Israel’s geo-political situation is complicated and often painful. In recent times, nowhere has this been felt more keenly than in and around Gaza.
Prior to the Six Day War of 1967, the small area known as the Gaza Strip was under the military occupation of Egypt. In 1967 the area was conquered by Israel, and it remained under Israeli military control until 2005, when Israel ‘disengaged’, removing all Israeli presence from Gaza and forcibly removing the Jews who had settled there.
Since then, it has been under the theoretical control of the Palestinian Authority, but a 2007 violent coup led by the fundamentalist Muslim organisation Hamas has left the Strip under the control of a group defined by many as a terrorist organisation. Since 2005, Hamas has been fired occasional rockets into Israel, and on three occasions high levels of concentrated fire have led the Israeli Defence Forces to launch military operations in the Strip.
Our Gaza border tours include a political briefing to remind you of the history of this area, and how we got to where we are today. You will discuss the current reality of the situation for both the people of Gaza and the people of Israel. You will then tour one of these communities, seeing how the community protects itself both physically and psychologically. You are likely to meet Israeli soldiers at their army post, and will be able to ask them about their lives and roles in the military. From a look out point you will also be able to see into Gaza, and the close by town of Beit Hanoun, we will try to understand the challenges faced by the Palestinians who live there, and the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Eye opening tour of the ‘Gaza Envelope’ really brought home the challenges facing these communities. Met with such warmth by the locals and also the Israeli soldiers we bumped in to – couldn’t believe how young they were!
Leslie B, Cirencester
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