The Gaza strip, also known as just Gaza, is Palestinian territory controlled and governed by Palestinians. It’s located on a tiny strip of land between Egypt and Israel.
- The territory of Gaza was promised to Palestine by Israel in 1994 after years of disputes over the land that had left many Palestinians without a place to call home.
- Since 2007, Gaza has been governed by Hamas, a Palestinian Sunni-Islamic nationalist organization.
- Israel, the United States and the European Union, among others, have labeled Hamas a terrorist organization.
- Israel claims it’s the rightful owner of much of the land in and around Palestine and has been building settlements within Palestinian territory.
- These settlements were found to be illegal in 2004 by the International Court of Justice, but Israel still hasn’t removed these settlements.
- As Israel has continued to expand into Palestinian territory in recent years, tensions between the two nations have escalated.
What’s happened so far?
- On Monday, Hamas began firing rockets into Israel and Israel responded with airstrikes.
- According to the Israeli military, since Monday, over 1,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza. Most have been intercepted by Israel’s missile defense system.
- But what was largely unexpected is how people have responded on the streets of Israeli cities, with Israelis attacking Palestinians and Palestinians attacking Israelis.
- According to Palestinian health officials, since Monday more than 69 Palestinians, including 17 children, have been killed in Gaza and hundreds more have been injured.
- The United Nations has since warned of the threat of a “full-scale war.”
What started this recent escalation
- This is the most violence that the region has seen since the Israeli war on Gaza that lasted for seven weeks in 2014.
- This escalation of violence has taken place during Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims around the world.
- Last weekend, Israeli police used stun grenades and rubber bullets on Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
- Israeli police say that this was in response to rocks being thrown at the Western Wall where thousands of Jews had come together to pray.
- A spokesperson for the mosque has said that the clashes started after the Israeli police tried to evacuate the area where many Palestinians sleep during Ramadan to let Israelis in.
How has the US responded to the violence?
- US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken urged both sides to stop the violence during a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
- Blinken emphasized the need “for Israelis and Palestinians to be able to live in safety and security.”
- The deputy secretary of state for Israel and Palestinian affairs, Hady Amr, is traveling to the region to try to de-escalate tensions.
- President Joe Biden also spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Wednesday.
- “My expectation and hope is this will be closing down sooner than later,” Biden said, while expressing his “unwavering support for Israel’s security and for Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself and its people, while protecting civilians.”
- While Biden didn’t speak about the deaths of Palestinian citizens in Gaza from the Israeli airstrikes, he did say that Israel had “a right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory.”
- Martin S. Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel, said that Biden is being pressured to take more of an active stance.
- Indyk also says that Biden needs to establish a dialogue with the Palestinians and make an agreement for them possible as well.
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