Recent History of the Occupied Palestinian Territories

The West Bank and Gaza are Palestinian territories that have been occupied by Israel since 1967. Gaza's borders have been completely sealed off; neither goods nor people can come or go since its election a few years ago of Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel as a sovereign nation. This fuels continued sporadic fighting between the two sides. Exactly one year ago Israel's attack on Gaza resulted in devastating loss of civilian lives and damage to infrastructure.

The West Bank, which is controlled by the Palestinian Authority, recognizes Israel through its attempt to reach a peace agreement, but still suffers land loss. B'tselem, an Israeli monitoring organization, reports that from 1967-2007 Israel established 121 settlements and at least 100 outposts in the West Bank. Israel rejects the UN's position that taking land for "settlements" or "outposts" is in violation of international law, based on the 4th Geneva Convention. Israel's military guards the settlements and the Gaza border. In June 2002, Israel began the construction of a physical barrier, separating itself from the West Bank to prevent Palestinian entry into Israel. Referred to as "The Wall," this barrier often cuts into Palestinian land and can separate a family from their orchard or fields.

-Debra George and Carole Resnick