The conflict between Israel and Palestine is in a new and extremely deadly period with many thousand dead, wounded and displaced. The battleground is the narrow coastal enclave of Gaza, home to over two million Palestinian Arabs. Often called the world’s largest open-air prison it is ruled by Hamas and has been subjected to an Israeli blockade since 2007. On October 7 Hamas launched a horrific attack on Israel killing some 1,400, taking over 200 hostages and triggering the latest Gaza-Israeli war. While the media focus on the Hamas attack and the Israeli response there is scant background or history. A closer examination reveals the conflict’s deep-rooted causes. If they are not addressed the cycles of violence will continue. As Middle East expert Phyllis Bennis says, “We have to do the hard work of looking at context.”
Phyllis Bennis, a Middle East expert, is a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and directs its New Internationalism Project. She has appeared on PBS, NPR, BBC, and CBC. She is the author of many books including Before & After: U.S. Foreign Policy and the September 11th Crisis and Calling the Shots: How Washington Dominates Today’s UN. Her latest books are Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict and Challenging Empire.