In the early morning hours of October 7th, 2023, an Islamic militant group known as Hamas, launched a surprise attack against Israel, resulting in the tragic loss of at least 1, 00 lives, mostly civilians. This event marked a new chapter in the Israel-Palestine conflict. In response, Israel declared war on Hamas and initiated airstrikes on Gaza. In addition, Israel disrupted power and water supplies within Gaza preventing medical aid for injured citizens. The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza reported that 10,000 Palestinians have been killed since October 7. This conflict is significant on the global stage because it may involve external powers (like the United States), lead to the destabilization of the Middle East, and result in thousands of casualties on each side. This article's aim is to provide essential information and encourage further exploration of the conflict.
To understand the war's origins, we must examine the historically tense Palestine-Israel relationship. The land's religious significance led to disputes among various religious groups, including Jews and Muslims. In the modern period, the land was controlled by the Ottoman Empire, but British rule followed World War I. Jewish immigration to Palestine increased significantly after World War II and the Holocaust. On May 14, 1948, the Jewish settlers declared independence, and Israel became the only explicitly Jewish nation. US president Harry Truman immediate recognized Israel as a state. Within 24 hours of its establishment, Israel was attacked by Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq—a conflict from which Israel emerged victorious. The conflict displaced 700,000 Palestinians, leaving many stateless. An armistice was declared in 1949, but no official peace agreement followed. This ongoing conflict has led to escalating tensions.
In modern Israel, 20% of the citizenry is Palestinian. Arab citizens have the same legal rights as Jewish Israelis, but there is a large socioeconomic divide that some attribute to structural discrimination. The majority of Israeli citizens are Jewish, making it home to the two largest Jewish populations in the world (after the US). Religious differences, with Palestinians being Muslim and Israel being Jewish, are a significant contribute for the tension between the two groups. Jerusalem's religious significance further escalates the dispute. There have been countless attacks from both sides, and numerous attempts at peace deals that have all failed. However, tension has escalated in the past years. This year alone the Israeli military has lead raids on Palestine villages, and a Palestinian killed 7 Jewish worshippers on the doorstep of a synagogue in Israel. In recent years, Israel has been improving relations and broken peace deals. The recent attack may result in some of these peace deals falling through, destabilizing the Middle East.
In addition, to understand the attack involves it is important to examine Hamas and Gaza. Hamas, formed during the 1987 Palestinian uprising, is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. Its primary goal is Israel's destruction and the establishment of a Palestinian state. Hamas rejects peace deals and is labeled a terrorist group by the U.S. and Western nations. Suspicions of Hamas' funding from Iran remain unconfirmed. Gaza, where Hamas operates, faces extreme poverty due to Israel's 2007 blockade. Israel's attacks on Gaza aim to dismantle Hamas.
Where do things stand today? The most recent attack involved Hamas launching simultaneous air, land, and sea attacks on Israel. For example, Hamas fighters flew paragliders from Gaza, but they also used bulldozers to poke gaping holes in a barrier fence to gain access to Israeli territory. Over 1,000 Israelis, including civilians at a rave, were killed, with at least 100 hostages taken. This attack killed the largest number of people since the holocaust. The fate of hostages complicates the Israeli military's efforts. In response Israel launched a massive retaliation on Hamas including an official declaration of war and bomb and air strike. The Israeli government has vowed to destroy Hamas for protection.
Multiple theories explain the attack's motives. Ali Barakeh, a senior Hamas official, cited "Israeli crimes" in Jerusalem and the West Bank, seeking to "break the Gaza blockade" and free Palestinian prisoners. Maintaining dominance, discouraging Palestinians from joining other resistance efforts, and inspiring other groups to target Israel are other motives. In addition. there is speculation about Iran's involvement, aiming to lure the U.S. into defending Israel.
Predicting the outcomes of this conflict is complex because the conflict is only in the early stages and extremely complex. It is certain that Israel's attacks on Gaza will continue. Supplies of food, fuel, electricity, and medicine have been cut off, causing suffering. The WHO condemned both sides' actions as "inhumane," urging Israel to end the Gaza siege. Hamas continues missile attacks, and a ceasefire is unlikely. Regardless of the outcome, human lives will be lost, and previous solutions like the two-state proposal seem improbable.
The attack escalates tensions in the already volatile Middle East. It questions Israel's military strength and draws external involvement, especially from Iran and the U.S. The U.S., historically supporting Israel, pledges assistance. This could lead to issues for the U.S because they are already supporting Ukraine, and backing to war efforts will be extremely costly. Still, President Biden has given speeches supporting Israel and signed an aid deal. Finally, there is speculation about Iran's involvement, and how this could lead to a broader regional war.
In conclusion, the Israel-Palestine conflict's human toll is devastating. We hope for a peaceful resolution, regardless of one's stance on the issue.