The end remains uncertain.
Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza is in full swing. The Israeli Defense Force claims they have divided the Gaza Strip between the north and south, and are now “penetrating the heart” of the capital, Gaza City. But there is still likely a lfong way before the end of the war. According to the BBC, an IDF official has stated “This is just round four of 15.” Israel still faces the threat of Hamas’ guerilla tactics, aided by the miles of tunnels they built under the surface of Gaza, and the leverage of the over 200 hostages Hamas still holds.
International pressure for a ceasefire in the war has failed, though according to John Kirby, the spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council, Israel has agreed to daily four-hour pauses in the fighting to give time for Palestinian civilians to get away from the conflict. However, Palestinian casualties continue to grow, surpassing 10,000 according to the Ministry of Health. Centers for displaced Palestinians pushed out of the northern half of Gaza remain overcrowded with insufficient resources.
What does this war mean to the world at large? The Israel-Palestinian conflict has lasted for decades; the conflict between Israel and Gaza is nothing new. But the scale of this war marks it as a pivotal event in this long-lasting situation. Its outcome will affect the Middle East and the world at large. Other countries have not been idle. Many of them, including the United States, have declared support for Israel. Multiple Middle Eastern nations have declared support for the Palestinian cause. The U.S. has sent an aircraft carrier into the Eastern Mediterranean, with the navy stating its purpose is to “deter any actor seeking to escalate the situation or widen this war.”
Escalation of the war is a major threat. Israel has had conflict on its border with Lebanon, though not quite to the point of breaking out into war. Violence has also increased in the West Bank, the other major Palestinian territory which Israel occupies. Hamas alone does not have the military power to decisively defeat Israel, but they have called for other powers to get involved in the conflict, which has the potential to force Israel into a much more difficult war.
The United Nations has attempted to mediate this conflict and protect civilians, but their efficacy has been limited. Multiple resolutions calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in the conflict have been vetoed. Bitter disagreement and conflict brews among the diplomats. The U.N. Palestinian refugee agency reports that over 100 United Nations employees have died in the conflict. Many people are doing what they can, but ultimately the U.N. has been unable to prevent this conflict from reaching the levels of brutality it is at.
It is impossible to say for sure how this war will end. The intentions and actions of both sides play a part in predicting the outcome. Hamas claims their attack was meant to bring the plight of Palestine to the world stage. They sought to end complacency in the matter. Khalil al-Hayya, one of Hamas’ leaders, stated, “We succeeded in putting the Palestinian issue back on the table, and now no one in the region is experiencing calm.” In a commentary published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Jon Alterman claims that Hamas does not need to defeat the Israeli military to come out ahead in this war. They instead seek to hold fast for as long as possible, forcing Israel to exhaust their resources in their efforts to destroy them. In the process, Israel will have to bear the burden of its diplomatic relations turning sour as more and more civilians are displaced and killed by Israel’s actions in Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, has stated that Israel intends to “crush and destroy” Hamas. But even if they eliminate Hamas’s military assets, the ideology of Hamas remains.
Once Israel’s invasion grants them full control of Gaza, they will have to deal with the issue of what to do next. There will be no easy solution. Maintaining a military occupation would be costly. Withdrawing and allowing a new government to establish itself in Gaza would risk another anti-Israel force to come to power. A conceptual proposal drafted by a ministry in the Israeli government suggests relocating the Palestinians in Gaza to Egypt and potentially other nations. Both Egypt and Palestinians decried the suggestion, forcing Israel to maintain that it was only hypothetical, but it heightened diplomatic conflict between Israel and Egypt. Since before this war, many international powers have declared support for a potential two-state solution, where Israel and Palestine each have their own sovereign nation, but the bitterness of this conflict makes this solution appear further away than ever. Hamas has put Israel into an impossible situation, where even if they win the war they will have no easy solution for what to do next. Whatever the outcome, the balance of power in the Middle East and the world has shifted.