top of page

Read

Understanding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Ziryan Aziz offers an in-depth overview of the recent conflict between Israeli and Palestinian groups, alongside essential background on the issue.

A fleet of tampons rest against a baby blue background

Photo by Cole Keister


On May 21st, the government of Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire, ending 11 days of fighting between Israeli and Palestinian forces, with over 256 estimated casualties.

Understanding the current and previous events of the conflict is key to comprehending the wider legal and moral complications in what has easily been one of the most divisive subjects in global relations for several years.



Why were there Clashes in Jerusalem?

When Ramadan began on the 12th of April, Muslim worshipers in Jerusalem reported an increasing number of restrictions, with Israeli police blocking gatherings near the Damascus Gate for prayers and scuffles between police and protestors breaking out. The city experienced stand-offs between far-right Jews, who marched chanting “death to Arabs”, and Palestinian counter-protesters. According to medics, 21 people were hospitalised and 50 were arrested.

Two days later, 35 rockets from the Gaza Strip were fired into Israel, followed by retaliatory airstrikes by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). A Jihadist group, not affiliated to the Hamas militant group who controls Gaza, claimed responsibility.

On the 7th May, violent riots took place outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque - the 3rd holiest site in Islam, standing on the Temple Mound complex which housed a now-destroyed Jewish temple from 70AD. Around 90,000 worshipers had been praying outside the mosque before protestors and police clashed. More than 205 Palestinians and 17 police officers were wounded.

On the 10th May, during clashes, police fired stun grenades within the Mosque as protestors sought refuge along with worshipers. Tensions were high due to a planned ‘flag march’ by Israeli nationalists who want to celebrate Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem in 1967. The flag march was initially postponed by police, however, on the 15th June it went ahead.

The frequency in the clashes was due to several factors: being the holy month of Ramadan, there are often bouts of violence, but Palestinians had also been recently enraged by the news that Palestinian families in East Jerusalem could be facing evictions to make way for Israeli settlers. The court appeal by the Palestinian families was delayed by the Supreme Court to avoid any potential provocation.

What is East Jerusalem?

In 1947, the British government laid out proposals for the creation of a separate Jewish and Arab state within the British Mandate of Palestine. Jerusalem was destined to be an international city, given its religious and historical importance.

Upon declaring itself independent in 1948, the neighbouring Arab countries declared war on Israel. The aftermath was an Israeli victory, leaving Israel in control of much of the proposed Palestinian state, including the Western sector of Jerusalem; the Eastern half was under the control of Jordanian forces. These borders remained intact until the Six-Day War of 1967 when Israel and its neighbours Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon went to war once again.

The war of 1967 saw Israel’s land size increase by three and half times, with the country gaining control of all former Palestinian land, East-Jerusalem, Syria’s Golan Heights, southern Lebanon and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. Immediately after this, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 242 calling for Israel to withdraw from all ‘occupied territory’.

Whilst in 1982 Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in exchange for a peace deal and withdrew from Southern Lebanon, in the early 2000s, the Knesset - the Israeli Parliament - voted to annex East Jerusalem. Today, Israel exerts its sovereignty over East Jerusalem and regards the city as its ‘undivided’ capital, whereas the Palestinians, hoping to build a state of their own, claim East Jerusalem as their future capital.

Palestinians living in East Jerusalem live in a complicated situation. Some hold Israeli citizenship and others have Jordanian citizenship, whilst the majority live in a state of limbo as stateless people.

What are Israeli Settlers and Settlements?

The eviction of Palestinians from East Jerusalem is a major point of friction within the wider context of Israeli settlements, scattered across East Jerusalem and the West Bank. In 2017, 620,000 Israelis lived in these settlements, of which 210,000 lived within East-Jerusalem.

Israeli settlers are Jewish-Israeli citizens who choose to live beyond the borders of the country in territories which the international community considers ‘occupied’. The settlers justify this by stating that these territories are the birthplace of the Jewish people and were home to the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah (1047 BCE–586BCE), predating the presence of Arabs who conquered the area in 634AD.

However, many Israeli settlers relocate for affordable housing prices and financial government incentives while Palestinians, who have lived and worked on the land for centuries, are often forcibly removed. The Israeli government justifies this by declaring areas ‘state land’ or needed for ‘military needs’, or by providing financial assistance for Israelis to purchase land.

The settlements are condemned by the United Nations and much of the international community, who claim they are a violation of international law as it’s prohibited for an occupying power to settle its civilian population within a territory that it militarily occupies (Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 - Article 49, para. 6).

Israel rejects this assertion, claiming that the land is instead disputed since Jordan was the last official state to own it, and renounced its claims to East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1988. Additionally, Israel believes Palestinians hold no legal basis to own the land as their independence was never formalised.

Why are Palestinian Families being Evicted from Sheikh Jarrah?

The evictions are in relation to a dispute that began in 1948. After the war, Palestinian families were relocated by the Jordanians into the abandoned homes of Jews who had fled East Jerusalem. Following the war of 1967, during which Israel captured East Jerusalem, two trusts sought to resettle Jews into previously owned Jewish properties.

Following a legal battle, an agreement was reached between the families and the trusts. The Palestinians could remain as long-term tenants on the condition that they recognise the homes as Jewish property, and that they pay rent to the trusts. The families facing potential eviction are in court due to not paying the agreed rent.

The Israeli government argues that the evictions are only righting a historic wrong, and that Palestinians are not being evicted for political reasons. The Palestinians claim that this is part of a wider movement to change the demographics of East Jerusalem through illegal means.

There is currently no legal framework within Israel that allows Palestinian-Arabs to reclaim their abandoned properties. However, through the Legal and Administrative Matters Law (1970) Israeli-Arab citizens can claim monetary compensation.



Why was there Fighting between Gaza and Israel?

The coastal enclave of the Gaza strip holds a population of over 2 million Palestinians, and forms, alongside the West Bank, the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Ownership of the territory has shifted numerous times between Egypt and Israel, however, following the Oslo Accords (1994), limited autonomy was granted to the Palestinians via a newly established Palestinian Authority.

By 2005, Israel had militarily disengaged from the territory, dismantling all its settlements, and in 2006, Hamas won the Gazan elections. Shortly after, Hamas fought and won a bloody civil war with Fatah - the main party of the internationally recognised Palestinian authority - over control of the territory.

Hamas is regarded as a terrorist organisation by Canada, the European Union, Japan and the United States, but some countries view the group as freedom fighters.

On May 10th, Hamas publicly demanded Israeli security forces vacate the Al-Aqsa complex and the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah before firing rockets into Israel. What followed was retaliatory Israeli airstrikes, leading to another conflict that has escalated to the worst violence since 2014.

Palestinian activists and Human Rights groups state that Israel is acting disproportionally, potentially committing war crimes with the intentional destruction of hospitals, schools and houses, leading to a large number of civilians, including children, being killed.

On the 15th of May, Israel destroyed a media tower that hosted the Qatari-based Aljazeera network and the American Associated Press in a move the Committee to Protect Journalists has called a potential violation of international law. The IDF claimed that the tower had been housing Hamas military intelligence, but has not made evidence public.

The Israel Defence Force has further stated that their bombings have been acts of self-defence, and the destroyed buildings were housing weapons and militants. They argue that airstrikes on residential buildings were delivered with a forewarning to evacuate, and that Hamas militants position themselves within public and private properties, increasing risk of civilian deaths.

The level of destruction in Gaza, the blockade on the strip and the continued occupation of the West Bank is considered by some in the Islamic world as evidence of a form of genocide against the Palestinian people, something Israel rejects and is debated.

What is the Blockade in Gaza?

In 2007, Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on the Gaza strip in response to attacks from Hamas. The blockade limits Gaza’s access to its sea, land and air borders, causing a decline in living standards, and severely restricting Gaza’s economic potential and the inhabitants’ access to the outside world. As a result, Gaza has extremely high unemployment figures, which, alongside a high population density and a lack of arable land, has led to concerns that the territory will be unable to sustain its own population in the future.

Israel argues that the blockade is necessary for its security in order to hamper Hamas’ ability to conduct military campaigns. They also argue that Hamas mismanages Gaza’s resources to build war infrastructure such as ‘terror tunnels’ and rockets.

The international community argues that the blockade has ‘locked in’ Palestinians who are unable to freely access the outside world. Furthermore, they claim that Israel’s tough blockade is more harmful to civilians than Hamas, and purposely allows for a worsening humanitarian crisis. Israel disputes these claims.

The Aftermath

The international community has welcomed an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, and both sides have declared a victory. Israel has begun permitting some aid into Gaza, and the United Nations has sent financial aid.

After years of rocky relations under Donald Trump, the current US administration will offer a total £79.2million of relief money for Gaza by the end of 2021. The US has also agreed to replenish the missile stock of Israel’s Iron Dome system, which intercepted 90% of the rockets launched from Gaza into Israel.

However, a fresh wave of clashes occurred in the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex between Palestinians and police, and the dispute over the eviction of Palestinian families is still ongoing. In another East Jerusalem neighbourhood called Silwan, another Trust is spearheading a court case against Palestinian families, looking to evict 100 families from the neighbourhood.

Increasing Anti-Semitism

Since the start of the clashes in Jerusalem, activists, the Palestinian mission to the UK and Islamic religious leaders across Europe have denounced antisemitic attacks on Jews outside of Israel.

In May, a rabbi from Essex was beaten while leaving his synagogue. In North London, four men were arrested for shouting anti-Semitic slogans. In Germany, a pro-Palestinian march in Gelsenkirchen saw protestors parading and waving Turkish and Palestinian flags, shouting anti-Semitic chants.

Anti-Semitic attacks have continued to rise yearly, often fuelled by baseless conspiracy theories. However, often with antisemitic attacks, there is an inability to differentiate between being Jewish, and being a supporter of controversial Israeli policy under the ideology of Zionism.

Simplified, Zionism is the belief in the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the ancestorial homelands of the Jewish people, the self-determination of the Jewish people and the right for Israel to be spiritually and characteristically Jewish. However, critics of Zionism argue that the ideology has been used to justify ethnic cleansing, the racist treatment of non-ethnic Jews, ‘colonialism’ in the Occupied Territories and alleged apartheid.

What Happens Next?

Fighting resumed on the 17th of June, when Israel launched airstrikes against Hamas targets in the coastal territory in response to incendiary balloons sent over the border.

Within Israel, Naftali Bennet - a hard-right nationalist Israeli politician – has taken up the position of Prime minister forming an umbrella coalition that toppled the Prime Minister of 12 years, Benjamin Netanyahu. With the coalition’s mix of left, right, and centre parties, it is hard to predict just how long the union will last, but with many high profile right-wing members in key positions, Israel’s shift further right could be disastrous for Palestinians.


 

We are a not for profit socio-ethical impact initiative advocating for topics that matter. You can support our journalism by becoming an advocate today.

Related Posts

See All

Comments


  • Twitter
  • White Facebook Icon
  • White Instagram Icon
  • White LinkedIn Icon

About

We are an innovative paper with the aim of aiding ones individual right to self-determination and choice. Through research and education, we hope to enable everyone to be informed on the topics that matter.

The causes we raise awareness for are: sustainability, climate change, environmental, nature, health, nutrition, mental health, mindfulness, sentience, science and more.

Support our mission by becoming an advocate today.

Truprint  |  2024

Stay informed with Tru.

By subscribing, you're agreeing to our privacy policy.

Tru Logo White - PNG.png
Front left.png
Preview - Test Cover.png

Our mission is to help society stay informed and much more

All proceeds generated go towards not-for-profit projects and initiatives

Our volunteers care about supporting 

people and the planet

Editor | Rebecca Rothwell

Deputy Editor | Laura Pollard

The

Ethical 

Initiative

Name: The Truprint Group  Account: 37701460   

Sort code: 30-90-89

or PayPal

You can offer assistance in helping us achieve our goals, by becoming an advocate today.

The Truprint Group

  • Twitter
  • White Facebook Icon
  • White Instagram Icon
  • White LinkedIn Icon
info_edited.png

Powered by advocates

"In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed."

 

- Charles Darwin

Photo by Brandi Redd

bottom of page