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Israel-Hamas War: The Unfolding of a Humanitarian Crisis

Written by Rheia Walia for the Middle-East Section.




What the world is seeing between Israel and Palestine today is the surfacing of years of tension between the two nations. In December, a Canadian/ Palestinian student was expelled for her remarks in supporting Hamas and their brutality (October 7th), asking them to 'do it again'.[1] On the other hand, Netanyahu, in response to the ceasefire, stated that they would continue the war. This article establishes that both sides are suffering and urges for more than a ceasefire.

On 7 October 2023, Hamas, a terrorist organisation, stormed Israel territory and killed 1, 200 Israelis, whilst taking an estimated 240 hostages.[2] Israel responded with a declaration of war against Hamas, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu swore to “eliminate Hamas and… bring back our hostages.”[3] With over 75 years of ongoing conflict between the two nations, the events on October 7th brought the tensions to head.

 

The Gaza Strip, a densely populated area of 2.2 million people, has since been battered by Israeli air strikes.[4] Over 14,000 Palestinians have been killed, and over a million Palestinian citizens displaced from their homes.

 

Francesca Albanese, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, stated that Israel’s response to the attack was in-proportionate.[5] The concern of many is the now unfolding humanitarian crisis in Gaza, with the World Health Organisation declaring a national emergency as the Palestinian people lack access to basic human needs such as food, water, and medicine.[6] This humanitarian crisis, according to international aid groups, is far from over and the need for intervention is unquestionable.[7]

 

The countless civilians killed in Gaza by Israeli Defence Forces have been criticised by many nations and has been condemned by Intergovernmental Organisations including the United Nations. With accusations that Israel is responsible for bombing Gazan hospitals, including Al Shifa hospital, claiming that Hamas was hiding in tunnels underneath, international criticism has been amplified. There has also been the introduction of Israeli militants in the hospital. [8] Under international law, the bombing of safe havens, including hospitals, is a war crime.[9]

 

With high death tolls and citizens caught in the crossfire, the four-day ceasefire and hostage-exchange deal announced on 22 November has been well-received by the international community. Israel and Palestine Director Omar Shakir highlights that “hostage-taking and blocking of life-saving aid are war crimes that are never justified. Human beings are not bargaining chips. Ceasefire or not, unlawful attacks should cease for once and for all”.[10] Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani of Qatar emphasised the need for “serious talks for a comprehensive and just peace process”. [11] On both sides of this war, the urge for bloodshed of both Israelis and Palestinians to stop is mounting.

 

However, this ceasefire is only a temporary measure, and many critics question whether this will be enough to end the crisis. Benjamin Netanyahu already declared that Israel is “at war and we’ll continue to be in the war”.[12]

 

What happens after the ceasefire, to the hostages and the Gazan civilians still enduring inhumane conditions, is the question that the world is waiting for to be answered: how much more innocent civilian blood be shed?







References


[1] Pallavi Kanugo, ‘Who is Sahar Shehadeh? Durham College student sparks outrage as she gives a shoutout to Hamas over 'historic' October 7 attacks’ (SKPOP, 23 November 2023)< https://www.sportskeeda.com/pop-culture/news-who-sahar-shehadeh-durham-college-student-sparks-outrage-gives-shoutout-hamas-historic-october-7-attacks> accessed on 1 February 2023.


[2] Canaan Lidor, ‘EU lawmakers host conference on Palestinian incitement in light of Oct. 7 massacre’ (Times of Israel 23rd November 2023) < https://www.timesofisrael.com/eu-lawmakers-host-conference-on-palestinian-incitement-in-light-of-oct-7-massacre/#:~:text=The%20October%207%20attacks%20saw,rape%2C%20and%20mutilation%20of%20others.> accessed 24th November 2023


[3] Nidal Al-Mughrabi, ‘Hamas command centre, weapons found at Gaza hospital, Israeli military says’ (Reuters 15th November 2023) < https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/israel-raids-gazas-al-shifa-hospital-2023-11-15/> accessed 24th November 2023

 

[4] BBC, ‘Gaza Strip in maps: Life in Gaza under siege’ (BBC 23rd November 2023) < https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20415675> accessed 24th November 2023

 

[5] Daniel Hurst, ‘Australia and other western governments ‘paralysed’ in repose to Gaza conflict, says UN expert’ (The Guardian 14th November 2023) < https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/nov/14/australia-and-other-western-governments-paralysed-in-response-to-gaza-conflict-says-un-expert> accessed 24th November 2023

 

[6] United Nations, ‘Humanitarian crisis in Gaza could get far worse, war a UN relief chief’ (UN News 17th November 2023) < https://news.un.org/en/story/2023/11/1143712> accessed 24th November 2023

 

[7] Neri Zilber and Andrew England, ‘A first step: what the Israel-Hamas hostage agreement means’ (Financial Times 22nd November 2023) < https://www.ft.com/content/7aaeb59c-457c-44f8-ba6b-0df9b0910be6> accessed 24th November 2023

 

[8] Al-Mughrabi (n 2).

 

[9] Aljazeera, ‘World reactions to Israel-Hamas truce’ (Aljazeera 22nd November 2023) < https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/11/22/reactions-to-israel-hamas-ceasefire-deal> accessed 24th November 2023.

 

[10] Ibid.

 

[11] Ibid.

 

[12] Zilber and England (n 6).


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