Sunday, December 3, 2023

Israeli-Hamas War: Casualties to rise as both camps expect this “war” to be “long and hard”

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On the day Hamas, an internationally designated terrorist group, launched an attack on Israel, it triggered a chain of events that have resulted in significant devastation and loss of life. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by declaring war and vowing to exact “mighty vengeance” upon its enemies. Unfortunately, this declaration translated into the destruction of Gaza, which Netanyahu described as an “evil city.”

Hamas claimed to have taken 100 Israelis hostage, but it never acknowledged its involvement in the deaths of hundreds more in various locations in Southern Israel. These attacks involved Hamas militants descending from the air, land, and sea.

As of the current date, the conflict has left over 700 Israelis and approximately 300 Palestinians dead. Israel carried out multiple airstrikes on buildings believed to house Hamas militants preparing further attacks. Regrettably, some of these strikes hit residential areas. Gaza, one of the world’s most densely populated cities, with 2.0 million residents crammed into a 365 square kilometer area, makes it almost inevitable that civilian casualties would occur.

Israel has also severed electricity and possibly water supplies to Gaza, leaving its two million residents in dire conditions. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have advised Gaza residents to evacuate to avoid airstrikes. Reports suggest that Hamas militants are using underground tunnels for shelter, making it challenging for the IDF to apprehend or “exterminate” these terrorists, as soldiers put it.

The impact of this conflict extends beyond Palestinians, as Israelis have faced hundreds of rockets launched from Gaza and Lebanon, where Hezbollah, another terrorist group, is based. Hamas has called on armed militants in Lebanon to join the fight against Israel. They justify their attacks based on alleged provocations by Israeli Jews at the Al Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam, and other violations in the West Bank. Some analysts speculate that the IDF believed Hamas was planning an attack in the West Bank, leading to their concentration there.

It appears that Hamas planned this conflict in advance, deceiving Israel into focusing on the West Bank rather than Gaza. The extensive rocket attacks and tactical offensive maneuvers suggest meticulous planning. The question arises: what are Hamas’s objectives in this campaign?

First, Hamas aims to gain a tactical advantage by holding Israeli soldiers and civilians hostage, potentially seeking prisoner swaps, as they have done in the past.

Second, they may be attempting to provoke Arab states to take action against Israel, creating a situation where Israel’s response could lead to international condemnation and potentially disrupt the peace agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Iran, which is aligned with Hamas and Hezbollah, stands to benefit from such a disruption.[1]

Third, Hamas may be seeking to regain previously occupied land and expand its territory, especially as Israel has approved the construction of 4,000 settlement homes in the West Bank.[2] This project has displaced hundreds of Palestinian families.

However, whatever Hamas’s goals, it is achieving them at the expense of its own citizens. Casualty figures are now at 1,100 and expected to rise, as this conflict is predicted to be protracted and challenging.

The United States, along with several Western states, including Germany, has expressed strong support for Israel. Among Arab states, Lebanon has fired rockets at Israel, potentially justifying IDF actions in the West Bank near Lebanon’s borders. Hezbollah, based in Southern Lebanon, has indicated its involvement and coordination with other militants for future attacks.[3]

Calls for a cessation of violence have come from various nations, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia, and Qatar. Opinions on the root causes of the conflict vary, with many attributing it to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

The United Nations Security Council has convened, but no concrete action has been proposed yet. While Western, Latin American, and African states have condemned the Hamas attack, Russia, China, and Turkey have called for restraint from both sides. Reports of American, French, and German citizens among those taken hostage by Hamas militants may lead to further involvement by these countries, potentially escalating the conflict in the coming weeks.[4]

[1] https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/striking-israel-hamas-also-took-aim-middle-east-security-realignment-2023-10-08/

[2]  https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-set-to-approve-over-4500-new-settlement-homes-in-west-bank-report/

[3] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/10/8/israel-hezbollah-exchange-fire-raising-regional-tensions.

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/oct/08/widespread-condemnation-across-globe-for-hamas-attack-on-israel.

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