Historic perspective on Israeli-Palestinian conflict - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Local expert gives historic look at Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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GAZA (WKOW) -- Both sides say they want a diplomatic solution to fighting between Israeli troops and Palestinians militants in Gaza, but both sides also appear ready to escalate the violence if talks fail.

Monday marked the sixth day of rocket attacks. Palestinian officials say 111 of their people have been killed in Gaza, and half of those victims were civilians. Three Israelis have died from Palestinian rocket fire.

This is just the latest flare up in a long-running dispute. It's conflict that dates back to a land that was once historic Palestine.

UW-Madison Middle east Studies expert Jennifer Loewenstein says the people of Gaza have lived under control of the neighboring Israeli government since 1967. They're now under an economic blockade.

In 2007, the militant Islamic organization, Hamas, took over the Palestinian territory, which sparked a series of attacks in 2008 that were much like the current conflict. Israel sent ground troops into Gaza in response to Hamas rocket fire aimed at Israel. At least 14-hundred people were killed.

Now, some fear Palestinian rocket attacks and the subsequent Israeli air strikes over the past six days could be a repeat of that devastation. Basically, the Palestinians want Israel to lift its blockade on Gaza, and the Israelis want a guarantee that Hamas won't attack Israel.

The Israeli government has not ruled out a ground invasion, now assembling tens of thousands of troops near the Gaza border. Meanwhile, Egyptian leaders are working on a cease-fire agreement in hopes of peace.

Loewenstein says it won't come easy.

"I think what could solve or begin to solve this problem would be negotiations, face to face negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians of all different factions," she says.

The U.S. supports a cease-fire, but the president has said Israel has a right to defend itself from attacks. President Obama talked with negotiators from Egypt and Israel on Monday by phone.

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