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Israel intensifies response to Hamas attack

(Photo courtesy of  BBC). “Picture of Gaza after bombing.”

Jonathan Hatem
Connector Contributor

Friday, October 13, Israel issued evacuation notices to 1.1 million Palestinians in Northern Gaza, as a part of Israel’s ongoing response to an October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas. Palestinians were given twenty-four hours to evacuate. 

On October 7, members of Hamas, a Palestinian militant organization that currently governs Gaza, orchestrated an attack on Israeli citizens at the Tribe of Nova music festival. As of October 13, over 1,300 Israelis have died due to this attack, with thousands more injured. 

Over 1,500 Palestinians have died due to Israel’s response to this attack, which has also included a declaration of war, bombings, and a blockade on water, food and electricity from entering Gaza.  

On the evacuation notice, Political Science Professor at UMass Lowell Dr. Jenifer Whitten-Woodring said, “It’s widely acknowledged, even by Israelis, that it is implausible that they will be able to evacuate.” Whitten-Woodring condemned the Hamas attack and said that Hamas would have expected this type of Israeli response. 

United States President Joseph Biden, alongside the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, have expressed their support for Israel as well as a condemnation of Hamas. Hamas is categorized as a terrorist organization by the U.S., European Union, Israel and several other countries. 

Political Science professor at UMass Lowell Dr. Adam Lerner said that an understanding of the history of Palestine-Israel relations is important for understanding what is going on right now. However, history does not justify what is happening right now. He condemned Hamas’ attack. 

Prior to World War I (WWI), the land was under the rule of the Ottoman empire. Between the end of WWI and 1948, the land was under the British Mandate. The idea of a Jewish state came out of the Zionist movement, which urged Jewish people part of the diaspora away from the Middle East to establish a Jewish homeland there. This movement was driven by the discrimination faced by Jewish people. This was accelerated by WWII and the 6 million Jewish people who were killed during it.

In 1947, the United Nations released a partition plan for the land of historic Palestine to be divided between Palestine and Israel. The plan contained an Arab state, a Jewish State and a shared city of Jerusalem. This plan was supported by Zionists but largely not supported by the people living in Palestine or other Arabic countries, according to Dr. Lerner. 

The implementation of the UN partition plan occurred in 1948. Histories of exactly what happened are contested. Israelis refer to the events as the “War for Independence”, with a following conflict named the “1948 Arab-Israeli War”. Palestinians refer to the events as “Nakba”, which means catastrophe in Arabic. Palestinians say they were removed from their land by force, while some supporters of Israel claim this land transfer was voluntary. 

Lerner said that Gaza has been under blockade since 2007 when Israeli citizens unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. Israelis had lived in Gaza since the end of 1967’s 6-day war. Israelis also occupied the Sinai Peninsula, West Bank and Golan Heights at that time. The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt in 1979, while the West Bank and Golan Heights are still occupied by Israelis. Current conditions in Gaza include high unemployment, poverty, and a low average age, said Lerner. 

According to Dr. Lerner, Palestinian citizens currently live in either Gaza or the West Bank. Both Palestinians and Israelis live in the West Bank. Only Palestinians live in Gaza, while Israelis live in the rest of historic Palestine.  

“Hamas has been in control of Gaza’s government since 2007”, said Lerner. Hamas came out of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist religious and political group founded in Egypt in 1927. Fatah, the party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, is in control of Palestine’s government in the West Bank. 

“Israel’s current government, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is one of the most right-leaning governments in the history of Israel”, said Lerner. Netanyahu’s party, LIKUD, contains both center-right and far-right members.  

Itamar Ben-Gvir, his Minister of National Security, is one of the members of Netanyahu’s government associated with Kahanism and the Kach party, although he is currently a member of the Jewish Power Party.  

Kahanism believes in the creation of an Israeli state in which all non-Jews would not have voting rights. The Kach party was created by the founder of Kahanism, Rabbi Meir Kahane. The Kach party is no longer allowed in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, said Lerner. 

Discussing the media coverage of this ongoing situation, Whitten-Woodring said journalists face unique challenges when covering ongoing situations, as opposed to specific events. Coverage began focused on the attack, but it has now widened to include the conditions that Israelis and Palestinians live in, Whitten-Woodring said. 

(Editors note: this article was been edited for proper quotation and fact correction. We apologize for the misquoted and any confusion. Edited in 10/17)

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