In the heart of the Middle East, a region fraught with deep-rooted tensions and historical complexities, stands the Israel-Hamas conflict, a decades-long struggle that has captured the attention of the world since the unfortunate dark day for Israel on 7 October 2023.
This ongoing situation of violence and strife between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the terrorist group Hamas is not recent; major flare-ups have been ongoing since 2006.
From a historic point of view, David Ben-Gurion, the founding father of Israel, proclaimed the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, exhibiting protection for Jews fleeing from oppression. Meanwhile, Palestinians perceived the establishment of Israel as the Nakba/catastrophe that allegedly sabotaged the Palestinians dream of a statehood. During the conflict that followed, over 700,000 Palestinians of what was the British-ruled Palestine, left their homes and settled in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria as well as in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Following the Arab-Israeli conflict, during the six-day war, the IDF occupied the Gaza Strip from Egypt in June 1967. However, Israel quit Gaza in 2005 following which, the Gaza Strip has been governed by Hamas after its victory in 2006 elections and a military takeover in 2007 leading to an Israeli blockade that restricted the flow of goods and people.
The situation worsened, with intermittent clashes, rocket attacks by Hamas, and Israeli military operations in response. In recent years, periodic escalations in violence have occurred, such as the conflicts in 2008-2009, 2012, 2014, and 2021. These conflicts have resulted in significant casualties and destruction, impacting civilians on both sides. Efforts towards a peaceful resolution, including negotiations and ceasefires, have been attempted but have not led to a lasting solution.
On October 7, Hamas launched a multipronged operation involving rocket fire and infiltration from the Gaza Strip. On the day, multiple militants were able to infiltrate into Israeli territory during the morning hours, and clashes were recorded in several residential areas including Sderot and Beeri. The leader of Hamas’ military wing, Mohammed al-Deif then announced Operation ‘al-Aqsa Flood,’ indicating that “the enemy has been warned in the past.” During this infiltration, over 200 Israelis and other foreign nationals were kidnapped and have been held hostage in the Gaza Strip ever since. Based on the tactics of the offensive, it largely projects a large-scale planning by the terrorist organization in an attempt to catch Israel off guard. The attack marked an unprecedented attack in recent years, prompting Israel to approve the recruitment of reserve duty soldiers and launching “Operation Swords of Iron” in an attempt to defend itself.
In recent days, we’ve seen Hezbollah from Lebanon and Houthis from Yemen stand in solidarity with Hamas in terms of attacking Israel. We’ve also seen al-Qaeda’s (AQ) Central Command’s statement praising the Hamas-led “Operation al-Aqsa Flood” against Israel on October 7, and calling to undertake a violent campaign against the country.
Conflict and the World
So when we come to think of the current dynamics of the conflict, Israel is not wrong when it wants to defend itself from a terrorist organization, as would any country. During 9/11 for the United States or 26/11 for India, there were no sides to a conflict, it was strictly a side against terrorism. Expecting the logic of deterrence from Israel only because it is a State actor does not fully meet the terms, as all Israel is attempting to do is fight against a terrorist organization to protect its homeland. What people fail to understand is that the current conflict is not between two state actors, it is between a state actor and a terrorist organization. How would you expect your country to react if over 2000 terrorists invade your country killing people on the roads?
They say that public memory is short-lived, but how short-lived became crystal clear when a hospital in Gaza was bombed which was a misfire from Hamas. However, before it was even established by whom, Israel, the country that was still mourning the loss of life of over 1500 people became from victim to villain in a very short span of time. What people forget is that Hamas is like any other terrorist organization that is trained to turn truths into lies, what the world has forgotten is that Palestinians are equally subject to being the victims of Hamas terrorism as Israelis are.
I’m not an Israeli citizen, yet, Israel is home for me, the support system that I have in the country is bigger than what I have back in my hometown. The pain in those voices, the pain in those eyes are of a kind I’ve never seen before. How does the world bring in the picture of an alternative to fight terrorism that does not entirely eliminate them? I do not think that Israel has any other alternative, what would you suggest Israel does in order to eliminate a governing body that hides in schools, hospitals, and mosques putting people of their own territory to face the brunt of their wrong doings?
From a geopolitical standpoint, against the backdrop of the ongoing conflict between Israel Defense Forces and Hamas, there has been a widespread uptick of antisemitism and violence against Israelis and Jews as witnessed by the stabbing of two Jewish people witnessed in Egypt on 8 October not so long after the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October. Similar such attacks have occurred across the globe, particularly in the US and several parts of Europe including France. This was also evidenced by the recent attacks in Brussels, Belgium and Arras, France which were conducted by IS-linked individuals.
Furthermore, in line with Al-Qaeda’s command center’s statement recorded on 13 October, Khalid Saeed Batarfi, leader of the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), appealed Muslims around the world to kill Jews, Christians, UK, and US citizens in response to the ongoing hostilities between Israel and Hamas. He also threatened to carry out an attack against the US, similar to the 9/11 attacks in 2001. However, the US Intelligence agencies have reportedly indicated the absence of “any indication of a threat” to the US, the possibility of mass-casualty attacks remains limited following AQAP’s call, also based on the relatively limited capability as exhibited by the lack of Islamist attacks that have been reported in the country in recent years.
In this view, what the world is forgetting is that the ongoing conflict might not be impacting you at the moment, or might not even impact you in the immediate future, yet, the global implications of the same are likely to be grave over the coming months, based on the current geopolitical flux, the situation in the Middle East along with the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the world is likely to see a dynamic shift in the coming term.