Updates on the Gaza Strip

By · 29 August, 2018 · Blog

This article does not represent UN Youth Australia as a whole – this is simply an interpretation by one of our fantastic facilitators in hope to create ideas and increase dialogue surrounding this topic.

Current developments along the Gaza strip can be traced back to decades of hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians. While the media is great for learning what is going on in the world, it very rarely gives us substantiated context on issues and why they might be occurring.  The Gaza Strip, or Gaza, is a self-governing Palestinian territory on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea and borders Egypt and Israel. The area, along with the territory of ‘Israel’ used to be encompassed by a larger state known as Palestine and was home to many Arabs. The following sequence of events is going to be hideously simplified in an effort to give you as much contextual understanding as I can on how we got to modern day tensions in such a short space!

The events of WWII and the Holocaust inevitably lead to a renewed review of the idea of Zionism, as Western leaders felt the need to compensate the Jewish for injustices.

Essentially, the decline of the Ottoman Empire in WWI resulted in an upsurge of nationalism and self-consciousness within the newly independent states – leading to the advent of modern Zionism (the movement for the re-establishment and protection of a Jewish nation). Crucially, Zionism believed that this Jewish nation should be ideally established in Palestine (Judea) since this is perceived as the Jewish ‘homeland’.

This arose mostly as a result of systematic violence against the Jews in Eastern Europe and the strong forcing of Jews to assimilate into European society. In WWI, the Ottoman Empire sided with the Axis and so the Allies made a commitment to find any means possible to rally international support for the Allies. In exchange for Jewish support, Britain promised them the establishment of “a national home” in Palestine. However, the British are also seeking to mobilise the Arabs and so they promise the same piece of territory to both peoples. Britain then inherits Palestine as a mandate after the war and needs to figure out what to do (at this point, conflict is starting to arise between Israelis and Arabs who already live in Palestine).

The events of WWII and the Holocaust inevitably lead to a renewed review of the idea of Zionism, as Western leaders felt the need to compensate the Jewish for injustices

The state of Israel was established in 1948 and terrorism commenced in ex-Palestine, with the Arabs seeing the establishment of a Jewish state as just another form of colonialism. The UN draws up plans for the partition of Palestine between a Jewish state (Israel) and an Arab state, but the Arabs mobilise and attempt to cut off the Jewish territory. This leads to the first Arab-Israeli war and Palestinian exodus (mass departure). By 1949, Palestine is no longer a state and is now mainly Israel, with part of the territory controlled by Jordan. A vast number of unhappy Palestinians take refuge in Jordan and many become radicalised in refugee camps. There is a growth of pan-Arabism sentiment which leads to the ‘Six Day War’ (1967), in which Egypt, Jordan and Syria all launch offensives on Israel. Israel turns out being stronger than they expect and actually expands its territory. Israeli-Arab conflict continues after 1967 but language morphs into Israeli-Palestinian conflict (since Palestinians assume power among Arabs). There is the advent of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) (which I’m sure you’ve probably heard of) who believed terrorist tactics were the best way to achieve an independent Palestinian National State, but they eventually renounced violence in 1974.

While there is now a self-governing Palestinian State in Gaza (not officially recognised as a sovereign state), the area is controlled by a group called ‘Hamas’ who are also often called a terrorist organisation. The Palestinians also occupy a large chunk of land called ‘West Bank’ bordering Jordan, which Israel has conveniently built a wall around that they claim is a “temporary anti-terrorism fence”.

Many Palestinians still do not recognise the legitimacy of the state of Israel, with the United States’ blatant declarations that they endorse the state of Israel only adding to tensions. In fact, current acts of violence by Israel towards Palestinians along the Gaza strip are in reaction to Palestinian protests of placing a US Embassy in Jerusalem.  And that pretty much brings us up to date. I hope I’ve been able to give you some interesting context to help you understand the origins of the current Gaza strip violence.

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