Israel-Palestine Conflict: What to Know as Ceasefire Is Called, and What Life Amid the Violence Is Like

Israeli airstrikes towards Gaza during conflicts
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The latest fighting between Israel and Palestine came to an end as a cease-fire took effect in the Gaza war.

The latest fighting between Israel and Palestine came to an end as a cease-fire took effect in the Gaza war. Palestinians took to the streets early Friday to celebrate what they viewed as a the victory for Hamas. Israel, however, said it would show a “new level of force” to any further incidents, according to The Associated Press.

Here's what to know about this most recent conflict, the long history behind it and what it was like for those on the ground trying to go about their daily lives amid the violence. 

What Led to the Latest Israeli-Palestine Conflict?

The violence began earlier this month over the planned evictions of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah region, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem, reportedly by some extremist right-wing Jews, CNN reported. 

In an attack early Wednesday, four Palestinians were killed, including a journalist, according to Al Jazeera.

During an overnight attack, Israel fired off 50 rockets at targets including what its military said were tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip used by Hamas, the Islamist group that governs Gaza, Reuters reported. 

The tunnel strikes started on Tuesday when Israeli jets struck nine rocket launch sites in Gaza and targeted the Hamas tunnel network, the location of several residences of Hamas commanders and the location of an anti-tank squad in Gaza City, CNN reported.  

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue attacks on Hamas until Israel’s security is guaranteed, saying that “no country would tolerate this,” The New York Times reported. 

“Israel has responded forcefully to these attacks, and we will continue to respond forcefully until the security of our people is reinstated and restored,” Netanyahu said.

The countries were called on to cease-fire by the United States and other world powers, the Washington Post reported. And, according to reports from Israel media, Netanyahu had said during a closed question-and-answer session, "We're not standing with a stopwatch. We want to achieve the goals of the operation. Previous operations lasted a long time, so it is not possible to set a timeframe," Reuters reported. 

The mounting tensions also caused clashes between Arab and Jewish citizens in several Israeli cities, including Lod, Bat Yam and Acre. The violence also spilled over to the occupied West Bank, where nearly a dozen Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces, the largest number of people killed in a single day in the West Bank in years, the Gaza-based Palestinian Health Ministry reported, according to CNN.

On Saturday, Israeli airstrikes pummeled a prominent high-rise in Gaza City that housed media outlets, including The Associated Press and Al Jazeera. The Israeli Defense Forces said it gave ample warning for civilians to evacuate. There were no casualties. A major road leading to the Shifa Hospital was destroyed. And, on early Sunday, Israeli forces bombed the home of Yehya Sinway, the leader of the Hamas militant group in Gaza, The New York Times previously reported. 

According to an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman,Sinwar, Sinway was not hurt in the airstrike, CNN reported.

Israeli forces on Tuesday said Gaza had launched more than 3,450 rockets at it. They said some of the rockets fell short, while others were shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system. And, that their armed forces have killed around 130 Hamas fighter and another 30 from Islamic Jihad, Reuters reported.

In Gaza, 215 Palestinians, including 61 children and 36 women, have been killed, and more than 1,400 have been wounded, authorities said. In Israel, 12 people have been killed, including two children, authorities said. 

Nearly 450 buildings along the Gaza Strip have been destroyed or damaged, including six hospitals, and nine primary care health centers, according to the The United Nations humanitarian agency. 

About 52,000 people have been displaced by the current conflict. About 47,000 have fled to U.N. schools, according to Reuters. 

Experts say there has not been an attack of this magnitude since the Gaza War in 2014. In that war, more than 2,200 Gazans, approximately half of whom were civilians and more than 550 children, were killed, according to a United Nations report, CNN reported.

How the Israel-Palestine Conflict Has Affected Those Who Live There

Despite the war that rages, daily life continued for many not directly affected by the turmoil.

Noam Rozenboim, 23, who was born and raised in Israel and in January completed her stint in the Israeli army, called what was happening “political.”

“Both sides only think of themselves and how they are keeping the government not how it benefits its citizens,” Noam said.

She said she believes Israel’s military was very precise and targets missiles in locations that don’t have civilians, which she said was different from Gaza’s approach, which she classified as firing off missiles recklessly.

“The goal is not to kill citizens,” she said. “Some people only have the half truth when they read that Israel killed women and children. At the end of the day the people who suffer are the citizens. In Israel it is the ones who get the missiles and in Gaza, it it those who get attacked.”

Sydney Riemer, 24, who is from New York but has been studying in Israel for the last two-and-a-half years, has experienced first-hand what Israelis encounter regularly. On the first day of the airstrikes, she was on a train traveling from Tel Aviv to a friend's home in Even Yehuda. She said she had to get off the train and stay in an underground tunnel for about 40 minutes before she was able to get back onto the train. Despite the ordeal, she told Inside Edition Digital she wasn’t nervous.

“My parents are worried. My mother called me today and I told her I am in the safest place [that I] can be in this situation,” Riemer said. 

Both women also spoke about the fighting that is happening within Israel between Arabs and Jews that they describe is the “real issue.”

“These are Arab-Israelis citizens fighting against each other just shows you how flammable the situation is,” she said.

When Did the Israel-Palestine Conflict Begin?

The Israel-Palestine issue goes back at least 100 years, according to experts. Britain took control of the area known as Palestine after World War I. At that time, the Jewish people had been the minority and the Arabs were the majority. Part of Britain’s role was to help the Jewish people establish a place for themselves in the region. The Jewish people had a connection to the region. It was their ancestral home. The Palestinian Arabs too felt that the land was sacred, that it was for their people, and opposed the settling of Jewish people there.

Despite the Palestinian Arabs' discord, an influx of Jews came to the area in the 1920s and 1940s. As many Jews fled from the Nazi persecution during the Holocaust, they came to Israel, and many settled in the region after the Second World War. 

In 1947, the United Nations voted for Palestine to be split into separate Jewish and Arab states. Jerusalem became an International city. The plan was recognized by Jewish leaders but shunned by the Arab side, leading to an attack on Israel by several Arab nations. 

It was 1948 and a new beginning for Israel. Israel had officially been declared a state by the UN. As happy as Israelis were, many Palestinians rejected this, which led to the “Catastrophe,” the BBC reported. It was a time of unrest. 

The Divide Between Israelis and Palestinians 

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced out of their homes and fled. The following year, a ceasefire was called. Israel controlled the majority of the territory. The remaining land was occupied by Jordan, which today is known as the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, which was occupied by Egypt, according to the BCC.

Jerusalem was also divided with Israeli forces in the West, and Jordanian forces in the East. A peace agreement was never established. Over the decades, more wars and fighting in the regions ensued. 

On Dec. 6, 2017, former President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

What Are the Demographics in Israel Today?

Nearly 74% of the population, or some 6,894,000 people, in Israel is Jewish and 21%, or 1,966,000 people, are Arabs. The remaining 5%, or 467,000 people, identify as “others," which includes non-Arab Christians, Baha’i, Samaritans, Karaite Jews, Seventh-day Adventists, Messianic Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses and immigrants from the Soviet Union, according to the Jewish Virtual Library.

In 2020, the population by religion was roughly 18% Muslim, 2% Christian and 2% Druze

There were only 806,000 residents when the state was established. The total population reached its first and second millions in 1949 and 1958. Experts predict based on current population trends that the population of Israel will reach 10 million by 2024 or sooner, according to published reports. 

Who Is Hamas? 

Hamas is the largest of several Palestinian militants Islamist groups. Its military wing has been designated as a terrorist group by Israel, the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom, among other world powers, according to the BBC.

The group was founded in 1987 and since then has waged war on Israel, primarily through suicide bombings, as well as by utilizing weapons such as rockets and mortars. Its goal is to replace Israel with a Palestinian state. Hamas also controls Gaza, an impoverished area that has a population of approximately two million, independently of the Palestinian Authority, which is the main governing body of the Palestinians. Gaza is not controlled by the Palestinian government but, is believed to be occupied by Hamas.

Mahmoud Abbas is currently the Palestinian Prime Minister who governs the area in the West Bank, but has no control of the Gaza Strip.

In 2017, Hamas’ charter was revised to allow for acceptance of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip rather than the entire territory, the BBC reported. 

However, the group still refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli state. There is no unified Palestinian authority, which has complicated peace talks. It is still unclear if there will be united government of any kind, Vox reported. 

The organization also offers a network of social services to the Palestinians, which is developed, as “an alternative to deeply corrupt Palestinian Authority (PA) institutions,” according to Vox.

What Is the Iron Dome?

The Iron Dome defense system targets unguided rockets that are at low altitudes. The Iron Dome, developed by the Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the American company Raytheon, comprises radar to detect the rockets; a command-and-control system that analyzes data provided by the radar; and the air-defense missiles that are then directed to intercept. Each missile costs an estimated $40,000, CNN reported.

What Triggered the Most Recent Conflict Between Israel and Palestine?

Hamas began firing rockets in retaliation for what it said were Israeli rights abuses against Palestinians in Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Reuters reported. 

In the region of Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem, many Palestinian families were ordered to leave their homes.

On May 7, many Palestinians were protesting against these evictions and the protests turned violent. Stones were thrown and the Israeli police tried to control the situation. The police and the protesters clashed and people were injured on both sides. According to reports, Israeli police claimed they had information that some Palestinians had collected stones to be thrown at the right-wing people in the rallies who had been carrying signs, “Death to Arabs.”

Some Israeli groups joined the Palestinian groups in demonstrating against the harsh crackdowns from the authorities. "We won’t stay silent in front of the violence and the incitement and the racism and we will defend the right of everybody to live in Jerusalem peacefully and with equal rights," one woman said in a video captured by CGTN America, a YouTube channel that is funded in whole or in part by the Chinese government, and the American division of China Global Television Network.

On May 10 there was a police raid at the Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, one of the holiest sites in Islam, according to the Washington Post. The attack took place during the holy period of Ramadan, which took place from April 12 to May 12. Rubber bullets and flash grenades were used on unarmed worshippers, according to a report. The Hamas group sent a warning that it would retaliate if the Israeli government did not withdraw Israeli police from the mosque.

Rozenboim gave Inside Edition Digital her interpretation of current crisis and how it all began.

“A congressman, a person in our congress, opened his office in East Jerusalem. You’re not supposed to do that. It is not the Jewish part. It is the Muslim part," she said. "There was a bunch of riots and those riots started the missiles from Gaza and then missiles from Gaza started more riots in around Jaffa and Lod."

Will There Ever Be a Resolution? 

In a public opinion poll regarding peace with the Palestinians half of people polled said that it is “very important” and 34% said somewhat important that there be a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to a survey by Zogby Research. And, when asked how likely is it that there will be a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the next 5 years? According to a 2020 poll by Zogby Research, 51% said somewhat unlikely and 34% very unlikely, the JVN reported.

Attempts at Diplomacy Amid the Israel-Palestine Conflict

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday that “our goal is to get to the end of this conflict,” Reuters reported.

“It continues to be that quiet, intensive behind-the-scenes discussions are tactically our approach at this time,” she said.

To help calm the crisis, Egypt and U.N. mediators stepped up diplomatic efforts, and the U.N. General Assembly planned to discuss the violence on Thursday. And on Tuesday, France called for a U.N. Security Council resolution on the violence as diplomats said the United States told the Council a "public pronouncement right now" would not help calm the crisis, Reuters reported

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