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Conflict Erupts In Israel and Gaza

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On October 7, 2023, Hamas launched an attack by air, land, and sea against Israel killing over 1400 people and kidnapping over 200 hostages. Hamas is an Islamic political and military organization governing the Gaza Strip of Palestine, that the United States and the European Union declare a terrorist organization. The attack was a surprise, in part because it occurred on a major Jewish holiday. Some have speculated that the timing of the attack may have been in part motivated to disrupt the potential normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. 

Hamas has openly sought the obliteration of Israel and has said that the motivation for the attack was long-building anger over Israeli policy, the incident at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the expansion of Israeli settlements. The Gaza Strip has been facing a humanitarian crisis because of poverty, food insecurity, unemployment and sporadic violence. In addition, traveling in and out of Gaza has been made virtually impossible, as both Egypt and Israel control travel routes into and out of Gaza from each border. 

Can Biden resolve the deadly flare-up in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? | The StrategistThe attack on October 7th started at around 6:30 am with an estimated 2,200 rockets fired toward south and central Israel, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Shortly after, Hamas was able to use drones and inside intelligence to breach Israel’s border. They used drones to destroy key surveillance and communications towers. Then, they blew open gaps in the border barricades, allowing about 2,000 attackers through on motorcycles and pickup trucks. A few attackers traveled from a powered parachute off of a motorboat headed to an Israeli military base. The militants were able to overwhelm eight military bases and over 15 cities. 

At the bases, Hamas fighters shot all Israeli soldiers in sight, some peacefully sleeping in their beds. Dead Israelis lined the road, some had been burned alive in their homes. Hamas stalked civilians and killed or captured everyone in sight, capturing the elderly, toddlers, and babies. The attack on the Tribe of Nova music festival is believed to be the worst civilian massacre in Israeli history, killing 260 people, mostly young Israelis who had come together for a fun night of music. At the Kibbutz of Kfar Aza, the attackers killed young families in their beds, some of them were decapitated. This town was one of those hit hardest with 1,000 people killed, mostly gunned down in their homes, the streets, or at the music festival.

Since the attack, Israel has declared war on Hamas and cut off all previously provided supplies of food, water, and fuel. Israel has sent many airstrikes leaving 350,000 Gazans displaced. As of October 23, the death toll in Gaza since the October 7th attack is now 4,385. Israel warned citizens living in the North of the Gaza Strip to move South for safety precautions. The Israeli Defense Forces are getting prepared to send troops into Gaza to annihilate Hamas units, believed to be hiding in tunnels under residential neighborhoods. Furthermore, on October 10th, at least two rockets were fired from Lebanon into Northern Israel and a number of terrorist infiltrators had crossed the Israel-Lebanon border. 

Ceasefire between Israel and Palestine The attack is another piece of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. Both Arabs and Jews have lived in the territory dating back to biblical times. Various empires ruled the land over the years, with both Jews and Arabs living on the land. The current conflict stems from events that have occurred since the end of World War II at that time, the British Empire controlled the region. After the Holocaust, there was a lot of Jewish migration to the land. Many countries in the world began to support the formation of a Jewish country in the land at the time called Palestine, which is current day Israel and Palestine. However there was opposition from some of the Arabs living on the land and from the neighboring Arab countries. The Arabs living in Palestine at the time also wanted their own country on the land. In 1947, as a solution, the United Nations proposed that the land be divided into two states, one Jewish and one Arab Palestinian State. The Jews agreed to this solution, but the Arabs rejected it. Some reports suggest that the rejection of the plan was because the Palestinian Arabs felt it was unfair that the new, proposed Jewish state would give the Jews 56% of the land while the Jews only comprised 33% of the population at that time. Other reports indicate that the Arabs in the region would not consider accepting the creation of a Jewish State on the land in any form. Either way, in 1948, after the Arabs rejected the partition plan, Israel declared its independence, causing Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria to all invade Israel to fight the creation of the state. After much fighting, Israel defeated the opponents and with it took 77% of Palestine’s originally mandated land, resulting in the displacement of many Arabs on the land. 

Since then, many more conflicts have occurred, most notably the Six Day War, Yom Kippur War, First and Second Intifada, and more. There have also been a number of attempts at peace over the years, like the Camp David Accords and Oslo Accords. Israel’s success in the Six Day War in 1967 caused Israel to occupy the territories of Gaza, the West Bank, the Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights. Some of this land was returned as a result of peace negotiations, but not the Gaza Strip and the West Bank until 2005. 

Hamas group explained: Here's what to know about the group behind the deadly attack in IsraelIn 2005, as a result of negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli leaders, Israel withdrew troops from Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestinian land had been dominated by the secular Fatah party which recognized the state of Israel, and sought to negotiate with it. However, in the 2006 election, Hamas won a majority of council seats leading to a civil war between Hamas and the Fatah party. Hamas won this war, giving it control of Gaza and Fatah control of the West Bank. Ever since then, Hamas has been in power in Gaza. Hamas rule doesn’t allow free speech or free elections, and Hamas is known to retaliate against citizens who they believe collaborate with Israel. Hamas has also been know to use humanitarian aid to finance terrorism. 

The current Israeli government and Hamas have both been unwilling to negotiate with each other for peace which has led to a build up of tensions and now battle between them.  Since the attack on October 7, Israel has made it clear it will defend itself by engaging in battle in Gaza, attempting to rescue the remaining hostages and destroy Hamas. Although the Israeli government has tried to give the people of Gaza time to evacuate, many civilian Palestinians who may not even support Hamas are caught in the crossfire. 

The next events of this ongoing conflict are unpredictable. There is concern other countries could get involved in the conflict. 

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Ava Kahn, News Editor
Ava Kahn is a senior at VPM and has been part of the Sword and Shield for the past three years. She enjoys researching current events and writing articles about them. Outside of the Sword and Shield, she loves to play tennis and spend time with friends and family.
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