“This is Razan’s weapon”, Razan’s father said, emptying out his vest pockets. Holding the gauze and bandages as if it were made of glass, he repeats. “This is her weapon.” According to Al Jazeera, Razan al-Najjar was a 21-year old Palestinian medic. She volunteered at the increasingly violent protests and died early June after being shot in the back by Israeli forces near the fence. Since March 30th, 2018 at least 121 Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israeli forces.
The military flareups are getting more intense and more frequent. According to the Washington Post, May 29th and 30th saw the most intense fighting since the 2014 summer war. Hamas and other militant factions on the Palestinian side fired more than 100 rockets and mortar shells into Israel. Although none of the fire hit any people, it hit an empty kindergarten and a residential home and some local hospitals reported several light injuries caused mainly by shrapnel, with one Israeli solider in moderate condition. Afterward, an unofficial cease-fire took hold the day after. It was mediated by Egypt and Israeli leaders would not confirm if an agreement had been reached.
According to the BBC, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been in existence since Israel’s establishment in 1948 by the British mandate of Palestine. Israel is the only majority Jewish state in the world and its most critical issue is ownership of the land it currently resides on. Israel was the culmination of the Zionist movement whose aim was a homeland for the dispora of Jewish people. United States provides the most crucial diplomatic and military support. Daniel Gordis justifies the creation of Israel, harkening back to its spiritual foundation, “rooted in history but determined to forge a new path, the story of the state of Israel is, in many ways, nothing less than the story of the rebirth of the Jewish people.”
But as said by Ilan Pappe’s in his book, Ten Myths about Israel, “The land of Palestine was not empty when the first Zionist settlers arrived there in 1882.” It was in 2005, that Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza but has since imposed a system that has been referred to by the UN as an “apartheid” system. The UN report stated that Palestinians “experience discrimination in access to education, health care, employment, residency, and building rights.” Palestinians answer to martial law while Israelis fall under the jurisdiction of Israeli civil law. There is a shortage of food, medicine, and opportunity for the people of Palestine. According to Dan Rabinowitz and Khawla Abu-Baker in their book, Coffins on Our Shoulders, “Three-quarters of the communities defined by Israel’s bureau of statistics as “low-income” are Palestinian.” These statistics are complemented by other thinktanks. The World Bank has reported that Palestine’s slow economic growth has resulted in high unemployment rates. Due to the conflict with Israel, over 70,000 people are suffering from prolonged internal displacement. Rebuilding the destroyed properties has been slow-going. Only a little over ten percent of the 11,000 destroyed housing units have been rebuilt to date.
These elements have led to worsening living standards for Palestinian families. The Gaza strip has been under pressure from Egyptians and their own citizens to achieve a long-term cease-fire. The future implications for the rising tensions do not bode well for either the Israeli people and the Palestinian population. While two-state solutions have been rejected during the course of this over 50-year conflict, there are other options to explore. Both Israel and Palestine should know by now that the other group is not leaving anytime soon. Steps toward forgiveness, healing, and resolution need to be taken or living conditions will fall on the Palestinian side and the Israeli government will lack the legitimacy that befits the only democracy in the Middle East.
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