The latest round of Palestinian unrest and the de facto state of war between Israel and Hamas is the most serious flare up on the Israel–Palestine front since the Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2014. According to reports, 197 Palestinians in Gaza have now lost their lives due to Israeli airstrikes and 10 Israelis have been killed by Hamas’s rocket attacks.
While the ferocity of the confrontation and the rapidity with which it escalated may have come as a surprise, this turn of events should not have shocked any seasoned observer of the conflict. Given the current trajectory of Israeli policy and the reaction that it has produced, it was inevitable that this scenario would unfold sooner or later.
The roots of the conflict go back at least to 1948, if not to the Balfour Declaration of 1917. The Israeli refusal to relinquish the West Bank, which it occupied in 1967, the deliberate planting of Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands, and the often-brutal treatment of the occupied population accentuated the problem. However, the proximate cause of the latest conflagration is a confluence of factors that highlight the deep-seated contradictions undergirding the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and the discriminatory treatment meted out by Israel to the Palestinian citizens who form a fifth of the country’s population.