• The Current
  • Posts
  • 🌊 Israel and Gaza: Behind the War

🌊 Israel and Gaza: Behind the War

RFK Jr. goes independent, convicted for selling bleach, and the Israel-Gaza conflict

Welcome and thank you to the thousands of new Roca Current subscribers. Of course, the reason many of you are here is bleak: We are featuring a recap of the tragic events of the weekend and a brief history of the Israel-Arab conflict, with a special focus on Gaza.

This is the most difficult subject we have had to cover to date. The Israel-Palestine issue is singularly complex and sensitive. Unlike other outlets that may try to divvy out blame or cover one side of the conflict, our goal is to provide the facts and do our best to tell the full story. Thank you for trusting us; we don’t take it lightly.

In today's edition:

  • RFK Jr. goes independent

  • Convicted for selling bleach

  • Israel-Gaza conflict

 🔑 Key Stories

War in Israel and Gaza

Hamas invaded Israel on Saturday, beginning the largest Israel-Palestine war in decades

  • Around 6:00 AM Saturday, Hamas fired thousands of rockets into southern and central Israel. It then launched an invasion by land, air, and sea

  • Beyond rocket attacks, Hamas targeted 22 locations, including towns and military bases. The attack caught Israeli security forces totally off guard

  • Videos showed Hamas raiding military bases, shooting civilians, and dragging hostages into vehicles. At a music festival near Israel’s border with Gaza, Hamas killed 260+ civilians and abducted others. In other towns, Hamas killed young children, the elderly, and the disabled

  • Israel responded by declaring war, calling up a record 300,000 reservists, launching airstrikes against Gaza, and deploying its military to southern Israel. By the time Israel announced it had cleared Hamas out of the country, at least 900 Israelis had been killed

  • On Monday, a top Israeli official announced a “complete siege” of Gaza. Israel will cut all electricity, food, and water exports into the territory

  • Israel also intensified a bombing campaign there. The UN estimated that as of Monday night, Israeli bombing had displaced 187,518 Palestinians and killed ~600, including children and the elderly

  • On Monday, a Hamas spokesperson announced the group would begin “the execution of one [Israeli hostage]” for every Israeli strike “targeting…civilian homes without advanced warning,” and broadcast the killings. It is believed to possess 150+ hostages

  • The leaders of the US, Germany, France, and the UK jointly condemned Hamas’ assault. President Biden warned others – mainly Iran and Hezbollah, in Lebanon – against interfering. The US deployed its most advanced aircraft carrier battle group to the Mediterranean to deter further escalation of the conflict by other groups

  • At least 11 US citizens have been killed so far and others are missing

Dig Deeper

  • Scroll to the bottom for today’s Wrap, which gives a comprehensive background on the situation

RFK Jr. Running as Independent

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (RFK Jr.) dropped his Democratic primary bid and announced he will instead run as an independent

  • Polls suggested RFK Jr. was a long-shot to defeat incumbent Joe Biden and that he was more popular among Republican voters than among Democrats. RFK Jr. also accused the Democratic National Convention of bias against him

  • On Monday, RFK announced he will run as an independent: “We declare independence from the two political parties and the corrupt interests that dominate them and the entire rigged system”

  • After RFK Jr.’s announcement, the Republican National Committee released a statement calling him “a Democrat in Independent’s clothing”

Dig Deeper

  • RFK Jr. is now one of several independents running for president, including Cornel West, a progressive activist who last week dropped his Green Party bid to run as an independent. Some have also speculated that Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) may run as an independent

Naked Rower Saved

A cruise ship rescued a naked 24-year-old Australian rower 14 hours after his boat capsized in the Pacific

  • Tom Robinson was attempting to become the youngest solo rower to cross the Pacific Ocean. He set out from Peru in July 2022 on what was supposed to be a 15-month, 9,782-mile trip across the world’s largest ocean. He first conceived of the trip when he was a teenager and built the boat he used himself

  • On Thursday, a large wave broke over the boat, causing it to flood and capsize. Robinson managed to escape the flooding boat and radio for help

  • An airplane spotted Robinson on Thursday night, and a cruise ship in the area diverted to rescue him. He was naked throughout the ordeal because he often rowed without clothes to avoid chafing

Dig Deeper

  • Robinson was suffering from dehydration and sunburn but was otherwise healthy. He apologized for forcing the cruise ship to divert its path and said he hopes to one day complete the last leg of his journey

🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • Sons of bleaches: A federal judge sentenced a Florida man and his three sons for selling toxic industrial bleach as a fake Covid cure through their online church. They sold $1M worth of it

  • New Olympic sports dropped: Cricket, squash, lacrosse, flag football, and baseball/softball are close to joining the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The IOC still needs to ratify them

  • So find me on da pitch: Rapper 50 Cent will sponsor AFC Rumney, a Welsh under-14 girls soccer team. The partnership came about when one of the girl’s fathers asked 50 Cent to pay for new jerseys

Wildcard

  • Last name ban: An Alabama library added the children’s book “Read Me a Story, Stella” to a list of potentially “sexually explicit” books because its author’s last name is Gay. The library has since removed the book from the list

  • Customer of the year! An accused thief with 54 prior arrests escaped from police custody by walking out of an NYC hospital, but officers recaptured him 12 hours later

  • The brunch vomiting stops here: Some Bay Area, California restaurants are now charging Sunday brunch diners who drink too many bottomless mimosas and vomit $50

👇 What do you think?

Today's Poll:

Do you believe that a president who doesn’t represent one of the two major parties will be elected during your lifetime?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Today's Question:

What was the best part of your weekend?

See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🌯 Roca Wrap

We have tried our best to deliver a thorough yet concise overview of the Arab-Israeli conflict, with an emphasis on Gaza. We’ve broken it into four sections and sought to make it unbiased. Please send us your thoughts and, as always, thank you for reading Roca.

On Saturday morning, Hamas gunmen poured out of Gaza and into Israel. They shot, bombed, and kidnapped Israelis, taking 150 hostage and killing nearly 1,000. The assault was the latest bloody chapter in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Part 1 of 4: Creating Israel

While it’s hard to put a date on when exactly that conflict began, one starting point is 1896 – the year a Jewish activist named Theodor Herzl published a pamphlet calling on Jews to urgently create their own state. That ideology – Modern Zionism – would call for a Jewish state in the Middle East.

Jerusalem had been the capital of a Jewish state some 2,000 years prior, before the Romans destroyed it and caused an exodus of Jews around the world. Yet Judaism teaches that God gave the land of Israel to the Jews, and some never gave up hope of returning to Jerusalem.

By the late 1800s, many Jews felt that needed to happen urgently. Jews across Western Europe faced anti-Semitism; in the Ottoman Empire, they had to pay taxes for not being Muslim; and in the Russian Empire, they were routinely rounded up and killed in what became known as “pogroms.” Those conditions and their religious beliefs led some of them to emigrate to Palestine.

The British ended up taking Palestine from the Ottoman Empire, and in 1917, the UK endorsed the idea of a Jewish territory there. The League of Nations did the same five years later.

Jewish emigration accelerated in the following decades, particularly as the Nazis came to power, stripped Jews’ citizenship, and began putting them into ghettos. Between 1922 and 1941, Palestine’s Jewish population more than quintupled, from 84,000 to 474,000.

Then came the Holocaust: The murder of 6M Jews seemed to prove Herzl’s point, and countries and Jews unified around the idea of Israel. In 1947, the UN approved a plan that would divide Israel into two states – one Jewish, one Muslim – and leave Jerusalem under UN control. Arabs rejected the plan: Some rejected the terms, which gave the minority Jews a majority of the land; others rejected Israel’s right to exist altogether.

By that point, the UK also wanted out of Palestine. It had faced both a rebellion by the Arabs and attacks on its authorities by Jewish militants. After World War II, it was drained of resources and faced rising Muslim-Jewish violence. On May 15, 1948, its rule over Palestine ended.

On that day, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Jordan invaded, seeking to eliminate Israel before it could exist. The resulting war ended in 1949 with Israel occupying all the territory the UN had allocated to it and a chunk of the supposed-to-be-Arab land. Jordan and Egypt occupied the supposed-to-be-Palestinian territories.

To Israelis, the result was a victory – the prevention of a second Holocaust, as they saw it. To Arab Palestinians – a majority of whom were were displaced or forced from their homes – it came to be known as the "Nakba," or catastrophe.

Part 2 of 4: Arab-Israeli Wars

Tensions remained high after the war, with no Arab country accepting Israel’s right to exist.

The next clash came in 1956, when Israel, France, and the UK invaded Egypt seeking to seize the Suez Canal and end an Egyptian blockade on an Israeli port. That conflict – the Suez Crisis – galvanized anti-West and anti-Israel sentiment throughout the Middle East.

Then in 1967 – amid Syrian bombing and a significant build-up of Egyptian troops on Israel’s border – Israel launched a preemptive strike. The resulting “Six Days War” humiliated the Arab countries, whose leaders had said they were ready to eliminate the state of Israel. Instead, Israel seized all of the territory allocated to the Palestinians in 1947, in addition to other Egyptian and Syrian lands.

Six years later, Egypt and Syria invaded Israel again, this time with a surprise attack. After inflicting heavy casualties, the Israelis counterattacked and regained lost land. The war, while technically an Arab defeat, helped restore some of the prestige the Arabs had lost in 1967.

It also paved the way for 1979, when Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace deal with Israel and recognize its right to exist. In exchange, Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula, an Egyptian area it had seized in 1967.

Part 3 of 4: Peace Negotiations

After that, Israel continued to occupy the West Bank and Gaza Strip, both of which the UN had given to the Palestinians. It also took over the entirety of Jerusalem and made it its capital, despite the UN’s call for that to become an international city. Numerous peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians started and failed during this period, often because neither side was willing to compromise on Jerusalem.

At this time, most Palestinian factions did not accept Israel’s right to exist. They used violence against Israel and Israelis with the hope of eliminating Israel or forcing it to compromise. The main umbrella group was the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), led by Yasser Arafat, which conducted frequent bombings, shootings, and hijackings against Israelis.

But in 1993, the PLO accepted Israel’s right to exist. In turn, Israel accepted it as a legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Both sides entered into negotiations that focused on reducing violence in exchange for limiting and eventually ending Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Arafat and Israel’s leader, Yitzhak Rabin, signed the Oslo Accords, which laid out the path to do so.

Two years later, a hardline Israeli murdered Rabin; immediately after, hardline Palestinians launched a wave of attacks against Israel. Israelis responded by electing a right-wing government led by Benjamin Netanyahu. The peace process was derailed.

Israel and the Palestinians did enact parts of the peace plan. For example, Israel divided the West Bank into three zones: One, with a majority of the population, was put under a Palestinian government; another was put under joint Palestinian-Israeli control; and a third was left under Israeli control.

Yet Israel maintained control of major aspects of the economy, forced Palestinians to move through Israeli checkpoints, and continued to conduct military raids at will, often killing and detaining Palestinians. Palestinian residents couldn't vote and didn't have full civil rights. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have since moved into the West Bank and many Palestinian homes have been destroyed. Israel says the measures are necessary for security; Palestinians and many supporters say they have created an apartheid state.

Tensions led to a Palestinian uprising between 2000 and 2005 known as the “Second Intifada”, during which Palestinian bombings and shootings and Israeli military raids killed 2,000+ Israelis and 5,000+ Palestinians. The violence led Israel to eventually build a wall around the West Bank. While the frequency of suicide bombings plummeted, Palestinians said it turned the West Bank into a prison.

Part 4 of 4: Rise of Hamas

In 2005, Israel ended its occupation of Gaza, which is ~20 miles from the West Bank at its nearest point. It withdrew its troops and dismantled “settlements,” or Israeli towns, that had been built there. A year later, Palestine held elections.

By that point, the Palestinians were divided between groups that recognized Israel’s right to exist and those that didn’t. In the election, Hamas – a hard-line Islamist group that called for Israel’s destruction – won, prompting a violent power struggle between it and a more moderate group. Hamas emerged victorious and took control of Gaza, which has not held elections since.

Egypt and Israel – Gaza’s only two neighbors – reacted to Hamas’ takeover with a blockade, which is still in place today. In the intervening years, Hamas and other groups frequently used Gaza to launch rocket and other attacks against Israel. Israel typically responds with disproportionate bombing that is intended to destroy Hamas’ infrastructure and deter future attacks. That and Hamas’ use of human shields has led to many Palestinian civilian casualties.

The blockade, war, sanctions, and corruption have turned Gaza into one of the world’s poorest places, with a nearly 50% unemployment rate. That situation has fed support for Hamas, which says Israeli policies toward the Palestinians constitute a one-sided war that merits its attacks, including on civilians.

Yet Palestinian support remains divided between hardliners like Hamas and groups that accept Israel’s right to exist. In recent years, the latter’s corruption and political failures have fueled support for Hamas, which has sought to become the primary group representing the Palestinians.

Geopolitics complicate the situation: Israel is surrounded by Iran-backed forces that call for its destruction, including Hamas, to Israel’s south; West Bank militants, to Israel’s east; Syria, to Israel’s northeast; and Hezbollah, to Israel’s north. Those threats are one of the ways Israel justifies its blockade on Gaza and occupation of the West Bank.

***

Hamas launched its attack amid this backdrop. Over a thousand people have already died and the war appears to be intensifying.

If you have thoughts, please let us know by replying to this email or emailing [email protected].

 🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Do you support building border walls on the US southern border?
Yes: 65%
No: 20%
Sometimes: 15%

Yesterday's Question:

Just 20 Qs!

🧠 Final Thoughts

We thank all of you for trusting us to give you this important information today. As always, we have tried our hardest to give an unbiased background and assessment of the situation. This is not easy stuff to write, but we hold ourselves to an extremely high standard and hope it shows.

—Max and Max