By Olivia Van Arsdale, ’17
The Long History of Bloodshed Between Two Nations
Last summer, violence broke out inside the Gaza strip, an originally Palestinian piece of land which was once occupied by Israel. The world saw horrifying images of toppled buildings, fire in the streets, and terrified people. Fortunately, an uneasy ceasefire was reached between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas on Aug 26, 2014.
However, the conflict is not over.
Tension between Palestine and Israel spans over half a century, beginning after World War II with the end of the Holocaust. Jewish people wanted a country to themselves, where their government would be dedicated to protecting them from anti-semitism and discrimination. From this request, Israel was born out of a piece of Palestine, which the Palestinians were none too happy about. In 1948, the two states went to war, which ended with the Gaza Strip controlled by Egypt, and the West Bank by Jordan.
After another war which ended in 1967, Israel controlled both those territories and occupied them for years, hoping that Palestine might officially recognize them as a country in order to get their land back, but Palestine never gave in.
In 2005, Israel pulled out of Gaza, but soon after a Palestinian group called Hamas won elections there and took control, using the strip as a base from which to shoot rockets at Israel. Hamas is not recognized by most of the world as a legitimate government and has been labeled by the UN as a terrorist group. In retaliation to Hamas, Israel has since kept Gaza under a blockade, controlling what crosses its borders.
Israel has launched several offensives on Gaza since pulling their soldiers out, though Israel has stated that these offensives were aimed at stopping the rocket fire. In 2008, an estimated 1,300 civilians were killed along with 13 Israeli soldiers before a ceasefire was agreed upon. In 2012, 167 Palestinians and 6 Israelis were killed in an Israeli operation in Gaza.
The most recent (and most publicized) of the incidents occurred in the summer of 2014, in which 50 long days of fighting resulted in an approximate 2,200 killed (most of them Palestinians) and a great deal more injured before a ceasefire was reached between Hamas and Israel on Aug 26.
Though mainstream media has for the most part stopped covering violence there, the two sides are far from peaceful.
For instance, over the weekend of Aug. 28, 2015, an Israeli border soldier in Nabi Saleh, Palestine, attempted to arrest 11-year-old Muhammad Tamimi. His sisters and other family members attempted to stop the arrest. The soldier put Tamimi ,who had a broken hand, in a headlock as Tamimi’s family bit the soldier and pulled at his back. His father filmed the incident, and the video went viral within three hours of it being posted – this family routinely films its demonstrations against the presence of the Israeli army and posts it on a website called Nabi Saleh Solidarity.
Israel has since defended their army’s actions, saying the Tamimi and other boys had been throwing stones at the soldiers. “The forces decided to detain one of the Palestinians identified hurling rocks,” an Israeli army spokeswoman said to CNN.
Though Israel and Hamas are currently under a ceasefire, neither side has backed down, and a permanent solution still seems far away.