“Who started the Israel-Gaza conflict?” – me on The Atlantic online.

You read that right – I have a piece up at The Atlantic online right now, and not just up, but up in the blog space of senior editor Robert Wright…!

He tweeted a question out to the world yesterday, I offered to help him with it, in the manner of “I used to be a correspondent’s assistant, I can totally do that for you,” and last night he let me know that he’d be posting it as my post!

It’s a timeline of events, as drawn from a variety of sources, from Nov 8 – Nov 15. Following is my introduction; to read Mr. Wright’s brief backgound on how the piece came about, and to read the timeline itself, click here.

Recent events in Israel and the Gaza Strip have been unusual only in scope. Violence and fear of violence is a near-daily reality for the residents of Gaza and Israel’s southern communities. There’s a constant back and forth, and on both sides, there’s always something or someone to avenge.

For instance, some Palestinian sources date the start of this latest round of violence back to November 4, when Reuters reported the death of “an unarmed, mentally unfit man” who strayed too near the border fence, did not respond to reported Israeli warnings, and was then shot. Palestinian medics report that Israeli security personnel prevented them from attending to the man for a couple of hours, and say that he likely died as a result.

But it’s genuinely impossible to date today’s hostilities conclusively to one incident or another; even the “two-week lull” that some outlets have said preceded Nov. 8 (when the timeline below begins) was, according to Reuters “a period of increased tensions at the Israel-Gaza frontier, with militants often firing rockets at Israel and Israel launching aerial raids targeting Palestinian gunmen.”

According to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as of November 13, Palestinian militants had fired 797 rockets into Israel in the course of 2012 , and according to the Israeli human rights organization Btselem, between January 2009 (the conclusion of the last all-out Gaza war) and September of this year, 25 Israelis were killed by Palestinians, and 314 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces, with six more being killed by Israeli civilians.

To read the rest, please click here. (And thank you so much, Bob!)

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