By: Michael Crooks

Fighting has once more erupted in Gaza, but what started the historical conflict? And how close is the current crisis to a full-scale war?

After 11 days of violence, a ceasefire agreement has been reached between Israeli and Palestinian forces.

More than 230 people have been killed in Gaza  – 12 in Israel.

The truce has been welcomed by US President Joe Biden – who has thanked all officials involved in the diplomatic efforts behind the scene.


The region has long been the focus of bloody conflict and simmering tension, but after years of relative quiet, warfare has again erupted in the Israel-Gaza region.

Since the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, there has been ongoing clashes in the region, escalating to rocket attacks, artillery fire and air strikes.

What sparked the new conflict?

According to the New York Times, the current violence can be arguably traced back to April 13. It was the first night of Ramadan, and Israeli police officers entered a Mosque in Jerusalem. There, they reportedly cut cables to loudspeakers that were broadcasting prayers.

The police were acting on orders from officials who were concerned that the Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who was delivering a speech at the nearby Western Wall, was being drowned out by the Muslim prayers.

This, and other recent acts including a long-running legal case leaving “Palestinian families facing eviction from their homes on land claimed by Jewish settlers” in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, led to small-scale attacks before a resumption of war between Israel and Hamas. Hamas is the Palestinian militant group that rules Gaza, a small strip of land claimed by the Palestinians.

Palestinians say Israeli restrictions are causing the suffering of their people.

Israeli leaders say they are defending their nation from Palestinian violence.

When did the historical conflict begin?

Following World War I and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, Britain took control of the area known as Palestine where a majority of Arabs and a minority of Jews lived.

Both groups of people claimed the region was their ancestral home.

“Definitely the outcome of World War One is a significant turning point in that area,” says Noura Mansour, a political analyst and expert in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“But before that, the Zionist movement was established.”

What is the Zionist movement?

Zionism was a movement to recreate a Jewish presence in what the Jews deemed their homeland.

“It was basically to establish a national homeland for Jewish people in Palestine,” Ms Mansour said.

From the late 19th Century, the number of Jews arriving in the region swelled. Later in the 20th Century, many more Jews came, fleeing persecution in Europe, particularly during the Holocaust.

After World War II

In 1947, the United Nations adopted a two-state solution, voting for Palestine to be split into separate Jewish and Arab states.

Then, after the British left the next year, the Jewish leaders declared the State of Israel. Palestinian leaders did not accept Israel’s claim.

War followed and by the end of the fighting, Israel controlled most of the territory.

Today

Israel now controls most of the region and Palestinians consider themselves refugees in their own land.

These days, Palestinians live in the regions known as Gaza and the West Bank, though Israel still occupies the West Bank. Gaza – otherwise known as the Gaza Strip – holds the headquarters of Hamas.

The fighting comes down to territory. Israel now controls most of the region and Palestinians consider themselves refugees in their own land.

What is the death toll in the current conflict?

More than 200, according to reports: at least 192 people, including civilians (children among them), have been killed in Gaza since the violence began.

Israel has reported 10 dead, including two children.

“We have completely lost control of the city, and the streets are witnessing a civil war between Arabs and Jews,” Yair Revivo, the mayor of the Israeli city Yod, said.

Will there ever be peace?

The world came close in 1993, when the then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, in the company of Palestine Liberation Organization’s Yasser Arafat, said: “We, who have fought against you the Palestinians, we say to you today in a loud and clear voice, enough of blood and tears, enough”.

But nearly three decades later, little has changed.

“Israel is not preparing for a ceasefire,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said.

“There is currently no end date for the operation.”

Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

Photo by Sander Crombach on Unsplash