Israelis and Palestinians have been fighting since the creation of the Jewish state directly after the end of the Second World War. Since the beginning, there were little hopes of reconciliation. The original UN plan was to implement an independent Jewish state, an independent Arab state, with Jerusalem (a holy city for both) belonging to neither. The plan was accepted by the recognized Jewish authority at the time and rejected by the recognized Arab authority. Struggles ensued. After (too) much bloodshed and offensives and defensives and counteroffensives, Israel became a UN-recognized state and the US (and the majority of Western countries) adopted a pro-Israel stance. These countries’ stance is best exemplified current Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu’s words, “If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel.”
But the struggle is far from that simple. Neither side is innocent or blameless. Both sides place blame on each other for the countless civilian and military casualties. It is true that there have been far more Palestinian deaths than Israeli, but Hamas, a group that many consider to be terrorist in their intentions and tactics, has retained controlled of the Gaza Strip since 2007, and is to be partially blamed for Palestinian deaths in the area.
The two opposing sides have been engaged in on-and-off strikes since Israel’s creation, but their conflict has dominated mainstream media outlets for the past few weeks with increased bombings in Gaza, Tel Aviv (Israel’s financial capital), and other areas in Israel and Palestine. Now where did all this start? There has been a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestine since 2012, so how did things escalate to this today? Well, the details are a little murky, so we don’t know who exactly fired the first shot.
Many Palestinian sympathizers argue that Israel felt threatened by the agreement between Fatah (Hamas’s Palestinian political opposition party that controls the West Bank–control is used somewhat loosely here as both Gaza and West Bank are occupied by Israel, officially or unofficially) and Hamas for a unified Palestinian state. They argue that Israel then tempted Palestine for an attack by decreasing fishing zones and implementing other restrictive measures, giving themselves authority to arrest and violently face Palestinians who broke the suffocating occupation. And once groups not affiliated with Hamas made small attacks on Israel (that Hamas nevertheless applauded), Israel had an excuse to ruthlessly strike “back.”
Israeli supporters have a different account. They mark the beginning when non-Hamas related Palestinians kidnapped three Israeli teenagers (an act that was again nevertheless praised by Hamas). They believe this gave Israel license to arrest and question Palestinian suspects. Although the procedure was completely normal, Palestinians took it as an act of aggression and started attacking Israel, and Israel had no choice but to fire back.
There is no doubt that in this year, and in total, there have been far more Palestinian casualties than there have been Israeli casualties. But Israeli supporters who acknowledge this fact contribute it to ruthless terrorist Palestinian organizations that attack their own people (intentionally or unintentionally) and then place the blame on Israel. It is true that, at least partially, most powerful Palestinian authorities often do not accurately represent the majority of their constituents. It is true that they are often terrorist. It is also true that Israel occupies Gaza and the West Bank and allows little Palestinian freedom while looking past violence against Arabs.
While it is not my job to provide you an opinion in this article, unless you support death of human beings, I cannot say either side in this conflict is true and correct and by any means justified in their treatment of the opposition. Each, like any nation, has its redeeming as well as hopelessly vicious qualities. Most countries have long picked their sides in this conflict, often praising the heroism of whichever side they chose to support for whatever reason, and demonizing the other. But they are far from just good or bad states. They are both nations, which means each government will be partly humane and partly hostile.