Palestine-Israel Tensions Intensify as Ongoing Conflict Claims Lives On Gaza Strip
In the midst of escalating violence between Palestinian and Israeli forces, Israel’s Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, has announced a “complete siege” on the Gaza Strip, home to 2.3 million Palestinians. Gallant’s controversial remarks, in which he described Palestinians as “human animals” and pledged to “act accordingly,” have drawn widespread condemnation.
The Gaza Siege: A Humanitarian Crisis Unfolding
The Gaza Strip, an area of approximately 365 square kilometers, has been under Israeli-led blockade since 2007, resulting in dire living conditions for its residents. Gallant’s announcement has plunged the region into further crisis, as essential resources like electricity, food, and fuel become even scarcer.
As of the latest reports, the Israeli air force has conducted a massive bombing campaign, dropping 2,000 munitions and over 1,000 tonnes of bombs on Gaza. These airstrikes have targeted high-rise residential buildings, mosques, hospitals, banks, and other civilian infrastructure. Tragically, at least 500 Palestinians, including 91 children, have lost their lives, and another 2,700 people have been injured in the ongoing conflict.
On the other side of the conflict, Palestinian armed groups have launched attacks on Israeli troops within Israeli territory. The surprise assault, which began on Saturday, has left at least 700 Israelis killed and more than 2,000 wounded, further deepening the crisis.
Historical Context: The Gaza Strip
Gaza was originally part of historic Palestine before the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. During this period, approximately 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled from historic Palestine, marking a tragic event known as “Al-Nakba” or “The Catastrophe.” Today, more than 60% of Gaza’s population are refugees who were displaced from other parts of Palestine during this tumultuous period.
Gaza’s complex history includes its capture by Egypt during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and its subsequent occupation by Israel during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, alongside the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In 2005, Israel claimed to have withdrawn from Gaza, relocating Jewish settlers and soldiers to the occupied West Bank. However, in 2007, in response to the Hamas movement’s election victory, Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza, which, according to international law, amounts to an occupation.
Over the years, Israel has launched multiple invasions of Gaza, resulting in significant loss of life, primarily among civilians and children. These campaigns have caused extensive damage to homes, infrastructure, and essential services, including clean water and electricity.
A Humanitarian Crisis Unfolding
The blockade has created a dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, with residents facing shortages of clean water, electricity, and medical supplies. Nearly 97% of the drinking water in Gaza is contaminated, and frequent power outages persist due to damage inflicted during Israeli attacks.
Furthermore, nearly 60% of Palestinians in Gaza live in poverty, with youth unemployment at a staggering 63%. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) reports that years of conflict and blockade have left 80% of Gaza’s population dependent on international assistance.
Tensions Escalate Within Israel
As the conflict intensifies, Palestinian citizens of Israel are bracing themselves for reprisal attacks from ultranationalist Israelis. Right-wing Israeli groups have called on youths to mobilize in response to the shock assault by Hamas, leading to concerns about the safety and security of Palestinians living within Israel.
The predominantly Palestinian city of Rahat, located south of Jerusalem, has established an emergency committee to deal with potential attacks from extremist Israeli groups. The mayor of Rahat has urged citizens to avoid leaving the city except for essential reasons due to the ongoing incitement campaign.
As the conflict continues to unfold, the international community remains deeply concerned about the escalating violence, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and the safety of all civilians caught in the crossfire.