What Happened to Gaza: The Strip Terrorized Over A Year Later

By Rhiannon Winner on August 17, 2015

Where We Are Now

Another iteration of the war between Israel and Gaza ended on August 26, 2014, but the nightmare isn’t over for many Palestinians. The reconstruction of the 20,000 homes destroyed in the conflict is slow, and the region is still reeling after the loss of over 2,100 Palestinians, hundreds of which were children. There are still over 7,000 undetonated bombs and shells that pose a threat to anyone unlucky enough to stumble across them. With the cost of recovery estimated to be $8 billion, the impoverished Palestinians have a long way to go to raising that money. Yet the aftermath of the war is not the only thing residents of the Gaza Strip have to worry about. Although they no longer have to fear attacks from the IDF (Israeli Defense Force), a new threat has emerged: right-wing Israeli terrorists.

The Dawabsha family lived in the West Bank village of Duma. On July 31, their home was set aflame by suspected Israeli terrorists. Ali Saad Dawabsha, only eighteen months old, died in the attack. Days later, his father, Saad Dawabsha, succumbed to his wounds. Saad Dawabsha’s wife Riham and four-year-old son suffered severe burns, and Riham remains in critical condition. Written in Hebrew on a wall of the home were the words “price tag”; a phrase used by Israeli terrorists when attacking Palestinians.

In a rare show of camaraderie, Palestinians and Israelis alike protested the day after the attack on the Dawabsha family. Residents of Duma and others from nearby villages gathered to march in protest of the attack. Younger protestors threw rocks at the Israeli forces, to which the Israelis retaliated with tear gas. A Palestinian teenager was shot to death at one such protest by an Israeli soldier. Similar demonstrations erupted throughout Gaza and, to a lesser extent, in Israel.

Protesters march with signs in honor of Ali Dawabsha

“Price tag” attacks are not a new phenomenon. They’ve been occurring at least since 2008, and while they primarily target Palestinians, Israeli terrorists have also attacked unarmed Israeli citizens. Just a day before the arson attack at the Dawabsha home, six people were stabbed by an Israeli terrorist at a gay pride parade in Jerusalem. The extremist responsible had carried out a similar attack in 2005 at another Jerusalem gay pride parade. One of the victims of the recent attack, sixteen-year-old Shira Banki, was killed. The rest of the victims are still recovering, but are expected to survive.

These are just the stories that have received any attention in the U.S., but they’re not the only ones. Since the ceasefire, there have been numerous attacks on Palestinians, ranging from arson attacks to attempted (and sometimes successful) murder. Israeli settlers who believe the Gaza Strip and West Bank belong to the Jewish people are usually the ones carrying out these “price tag” attacks.

The Root of Conflict

If this is about land, then who does the Gaza Strip actually belong to? That’s a tough question, and the root of much of the conflict. The Gaza Strip is claimed by both Israel and Palestine, but while Israel is recognized by many nations in the world, and by the United Nations, Palestine is not. Palestine was granted “non-member observer state” status, but does not enjoy the same benefits of being recognized as a full member. 136 states have recognized Palestine as a state, and countless more support Palestinian statehood. Yet Palestine is not recognized by the U.N., and global powers such as the United States and close western European allies have not recognized it. Without recognition by the U.N., or at least the majority of the world powers, Palestine is illegitimate. In the wake of the Vatican’s recognition of the “state of Palestine,” the Isreali Foreign Defense Ministry announced their displeasure. They called the Vatican’s decision one that left them “disappointed”, and went so far as to say that it “does not promote peace”. It is a bone of contention that is unlikely to be settled anytime soon, and until it is, tragedies like those aforementioned are to remain commonplace.

The attacks come on the heels of a United Nations report released in June that found evidence of war crimes by both Israel and Gaza in the 2014 war. There was hope among some that this would lead the U.N. to vote in favor of Palestinian statehood, but there would be no such luck: the United States holds veto power. Israel does not have a seat on the Security Council, so it relies on its greastest ally, the United States, to defeat any prospect of Palestinian statehood.

Where Do We Go From Here?

So the residents of Gaza are essentially stuck: many Palestinians view Israel as a threat, since Israeli terrorists and soldiers are rarely prosecuted for attacks on Palestinians. There is suspicion among many, both Palestinian and Israeli, that the Israeli government isn’t doing enough to prevent its citizens from committing acts of terror in Gaza. With the U.S. certain to veto any resolution to give the Palestinians statehood, the residents of the Gaza Strip have no support from the United Nations, nor the majority of the major world powers. Without their support, the Palestinians find themselves unable to push out Israeli forces. The attack on the Dawabsha family is horrific, and unless the international community forces change, similar attacks are likely on the horizon.

 

Cover image credit to the BBC, protesters image credit to the Times of Israel, map image credit to the University of Texas library. Information gathered from CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/03/middleeast/killings-put-focus-on-jewish-extremism/index.html and http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/31/middleeast/palestinian-price-tag-attack/), The United Nations (http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51215#.VcAgV_lVhBc), The Independent (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israelgaza-conflict-50day-war-by-numbers-9693310.html), The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/09/world/middleeast/a-sliver-of-opportunity-emerges-in-the-gaza-strip.html?ref=topics and http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/02/world/middleeast/palestinian-teenager-is-fatally-shot-while-protesting-deadly-arson-attack.html), The Washington Post (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/we-are-the-tip-of-the-spear-that-protects-israel-right-wing-settlers-say/2015/08/07/37905bee-3aef-11e5-b759-e3c43f009486_story.html), and The Associated Press (http://bigstory.ap.org/article/c5550d535218478c8208fe32c82c3eb3/vatican-recognizes-state-palestine-new-treaty).

Finally able to say that one line from Hamilton about being 19. Avid reader, novelist, spaghetti enthusiast, and Eminem's biggest fan. Follow me on Instagram @rhiannon.winner and on Twitter @rhitweetings

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