As the war between Israel and Hamas continues, there are some key terms that you need to know, listed in alphabetical order.
Gaza Strip: The Gaza Strip is considered by human rights groups “the world’s largest open-air prison,” according to NPR. It has about 2.3 million people in a 25-mile-long, 6-mile-wide area. It is one of two territories of Palestine. it is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea on the west, Israel on the north and east and Egypt on the south. On the Israeli side, it has a border of walls and fences.
Hamas: Hamas is, according to the Director of National Intelligence, rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood, concentrated in the Gaza Strip and West Bank and is “supported by a robust sociopolitical structure inside the Palestinian territories.” It wants to create an Islamic Palestinian state where Israel is located.
Iron Dome: The Iron Dome is the name of Israel’s missile defense system. CNN reported that its development started in 2007 with tests performed in 2008 and 2008. The first batteries were deployed on 2011 with several upgrades since its rollout. It shoots down incoming missiles by using a radar that detects them and then a system that calculates whether a rocket is a threat or not. If it is, the Iron Dome fires its missiles to destroy the incoming rocket midflight. There are 10 batteries with three to four launchers each. They can be moved and can be set up in a matter of hours.
Israel Defense Force (IDF): The Israel Defense Force, or IDF, is the entirety of the Israeli military. It was established two weeks after Israel declared its independence in 1948, according to Fox News. Every Israeli citizen who is 18 and is Jewish, Druze or Circassian is required to serve, unless they are Israeli Arab, religious women, married or unfit to serve. Men serve for at least 32 months while women serve for at least 24 months.
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA): The UNRWS provides “assistance and protection for registered palestine refugees,” according to the agency’s website. It was established after the 1948 War by the United Nations General Assembly, in December 1949. Since there has not been a resolution to the refugee problem, it has been renewed several times, helping four generations of Palestine refugees since it started operations in 1950.
A Palestine refugee is, by definition, a “person whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 War.” Their descendants and legally adopted children are also assisted by the UNRWA.
West Bank: The West Bank is the larger of the two Palestinian territories and is home to about 3 million people, according to the CIA. It is west of Jordan and east of Israel. It is primarily Muslim (80% to 85% mostly Sunni), Jewish accounts for 12%-14% of the population with between 1% and 2.5% listed as Christian, mainly Greek Orthodox.