by JASMINE ELSHAMY Staff Writer
A 20-year-old Palestinian was killed along with nine others injured in a dispute with Israeli soldiers in the southeast Gaza strip on November 23, testing the ceasefire that Israel and Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement, the organization that governs the Gaza strip) agreed to after intense negotiations between the United States and Egypt.
It was the first major conflict between the two since Israel’s Operation Cast Lead killed about 1,400 Gazans in three weeks of air and ground assaults in response to repeated rocket fire starting in December 2008.
Since then, the two sides had observed an informal and uneasy cease-fire. In recent months, the number of rockets fired into southern Israel by militant groups in Gaza had risen. Hamas had mostly held its fire while it struggled to rein in those groups.
However, it responded forcefully to the new assault, sending more than 300 rockets into Israel over 24 hours, with several penetrating the heart of Israel’s population center around Tel Aviv.
The death toll among the Palestinians from the eight days of Israeli assault was put at 162, including at least 30 militant commanders. A few days before this, Gaza officials put the death toll there at more than 130, with roughly half of that being civilians. In Israel, a soldier was killed, bringing the death toll to five Israelis.
The cease fire was made to avoid an escalating battle between Palestinians and Israelis that had threatened to turn into a wider war.
Originally, Egypt administered Gaza, but the area was captured by Israelis in 1967 during the Six Day War. Egypt still retains control of Gaza’s southern border. In June 2007, Hamas took control of the strip, winning the election.
After Hamas took control of Gaza, the Israelis rapidly formed a blockade on Gaza, restricting the transit of goods and people into and out of the territory. This blockade kept them from opportunities to trade with the rest of the world, making Gaza extremely dependent on external aid.
“I cannot imagine what it is like to be living there amidst all of this disturbance. The fact that there are so many children dying over a piece of land is really disappointing,” says senior Sam Cicatello.
According to BBC, the only part of the economy that seems to be thriving are the underground tunnels built so the Israeli policemen cannot find them. They are under the border to Egypt and enable the people to transport goods in and out of the territory. At the same time, they are used to bring weapons into Gaza.
The United Nations voted to upgrade Palestine to a non-member observer state of the United Nations, a triumph for Palestinian diplomacy and a sharp rebuke to the United States and Israel. The new status will give the Palestinians more tools to challenge Israel in international legal forums for its occupation activities in the West Bank, including settlement-building, and it helped bolster the Palestinian Authority, weakened after eight days of battle between its rival Hamas and Israel.
“Hopefully these issues between Palestine and Israel over the Gaza Strip can be resolved before things get even more out of hand than they already have,” says sophomore Lindsey Frankel. “It is sickening that innocent citizens have to die over pride and land.”