The Gaza Siege and the Civilians Caught in the Crossfire

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Parts of Gaza have been reduced to rubble as the Israel Defense Force bombards the city (Image credit: CNN).

In recent hours, it was reported by the BBC that hundreds have been killed as a hospital was attacked in Gaza by a missile strike. Although Hamas states that the strike was an Israeli attack, the Israeli military claims a ‘rocket barrage’ was fired by the Islamic Jihad and that they are responsible for the deaths. Whether the attack was conducted by either of these parties is not currently certain and may begin to be confirmed in the coming days. 

Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with 2.3 million people living in a strip that is approximately the same size as Las Vegas. Hamas took control of the land in 2007, which has led to the area becoming a focal point of the conflict as well as an area at which the militant group sends and conducts attacks on Israel. As a result of this conflict, tens of thousands of casualties have been recorded, with 6407 Palestinian and 308 Israeli deaths from 2008 till September 2023. Israeli settlements of the West Bank, which have been characterized by the UN as a violation of International law have also further sparked tension as it has been labeled as ‘colonialism’ by Palestinian officials and members of the international community. 

Although tensions and attacks have occurred from both sides in the last two decades, one of the most notable outbreaks of conflict occurred in 2014. Regarded as the ‘Gaza War’ which was sparked as a result of a military operation being conducted in Gaza following the death and kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers. Over two thousand were killed with a large majority being Gazan Palestinian civilians. The conflict between the two parties, Israel and the militant group Hamas has often left many civilians in both countries killed, with both parties being accused of war crimes in their conflict. 

Furthermore, the current impacts in Gaza have had immediate impacts on the Palestinian people, raising concern from the international community. This was evident as a Gaza school where 4,000 were sheltering was hit during Israeli attacks, as well as the Israeli army ordering one million people from Northern Gaza to leave to the south within 24 hours. All electricity, water, as well as food, has also been cut to the territory which has been labeled as a war crime – a violation of the Geneva Convention clause preventing “intentionally starving a civilian population”. 

This response comes amidst Hamas’ catastrophic attacks which killed over a thousand Israelis, as it has been labeled the country’s ‘9/11’. Hamas has also been accused of using ‘human shields’ as tactics, such as placing themselves in hospitals, schools, and other civilian zones. Whether the safety of the Palestinians in Gaza can be guaranteed as a result is uncertain, with conflict escalating and Israel invading the territory and declaring war on Hamas.

Written by Arash Moaref

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