Before understanding the ultra complex Israel-Palestine conflict, let’s understand where exactly these two countries are. Israel is a country with a population of approximately 10 million and is situated to the North West of Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, if you try to find Palestine on the world map you won’t find it because it is not a real country.
Yes, this is the first and perhaps the most important point to remember when discussing the whole Israel-Palestine feud. Although Palestine is around 5 million strong and used to be an official country before 1947, currently they don’t have a place they can call their own country . According to the UN Resolution of 1947, present-day Israel which was called Palestine at that time, was supposed to be divided into two separate Arab and Jewish states. It proposed the creation of a separate Palestinian country where the Arab Muslims could live separate from the Israeli Jews who wanted their own separate country.
This plan, however, never came into effect because immediately after the UN announced its solution for the long-standing conflict, the Arab-Israeli wars broke out. Israel won all these wars owing to the fact that the Jews had nowhere else to go other than the “Promised Land”, a fact which made their resolution concrete. Since 1947 there have been several military and non-military confrontations between the Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims, but there has never been brokered a peace deal that both parties have agreed to. Yes, there is a government and even a president for Palestine but they are not allowed to keep an army, navy, or any kind of military presence that can threaten the sovereignty of the Israeli state.
What is Happening in Israel?
In 2020, several lockdowns had been imposed in the state of Israel due to the threat of COVID-19. These restrictions continued in 2021, even though almost all of the population of Israel had been vaccinated. The Israeli government claimed that these measures were a precaution against further waves of Coronavirus. However, according to many news sources and independent journalists, Israel used these lockdowns as a coverup to impose restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in and around the Old City of Jerusalem. Maximum hostility was centered in the Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood of Jerusalem, where several Arab Muslims had been forcefully evacuated from their homes to make way for Israeli settlers.
In the end, the Al Aqsa compound looked more like a warzone and less like a place of worship.
In the week leading up to Eid, the tensions between Palestinians and the local authorities in Jerusalem were on record-high which culminated in the Al Aqsa incident on 7th May 2021. The third holiest site of Islam after Mecca and Medina, the Al Aqsa mosque was heavily surrounded by Israeli police on the morning of 7th May. Palestinians who had come to pay their Friday prayers at the mosque were subjected to identity searches and violent restrictions from the police. This led to stone-pelting from the Palestinians, which only aggravated the police further, who then responded with tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber bullets. In the end, the Al Aqsa compound looked more like a warzone and less like a place of worship.
What Escalated the Al Aqsa Incident?
In response to the violent conflict at Al Aqsa mosque, HAMAS, the terror outfit representing the interest of Arab Muslims and the state of Palestine, fired rockets on Jerusalem. Although as many as 1300 rockets were fired from the headquarters of HAMAS in the Gaza Strip upon the most populous regions of Jerusalem, almost all of them were intercepted and destroyed by the Iron Dome Defense technology of Israel. Less than 5% of the rockets were able to hit their intended targets but that was enough to incite a retaliatory response from the Israeli military.
As an answer to the Palestinian attack, Israel was soon firing rockets of its own which hit their targets with accuracy and precision because HAMAS didn’t have an Iron Dome. Sadly nor did the 20 lakh inhabitants of Gaza, and hence the result was the death of around 300 Palestinians and unfathomable property damage. You might think what was the Palestinian government doing about this. They were not doing anything because firstly, HAMAS doesn’t come under their jurisdiction. Secondly, as the terror outfit is technically fighting for the Palestinians it doesn’t make sense for the Palestinian government to oppose them.
HAMAS claimed that the reason for the military attack was not only the Al Aqsa incident but also the strategic eviction of thousands of Palestinian Muslims from all of Israel -especially Jerusalem- which has been going on for a decade now. The Israeli government and the then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in response said that the primary military provocation came from HAMAS and Israel was simply defending itself. The latter was no doubt an effort from Israel to evade global critique but it is difficult to comment anything due to the complex nature of the conflict.
Israeli-Palestinian Communal Riots
Although a ceasefire came into effect on May 21, around two weeks after the tensions rose, the conflict is far from over. It might be hard to believe but these kinds of hostilities are common between Israel and Palestine. Though the initial friction has cooled down for the moment, looking at the long history of Arab-Israeli wars, I think the quarrel is far from over. If Israel continues to take the military route and tries to evict Palestinians from Jerusalem, tensions are bound to rise. On the other hand, if HAMAS continues to respond with rockets and artillery, Israel will be “forced to act”.
It is safe to say that until a permanent solution is found that is amicable to both parties, there may be several similar face-downs in the future. The only end is a peaceful one where both parties can sit at the table and decide what is agreeable to them. At the end of the day, it is not about what piece of land belongs to whom or where the rockets are coming from. It is about how the people can live peacefully together and see their future generations flourish without fear of subjugation. Whether it be Christians, Jews, or Muslims; everyone has equal rights to the city of Jerusalem as well as the country of Israel.
In the next article, I will discuss the historical aspect of the Israel-Palestine conflict. I will tell you about what happened before 1947, that became a trigger for the Arab-Israeli Wars and the current conflict. Till then, stay safe and don’t throw rockets on anyone.