What we know today as Israel, Palestine and Gaza were once united as a single British-administered territory called “Mandatory Palestine”. A UN Partition plan (1947) which gave rise to an independent Israel sparked off a civil war between the Arabs and the Jews. This was the first of the many wars to come in the history of the Israel-Palestine Conflict. The 2014 instalment of the Palestine-Israel conflict had humble beginnings. Palestine, at this point of time had two major areas with respect to political division – The West Bank zone, administered by the Fatah, and the Gaza strip, controlled by a militant group called Hamas. Hamas was reportedly aggressive while the Fatah, headed by Abbas was much more concerned with peace.
7 weeks of Terror:
On 12th June 2014, three Israeli teenagers went missing and the top suspect was of course, Hamas. The suspicion may have been justified given the crackling hostility that Hamas had made a point to display.
What was not justifiable however, was the Israeli search operation which was organised without sufficient evidence. More than 5 Palestinians were killed in the process, and 300 of them (a majority of whom were a part of Hamas) taken under custody, not to mention the numerous others who were abused without warrant or proof. An agitated Hamas retaliated with rocket fires on Israel which resulted in rapid counter air-strikes by Israel. Seven weeks of intermittent warfare followed. It was a gory story of air strikes, ground invasion, destruction of homes, and causalities in hundreds, peppered with much needed cease-fires.
The war intensified mid-July, when an Israeli ground attack was launched to destroy all Gazan cross-border attack tunnels. The Palestinians, though well-equipped in offensive weapons, were prey to a dreary defence scenario. With the number of deaths due to conflict in Palestine rising at an alarming rate, the UN launched an investigation into Israeli war crimes. Though the usage of weapons was more or less even on both sides, Palestine incurred huge casualties due to a concentrated population and a studied indiscretion by Israel. In an instance that shocked the world, Israel bombed a UN school harbouring about 3000 displaced Gazans despite having been communicated its location several times. This disregard shown by Israel for civilian lives has invited condemnation and disapproval from various countries.
The Long Term Truce:
After 50 days of fighting, August the 27th finally augured reprieve. Egypt facilitated a long-term truce between Israel and Gaza and the whole world sighed in collective relief. But was there any respite for the Gazans? More than 2100 Palestinians were dead, thousands of houses and buildings decimated. The death toll in Israel was less than 70 for the military and 7 for civilians. These figures are more than enough to demonstrate the gulf in the damage sustained by Israel and Palestine.
The Palestine-Israel Conflict of 2014 is now past us. It has, however, left the world wondering – must civilians pay the price of a war with their lives?