A Synopsis of the Israel-Hamas Conflict
By: Kate Maglio
Take the time to read this piece if you find yourself, like me, confused on the Israel-Hamas conflict despite the ample media coverage on it. These ten fast facts will improve your understanding of what's going on between the two averse powers.
What is the Gaza Strip?
The Gaza Strip is a piece of land that stretches for 25 miles. It lies between Israel, Egypt, and the Mediterranean Sea. In the late 1960's, Israel gained claim over the land after a brief six-day war; however, decades later, in 2005, Israel’s control over the land was challenged, and they left due to a Palestinian uprising. It didn’t end there; in 2007, Hamas overtook the Palestinian government—Fatah—and gained control over Gaza.
The Gaza Strip has Israel located on its eastern and northern borders, Egypt on its southern border, and the Mediterranean Sea on its western border.
2. What is Hamas?
Hamas is a terrorist group. The United States, along with the European Union, have deemed it a terrorist group due to their armed resistance and their stated goal of ridding the world of Jewish people. Iran plays a critical role in supplying Hamas with financial, material, and political support. They believe that Israel does not have a right to exist, unlike Fatah, the other political group in Palestine that is opposed to Hamas.
3. Where is Israel located?
Israel is located in the Middle East, along the southeastern coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt.
4. What happened on October 7, 2023?
Hamas launched a surprise attack on the south of Israel, killing hundreds of soldiers and civilians, and many Israelis were held hostage. Hamas stormed Israeli beaches, border security fences, and even attacked from the sky—by way of paragliders. Over 1,400 Israelis have been killed, along with 4,500 injured, and over 400 people taken hostage; it is believed they are being detained in Gaza. Hamas’s attack tactics have included suicide bombings as well as kidnappings.
5. How long have these powers been at war?
The complicated history between Hamas and Israel has been going on for a very long time. Especially throughout the 20th century, there have been countless disputes between Israel, Palestine, and other neighboring countries over land control. After Israel gained control over Gaza in 1967, which was known as the Six-Day War, countless conflicts continued to arise. Looking to decelerate the situation, Israel ceded its control in Gaza to Palestinian forces in 2005. Israeli civilians were forced out of their homes in Gaza and forced to move, with some compensated. Israel’s goal in withdrawing in 2005 was to improve Israel’s security and create a situation for lasting peace. The conflict and fighting have continued to be an issue in the Middle East, and on October 7, 2023, when Hamas surprise attacked Israel, this was the beginning of just another war, but this time the most deadly.
6. What are the Israeli economic implications?
The near future of Israel's economy is uncertain, as more than 36,000 reservists have left their jobs to contribute to the war effort. Prominent economist and former professor at Hebrew University, Joseph Zeira, noted how he is almost certain a recession will occur due to the decrease in Israeli productivity.
7. How is Israel responding?
Israel is planning to continue attacking; so far they have countered with a storm of airstrikes and, in turn, warned over 1 million Palestinians to move to an alternative part of Gaza to ensure their safety. Israel’s airstrikes on Hamas have killed over 4,100 people living in Gaza. Israel’s airstrikes have been their most destructive tactic, as they’ve not only killed over 4,000 people, including hundreds of women and children, but these attacks have also caused hospitals and health centers to be shut down, along with a shortage of food, fuel, and electricity in Gaza.
8. What is the United States' role?
The United States has been helping Israel fight against Hamas since the United States, along with other European countries, classified Hamas as a terrorist group. The US has increased its defense support for Israel by sending air defense capabilities and munitions. The US is in very close contact with their Israeli counterparts in order to aid in the fight against Hamas. Additionally, Defense Department officials have been working to expedite the shipping of military equipment to Israel, along with an increased presence of the US military in Israel.
9. What is Fatah?
Fatah is one of the two most dominant Palestinian political parties, with Hamas being the other. In 1967, after the Arab-Israeli War, Fatah became the most dominant Palestinian political party. In the 1990s, Fatah rejected armed resistance and announced support for United Nations Security Council Resolution 242. This resolution called for the building of Palestine on the 1967 borders, along with an Israeli state. Unlike Hamas, Fatah wants to recognize Israel as a country and not strip it of land and power.
10. What is the future of this war?
The sudden increase in fighting between Israel and Hamas has inspired many geopolitical experts to question when the war will end. Some Middle East experts believe that the outcome of the war is unpredictable, as they'll soon be entering an even more destructive period. Israel’s initial counter to Hamas’s surprise attack was via airstrikes; however, Israel is planning on further attacking via ground as well as Hamas is reportedly hiding amongst civilians in Gaza.
(1.) CNN: Gaza conditions worsen amid warnings that shortages could ‘kill many, many people’
(2.) ALJAZEERA: Hamas and Fatah: How are the two groups different?
(3.) U.S. Department of Defense: U.S. Helps Israel Defend Against Hamas Attacks
(4.) Embassies: About Israel General Info
(5.) VOX:A timeline of Israel and Palestine’s complicated history
(6.) The New York Times: What We Know About the Hamas Attack and Israel’s Response
(7.) The Washington Post: Why are Israel and Hamas at war? A basic explainer.
(8.) ABC News: Israel-Hamas conflict: Timeline and key developments
(9.) Council on Foreign Relations: What is Hamas?
(10.) CNBC: Biden to ask Congress for ‘urgent budget request’ to support Israel and Ukraine
(11.) CBS News: What is the Gaza Strip? Here's how big it is and who lives there.
(12.) Lemonde: The Story of the Gaza Strip Explained
(13.) PBS NewsHour: The complicated history of conflict between Israel and Palestinians
The Washington Post