The Israeli Palestinian conflict has created a humanitarian crisis with little hope for resolution. On Thursday July 24, 2014, an estimated 16 civilians were killed and more than 200 wounded when the Israeli army shelled a United Nations shelter in the Gaza Strip.
These deaths have raised the death toll in the West Bank to more than 815, many of whom are civilians. Many in the Arab world decry the extremist group Hamas for its part in spurring the conflict. By taking a look at the history of the Middle East, you can focus your next research paper on the current conflict in Gaza and how it escalated to this extent.
UN human rights declaration
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is often waged in the streets, schools and markets of the Palestinian people. Israel justifies its shelling into Gaza and other populated areas by accusing the Arab group Hamas of hiding its rocket launchers in tunnels under buildings inhabited by civilians.
Yet the high number of civilian casualties on both sides has begun to draw the attention of the international community. In a July 23, 2014, article for BBCNews.com, “UN’s Navi Pillay warns of Israel Gaza ‘war crimes,’” the writer described an address to the UN Human Rights Council by Navi Pillay, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights.
Pillay cited the killing of civilians by both sides in the conflict and raised the possibility that these actions could constitute war crimes. A thorough investigation will be required in order to determine if this is the case. According to international law, factions must distinguish between civilian and military targets and take precautions to avoid civilian casualties.
According to the reporters, Pillay referred to the July 16, 2014, Israeli air strike on a beach in Gaza where four children were killed using the phrase, “the disregard for international humanitarian law and for the right to life was shockingly evident.” Pillay also condemned rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel and accused Hamas of failing to observe principles of international law.
How did we get here?
Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza has been going on for decades. The war began in 1948 when Israel defeated Arab forces in their attempt to stop the plan to divide British Palestine into two states: one for Israelis and one for Palestinians.
After achieving victory, Israel pressed beyond the borders that the United Nations had defined. An estimated 700,000 Palestinian refugees were expelled from their homes. The borders of Israel and Palestine have been in dispute ever since.
One would be tempted to claim that the Israel-Palestine conflict is a war of extremists. On the Arab side you have Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. On the Israeli side are those who believe in crushing all opposition and protests to the Israeli occupation.
More background on the Israel-Palestine conflict can be found in the July 17, 2014, article for Vox.com, “9 questions about the Israel-Palestine conflict you were too embarrassed to ask,” by Max Fisher.
In describing how extremists on both sides foment and fuel the conflict Fisher said, “Palestinian civilians endure the brunt of it. While Israel targets militants and Hamas targets civilians, Israel’s disproportionate military strength and its willingness to target militants based in dense urban communities means that Palestinians civilians are far more likely to be killed than any other group.”
Solutions to the conflict in Gaza
Solutions to the conflict between the two groups tend to fall into two categories:
- The one state solution: The formation of a single state with full rights and citizenship for inhabitants of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank; opponents to this solution feel that Israel would lose its character as a Jewish state while Palestinians would lose their national autonomy.
- The two state solution: Recognition of an independent State of Palestine in the area west of the Jordan river; Palestine and Israel would exist side by side.
In their book, The One-State Condition: Occupation and Democracy in Israel/Palestine, Ariella Azoulay, Adi Ophir and translated by Tal Haran, examined the current situation in the Israel-Palestine conflict.
According to the authors, the Israeli occupation of Palestine is grounded in the idea of an active denial of Palestinian citizenship and civil rights. Originally considered to be a temporary solution, the fact that the occupation has gone on since 1967 indicates that the one-state solution is nowhere in sight.
According to the authors, “The real answer lies in a nonfundamentalist society that will not turn any demand for self-segregation into a deadlock against others. It is a society that offers people hope for a decent living, without dispossessing or abandoning them, without either abusing their traditions or forcing others to sanctify their principles.”
You can read more about the Arab-Israeli conflict on Questia.
What do you think of the one-state solution for the Israeli Palestinian conflict? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.