Tensions between Israel and Palestine have only risen this week after rockets from Gaza were fired towards Jersuselum on Monday. As high school students frantically post infographics on their Instagram stories, the ongoing dispute over Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem and Gaza has left people — both Israelis and Palestineans — victims to harm and violence. So, what exactly is going on and why is it important?
Image Credit: Nour Tayeh
Here is a brief, brief history on the 73 year old Israeli-Palestinean conflict: Israel was officially declared a state in 1948, following World War II and the tragic Holocaust. Shortly after, Israel, along with five other Middle Eastern countries, broke out into war, leaving the Gaza Strip under the control of the Egyptians. Not too long after, Israel acquired Gaza and East Jerusalem. It is important to note that Palestineans and Israelis claim Jerusalem as their capital cities, and it has been a highly contested area for decades. According to the United Nations, Israeli occupation of these territories has “no legal validity,” since the land technically belongs to the UN. Throughout this time period, Palestinians settled as refugees in Gaza, not belonging to either Egypt or Israel. However, the Oslo Peace Accords forced Israel to leave Gaza, and in 2006, Hamas — recognized as a terrorist group by the United States — took over Gaza land.
During this past month, Palestinians have been protesting the Israeli government for its restrictions on Ramadan gatherings and evictions of Palestinean families. On the anniversary of East Jerusalem's capture, Jerusalem Day, many nationalistic Israelis will often march though the Muslim quarter; this year, it fell on the final days of Ramadan. Muslim worshippers stayed in the Al-Aqsa mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam, in order to defend themselves if conflict arose on Jeruselum Day. Protestors inside the mosque blocked the doors with rocks while Israeli police were ordered to forcefully enter. The violent interaction left hundreds of Palestineans injured. The United Nations claims that the treatment of these protesters was quite worrying. Hamas, then, fired over 200 rockets into Israel, Israeli forces countering it with 130 of their own.
Since this violent eruption on Monday, both sides have continued to fire their rounds. Dozens of people have died in these attacks and even more have been injured. The UN has prompted both sides to de-escalate their efforts in fear of a full-scale war. Although it has only been recently covered in the news, this has been on-going for years, and the fire has only gotten bigger.
This specific situation has ignited a social media frenzy, forcing people to pick sides. What most people forget is that it cannot all fit onto one infographic. The Israel-Palestine debate is far more complicated than it seems, most of it unable to fit into this blog post. It’s a convoluted mixture of territory rights, religion, and nationalist agendas. Middle Eastern families are at risk, and Westerners are simply reporting what they see on the outside. American media has a tendency to misconstrue events overseas, pointing out who does the harm without pointing out the victims. This has led people to resort to anti-semitism and Islamaphobia as a means to support their way of thinking. One side invalidates the statehood of Israel while the other negates the trauma felt by Palestinean culture. This situation has layers upon layers of mistreatment from both sides, and it could take hours to unpack. People should not be blaming the innocent lives of civilians but rather the governments that control them. I am not going to sit here and tell you which side is the good guy, and I am not expecting readers to pick either. If there is one thing readers should take away from this, it’s that human lives are at stake.