NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Conflict in the Middle East

It’s heartbreaking that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas is entering its second month, with no sign of a lasting ceasefire. The war has killed more than 5,000 people, displaced more than 1 million, and caused widespread damage to infrastructure and livelihoods in Gaza and Israel.

The conflict erupted on October 12, when Hamas militants crossed into Israel through a tunnel network and launched a surprise attack on several military and civilian targets, killing more than 1,300 Israelis and taking hostages. Israel responded by launching a massive aerial and ground offensive against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, killing more than 3,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians. 

The attack by Hamas was seen as an attempt to break the 14-year blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt on Gaza, which has severely restricted the movement of goods and people in and out of the coastal enclave. Hamas also said it was retaliating for Israeli actions in Jerusalem, where tensions had been rising over the planned evictions of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood claimed by Jewish settlers

Despite several attempts by regional and international mediators to broker a ceasefire, the fighting has continued unabated, with both sides exchanging fire and escalating their attacks. Israel has expanded its targets to include high-rise buildings, media offices, hospitals, schools, and tunnels used by Hamas. Hamas has increased its rocket fire towards Israeli cities, reaching as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. 

     The humanitarian situation in Gaza has deteriorated dramatically, with shortages of food, water, electricity, and medical supplies. The UN estimates that more than half of the population of Gaza needs humanitarian assistance. Many people have fled their homes and sought shelter in UN-run schools or other public buildings. The UN has warned that Gaza is on the brink of a “catastrophic situation” and called for an immediate end to the hostilities. 

Israel has also faced internal unrest, with violent clashes between Jewish and Arab citizens in several mixed towns. The violence has been fueled by incitement from extremist groups on both sides, as well as by social media posts spreading misinformation and hate speech. The Israeli police have arrested hundreds of people for rioting, arson, assault, and vandalism. 

The prospects for peace are dim, as both sides seem determined to continue fighting until they achieve their goals. Israel says it wants to degrade Hamas’s military capabilities and restore deterrence, while Hamas says it wants to end the blockade on Gaza and secure the rights of Palestinians in Jerusalem. 

The international community has expressed concern over the escalating violence and urged both sides to respect international humanitarian law and protect civilians. The U.S., Israel’s main ally, has said it supports Israel’s right to self-defense but also called for a de-escalation of tensions. The U.S. has also announced a $100 million aid package for Gaza, which will be delivered through Egypt.

Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza and has close ties with both Israel and Hamas, has been leading the efforts to mediate a ceasefire. Egypt has also opened its Rafah crossing to allow humanitarian aid and wounded people to enter or leave Gaza. However, Egypt’s role has been complicated by its strained relations with Turkey and Qatar, which are allies of Hamas and have been vocal critics of Israel.

Other regional actors, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates, have also been involved in trying to end the conflict or aid the affected populations. Iran has warned Israel to stop its attacks on Gaza or face consequences in the region. Saudi Arabia has condemned Israel’s actions in Jerusalem and Gaza and called for a comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue. Jordan has sent medical teams and supplies to Gaza and hosted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for talks. The UAE has sent an aid plane to Gaza and expressed support for a two-state solution. 

The UN Security Council has held several meetings on the crisis but has failed to issue a joint statement or resolution due to disagreements among its members. The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has repeatedly called for an immediate ceasefire and a revival of the peace process based on a two-state solution. 

Israel does not want a ceasefire because they believe that will give Hamas time to rest and recharge.

It is sad to see all the civilians from Israel and Palestine caught in the middle of this conflict that are being killed, kidnapped, or displaced. There are so many innocent lives being completely ruined by no fault of their own.  The sad truth is children make up half the citizens in Gaza who have been killed or displaced. You have to wonder what’s the point of all this bloodshed. Let’s hope for peace in the middle east sooner rather than later.