By Zachary Toillion
The ongoing conflict between Gaza and Israel reached a temporary ceasefire on August 4th and the 72 hour ceasefire was later extended another 5 days on August 7th. Over the course of the last month, Israel and Hamas have agreed to numerous ceasefires only to renege on the agreement hours later. Despite the poor track record of lasting peace in the region, Israel and Hamas have now informally began peace talks for a possible long term ceasefire with third parties including Egypt and Secretary of State John Kerry.
The crux of the Gaza and Israel conflict is rooted in the aftermath of World War II. Israel itself was created in 1947 by the United Nations General Assembly as a partition of Palestine, which was then controlled by Great Britain. It became, and remains the first ever Jewish-majority state.
Ever since it’s inception, the Israelis and Palestinians have at times fought for a two state solution where both an Israeli and Palestinian state can coexist peacefully. Israel is already a state recognized by the UN, but the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza strip are not formally recognized as a state. Defining the boundaries of Israel and Palestine has led to a nearly constant state of conflict, occasionally punctuated by peace talks. In the 1960’s Israel engaged in military operations against Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Israel was also in conflict with Lebanon in the 1980s. Military threats from Iran persist today.
Gaza, only 139 square square miles long, is home to 1.8 million Palestinians. Gaza is surrounded by a land blockade enforced by Israel and Egypt. Israel also retains the power to monitor and/or blockade Gaza’s coastline. This has led to a shortage of economic resources and, as a result, Hamas, the democratically elected government of the Palestinian territories, built a massive series of tunnels leading to Israel. These tunnels are the crux of the conflict. Israel’s bombing campaign has focused predominantly destroying these tunnels.
Also flaring tensions between Israelis and Palestinians are illegal settlements. The latest conflict between Israel and Gaza has it’s origins in the mid 2000’s when Hamas was elected in 2006. Hamas states Israel’s illegal settlements on the West Bank are violating international law and that the land that is Palestinian territory.
Israel has come under increased pressure from not only it’s geo political foes, but also it’s allies.
Unconfirmed reports claim that Israeli intelligence eavesdropped on the communications of Secretary of State John Kerry. Israel has also dealt with criticism of its bombing campaign which has thus far left nearly 2000 dead, with 77 percent of those deaths being civilians. 55 Israelis have died since 2009 as result of the Gaza disputes. There was additional global outcry when Israel shells hit a compound that housed a UN school. Due to the high number of civilian deaths, the UN Human Rights Council is currently investigating possible war crimes committed by Israel.
The approval ratings for the leaders of the warring parties have significantly shifted. The conflict in Gaza has propelled Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s approval rating to over 90 percent, while Hamas’s approval ratings have seen their approval plummet in the wake of continued violence.
Tense negotiations continue between Gaza and Israel to try and bring about a peaceful end to the conflict.