Israel and Palestine shell each other; Igniting Long Standing Tensions


Photo courtesy of AIJAC

The loss of Palestinian land over the years. All surrounding Arab nations have gone to war with Israel in support of Palestine at least once.

Starting May 10, the States of Israel and the Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip have bombarded each other relentlessly. This marks the most recent escalation violence between the nations in recent times.

Where it all began

 Palestinians and Israel have had tension between each other for centuries. Jewish and Arab inhabitants have laid claim to land for thousands of years, but suspiciously lived among one another. The area eventually came under control of the Ottoman Empire (modern day Turkey) , a predominantly Islamic nation. After their defeat in WW1, the Ottomans gave control of the area to the British Empire. Zionism, the belief of a Jewish homeland, was a popular belief of the time amongst many Jews and most declared that homeland Israel. Prolific Jews lobbied with the British government and in 1917 wrote the Balfour Declaration which was adopted in 1922. It declared, “The Mandate will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home … and the development of self-governing institutions, and also safeguard the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion.” 

 Jewish immigrants, many escaping persecution from Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, sought refuge in Palestine throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s. Palestinians revolted in mass as a result of the changing dynamics of the land starting in 1936. In 1947, United Nations attempted to solve the violence by splitting Palestine into Jewish and Islamic sectors with Jerusalem being a neutral capitol. According to BBC, negotiations were stopped a year later leading to Israeli militants declaring Palestine (then renamed to Israel) a Jewish nation. 

The Two Nations Divide

 After a two year war with Palestine and surrounding Arab countries such as Egypt and Iraq, Israel gained national recognition internationally. Israel designated certain areas in it’s borders Palestinian land. Israel controlled the land still. With each conflict Israel had with Palestine or its Arab allies, they take more land away. One example of this is when Israel annexed Eastern Jerusalem, the capitol and third most important Holy site of Islam. Palestine today has been limited to the Gaza Strip and random patches of land within the West Bank. 

How it Started Again

Recently, Palestinians began protesting for equality and against police violence felt by their community. Also protested were the evictions of Palestinian families from Eastern Jerusalem. According to Brookings, Israeli far-right protestors flocked to surrounding Muslim neighborhoods chanting “death to Arabs”. Palestinians continued to protest despite increasing threat of violence. On May 8, two days before hostilities erupted, Israeli police tear gassed and shot rubber bullets at protestors in front of a mosque as others prayed inside. The violence escalated two days later when police raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the holiest site in East Jerusalem and Symbol of freedom for Palestine. Most people gathered to pray while protestors began to set up a seminar. 

Violence Erupts

Hamas, a Palestinian militant group in control of the Gaza Strip, launched rocket salvos into Israeli territory in response to the protest in the middle of the night. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesperson, said the attack on the mosque and injury of Palestinians was a war crime and warned about repercussions before the bombing. Hamas rockets injured four people.  Israel retaliated with air strikes that killed 23 people. According to the Hamas Health Ministry nine of them were minors.

Israel and Gaza forces continue to bomb one another, but Israel has the advantage. The IDF uses Iron Dome missile defense batteries to counter Palestinian rockets by shooting them out of the sky with interceptor misses before they hit a target. The IDF claims only 10% of the rockets fired at Israeli territory landed. 

 As of now, no Palestinian territory has been invaded by the IDF. However, reservist are preparing for ground combat. Artillery and tanks have also fired shells into Gaza. 

Violence has also sparked amongst civilians. Thousands of Palestinian and Israeli protestors have clashed with one another in the streets. The violence has hit the multiracial city of Lod the hardest. Burned down were cars, synagogues, and mosques. The Mayor of Lod, Yair Revivo, has compared the chaos to Nazi Kristallnacht pogrom, the anti Jewish riots that turned to mass arson that engulfed Germany in 1938. 

The World Reacts

 President Joe Biden and much of the Democratic leadership has condoned Israel’s retaliation. Despite facing pressure to criticize the bombing of Gaza Biden has been silent.  He has sent a diplomatic envoy to Israel . Around the world thousands have protested against Israel’s bombing campaign. Thousands of protestors in support of both Israel and Palestine clashed in front of the Israeli consulate in New York. One video showed a bloody Jewish man hiding in a store from violent protestors who beat him.