Credit: PBS Frontline World
Credit: PBS Frontline World

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict erupted again in early July after the bodies of three Israeli youth turned up in Palestinian territory. It’s the most deadly face-off  between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip since the last series of rocket attacks in 2009.

The saga seems infinite: tenuous periods of calm punctuated by spates of extreme violence and desperation. At the most basic level, the struggle is over a slice of territory not much bigger than New Jersey, to which both sides claim ownership. But the roots of the conflict are deep and tangled, mired in complex issues of identity and displacement dating back to World War I. In examining the current situation in context, these four unbiased resources offer clues to why peace in this region remains so stubbornly elusive.

1. Council on Foreign Relations: Crisis Guide

This comprehensive interactive guide looks at the nature of the conflict from multiple angles, including a narrated timeline and detailed historical maps of the region’s ever-shifting territorial boundaries.



2. Associated Press: Elusive Peace

In this continuously updated package, the AP digs into the dynamics of the current conflict, tracing the recent escalation of violence, the key players involved and the complex issues at stake. Select the arrow at the top left of the interactive for the second page, which provides an up-to-date tally of fatalities and rocket attacks.

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3. NY Times: Defining Borders

Although several years old, this 2011 video collection from NY Times does an excellent job illustrating the incredible complex challenges and obstacles to defining a Israeli-Palestinian border that both sides can agree on.

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4. Vox: Everything You Need to Know

Using their signature, user-friendly”card stack” format, Vox poses an encyclopedic list of questions about the conflict and its tangled roots, and provides relatively brief, easy-to-grasp explanations. A Vox video explaining the issue in under three minutes is also embedded below.

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Matthew Green

Matthew Green runs KQED’s News Education Project, an online resource for educators and the general public to help explain the news. The project lives at

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