Civilian Casualty Rates Rise As Israel-Hamas Conflict Escalates On The Gaza Strip

Looking Back

Tensions between Israel & Palestine have existed since before Israel was founded in 1948. Over the past decades, civilians on both sides have been affected by military engagements by the Israeli Defence Forces & The Hamas group.

The armed conflict dates back as early as the 1987 First Palestinian Uprising against Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip & the West Bank.

Israel captured Gaza from Egypt in a 1967 war, then withdrew in 2005. The small territory — home to around 2 million Palestinians — then fell under Hamas’ control in 2007 after a brief civil war with Fatah, a rival Palestinian faction that is the backbone of the Palestinian Authority.

After Hamas took control of Gaza, Israel & Egypt imposed a strict siege on the territory, which is still ongoing. Israel also currently has an air & naval blockade on Gaza.

What Is Hamas?

Hamas is an Islamist organisation with a military wing that started in 1987. “Hamas” itself is an acronym, meaning Arabic for Islamic Resistance Movement.

The group, like most Palestinian factions & political parties, insists that Israel is an occupying power & that it's trying to liberate the Palestinian territories. It considers Israel to be an illegitimate state.

The group presents itself as an alternative to the Palestinian Authority (PA), which recognises Israel & has engaged in multiple failed peace initiatives with the state. The PA is led by Mahmoud Abbas today & is based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Hamas, meanwhile, controls the Gaza Strip. It’s an enclave that is home to some 2 million Palestinians & is frequently the site of Palestinian civilian casualties when conflict flares between militants & Israeli forces.

2021 Crisis

Since Hamas seized the Gaza Strip, Human Rights Watch has called the territory an “open-air prison.” More than half of its population lives in poverty & is food insecure. Additionally, nearly 80% of its population relies on humanitarian assistance.

Over the years, Hamas has claimed many attacks on Israel & has been considered as a terrorist organisation by the US, the EU, Israel & even by Palestinian civilians. Palestinians & Human Rights groups consider the Israel Defence Forces to be Israel’s counterpart to Hamas. This is due to their engagement in military offences which target Palestinian civilians.

Before Saturday’s operation, the last war between the 2 was in 2021, which consisted of rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas & Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

The conflict lasted for 11 days, killing at least 250 people in Gaza & 13 in Israel. It ended with a ceasefire deal being agreed upon between Israel & Hamas, with mediation from Egypt, Qatar, & the United Nations.

Saturday’s Attack

On Saturday, Hamas launched a large-scale surprise assault on Israel. They started by firing thousands of rockets towards Israeli towns.

They then broke through the heavily fortified border fence with Israel & sent around 1,000 militants deep into Israeli territory. Hamas gunmen killed around 900 people, including civilians & soldiers.

In response to the attack, Israel declared war & launched “Operation Swords of Iron,” striking suspected Hamas & Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza. The death toll in Gaza has reached 770 people, including 140 children. Israel also cut off food, water & electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip.

Targeting Civilians

The deaths from Saturday’s strike include 260 local & foreign civilians who were attending a Jewish music festival near the Gaza border.

The Hamas group also targeted civilians as hostages, taking families from their homes. They’re currently holding at least 150 Israeli hostages in Gaza, including elderly & children civilians, as well as high-ranking army officers.

Foreign nationals are also thought to be included in the number of hostages, with several countries including the United States & France looking into reports over missing persons in Israel.

Hamas has threatened to execute these hostages if Israeli air strikes continue "targeting" Gaza residents without warning.

Covering The Situation

The Israel & Palestine conflict is deeply rooted in history & background context. It’s important to recognise that media can never be fully unbiased, as details are left out & perspectives can be skewed.

It should be acknowledged that a single headline or news post won’t depict the full scope of this political unrest. FreeHour acknowledges that this post doesn’t paint a full picture of what has happened & what is currently happening either.

Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that there are civilian deaths on both sides & innocent lives are being lost. Before drawing conclusions or sharing information, it is essential to engage in self-education & examine the full context of the perspectives as objectively as possible.

Our Thoughts Go Out To The Innocent Lives Lost During This Conflict

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