The Future of Gaza

On Wednesday, the chief of Hamas’ military wing, Ahmed Jebari, was assassinated in Gaza during an Israeli airstrike on the Palestinian territory. After the assassination, Israel continued its advance on Gaza, attacking from the air as well as from Israeli navy ships off the Gaza shoreline. Five other Palestinians were killed that day, including 2 children [1]. The image to the left shows an explosion in Gaza City, one of the most densely populated places in the world, from an Israeli airstrike.

After Jebari’s assassination, Israel threatened that the attacks were “only the beginning” of a long campaign against terror in the Gaza strip. According to Agence France Presse, Israeli spokeswoman Avital Leibovich said, “After the rocket fire of recent days, the chief of staff (Lieutenant General Benny Gantz) has decided to authorise the targeting of terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others. This is the beginning.” [2]

Since then, the violence in Gaza has continued to escalate, with daily Israeli airstrikes on Gaza cities and retaliation from Hamas in the form of rockets launched into Israel. From the Israeli side, the attacks have supposedly been targeting Hamas bases and terrorism within Gaza, although there have been heavy civilian casualties as well. 72 Palestinians have been killed since the campaign began on November 14, and 500 more have been reported wounded [3]. In contrast, rocket fire from Hamas (about 500 rockets launched so far) has killed three Israelis and injured dozens more [4].

The crisis in Gaza has sparked varied reactions from nations and activists around the globe. The Arab world has quickly — and unsurprisingly — rallied around Palestine, with the Arab League pledging its support [5]. Even liberal Israelis have demonstrated against the airstrikes in Gaza, demanding an end to the violence and bloodshed.

Additionally, the international response to the attacks has been refreshingly swift, with supporters of Israel and Palestine favoring an immediate ceasefire agreement. Discussions are being held in Cairo to hammer out conditions. Although Hamas has said it agrees with about 90% of the terms, it has yet to be seen what Israel’s response will be [6]. However, according to a White House official, Israel, like the US, wants to put an end to the attacks [7].

However, there are serious implications for these attacks, even if the ceasefire goes through. Israel’s attack on Gaza has ignited Arab support around Palestine, solidifying alliances across the Middle East. Meanwhile, Western powers will continue to side with Israel, but the significance will be much broader: although there has always been unity in the Arab world, especially against Israel, an energized pro-Palestinian movement across the Middle East could have a major effect on Israel, even if it doesn’t culminate in a direct attack. Either way, Israel-Palestine tensions are at an all-time high, and the future of the relationship between these two groups remains to be seen.

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Sources:

[1] Hamas military chief killed in Israeli attack (Al Jazeera)

[2] Hamas vows revenge after Israel kills military chief (Agence France Presse)

[3] [4] Civilian death toll mounts in Gaza (Al Jazeera)

[5] [7] Arab League ‘backs Gaza against aggression’ (Al Jazeera)

[6] Hamas official: 90 percent of ceasefire terms ‘agreed’ upon (Al Jazeera)

Image: Al Jazeera

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