Lately, you may have heard about increased tension and violence between Israel and Palestine. Some Americans have a good understanding of what’s happening in that region, while others might not be certain about what is going on. Let’s talk about what’s happening in that part of the world and America’s connection to it.
How the Conflict Began
We could take hours talking about the hostility between Palestinians and Israelis in that part of the world, but we’ll summarize. In 1948, Jews officially established the Israeli state. Many of them did so after fleeing the Holocaust in Europe. With the Allies defeating Hitler, some Jews felt they needed a nation to call their own.
They settled in an area that is religiously significant to them, but also to Palestinians. Palestinians are Arabs, and there has been conflict between the two groups dating back to a time considerably before the Jews established Israel.
The Present Day
At the moment, there’s a situation where Israel and Palestine are constantly engaged in a war of words with each other. Frequently, it moves beyond words, though, as has happened in recent weeks. The Israelis and Palestinians often fire rockets back and forth between the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem.
The Israelis, though, have the famed “Iron Dome” missile defense system, while the Palestinians do not have anything to rival it. Also, it’s not as though all the Palestinians are militants who are dead-set on attacking Israelis. There are some of them, the militant group called Hamas, that actively want to engage in conflict.
There are reporters there to cover the skirmishes, just as there have been for decades. It’s a dangerous job, though, and not just from desert dust damage in their electronic equipment. If they get too close to the conflict, they can become casualties themselves, and a press badge isn’t a foolproof defense against a missile attack.
A few days ago, a military strike in the Gaza Strip destroyed a press building, a move which many countries, including the United Nations, condemned. The Israelis stated they had intel that Hamas was operating out of that building. It is hard to prove such a claim, though.
Where Does the US Stand in All This?
Most nations still consider the US to be a superpower, both because of its nuclear capabilities and because of its wealth as compared to various third-world countries. America has significant geopolitical standing, so what our leadership does and says about the Palestinian-Israeli violence matters.
America has long taken the standpoint that we support Israel. President Biden recently stated that Israel “has a right to defend itself.” The issue that some Americans take with this assertion is that the violence is extremely one-sided.
In recent days, the number of Palestinians dead is significantly higher than the number of Israelis. Again, that is because Israel has considerably better weapons technology and overall firepower than Palestine does. Doubtless, there are militants in Palestine who wish to harm Israel, but it’s challenging to do much about that through airstrikes without killing innocent civilians, including children.
President Biden stated within the past couple of days that he wants the conflict to end, but he has stopped short of demanding a ceasefire. Also, it’s worth noting that the United States provides Israel with billions for military aid every year. Some pundits and politicians feel that makes the US complicit in Palestinian deaths.
Parallels to Other Conflicts
Of course, this harkens back to America’s own Middle East wars over the past thirty years. The conflicts in which we engaged killed civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s hard to have a missile strike that only kills insurgents and terrorists while avoiding civilian casualties.
At the same time as President Biden tries to figure out how to support Israel without alienating them, there are plenty of Israeli protestors who think their own nation’s response to escalating tensions has been disproportionate. Many of them have marched and demonstrated, asking for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to either step down or at least try to deescalate tensions.
Frankly, there’s no easy solution to any of this. There are both Israeli and Palestinian citizens who are not terrorists or militants, and they desire peace. They’re fighting over territory, though, that both groups consider sacred based on their religious beliefs.
The unfortunate reality is that this unrest is but the latest chapter in a long-running saga that shows no signs of ending anytime soon.