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The conflict in Palestine
a war of retaliation


The hopelessness of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is seen most clearly in the Gaza Strip

in the isolated coastal strip survive
1.7 million people in an area of 360 square kilometres.

The Palestinian civilians – especially children and the sick – are suffering under Hamas as well as under the Israeli blockade. On the West Bank, Palestinian residential areas are surrounded by Jewish settlements and restricted military zones. Although the UN General Assembly designated Palestine as an "observer state" in November 2012, the parties in this conflict are still a long way away from a "two-state solution".

The key questions in the conflict have remained open since the partition of Palestine and the first war in the Middle East in 1948. At stake are occupation, borders, water rights, and the right of return and compensation for refugees.


Seat of governmentJerusalem
Population7.7 million inhabitants (2013)
Official languageHebrew, Arabic
Life expectancy81.1 years
GDP per capita32,800 US dollars (2012)
Administrative capitalRamallah
Population1.7 million inhabitants (Gaza Strip), 2.676 million (West Bank), (2013)
Major LanguageArabic
Life expectancy~ 75 years
GDP per capita2,900 US dollars (2008)
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Stéphanie Eller - ICRC-Delegate Israel


Stéphanie Eller (28), from Lausanne, started working with the ICRC at the end of 2012. It had always been her dream to work abroad for the ICRC.

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Local people

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Hanit Al-Sawada, Anna Rivkin, Suhair Zarrout and Said Aref Shaath work for the ICRC in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Claire Decobecq from France moved to Tel Aviv with her husband. They all report on daily life in the midst of this conflict that has persisted for decades.

What do you have in your pocket?

What are you proud of?

When are you happy?

What do you worry about?

How do you imagine your children’s future?

The conflict

The real suffering of the civilian population is often forgotten in the propaganda war between the Israeli government, Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, on the West Bank.

So far, there is no end in sight to this humanitarian crisis.

In the Gaza Strip, which has been under Israeli blockade since 2007, over 70% of the population depend on humanitarian aid.

Timeline of major events

1947 The partition of Palestine The partition of Palestine
On 29 November 1947 the UN General Assembly passes Resolution 181, thus agreeing to divide British mandatory Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. The future state of Israel, whose population numbered around 900,000 people, not quite half the total number of people in Palestine, is to be given 56% of the land.
1948 Establishment of the State of Israel, first war in the Middle East Establishment of the State of Israel, first war in the Middle East
David Ben Gurion declares the independence of the State of Israel in Tel Aviv and guarantees its Palestinian inhabitants Israeli citizenship. A large part of the Arab population has already fled. The first war in the Middle East follows. Egypt, Syria, the West Bank, Lebanon and Iraq attack Israel.
1956 Suez War, second war in the Middle East Suez War, second war in the Middle East
Outbreak of the second war in the Middle East (Suez War). Israel, Britain and France attack Egypt. Under pressure from the USSR, which was threatening to use nuclear weapons, and later from the USA too, the troops withdraw from Egypt. As a result of the Suez War, Britain and France lose their influence in the region.
1964 Establishment of the PLO Establishment of the PLO
The first Palestinian National Council is held in East Jerusalem. The delegates establish the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). In 1969 Yassir Arafat, head of the Fatah movement in 1968, takes charge of the PLO and remains in this post until his death in 2004.
1967 Six-Day War, third war in the Middle East Six-Day War, third war in the Middle East
In the third war in the Middle East, Israeli forces occupy the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip and advance into the Sinai. Later, Israeli troops occupy the east bank of the Suez Canal and the Syrian Golan Heights.
1973 Yom Kippur War, fourth war in the Middle East Yom Kippur War, fourth war in the Middle East
On Yom Kippur, the holiest of all Jewish holidays, Syria and Egypt attack Israel. It takes nearly two days for the surprised Israeli army to mobilize all its troops. The UN Security Council calls on Egypt, Israel and Syria to agree a ceasefire. Under pressure from the USA and the Soviet Union the armed factions cease fighting.
1987 First Intifada First Intifada
A demonstration in the Gaza Strip gets out of control, Palestinian youths throw stones and Molotov cocktails at army posts, Israeli soldiers shoot and kill a youth. Subsequently, the protests spread and become an uprising that takes hold of all Palestinian areas and lasts until 1993.
1993 - 1994 The Oslo Accords The Oslo Accords
Palestinian Chairman Yassir Arafat and the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin agree the reciprocal recognition of Israel and the PLO. The administration of Gaza and Jericho on the West Bank is transferred to a Palestinian National Authority. Arafat moves his headquarters to Ramallah.
2000 Second Intifada Second Intifada
The visit by Likud Party leader Ariel Sharon in the Temple Mount in Jerusalem – the third most holy site in Islam – triggers severe unrest. It marks the start of the Second Intifada. Following several suicide attacks, Sharon, who has since been elected Prime Minister, reoccupies the areas that had been vacated after the Oslo Accords.
2003 "Road map" "Road map"
The Middle East Quartet (USA, EU, UN and Russia) presents a "road map" for an end to the conflict in the Middle East and a "two-state solution" by 2005. The United Nations condemns the construction of the security wall on the West Bank.
2005 Withdrawal from the Gaza Strip Withdrawal from the Gaza Strip
After 38 years of occupation, the Israeli army withdraws from the Gaza Strip. Thousands of settlers are evacuated – both voluntarily and by force.
2006 - 2007 Hamas in the Gaza Strip – abduction of Gilad Shalit Hamas in the Gaza Strip – abduction of Gilad Shalit
In the 2006 elections, Hamas wins over the ruling Fatah movement. In 2007 Hamas takes over military control in the Gaza Strip.
2008 - 2009 Gaza War (Operation "Cast Lead") Gaza War (Operation "Cast Lead")
Following rocket attacks by Hamas, Israel's air force bombs the Gaza Strip. Ground troops then enter the area. The army withdraws again in early 2009.
2012 Air attacks on Gaza (Operation "Pillar of Cloud") Air attacks on Gaza (Operation "Pillar of Cloud")
Owing to rockets being fired into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip, the army commences attacks from the air.
2013 Civil wars and shift in power in neighbouring countries Civil wars and shift in power in neighbouring countries
In May Israel celebrates the 65th anniversary of the state's establishment. After the military coup in Egypt and given the civil war in Syria, the situation in the Middle East is more unstable and dangerous than ever.


In its role as a neutral intermediary in the Middle East conflict, the ICRC is not always welcome. In this war the suffering of the civilian population is repeatedly misused for propaganda purposes.

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"To do what one always wanted to do, to do what one loves and to even be paid, it's really a dream come true. And it was really confirmation for me that in doing this I would face challenges, would have to adapt, and would always have to think ahead. And of course the human content of the work is also right, and I love my work."
Stéphanie Eller, ICRC-Delegate Israel
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