An unequal duel

Palestine and Israel declared a ceasefire in May after a series of intense attacks in Gaza during the month of Ramadan.


Celebrations in Gaza after the ceasefire was announced. Source: Reuters

Ruta Bakshi

In April 2021, there was a rise in tension between Israel and Palestinians over evictions in Sheik Jarrah in East Jerusalem which was the result of an Israeli court order. This led to local tensions rising with Israeli police clearing rioters from Al Aqsa Mosque which triggered an all-out war between the terror group Hamas based in Gaza and Israeli forces.

The conflict between Israel and Palestinians began even before 1948 when Israel was declared a state. It mainly emerged from the inter-communal violence in Mandatory Palestine between Palestinian Jews and Arabs. The main reason for the dispute between the groups is what Palestinians refer to as occupied territories and Israel says it is its right to existence. Gaza is currently ruled by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which has fought Israel many times. Israel and Egypt tightly control Gaza's borders to stop weapons from getting to Hamas.

On the 10th of May, Hamas asked Israel to withdraw security forces from the Temple Mount complex and Sheikh Jarrah by evening. When Israel refused both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad launched rockets on Israeli cities. Some rockets hit residences and a school. Israel began a campaign of airstrikes against Gaza.

Firefighters inspect a building in Gaza that was destroyed in an attack. Source: The Indian Express

The Al-Jalaa High rise, housing offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera as well as 60 condominiums, was destroyed on 15 May. By 17 May, the United Nations estimated that Israel had demolished 94 buildings in Gaza, comprising 461 housing and commercial units. In the past month, Israeli attacks have killed over 200 Palestinians, more than 60 of whom were children. The forced eviction of Palestinians is often referred to as the Nakba, which is a term used to distinguish the time period between 1947-1949 in which Zionist militias demolished Palestinian villages and displaced over 750,000 people.

The Indian Government has previously supported both Israel and Palestine and also sought Israel’s assistance during the Indo-China war in 1962. Under the Congress government in the 1970s, India also became one of the first non-Arab countries to support the Palestine Liberation Organisation and its leader Yasser Arafat as the formal representative of Palestinians. With Israel becoming a major arms supplier to India, the union government finds it very hard to take a side in this conflict and even abstained at the UN vote on the latest conflict.

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