The Hamas-Israel conflict is a complex issue with historical, political, and religious roots. It has been a source of tension in the Middle East since the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The conflict originated from the settlement of Zionist Jewish immigrants in Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire. The establishment of Israel in 1948 led to a war between Israel and several Arab states, resulting in a Palestinian refugee crisis. The 1967 Six-Day War saw Israel occupy the Gaza Strip, leading to Palestinian resistance against Israeli rule.
Hamas, an Islamist organization, was established in 1987 during the First Intifada against Israeli occupation. It gained popularity in Gaza and the West Bank due to its social services and opposition to the Oslo Accords. Hamas and other Palestinian groups have launched rocket attacks into Israel, causing conflict. The organization has also used tunnels for smuggling weapons and launching surprise attacks on Israeli forces, causing concern for Israel. In 2018, the “Great March of Return” protests along the Gaza-Israel border resulted in confrontations between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces, resulting in hundreds of deaths or injuries.
Palestinian resistance factions, primarily led by Hamas, have declared a full-scale military operation into towns and settlements along the separation fence with Gaza. Military confrontations along the borders have continued, with Israel responding with airstrikes across the Gaza Strip. The latest rocket attack by Palestinian militants in Gaza has resulted in the collapse of a building in Tel Aviv, with 232 deaths and 1,697 injuries. Power cuts are expected to have severe health consequences, aggravated by the Israeli blockade and significant shortages of medical supplies.
A complete power blackout has affected all regions of the besieged Gaza Strip, with Israel’s Energy Minister announcing plans to cut power to Gaza. Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical facility in the besieged enclave, is particularly strained due to the power outage. Israeli forces have fatally shot a 13-year-old boy in the occupied West Bank city of Qalqilya, and Palestinian medics report three deaths and over 30 injuries in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Palestinian fighters have captured “dozens” of Israeli soldiers and officers, who are currently being held in secure underground locations.
Netanyahu has invited opposition leaders Lapid and Gantz to form a unity government, with Lapid previously expressing his willingness to work alongside Netanyahu. Gantz is considering this offer. Israel has conducted airstrikes targeting high-rise buildings, and the situation remains volatile. At least 200 Israelis were killed in the Palestinian resistance attack, with over 1,100 injured and dozens taken hostage.
The attack by Hamas gunmen from the Gaza Strip marked an unprecedented infiltration into Israel, escalating the ongoing violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in the West Bank. The attack occurred amid escalating tensions between Israel and Palestinian militants in the West Bank, which includes the Gaza Strip. Hamas media showed videos of Israeli soldiers’ bodies being brought into Gaza and Palestinian gunmen entering Israeli homes.
The Motives Behind Hamas’ Recent Attack on Israel
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, dating back to the late 19th century, is centred around land disputes between Israelis and Palestinians. Hamas, founded in 1987, emerged as a response to Palestinian grievances, particularly the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and displacement of Palestinian people. Recent tensions have been fueled by political factors such as the collapse of peace talks in 2014 and the US recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017.
The Palestinians view these actions as a significant blow to their aspirations for an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital. Intra-Palestinian political dynamics, such as Hamas controlling the Gaza Strip, have also contributed to the conflict. The Palestinian Authority’s postponement of elections in 2021 deepened the divide between the two Palestinian factions. The Middle East is marked by complex alliances and rivalries, with Hamas receiving financial and military assistance from Iran, while Israel has formed alliances with Arab states like the UAE and Bahrain.
The humanitarian crisis in Gaza, a densely populated region, has been exacerbated by the blockade since 2007, limiting the movement of people and goods. The lack of access to basic necessities, high unemployment rates, and limited opportunities have led to a sense of hopelessness among the population, making it easier for extremist groups like Hamas to recruit and radicalize individuals. Hamas uses rocket attacks against Israel to gain leverage in negotiations and to portray itself as a defender of Palestinian rights and interests. In response, Israel has launched airstrikes against Gaza, causing casualties and destruction. Israel claims it is acting in self-defence by eliminating Hamas rocket launchers and military infrastructure. However, these operations have been criticized for causing civilian casualties and exacerbating the suffering in Gaza.
Hamas, or Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyyah, was a prominent figure in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the late 1980s. Founded in 1987, it initially focused on grassroots activism against Israeli occupation. However, it evolved into a political and military entity with a distinct Islamist ideology. The group’s charter, published in 1988, called for the liberation of all Palestinian territories, including those claimed by Israel, and the establishment of an Islamic state in historic Palestine.
This charter, along with Hamas’s use of violence, led to its designation as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, the European Union, and other countries. The conflict centres around territorial claims between Israel and Palestinians over the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.
The 2006 Palestinian legislative elections saw Hamas win the election and take over the Gaza Strip in 2007, complicating the situation. The division between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority has hindered the prospects for a unified Palestinian state. Israel’s military operations in Gaza, including Operation Cast Lead and Operation Protective Edge, have resulted in casualties and destruction, deepening animosities. The conflict’s trajectory is also influenced by neighbouring countries’ support for Hamas and Israel’s alliances with the US and Arab states.
Israel’s Ongoing Struggle: Is it at War with Hamas?
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has deep historical roots, with both sides claiming the same land. Israel was established in 1948, leading to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. The conflict has taken various forms, including wars, uprisings, and ongoing violence. Hamas, formally known as the Islamic Resistance Movement, emerged in the late 1980s as a militant organization dedicated to the liberation of Palestine from Israeli control. Over time, it has evolved into a political entity governing the Gaza Strip, an enclave of approximately two million Palestinians. Hamas’s dual role as a governing authority and a militant group has complicated the conflict further.
The most recent major conflict erupted in May 2021, lasting for 11 days, with Hamas and other militant factions in Gaza firing thousands of rockets into Israel, prompting Israeli airstrikes in return. A ceasefire brokered by Egypt ended the hostilities in May 2021, but tensions have remained high. Israel and Hamas continue to engage in sporadic clashes, often triggered by events like clashes at the Gaza-Israel border or controversial decisions in Jerusalem, such as Israeli settlement expansion. The situation remains fragile, with both sides poised for potential flare-ups.
The Israel-Hamas conflict is a complex and multifaceted conflict in the Middle East, influenced by Israel’s relations with neighbouring countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia. While the 2021 conflict had some signs of war, it is more akin to a long-standing, multifaceted conflict with occasional flare-ups. Unlike traditional wars, there is no formal declaration of war or end to hostilities through a peace treaty. The conflict has evolved, with military clashes still a part, of diplomatic efforts, international mediation, and humanitarian concerns becoming more prominent. Despite this, both sides are in an ongoing state of conflict, falling short of a traditional war in the conventional sense.
Hamas Launches Missile Attack on Israeli Territory
The Israeli government has condemned a missile attack by Hamas on the Gaza Strip, resulting in injuries and casualties. Emergency services and medical teams quickly responded, providing aid to those in need. The Israeli government has urged citizens to remain vigilant and seek shelter in designated safe areas. The international community has expressed deep concern, with the United Nations Security Council holding an emergency meeting to discuss the escalating conflict.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations has issued a statement urging all parties to exercise restraint and seek a peaceful resolution. The recent attack by Hamas has further strained relations between Israel and the Palestinian territories, potentially delaying progress towards a lasting peace agreement in the region. As tensions rise, the pressure on mediators to find a path to de-escalation and diplomacy has increased significantly.