The Israel - Palestine conflict isn't an issue that has suddenly begun. The conflict between the 2 sides has raged on for decades, initiating from the formation of Israel in 1948. One of the key disputed territories between the 2 sides, the holy site of Al aqsa, sacred to both Jews and Muslims has become the most recent centerstage of the conflict. Airstrikes over Gaza, Violent protests near Al Aqsa and Palestinians driving out Jewish families as multiple issues have culminated into one larger battle between the 2 sides. The death toll has risen to 40 and hundreds have been injured over the course of the last week. But why is this all happening ?
A brief History of the Sheikh Jarrah and Al Aqsa Conflict
According to International Law and the UN Partition Plan for Palestine, East Jerusalem is part of Palestine. However after the 6 day war in 1967 between Israel and the Arab Nations, Israel annexed Gaza and the West Bank from Palestine, including East Jerusalem. However, these Israeli gains weren’t recognised internationally. This meant that the Old city of Jerusalem including the Al Aqsa Mosque, both of which are in East Jerusalem, are now illegally occupied by Israel. Sheikh Jarrah is a palestinian neighbourhood illegally occupied by Israel. Israel’s high court has in the past passed multiple rulings which have forced palestinian families to relocate from this East-Jerusalem neighbourhood for Israeli Settlers. Again, the international community barring Israel’s strongest allies have condemned such acts and under international law, found them to be illegal.
The Al Aqsa Conflict
On April 12th, Israeli forces formed barricades around the Al Aqsa mosque where thousands of Palestinian Muslims are praying due to Ramadan. The cause for this was to prevent large gatherings in order to ensure order was maintained and clashes between the 2 sides would not suddenly begin. 4 days later, they announced a maximum of 10,000 people to pray at the holy site. This lead to a aggressive Palestinian response ; clashes amounting to hundreds of injuries, Palestinians driving out Israeli settlers, etc.
Sheikh Jarrah Conflict
A Palestinian Neighbourhood in East Jerusalem, Sheikh Jarrah is legally part of Palestine but controlled by Israel. A common practice lasting decades, Israeli settlers locate into Sheikh Jarrah without retaliation, reassured by Israeli special forces who escort Palestinians who dare retaliate. 6 families were set to be relocated in May. However, hundreds of Palestinians in the neighbourhood began protesting against the unlawful relocation of these families from their own property. In order to quash the protests, Israeli police began attacking and arresting protestors who in self defence began retaliating. This sparked a violent clash causing 200 injuries in just 1 day. The Israel High court on May 9th delayed their hearing on the relocation of the concerned families in order to deescalate the situation.
The Gaza Airstrikes
Hamas, an extremist Palstenian group controlling Gaza launched over 200 missiles towards Israel, in retaliation to Israeli violence against protestors and the injuries and deaths of Palestinians in the Al Aqsa protests. Israel then retaliated, fiercely, sending missiles into civilian areas in Gaza causing multiple multi-story buildings to collapse. Footage of rockets colliding with Israel’s iron dome and interceptions have gone viral as well as images of Gaza and Israeli residents on the streets, homeless. These airstrikes have led to 40 deaths, 35 in Gaza and 5 in Israel. Meanwhile, protests continue near Al Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrah.
This has become the largest aerial conflict since the 2014 war. Both sides face humanitarian crises , a new homelessness crisis and collapse of infrastructure. The main difference being one is funded by the USA, a global superpower while the other, has no extensive means of funding.
This conflict, as mentioned earlier, is not new. Such escalations will continue until both sides reach an agreement. Under international law, Israel has been wrong ever since it annexed parts of Palestine in 1967. Such a conflict would not have arisen if East Jerusalem was controlled by Palestine and if Palestinian Muslims were allowed to enter their holy mosque and worship God during their most important festival in Ramadan. Such a conflict could have been avoided had Israel not unlawfully been relocating palestinians by force and quashing their Human rights. Such a conflict would have been avoided if Israel had not violated International law and basic moral codes.
Signs of the conflict de-escalating soon look grim with the Israeli Prime Minister warning Palestine of harsh consequences due to their launching of missiles. For now, it is important that we pray for the civilians on both sides and pray that they remain safe and do not become victim to continuous errors by the people they have faith in to govern them.
- Nehal Singhal