On Sunday, Oct. 9, Israel formally declared war on Hamas in response to the attack and militant invasion that occurred on Oct. 7th. The attack began the morning of the 7 when over 3,000 missiles were launched by Hamas onto the Israel-Gaza barriers and roughly 1,200 Israelis were killed.
Following, on Oct. 9, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a state of emergency pledging “mighty vengeance against terrorism,” said Netanyahu.
In response to the attack from Hamas, Israel launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, specifically targeting military facilities while also marking 20 reported cases of hitting civilian infrastructures including hospitals, mosques and a refugee camp.
According to the Hamas Health Ministry, within the first three days at least 900 Palestinians were killed, and 260 of them were confirmed to be children.
Derrick Hulme, Arthur L. Russel Professor of Political Science, teaches a senior seminar on Israeli-Arab relations.
The history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is what makes this current problem so complicated. In earlier decades, Palestine had committed several acts of terrorism in an attempt to draw attention to their situation.
“The goal of the Palestinians of the sixties and seventies was to get the world to pay attention to them; if they didn’t, they would never have their own state,” said Hulme.
The Gaza Strip has been under an Egyptian and Israeli siege since 2006, and the siege was named an “open-air prison” by Prime Minister David Cameron.
This conflict is ongoing, and with a recent update on Oct. 16, it has been reported that over 423,000 Gazan Strip residents have been displaced due to the conflict.
Regarding the history of the Gaza Strip, they have been under occupation and with extremely limited freedom for about 16 years. Israel has full control over the strip and this even includes who or what enters or exits Gaza.
With Israel’s control over Gaza, their only aquifer is highly contaminated with sewage and pollution and they have now lost their connection to outside resources. As of Oct. 20, Gaza is still without water and other basic necessities.
“Collective punishments are imposed on the Gaza Strip: all food, water and electricity are cut off, violating the Geneva Conventions,” said Hulme.
It is difficult for people outside of the conflict to understand its complexity. Part of the reason this is so challenging is because social media and news outlets are not always reliable. For example, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Meta, has been called out this past week because there is misinformation about the conflict that is being spread without fact-checking.
“There is a social responsibility given the reach of these platforms and their ability to influence people’s behavior.” said Hulme.
Putting in the effort to stay proactive about the information you’re consuming is extremely critical.
Overall, and most importantly, Hulme believes that there should be a general understanding that this has turned into a humanitarian crisis.
“We need to remember that the humanitarian piece of this is important; there are 2.3 million Gazans left without food, water, and electricity,” said Hulme.
Reaching out to peers, family and friends is vital given the circumstances, as anyone being affected right now needs our support.