Israeli-Palestinian Relations in the Context of the Israel-Hamas War
A summary of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and how it informs the Israel-Hamas war.
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- Both Jews and Arabs have important religious, cultural, and historical ties to the land of the Southern Levant, consisting of modern-day Israel and Palestine.
- The waves of antisemitism in 19th-century Europe, exemplified by the Russian pogroms and the Dreyfus affair, contributed to the Jews’ development of the Zionist movement, founded on the belief in the re-establishment of a Jewish state in the region that is now Israel.
- Both the Jews and Arabs were promised an independent state by Britain.
- The foundation of Israel in 1948 sparked five neighboring Arab states to invade the new country in a war that 750,000 Palestinians fled. The conflict is referred to as the Nakba or Great Catastrophe by Palestinians.
- Israel has fought several wars against the surrounding Arab nations; in each of them, the coalitions arrayed against Israel have lost, but at great cost to both Israel and surrounding peoples.
- The Gaza territories that the current invasion was launched from were occupied by Israel in a war in 1967.
- The 1993 Oslo Accords were the beginning of a process aimed at respecting the Palestinian right to self-determination through negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
- While the Oslo Accords were a monumental attempt at moving toward a two-state solution, the terms were not fulfilled by either party.
- Both Israel and Palestine have turned to more fringe and extremist political parties in recent years, only perpetuating and worsening this conflict.
- Israel is at war with Hamas after Hamas launched a campaign of terror attacks beginning on October 7, 2023, killing over 1,400 Israelis. In Gaza, Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes have killed over 5,400 Gazans.
- A humanitarian crisis has ensued in Gaza after drinking water, electricity, and fuel are in short supply due to the war.
Authors’ note: Due to the complexity of this issue, there are many different sources and perspectives provided for every event explained in this article. This piece is the result of weeks of extensive research and our best effort to provide an unbiased contextualization of this expansive conflict. However, no one article could sufficiently explain the history of Israel, Palestine, and the people of the Southern Levant, and we advise our readers to explore the sources we have linked in this article’s web version, as well as to conduct their own research.
Throughout history, both Jews and Arabs have lived in the Southern Levant, which consists of modern-day Israel and Palestine. As the descendants of the Tribe of Judah, Jews have been indigenous to the land of Judea and Samaria for more than 4,000 years. However, the Jewish people endured multiple diasporas at the hands of conquering empires, such as the Romans.The Arab claim to the land dates back to the founding of Islam. The Islamic religion spread through the Arab peoples to the Southern Levant, which was conquered by Arabs in the seventh century. After establishing control, the Arabs developed an extensive trade network and facilitated the Golden Age of Islam; Baghdad became the learning capital of the world and the Levant became a heavily frequented land trade corridor. Both Jews and Arabs have important religious, cultural, and historical ties to the land their peoples have inhabited for centuries.
The term “Palestinians” is difficult to define. In essence, they are the people of the region of Palestine, who trace their origins back to several major imperial influences that occurred there throughout history. The strongest link for most Palestinians is to a group called Canaanites. These Semitic-speaking people dominated the region from 2000 BCE to 700 AD, though the Roman and Byzantine empires exerted some influence at the time and introduced Christianity. Meanwhile, the Jewish population of the region developed as a distinct ethno-religious group; Palestinians and the Israelite Jews developed in small towns that were largely isolated from each other. In the seventh century, the Rashidun Caliphate occupied and seized the Levant. The region remained mainly under Islamic influence even after the end of the Fatimid Caliphate in the 12th century. During Islamic control, most of the region’s people converted to Islam. The population also decreased significantly, from an estimated one million to just 300,000. The exact point at which the region became Islamic is heavily disputed by historians, but by the 19th century, a Palestinian population between 150,000 and 250,000 strong primarily practiced Islam.
The waves of antisemitism in 19th-century Europe, exemplified by the Russian pogroms and the Dreyfus affair, contributed to the Jews’ development of the Zionist movement, founded on the belief in the re-establishment of a Jewish state in the region that is now Israel. Over time, a Zionist future grew in popularity amongst the Jewish people. Some Jews began to migrate to Ottoman Palestine—the region that encompasses modern-day Israel and parts of Syria and Jordan. This eventually became the British Mandate of Palestine following the ruling Ottoman Empire’s collapse after World War I. The British voiced their support for a Jewish state in the 1917 Balfour Declaration but limited immigration to the Mandate under the White Papers.
As the Zionist movement found a foothold in the global arena, tensions flared between native Arabs living in the Mandate and immigrating Jews. This was largely because in the McMahon-Hussein correspondence, Britain had promised the establishment of an Arab independent state in exchange for Arab participation in World War I. The location of such a state was never explicitly defined but could have included most of the coastal areas on the Mediterranean sea, including Haifa, Beirut, and potentially Tel Aviv and Gaza. When talks fell through and that promise went unfulfilled, Sharif Hussein and the Arabs in the region felt betrayed. The British voiced their support of an independent Jewish state as well, and many Arabs living in the Mandate took action; riots ensued in the region’s cities in response to the sharp growth in the Jewish population and fear of displacement. Small-scale fighting broke out between Arab and Zionist militias that both claimed the same land as their own.
Before this time, there was little sense of a cohesive Palestinian identity: Arabs who lived in the region generally viewed themselves simply as Arabs living in Palestine. Historians disagree on what caused the formation of a unified Palestinian identity, but many point to early 20th-century Zionism, the British Mandate system’s flaws, and the peasants’ revolt against Egyptian conscription as contributing factors. It is generally agreed upon that around the early 20th century, Palestinian Arabs formed a unified identity, which later turned into a national identity that included strong opposition to Zionism. By the 1940s, many new Palestinian leaders were adamantly opposed to Zionist immigration to Palestine.
After World War II and the Holocaust, the push for an independent Jewish state gained international traction; it was widely argued that the establishment of a Jewish state was necessary in order to prevent further persecution and genocide of the Jewish people. In 1947, the newly-formed United Nations (UN) recommended a partition in hopes of de-escalating the tensions brewing under the British Mandate. In Resolution 181, the UN proposed the formation of independent Arab and Jewish states, with Jerusalem placed under international administration. Sixty-two percent of the land, which was mostly composed of the sparsely-populated Negev desert, was dedicated to the Jewish state, despite the fact that over two-thirds of the total population of the region was Arab. Most Jewish and Zionist groups accepted this—after all, it was a significant territory gain when compared to the map of 1946, in which Jewish majority land was a fraction of the region—but the Arab governments and leaders rejected the proposal and expressed their commitment to defending their land, vowing to protect it no matter the cost. Subsequently, small-scale wars and battles broke out in the region. When Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948, the Arab states declared war on the newly-formed state. Despite its youth, Israel won the war, and the State of Israel was established.
Israel came out of the first Arab-Israeli war larger and more confident in its ability to defend itself, having seized all of the Negev up to the Gaza Strip, the main road to Jerusalem, West Jerusalem, and the Upper Galilee. All in all, the territories seized included 60 percent of what had been promised to the Arab state. Israel also ceded some of its war gains to surrounding Arab nations—including Egypt and Transjordan—in the following years, and the West fell largely on Israel’s side. However, the Israeli gains still kept were vast, and the postwar transfer of land correlated to the displacement of roughly 700,000 Palestinians, who fled during the War of 1948. The Palestinian people, as well as many of the Arab nations bordering Israel, refer to this event by the Arabic term Nakba, meaning “The Great Disaster.” Throughout the war, an estimated 10,000 Palestinians and 6,000 Jews were killed.
The region then experienced the Suez Canal crisis. When Egypt nationalized the canal in an effort to decrease British and French shareholders’ influence over the vital national resource, it also closed the Suez to Israel. Since Israel relied on canal access to connect to the global economy, Israel invaded Egypt backed by British and French promises to come to its aid. The invasion force had early success and managed to open both the Suez Canal and Strait of Tiran, but it was prevented from advancing further by pressure from the U.S. and U.S.S.R., who feared the regional conflict would explode into a wider war between allies of the involved nations. This war led to no territorial changes but solidified two fundamental facts that characterize relations in the region even to the modern day. The first is that Israel is militarily stronger than its surrounding nations, due to both its modern technology and its more capable military structure. The second is that Israel had—and continues to have—no major allies in the region. Historically, Israel has been closest to the U.S.’s allies in the region, such as Saudi Arabia, but even those nations rarely unilaterally support it.
The succeeding decades also saw major military conflicts. During the 1967 Six-Day War, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran and expelled the UNEP forces overseeing the armistice between Egypt and Israel. Furthermore, Jordan signed a defense pact with Egypt, and Iraqi forces began to build up in Jordan. This led Israel to believe that a coalition of Arab states was planning to invade, so Israel chose to launch a preemptive strike. They bombed Egypt’s air strips, guaranteeing Israeli air supremacy for the duration of the war, then rapidly occupied a variety of territories, most importantly the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and all of Jerusalem. The Sinai Peninsula was eventually returned to Egypt after the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Today, the Golan Heights, formerly part of Syria, is still under Israeli control, and the majority of the international community condemns but largely ignores their occupation.
The Yom Kippur War was an invasion by a coalition including Egypt, Syria, and a small expeditionary force from Jordan. The coalition chose to attack on the holiest day of the Jewish year, likely because it was a holiday respected by the majority of the Israeli reservists, so the nation was momentarily unprepared to defend itself. Due to this lack of readiness, the coalition achieved some early success. Eventually, the Israeli army forced Syria to surrender and proceeded to come within 100 kilometers of Cairo, causing Egypt to rapidly capitulate. While propaganda in Arab nations often attempts to paint this war as an Arab victory, it was at best a draw and at worst an immense defeat. Still, this propaganda spin and sense of achievement enabled then-Egyptian president Anwar Sadat to broker peace with Israel. Furthermore, the war warned Israel that their military supremacy was by no means a guarantee and that winning any future wars would be critical to the continued existence of the Jewish state. These realizations led to Israel’s cooperation in peace deals. There were several attempted peace overtures from both sides, such as the 1978 Egypt-Israel peace deal, which resolved the fighting between the two countries and was a massive stepping stone toward regional peace among sovereign nations.
In 1987, about a decade after these peace agreements, the terrorist organization Hamas was formed. Before Israel came into power in the region, Islamic extremist organizations were largely suppressed by the secular Egyptian government. Israel legalized them and increased their political power, hoping to combat more secular, less extreme organizations like the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Fatah. Hamas published a charter in 1988 that called for the eradication of the state of Israel and the death of all Jewish people through a “holy war.” Hamas rejects the two-state solution entirely, calling for the conflict to be resolved through jihad. Fatah was predominately in power until the 2006 elections.
Against the backdrop of Hamas’s rise came the First Intifada. This initially began as a series of violent Palestinian protests fueled by the continued Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories. The Israel Defense Force’s response included large numbers of arrests and extremely violent protest countermeasures, many with lethal consequences. By the end of the clashes, roughly 1,284 Palestinians and 214 Israelis were dead. Despite the high casualties, peace agreements seemed to be on the horizon.
The 1993 Oslo Accords were the beginning of a process aimed at respecting the Palestinian right to self-determination through negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Notably, at the start of these agreements, Israel and the PLO recognized each other as legitimate states, representatives of their people, and partners in negotiation. While these secret talks didn’t create a proper Palestinian state, they did designate limited self-governance of parts of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority (PA). A core part of the Oslo Accords was that Israel would withdraw its military from Palestinian territories and hand security over to the PA. Additionally, general elections to replace the PA would be held after the withdrawal of Israeli troops. However, these peace talks were only as valid as people believed them to be and thus didn’t succeed by most historians’ accounts—Israel did not withdraw its troops nor grant as much land to the PA as it had promised, and the PA refused to disarm terrorist organizations. Though these terms were initially very popular with the general Israeli population, the Israeli far-right opposed the signing of the Oslo Accords—Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli far-right extremist for taking part in the signing—and would later impede their implementation. Additionally, many other Palestinian groups, such as Hamas, did not support the terms of the Oslo Accords. While the Oslo Accords were a monumental attempt at moving toward a two-state solution, the terms were not fulfilled by either party.
In between the First and Second Intifadas, the Free Palestine Movement was established in Palestine and Syria by Yasser Qashlaq, a Syrian businessman with Palestinian origins. The organization came about as a representative group for Palestinians and opposed the Israeli state while providing social services to the Palestinian people throughout the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. The Free Palestine Movement formed a number of militias in the late 2000s during the Second Intifada. Most significantly, the movement claims to have led the second Freedom Flotilla, an unsuccessful attempt to break the Israeli-led blockade of the Gaza Strip. Since then, most military action has been carried out by Hamas, causing the Free Palestine Movement to fall largely into the background. Today, it still operates mostly in Syria, fighting against the Syrian Opposition government. The movement’s name became the Palestinian people’s call to action, addressed to those around the world.
The Second Intifada occurred after the failure of the Camp David peace process in 2000. This was another series of violent protests that were markedly different from the First Intifada. The Second Intifada had more widespread suicide bombings against Israeli civilians and more widespread air strikes and military crack-downs by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). By the end, 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israeli citizens had been killed, and Israeli-Palestinian tensions were at an all-time high. The violence brought about the official end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, but Israel maintained control of all border crossings, major port accesses, airspace, and utilities. The Second Intifada’s conclusion and perceived success in much of the Arab world contributed to Hamas winning the majority of seats in the Palestinian elections of 2006, beating the longtime ruling party Fatah. This was completely unexpected for both Fatah and its Western backers. As such, Fatah fully pushed Hamas out of the West Bank, and militias supporting both sides began a violent battle in Gaza. Hamas eventually won, pushing Fatah out of the strip and causing both Egypt and Israel to close their borders with Gaza. Both countries feared the security threat posed by Hamas.
The Israeli blockade of Gaza’s ports led to the collapse of the already vulnerable Gaza economy and a significant rise in poverty amongst its citizens. Hamas continued to take violent action against Israel and received funding from Iran to continue those actions. However, financial support was never extended to Palestinian citizens, for whom the territory had become practically unlivable. Due to its proportionally smaller land area and significantly higher density, every citizen of Gaza was directly affected by the Israeli occupation. With ports of entry blockaded, Gazans lacked critical supplies—namely food, water, utilities, and medical supplies—a theme that would repeat itself in future conflicts. This lack of humanitarian assistance from the outside damaged Gaza, driving survivors out of their homes and causing many deaths.
Between 2000 and 2008, Hamas launched periodic rocket strikes, mostly on civilian targets in neighboring Israeli cities. In response, the Israeli government ordered a complete ground invasion of the Gaza Strip in December 2008. The Israeli counter-offensive attempted to focus on destroying terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip instead of civilian targets. However, the counter-offensive caused at least 1,140 confirmed Palestinian deaths, compared to just 13 Israeli casualties. Hamas officials vowed to continue the onslaught, refusing to stop rocket attacks on Israeli civilian targets. For about a month, Israeli soldiers occupied much of the Gaza Strip. Israeli government officials declared a unilateral ceasefire on the Gaza Strip, promising a complete withdrawal in exchange for a matching ceasefire from Hamas. Hamas officials originally refused to cooperate. Eventually, Hamas agreed to stop launching rockets for a week in exchange for a complete Israeli withdrawal and the restoration of humanitarian aid directed toward the Gaza Strip, which had been blocked by the Israeli military during the invasion. Israel agreed, though some individual militant groups—groups that Hamas has stated it is not officially associated with—continued to fire rockets into Israel, and the nation again responded with airstrikes on Gaza.
In November 2012, Israel’s government carried out a series of air raids on Gaza, one of which killed Ahmed al-Jabari, Hamas’s senior leader and the Hamas military’s second-in-command. The Israeli bombing raids targeted military supply stockpiles, though many bombs killed civilians and innocent children in the surrounding region due to the military supplies’ proximity to major residential complexes. This bombing was one of the most notable, but the 2010s featured consistent Hamas-led bombings of southern Israeli cities and aerial bomb raids by the Israeli Air Force in response. Though the Israeli Air Force targeted military facilities, Palestinian civilians were constantly caught in the crossfire, so Hamas targeted Israeli citizens in response.
Another major conflict occurred in 2014 when Hamas captured three Israeli teenagers and executed them. Retaliatory Israeli air strikes followed, which were met with Hamas bombing attacks. However, the Israeli strikes were far more deadly; there were 1,881 Palestinian casualties and 60 Israeli casualties. The majority of all casualties were innocent civilians. In addition to the bombings, Israel conducted Operation Brother’s Keeper, which involved a raid of over 1,300 commercial and residential properties and the arrest of approximately 800 Palestinians without charges or trials. Through this search, Israel found Hussam Kawasme, the man responsible for the killings. He was put on trial and sentenced to a financial penalty of about $60,000, as well as three life sentences in prison.
In 2021, protests erupted in East Jerusalem after the passage of an Israeli Supreme Court decision that evicted six Palestinian families from Israel. Palestinians threw stones at Israeli police, who then stormed the sacred Al-Aqsa mosque compound. Violence between the Israeli forces and Palestinians ensued, and later, Hamas fired rockets from Gaza for the first time in seven years. Israel responded with airstrikes that it has claimed were military-targeted. Israel blocked Jews from entering the Aqsa compound in hopes of avoiding a similar conflict, but it still failed to de-escalate tensions between Palestinians and far-right Israelis, leading to further violence.
Throughout these conflicts, the extent of control exerted by Israel’s government over Gaza has led many Palestinian advocacy groups to claim Israel is an apartheid state. Notably, after Israel passed the “Basic Law: Israel the Nation State of the Jewish People,” Israeli Arab parliamentary members, many American Jews and liberal Israeli Jews, and the PLO described the law as the creation of apartheid. The first line states, “The exercise of the right to national self-determination in the state of Israel is unique to the Jewish People.” The Israeli government enforces this law for both Israeli nationals living in Israel and those living in the Palestinian territories, and the law excludes Arab Palestinians from acquiring natural rights under the Israeli government. “We are troubled by the fact that the law, which celebrates the fundamental Jewish nature of the state, raises significant questions about the government’s long-term commitment to its pluralistic identity and democratic nature,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt stated. In 2019, the UN called for the law to be reviewed, arguing that it promotes discriminatory politics that violate the UN’s mission; however, a review was never recognized. Despite over 15 petitions being sent to the Israeli Supreme Court by Palestinians, Israeli Arab citizens, and civil rights organizations, none were heard by the court and the law still stands in its unaltered form today.
Israeli officials have always enshrined their mission to create and defend a better Jewish state, but they have often done so at the expense of Palestinians and Arabs in the region. In 2000, future Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (2001-2006) wrote about the population disparity in the Negev, a desert in southeast Israel. This region, populated mostly by an Arab nomadic population known as the Bedouin, has been a political target of Israeli population control policies. “[The Bedouin] are gnawing away at the country’s land reserves, and no one is doing anything significant about it,” Sharon said in a political statement. The Bedouin, an Arab tribe that traces their history in the Southern Levant back to 6000 BCE, have been the victims of displacement policies since Israel’s statehood. Israel’s government has constructed more than 700 government-planned municipalities for Jews, as well as seven planned municipalities for Arabs, the largest of which is Rahat. This city and region became home to two-thirds of the Negev population after they were forcibly relocated when the Israeli state was founded. Through the displacement, the Israeli government was able to reclaim these traditional lands and urbanize the Bedouin people. During this urbanization process, an estimated 500 Bedouin villages were razed. This forced displacement never ended, with Israeli officials using relocation tactics to fill the Bedouin desert with a Jewish population, refusing to recognize Arab towns in the region. In 2012, the Prawer Plan, which would force the eviction of the remaining 71,000 Bedouins living in the Negev, was set to be voted upon by the Israeli parliament. The act failed to pass, but Israel still doesn’t recognize the Bedouin towns, denying them public funding for paved roads, electricity, water, and waste management services. Though Israel claims that the threat of the Bedouin stems from the rise of Islamic fundamentalism amongst the population, the Bedouin have never attacked the regional Jews, and thus, their forced relocation is one of the principal human rights violations cited by Palestinians as unwarranted aggression by the Israeli government.
With many families split across the border between Israel and the Palestinian territories, family reunification is also a significant concern for Palestinians. In 2003, Israel’s “Citizenship and Entry into Israel” law exemplified the racial barriers that existed for Palestinian families living in the region. A “Berlin Wall” was constructed to allow Palestinian families who were separated (primarily for work reasons) to see their spouses and children. This law expressly prohibits Palestinians from gaining Israeli citizenship through marriage and necessitates that they apply for a six-month permit in order to cross the Israeli border and visit family members. Finance Minister and current Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu stated the law’s purpose more directly when it was up for renewal in 2005: “Instead of making it easier for Palestinians who want to get citizenship, we should make the process much more difficult, in order to guarantee Israel’s security and a Jewish majority in Israel,” Netanyahu said.
The restricted immigration is especially painful for Palestinians in Gaza because of the extreme poverty in the region. Throughout the entire 21st century, the people of Palestine have suffered from extremely poor economic conditions. In 2007, just two years after Israel’s official withdrawal from Palestine, the country experienced significant real GDP growth, with an increase of 3.8 percent from the previous year. This makes sense—the withdrawal of Israeli troops gave Gaza greater economic freedom and allowed increased humanitarian aid to benefit the citizens and economy. However, in the same time frame, the West Bank grew substantially, gaining 12 percent real GDP growth in 2007 and exhibiting 10 percent growth in 2008. By the end of 2011, the West Bank’s real GDP per capita had spiked to 95 percent above that of Gaza. This difference can be partially explained by foreign aid but is also due to the greater stability in the West Bank than the Gaza Strip and the presence of fewer Israeli restrictions on the territory. The Gazan and Israeli economies are closely integrated with each other, and when economic ties are severed during conflicts, Palestine suffers. Israel has not hesitated to shut off Palestine’s water, electricity, oil, food, and humanitarian aid supplies in the past, and Israel has done so again this year. In 2016, a UN report revealed that Palestine’s GDP—and thus its overall living conditions—could be at least twice as high were it not denied donor aid and fiscal revenue by the Israeli government or treated as a captive market in the Israeli economic system. Despite ending its physical occupation, the Israeli government’s control over Palestine extends far beyond the border checkpoints and airspace—it controls almost every bank note that enters Palestinian hands.
Israel is currently at war with Hamas after Hamas launched a campaign of terror attacks on October 7, 2023. On the morning of October 7, somewhere between 2,000 and 5,000 rockets were launched into Israel by Hamas. The Israeli Nova music festival near Gaza was plummeted with rockets, and armed militants fired upon the crowds. Homes were breached, entire families were killed, and 200 Israelis were taken hostage and are (at the time of writing) still being held in Gaza. Over 1,400 Israelis, mostly civilians, were killed within these first few days. In response, the Israeli government formally declared war on October 8. Over the next few days, Hamas militants carried out more attacks on Israelis, while Israel mobilized an army of 300,000 reserves—the fastest call-up in the country’s history.
President Biden officially released a statement condemning the attacks on October 10, promising American intelligence and other means of support to Israel. Meanwhile, in Gaza, entire blocks were destroyed in Israeli airstrikes, water and food shortages ensued, and hospitals’ emergency generators began to run out of fuel for electricity. The Israeli military is bound by international law to the principle of proportionality, and its campaign in Gaza has prompted accusations of war crimes. As of October 24, over 5,700 Gazans have lost their lives, and UN data reports that as of October 22, about 1.4 million people have been displaced from their homes in Gaza. The IDF warned those living in the northern half of Gaza to evacuate, but this seemingly “humane” gesture has caused mass panic and does not actually guarantee safety from bombings or the imminent ground invasion. Such a warning gesture by the IDF, or any other military, does not allow it to avoid responsibility under international law—mass displacement still occurs. On top of the ensuing panic in Gaza, 46 of 72 primary care facilities in the Gaza Strip lay empty alongside 12 of 35 hospitals, while healthcare facilities in operation have been stretched beyond capacity. Article 18 of the First Geneva Convention states, “Civilian hospitals [...] may in no circumstances be the object of attack,” which has led to many accusations of Israel committing war crimes. However, under the same Geneva Convention, civilian facilities may be targeted in attacks if and only if enemy combatants use the base for an attack, but the attack must remain proportionate in scope. Furthermore, Israel is now under close international scrutiny after 471 were killed in a strike on Al-Ahli Hospital. The source of the strike is disputed: American, Israeli, and British intelligence have stated that the rocket was not fired by Israel but by militant groups allied with Hamas, while Palestinian militant groups blame Israel. After much discussion with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Biden, a border crossing between Egypt and Palestine was opened to allow 20 trucks to aid the Gaza Strip with drinking water and food. Though this aid saved lives, the trucks were only able to carry enough drinking water for 22,000 people, and Gaza’s current level of aid is at about four percent of its pre-conflict level. Gaza is also facing widespread blackouts and cell service outages on top of previous bombings and fuel shortages, with multiple humanitarian aid organizations stating that their work is halted or severely impeded due to communication loss. Biden warned Israel not to cross any lines by causing unnecessary civilian deaths, seemingly referring to mistakes that the U.S. made in its invasion of Iraq after 9/11.
This violence is deeply rooted in the history of Palestinians and Jews residing in the Southern Levant, but despite the historical and sociopolitical connections that both Hamas and the Israeli government have to the issue, it is important to step back and consider the hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians killed by this conflict. To this day, bombings and airstrikes continue to diminish the populations of both sides. The violent measures taken by Hamas have sparked devastating Israeli counter-terrorism movements.
In the city of Rahat, where Hamas rockets struck and killed many Arab Palestinian citizens, tribal reconciliation chief Sheikh Hassan Abu Ghalyun said, “Both sides are losing. No one wins in a war. People only lose in a war.”