On Sunday, November 11th, a covert Israeli operation attack in the Gaza strip left at least seven Palestinians dead and a Hamas television station in shambles. Tal Russo, a former Israeli military commander in charge of the attacks, claimed that it was an intelligence mission and not an attempt to assassinate or abduct any Palestinian militants. Although Russo’s reaction to the seemingly “accidental” deaths was largely televised, it did not seem to calm the storm that was to come from the Palestinian militant group, Hamas. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also tried to assure Israelis that the situation on the Gaza strip was under control and that he was “doing everything I can in order to avoid an unnecessary war.” Shortly after this speech, Hamas responded with an unrelenting wave of rockets aimed at Southern Israel, and both regions seemed to be approaching an inevitable war. Israel claims that militant drones were able to hold off many of the 300 missiles fired from the Palestinians, but one was able to hit a bus, and another struck a building, killing one and injuring another 30 Israelis. Israeli citizens were ordered to stay inside, and schools were closed on Monday as well. Israel responded with rockets that hit numerous Hamas military sites. This was the heaviest fighting between Israel and Gaza since 2014.
Amidst the exchange of rocket fire, both groups demanded that the other cease-fire, but neither was willing to do so. To try and address the recent violence between regions, Israel’s security cabinet met on Tuesday to consider offers from Egypt and the UN to try to ensure a cease-fire. Both sides seemed to be unwilling to interact directly and are still demonstrating animosity towards one another for the recent bombings. In an interview with the New York Times, Israel’s coordinator of government activities in Palestinian territories, Major General Abu Rukun, sent out a threat to Gaza residents stating that Hamas had “crossed a red line,” and that “Israel will dial up its response.” Hamas seem to harbor similar feelings of anger but directed towards the Israeli government. Mukhaimar Abusada suggested in an interview with Al Jazeera that “Hamas is not interested in another military escalation, but they feel they are under pressure … especially from the other Palestinian resistance groups that there has to be a retaliation against the Israeli raid into the Gaza Strip.” Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesperson, said that the destruction of the Hamas television station was an act of “barbaric aggression.” Again, the Israeli military disagreed. Israeli military leaders recount that the station “contributes to Hamas’ military actions” and it is thus a viable target. According to Israeli military spokesperson, Jonathan Conricus, once there was trouble seen during the Israeli military operation, the bombing was a professional way for Israel to “defend itself” and make “sure that all soldiers got back to Israel.” The two regions continue to agree to disagree and there is little mention of a cease-fire among military leaders, but many are hopeful that an agreement is in sight to avoid the prospect of war.
This is not the first time that Gaza and Israel have found themselves on the brink of war. Israeli troops have occupied Gaza for numerous years following World War II and remained there despite push-back from Palestinian groups that claimed that Gaza was theirs. In 2005, when the Israeli troops finally left Gaza, Hamas won the elections in the region and took control. Hamas wants to allow Palestinians to move back into Israel and have taken violent measures to do so. Israel has also reacted in a highly militarized fashion by strengthening control of borders and regulating who enters and exits Gaza. From 2008 to present day, Israel has launched three major assaults on Gaza that have destroyed the region’s infrastructure and have left many residents without electricity and a source of livelihood. Today, the lives of those who reside in Gaza are extremely hard because of this lack of support.
Although there are fundamental differences between the goals and beliefs of Hamas and the Israeli government, there needs to be more effort to secure rights and basic needs for those who are in Gaza and Southern Israel. As long as the fighting between these regions continues, residents will continue to be oppressed and deprived. A cease-fire and attempt by both nations to avert violence is needed as bombs are reaching homes and buildings of both Israelis and Palestinians, causing unnecessary casualties and violence on both sides. War is the enemy of human rights and must be avoided at all costs.
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