Middle East Conflict: 8 Things You Need to Know About Israel & Palestine

IDF SoldierMan, oh man. To say there's crap going on in the Middle East is ... well, it's pretty accurate, and also, an understatement. Have you been hearing about Israel, Palestine, Hamas, and the Gaza Strip in the news recently?

So what the heck is going on? It's complicated, to say the least. Tensions are high and death tolls rise as two fundamentally opposed groups continue to be at war with one another. So who's on the right? That's a matter of perspective.

Warfare is full of propaganda and rumors, so it's almost impossible to stay neutral. It's also important to try and understand both sides of the equation, even if you don't agree with it. That being said, here are 8 things you need to know about the Middle East conflict and what's going on between Israel and Palestine, from a pro-Israel observer.

What's the big picture? Palestine believes Israel has no right to exist, so they do everything they can to destroy it. Israel does everything it can to protect its borders and citizens. The question really seems to be -- do Israel's counter attacks go too far?

Are the West Bank and the Gaza Strip the same thing? Nope, but they're both Palestinian territories. The Gaza Strip is led by Hamas, while the West Bank is led by Fatah. Both groups are predominantly Sunni Muslim, however, Hamas is considered a terrorist group by Israel, the U.S., Canada, Egypt, Jordan, and the European Union.

Wait, who is attacking whom? Well, Hamas is almost always shooting rockets into Israel. They don't recognize Israel as a sovereign nation, and believe the Israelis are occupying land that rightfully belongs to Palestine. Periodically it escalates, and Israel asks them to stop, since you know, they don't like their civilians being attacked. Being internationally recognized terrorists, Hamas refuses. Every few years, Israel launches an defense attack to keep Hamas at bay. This one is called Operation Protective Edge, and it was instigated when Hamas started sending people through their tunnel system into Israel to kill Jews. They also sent a donkey bomb, just FYI.

Well OK, but isn't Israel being a little harsh here? Since there aren't very many people outside of the Gaza Strip that would defend Hamas in general, sympathizers usually latch onto the Israel is over-killing it bandwagon. After all, they've taken to air, land, and sea to destroy the Gaza tunnels, and there have been many civilian casualties, including women and children.

What's Israel's goal? Israel is not looking to occupy Gaza, nor are they looking to kill Palestinians. The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) dropped leaflets, made phone calls, knocked on doors, and told everyone to get out of the way. They gave them ample warning to go buy provisions if they wanted to barricade themselves in their homes for up to two weeks. Once they are done destroying the tunnels, they'll leave, and Hamas will have to regroup, and the whole thing will more likely than not happen again in a few years. If their goal was to wipe out the Palestinians in Gaza, they'd do it and be done with it.

What's the death toll thus far? As of Tuesday, July 22, more than 600 Palestinians and 29 Israelis have lost their lives.

More from The StirHow to Figure Out in a Few Minutes What's Happening in Syria

What does President Obama think about all of this? Last week he reaffirmed his "strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself" by taking out the terror tunnels. By Sunday, he was raising "serious concern about the growing number of casualties." It's hard to tell where exactly he stands on the issue. He did send Secretary of State John Kerry to Cairo this week to talk about a possible cease-fire, so there's that.

When will it finally end? Given history ... it will end when Israel feels like it's adequately defended itself from imminent Hamas terrorist attacks, and not a moment sooner.

Do you think Israel is going overboard with the defense attacks against Hamas?


Image via Israel Defense Forces/Flickr

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NatAndCo NatAndCo

Stop presenting information as if you're a knowledgeable source. You have given such an over simplified and biased interpretation of what's happening it borders on propaganda.

nonmember avatar andie

Jenny, going overboard? Are you kidding me? Can you imagine if Mexico started shooting missiles into Houston and killing our citizens? We wouldn't stand for it for a minute! Of course Israel is doing the right thing. Anyone who says they aren't is an anti-Semite. I feel horribly for the innocent people that die in Gaza, but their blood is on the hands of Hamas.

Lauri... Laurin283

Wrong wrong wrong.  Get your facts straight.

Hamas was democratically elected in Gaza.

Yes, they are given a "57 second" warning to get out once the first "warning shot" (small missile) hits the house before the big missile will hit.

Yes, 1.7 million people have been told to leave their homes.  Out of 1.8 who live in Gaza.  And where exactly should they go?  Because there are more than 100,000 people who have left their homes staying in 60 or so schools right now...and the people aren't allowed to LEAVE Gaza to go to Egypt, Jordan, West Bank, or anywhere else...and Gaza isn't that darn big!



I find this article extremely offensive as a human being, but also as a Muslim who is married to a Palestinian who has family actually in Gaza at the moment.  A brother who is a doctor in Shifa Hospital (the biggest, where people are fleeing to and PRAYING it won't be bombed like some of the other hospitals).  Sisters who have left their home because part of the mosque next door fell on their house after it was bombed.  Check out the actual news coming directly from Gaza, instead of the Israel-biased US news reports, and GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT.

nonmember avatar DITTE

this blogger has no idea of what she's talking about. Go to history section, learn facts! stop making propaganda out of your comments and telling it was facts. YOU ARE CLUELESS AND YOU ARE A PROPAGANDA VICTIM ASWELL.

nonmember avatar Misty Oz

No Laurin, you get YOUR facts straight! They get more than a "57 second" warning. IDF drops leaflets through the air hours beforehand. If I didn't have anywhere to go I'd be on the streets before I sat around waiting to get blown up. This is war. It is ugly. Israel uses the Iron dome to protect its people. Hamas uses it's people to protect its missiles. They are a human shield. Then they along with all the anti Semites can cry out in anger about how horrible Israel is. Give me a fucking break. I have lived in Israel, my husband has served in the IDF, my family in Israel has been running down to their safe room multiple times a night with their children as the sirens blast. Don't tell me to get the facts straight, the reason there are so many Palestinian casualties compared to Israeli casualties is ISREAL GIVES A FUCK ABOUT ITS PEOPLE. G-d gave this land to the Jews, it is promised to them. There is no such thing as "Palestine". Even the Muslim countries surrounding gaza want NOTHING to do with them.

nonmember avatar kate

I happened upon "8 things you should know" and the only reason I continued reading was to see if CafeMom, unlike the majority of the American media, could surprise me and present an accurate & balanced picture of the current crisis in Gaza. Sadly, this piece is just more of the same - slanted with a pro-Isreal bias, historically inaccurate, presenting only one side, or lacking major historical context at all... and sadly, many young people, unfamiliar with the history of the region and the true origins of the conflict, will read this surgar coated, candied "cliff notes" version and blithely continue to perpetuate the "Israel = Good & Palestine=Bad" illusion... Laurin283, my prayers go out to you and your family... thank you for sharing your perspective and your truth.

nonmember avatar Razi

As someone living in the Middle East (and no I am not Arab), it is sad to see the level of ignorance people in the West have about what is really happening in this part of the world. Such a biased presentation of the current crisis only serves to spread the wrong picture further. To the author, please educate yourself before you write about such a sensitive topic.

A short animated video on the history of the conflict.


nonmember avatar daisydee

If Hamas stopped fighting today, there would be peace. If Israel stopped fighting today, there would be no more Israel. Fuck Hamas.

nonmember avatar Misty Oz

@Daisy YES! Exactly!

nonmember avatar andie

@daisydee, I think the quote actually goes like this: "If the Palestinians put down their guns, there'd be no more fighting. If the Jews put down their guns, there'd be no more Israel." What people fail to understand is that this will not stop until the people of Gaza say "No more!" to Hamas. Hamas has spent many billions of dollars to build tunnels into Israel in which to conduct terror attacks, instead of using that money to build infrastructure; schools, roads, mosques, hospitals, bridges, etc. Israel is not perfect, but they care about their citizens and will do whatever it takes to protect the future of their people and their country. This war will not stop until Hamas loves their children more than they hate the Jews.

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