The United States Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel, opened on May 14. The embassy used to be in Tel Aviv and was moved to Jerusalem. May 14 was also a special day for Israel. It was celebrating 70 years of being a nation. In fact, the United States was the first country to recognize Israel as an independent state on May 14, 1948.
The day was also marked with thousands of Palestinians staging protests in the West Bank and Gaza. Some Palestinians along the border of Gaza and Israel threw burned tires and petrol bombs at Israeli soldiers. The soldiers fired back, and about 60 Palestinians were killed and many were injured.
The Palestinian protests were to express unhappiness for the United States moving its embassy to Jerusalem. Palestinians consider the eastern part of Jerusalem to be their capital city, while Israelis consider Jerusalem to be theirs. Since the status of East Jerusalem is contested, most countries have their embassies located in Tel Aviv. However, in December last year, the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
For centuries, Jewish Israelis and Arab Palestinians have both lived in the same geographical region. Today, the area is called Israel, but it was previously called Palestine. Since that region is “home” for both sets of people, they have strong disagreements about who should get to live where. In 1947, the United Nations, an international peace organization, proposed splitting the area into two regions – one for the Jews and one for the Palestinians. The Palestinians did not agree with the plan, and fighting broke out. By the time the initial fighting was over, the Jewish people had created a country called Israel in 1948. This was followed by a war between Israel and some Arab countries (Jordan, Egypt, and more). By the time the war ended in 1949, many Palestinian people had fled to two areas. One was called the Gaza Strip (which borders Israel and Egypt) and was under Egyptian control. The other was called the West Bank (which borders Israel and Jordan) and was under Jordan’s control.
In 1967, there was another war between Israel and some Arab countries (including Jordan and Egypt). At the end of the war, which lasted for 6 days, Israel took over both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In the 1990s, agreements were signed by the Palestinian and Israeli leaders giving control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to the Palestinian people. The two areas are referred to as the Palestinian territories.
If you look at a map, you’ll see that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank don’t border each other. The status of these two areas is contested. The Palestinians have been trying to get the rest of the world to recognize the Gaza Strip and West Bank as their independent country, while the Israelis consider the areas as territories under their country.
Image Credits: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov for the map image, https://il.usembassy.gov for the US Embassy sign, Bienchido for Jerusalem’s image, https://palestinett.org for the West Bank-Gaza map
Sources: CNN, BBC, https://il.usembassy.gov, CIA World Factbook