PHOTO: According to the United Nations, Israel’s strict four-year blockade on Gaza has caused a “humanitarian crisis.” Israel says the blockade is to protect its citizens from attacks by people in Gaza. PHOTO: Suhair Karam/IRIN

By PEDRO LAHOZ WOLFE

Gaza, which is located in Palestine off the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, has been under occupation by Israel. The conflict started about 43 years ago when Israel occupied the territory. The Palestinian people have been fighting for their right to exist as a nation. Israel, with the support of the United States, has created a blockade keeping ships from bringing supplies to Gaza.

In late May, 2010, nine ships carrying Turkish and American activists bringing medical supplies to Gaza were attacked by Israel. As the ships were in international waters on their way to Gaza, Israeli helicopters dropped soldiers onto the ships to stop them. More than ten activists were killed, including a teenager, and the rest were detained in prison. The Israeli government said that the soldiers who attacked the ships were hit with metal poles and chairs. So they fired bullets at the people on board. They also said they found weapons aboard, which later proved to be table knives for eating.

There have been protests in the United States against the attack on the aid boat and against the Israeli occupation in general. Even more protests are taking place in Turkey against what Israel called “Operation Sea Breeze” (the boat attack). Many people are saying that since the boats were in international waters when they were attacked, not Israeli waters, the attack was illegal. The Israeli government says that the soldiers were merely defending themselves. The main ways many people are protesting Israel’s actions are by boycotting (not buying products made in Israel), divesting (telling companies not to give money to Israel), and simply protesting (telling other people what is going on).

Pedro Lahoz Wolfe, age ten, is a student in New York City.