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Israel-Hamas War Explained

Updated: Mar 15

The Israel-Hamas war started on Oct. 7 after a planned assault from Hamas militants on the Israel border, leading to the killings of 1139 Israelis (695 civilians) and the kidnapping of hundreds of civilians. Hamas, a militant Palestinian group took control of the Gaza Strip in 2006 after Israel’s physical departure from the region.

In response to the attacks, the Israeli government blockaded the Gaza Strip where Hamas militants were situated in an attempt to isolate Hamas supplies. Aid to Gaza was halted and electricity as well as water was heavily restricted by the Israeli government which has had full control since 1967. Human Rights Watch critiqued Israel's response as a war crime, noting it as an action of collective punishment against the Palestinians residing in Gaza, especially when accounting for Israel’s past crimes in the region. However, Israel denied it was an intentional plan to hurt Palestinians.

Unfortunately, the situation has grown more dire due to Israel’s military strategies. 24,000 have died in the conflict, with 16,000 being children and women. An unprecedented number of Palestinian civilians have been killed in the 21st century. The airstrike has become an infamous sign of destruction and death. Airstrikes have killed thousands of civilians who were not involved with Hamas. Locations deemed safe points in the Geneva Accord, such as hospitals and mosques have also been bombed.

Israel has denied full blame for the bombing of civilians, noting Hamas’ use of civilian spaces. Even in some circumstances, they have bombed refugee camps and routes to those camps alleged to have Hamas militants hiding among civilians. This has been heavily criticized as Israel has been said to have shown a lack of ability to distinguish between civilians and militants.

The United Nations voted for a peaceful ceasefire twice with an overwhelming majority to enact a ceasefire (121 in October and 153 in December). It should be noted the second vote was more of a symbolic vote rather than an official one. Regardless, the U.S. vetoed the resolution from going through.

A ceasefire would allow hostages to be negotiated without violence and for refugees to either leave without being killed or go back to Gaza to find some semblance of home among the ruins. The first ceasefire truce, negotiated with the help of Qatar, provided supplies and release of hostages in late November. It was still dangerous, but it provided hope for survivors.

In response to the U.S. and Israel’s declination to a ceasefire, South Africa has filed a case against Israel saying they have incited genocide against Palestinians. Through global support, the case of genocide against Israel has gained traction both in and out of the U.S. On Jan. 13, a major protest happened in Washington D.C., led by Pro-Palestine and anti-war groups. They called for a ceasefire and the end of the occupation of Gaza by Israel.


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