Olivia Sansom asks how violence in the Gaza Region has increased in recent weeks.

How has the violence in the Gaza Region increased in recent weeks?


Throughout history the Gaza region has been an area of dispute between Israel and Palestine. The conflict erupted in 2005 with the election of the Islamist political party Hamas in 2005 and 2006. Much of the world call Hamas a terrorist organisation. Hamas refuses to recognise Israel as a country and wants Palestine to be able to return to their old home and are willing to use violence to achieve their aims. Tensions only escalated with the split of the Palestinian Authority Palestinian government into the Fatah Government in the West Bank and the Hamas Government in Gaza, and the following violent ousting of Fatah after Fatah lost the election to Hamas.


Since 2001, Palestinian Militants have launched thousands of rockets on Israel from the Gaza Strip as part of the continuing Arab Israeli conflict. These attacks have been widely condemned by the United Nations, European Union and Israeli officials and are classed as terrorism by the previously mentioned organisations. They are described as war crimes by human rights groups such as Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch. The Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and the joint Egyptian Israeli blockade of the Gaza has only made the situation worse, creating more tensions between the countries.


Israel, after another war, occupied these Palestinian areas, and Israeli troops stayed here for years. Israelis hope they might exchange the land they had won for recognition from the Arab countries of their right to exist. Israeli troops finally left Gaza in 2005.


The recent fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants began on the 10th of May 2021 after weeks and weeks of rising tensions between the two countries. The crisis was triggered on the 6th of May when Palestinians protested in East Jerusalem over an anticipated decision of the Supreme Court of Israel on the eviction of six Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah. Sheikh Jarrah has been called a miniature reflection of the Israeli Palestinian disputes since 1948. Israel’s laws allow Jews to file claims over land in the East Jerusalem which they owned prior to 1948 but reject Palestinian claims over land in Israel which they owned.


Although Israel applies its laws to the Gaza region, under international laws, the area, effectively annexed by Israel is part of the Palestinian territories that Israel currently holds under military occupation.


According to Israeli TV on the 7th of May Palestinians threw stones at Israeli police forces who then stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque using rubber bullets, stun guns and tear gas. More than 300 people were injured, mostly Palestinians drawing international condemnation. The Supreme Court ruling is being delayed for a month as a way for Israel to reduce the tensions. 10th May Hamas gave Israel the ultimatum to withdraw its forces from the Temple Mount Complex and Sheikh Jarrah by 18:00 or face attack. Between 10-18 May, more than 3,440 rockets were fired toward Sderot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Jerusalem, and other communities. Ten Israelis were killed. More than 90% of the rockets heading toward populated areas were intercepted by the Iron Dome. About a third fell inside the Gaza Strip. By the 16th of May in the Gaza region, 18 buildings including 4 high rise towers, 40 schools and 4 hospitals, and the Al-Shati refugee camp. The al-Jalaa Highrise was also bombed, housing offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera as well as 60 condos, was destroyed on 15 May, prompting outcry. These were all attacks done by the Israelis. The attack on the Associated Press sparked outrage from the United States.


As a result of the violence exhibited, at least 256 Palestinians, including 66 children have been killed. In Israel, at least 13 people have been killed, including 2 children. The Gaza Ministry of Health has reported that more than 1,900 Palestinians were injured, as of the 19th of May Israel reported 200 injured. As of the 19th of May, at least 72,000 Palestinians have been displaced. Around 4,360 rockets were fired towards Israel from Gaza of which 680 landed within the strip. Israel has conducted more than 1500 air, land, and sea attacks on the Gaza Strip.


Calls for a ceasefire were proposed by Hamas on the 13th of May but were rejected by the Israeli Prime Minister. France, Egypt, and Jordan announced the filing for a Unite Nation Security Council resolution for a ceasefire on the 18th of May. The Ceasefire came into effect on the 21st of May 2021, ending 11 days of fighting with both sides claiming victory. However, on the 16th of June incendiary balloons were launched by Hamas into Israel, which the Israel Air Force retaliated to by carrying out a series of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip. This broke the ceasefire and has caused the fighting to resume.