The relationship between Israel and Palestine is extremely delicate and filled with violence and discontent. In the last month, violence has increased with multiple rockets and missile attacks occurring daily and many politicians are starting to become gravely concerned.
Israel and Palestine are not listening to these concerns and to a lot of people, seem ready to go to war over these recent attacks. But why are tensions so high and why did attacks start in the first place?
How Did The Violence Begin?
The tension between Israel and Palestine is nothing new. The conflict between the two parties began in 1947 when the United Nations adopted Resolution 181, better known as the Partition Plan, which divided the British Mandate of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states.
In response to the resolution, the State of Israel formed on May 14, 1948 and the first Arab-Israeli war began. According to the Council on Foreign Relations Global Conflict Tracker, over 750,000 Palestinians were displaced by the conflict and many of them are still in refugee camps to this day. The war also resulted in the creation of three territories, the West Bank, the State of Israel, and the Gaza Strip.
Tensions rose in the region for around thirty years with conflicts occurring with countries such as Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. Two of the biggest conflicts were the Six-Day War and Yom Kippur War. Eventually, representatives from Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David Accords, which put an end to the fighting.
The accords improved relations between Israel and their neighbors but left the question of Palestine’s self-governance up in the air.
Palestine eventually grew tired of this and rose up against the Israeli government in 1987. The conflict, named the First Intifada, went on for almost six years until 1993. In 1993, the Oslo I Accords resolved the intifada by establishing the ability for Palestine to self-govern and enabling recognition between the Palestinian Authority and the State of Israel.
The agreement expanded in 1995 with the Oslo II Accords which mandated the removal of Israeli authorities from 6 cities and 450 towns on the West Bank.
In 2000, a Second Intifada began and led to a new border wall being built around the West Bank. This conflict ended in 2005.
The United States attempted to revive peace talks in 2013, but the plans fell through when Palestine’s ruling authority party, the Fatah, created an alliance with the rival party, Hamas. Hamas was formed in 1987 following the first intifada and was designated as a terrorist organization in the United States in 1997.
Since then, conflicts continued to appear sporadically over the years and every country’s attempt at creating peace has been denied.
What is Happening Right Now?
In the last few weeks, the violence between Israel and Palestine has skyrocketed. This is likely due to the fact that the holy month of Ramadan began in mid-April.
Israel launched dozens of airstrikes on the Gaza strip and several rocket strikes on Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, and Israel’s main international airport. According to the New York Times, more than 50 Palestinians including at least 14 children have been killed in Palestine and that number is consistently climbing. The attacks also leveled two multistory apartment towers in the Gaza Strip where 2 million Palestinians live, according to ABC7.
Israel also assassinated multiple Hamas leaders.
Hamas responded with hundreds of rockets that are continuously barraging Israeli cities. According to The New York Times, the Israeli death toll reached at least seven people, including a 6-year-old.
Violence is also extremely prevalent in the streets with Arab and Jewish mobs creating chaos. Cars and businesses are burnt and people are getting assaulted because of the current tensions.
Many believe the biggest triggers for this attack are a recent clash between police and Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the eviction of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
According to AP News, the Al-Aqsa mosque incident occurred when Israeli police were deployed to an area full of praying Muslims. Most of the crowd stayed peaceful but a few people began throwing rocks and other small objects at the police. Police began to fire stun grenades and rubber bullets into the crowd. In the end, 136 people were reportedly injured with 83 being hospitalized.
Israel is also trying to evict Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in order to make room for Israeli settlers. The Palestinians lived in Sheikh Jarrah for many years, but Israel does not seem to care and is currently pursuing legal action. “Israel argues that the situation in Sheikh Jarrah is merely a straightforward property dispute. In fact, what it demonstrates, above all, is the city’s endemic discrimination,” wrote Raja Shehadeh in the New Yorker.
The most concerning part of this is that politicians honestly believe this conflict could lead to a full-on civil war.
“Stop the fire immediately. We’re escalating towards a full-scale war,” Tor Wennesland, United Nations Middle East envoy, said via Twitter late Tuesday. No one wants the people of Palestine and Israel to suffer more, but at the moment all attempts to make peace have been ignored. So now everyone just has to hold their breath and hope that the conflict can be sorted out.