Israel-Hamas War breaks out, death toll mounts

Decades of tension explode into war between Israel and Hamas.
Five thousand rockets signaled the end of an unstable peace and the outbreak of war on Saturday, Oct. 7. The barrage was followed by an invasion of over 2,000 soldiers into Israel. In just seven days, 3,000 people have died, the majority of them civilians, and the fighting rages on.
The origins of this war are rooted in the long-lasting Israel-Palestine conflict. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, when Jews started migrating back to their ancient ancestral home in Israel, dissent grew among the Palestinian Arabs living there. In 1948, after brutal infighting, the Jews declared the establishment of a Jewish state, Israel, with support from many international powers. Decades of conflict and bloodshed followed between Israelis who feel they have reclaimed their home after millenia of diaspora and oppression, and Palestinians who have been removed from their home. After multiple wars, Palestine controlled two main territories, the West Bank territory on the western border of Israel, and the small Gaza Strip on the southeastern border of Israel, with Egypt to the south and the Mediterranean to the east.
Hamas, the militant organization responsible for the attack on Israel, has some hold in the West Bank, but Gaza is the core of their power. Though it is only 141 square miles, it has a population of over 2 million Palestinians and Hamas has controlled it since 2007. It is from Gaza they launched their attack.
The outbreak of the war was marked by chaos. The initial barrage of rockets sent Israel into a panic as the news spread. When Hamas’s forces breached the border and entered Israel, many of them began killing innocent civilians. Hamas forces killed 260 people at one music festival near the Re’im community, one of many massacres. It is estimated that 1,300 Israelis in total have been killed so far in the war, mostly civilians. Hamas has also taken an estimated 150 hostages including American citizens who were in Israel; their situation is unknown.
Israel had no notice of the surprise attack on Oct. 7. Intelligence had failed to discover the invasion plans. The Israeli government and military leadership rushed to mount a response, mobilizing reserves and preparing arms. They activated their Iron Dome air defense system, though the sheer number of missiles coming from Hamas was more than it could handle, leaving many Israelis to constantly rush towards shelters whenever sirens indicate incoming bombs.
Israel has responded with missiles and air strikes against Gaza. The Palestinian Ministry of Health claims 1,800 of their people have been killed by Israeli strikes. Hamas claims that 13 hostages have also been killed by the air strikes.
Israel has cut off fuel and electricity to Gaza, a move that the Human Rights Organization claims is a violation of the rules of war. The situation for civilians in Gaza has grown increasingly desperate, as they run out of energy, food, water and medical supplies. Late at night on Thursday, Oct. 14, Israel gave an ultimatum that the 1 million Palestinians in northern Gaza had 24 hours to evacuate as Israel prepared for a major counteroffensive. The United Nations has decried the ultimatum as impossible to fulfill and Hamas has asked for the Gazan citizens to hold their ground.
International powers have taken stances on the war. The United States government has expressed its dedication to aiding Israel, and many other countries have declared their support for Israel, such as Italy, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. Many mourn their own citizens lost in the conflict and work tirelessly to evacuate any who remain and rescue any who have been taken hostage. On the other side, multiple Middle Eastern countries and groups have declared their support for Hamas’s actions. Iran denies involvement in the attack but has praised the act. Afghanistan has declared support for the cause of the Palestinians. Militant groups in Iraq have threatened to retaliate against the United States if they provide resources to Israel. Since the start of the war, there have been protests in many parts of the world supporting Palestine, including a protest of 1,000 people in Sydney, Australia that devolved into antisemitic hate speech.
There is an African proverb that states, “when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.” Each life lost in this war marks a mourning family. Each witness of the violence marks a heart burdened by the gruesome sights. Each hostage marks a network of loved ones frantic and desperate for any news. Each obliterated house marks a lost home. As the conflict continues to develop, this war has no easy end in sight.

Post Author: Isaac McGill