Israel-Hamas War 2023: Causes and Consequences

The Israel-Hamas War 2023 is a devastating conflict that has claimed the lives of thousands of people. The war disrupted the lives of millions more and threatened the stability of the Middle East and beyond. The Israel-Hamas war began with a surprise attack by Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups. The attack on Israel was carried out from the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023. Which was followed by a massive Israeli counter-offensive that targeted Hamas infrastructure, leaders, and fighters in Gaza.

Image Source: The Guardian

The Israel-Hamas war has also sparked widespread protests and violence in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Israel, and other countries. As well as diplomatic efforts to broker a ceasefire and a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

What is Hamas and why did it attack Israel?

Hamas is a Palestinian Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip. A densely populated coastal enclave that borders Israel and Egypt. Hamas was founded in 1987 as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. And is committed to the liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation and the establishment of an Islamic state.

Image Source: Foreign Policy

Hamas has a political wing that participates in elections and governance. And a military wing that carries out armed resistance against Israel. It is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, the European Union, and other countries. But also has supporters and allies in the region and beyond, such as Iran, Turkey, and Qatar.

Hamas launched its attack on Israel on October 7, 2023. Operation Al-Aqsa Storm refers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. It is one of the holiest sites in Islam and a flashpoint of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They claimed that its attack was a response to Israeli aggression and oppression against the Palestinians. Especially in Jerusalem and the West Bank, where the tensions have been rising since the beginning of 2023.

Hamas also said that its attack was aimed at breaking the Israeli blockade on Gaza. Which has been imposed since 2007. And has severely restricted the movement of people and goods in and out of the territory. Hamas also hoped to gain popularity and legitimacy among Palestinians by presenting itself as the defender of their rights and dignity against Israel.

How did Israel respond to the Hamas attack?

Israel was caught off guard by the Hamas attack, which was unprecedented in its scale and sophistication. Hamas and other militant groups fired thousands of rockets from Gaza into Israel, reaching as far as Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa. Some of these rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. But many others hit civilian areas, causing casualties and damage.

Israel Iron Dome
Image Source: The Conversation

Hamas also sent hundreds of fighters across the border into Israel through tunnels, boats, and drones. Killing hundreds of Israelis and taking dozens of hostages. The militants infiltrated several Jewish communities near the border with Gaza. As well as an all-night Music Concert festival in southern Israel, where they carried out massacres.

Israel reacted with fury and force to the Hamas attack, declaring a state of war and mobilizing its military reserves. They launched Operation Iron Swords, a massive aerial campaign that targeted the Hamas rocket launchers, tunnels, command centers, weapons depots, and leaders in Gaza. Israel also cut off electricity, fuel, and water supplies to Gaza, creating a humanitarian crisis for its 2.3 million inhabitants.

Israel warned Palestinians in Gaza to evacuate their homes before striking them. But many had nowhere to go or did not receive the warnings in time. It also indicated that it might launch a ground invasion into Gaza to root out Hamas fighters. But this option was fraught with risks for both sides.

What are the consequences of the war?

The Israel-Hamas war has exacted a heavy toll on both sides, as well as on regional and international peace and security. As of October 11, 2023, more than 1,200 Israelis have been killed in the war, including 155 soldiers. More than 1,050 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, mostly civilians. More than 5,100 Palestinians have been injured in Gaza, many of them critically. The Israel-Hamas war has also displaced hundreds of thousands of people on both sides. The people have sought shelter in schools, mosques, churches, and other public buildings.

The Israel-Hamas war 2023
Image Source: The New York Times

The Israel-Hamas war has also sparked widespread protests and violence in other parts of Palestine and Israel. As well as in neighboring countries and around the world. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Palestinians have clashed with Israeli security forces and settlers over checkpoints, settlements, and access to holy sites.

Also in Israel proper, Arab citizens have rioted against Jewish citizens in several mixed cities, burning cars, shops, and synagogues. In Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt, protesters have demonstrated against their governments’ perceived complicity or silence over Israel’s actions in Gaza.

In Europe, America, and elsewhere, pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli activists have held rallies and counter-rallies to express their solidarity or condemnation of either side.

The United States

The Israel-Hamas war has also posed a major challenge for the international community. It has been divided and ineffective in its response. The United Nations Security Council has failed to adopt a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire and a political solution to the conflict, due to the veto of the United States, which has staunchly supported Israel’s right to self-defense.

The United States has also blocked a statement by the UN Human Rights Council that condemned Israel’s actions in Gaza as disproportionate and indiscriminate and called for an independent investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity. The European Union, Russia, China, and other countries have expressed their concern and condemnation over the escalation of violence. And have called for an end to hostilities and a resumption of dialogue.

Several countries have also sent humanitarian aid and diplomatic missions to the region. In an attempt to alleviate the suffering of the civilians and to mediate between the warring parties.

What are the prospects for peace?

The prospects for peace between Israel and Hamas, as well as between Israel and the Palestinians in general, are bleak and uncertain. Both sides have shown no sign of backing down or compromising their demands and positions. Hamas has vowed to continue its resistance until Israel lifts its blockade on Gaza and ends its occupation of Palestine. Israel has vowed to continue its operation until it restores its deterrence and security against Hamas and other threats. Neither side has accepted or trusted the other’s offers or conditions for a ceasefire.

The Israel-Hamas war has also exposed and deepened the divisions and weaknesses within each side, as well as among their allies and supporters. Within Palestine, The Hamas attack has overshadowed and undermined the efforts of the Palestinian Authority. It was Led by President Mahmoud Abbas, to achieve statehood and reconciliation through negotiations and diplomacy. The Palestinian Authority has been sidelined and marginalized by the war. As it has little control or influence over Gaza or Jerusalem.

The Politics

The Israel-Hamas war has also widened the rift between Hamas and Fatah. The Abbas party has been at odds since Hamas seized power in Gaza in 2007. Within Israel, the war has disrupted and complicated the formation of a new government, following the inconclusive elections in September 2023. The war has also polarized and radicalized Israeli society, along political, ethnic, and religious lines.

The Israel-Hamas war has also strained and tested the relations between Israel and its regional and international partners. Israel’s main ally, the United States, has faced criticism and pressure from its own public opinion, Congress, and media, as well as from its European allies and other countries, over its unconditional support for Israel’s actions in Gaza.

The Israel-Hamas war 2023
Image Source: The Conversation

The United States has also faced challenges from its rivals, such as Iran, Russia, and China, who have sought to exploit the crisis to advance their interests and influence in the region. The war has also jeopardized Israel’s recent normalization agreements with several Arab countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan, who have condemned Israel’s actions in Gaza and expressed their solidarity with the Palestinians.

The Israel-Hamas war has also highlighted and reinforced the need for a comprehensive and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on international law and human rights. The war has shown that neither side can achieve its goals or aspirations through violence or unilateral actions. It has also shown that the status quo is unsustainable and unacceptable for both sides, as well as for the region and the world. The war has also shown that there is no military solution to the conflict, only a political one.

The Only Way

The only way to end the war and prevent future wars is to address the root causes of the conflict. These are the occupation, the settlements, the refugees, the borders, the security, the water, the Jerusalem, and the recognition of each other’s rights and existence. And only way to achieve peace is to resume and revive the peace process based on the two-state solution that envisages an independent and viable Palestinian state living alongside a secure and democratic Israeli state.

The only way to sustain peace is to involve and empower the people from both sides. Especially the youth, women, civil society, and religious leaders, in building bridges of dialogue, trust, cooperation, and coexistence. The only way to ensure peace is to support and monitor the implementation of any agreement by both sides, with the help of the international community. Especially the United Nations, the Quartet, the Arab League, and other regional and global actors.

The Israel-Hamas War 2023 is a tragedy that must end now. Rest in peace to all the people who lost their lives during this war. May God grant their loved ones the strength to endure this great pain.

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