In the beginning of the 19th Century, the land of Palestine had a cosmopolitan population, comprising of approximately 86% Muslims, 10% Christians, and 4% Jewish-all were living in harmony.
After Britain gave up its mandate the United Nations decided to intervene. The UN suggested two states: one Arab, one Jewish the Jews accepted and the Arab rejected the Proposal.
Since then this region has been locked in conflict between Israel and Palestinians, represented by the Palestine Liberation Organisation, over the ownership of land that is considered Holy by Muslims, Christians and Jews.
Currently, a densely-populated nation on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Israel is the only state in the world with a majority of Jewish population.
In 2005 Israel evacuated its residents from Gaza Strip and extracted its forces, ending almost forty years of military occupation. However, after the Islamic group Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007, Israel escalated its economic cordon of the Strip. Israel hurled a major military assault on Gaza to halt cross-border rocket attacks at the end of 2008.
The recent conflict broke out couple of weeks ago when Palestinian militants fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli jeep patrolling the border with Gaza and the Israelis fired back into the Palestinian territory, killing four civilians, according to the Washington Post.
Israel responded with retaliatory attacks, to which the Gaza Strip replied with heavy rocket fire at southern Israel, Fox News reported.
Dr. Ashraf al-Qidra, the spokesperson of the Gaza-based Ministry, said all four Palestinians killed were civilians between the ages of 16 and 18 and that among the 25 wounded were some children.
The left wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine took the responsibility but it was unclear to identify the culprit behind the attack.
Since last Wednesday this conflict has taken 139 lives. The numbers of Palestinians killed in Gaza during Israel’s on-going offensive strikes have reached 134, mostly civilians, including 34 children. Altogether, Israel puts its death toll since Wednesday at five, including three civilians killed last week, according to Reuters.
According to BBC, at least 20 Palestinians were stated to have been killed on Tuesday. Two Israelis – a soldier and a civilian died in rocket strikes.
Qidra said the Palestinian dead included 24 children and 10 women. Although, Ministry figures for the number of men died in the conflict with Israel make no distinction between civilians and militants.
According to the ministry, since the hostilities began on Wednesday, 850 people have been wounded in Gaza, which comprises 260 children and 140 women.
CBC news reported, Palestinian medical officials confirmed at least 17 civilians, including women and young children, killed on Sunday in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip as Israeli’s military intensified its operation against rocket attacks.
Conversely, Gaza militants continued their bombardment of rocket fire, firing more than two dozen at Israel on Sunday, including a longer distance missile that was targeted at Tel Aviv for a fourth straight day.
Egypt has been brokering a truce that might end deadly violence that has turned into a catastrophe for the people of Israel and Gaza. Israel has said it wants to cease-fire, but at the same time Israel has indicated the improbability in the favourable outcome of the agreement.
The expectations have risen of armistice to end a week of fighting around the Gaza Strip as U.S Secretary of the State Hillary Clinton has reached Jerusalem for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel has aborted on ground offensive into Gaza to give diplomatic efforts time.These efforts would contain talks that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon each planned with Israeli officials and with Palestinian officials in the West Bank, where the government is run by the Palestinian faction Fatah. Gaza is run by Hamas, which the United States and numerous other countries consider a terrorist organisation.
[one_half]Nevertheless, Gaza’s rulers revised a statement that a truce would start overnight, saying it was still waiting for an Israeli response to suggestions and at present did not expect an announcement until Wednesday.[/one_half] [one_half_last]‘Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory’—U.S. President Barack Obama [/one_half_last]
Main image courtesy of Michael Rathbun