By Gabriel Bernstein
On October 7, the Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked Israel, launching hundreds of missiles into Israel as the country was wrapping up the seven-day-long Jewish festival of Sukkot. More than 1,000 people were killed or wounded, and over 100 people were seized and taken as hostages by Hamas. Many families were ripped apart. This surprise attack has shocked the world, leaving many to wonder how this tragedy originated.
A Brief History of the Palestine-Israel Conflict
The modern conflict dates back to World War I when Palestine claimed their own territory in the Middle East. The Great Powers at that time were fighting for the Middle East because it had a strategic military importance. The Palestinian territory was also considered very valuable because it had religious influence over many cultures. Britain and France were in control of Palestine when they declared to both the Arabic and Jewish leadership that this land would be available. This promise took effect during and after the events of World War II as many Jews migrated there to escape Nazi Germany. The Jewish people made up a large amount of the population at the time, expanding the Zionist movement, a movement to establish the basis for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
After the Holocaust in which six million European Jews were killed by the Nazis, the United Nations passed Resolution 181 which called for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, with the city of Jerusalem governed by a special international regime. The resolution was considered by the Jewish people in Palestine to be a legal basis for the establishment of Israel. This made the surrounding Arab communities of Egypt, Iran, Syria, and Jordan furious because of the religious value of the land.
Many wars were inevitably fought for this holy land between Israel and its surrounding territories, such as the 1967 6-Day War against Egypt and Syria, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and the Lebanon War against southern Lebanon. There has been continuous tension between the Gaza Strip (which is located to the left of Israel as shown on the two final maps below) and Israel for many years. These events have all led to the current conflict between Hamas and Israel.
What is Hamas?
Hamas was originally a group founded in 1987 to rebel against Israel during the first Intifada (uprising). The group has always vowed to annihilate Israel using any method necessary. The U.S. State Department deemed Hamas a terrorist group in 1997. They were mainly known for violently taking over the Gaza Strip. Over time, they have gained financial support from countries including Turkey, Iran, and Qatar. Israel states that Hamas is currently armed with 30,000 soldiers as well as numerous rockets and drones.
War with Israel
Despite the overwhelming amount of tension between Israel and Hamas, this attack on Israel was unprecedented and has resulted in an all-out war between the two groups. America is supplying Israel with ammunition supplies, and many other countries are getting involved as they now need to ask themselves whether to side with Israel, Palestine, or be completely isolated. The residents of the Gaza Strip are victims too, as they are now trapped within their own territory, stuck in a warzone. The sobering truth is that there is no easy solution. We can only hope that the war ends without further loss of innocent life.