On October 7, 2023, Hamas alongside other Gaza Strip-based militants carried out multiple surprise attacks against Israel. It encompassed land, marine, and aerial attacks including PIJ. On the last Jewish high holiday, the attacks went to different military bases and civilian areas which was a major escalation from Hamas’s control of Gaza for the past sixteen years.
Israeli Response and International Reactions
To this, Israel launched a war on Hamas and pledged to fight a protracted struggle. The United States pledged unwavering support for Israeli security, sovereignty, and the right to respond. Israel halted the shipment of basic needs to Gaza, assembled armed forces, and embarked on an air offensive directed toward militants in Gaza.
Humanitarian Crisis and International Efforts
It led to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, with Palestinian civilians and American citizens finding themselves under desperate conditions. The ongoing violence also posed some challenges to efforts to provide aid. Egypt reported itself as willing to open a humanitarian corridor, however, Israel’s air strikes allegedly impeded the procedure.
On October 16, Secretary Antony Blinken of the U.S. and Israel made plans to allow international humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza. This was confirmed by President Biden during his visit to Israel with the announcement of $100 million in humanitarian assistance from the US to Palestinians residing in Gaza and the West Bank region.
State of Play
Main Parties and Key Actors
Israel’s Strategic Shift: In response to the escalating conflict, Israel underwent a significant domestic transformation. Aiming for a united front, an emergency unity government and a “war management cabinet” were formed, signaling a pivotal shift in the nation’s political landscape. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s declaration of Israel’s intent to “demolish Hamas” underscores the gravity of the situation, with preparations for a potential ground assault on Gaza.
Cross-Border Escalation: Post-attacks, Israel engaged in confrontations not only with Gaza-based militants but also with the Iran-backed Shia Islamist group, Lebanese Hezbollah. This exchange of fire, especially along Israel’s northern border, raised concerns regarding the formidable threat posed by Hezbollah’s substantial arsenal. The situation highlights the broader regional implications of the conflict.
Palestinian Authority’s Dilemma
The Palestinian Authority/Palestine Liberation Organization (PA/PLO) in the West Bank grapples with a challenging dilemma. While hesitant to fully embrace Hamas, they find themselves unable to outright denounce the group without risking alienation from a substantial segment of the Palestinian population. This delicate balancing act is underscored by rising tensions and violence in the West Bank, with conflicts escalating among Palestinians, Israeli soldiers, and settlers. The PA/PLO’s struggle to navigate this complex situation adds layers of difficulty to the already intricate dynamics in the region, reflecting the broader challenges inherent in uniting Palestinian factions under a cohesive response to the ongoing crisis.
Amidst the intensifying conflict, global actors have actively engaged in diplomatic and humanitarian efforts. The United States, the European Union, and several Arab governments have taken steps to play roles in mediating the crisis or providing essential humanitarian assistance. These collective efforts underline the international community’s recognition of the urgency and complexity of the situation.
Qatar, however, made one notable success in this mediation by convincing Hamas to release several hostages it held. This diplomatic success underscored the feasibility of collaboration toward a concrete settlement of the problem. The crisis continues to involve many states and agencies with interests in its development and outcome in the affected people.
As the conflict unfolds, critical questions persist, shaping the uncertain landscape:
- Hostage Situation: The lives of hostages in Gaza are precarious. Will Israel achieve success in rescuing its soldiers, and will Hamas make good on its threats? In this connection, a lot of questions are still left regarding the U.S.’ participation in the same initiatives, contributing to making the hostage tragedy more complicated.
- Ground Assault on Gaza: This creates important questions regarding what will be next: the looming possibility of Israel’s ground attack. How long will it last, how far will it go, and what are the possible consequences on human lives? The aftermath has significant consequences on the governance of Hamas in Gaza and the issue of who takes over Gaza is still unclear.
- Escalation with Hezbollah: The specter of escalation with Hezbollah or other Iran-backed actors becomes an additional factor. What could be triggers for a major escalation and what impact could it have on broader regional dynamics?
- Impact of Civilian Casualties: Incidents that cause high civilian deaths are of concern. The impact of the incidents on world opinion and the attitudes of the different actors to the conflict is still unclear.
- Longer-term Outcomes: Such anticipation creates doubt about US priorities, regional balance, and future world politics. As they unfold, events must require continued scrutiny of an evolving situation.
Humanitarian Support by AFYBA
Amidst the war, American Friends of Yeshivot Bnei Akiva (AFYBA) brings a ray of hope. To this end, AFYBA has developed ‘AFYBA Supports War Efforts in Israel’. This multi-level support strategy is intended to support deeply affected families as they face constant onslaughts, acknowledging the dire necessity for instant relief.
There are many transformations, one very important being the conversion of many AFYBA school campuses into family refugee centers for families affected by the terror. These places have become important refuges offering basic needs like food, housing, and many more human needs. AFYBA’s words are not just a matter of words, and they directly address the situation at hand, ensuring that those who were adversely affected by the war do not remain vulnerable to further risk.
AFYBA seeks to promote community resilience by stressing unity and support during this crisis. The company understands that the combined power can defeat any obstacle and ‘AFYBA Supporting the war efforts in the country of Israel’ is an example of such an effort towards that direction. AFYBA’s humanitarian work during this crucial period underpins the notion that the world can be a better place in any circumstance.
The latest Hamas-Israel conflict is a complicated issue with far-reaching ramifications that one should approach cautiously taking into account different issues and continuous undertakings to resolve humanitarian issues.