Why young Israelis and Palestinians are dying
Now, tanks and Israeli soldiers have taken over the streets of both Palestinian cities.
Ala is missing school, spending his days trapped with his family and trying not to become one of the thousands of Palestinians who have been injured or killed.
Just 15 miles away, Liat Margalit, an Israeli who lives in Jerusalem, also wonders whether she will survive the next couple of weeks.
Every time she goes out, the 17-year-old worries about the suicide bombers who have killed dozens of Israelis in the past two weeks.
Liat and her friends meet in each other's homes instead of terrorist targets such as restaurants or malls.
A far-reaching conflict...
The Israelis and the Palestinians are in a war that affects almost every other country.
The conflict has begun to divide citizens of many nations along religious and ethnic lines. It could also turn Arab countries against the U.S. at a time when the Bush administration is relying on their support for the war against terrorism.
Many Palestinians are Muslim and of Arab decent. Neighboring Arab countries accuse the U.S. of siding with Israel and allowing Israel to deny the Palestinians the right to have their own state.
Muslim and Arab supporters have staged protests in African and European countries, China and Australia. And Arab leaders who do not take a tough stand against Israel face the anger of their own people.
There are also millions of Jews throughout the world who may not agree with the way Israel is attacking Palestinian towns, but who worry that the goal of the Arab world is to eliminate Israel, the only Jewish nation in the world.
Angry mobs have attacked Jews and burned down a synagogue in France and antisemitic violence has spread to other countries .
The U.S. sends Colin Powell
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is traveling to the Middle East this week to try to push both sides to end the violence and begin cease-fire talks.
The U.S. is in a tough position. On the one hand, it has always supported Israel, which it says is one of the only democracies in the region.
On the other, U.S. support for a country that has killed thousands of Palestinians and occupied Palestinian territories has angered many of our allies.
Origins of the conflict...
Israel began to take over Palestinian towns and cities on March 29. After a suicide bomber killed 26 Israelis at a hotel, the Israeli government said the only way to stop terrorism is to arrest or kill Palestinian militants.
Israeli forces have arrested thousands of Palestinians and killed over 200, including many non-militants and children.
Israel has also taken over the Palestinian headquarters in Ramallah, confining Palestinian President Yasser Arafat to a few rooms in his office.
On Sunday, President Bush demanded that Israel leave the Palestinian territories in the West Bank.
However Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said his country would not end its offensive until Palestinian militants who have organized attacks against Israelis are crushed.
Differing interpretations of the same facts
Dividing the two sides are different interpretations of suicide bombers. One side says suicide bombers are terrorists who murder innocent Israelis in a fight against the very existence of a Jewish state.
The other says suicide bombers are the result of decades of injustices suffered by the Palestinians and they are part of the natural struggle for an end to Israeli occupation and a state of their own.
Links for further investigation:
Past attempts at peace in the Middle East
Bios of key players
Most recent events
The personal fight between Israeli Prime Minister Sharon and Palestinian President Arafat
Lesson Plan with additional resources
-- By Leah Clapman, NewsHour Extra
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