What is happening in the Middle East

Escalation in the Middle EastThe background to the violence

As announced, the Israeli army continued its attacks on the Gaza Strip. From there, Palestinian militants fired rockets at Israeli cities in the south of the country. Northern Israel has also been attacked again with rockets from Lebanon. The Israeli military announced that all bullets had fallen on Lebanese territory.

The escalation is due to different events and backgrounds.

The "indivisible capital" - Jerusalem and its status

Jerusalem and the status of the city as a whole play a central role in the entire Middle East conflict. The Temple Mount is of paramount importance to Jews and Muslims alike. This is where the Al-Aqsa Mosque is located - for the Islamic world the third most important mosque after the al-Haram Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina. The Dome of the Rock is also located here, in the center of which is the rock from which Mohamed is said to have started his ascension to heaven.

The Temple Mount is also of great importance for Jews: The first Jerusalem temple of King Solomon was destroyed by the Babylonians at the beginning of the 6th century BC. The second temple was built after the return of the Jews from Babylonian exile. Since the destruction of this second temple by the Romans in 70, Judaism has been without a temple. The Western Wall formed the western wall of this second temple

In the 1967 Six Day War, Israel captured the eastern part of the city from Jordan. From then on, Israeli law applied there. In 1980, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, declared the entire city area to be the inseparable capital of Israel. The UN Security Council declared the annexation in Resolution 478 null and void.

Israel regards the "Holy City" as eternally indivisible. The so-called Jerusalem Law, which was passed by the Israeli parliament in 1980, states at a central point: "The complete and unified Jerusalem is the capital of Israel." For their part, the Palestinians insist on the eastern part of the city, which should also be the capital if a future Palestinian state is established.

Israel, the West Bank and the settlement areas (Deutschlandradio / Andrea Kampmann)

Temple Mount: Celebrations for the annexation of East Jerusalem

Every year on May 10, Israel celebrates the appropriation of East Jerusalem in 1967 as part of the Six Day War. In order to prevent the clashes that were already looming, the Israeli police had banned Jewish organizations from marching flags on the Temple Mount. Nevertheless, numerous Jewish believers gathered there, which led to the aggression of the Palestinians.

Dispute over evictions of Palestinian families

Another cause of the recent escalation is based on events in Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem. There had also been violent clashes with the Israeli border police, among others.

The background: In the Israeli-Arab war in 1948, many Palestinians had to leave their homes in West Jerusalem and flee to East Jerusalem. Some fled to Gaza or Jordan and stayed there after the founding of Israel in 1948. Jordan, which then ruled East Jerusalem and the West Bank, settled some of the Palestinian refugees in Sheikh Jarrah in the 1950s - together with the UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees, UNWRA. In return, they gave up their refugee status. Israel occupied East Jerusalem after the Six Day War and later annexed the area. It declared the city to be the undivided capital of the country.

Dr. Khouloud Daibes - Head of the Palestinian Mission in Germany (Eventpress Stauffenberg) "The core problem is the occupation"
The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians can only be resolved politically, said Khouloud Daibes, head of the Palestinian Mission in Germany, in the Dlf. The conflicting parties are not two sovereign states. The asymmetry is serious.

According to historical Israeli law, Jews can get back land in Jerusalem that they or their ancestors lost. Palestinians do not have this right. Because the nationalist Jewish organization Nahalat Shimon has filed claims, several Arab families are now facing eviction. Nahalat Shimon claims to have bought the land from two Jewish organizations that are said to have owned it at the end of the 19th century. So that the situation in Sheikh Jarrah does not escalate any further, a hearing on those possible evictions at Israel's Supreme Court has been canceled at short notice - a decision is still pending.

(imago / David Vaaknin) After the assassination attempt on Rabin
On November 4, 1995, the then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin was murdered. The assassin: a devout Jew who was against Rabin's peace plan with the Palestinians. A two-state solution to the Middle East conflict is now more distant than ever.

The canceled Palestinian parliamentary election

Hamas was on the way to moderation. There was even talk of an agreement with Israel. She tried to get away from the rocket-firing terrorist stereotype. She wasn't doing too badly in polls either. But then Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas canceled the elections. A rescheduling of the Palestinian parliamentary election is currently uncertain. So, it seems, Hamas is betting on positioning itself as the really strong player in the Palestinian arena - as in the past with rocket attacks. While the Palestinian Authority around Mahmud Abbas is seen as corrupt and unloved, Hamas presents itself as an upright fighter for the Palestinian cause. Even if the whole thing leads to a conflict with many dead on both sides.

Rocket attacks on Jerusalem represent a particular level of escalation: they are viewed as an attack on the heart of Israel. Then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu feels almost personally challenged. That is why he spoke of a red line and responded to the missile attack with military strikes.

(AFP / MAHMUD HAMS) Why the conflict is escalating again (34:44) It is the worst escalation between Israel and the radical Islamic Hamas in years. How did this come about and how does this affect the still incomplete formation of a government?

Look into history

The dispute over Jerusalem is multifaceted and complex. In order to better classify the conflict, it is helpful to take a look at at least two events in the 20th century.

The 1948 war

UN Resolution 181 of November 1947 provided for the division of the former British mandate of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. The city of Jerusalem should remain international. Although the Arab states rejected the plan, the Jewish self-government brought the State of Israel into being on May 14, 1948. After a repulsed attack by Arab states the following day, Israel "conquered territories beyond its assigned territory, including West Jerusalem". The West Bank with the eastern part of Jerusalem went to Jordan.

The 1967 Six Day War

East Jerusalem was under Jordanian rule for 19 years. In June 1967, as a result of the Six Day War, Israel conquered the West Bank (West Bank) and East Jerusalem, which it later annexed in violation of international law. To this day the Arab world speaks of a war of aggression. Israel, on the other hand, calls it a preventive strike, which was preceded by a massive threat from neighboring Arab states - not least from Egypt.

(UPI) The end of the Six Day War
On June 10, 1976, the so-called Six Day War between Israel and neighboring Arab states ended. But its consequences can still be felt today.

Ways to a truce

The Israeli side is not yet ready for a ceasefire. The Israeli army wants to permanently weaken the militant Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stressed that this goal has not yet been achieved. There are signals from the Palestinian side from the Gaza Strip, but it must be said clearly: shooting will continue from there.

In the meantime, US President Joe Biden has also called on both sides to sign a ceasefire. Egypt and the United Nations could act as mediators.

Sources: bpb.de (Margret Johannsen), Deutschlandfunk, Benjamin Hammer, Tim AƟmann, dpa, AFP, jma