Fighting shows no signs of ending

PALESTINIANS walk by the buildings destroyed in the Israeli bombardment on al-Zahra on the outskirts of Gaza City on Oct. 20, 2023. / AP
PALESTINIANS walk by the buildings destroyed in the Israeli bombardment on al-Zahra on the outskirts of Gaza City on Oct. 20, 2023. / AP

JERUSALEM — Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024, marks 100 days that Israel and Hamas have been at war.

The war already is the longest and deadliest between Israel and the Palestinians since Israel’s establishment in 1948, and the fighting shows no signs of ending.

Israel declared war in response to Hamas’ unprecedented cross-border attack on Oct. 7 in which the Islamic militant group killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took 250 others hostage. It was the deadliest attack in Israel’s history and the deadliest for Jews since the Holocaust.

Israel responded with weeks of intense airstrikes in Gaza before expanding the operation into a ground offensive. It says its goal is to crush Hamas and win the release of the more than 100 hostages still held by the group.

The offensive has wrought unprecedented destruction upon Gaza. But more than three months later, Hamas remains largely intact and hostages remain in captivity. The Israeli military says the war will stretch on throughout 2024.

Here are five takeaways from the first 100 days of a conflict that has upended the region.

Israel will never be the same

The Oct. 7 attack blindsided Israel and shattered the nation’s faith in its leaders.

While the public has rallied behind the military’s war effort, it remains deeply traumatized. The country seems to be reliving Oct. 7 — when families were killed in their homes, partygoers gunned down at a music festival and children and older people abducted on motorcycles — every day.

Gaza will never be the same

Conditions before Oct. 7 were already difficult in Gaza after a stifling blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt following Hamas’ takeover in 2007. Today, the territory is unrecognizable.

Experts say the Israeli bombing is among the most intense in modern history. Gaza health authorities say the death toll already has eclipsed 23,000 people, roughly one percent of the Palestinian territory’s population. Thousands more remain missing or badly wounded. Over 80 percent of the population has been displaced, and tens of thousands of people are now crammed into sprawling tent camps on small slivers of space in southern Gaza that also come under Israeli fire.

It’s all connected

The war has rippled across the entire Middle East, threatening to escalate into a broader conflict pitting a US-led alliance against Iranian-backed militant groups.

Almost immediately after the Hamas attack, Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants in Lebanon began striking Israel, triggering Israeli retaliatory attacks.

At the same time, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have carried out a series of attacks on civilian cargo ships in the Red Sea. Meanwhile, Iranian-backed militias have attacked US forces in Iraq and Syria.

Israel can’t ignore the Palestinians

Throughout his time in office, President Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly attempted to sideline the Palestinian issue.

He has rejected various peace initiatives, dismissed the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority as weak or irrelevant, and promoted policies that left Palestinians divided between rival governments in Gaza and the West Bank.

Instead, he has tried to normalize relations with other Arab countries in hopes of isolating the Palestinians and pressuring them to accept an arrangement that falls short of their dreams of independence. Just before Oct. 7, Netanyahu was boasting of efforts to forge ties with Saudi Arabia.

There’s no postwar plan

As the war drags on and the death toll mounts, there is no clear path for when the fighting will end or what will follow.

Israel says Hamas can play no part in Gaza’s future. Hamas says that’s an illusion.

The US and the international community want a revitalized Palestinian Authority to govern Gaza, and steps toward a two-state solution. Israel objects.

Israel wants to maintain a long-term military presence in Gaza. The US does not want Israel to reoccupy the territory.

Reconstruction will take years. It is unclear who will pay for it or how the required materials will enter the territory through its limited crossings. And with so many homes destroyed, where will people stay during this lengthy process?


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