Written By: Emile Clarke
Edited by Christopher Amrobo Enemuwe
Supervised by Ginevra Bertamini
The latest chapter in Israel and Palestine’s long history is unfolding as tensions soar to unprecedented levels. On 7 October 2023, Hamas initiated a surprise attack into Israeli territory, launching thousands of rockets and breaching Israel’s fortified barrier that separates it from the Palestinian Gaza Strip. The attack marks Hamas’s most sophisticated and coordinated operation in recent memory, overwhelming Israel’s notorious Iron Dome missile defence system. At the same time, armed militants flooded checkpoints and bulldozed through Israeli fortifications (BBC, 2023a). These militants then proceeded to move through the breaches into Israeli territory in the day’s early hours, where they went on to brutally assault up to 27 different locations, ostensibly shooting on sight at civilians and military personnel alike (BBC, 2023a).
As of 10 October 2023, Israeli authorities claim to have re-secured control of the border. However, not without cost as Hamas’s surprise attack has already claimed the lives of over 1,200 Israelis, along with at least 150 hostages who have been abducted from Israeli towns and taken back to Gaza (BBC, 2023b). In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly declared that Israel was ‘at war’ (Reuters, 2023). Israel has launched a retaliatory air strike campaign into Gaza, displacing thousands of civilians and killing over 1,300 people in the enclave (BBC, 2023b). Furthermore, the Israeli government has launched a massive mobilisation of 360,000 reservists, the country’s largest since the 1973 Yom Kippur War (Hassan & Taylor, 2023). At least 100,000 reservists are already stationed near the border with the Gaza Strip, as the Israeli military intensifies its bombing of the enclave (Martínez & Young, 2023). Mobilisation marks a break in normal life for many, who are rushing to answer the call as their military seemingly prepares for a ground incursion into Gaza (Hassan & Taylor, 2023). Undoubtedly, the environment of fierce urban warfare this could well create will result in huge Palestinian civilian casualties in Gaza.
The EU has united in condemning the attacks; however, a split has emerged regarding continuing development aid to Palestine. In light of the attacks, certain member states, including Germany and Austria, have hinted at the possible suspension of bilateral aid to Palestine, whereas others, including Italy, have dismissed such a course (Gray & Marsh, 2023). Some countries, such as Denmark and Sweden have already opted to put development aid on hold for the time being (The Local, 2023). Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden has underlined his administration’s ‘rock-solid and unwavering’ support for Israel, demonstrated by an order to reposition U.S. naval units and aircraft closer to Israel, including the USS Ford, one of the world’s largest and most advanced aircraft carriers (Al Jazeera, 2023). Additionally, it is likely that the U.S. will increase military aid to Israel, as U.S. Secretary of Defence, Lloyd Austin, claims to be ‘closely monitoring developments,’ set on ensuring that Israel ‘has what it needs to protect itself’ (Austin, 2023). The Biden administration is set on providing Israel with up to 2 billion dollars in supplementary funding to contribute towards stockpile replenishments of interceptors and precision-guide munitions for its Iron Dome missile defence system and artillery shells (Cortellessa & Bennett, 2023). On the contrary, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has issued a statement underlining Iran’s support for Hamas’s operation, expressing the regime’s support for what it perceives as a ‘legitimate defence of the Palestinian nation’ (Tehran Times, 2023).
Israel now intends on laying a ‘complete siege’ of Gaza, cutting off the enclave’s supply of fundamental provisions such as electricity, medicine, and water (BBC, 2023c). With U.S. and Iranian support given to either side, respectively, and an Israeli offensive operation into Gaza potentially on the horizon, the future political and military implications remain unclear. However, it seems certain that violent escalation, at the very least, is an unfortunate inevitability.
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