The violent battle between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza is part of the Arab-Israeli conflict, which has been going on for decades. After Israel was founded in 1948, millions of Palestinians fled their homelands and settled in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. At that time, Gaza belonged to Egypt. In 1967, Israel occupied the area after the 6-Day War. In the decades that followed, several conflicts have arisen between Palestinians and Israelis.
The Gaza Strip is a 25 mile-long area on the Mediterranean coast. Most of its 1.8 million people live in extreme poverty. Infrastructure is weak; food and electricity are often scarce. Over 40% of the Palestinians are unemployed because they cannot find any work in Gaza. Some of them travel across the border to work in Israel.
The United Nations manages almost half of the schools in Gaza, but more are needed to deal with the rise in population, which is expected to grow to over 2 million by 2020. The UN also says that more and more houses and apartments are needed for people who have lost their homes during Israeli air strikes.
The Gaza Strip
In 2005, Israel decided to withdraw their army from the Gaza Strip in an attempt to allow Palestinians to rule themselves. It also pulled out 5000 Israelis, who settled in the region. Shortly afterwards, a terrorist organization called Hamas took power after winning general elections. Hamas does not recognise Israel as a sovereign state and wants to destroy the Jewish country. Its aim is to give Palestinians their old homeland back.
In the last few years, Israel has led an all-out war against Hamas. It controls what gets in and out of Gaza at the border crossings in the east and north. Israel has set up land and sea blockades to protect itself and controls the airspace over Gaza. Egypt has closed its own border with Gaza because it is afraid that hundreds of thousands will flee to the Arab country.
Hamas does not have a regular army, however terrorists constantly fire rockets into Israel, mostly from a system of tunnels that they have built. This draws Israel more and more into an armed conflict, seeking revenge for Israeli civilians who have been killed. Israel’s airstrikes have not only destroyed Hamas’ military command posts but also killed thousands of innocent civilians.
Western countries, including the United States and the European Union have been working hard at achieving a peaceful way to solve the crisis. One solution would be to turn Gaza and the West Bank into a sovereign Palestinian state; however, this is rejected by Israel, as long as Hamas controls much of the region.
Building in Gaza Strip Bombed by Israel - Muhammad Sabah and B'Tselem
- Arab - Israeli Conflict
- Hamas - A Militant Organisation in the Middle East
- Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Regions
- Palestine Becomes UN Observer
- Arab Spring
- ISIS - Militant Jihadist Movement in the Middle East
- achieve = reach, do
- aim = goal
- airspace = the sky over a country
- airstrike = attack a place from the air
- all-out = with a lot of energy
- arise – arose – arisen = come up, start
- armed = with guns, rockets and other things used to fight in a war
- army = soldiers who fight for a country
- attempt = try
- battle = fight, conflict
- blockade = when you put soldiers or ships in a place to stop people or goods from getting in or out
- border = line between two countries
- border crossing = place where you can travel from one country to another
- civilian = person who is not a soldier or in the army
- coast = place where land meets the sea
- command post = place from which military leaders control a fight or war
- constantly = always
- deal with = manage
- decade = a period of ten years
- draw = pull
- electricity = power that is in wires or cables and is used to make light and heat
- flee – fled = escape from a dangerous situation
- found – founded = to start something new; here: to create a new country
- general election = when all of the people in a country vote for a government or parliament
- homeland = home; place where you or your family have lived for a long time
- however = but
- including = also
- infrastructure = systems that a country needs in order to function, for example roads, bridges, schools, hospitals etc..
- innocent = harmless
- lead – led = here: fight
- manage = control, run, operate
- occupy = to enter a country and control it with an army
- poverty = the situation of being poor
- pull out = take out of
- recognise = accept
- reject = to say no; to be against something
- revenge = something you do to punish a person or group that has attacked you
- rule = govern
- scarce = limited, not enough of
- seek = look for
- settle = to move to another place and live there
- several = many
- shortly afterwards = a short time later
- solution = answer , way out of a problem
- solve = find an answer to something
- sovereign = independent , free
- unemployed = out of work
- withdraw = pull out of an area