A Jewish Israeli of American origin. Goldstein was a follower of the late Jewish Israeli political figure Meir Kahane, whose Kach party was outlawed by the Israeli government. On February 25, 1994, Goldstein opened fire on Palestinian Muslims during Friday prayers in the Ibrahimi Mosque/Tomb of the Patriarchs. Located in the Old City of Hebron in the southern West Bank, this site is holy for both Muslims and Jews. In the incident known as the Goldstein Massacre, or the Hebron massacre, Goldstein killed 29 people before being subdued and killed by the worshipers themselves. See "1994: Jewish settler kills 30 at holy site," BBC’s On This Day.
Also known as the Gaza Siege. After Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, Israel, with cooperation from Egypt and the Palestinian Authority (PA), initiated a heightened land, air and sea blockade of the Gaza Strip, at times closing all border crossings. Israel has stated that its blockade is for security, restricting entry of goods that can also be employed for military use and thus lessening rocket attacks into southern Israel. Multiple documents and comments, however, have revealed other motivations for the blockade, including keeping Gaza near economic collapse, and using economic warfare against Hamas as a form of pressure. The Fatah-dominated PA has quietly supported the blockade as a way to weaken Hamas. The International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations, and multiple human rights organizations have referred to the blockade as a form of collective punishment on all Gazans, and a violation of international humanitarian law. The blockade has led to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, with the United Nations reporting in May 2010 that 61% of Gazans are "food insecure" and 80% of Gazan households rely on some kind of food aid. The economy, education, medical care, agriculture and fishing industries have worsened, in some cases reaching near-collapse. There have been times when the blockade has eased, such as after cease-fire agreements ending hostilities in the Gaza Wars, and after the Gaza Flotilla incident (2010), but control over what gets in and out remains in Israeli hands, as does control over sea borders, airspace, and all but one land crossing. See "Farming without Land, Fishing without Water: Gaza Agriculture Sector Struggles to Survive," UNISPAL, May 2010; "The Punishment of Gaza," Gideon Levy, Verso, New York, 2010; and "Guide: Gaza under blockade," BBC, July 6, 2010. See also "Israel said would keep Gaza near collapse: WikiLeaks" Reuters, January 5, 2011; and "Israeli document: Gaza blockade isn't about security," Sheera Frenkel, McClatchy DC, June 9, 2010. See also the infographic, " Besieged: The Economic Impact of the Israeli Siege on Gaza," Visualizing Palestine.
Also known as the Pull Out, the Withdrawal, the Evacuation, and "HaHitnatkut" in Hebrew. It refers to Israel’s unilateral withdrawal of all 21 Jewish Israeli settlements that were in the Gaza Strip and a removal of the Israeli army’s permanent presence from Gaza (and from four settlements in a small section of the Northern West Bank) in August-September of 2005. The plan generated immense controversy in Israel, and was considered unforgivable treason by the settlement community, especially since its main proponent, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, had been a chief advocate for and implementer of settlements in the West Bank and Gaza since 1967. Many settlers engaged in passive (and some active) resistance, but an immense Israeli army presence allowed the disengagement to proceed smoothly. In total, some 8,000 settlers were evacuated from Gaza as part of the plan. Despite Palestinian offers, Israel refused to coordinate the withdrawal officially with the Palestinian Authority, though some informal coordination did take place. Israel currently maintains control over Gaza’s air space, land borders (aside from the 12 kilometer border between Gaza and Egypt) and coastline. Israel points out that Palestinians are continuing attacks despite the withdrawal, while Palestinians argue that Israeli control of Gaza’s borders means the disengagement cannot be considered a true withdrawal, especially given Israel’s Gaza blockade. Under international law, Israel remains the occupying power. See "Israel: ‘Disengagement’ Will Not End Gaza Occupation," Human Rights Watch, Oct 29, 2004. For a text of the Knesset’s April 2004 declaration outlining the plan, see "Disengagement Plan of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon."
Organized by an international coalition called the Free Gaza Movement, the Gaza Flotillas are groups of boats that sail to the Gaza Strip with the goal of breaking the Gaza blockade, bringing in humanitarian aid and construction materials, and raising awareness about the illegality (based on international law) and humanitarian effects of the siege. Since August 2008, nine flotillas have set out for Gaza, often carrying politicians, journalists, and celebrities alongside international activists. On May 31, 2010, Israeli naval commandos boarded four Gaza-bound flotilla boats and ensuing clashes on one boat led to the deaths of nine Turkish flotilla passengers (one of whom was also a U.S. citizen), in addition to the arrests of hundreds more. Israel stated that it had a right to stop the flotilla from entering Israeli-controlled waters and that the commandos responded violently only after being attacked by the activists. The Free Gaza Movement reproached Israel for boarding the boats in international waters and subsequent investigations by the United Nations and the Turkish government questioned Israel’s proportionate use of force against the activists. The Free Gaza Movement continued to organize and send flotillas after the 2010 incident. See "Report of the international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, resulting from the [no-lexicon]Israeli[/no-lexicon] attacks on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance," United Nations Human Rights Council, September 27, and "Israeli convoy raid: What went wrong?" Paul Reynolds, BBC, June 2, 2010. See also the Free Gaza Movement’s website.
A Palestinian territory located on the Mediterranean Coast and bordering the northern Egyptian Sinai Peninsula to the south and southern Israel to the north and east. Est. population in 2007 according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics: 1,415,543. The territory was under Egyptian military rule from 1948-1967, followed by Israeli occupation. In 1994, the newly formed Palestinian Authority (PA) was granted limited self-government in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military remained in Gaza, retaining responsibility for external and internal security as well as for administration of Jewish Israeli settlements; these settlements and Israeli military facilities were evacuated by the Israeli government in 2005 in what is known as the Gaza Disengagement. Israel still maintains control over Gaza’s air space, and land and sea borders, and has heightened an ongoing Gaza blockade of the enclave since 2007. Israel continues to launch military operations within Gaza, including the Gaza Wars of 2008/9, 2012, and 2014. The enclave has been effectively ruled by Hamas since the 2007 Hamas-Fatah conflict. A unity government agreement with the Fatah-dominated PA was reached in 2014, but as of May 2015, it has yet to be meaningfully implemented. See "Gaza Strip," B’tselem.
Though Palestinian-dug tunnels between Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip have been in existence since the 1990s with the purpose of smuggling in goods and arms, tunnel activity significantly increased and became more public after Israel’s Gaza blockade following the 2007 Hamas-Fatah conflict and subsequent Hamas takeover of Gaza. For many years, critical necessities, such as fuel for Gaza’s power plant, could only get in via the tunnels. Passenger tunnels were also created, so that Gazans with the ability to pay a high sum of money could enter and exit the Gaza Strip, despite frequent closure of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. Citing the prevalence of drug and weapons trading through the tunnels, both Israel and Egypt have destroyed and shut down many of the tunnels. During the Gaza War of 2014, tunnels that led into Israel were discovered. The detection and destruction of these tunnels was an official justification for the ground operation. See "Inside the Gaza tunnels," Rory McCarthy, The Guardian, February 9, 2009; "The Long History of Gaza’s Tunnels," Emily Harris, NPR, July 26, 2014; and "Were Gaza tunnels built to harm Israeli civilians?" Emanuel Yelin, 972mag, August 11, 2014.
Israel has launched three large-scale military offensives in the Gaza Strip since the Gaza Disengagement; December 2008, November 2012, and July 2014 (as well as many smaller ones.) Israel’s stated purpose for all three offensives was to stop rocket attacks emanating from Gaza onto Israeli towns, and maintains its right to self-defense. Many analysts have pointed to other motivations for the operations, such as weakening Hamas, collective punishment, undermining Palestinians seeking state status in the U.N. (2012 war), and trying to sabotage the Unity Government newly agreed upon by Hamas and Fatah (2014 war, also known as "Operation Protective Edge"). Israel points to the increased rocket fire since Hamas’s control of Gaza Stripas a constant, intolerable threat to Israeli civilians. Palestinians point to Israel’s Gaza blockade, ongoing occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and multiple ceasefire violations as escalating/exacerbating rocket fire, which Hamas says is in resistance and in self-defense. Israel called the first Gaza War "Operation Cast Lead." It began on December 27, 2008 and lasted for three weeks. The first week consisted of air attacks, whereas the next two weeks saw a massive ground invasion. According to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, 1,391 Palestinians were killed during the operation, over half of them civilians and 344 of them children. Israel claims that the number of civilians killed, (versus militants) has been inflated. According to Amnesty International, more than 3,000 homes in Gaza were destroyed and 20,000 more were damaged. Hundreds of schools, clinics, mosques, factories, farms, orchards, government buildings, police stations and prisons were destroyed or damaged as well. According to Israeli authorities, 571 rockets and 205 mortar shells landed in Israel during the duration of the operation. 13 Israelis were killed, three of them civilians. Following the offensive, the United Nations sent a Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict to investigate violations of international law. The resulting Goldstone Report accused both Israel and Hamas (as well as other Palestinian militant groups) of war crimes and recommended both sides conduct investigations on the allegations. The second Gaza War, which Israel called "Operation Pillar of Defense," began on November 14, 2012 and lasted eight days. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,168 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli airstrikes, 101 of them civilians, including 33 children. Israel was criticized by Human Rights Watch and others for targeting Palestinian media workers during the operation. Rockets fired by Hamas reached previously out of range Israeli population centers, such as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Six Israelis were killed, four of them civilians. Ceasefire terms included Israel stopping hostilities in Gaza, including targeting of individuals, Palestinian factions agreeing to stop rocket attacks and border attacks, and to open border crossings, thus easing Israel’s blockade on Gaza. The third Gaza War, which Israel called "Operation Protective Edge," had the greatest number of fatalities, the most physical destruction, and was the most protracted of the wars, lasting from July 8 until August 26, 2014, including both attacks from the air and a ground invasion. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 2,131 Palestinians were killed, 69% of whom were civilians and over 500 of whom were children. Over 18,000 homes in Gaza were demolished or severely damaged. 71 Israelis (5 of them civilians, one of those a child) and one Thai national in Israel were killed. Israel initially stated that its goal was to stop rocket fire, but after the start of the operation, tunnels leading from Gaza into Israel were discovered, and the Israel military goal became to detect and destroy the tunnels. Hamas was criticized for shooting rockets from populated areas, for killing suspected collaborators, and for storing weapons and (in two cases) firing from U.N. schools that were empty. Israel was sharply condemned for attacking (among other civilian locations) seven United Nations schools, killing at least 44 Palestinians who were seeking shelter inside the schools. Ceasefire terms were similar to those in 2012, and included the opening of Gaza’s border crossings, Israel permitting humanitarian aid and construction materials into Gaza, and an extension of Gaza’s fishing zone. Other demands, such as Hamas’s demand for an air and seaport in Gaza, the releasing of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons and the ending of the siege, and Israel’s demand for the disarming of Hamas and other militant groups were held for later negotiations. For over-all context on the Gaza Wars, see interview with former NYT correspondent to Gaza, Taghreed El-Khodary, "Ending the siege is not a Hamas demand—it is a Palestinian one," Moriel Rothman-Zecher, 972mag, August 17, 2014. See also "No Exit in Gaza," Jen Marlowe, TomDispatch.com, Dec 7, 2014. For more on the 2009 war, see "Fatalities during Operation Cast Lead," B’tselem; and "Israel/Gaza Operation ‘Cast Lead’: 22 Days of Death and Destruction," Amnesty International, July 2, 2009. For more on the 2012 war, see "Q&A: Israel-Gaza violence," BBC, Nov 22, 2012; see also "TEXT: Ceasefire agreement between Israel and Gaza's Palestinians," Reuters, Nov 21, 2012; and "Israel/Gaza: Unlawful [no-lexicon]Israeli[/no-lexicon] Attacks on Palestinian Media," Human Rights Watch, Dec 20, 2012. For more on the 2014 war, see the OCHA Situation Report, OCHA, September 4, 2014. See also "Israel: In-Depth Look at Gaza School Attacks," Human Rights Watch, September 11, 2014; and "Hamas acknowledges its forces fired rockets from civilian areas," Haaretz & Associated Press, September 12, 2014. See also "UN: [no-lexicon]Israeli[/no-lexicon] actions killed 44 Palestinians at UN shelters," Al Jazeera America & Associated Press, April 27, 2015.
Also known as the 1994 Cairo Agreement. The May 4, 1994 agreement was a follow-up treaty as part of the Oslo Process. Details of Palestinian autonomy were stipulated, and Israeli military withdrawal from much of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho, creating the slogan, "Gaza and Jericho first." The Palestinian Authority was created as part of the Gaza-Jericho Agreement, and Palestinian security forces were established. Economic protocols were also part of the agreement. See the full text of the agreement via UNISPAL, May 27, 1994.
Also referred to as the Geneva Accord. A nongovernmental initiative launched in Geneva, Switzerland on December 1, 2002 by Yossi Beilin from the Israeli side and Yasser Abed Rabo from the Palestinian side. The initiative outlined proposed steps and cooperation toward a final status agreement in fields ranging from economics to natural resources, as well as the resolution of issues such as settlements, the status of Jerusalem and Right of Return for Palestinian refugees. The initiative never gained official recognition, although proponents continue to press for its adoption and implementation. For a full text of the terms outlined in the Geneva Initiative, see the Geneva Initiative website.
A region that borders southwestern Syria, southern Lebanon, northeastern Israel and northwestern Jordan. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 War and formally annexed the region in December 1981, although the annexation has not been recognized internationally. The area is an important source of water, and has strategic military implications as well. The 20,000-strong Syrian Druze community, most of whom have retained their Syrian identity/citizenship, now live under Israeli rule. There are more than 30 Jewish Israeli settlements in the Golan Heights, inhabited by approximately 20,000 settlers. The return of the Golan Heights to Syria by Israel has proven to be a major stumbling block for a Syrian-Israeli peace treaty. See "The Golan Heights Annexed by Israel in an Abrupt Move," David Shipler, The New York Times,Dec 14, 1981. For information about the Syrian Druze community, see "In the Golan Heights, Anxious Eyes Look East," Isabel Kershner, New York Times, May 21, 2011.
Released on September 29, 2009, this report details the findings of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. Commissioned by the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Mission was headed by South African Justice Richard Goldstone and also included three other members from different parts of the world. In investigating the Israeli military incursion into the Gaza Strip from December 27, 2008 to January 18, 2009 as well as the events leading up to it, the report found Israel and Hamas/other Palestinian militant groups guilty of violating international human rights and humanitarian law, including actions that amounted to war crimes. On the Israeli side, the report focused on Israel’s Gaza blockade prior to the war in addition to its military’s actions during the war that were "directed at the people of Gaza as a whole." In regards to Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups, the report emphasized the thousands of rockets and mortars launched into civilian areas of southern Israel before the war. The report concluded with a request that both sides conduct their own investigations into the allegations. Reactions to the report were explosive, with the Israeli government declaring the report to be factually incorrect and politically biased and others desiring to try Israel at the International Criminal Court. Israel eventually conducted an investigation about which a U.N Human Rights Council Panel said, "fell significantly short of meeting international standards" and Human Rights Watch said lacked credibility and thoroughness, while Hamas did not conduct any serious investigation. On April 10, 2011, Justice Goldstone wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post reconsidering some of the report’s findings regarding Israel and war crimes, which some Israeli officials deemed a delayed apology while others found his Op-Ed vague and unclear. See the Goldstone Report and other related documents at "Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict," UN Human Rights Council. See also "The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict," Adam Horowitz, Lizzy Ratner and Philip Weiss, Eds, Nations Books, 2011; and "Turning a Blind Eye: Impunity for Laws-of-War Violations during the Gaza War," Human Rights Watch, April 11, 2010. See also "Reconsidering the Goldstone report on Israel and war crimes," Richard Goldstone, April 1, 2011; and "Roundup on the Goldstone Controversy," Noura Erekat, Jadaliyya, April 13, 2011.
Also known as "1967 border." Refers to the 1949 Armistice Line following the 1948 War, a line that demarcated boundaries between Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. Since the 1967 War, the Green Line has denoted, according to most international opinion and United Nations resolutions, the boundary between territory recognized as part of the legitimate, sovereign State of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. For a map that marks the Green Line, see B’Tselem’s June 2011 map. For different Israeli and Palestinian perspectives on the Green Line in modern-day political dealings, see " The green line," February 24, 2003, Bitterlemons.org.