This is a hashtag which has recently been causing controversy. Both Rihanna and Zayn Malik tweeted it; Rihanna removed hers after a few minutes after receiving negativity and Zayn Malik received death threats. Everybody has their right to express how they feel, but this post is going to briefly explain the Gaza/ Israel conflict as I understand it. It is important to note Jerusalem is a key part (holy land) for three main religions; Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
History of Palestine & Israel
After the second world war/ the Holocaust (where 6 million Jews had been killed by Nazis under Hitler’s power) which ended in 1945, many Jews wanted their own country. The United Nations (UN) allows 2 states to be created; one for the Jewish inhabitants of Palestine Mandate and the second for the Arab inhabitants. The Jewish accepted but the Arabs and Palestinians refused the two state solution and the 1948 war is underway. After the war, Gaza was controlled by Egypt and the West Bank was controlled by Jordan. Many Palestinians fled the newly ‘Jewish’ areas.
In 1967 Israel occupied these Palestinian areas with Israeli troops staying there for years in the hope that they could exchange the land they won for Arab countries recognizing Israel’s right to exist.
Israel left Gaza in 2005, and soon after Hamas took control after winning elections. Hamas does not see Israel as a country and wants Palestinians to be able to return to their country. In response to this, Israel has held Gaza under blockade; controlling borders, limiting who can get in and out of Gaza.
Israel has tight controls of its coastline and all the entry and exit crossings into Israel. Access into and out of Gaza is so restricted that not many goods get into or out of Gaza. Although food is allowed in, many families are not eating as much meat or vegetables as they used to. Many people in Gaza are unemployed, businesses are slow as many people have very little money.
During both the 1948 and the 1967 wars hundreds of thousands of Palestinians left/ were forced out of the homes and moved to neighbouring countries to become refugees. More than 4.6 million Palestinians are living in camps in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, they receive help from the UN.
Living Conditions
There is clear segregation in Gaza, it can be described as an apartheid. Palestinians are denied political rights, yet Israelis living in Gaza have full rights. There is an apartheid wall, cutting Palestinians off from each other. The Palestinians have different access to highways, water and land and are even forced to use different buses. Gaza has been described as an open air prison, and the Palestinians live in constant misery because of the illegal Israeli siege.
Although the Palestinians don’t have an army, rockets are fired from Gaza to Israel, as a response Israel fight back.
July 2014 onwards
The latest battle between Israel and Gaza based militant groups including Hamas was sparked after the murder of three young Israeli students. This led to an Israeli invasion of Gaza.
The three students disappeared whilst in the West Bank. Israel conducted a massive manhunt in the Palestinian territory, accusing Hamas of abducting the three teens (Israeli officials appear to have disagreed from the start as to whether the killers were acting on behalf of Hamas or not). The boys were found dead at the end of June, executed. It emerged shortly after that Hamas was not responsible for the deaths. Further reports suggested that Israel knew the boys were dead when the search began and used the manhunt as a cover for arresting a large number of Hamas operatives as a response to the killings.
Israel responded to the deaths by bombing Gaza against Hamas targets there, starting the night the boys were found. Palestinian militant groups (not Hamas) in Gaza fired rockets into Israel. On July 2nd, a 16 year old Palestinian, Muhammed Abu Khdeir, was found dead near his Jerusalem home. He had been burnt to death. Police arrested 6 Israelies for his murder. It has been suggested that the boy’s death was a revenge killing by Jewish Extremists for the murders of the three Israeli boys.
The Palestinians were then subjected to much violence by settlers and other Israelis, all of which has been further intensified by Israeli national outrage over the murders of the three Israeli students.
Early July and a video surfaced (see sources) showing Tariq Abu Khdier (Muhammed’s cousin) being brutally beaten by two Israeli police after watching a protest in East Jerusalem. Palestians were becoming increasingly angry about the Khdier boys, the bombings in Gaza, the invasive search for the murdered Israelis that riots broke out in Jerusalem, West Bank and some Israeli Arab towns.
Hamas launched 40 rockets on July 8thclaiming full responsibility. Israel then launched more strikes in Gaza, with the Prime Minister of Israel describing the attacks as an effort to make Hamas ‘pay a heavy price’. There was a chance of ceasefire on July 15thwhen Israel accepted an Egypt- brokered deal to stop the fighting. Hamas’ military wing continued firing rockets, rejecting the ceasefire.
On July 17th, reports emerged that Israel had invaded Gaza, as an attempt to destroy the tunnels Hamas had built from Gaza into Israel. The tunnels are largely used to ferry people and supplies around Israel’s blockade, but the tunnels are also used to allow Hamas to attack Israelis. There were several days of fighting, leaving Gaza devastated and sending one in four Gazans fleeing from their homes. Israel withdrew its troops on August 5th.
There have been several cease fires that have been agreed by both sides over the last few weeks, which allows for peace on both sides whilst solutions are discussed.
There is no easy answer to this war, it is complicated from both sides and deeply rooted in the history of religion, politics and economics. There are currently two idealistic scenarios for what could happen. The first is a one state solution which would mean advocating a single state in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza strip, where citizen’s rights are all equal with no regards to ethnicity or religion, practicalities of this would be difficult as Zionists want their own state.
The second is a two state solution which would mean that Israel would remain a Jewish, democratic state, living alongside an independent Palestinian state. There would have to be robust security arrangements and agreed resolution to the Palestinian refugees. There would have to be agreed mutual access to Jerusalem, which would be difficult to agree on. Palestinian society is split between two governments: Fatah (which supports negotiation of a two state solution) and Hamas. Some Israeli politicians reject the two state solution.
Even though this is a war which has been happening for years, it has received minimal media attention, until recently. The BBC has been criticised for turning a ‘blind eye’ to the situation (shortly after, coverage was increased).
President Obama has also been criticised (including by American citizens- research suggests only 30% agree he is doing the right thing) for continuing to support Israel and blaming Hamas for the latest war.
The general public have led many protests; many demonstrating ‘free Gaza’ or ‘free Palestine’, with fewer Zionist protests and less supporting Israel. There have been talks of boycotting Israeli products, with many supermarkets across the world not buying from Israeli suppliers. This led to export levels dropping by 14%. Pepsi and Coca- Cola lost $230, 000 daily after business and retailers started boycotting the companies.
Mexico and Chile have stopped trading with Israel.
Over the past few weeks I have used different sources to conduct research to better understand the situation. Everything that I have written has used information which I have read or watched online, I have included a list of sources if you would like to research yourself. I have tried to keep this article as objective as possible.