Israel and Palestine: a complete guide to the crisis

Posted By on November 6, 2023

Occupied territories, two-state solution, apartheid, peace process, proscribed terrorist organisations, the Nakba, proxy militias, disproportionate force. The decades-long crisis in Israel and Palestine has gripped the world but it has a tangled history that can feel overwhelming and terminology that many find confusing.

Below are Guardian explainer articles that aim to answer the deeper questions and give historical context, as well as provide some simple definitions.

Newcomers should start here: a short history of the dispute in the Holy Land that the world has repeatedly failed to address. Read the full article

Leaving history behind, this explainer was written the day after the 7 October Hamas attack on Israeli communities just outside the Gaza frontier. Information was still emerging but it was clear that militants were deliberately killing civilians as well as Israeli soldiers during the onslaught. The assault left 1,400 people dead, the majority of them civilians, according to officials in Israel. In one attack on a music festival, 260 people were killed. Read the full article

More than 240 hostages were taken to Gaza by militants. The vast majority of those remain captive, although several have been freed under secret deals and at least one Israeli soldier was rescued in an operation. The breakdown of civilians and military hostages is not clear.

For a full breakdown of what happened in the first week of the war, read this piece: Seven days of terror that shook the world and changed the Middle East Read the full article

In retaliation, Israel has launched a war in Gaza, imposing a complete siege on the territory of 2.3 million people. In its war intended to destroy Hamas, Israels military has conducted hundreds of strikes on residential areas, killing whole families, while also working alongside Egypt to block people from leaving. Israeli strikes have killed more than 8,500 Palestinians, nearly half of them children, according to the health ministry in Gaza. Read the full article

Israels siege of Gaza includes closing all crossings but Egypt also shares a border with the territory. Egypt has a number of reasons for tightly controlling its border with Gaza, not least because it has a peace treaty with Israel, and it also does not want Palestinians to enter in large numbers. However, some injured Palestinians and international aid workers have been allowed to leave Gaza. Read the full article

After two weeks of bombing, Israel launched its ground invasion. The urban warfare operation is likely to be lengthy and fraught with danger for its military and for Palestinian civilians. The operations specific goals remain uncertain. Read the full article

Several militant groups operate in Gaza, chief among them Hamas, an armed Islamist group that has ruled inside the blockaded territory since 2007. Read the full article

The second largest armed group in Gaza, which sometimes works with Hamas, is the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine. It is considered one of the most extreme and uncompromising Palestinian armed factions. Read the full article

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are considered to be Iranian proxies groups that receive support from and are influenced by Iran, the arch-enemy of Israel. Read the full article

Hezbollah, the Lebanese political and militant group, is Irans most prominent proxy movement. The group grew in influence during the Israeli occupation of Lebanon and is now a major political force. Many fear the hatred born out of the Gaza war will push Hezbollah and Israel to enter a new war. Read the full article

The slogan is used by Palestinians and Israelis and is open to an array of interpretations, from the genocidal to the democratic. Read the full article

A United Nations independent commission of inquiry has said there is already clear evidence that war crimes may have been committed by Hamas and the Israeli military. Read the full article

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Israel and Palestine: a complete guide to the crisis

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