A new kind of violence driven by misery in the Gaza Strip

Israel-Gaza border: The flareup of deadly violence in Gaza is of a new kind, even in the inventive annals of Middle East conflicts: Israeli soldiers shooting at Palestinian demonstrators burning tyres and hurling firebombs across what looks like an international border, inflicting casualties while claiming concerns of a mass breach of the barrier.

But viewed another way, it’s just the latest reflection of basic facts on the ground: the situation for the two million people of Gaza is extraordinarily harsh and difficult to resolve. It’s not surprising so many would risk death by converging on the border fence, which has now happened three Fridays in a row, with dozens killed and hundreds injured.

By and large the people of Gaza – over two-thirds of them descended from refugees who left communities in what is now Israel – cannot leave their tiny strip of arid land along the Mediterranean coast. Anger toward Israel runs deep, yet dependence is great.

Israel blocks Gazans to the north and east, controlling who and what goes in and out. It blockades their waters to the west and prevents construction of sea and airports, with Egypt completing the blockade to the south.

Israel’s argument is that Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, will use materials that come into the strip for building rockets, making bombs and digging attack tunnels. The fear is well-founded.

Israel also severely restricts Gazans leaving the territory in a policy it defends on security grounds, but which often looks punitive. Every exit, even to cross Israel en route to Jordan and beyond for medical, academic, professional or personal purposes, requires the approval of Israel – or Egypt, where the anti-Islamist government also deeply distrusts Hamas.

Read the full article written by Joe Federman at the Sydney Morning Herald.