The Israeli-Palestinian issue has deep roots. Despite the long-standing origin of the crisis, we are back to an escalation of tension. Over the past decade, this conflict has been overshadowed by other upheavals in the Middle East, particularly Iran, Yemen and Syria. While the attention of regional and international leaders has been directed elsewhere, several dynamics have converged to dramatically aggravate a humanitarian crisis.
A HISTORICAL CONFLICT
In 1947 a decision of the League of Nations (UN), reached after the end of the British mandate, provided for the partition of the then Palestinian territory: an Arab and a Jewish state. The division was accepted by the rising State of Israel, but not by the Arab countries: the disagreement sparked a war of independence, which led Israel to proclaim itself a state and the exodus of over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs. The Six-Day War in June 1967 allowed Israeli military forces to occupy Gaza and the entire West Bank. What was initially called a defense operation then turned into an occupation operation, as, at the end of the conflict, the territories were not returned; from that moment on, colonial settlements began to rise more and more conspicuous. A very important stage is represented by the 1993 Oslo agreements, which defined the creation of two populations and two states. The peace treaty, which provided for mutual recognition and a gradual restoration of relations, suffered numerous interruptions that led to the agreements to bankruptcy.
THE NATION STATE ACT
In 2018, the Israeli parliament passed the Nation State Law that defines the country as "the national home of the Jewish people", declaring "Jerusalem United" as the capital and identifying the development of Jewish settlements as a national value. This law represents not only a demonstration of Israel’s strength, but also a deep-rooted reality of apartheid, which legally discriminates against Arab citizens of Israel and other minorities.
THE PEAK OF TENSIONS
The violence we have witnessed in recent weeks is therefore to be included in a wider political and social context. Several events have rekindled the fuse, such as the controversial security management in the first and last days of the month of Ramadan by the Jerusalem police, which prevented access to those who wanted to celebrate around the Damascus Gate - symbolic place of the city - thus starting tensions.
SHEIKH JARRAH AND JERUSALEM DAY
The evictions of the Palestinians instead concern the district (Arab majority) of Sheikh Jarrah, in East Jerusalem, where there are houses that since the nineteenth century are Jewish property. In 1948 Jordan occupied the territory and requisitioned these houses, which in 1956 were donated to the Palestinians (as refugees) with a decision shared by the UN. Israeli justice - which provides for a "right of return" for Jews, not for Palestinians - should have ruled on the ownership of these homes, however, postponed the hearing. The neighborhood has become the scene of protests that have since spread and have seen the intervention of the Israeli military.
To further inflame the situation was the annual celebration of Jerusalem Day, an event that nationalist Israelis celebrate as the day of the "reunification" of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War; substantially they honor a serious moment in Palestinian history which is the Israeli military occupation.
These last pieces, together with those of the past, have created a mosaic that is nothing short of dramatic and devastating. Amid these tensions, Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist political group, came forward, starting to launch rockets from the Gaza Strip and receiving continuous bombardments from Israel. The data updated to 19 May count at least 232 Palestinian deaths, 63 of which are children, and 12 Israelis, of which only 2 children. Hamas has certainly seen military progress compared to the violent clashes of 2014, but not comparable to the technological power of Israel, which allowed Prime Minister Netanyahu to defend himself with the Iron Dome, a system of missiles that strike and destroy the rockets launched by the enemy.
THE INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION
The cease-fire came after 10 days of violence. However, this is a limited agreement that has characterized all the previous Israeli-Palestinian clashes. This suspension was also achieved thanks to the dialogue with Egypt, which established itself as a mediator between Israel and Hamas.
The risk now facing us on the international stage is to forget once again the Palestinian question and the hostilities that these neighbors have to live every day. If the missiles are temporarily suspended, the racism and the tension that have been unleashed in these 10 days are certainly not. The so-called mixed cities in which Jews and Arabs coexist are numerous, and are the place where violent clashes between civilians take place more quickly. The crisis has not ended, it has only entered a new phase that cannot remain behind the international community.