By Sophie Boulter, World News Editor
An uneasy truce ended 11 days of violent conflict between Israel and Palestine. Mounting tensions between Israel and Gaza’s ruling Hamas group led to military confrontation, civilian death, and displacement.
In response to intense protests against threatened evictions of Palestinian families from East Jerusalem, Israeli police raided the al-Asqa Mosque on May 10.
The al-Aqsa Mosque is considered to be holy by Christians, Jews and Muslims. It has been a historical flashpoint for tension and conflict between these religious groups.
The police response to protests outside the mosque led Hamas militants to fire rockets at Jerusalem. Israel responded by bombarding the Gaza Strip with air strikes.
Air strikes continued, with barrages between the two sides intensifying as the conflict progressed. A truce was reached on May 21. This conflict left more than 240 people dead and wounded at least 1,620 people.
Both Israel and Hamas claimed victory in the exchange, though the Associated Press says this recent war ended in an “inconclusive” manner.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded Israel’s role in the conflict after accepting the ceasefire. Netanyahu pointed to “significant achievements in the operation, some of which are unprecedented.”
In the same statement, Netanyahu also threatened Hamas with further action.
“The political leaders emphasized that the reality on the ground will determine the future of the campaign,” the statement said. Some Israeli critics of Netanyahu accused him of halting the operation too soon.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas criticized Israel’s actions in Gaza.
“What Israel does now in the Gaza Strip is a state terror and war crimes that violate international law,” Abbas said. Abbas also pledged to prosecute Israel in international criminal courts.
U.S. President Joe Biden and his foreign policy team helped negotiate the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Brokered by Egypt, the ceasefire was a joint effort which also involved American, Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian officials.
“I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely, and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy,” Biden said.
In a May 21 news conference, Biden pledged to provide aid to help rebuild Gaza and reaffirmed his commitment to a “two-state solution” to the Israel-Palestine conflict. A two-state solution would mean that Israel and Palestine would both be recognized as independent states.
Biden also asserted that the Democratic Party still supports Israel, and criticized countries in the Middle East that do not recognize Israel’s nationhood.
“Until the region says unequivocally they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state, there will be no peace,” he said.
Some Democrats criticized Biden for his defense of Israel and have introduced a resolution to block weapons sales to Israel, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
“For decades, the U.S. has sold billions of dollars in weaponry to Israel without ever requiring them to respect basic Palestinian rights.” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Republicans have criticized Biden for holding a more neutral stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than former president Donald Trump’s administration. Some have also questioned his plans to provide aid to Palestine.
“There’s just endemic corruption within the Palestinian government that is a real disservice to its people. Yet, American taxpayer dollars are going to flow back into that situation,” Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) said.
Ultimately, the current ceasefire did not solve the long-standing divisions between Israel and Palestine regarding land, identity and rights.
“Peace can always be imagined but never implemented, and Jewish and Arab existences are at once conflictual and intertwined,” New York Times columnist Roger Cohen said.