Since the supposed resolution of Israeli-Palestinian relations under the Oslo Accords of 1993, waves of violence have broken out, the most recent of which was during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when Israel sought to restrict some Palestinian gatherings in Jerusalem’s Old City and evict dozens of Palestinians from Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
On May 9, “Jerusalem Day”—Israel’s celebration of its annexation of Jerusalem— Israeli extremists marched through the Arab quarter of the city, provoking Palestinians who live there, according to ABC News, and preceding more altercations, mainly in and near the Old City’s al-Aqsa mosque—which Palestinians regard as the third holiest place in Islam and which sits on a plateau Jewish people regard as their holiest site.
During Ramadan, when thousands of Palestinians congregated to worship and to protest both the evictions and Israeli governmental actions they deemed discriminatory, the Israeli government intervened, using tear gas, rubber bullets, and stun grenades to disperse the crowd, injuring hundreds, according to The Atlantic. Israeli forces’ presence at the al-Asqa mosque caused further dispute, as Jordan is the administrator of the mosque and has designated it a solely Islamic place of worship.
On May 10, Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that does not recognize Israel and was democratically elected to govern the Gaza Strip in 2006, began launching a series of rockets into Israel. Over the following 11 days, Hamas fired more than 4,000 rockets into Israeli civilian areas such as Tel Aviv, according to The Associated Press. Israel intercepted the majority of these using the Iron Dome, the country’s missile defense system, and then bombarded the Gaza Strip with their own airstrikes.
The recent violence has amounted to at least 200 Palestinian deaths in Gaza and at least 10 Israeli deaths in Israel, according to The Washington Post. The violence has also sparked protests from supporters of both sides in the U.S. and around the world. The Israeli police evacuated the al-Aqsa mosque on May 21, and a ceasefire brokered by Egypt and influenced by the U.S. and its allies followed, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Vanguard editors Maya Benjamin and Mary Randolph (both ’22) asked community members with ties to the region how they have experienced the recent escalation in violence. See “Upper School aunt shares perspective from Be’er Sheva,” “Lower School parent describes life in Nablus,” and “Lower School relative Ribhi Elzarhu connects past and present.”