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The Escalating Conflict Between Israel and Hamas

Updated: Mar 15

On October 7, 2023, Hamas launched an unanticipated attack on Israel, resulting in significant casualties, injuries and hostages. In response, Israel imposed restrictions on essential supplies entering Palestinian territories. On October 23, 2023, Israel initiated an invasion of the Gaza Strip, announcing its intention to intensify ground operations forcefully “on all fronts to fulfill its goals in the war with Hamas.”

The origins of this enduring conflict can be traced back to the aftermath of World War II when David Ben Gurion established the state of Israel in 1948. This event sparked various wars with neighboring Arab states, including the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, rooted in disputes over the British Mandate for Palestine. During the British Mandate era, Palestine became a focal point for the Zionist movement's efforts to establish a Jewish homeland, leading to tensions with Palestinian Arabs over territorial sovereignty.

The United Nations proposed a Partition Plan in 1974 to delineate separate Jewish and Arab states within Palestine, but Arab rejection led to military confrontations and the Arab-Israeli War. Despite facing hostilities, Israel declared statehood and defended its sovereignty, garnering support from global powers like the United States and the Soviet Union. These tensions resulted in the Six Day War, in which Israel solidified its regional power by occupying territories like East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula, along with establishing settlements that displaced about 500,000 Palestinians. 

The recent conflict by invasion on October 23, 2023, inflicted a catastrophic toll on the civilian population of Gaza. Approximately 2 million individuals fled the region in the aftermath of the conflict. Shockingly high casualties were reported, with 29,954 people in Gaza losing their lives, including 12,300 children and 8,400 women. Moreover, over 70,325 Gazan individuals sustained injuries, including 8,663 children and 6,327 women. More than 7,000 children remain missing, compounding the human cost of the conflict.

Reports from the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) reveal that over 360,000 residential units were destroyed or damaged. Educational facilities suffered significantly, with 392 establishments damaged. Healthcare services were severely compromised, as only 11 out of 35 hospitals remain partially operational, limiting access to medical care.

Additionally, vital resources such as groundwater sources were disrupted, with 132 groundwater wells damaged or destroyed, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis by limiting access to clean water. Approximately 267 places of worship were damaged, affecting the spiritual and communal life of the population. The lack of viable evacuation options compounds the situation, as challenges related to limited access to electricity and the internet hinder the Israeli government's directive for civilians to identify their residential areas on an online map and evacuate when ordered. The blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip further exacerbates difficulties faced by civilians attempting to navigate the conflict and seek safety amidst the chaos and destruction.

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