Israel-Gaza Crisis: Understanding Crucial Facts

BeyondHeadlines Research Desk

As both Israel and Gaza’s Hamas have locked horns, Palestinians are paying the price with lives of innocent civilians including children and women. Israel bombarded Gaza Strip with airstrikes and struck at least 1600 targets since July 15, killing over 230 Palestinians, more than 1700 injuring and destroying property on a large scale. On the other hand, more than 1,000 missiles from Hamas killed one Jew with no considerable major property damage, according media reports.

In the war-like situation and conditions in Gaza Strip, neighboring nation Egypt brokered a cease-fire which did not materialize. Israel agreed to the deal, but Hamas did not agree to it as its demands for easing blockade by Israel and opening of Gaza’s crossings were not entertained. Hamas also demanded for the release of 52 activists who were re-arrested by Israel in recent months, following their release in 2011.

For a brief understanding of the overall situation, it is crucial to understanding a few facts and the strategies being executed by Israel. The country is condemned by Turkey for “state terrorism” and Foreign Policy Journal termed it a “rogue state” for violating many international laws including the UN Security Council resolutions. It holds “record” for ignoring UN Security Council resolutions, according to Israel-based Haaretz newspaper, which cited a San Francisco University professor.

Here are Notable Facts about Gaza:

Gaza is among the most densely populated places in the world

The Gaza Strip has 146 square miles area and a population of about 1.6 million. The Gaza city is largest population center in Gaza Strip. The city is 40th most densely populated urban area in the world.

Earlier Israel had troops and settlers inside Gaza

Until 2005, Gaza was occupied by Israel having its military presence and Jewish communities living inside the Palestinian territory. In 2005, Ariel Sharon ordered withdrawal of military bases and Jews from Gaza.

Hamas Doesn’t Recognize Israel

Since its inception in 1987, Hamas waged war on Israel seeking to replace Israel with a Palestinian state. It repeatedly refused to recognize Israel. Both Israel and Hamas have a long history of antagonism. They often refuse to negotiate openly and directly, does not trust each other. Hamas has its own militant wing: the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Palestinians Democratically Elected Hamas

Hamas is the representative of the Palestinian people. In 2006 popular elections across the West Bank and Gaza for the Palestinian legislature, pushed by former US President George Bush, Hamas won with a majority. Though Hamas and Fatah Party have fought in the past, they looks closer to reconciling. In the current turmoil, Hamas and Fatah maintain different stands and viewpoints.

Hamas Isn’t Lone Militant Group in Gaza Strip

In addition to Hamas, there other militant groups in Gaza. All they target Israel. Most of the times Hamas claim responsibility for rockets fired from Gaza.

Gaza Blockade by Israel – A Humanitarian Crisis

Israel’s blockade of Gaza since 2007 restricts all border crossings in the territory it controls that severely affected lives of Palestinians and their economy. According to development organization Oxfam, the blockade devastated Gaza’s economy, restricted Palestinians from essential services such as healthcare and education, while cutting them off from each other. The blockade restricts access to water, food, electricity, etc.

Multiple Wars between Israel and Hamas over Gaza

Since 2005, Israel and Hamas fought three separate wars: 2006, 2008-9, and 2012. Israel invaded Gaza in the first two but only bombed in the third. Israel named its wars as ‘Operation Cast Lead’ and ‘Operation Pillar of Defense’. It named the ongoing offensive ‘Operation Protective Edge’. With all these wars, Israel claims to destroy Hamas’ ability to launch rockets into Israel.

Iran supports Hamas?

Iran is allegedly a key international supporter of Hamas. An interception of shipment of M-320 rockets bound for Gaza in March 2014 was traced by UN to an Iranian port.

Rafah Crossing (Egypt) – Only non-Israeli Crossing for Gaza

Rafah is the only major supply route to Gaza which isn’t controlled by Israel. Mohamed Morsi’s government was desirous to help Palestinians. But the present government of Egypt imposed heavy restrictions at the crossing, making flow of people and goods in and out difficult. Hamas is demanding for opening up of Rafah so that the Palestinian cause could be aided.

A thorough picture will emerge after reading a special story with graphics by Vox.com. Further, for knowing how Israel’s media strategies of pushing its state policies in deceptive language and tone to keep people sympathetic towards it, a must read is Al Jazeera’s story “Israel’s media strategy: What lies beneath”.

(Note: Courtesy of Vox.com for facts on Gaza)


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