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200912292913320734_5The current war in Gaza (2008- ) started a few weeks ago on December 27th 2008 when Israel began to bomb Gaza. It seemed they were softening up Gaza for a land war, which now in fact has begun. Israel has cut Gaza in half and has sent its army into Gaza City.

Israel says Gaza has been sending rockets into Israel to kill people. It has. But not counting soldiers it had killed only 2 Israelis in 2008 before the war. Meanwhile Israel had killed over 80 Gazans in addition to Hamas fighters.

So, based on that threat, Israel made war on Gaza.

Both sides knew this war was long in coming. Israel tried to do it in 2006 but soon found its north bombed by Hezbollah of Lebanon. That quickly became a war against Lebanon, not Gaza.

Israel says it wants to destroy Hamas, the party that has ruled Gaza since 2007. That is what it says. What it is doing is destroying Gaza itself: most of the dead are not Hamas fighters. In fact up to 40% of them are women and children. Whole apartment blocks have been flattened. Israel has hit government buildings, police stations, schools, mosques and a university. In these days of Google Maps and GPS, it knows just what it is doing. It has even destroyed a United Nations school, killing at least 30, mostly children. It hit a clearly marked United Nations truck.

Before the war Israel, with American help, had pretty much cut off Gaza from the outside world. So Gaza is running out of medicine, oil and spare parts. There are long lines for bread. Most have no power or have it only for a short time every day; half have no running water.

What does Barack Obama say about all this? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And what about President Bush? That Israel has the right to defend itself .

Defend itself from what? From home-made rockets with one of the top military machines in the world? A military that thinks one Jewish eye is worth a hundred Arab eyes?

boliganMeanwhile America gives Israel billions of dollars every year while Israel fights its wars with American arms. Everyone in the Middle East sees this and everyone knows it.

Americans wonder “Why do they hate us?” This is why – part of it. This is why 3000 Americans died on 9/11 – part of it. The other part is that America supports evil governments in the Arab world, particularly in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The war in Iraq does not help either.

Some say that Arabs and Jews have been fighting each other since forever, that it is too hard to understand.

No, it is not.

Where did the people in Gaza come from? From Israel. They are Arabs who were pushed off their land by the Jews. And now the little bit of the world they still have left – three and a half times the size of Disney World in a place the Bible calls Gath – is being destroyed too.

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[Palestinian flag]

Palestine is the land at the eastern end of the Mediterranean that lies between the Jordan river and the sea, between Egypt and Syria. In the middle is the city of Jerusalem. It is a land divided between Arabs and Jews, a land of endless killing and blood.

The Romans kicked the Jews out of Palestine nearly 2000 years ago. In the 1800s the Jews began returning in large numbers. In 1947, after Hitler had killed six million Jews, they were given Palestine as a country of their own. They named it Israel.

But Israel did not fall from the sky: it was created by pushing Arabs off their land, land they had lived on for over a thousand years. Those Arabs are now called Palestinians. They want their land back.

The Jews say that God had promised them the land. It says so in the Bible.

Because the Arabs are mostly Muslim and the Jews are Western, the dispute is not an ordinary one, but has become important the world over. It is always in the newspapers. So much so that many assume that this has been going on for thousands of years and not just 60.

Most Palestinians went to live in other Arab countries. Many went to live in Jordan, the neighbouring country to the east. Those with education live quite well, but many live in wretched settlements called refugee camps. The tents are long gone, but the people are still there.

In 1967 Israel took over a part of Jordan called the West Bank, and parts of Egypt called the Sinai and the Gaza Strip. Israel gave back the Sinai in 1980 to make peace with Egypt. The West Bank and Gaza are still under the thumb of its military.

Israel sent Jews to settle the West Bank and Gaza. Some hoped that one day they would become part of Israel proper. But in 2005 Israel pulled out of Gaza. Both the Israeli army and the Jewish settlers have left, but the army still attacks Gaza from time to time.

In the early 1990s Israel half-promised that the West Bank and Gaza might some day become an independent country. There was some solid movement in that direction and in 2000 peace was almost made between Israel and the Palestinians, but then it all fell apart. There has been an on-and-off low-level war going on ever since, not just between Arabs and Jews, but even among the Arabs themselves.

While Arafat was alive to lead the Palestinians, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), especially the Fatah part of it, was the only political party that mattered, as corrupt as it was. Arafat died in 2004 and the years since has seen the rise of Hamas. Now both parties fight for power, both at elections and in the street.

In January 2006 Hamas won elections in Gaza. In June 2007 they took over Gaza by force. Hamas is backed by Iran, Fatah by the West.

Israel is now building a wall between itself and the Palestinians. Along the way the wall is taking in choice bits of the West Bank. It has yet to reach Jerusalem. The Jews seem to have given up on making peace.

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