What is this Gaza Strip we have been hearing so much about?
The Gaza Strip is a small Palestinian territory smack dab in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Israel, and a small portion of Egypt. The Strip is ruled by an anti-Israeli militant group called “Hamas” whose sole mission is to resist Israel and gain more territory for Palestine. For defensive measures, Egypt and Israel closed off the majority of their borders to the Strip in 2006, which limited trade and ultimately created a deeply impoverished Palestinian state.
If you have examined the map shared on the right you are probably wondering, how did this tiny strip of land become trapped amongst their own sworn enemies!? Well, back in 1948, the United Nations decided that the territory formerly known as Palestine would be divided into two independent countries: Palestine and Israel. This decision didn’t sit well with certain influential Arab Leaders, who envisioned an independent and Arab Palestine; they attempted to gain more territory from the new Israeli state through military conquest. By the time the dust settled, around 1967, the Palestinians had lost a considerable amount of territory, making them worse off than before. In fact, Israel only officially pulled out of the Gaza Strip in 2005.
What’s going on now?
So yes, there’s a lot of tension. The first hint of conflict surfaced following the disappearance of Israeli hikers around mid-June, for which the Palestinians were blamed. What happened to the hikers is still a mystery and the following weeks brought with them a blur of heated investigations, accusations, and eventually (unfortunately) bombings. Who threw the first punch, or deployed the first bomb, isn’t really relevant anymore–this conflict has resulted in casualties on both sides of the border. The stakes and levels of aggression are steadily rising.
Thankfully, a few days ago, Palestinian and Israeli leaders declared an open-ended cease-fire. After seven weeks of fighting and over 2,200 lives lost, this comes as a relief to those directly affected by the conflict and also for those all around the world who have watched, grimacing from a distance. Though both sides managed to agree to a ceasefire, these begrudging neighbors have had numerous impermanent ceasefires before, posing the question: will Palestine and Israel ever be able to live in peace together?
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