The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the longest-running and most controversial in the world. Since Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel and Israel’s retaliatory war in Gaza, it has been in one of the bloodiest periods of its already-bloody history.
At its heart, the conflict is between two self-determination movements — the Jewish Zionist project and the Palestinian nationalist project — that lay claim to the same territory. But it is so, so much more complicated than that, with seemingly every fact and historical detail small and large litigated by the two sides and their defenders.
This guide is designed to give you an entry point into understanding this immensely complicated conflict. If you’re wondering about the basics — like how the conflict got started or the role the city of Jerusalem plays in it — then you’ve come to the right place.
My hope is that, regardless of your view of who’s right, you can read this and feel like you’ve gotten an honest, clear guide to the key elements of the situation. And if you don’t know anything about it, then you can come away feeling like you can basically make sense of what’s happening today.
Editor’s note: A version of this guide was originally published in 2018. Since then, some existing stories in the guide have been updated and new stories have been added to reflect the developing situation.