Everything You Need To Know About The Israel-Gaza Conflict


PHOTO: An Israeli armored personnel drives along the Israel and Gaza border, July 13, 2014.

Egypt has presented a cease-fire plan that marks the most serious attempt for international parties to mediate the week of violence.

A Hamas official has said that they are willing to discuss the plan and Israeli leaders are said to be seriously discussing the proposal, which comes after seven days of heavy rocket fire that has now claimed an estimated 185 lives.

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What Is Gaza and Who Controls It?

The Gaza Strip is a Detroit-sized area on the border with Egypt up against the Mediterranean Sea that is one of the most densely packed places on Earth. Technically part of the Palestinian Authority, it has been governed since 2007 by the militant group Hamas.

Hamas, which rejects the existence of Israel, and the Palestinian Authority, recently agreed to form a unity government with the other main Palestinian political faction, Fatah. But the outbreak of current hostilities pitting Hamas against Israel has left the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority on the sidelines.

 

PHOTO: A map of Israel and its surrounding areas.

ABC News
PHOTO: A map of Israel and it’s surrounding areas.

 

What Sparked This Violence?

Tensions were ignited in June when three Israeli teenagers, one with American citizenship and all seminary students, were kidnapped while hitchhiking in the West Bank and killed. They were kidnapped on June 12 and their bodies were discovered June 30. Within days, Israel arrested more than 300 Palestinians, many of them members of Hamas. Hamas warned Israel it had “opened up the gates of hell” with its actions.

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On the night the boys’ bodies were found, a barrage of rockets were launched from Gaza at Israel and Israeli warplanes carried out numerous air strikes in Gaza.

On July 2, a Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and burned to death in apparent retaliation. The death triggered riots in East Jerusalem, a largely Palestinian area. Three Israelis have been arrested and charged with his death.

 

PHOTO: Thousands of people gathered in Tel Avivs Rabin Square on June 29, 2014 for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli boys who  were kidnapped on June 19 near the West Bank settlement of Gush Etzion.

Laura Chiesa/LightRocket via Getty Images
PHOTO: Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on June 29, 2014 for a rally calling for the release of the three Israeli boys who  were kidnapped on June 19 near the West Bank settlement of Gush Etzion.

 

The attacks quickly escalated. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have fired rockets with a reach that Israel had not previously seen, with air raid sirens going off as far away as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. Many of the missiles have landed in desert areas or been intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. No Israelis have died from the rocket attacks. There have been reports of several Israeli injuries, including one teenage boy who was seriously wounded from a shrapnel blast.

According to the Israeli Defense Forces, Israel has carried out more than 1,400 air strikes in Gaza as part of Operation Protective Edge. The Palestinian Health Ministry says more than 170 people have been killed in Gaza and more than 1,300 have been injured since the operation began. The IDF claims more than 1,000 rockets have been launched at Israel in the last week, 754 of which have hit Israel and some 200 were intercepted by the Iron Dome.

Israel has called up more than 40,000 reservists and massed tanks and troops along the border with Gaza, but so far a full-scale ground offensive has not taken place.

 

PHOTO: A picture taken from the southern Israeli Gaza border shows rockets being fired from the Gaza strip into Israel, on July 12, 2014.

Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images
PHOTO: A picture taken from the southern Israeli Gaza border shows rockets being fired from the Gaza strip into Israel, on July 12, 2014.

 

Who Are the Key Players?

Hamas controls the Gaza Strip and is considered a terrorist group by Israel and the U.S.

The Israeli Defense Forces are the military arm of Israel and are well armed and exceptionally large given Israel’s population. Most Israeli residents must go through compulsory military service and are automatically enrolled in the IDF’s reserve forces.

Benjamin Netanyahu is the prime minister of Israel. After the Israeli teens were found dead, he said they were victims of “terrorists” and “human animals.” When the Palestinian teen was found murdered, he telephoned the boy’s father and said the murder was “abhorrent.” Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev said that they followed through with their promise to find and punish the perpetrators.

“Israel stands thoroughly against this. We promised to investigate. We promised to bring the perpetrators of that crime to justice and guess what? We delivered. We’ve done exactly that,” Regev said.

 

PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks during a press conference at the defense ministry in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on July 11, 2014.

Gali Tibbon/AP Photo
PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks during a press conference at the defense ministry in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on July 11, 2014.

What Is Notable About This Outbreak of Violence?

The current fight comes after almost two years of relative calm between Israel and the Palestinians and just months after the latest round of peace talks collapsed.

The technology being used by both sides is more advanced than in earlier periods of violence. Hamas has publicly claimed responsibility for the drone, and went on to say that they actually have two types of drones: one to gather intelligence and another to fire munitions. Hamas has been able to reach cities that are much further north in Israel than they ever have before, instilling a new fear for Israeli residents. Israel claims some 5 million people now live within striking distance of Hamas’ newest rockets.

Hamas has also launched home-made, unmanned drones to fly over Israel, and the militant group claimed to have drones that are armed. Israel shot down an unarmed drone on Monday off the coast.

 

PHOTO: A Palestinian boy stands in the rubble of a destroyed house the day after an Israeli strike in the town of Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, July 9, 2014.

Khalil Hamra/AP Photo
PHOTO: A Palestinian boy stands in the rubble of a destroyed house the day after an Israeli strike in the town of Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, July 9, 2014.

What Is Going to Happen Next?

The 42,000 IDF military reservists that have been called to the Israel-Gaza border could be preparing for a possible ground incursion.

Netanyahu said Sunday that the Israeli offensive could last “a long time.”

The European Union and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon are pressing for a ceasefire, but so far neither Israel nor Hamas has indicated that they are willing to stop the fighting.

 

 

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