Israelis and Palestinians are at it again.

A wave of violence in the region began earlier this month with Palestinian knife attacks against Israeli Jews, fueled by rumors that Israel was planning a takeover of the Temple Mount, one of the most holy sites in Jerusalem. These ongoing attacks and subsequent deadly clashes with Israeli security forces have prompted widespread concern about a third Palestinian intifada (large uprising).

The latest unrest comes a little more than a year after a short but intense period of fighting in the summer of 2014 that claimed thousands of lives (mostly Palestinians) and left large swaths of the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip in ruins.

The decades-old saga seems infinite: tenuous periods of calm punctuated by spates of fear and violence. At its most basic level, the struggle is over a slice of territory not much bigger than New Jersey, to which both Israelis and Palestinians lay claim. But the roots of the conflict are deep and tangled, mired in complex issues of identity, displacement and colonization that date back more than a century.  As complicated as these challenges are, however, they’re not intractable.  In examining the current situation in context, these four balanced resources offer clues as to to why peace in this region remains so stubbornly elusive, and how it can be found.

1. 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.

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2. 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.


3. NY Times: Defining Borders

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

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4. Crash Course: A History of Conflict

A fairly long, but engaging video history lesson on the century-old roots of the conflict.

  • Eugene

    Thank you for this useful information. I hadn’t understood what had been going on until now.


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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