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  • Lucy Zhang

Israel-Gaza Conflict History Run-through

On Saturday, Oct. 7th, Hamas (the main political and military force governing the Gaza Strip of Palestinian territories ) broke through the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, and launched an unexpected attack, resulting in more than 1400 deaths of Israelis and more than 100 people being taken hostage to the Gaza strip. In return, Israel declared war on Hamas and fought back with greater intensity. Not only there are a huge number of casualties and injuries, but the food, fuel, and electricity of the Gaza Strip are completely cut off, attempting to force Hamas to compromise.

Such brutal violence is hard to imagine in the modern era, it is the result of decades of resentment and unsolved issues. The start of the conflict can be traced back all the way to the establishment of the state of Israel. Because of Jewish people’s history in modern-day Israel during biblical eras and the Balfour declaration in which Great Britain announced their support in helping Jewish people locate their “national home” in the Palestine region, the state of Isreal is decided by Western countries as a proper place for the remaining Jews after WWII.

After the United Nations voted to adopt the Partition Plan for Palestinians which divided the territory into Jewish and Arab states and an International Jerusalem. Partition was accepted by the Jewish leadership but rejected by Palestinian Arab leaders and the Arab states. Thus a civil war broke off between Jewish people and Palestine. Israel declared Independence on May 4, 1948, after their victory in the civil conflict. However, existing forces around the area were not thrilled about the settlement, thus, the neighboring Arab countries: Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria invaded Israel and started the first Arab-Israeli War. Israel ended up on the winning side and with it, 77 percent of the previous Palestine territory, including land that the UN had intended to allocate to the Arabs.

Several other conflicts happened throughout the years and Israel gradually established itself as one of the dominant powers in the region. Things even went uphill for a while as Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and the signing of Osseo Accords which both sides admitted each others’ existence, until Hamas took over. Hamas was elected through the Palestinian legislative election however international communities refused to admit the Hammas-led government because of its history of armed encounters with Israel. Hamas is even listed as terrorism in most Western countries. After this government came into power, Palestine-Israel conflicts were stirred up again as Hamas kept challenging Israel by capturing or attacking a few Israelis every once in a while and Israel responded with an even greater scale of destruction each time.

In every single conflict, both sides aimed for retaliation rather than seeking for an ultimate peace. Especially for Israel, since the country is so much stronger and so much more well-equipped than Palestine, it is willing to exchange over a thousand Palestinian prisoners for 1 soldier, it is also willing to launch huge-scale airstrikes, and lockdowns for single-digit casualties. Considering this time, the civilian casualty probably exceeds the sum of total past conflicts, it is unlikely that Israel will take it easy on Hamas.

As there are people all around the world who argue which side is more justified, it is hard to determine. In terms of casualty, the Gaza Strip definitely exceeds because out of the same amount of attacks launched on each other, the Gaza Strip is just not as strong militarily. And since both aimed to cause damage, both have been accused of committing war crimes and both have harmed a large number of innocent civilians. As for this time, Hamas is definitely at fault, and from the perspective of Israelis, there's not a lot of reason to hold back on retaliation since they are not the ones who started the brutal violence. There is hardly any solution to the situation as the blockade on the Gaza Strip cannot be removed due to Hamas's aggressiveness, yet innocent Palestinian citizens in the area have no way to prevent the harm. Living under harsh situations, the grudge is only going to keep building up and one can only imagine that more and more Palestinians will turn to the extreme and join terrorism. With such strong hatred on both sides, humanity can hardly be prioritized before revenge and the benefits of the states.


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