Since then, Gaza troops have fought three wars with Israel, which together with Egypt was last banned at the border to separate Hamas and force it to stop attacking. Hamas as a whole, or at times its military base, is designated as a terrorist group by Israel, the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom, and other governments.

Why did the fighting take Place?

Al-Aqsa Mosque
Al-Aqsa Mosque. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Hamas had issued a resolution to Israel to remove all police and military personnel from the Haram al-Sharif and Sheikh Jarrah council areas on 10 May at 6 p.m. If it failed to do so, they announced that the combined forces of the Gaza Strip (“cooperation room”) would strike Israel.

Minutes after the last day, Hamas fired more than 150 rockets at Israel from Gaza. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said seven rockets were fired at Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh and one was seized. An anti-tank bullet was also fired at an Israeli vehicle, injuring the driver.

Israel launched flights on the Gaza Strip on the same day. Hamas called the conflict that followed the “Sword of Jerusalem War”. The next day, the IDF officially launched the Gaza Strip “Operation Guardian of the Walls”.

On 7 May, police were deployed to Al-Aqsa Mosque as about 70,000 worshipers came to the final Friday prayers of Ramadan. After the evening prayer, some Palestinian officials began throwing stones and other objects at Israeli police. Police shot stun bombs at the roots of Islamic church and field clinics.

A spokesman for the Islamic church said the clashes erupted after Israeli police tried to evacuate the area, where many Palestinians slept in Ramadan, adding that the evacuation aimed to gain access to Israel. More than 300 Palestinians were injured when Israeli police raided a Muslim area.

Palestinians hurled stones, explosives and heavy objects, while Israeli police fired stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets at ministers. The attack took place ahead of the Jerusalem Day flag march held by Jewish nationalists throughout the old city.

More than 600 Palestinians were injured, more than 400 of whom were hospitalised. Gaza soldiers fired rocket-propelled grenades into Israel the following night. Most of the clashes took place on 8 May, the day of the Muslim holy night of Laylat al-Qadr.

Crowds of Palestinians threw stones, lit fires, chanted “Strike Tel Aviv” and “In spirit and blood, we will liberate Al-Aqsa”, described by The Times of Israel as Hamas supporters. Israeli police, dressed in violent uniforms and some on horseback, used stun bombs and water cannons. At least 80 people were injured.

Representative Image.

On 11 May, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad launched hundreds of rockets in Ashdod and Ashkelon, killing two people and injuring more than 90. A third Israeli woman from Rishon LeZion was also killed, and two other Dahmash residents were killed by a rocket.

On 11 May, Hanadi Tower residence in Gaza collapsed after being struck by an Israeli plane. The tower had a combination of residential and commercial offices. The IDF said the building had offices used by Hamas, warned the building’s former residents, and gave them enough time to get out of the area.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired 137 rockets at Tel Aviv in five minutes. Hamas revealed that they fired “the biggest bomb ever”. In addition, an Israeli government oil pipeline was struck by a rocket.

On 12 May, the Israeli Air Force destroyed dozens of police and security forces along the Gaza Strip; Hamas said its police headquarters was one of the targeted attacks. More than 850 rockets were launched from Gaza to Israel on 12 May. According to the IDF, at least 200 rockets fired by Hamas failed to reach Israel and crashed inside the Gaza Strip.

Hamas also hit an Israeli military jeep near the Gaza border with anti-tank missiles. An Israeli soldier was killed and three others were injured in the attack.

On 13 May, Israeli forces and Gaza militant groups continued to exchange fire and planes. Hamas attempted to use suicide drones on Israeli targets, with Israeli F-16 participating and firing one such drone. The Iron Dome has held many rockets fired at Israel. A series of Israeli strikes targeted Hamas’s central security headquarters, central bank and the home of the Hamas commander-in-chief.

On 14 May, the Israeli Defense Forces claimed troops had prepared for ground and air raids on the Gaza Strip, although the claim was later withdrawn and followed by an apology for misleading the media. Israeli troops were reportedly told that they would be sent to Gaza and that underground troops were stationed at the border as if preparing to launch an attack.

On the same day, the Israeli Air Force launched a massive Hamas underground bombing, known as the “municipality”, and above-ground positions, which were reported to have been severely damaged. It was suspected that reports of Israel’s Israeli invasion were a deliberate act of pride to lure Hamas politicians into the tunnels and prepare positions above the ground to confront Israeli forces so that large numbers could be killed by planes.

According to an Israeli official, the attack killed hundreds of Hamas personnel, and in addition, 20 Hamas executives were killed and most of their rocket production was destroyed. However, the number of Hamas casualties was reviewed by many, as details emerged that senior Hamas officials doubted the validity of the tactic and only a handful of Hamas suspects were holding back.

Israel air defence system
Iron Dome.

In all, 160 Israeli Air Force planes fired 450 missiles at 150 targets, and the attack lasted about 40 minutes. And on 14 May, the Hamas drone was lowered by Israeli military forces.

On 15 May, the IDF focused on the al-Jalaa Building in Gaza, which held Al Jazeera and the Associated Press journalists, and other offices and residences. Three arrows hit the building about an hour after Israeli soldiers called the owner of the building, warning of the attack and advising everyone inside to get out. The IDF said it contained Hamas military intelligence equipment.

The Israeli military carried out another major series of attacks on the Hamas tunnel on 17 May, bombing more than ten miles [15 km] of underground tunnels, and 54 Israeli planes dropped 110 bombs. The homes of nine Hamas officials and the home used by the Hamas military intelligence agency were also bombed.

During the war, Hamas soldiers with arrows aimed at fighting tanks were constantly on the back and rear. These groups were identified by IDF detection units and were destroyed by targeted attacks. At least 20 such groups were destroyed by Israel’s spiritual and earthly forces.

On 20 May, an attack by Hamas tanks on an IDF bus slightly injured one soldier. The attack came after a group of ten soldiers got off the bus.

In addition, the IDF sank Hamas’s submarine tanks designed to explode on or near Israeli warships or oil and gas drilling rigs. Hamas has repeatedly tried to attack Israel’s Tamar camp. At least two attempts were made to launch attacks on private submarines.

On another occasion, a Hamas team appeared to open the submarine. An Israeli warship wrecked a submarine while it was near the sea and the Israeli Air Force attacked a group that was opening it.

By the end of the campaign, more than 4,360 rockets had been fired in southern and central Israel, an average of 400 a day. About 3,400 successfully crossed the border, while 680 crossed the Gaza border and 280 crossed the sea. The Iron Dome shot down 1,428 rockets found at crowded locations, a catch rate of 95%.

Some 60–70 rockets landed in densely populated areas after the Iron Dome failed to block them. The attack killed six Israeli civilians, including a five-year-old boy and two Israeli-Arabs, as well as three foreign workers working in Israel: an Indian woman who worked as a caretaker in Ashkelon and two Thai workers killed when a southern public parking lot in Israel near the border of Gaza was struck directly.

Three other Israelis, including an 87-year-old woman, have died from injuries sustained in a fall while fleeing a bomb blast during an attack.

House destroyed by rocket in Israel
Representative Image.

The IDF estimates that it has destroyed 850 rockets in strikes on the Gaza Strip and severely damaged the rocket-producing capacity of the strikers at about 3,000 rockets. In addition, Israel killed several Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders with airstrikes. The IDF killed about 30 Hamas leaders during the campaign.

Israel’s ability to acquire senior executives to a level that has demonstrated the entry of Israeli intelligence into Hamas ranks.

In three instances, Hamas attempted an attack on Israel to kill or kidnap soldiers and civilians, using approaching tunnels but not entering Israel to bring its troops closer. All these attacks failed. In one case, a group of Hamas soldiers was beaten before entering a tunnel and in other cases, two groups were targeted while at a cemetery.

Eighteen Hamas soldiers were killed. The IDF also claimed that seven Hamas drones falling into Israeli airspace were fired, including at least one with an Iron Dome battery. An Israeli drone was also accidentally shot by an Iron Dome battery.

According to Israeli journalist Haviv Rettig Gur, Israel has thwarted Hamas’s tactics and destroyed the military infrastructure it had prepared for the future war, proving it “ineffective and ineffective”.

The United Nations says more than 72,000 Palestinians have been deported, hiding in 48 UNRWA schools in the area. After the fire broke out, fewer than 1,000 Palestinians fled their homes in UNRWA schools, dropping a peak of about 66,000.

On 13 May, at least three rockets were fired at the Qlaileh coastal area south of the Rashidieh Palestinian refugee camp in the southern region of Tire across Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea, off the Mediterranean Sea. Hezbollah has denied any involvement in the launch of the rocket, and Lebanese troops have been sent to the area around the refugee camp, where they have seized more rockets.

On 14 May, many Lebanese showed up at the Israel-Lebanon border in cooperation with the Palestinians. A small group of protesters broke through the border fence and crossed into Israel, setting fire to the Metulla. IDF soldiers shot and killed them, who later became a member of Hezbollah. Another was injured and later died of his injuries.

That night, three rockets were fired into Syria, and two of them hit Israeli-held Golan Heights but crashed into uninhabited areas. The next day, Lebanese protesters damaged the border fence with Molotov’s cocktails and other items.

On 17 May, six rockets of Palestinian soldiers exploded toward Israel, but the rockets failed to cross the Lebanese-Israeli border. Israeli soldiers responded by firing on a barrage of shells across the border in front of rocket fire.

On 19 May, according to Israeli forces, four rockets were fired near the city of Siddikine in the southern Lebanon region of Tire en route to Haifa, one of the rockets was seized, another remained in the open, and two others remained in the Mediterranean Sea. The Israelite army responded with a firearm.

Attacks and Injuries

Gaza
Representative Image.

Thirteen people were killed in Israel, including two children, one Indian woman and two Thai men living and working in Israel. On 18 May, Magen David Adom’s ambulance service was carrying 114 injuries that were directly related to the rocket attack and another 198 indirectly related to the rocket attack.

Following the suspension, UN and Gaza health sources said 256 Palestinian people, including 66 children and 40 women, were killed, and about 2,000 were injured, more than 600 children and 400 women. The four women killed were pregnant. Israel says at least 225 of those killed were activists, and according to Hamas, 80 Palestinian soldiers were killed. One of the children killed was taken by a militant group to become a member of its Al-Mujahideen Brigades.

According to Israel, about 640 Palestinian rockets failed and landed on the Gaza Strip, resulting in casualties. According to Amira Hass, 15 Israeli strikes targeted the homes of each family, resulting in the death of many members of the 15 families living there. At the start of the firefight, the Palestinian National Assembly set the number of families killed to 20 and announced that it would appeal to the International Court of Justice for “war crimes”.

Palestinian journalist Yusuf Abu Hussein was killed in an Israeli plane crash at his home on 19 May, prompting a complaint from the International Federation of Journalists. Airstrikes in Israel on 20 May killed a paralysed Palestinian man, his pregnant wife and their three-year-old daughter.

A Hamas commander, Mohammad Abdullah Fayyad, and three senior Islamic Jihad officials have also been killed. Another Hamas member was killed on 11 May. The deaths of the five commanders were confirmed by official statements from both parties. The deaths of some militants are suspected but not confirmed.

It is debated whether some of the first victims on 10 May died due to an Israeli aeroplane accident or a mistaken Palestinian rocket. Bassem Issa, a senior Hamas official, was killed.

In a study that looked at 29,000 incidents from 123 countries, statistics from the past decade put Gaza in ninth place among cities where civilians were killed or injured by explosives. Gaza was the ninth most statistically affected area. In 764 of the explosions, about 5,700 people died, 90% of the total. This puts them in second place in the world among the cities affected by the mass bombings between civilians and soldiers killed.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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