At the core of the latest middle east conflict, and other wars over the last few thousand years, is land that at least four religions consider holy (The Baha’i faith joins the big three). Children learn a remarkable amount about the geography of the middle east through religious institutions. However where Jesus turned water into wine, where David defeated Goliath, or where Ismael was abandoned does not necessarily translate into understanding how geography plays a role in the latest conflict. With the help of Google Earth, I hope to explore this a bit.
The obvious first step is to show who all the major players are.
Israel and Hezbollah (based in Southern Lebanon and the Southern suburbs of Beirut) have been attacking each other over the past week. Hezbollah receives financial support from Syria and Iran (direct east of Iraq) and possibly weapons and soldiers. Because Lebanon and Syria share a border, there is little than Israel or any other state can do to prevent the transfer of money and weapons between Syria and Lebanon. Conflict in this region is nothing new. Lebanon was simultaneously occupied by Syria and Israel, and has limited sovereignty due to this as well as Hezbollah’s presence in the southern part of the country.
What makes this conflict different, and more explosive, is the fact that Hezbollah has responded to Israel’s attacks with a barrage of rockets that have struck deep inside Israel. The yellow line connecting the Israel-Lebanon border and Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest city is only 80 miles long. Haifa, Israel’s third largest city is within thirty miles of the border. This places the majority of Israel’s population within the line of fire. The entire Lebanese population is within striking distance of the Israeli airforce.
Israels has dropped hundreds of bombs all over Lebanon, especially in the southern part of the country, but if anything rocket attacks have increased. As you might imagine from the image, this incredibly rugged and sparsely populated region is ideal cover for a guerrilla army. This image looks north into southern Lebanon from near the Israel-Lebanon border.
The last image is of the area surrounding Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip. It shows both the stark differences between Palestinian and Israeli controlled land. The Gaza strip is one of the poorest and most densely populated places on earth, while the Israeli side of the border is cultivated farm land. This obvious inequality has been the basis of support for Palestinian resistance groups such as Hamas, who sparked the latest conflict by abducting two Israeli soldiers.
I hope to include more maps and images to better illuminate what can be a very confusing part of the world.