Sure, I’ll do my best but there is A LOT going on and there is no way I can cover all the war crimes Israel is committing or encompass the decades of history of this conflict in one post. For background, here is a short summary of how Israel came to be.
For further explanations on Israel’s true motives for this current conflict and a step by step of how Operation Protective Edge came to be, you can watch this video where Dr. Norman Finkelstein, a Jewish American professor and expert on the Israel/Palestine conflict explains it in layman’s terms. Because the origins are more complex and political, I’m gonna ask you refer to the first three minutes of that video because I don’t want to mess it up. A short summarization is that Hamas (an organization and political party dedicated to the liberation of Palestine) joined the Palestinian Authority (another political party) in April and agreed to recognize Israel as a state and was ready to discuss permanent peace talks— an act welcomed by many nations including America. But because the end goal of the Israeli government is the extermination and/or expulsion of Palestinians from their remaining land so Israel can claim that too, this threw a wrench in the Israeli Prime Minister’s plans. He needed an excuse to scapegoat Hamas as the reason peace talks weren’t progressing. Now let’s skip ahead to May.
That last image is the current map of Israel/Palestine. The little green strip on the left is the Gaza Strip and those little green settlements scattered on the right are the West Bank. The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated places in the world with 1.82 million people living in an area of 360 km^2 (x)
In May, two Palestinian youths were murdered by Israeli forces. It was caught on tape and it has been ruled that there was no justification for their deaths but there were no repercussions. (source) I wish I could say this was an isolated incident but it is not, not at all, not even a little bit. Possibly in retaliation, 3 Israeli settlers were abducted in the West Bank. The Israeli prime minister will later admit they knew they were dead all along and they knew Hamas had nothing to do with it (x, x) but that’s after the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) invade the West Bank and murder and arrest hundreds of Palestinians under the guise of finding those 3 settlers. They lied about hoping to find them alive so as to have an excuse to invade and dismantle Hamas’ operations in the West Bank. (x, x)
After that, IDF invaded the Gaza Strip. You’ll notice there’s a great deal of distance between West Bank and Gaza and since they had no affiliation with the three deaths to begin with, what is Israel’s justification for invading? There is none. Hamas did not break the ceasefire established in 2012. Israel did. Since 2008, Israel has always been the one to break the ceasefire agreement, according to the Jerusalem Fund, a non-profit in Washington, D.C. On June 29th, Israel hit a Hamas operative and after that Hamas retaliated (just like Israel wanted) with projectile firing (not rockets, projectiles, an atomic scientist called them “upgraded fireworks”). Then on July 8th, IDF forces had a flimsy excuse to invade the Gaza Strip. In the first week, 192 Palestinians were killed. There were “talks” of a ceasefire in Egypt but Hamas knew nothing about them. So basically instead of having Israel and Palestinian officials negotiate a ceasefire on neutral-ish ground (Egypt) like you would think, Egypt and Israel pretended to negotiate peace (how you negotiate peace without both parties is beyond me). The conditions were basically a halt to hostilities on both sides and that’s it. 192 Palestinians would have died and the rest of the Gaza Strip would go back to living under the oppressive rule of Israeli settlers. There would be no repercussions for Israel, no freedoms gained for Palestinians. In fact, Hamas offered a 10 year truce with Israel if they would agree to ten conditions. I won’t list them all out here but as you can see, they’re not even remotely unreasonable. Hamas accepted and abided by the ceasefire agreement after the ‘08/’09 conflict (the same ceasefire Israel did NOT abide by, x) and again in 2012 and not only did it not improve living conditions in Gaza, it did not offer them any defense against another ground invasion. So accepting yet another faux agreement meant that Israel could launch another invasion any time it pleased. Why would Hamas or anyone in Palestine feel safe about that when multiple Israeli politicians have called for the extermination of Palestinians? (x, x, x, x) When IDF soldiers gleefully brag about killing Palestinian children? Let alone the already unliveable conditions in Gaza. So the fighting resumed with even more brutality from Israel. The latest numbers show nearly 2000 dead Palestinians, about 75% of them civilians, and 10,000 injured. On the other side, 64 Israeli soldiers were killed in the ground invasion (at least one of whom was killed by friendly fire), and 3 civilians. If that doesn’t paint a stark enough picture, see the discrepancy in damage between Israel and Palestine during a humanitarian ceasefire. That doesn’t even take into account the Palestinian civilians killed and injured during peaceful protests in the West Bank and Israel.
A humanitarian ceasefire is basically a temporary ceasefire during which time people (on the Palestinian side) can (ideally) check on their homes, stock up on food, search for missing relatives, and bury their dead. Israel has repeatedly broken these humanitarian ceasefires as well. Here’s just one incident of them shooting down a civilian searching for his family in the rubble, it was filmed by one of the international human rights activists (yellow vests) he was with at the time. Not only that, but Israel has committed multiple war crimes since the beginning of OPE. They’ve repeatedly hit schools, civilian homes, children, graveyards, mosques, HOSPITALS, ambulances, water tanks, journalists, and United Nations shelters. There is literally no safe place in Gaza for people to go. There are no bomb shelters like in Israel and no place is safe from being targeted. Not only that, but Israelis are literally sitting on the beach watching the “fireworks” in Gaza. So much for that scary rocket fire. (x, x)
What’s most important to understand is that there are no “two sides” to this conflict. There is the oppressed and the oppressors, the occupied and the occupiers. Gaza is under an illegal blockade by Israel, making living conditions completely unbearable. And with the indiscriminate destruction of homes, schools, businesses, mosques, hospitals, and water tanks during this offensive, Israel is clearly trying to send a message: get out or you’ll die here. They haven’t just been killing people— innocent civilians and children— they are trying to tear down the infrastructure of life in Gaza. According to the United Nations, Gaza will be unliveable by 2020. There is a dire shortage on medicine and most of the population doesn’t even have clean water to drink. Therefore, it is vital to the survival of the people in the Gaza Strip to demand the blockade be lifted, for Gaza to be allowed the resources to heal and flourish. Israeli historian Ilan Pappe said it best, ”The Egyptian-Israeli ceasefire offer is to continue the siege, the starvation, strangulation and the ghettoization of Gaza. No decent person should accept such a dictate for being incarcerated when the only offence he or she committed is being a Palestinian in Gaza.”
I think that covers most of it. Standwithpalestine is probably the best authority to answer any specific questions and you can also check my Palestine tag for other details. I’m not a political scientist so if anyone has something to correct, feel free to send me a message. I tried to keep this brief but there are so many atrocities being committed in Palestine right now by the IDF that I could have made this 50 pages long with all the details.
Great places for sources and info:
To keep up with the conflict on Twitter:
I’ve really tried to understand the Israelis. I used to work on a farm in Israel. I speak Hebrew. I watch their news. All the time they talk about fear. How they have to run to their bunkers to hide from the rockets. How their children can’t sleep because of the sirens. This is not a good way for them to live. We Palestinians don’t talk about fear, we talk about death. Our rockets scare them; their rockets kill us. We have no bomb shelters, we have no sirens, we have nowhere we can take our children and keep them safe. They are scared. We are dying.