Israel–Hamas war

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Israel–Hamas war
Part of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict
Map of the Gaza Strip and part of Israel. The part of Israel surrounding the Strip is marked as evacuated. Some parts of the Strip is marked as under Israeli control, and the remainder is marked as under Hamas control.
  Gaza Strip under Palestinian control
  Claimed extent of Israeli invasion of Gaza
  Evacuated areas inside Israel
  Maximum extent of the Gazan invasion of Israel
  Area of Gaza subject to Israeli evacuation orders



See here for a more detailed map.

See here for a list of engagements.
Date7 October 2023 – present
(6 months, 2 weeks and 1 day)
Location
Status Ongoing
Belligerents

 Israel
Commanders and leaders
Units involved

State of Palestine Joint Operations Room[3]

Armed groups:

Other theaters:
 Israel Defense Forces
Specific units:

Israel Police[75]
Israel Shin Bet[76][77]
Mossad[78]
Strength
Hamas 25,000–40,000+[79][80] Israel 529,500[b]
Casualties and losses

Gaza Strip:

Inside Israel:[g]

  • 1,609 militants killed[93]
  • 200+ militants captured[94]

Other theaters:

Per Israel:


Per Hamas:

  • 1,600+ soldiers killed[134]
  • 1,900,000 Palestinians displaced in Gaza Strip[r]
  • 200,000–500,000 Israelis displaced[136][137]

Other theaters:
  • 76,000 people displaced in Lebanon[138]
    7 border guards[139] and 6 civilians[140] injured in Egypt

An armed conflict between Israel and Hamas-led Palestinian militant groups[s] has been taking place chiefly in and around the Gaza Strip since 7 October 2023. It began when Hamas launched a surprise attack on southern Israel from the Gaza Strip. After clearing the militants from its territory, the Israeli military embarked on an extensive aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip followed by a large-scale ground invasion beginning on 27 October. Clashes have also occurred in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and with Hezbollah along the Israel–Lebanon border. The fifth war of the Gaza–Israel conflict since 2008, it is part of the broader Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and the most significant military escalation in the region since the Yom Kippur War 50 years earlier.[141]

The Hamas-led attack on 7 October involved a barrage of several thousand rockets directed at Israel concurrent to an estimated 3,000 militants breaching the Gaza–Israel barrier and attacking Israeli military bases and civilian communities. During this attack, 1,139 Israelis and foreign nationals including 766 civilians and 373 security personnel were killed,[t] while 253 Israelis and foreigners were taken captive to the Gaza Strip. The attack has been described as a major Israeli intelligence failure.[142] Hamas said its attack was in response to the continued Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, the blockade of the Gaza Strip, the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, threats to the status of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the plight of Palestinian refugees and prisoners.[143][144][145][146][147] In response, Israel declared a state of war, tightened its blockade and launched one of the most severe bombing campaigns in modern history, before commencing the ground invasion on 27 October with the stated objective of destroying Hamas and controlling the Gaza Strip.[148]

Since the start of the Israeli operation, more than 34,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed,[83] including over 14,000 children and 9,000 women.[84][85] Several thousand more are missing and presumed trapped under rubble.[149][150] Nearly all of the strip's 2.3 million population has been internally displaced.[151] Israel's tightened blockade cut off food, water and medicine, and its attacks on infrastructure have led to a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, including a collapse of the healthcare system and an ongoing famine, leading to accusations that Israel is using starvation as a weapon of war.[152][153][154] By early 2024, Israeli forces had destroyed more than half of Gaza's houses,[155] at least a third of its tree cover and farmland,[156][157] hundreds of cultural landmarks,[158] and dozens of cemeteries.[159] Israel's ground invasion started on 27 October, focusing initially on northern Gaza, including Gaza City. After the expiration of a seven-day truce which involved the release of dozens of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners, Israel moved south to attack Khan Yunis on 3 December. By January 2024, Israel reoccupied most of northern Gaza.[160][161][162] Israel's next stated objective is a major offensive in Rafah, despite objections from the international community. Israeli forces claim to have killed an estimated 9,000 Palestinian militants during the conflict[163] while the latter killed over 250 Israeli soldiers.[164]

The war has had significant international repercussions. Large protests have occurred across the world, primarily pro-Palestinian ones calling for a ceasefire and an end to the Israeli occupation. Israel's actions have been denounced in the Islamic world and much of the Global South. In December 2023, South Africa launched proceedings at the International Court of Justice alleging that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza. Israel has received significant support from its traditional Western allies, most notably the United States, which has provided Israel extensive military aid throughout the war and has vetoed multiple UN Security Council resolutions calling for an immediate ceasefire.[165] In response, Iran-backed militias have attacked American military bases in the Middle East, while the Yemeni Houthi movement attacked commercial ships they alleged were linked to Israel in a stated effort to end the war, incurring a military response from a number of countries led by the United States.[166][167]

Background

Rockets fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip, 2001–2021[168]
A bar chart from 2008 to before October 2023. 6,407 Palestinians have been killed during this time frame, while a smaller 308 Israelis have been killed.
Israeli and Palestinian deaths preceding the war before the 2023 Hamas-led attack on Israel. Most were civilians.[169][170]

In 1967, following the Six-Day War fought between Israel and a coalition of Arab states (primarily Egypt, Syria, and Jordan), Israel occupied the Palestinian territories, including the Gaza Strip which had formerly been occupied by Egypt. A process of Arab-Israeli normalization began in the 1970s, with the fourth and final war between Arab states and Israel ending in 1973 and an Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty signed in 1979.[171] In 1987, the First Intifada, a popular uprising by the Palestinians against the Israeli occupation, began.[172] The conflict lasted five years and ended with the Oslo Accords, creating the Palestinian National Authority and dividing the West Bank into three administrative areas.[173] Following the failure of the subsequent peace talks at the Camp David Summits in 2000,[174] violence once again escalated during the Second Intifada, which ended with the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit and Israel's military withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and subsequent blockade.[175][176]

Hamas, an Islamist militant group, won the 2006 Palestinian legislative election and a subsequent battle in the Gaza Strip between it and Fatah, which led to Hamas taking over governance of Gaza, and further escalating tensions with Israel.[177][178] Israel, along with Egypt, imposed a blockade that significantly damaged Gaza's economy, citing security concerns as the justification.[179] International rights groups have characterized the blockade as a form of collective punishment,[180][181] while Israel defended it as necessary to prevent weapons and dual-use goods from entering the territory.[182][183] The Palestinian Authority has not held national elections since 2006.[179][184]

Since the imposition of the blockade, Israel has been involved in numerous military confrontations with Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups in Gaza.[179][185][186] There have been four previous major hostilities between Israel and Hamas: in 2008–2009, 2012, 2014, and 2021.[187][188] Hamas's tactics included tunnel warfare and firing rockets into Israeli territory, whereas Israel generally conducted airstrikes in Gaza.[186] Israel also conducted ground invasions of Gaza in the 2008–2009 and 2014 wars.[189] In 2018–2019, there were weekly organized protests near the Gaza-Israel border involving thousands of Gazan participants.[190][191] Surveys in 2023 of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank before the war indicated that a majority supported the use of "armed struggle", the creation of "militant groups", and an intifada ("uprising") against the Israeli occupation.[192][193]The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported roughly 6,400 Palestinians and 300 Israelis were killed in the wider Israeli–Palestinian conflict from 2008 through September 2023 before the start of this war.[194][169][170]

The Gaza Strip's economy declined greatly due to the blockade, with a 30% drop in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) within a year. By 2015, the unemployment rate had risen to 45% (compared to the pre-blockade level of 10%).[195] In 2023, UNRWA statistics for Gaza reported 81% of people living below the poverty level, and 63% being food insecure and dependent on international assistance.[170] [196] According to an analysis in The Independent, the Gaza blockade created hopelessness among Palestinians, which was exploited by Hamas, convincing young Palestinian men that violence was their only solution.[197] Daoud Kuttab wrote that Palestinian attempts to solve the conflict via negotiations or non-violent boycotts have been fruitless.[198]

Hamas has been designated as a terrorist organization by a number of states and regional blocs, particularly Israel's Western allies including the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and the European Union.[199][200][141][201] Other UNSC permanent members including China[202] and Russia do not regard Hamas as a terrorist organization.[203][204][205] A 2018 attempt to condemn Hamas for "acts of terror" at the United Nations failed to achieve the two-thirds majority requirement set in place for the vote, with 87 votes in favor, 58 votes against, 32 abstentions and 16 non-votes.[206]

In February–March 2021, Fatah and Hamas reached agreement to jointly conduct elections for a new Palestinian legislative assembly, in accordance with the Oslo Accords. Hamas committed to upholding international law, transferring control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority and to allowing it to negotiate with Israel to establish a Palestinian state along the 1967 ceasefire lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital. According to Menachem Klein, Israeli Arabist and political scientist at Bar-Ilan University, Mahmoud Abbas subsequently cancelled the elections under pressure from Israel and the United States.[207] Soon after the 2021 Israel–Palestine crisis exploded, the Al-Qassam Brigades started planning the 7 October 2023 operation.[207][208]

Hamas motivations

Hamas officials said shortly following the attack that it was a response to the Israeli occupation, blockade of the Gaza Strip, Israeli settler violence against Palestinians, restrictions on the movement of Palestinians, and imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians.[143][144][145]

Mohammad Deif, the head of Hamas's military wing, the Qassam Brigades, said in a recorded message on 7 October that it was in response to what he called the "desecration" of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and Israel killing and wounding hundreds of Palestinians in 2023.[209] He called on Palestinians and Arab Israelis to "expel the occupiers and demolish the walls".[209][210] Deif also called on "Muslims everywhere to launch an attack."[211] He said, "in light of the continuing crimes against our people, in light of the orgy of occupation and its denial of international laws and resolutions, and in light of American and western [sic] support, we've decided to put an end to all this, so that the enemy understands that he can no longer revel without being held to account."[212][213]

The long-term goals of Hamas are disputed. Hamas has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel, notably in its 1988 charter.[214][u] Some commentators have argued that Hamas is antisemitic and "genocidal".[215] In 2017, Hamas replaced its old charter with a new one that removed antisemitic language and stated that its struggle was with Zionists, not Jews.[216][217][218][219] The 2017 charter accepts the idea of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.[220] However, the new charter indicates that Hamas will accept the peace agreements only provisionally, without relinquishing a claim to the entirety of Palestine nor recognizing Israel.[221][215] The attack was also seen as a resolution of internal tensions within Hamas as to whether the group's main goal is governing the Gaza Strip or fighting against Israel.[222]

Experts consider the disruption of Israel-Arab diplomacy and the desire to assert its presence as a significant security and political force likely motives.[223] In addition, internal strife in Israeli society caused by protests against the judicial reform encouraged Hamas to go ahead with its attack.[224][225]

On 21 January 2024, Hamas released an 18-page English-language document reiterating its previously stated rationales and framing the attack in a wider context as a struggle against colonialism, describing its actions as "a necessary step and a normal response to confront all Israeli conspiracies against the Palestinian people".[226][227] It said that "maybe some faults happened" during the attacks "due to the rapid collapse of the Israeli security and military system, and the chaos caused along the border areas with Gaza" and that "[if] there was any case of targeting civilians it happened accidentally".[228][226] The timing of the release raised questions; sources in Gaza, including those aligned with Hamas, told Haaretz that the document was designed to contend with criticism of the heavy price Gazans have paid for the attacks on Israel.[229][230]

Israeli policy

Benjamin Netanyahu has been Israel's prime minister for nearly the entire 15 year period preceding the war, with the exception of the 18 months from June 2021 to January 2023 when Naftali Bennett and later Yair Lapid took office.[231]

Numerous commentators have identified the broader context of Israeli occupation as a cause of the war.[232][233][234][235][236] The Associated Press wrote that Palestinians are "in despair over a never-ending occupation in the West Bank and suffocating blockade of Gaza".[237] Several human rights organizations, including Amnesty International,[238] B'Tselem[239] and Human Rights Watch[240] have likened the Israeli occupation to apartheid, although supporters of Israel dispute this characterization.[241][242]

The Netanyahu government has been criticized for having championed a policy of empowering the Hamas government in Gaza by, for instance, granting work permits to Gazan residents, facilitating the transfer of funds to Hamas and maintaining relative calm.[243][244][245] By the conclusion of Netanyahu's fifth government in 2021, the issuance of work permits to Gazans reached approximately 2,000–3,000. Later, under the Bennett-Lapid government, this number significantly increased to 10,000,[243] and since Netanyahu's return to power in 2023 the number rose again to 20,000.[243] These workers were accused of spying on Israel and being complicit in the October 7 attack.[246][247][248] After the attack, the Israeli war cabinet granted additional 8,000 work permits to West Bank residents, despite concerns about their vetting and potential security risks.[246]

In addition to granting workers permits, millions of dollars from Qatar have been transported into Gaza, escorted by Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, intended for Gaza's power plant, infrastructure projects and monthly stipends for impoverished Palestinian families, while Israeli officials were aware that Hamas might divert the funds to acquire weapons and rockets.[249][244]

These strategies towards Hamas have been criticized as having backfired in light of the attacks on 7 October 2023.[245] Critics, including human-rights activists and aid organizations, cautioned that such policies may have strengthened Hamas's power in Gaza while weakening Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, thus sabotaging a two-state solution.[250][245] This criticism has been echoed by several Israeli officials, including former prime minister Ehud Barak and former head of the Shin Bet internal security service Yuval Diskin.[250] The Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia were also critical of Netanyahu's government allowing Qatar to deliver suitcases of money to Hamas[250] in exchange for maintaining the ceasefire.[243] Netanyahu's strategy towards the Palestinian issue has been described as that of "divide-and-conquer".[251][252] A Times of Israel op-ed argued after the Hamas attack that Netanyahu's policy to treat the Palestinian Authority as a burden and Hamas as an asset had "blown up in our faces".[243] Netanyahu himself has criticized opinions on his responsibility for the 7 October attacks, stating "Did people ask Franklin Roosevelt, after Pearl Harbor, that question? Did people ask George Bush after the surprise attack of November [sic] 11?" referring to the 11 September 2001 terror attacks.[253]

2023 Israeli-Palestinian escalation

Over the course of 2023, before the October 7 attack, 32 Israelis and two foreign nationals had been killed in Palestinian attacks, while at least 247 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli forces.[254] Increases in settler attacks had displaced hundreds of Palestinians, and there were clashes around the Al-Aqsa Mosque which sits on the Temple Mount, a contested holy site in Jerusalem.[255]

In August 2023, 1,264 Palestinians were held in administrative detention in Israel, without charge or trial, the highest number in three decades.[256][257] Israel says this tactic is necessary to contain dangerous militants.[256]

Tensions between Israel and Hamas rose in September 2023, and the Washington Post described the two "on the brink of war".[258] Israel found explosives hidden in a shipment of jeans and halted all exports from Gaza.[258] In response, Hamas put its forces on high alert, and conducted military exercises with other groups, including openly practicing storming Israeli settlements.[258] Hamas also allowed Palestinians to resume protests at the Gaza–Israel barrier.[258] On 13 September, five Palestinians were killed at the border. According to the Washington Post, the Palestinians were attempting to detonate an explosive device.[258] Al-Jazeera reported that a Palestinian Explosives Engineering Unit was working to deactivate the device.[259] On 29 September, Qatar, the UN, and Egypt mediated an agreement between Israel and Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip to reopen closed crossing points and deescalate tensions.[260][261]

Simon Tisdall argues that an uptick in Israeli–Palestinian violence in the West Bank in the first half of 2023 had portended war,[262] and stated that Netanyahu's "refusal to contemplate any type of peace process" added "fuel to the smouldering fire" in the context of "the relentless expansion of illegal Israeli settlements".[262] Prior to the attack, Saudi Arabia warned Israel of an "explosion" as a result of the continued occupation,[263] Egypt had warned of a catastrophe unless there was political progress,[198] and similar warnings were given by Palestinian Authority officials.[198] Two months before the attacks, King Abdullah II of Jordan commented that Palestinians have "no civil rights; no freedom of mobility".[198]

Israeli intelligence failure

Israeli intelligence officials initially stated that they had no warnings or indications of the 7 October attack by Hamas, despite Israel exercising extensive monitoring over Gaza.[264] Furthermore, the United States warned the Israeli government of the possibility of a surprise attack from Hamas a few days before the incident.[265] Egypt said it warned Israel days before the attack, "an explosion of the situation is coming, and very soon, and it would be big".[266] Israel denied receiving such a warning,[267] but the Egyptian statement was corroborated by Michael McCaul, Chairman of the US House Foreign Relations Committee, who said warnings were made three days before the attack.[268]

According to the New York Times, Israeli officials had obtained detailed attack plans more than a year prior to the actual attack. The document described operational plans and targets, including the size and location of Israeli forces, and raised questions in Israel as to how Hamas was able to learn these details. The document provided a plan that included a large scale rocket assault prior to an invasion, drones to knock out the surveillance cameras and gun turrets that Israel has deployed along the border, and gunmen invading Israel, including with paragliders. The Times reported that "Hamas followed the blueprint with shocking precision". According to the Times, the document was circulating among the Israeli military and intelligence leadership, who largely dismissed the plan as being beyond Hamas's capabilities, though it was unclear if the political leadership was informed. In July 2023, a member of the Israeli signals intelligence unit alerted her superiors that Hamas was conducting preparations for the assault, saying that "I utterly refute that the scenario is imaginary". An Israeli colonel ignored her concerns.[142] According to the Financial Times, alerts from the signals unit were ignored because they came from lower-ranking soldiers, contradicted the belief that Hamas was contained by Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, bombing, and placation via aid, and the belief that Hamas was seeking to avoid a full war.[269][270]

Israel–Saudi normalization talks

At the time of the attack, Israel and Saudi Arabia were conducting negotiations to normalize relations. Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman said normalization was "for the first time real".[271] According to US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the aim of the 7 October attacks was to disrupt the normalization talks.[272] According to Menachem Klein, Israeli normalization with other Middle Eastern states, including Saudi Arabia, threatened to leave the Palestinians "isolated and weak".[207]

As of 7 February 2024, Saudi Arabia confirmed that diplomatic relations with Israel requires an independent Palestinian state on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.[273]

Events

7 October attack

Approximate situation on 7–8 October
Footage of Israeli soldiers securing the area after the Re'im music festival massacre

The attack took place during the Jewish holidays of Simchat Torah and Shemini Atzeret on Shabbat,[274] and one day after the 50th anniversary of the start of the Yom Kippur War, which also began with a surprise attack.[275] At around 6:30 a.m. IDT (UTC+3) on 7 October 2023,[254] Hamas announced the start of what it called "Operation Al-Aqsa Flood", stating it had fired over 5,000 rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel within a span of 20 minutes. Israeli sources reported that at least 3,000 projectiles had been launched from Gaza. At least five people were killed by the rocket attacks.[276][277][278] Explosions were reported in areas surrounding the strip and in cities in the Sharon Plain including Gedera, Herzliyya,[279] Tel Aviv, and Ashkelon.[280] Air raid sirens were activated in Beer Sheva, Jerusalem, Rehovot, Rishon Lezion, and Palmachim Airbase.[281] Hamas issued a call to arms, with commander Mohammad Deif calling on "Muslims everywhere to launch an attack" and to "kill them [the enemy] wherever you may find them".[282][278]

Hamas employed tactics such as using aerial drones to disable Israeli observation posts, paragliders for infiltration into Israel, and motorcycles, which was unusual for Hamas.[283] Palestinian militants opened fire on Israeli boats, while clashes broke out between Palestinians and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) along the Gaza perimeter fence.[281] In the evening, Hamas launched another barrage of 150 rockets towards Israel, with explosions reported in Yavne, Givatayim, Bat Yam, Beit Dagan, Tel Aviv, and Rishon Lezion.[277]

Simultaneously, around 3,000 Hamas militants[284] infiltrated Israel from Gaza using trucks, pickup trucks, motorcycles, bulldozers, speedboats, and paragliders.[275][254][271] They took over checkpoints at Kerem Shalom and Erez, and created openings in the border fence in five other places.[285] Images and videos showed armed and masked militants, riding pickup trucks[280][286] and opening fire in Sderot. Other videos display Israelis taken prisoner, a burning Israeli tank,[287][278] and militants driving IDF vehicles.[280]

Hamas has also stated that its attack was in response to the blockade of the Gaza Strip, the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, rising Israeli settler violence and recent escalations at Al-Aqsa.[143][144][145] Intelligence and security officials from multiple Western countries say that Hamas initiated the war to create a "permanent" state of war and to revive interest in the Palestinian cause.[288][289]

Military base attacks

Hamas militants carried out an amphibious landing in Zikim.[280][290] A military base near Nahal Oz was also taken by the militants, leaving at least two Israeli soldiers dead and six others captured. The IDF said it killed two attackers on the beach and destroyed four vessels, including two rubber boats.[291] Fighting was reported at Re'im military base, headquarters of Israel's Gaza Division.[292] It was later reported that Hamas took control of the base and took several Israeli soldiers captive,[292] before the IDF regained control later in the day.[293] The police station of Sderot came under Hamas control, with militants killing 30 Israelis, including policemen and civilians.[294] At least six IDF bases near the Gaza border were attacked.[295]

Towns and rural communities

Satellite view of widespread fires in Israeli areas surrounding the Gaza Strip on 7 October 2023[279]
Caked blood on the floor inside a house
A blood-stained home floor in the aftermath of the Nahal Oz attack in Nahal Oz, Israel

Militants killed civilians at Nir Oz,[286] Be'eri, and Netiv HaAsara, and other agricultural communities, where they took hostages[296] and set fire to homes.[279] This resulted in widespread fires and smoke across the region.[279] 52 civilians were killed in the Kfar Aza massacre, 108 in the Be'eri massacre (a loss of 10% of the kibbutz's population) and 15 in the Netiv HaAsara massacre,[297][298][299] in what has been described as the bloodiest day in Israel's history and the worst single-day massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.[299] In Sderot, gunmen targeted civilians and set houses ablaze. In Ofakim, hostages were taken during Hamas's deepest incursion.[300][299] Hamas said it took prisoners to force Israel to release Palestinian prisoners.[301] In Be'eri, Hamas militants took up to 50 people hostage.[302] Videos showed hostages being led barefoot across a street in the town.[303] At least 325 people were killed and more injured at an outdoor music festival near Re'im and Hamas took at least 37 attendees hostage.[304][305][306][307] Witnesses recounted militants on motorcycles opening fire on participants who were already fleeing due to rocket fire.[308][309] Graeme Wood reported that the video footage retrieved from the body cameras of Hamas militants displayed several victims "in the beginning of the footage they are alive, by the end they're dead. Sometimes, in fact frequently, after their death their bodies are still being desecrated".[310] Israeli authorities screened bodycam footage of Hamas atrocities for journalists, which included an attempt to decapitate someone and a still image of a decapitated IDF soldier.[311][312]

Around 240 people were taken hostage during the attacks, mostly civilians.[302][313] Captives in Gaza include children, festivalgoers, peace activists, caregivers, elderly people, and soldiers.[314]

An Israeli spokesman said militants had entered Israel through at least seven locations from both land and sea,[275] and invaded four small rural Israeli communities, the border city of Sderot, and two military bases.[271] Israeli media reported that seven communities came under Hamas control, including Nahal Oz, Kfar Aza, Magen, Be'eri, and Sufa,[315] and there were 21 active high-confrontation locations in southern Israel.[316]

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority denied the massacre, stating that Israeli helicopters and fighter jets were behind the high number of casualties.[317][318] An Israeli Police investigation stated that the first helicopters at the scene arrived hours after the massacre began, and that they were likely responsible for only a few friendly fire casualties.[317][304]

In Be'eri, an Israeli tank fired on a house known to contain around 40 Hamas fighters and 14 hostages, among them two children; only one of the hostages in the house survived.[319][320] The families of those killed demanded an investigation.[321] A Ynet article stated that there was an "immense and complex quantity" of friendly-fire incidents during the 7 October attack that "it would not be morally sound to investigate" given their number and the challenges soldiers were facing at the time.[322][323] In January 2024, an investigation by Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth concluded that the IDF had in practice applied the Hannibal Directive, ordering all combat units to stop "at all costs" any attempt by Hamas terrorists to return to Gaza, even if there were hostages with them.[324][325] It is unclear how many hostages were killed by friendly fire as a result of the order.[324][325]

Initial Israeli counter-operation (7–27 October)

Two buildings are enveloped in clouds of black smoke with one damaged and falling.
Destruction of a residential building in Gaza by an Israeli airstrike
Aftermath of a Hamas rocket hit on the maternity ward of Barzilai Medical Center, a hospital in Ashkelon, Israel, on 8 October 2023[326]
A severely-damaged building, looking as if it were a cross-section. In front is a burned car partially submerged in murky brown water.
Remains of the Sderot police station, following recapture by IDF
The Israeli General Staff confers during a meeting on 8 October 2023

After the initial breach of the Gaza perimeter by Palestinian militants, it took hours for the IDF to start its counter-attack.[327] The first helicopters sent to support the military were launched from the north of Israel, and arrived at the Gaza Strip an hour after fighting began.[305] They immediately encountered difficulty in determining which outposts and communities were occupied, and distinguishing between Palestinian militants and the soldiers and civilians on the ground.[305] The helicopter crews initially sustained a high rate of fire, attacking approximately 300 targets in 4 hours. Later on the crews began to slow down the attacks and carefully select targets.[305] According to Haaretz's journalist Josh Breiner, a police source said that a police investigation indicated an IDF helicopter which had fired on Hamas militants "apparently also hit some festival participants" in Re'im music festival massacre.[304] The Israeli police denied the Haaretz report.[328]

A subsequent Israeli investigation claimed that militants had been instructed not to run so that the air force would think they were Israelis.[305] This deception worked for some time, but pilots began to realize the problem and ignore their restrictions. By around 9:00 am, amid the chaos and confusion, some helicopters started laying down fire without prior authorization.[305]

The attack appeared to have been a complete surprise to the Israelis.[329] Prime Minister Netanyahu convened an emergency gathering of security authorities, and the IDF launched Operation Swords of Iron in the Gaza Strip.[330][277] In a televised broadcast, Netanyahu said, "We are at war".[271] He threatened to "turn all the places where Hamas is organized and hiding into cities of ruins", called Gaza "the city of evil", and urged its residents to leave.[331][143] Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant conducted security assessments at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv.[286][280] Overnight, Israel's Security Cabinet voted to act to bring about the "destruction of the military and governmental capabilities of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad".[332] The Israel Electric Corporation, which supplies 80% of the Gaza Strip's electricity, cut off power to the area.[280] This reduced Gaza's power supply from 120 MW to 20 MW, provided by power plants paid for by the Palestinian Authority.[333]

The IDF declared a "state of readiness for war",[277] mobilized tens of thousands of army reservists,[254][280] and declared a state of emergency for areas within 80 kilometers (50 mi) of Gaza.[315] The Yamam counterterrorism unit was deployed,[316] along with four new divisions, augmenting 31 existing battalions.[275] Reservists were reported deployed in Gaza, in the West Bank, and along borders with Lebanon and Syria.[334]

Residents near Gaza were asked to stay inside, while civilians in southern and central Israel were "required to stay next to shelters".[280] The southern region of Israel was closed to civilian movement,[316] and roads were closed around Gaza[275] and Tel Aviv.[280] While Ben Gurion Airport and Ramon Airport remained operational, multiple airlines cancelled flights to and from Israel.[335] Israel Railways suspended service in parts of the country and replaced some routes with temporary bus routes,[336][337] while cruise ships removed the ports of Ashdod and Haifa from their itineraries.[338]

Israeli blockade and bombardment

Building in the Gaza Strip being destroyed by Israeli missiles
Aftermath of an Israeli airstrike on the El-Remal area of Gaza City, 9 October 2023
Approximate situation on 9 October

Following the surprise attack, the Israeli Air Force conducted airstrikes that they said targeted Hamas compounds, command centers, tunnels, and other targets.[277][315][339] Israel employed its artificial intelligence Habsora ("The Gospel") software with a new and superior capacity to automatically generate targets to be attacked.[340][341] Two days after the surprise attack, Israel said that 426 Hamas targets had been hit, including destroying Beit Hanoun, homes of Hamas officials, a mosque, and an internet hub.[339][342][343][344] Israel also rescued two hostages before declaring a state of war for the first time since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.[345][346] Defense Minister Gallant announced a "total" blockade of the Gaza Strip, cutting off electricity and blocking the entry of food and fuel, adding "We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly".[347] This drew criticism from Human Rights Watch who described the order as "abhorrent" and as a "call to commit a war crime".[348] The first aid convoy after the start of the war entered Gaza on 21 October 2023,[349] while fuel entered Gaza only in November.[350]

The IDF later deployed C-130 and C-130J transport aircraft to retrieve off-duty personnel from abroad.[351]

As a part of a bombing run targeting Hamas command centers and weapon caches, the IDF stated that it had bombed the Nukhba forces—a Hamas special forces unit that is thought to have led the attack on Israel.[352]

Human Rights Watch accused Israel of using white phosphorus munitions over Gaza on 10 and 11 October, stating that it violated international law.[353] Israel denied the allegations.[354]

Evacuation of Northern Gaza

Almost a week after the initial attack on Israel, on 13 October, the IDF issued an evacuation warning for communities north of the Wadi Gaza. All Palestinians in that region, including those in Gaza City, were given 24 hours to evacuate to the south. The Hamas Authority for Refugee Affairs responded by telling residents in northern Gaza to "remain steadfast in your homes and stand firm in the face of this disgusting psychological war waged by the occupation".[355]

The statement by Israel faced widespread backlash; with numerous agencies, such as Doctors Without Borders, the World Health Organization, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, among others, condemning the order as "outrageous" and "impossible" while calling for an immediate reversal of the order.[356][357][358][359]

As a part of the order, the IDF announced a six-hour window from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time on 13 October, for refugees to flee south along specified routes within the Gaza Strip.[360] An explosion at 5:30 p.m. along one of the safe routes killed 70 people.[361] Some sources attributed it to an IDF airstrike, while CNN said the cause was unclear. The Jerusalem Post said open-source analysts believed the explosion originated from a car on the ground, but the cause was unclear.[362][363] The Financial Times carried out an investigation, concluding "analysis of the video footage rules out most explanations aside from an Israeli strike", although it was "difficult to conclusively prove whether these blasts came from an IDF strike, a potential Palestinian rocket misfire or even a car bomb".[364]

The IDF stated Hamas set up roadblocks to keep Gaza residents from evacuating south and caused traffic jams.[365] Israeli officials stated this was done to use civilians as "human shields", which Hamas denied.[366] A number of countries and international organizations condemned what they called Hamas's use of hospitals and civilians as human shields.[367][368][369][370]

According to an unnamed Israeli official, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar left Gaza City using a vehicle associated with a humanitarian relief mission.[371]

17 October

A man carries the body of a Palestinian child killed during the shelling of 17 October 2023

On 17 October, Israel bombed in areas of southern Gaza.[372] Ministry of Health officials in Gaza reported heavy overnight bombing killing over 70 people, including families who had evacuated from Gaza City in the north.[373] One of the airstrikes killed a senior Hamas military commander Ayman Nofal.[374] In the afternoon, an Israeli strike hit a UNRWA school in the Al-Maghazi refugee camp, killing six and injuring 12.[375]

A bloodied child on the floor of a hospital being treated by a nurse. A man with his head wrapped in a bandage wearing blood-stained clothes lays on the floor nearby.
Wounded child and man receive treatment on the floor at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City

Late in the evening, an explosion occurred in the parking lot of the Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist Hospital in the center of Gaza City, killing hundreds. The cause of the explosion was disputed by Hamas and the IDF, and the ongoing conflict prevented independent on-site analysis.[376] Palestinian statements that it was an Israeli airstrike were denied by the IDF, which stated that the explosion resulted from a failed rocket launch by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.[377] The PIJ denied any involvement.[378][379] An independent analysis by Human Rights Watch indicated that the evidence pointed to a misfired Palestinian rocket as the cause, but stated that further investigation was required.[380]

On 18 October, President Biden said the Pentagon had independently concluded that the explosion was not caused by Israel, but by "the other team", based on data from the Defense Department.[381] Over the next few days, Canadian, British, and French officials announced that their respective intelligence agencies concluded the cause to be a failed Palestinian rocket and not an Israeli airstrike.[382][383][384] In its article dated 2 November, CNN stated that multiple experts said "they believe this to be the most likely scenario – although they caution the absence of munition remnants or shrapnel from the scene made it difficult to be sure. All agreed that the available images of evidence of the damage at the site was not consistent with an Israeli airstrike."[385]

Invasion of the Gaza Strip until the truce (27 October – 24 November)

Men in desert-brown fatigues walk towards rows of tanks. All of them have backpacks, and some have firearms.
Israeli soldiers preparing for the ground invasion of the Gaza Strip on 29 October

On 27 October, the IDF launched a large-scale, multi-pronged ground incursion into parts northern Gaza. The IDF was building up a force of over 100,000 soldiers in the cities of Ashkelon, Sderot and Kiryat Gat. Clashes between Hamas and the IDF were reported near Beit Hanoun and Bureij.[386] The Israeli invasion of Gaza was confirmed after Israel said its units were still in Gaza the next day.[387] Hamas leader Ali Baraka said the invading Israeli forces suffered heavy casualties and loss of equipment due to an ambush.[388] Two days later, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), described as "deeply concerning" reports from the Palestinian Red Crescent that the al-Quds hospital had received an urgent evacuation warning. He reiterated that it was "impossible to evacuate hospitals full of patients without endangering their lives".[389] Israeli airstrikes targeted the area around the hospital, filling parts of the building with smoke and dust, prompting staff to give breathing masks to some patients.[390] Around 14,000 civilians were believed to be sheltering in or near the hospital.[390] Associated Press reported that Israeli airstrikes also destroyed roads leading to the Al-Shifa hospital, making it increasingly difficult to reach.[391]

Three days following the beginning of ground operations, a video showed an Israeli tank firing on a taxi with a white flag on its roof that had attempted to turn around. An IDF spokesperson said they were "not shown any proof" that the vehicle was civilian, adding, "terrorists use civilian infrastructure like cars".[392]

External videos
video icon Gazan child speaks of having to carry decapitated body after Israeli strike on Jabalia (via The Irish Times)

The following day, the IDF struck at densely-populated Jabalia refugee camp, killing 50 and wounding 150 Palestinians according to the Gaza Health Ministry. According to Israel, a senior Hamas commander and dozens of militants in a vast underground tunnel complex were among those killed. Hamas denied the presence of a senior commander on the scene.[393][394][395] According to the IDF, the destruction of the tunnels caused the collapse of the foundations of several nearby buildings, leading to their collapse.[396] Eyewitnesses interviewed by CNN and Der Spiegel spoke of "apocalyptic" scenes, with dozens of collapsed buildings, children carrying other injured children, and bodies lying in the rubble.[397][398][399] The nearby Indonesian Hospital's surgical director said they had received 120 dead bodies and treated 280 wounded, the majority of them women and children.[400] The attack resulted in several ambassador recalls (see § Ambassador recalls).[401][402][403] Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, wrote on the social media platform X that he was "appalled by the high number of casualties" from the bombing.[404] According to The New York Times at least two 2,000-pound bombs, the second largest type in Israel's arsenal, were used.[405]

On 31 October, Israel bombed a six-story apartment building in central Gaza, killing at least 106 civilians including 54 children in what Human Rights Watch called an "apparent war crime." HRW found "no evidence of a military target in the vicinity of the building at the time of the Israeli attack," and called the bombing "unlawfully indiscriminate."[406]

Two tanks roll on dirt, surrounded by a massive amount of destruction. There is rubble on the ground, and buildings that have been exploded
Israeli tanks during operations in the Gaza Strip on 31 October

On 1 November, the first group of evacuees left Gaza for Egypt. 500 evacuees, comprising critically wounded and foreign nationals, would be evacuated over the course of several days, with 200 evacuees already waiting at the border crossing.[407] On the same day, the Jabalia refugee camp was bombed for a second time; the UN Human Rights Office expressed "serious concerns" that these were "disproportionate attacks that could amount to war crimes".[408][409] The IDF released what it stated was an intercepted call between Hamas operatives and the head of the Indonesia Hospital, where they discuss diverting some of the hospital's fuel supply to Hamas.[410]

Two days later, the Gaza health ministry stated that Israel struck an ambulance convoy directly in front of Al-Shifa Hospital, killing at least 15 people and injuring 60 more.[411] The IDF acknowledged having launched an airstrike at "an ambulance that was identified by forces as being used by a Hamas terrorist cell in close proximity to their position in the battle zone", adding that a "number of Hamas terrorist operatives were killed in the strike".[412] The IDF did not provide evidence that the ambulances were being used by Hamas combatants but said that additional information would be released.[412] A Hamas official described the Israeli statement as "baseless".[412] The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said one of its ambulances was struck "by a missile fired by the Israeli forces" about two metres from the entrance to al-Shifa hospital.[412] The PRCS said another ambulance was fired on about a kilometre from the hospital.[412] WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on X that he was "utterly shocked by reports of attacks on ambulances evacuating patients", adding that patients, health workers and medical facilities must always be protected.[411][413]

On 4 November a UNRWA spokeswoman confirmed reports that Israel had conducted an airstrike against a UN-run school in the Jabalia refugee camp.[414] According to the Gaza health ministry, the attack killed 15 and wounded dozens more.[414]

Abu Ubaida, the spokesperson for the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, reported that due to Israeli air strikes, the bodies of 23 missing Israeli hostages were buried under the rubble.[415][416]

External videos
Instagram videos by Ahmed Hijazi of the Al-Shifa Hospital strike shown in the Visual Investigations report published by The New York Times.[417] Contains graphic images of severe injury.
video icon A video of the airstrikes and immediate injuries.
video icon Shows dead and injured in the aftermath.

Fighting continued through the middle of November and on 18 November Israeli strikes killed more than 80 people in Jabalia refugee camp.[418] On 22 November, Israel and Hamas reached a temporary ceasefire agreement, providing for a four-day "pause"[419] or "lull"[420][421] in hostilities, to allow for the release of 50 hostages held in Gaza.[419][420] The deal also provided for the release of approximately 150 Palestinian women and children incarcerated by Israel.[420] The agreement was approved by the Israeli cabinet in the early hours of the day; in a statement, the Israeli Prime Minister's Office stated Israel's intention to continue the war.[419][420]

Duration of the truce (24 November – 1 December)

Following the introduction of a Qatari-brokered truce on 24 November, starting at 7:00 am Israel time, active fighting in the Gaza Strip ceased and some of the Israeli and foreign hostages were released by Hamas in exchange for the release of some of the Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel. The truce was announced for a period of four days, but was extended for a longer period.

From 24 to 30 November, Hamas released hostages and Israel released prisoners. On 27 November, Qatar announced that an agreement between Israel and Hamas to extend the truce by two days had been reached.[422] Both Israel and Hamas accused each other of violating the truce on 28 November. On 30 November, Hamas released two more hostages as the truce, which was supposed to end minutes later, was extended by another day.[423]

Resumption of hostilities (1 December 2023 – present)

Israeli Merkava tank in a Gaza street, 4 January 2024

Continuation of operations in Northern Gaza

The truce expired in the morning on 1 December, as both Israel and Hamas blamed the other side for failing to agree on an extension. According to the New York Times, the disagreement centered on "how to define soldiers versus civilians and how many Palestinian prisoners Israel would release for its hostages".[424] The remaining hostages include a year old baby, his 4 year old brother and their mother, an additional 13 women aged 18–39, and 85 men, some of whom are over the age of 70 and 80.[425] A Hamas official said that after the exchange, the only remaining hostages were "soldiers and civilian men who served in the occupation army", and refused to exchange them until "all our prisoners are freed and a ceasefire takes hold".[426] US National Security Advisor John Kirby said that "Hamas agreed to allow the Red Cross access to these hostages while the pause was in place", which "didn't happen and is still not happening".[427]

Israel adopted a grid system to order precise evacuations within Gaza, released a map online, and dropped leaflets with a QR code. The maps were criticized for being hard to access due to the lack of electricity and internet connectivity, and for causing confusion or panic. Some evacuation instructions have been vague or contradictory,[428][429][430][431] and Israel still operated in areas it had told people to evacuate to and that were safe for civilians.[432]

Two law experts said they had not seen significant changes in previous days of how Israel waged the war, due to its warnings to civilians appearing ineffective and it being unclear if anywhere in Gaza is truly safe.[433] Agnes Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said in a press release that "US-made weapons facilitated the mass killings of extended families". Amnesty found no evidence of military targets at the sites of the strikes, or any indication that the occupants of the homes were affiliated with Hamas, prompting the group to request that the airstrikes be investigated as possible war crimes.[434] Several decomposed babies were found in the ICU of Al-Nasr Children's Hospital in northern Gaza, two weeks after its forced evacuation.[435] US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin warned against replacing "a tactical victory with a strategic defeat" if Israel does not work towards protecting Palestinian civilians.[436] The US State Department said it was too early to definitively assess whether Israel was heeding US calls to protect civilians.[437]

The IDF reported that its troops had reached the centers of Khan Yunis, Jabalia, and Shejaiya reporting the most "intense fighting" since the ground invasion of Gaza began.[438] Intensified bombing pushed Palestinian civilians further south to Rafah.[439]

On 7 December, Israel detained 150 men in the Gaza Strip, with dozens more detained on 10 December. According to Israel, the detentions followed a mass surrender of Hamas militants.[440][441] The New York Times reported that the statement about Hamas fighters surrendering was made after video and photographs of "men stripped to their underwear, sitting or kneeling on the ground, with some bound and blindfolded" were seen on social media.[442]The Guardian reported that among the people seen in the images were people identified as civilians, among them a journalist. The ICRC said it was concerned by the images and that it strongly emphasized "the importance of treating all those detained with humanity and dignity, in accordance with international humanitarian law".[443] The BBC reported that a video of the apparent surrender of weapons is unclear whether a man is "surrendering" weapons or just moving them as instructed, suggested the event was performed for the camera, rather than as an act of authentic surrender, and that it not known whether the individuals shown have any involvement with Hamas or the 7 October attack.[444] Haaretz reported that Israeli security officials believed that approximately 10–15% of the people shown in the video were actually affiliated with Hamas, and that despite the public statements by Israel that this was not a "massive surrender" by Hamas units.[445] Amnesty International described the treatment of those detained on 7 December as a violation of international law.[446]

On 8 and 9 December, the IDF released footage of what it said was its soldiers engaging combatants near and inside two schools in Shejaiya. According to the IDF, fighters also discovered a tunnel leading from one of the schools to a nearby mosque.[447][448] It also released footage of armament that it stated was found on the campus of Al-Azhar University, along with a tunnel shaft leading to a school 1 km away.[449] The IDF said that, since it designated a humanitarian zone for civilians in the Gaza Strip on 18 October, 116 rockets had been fired from there toward Israel, including 38 falling inside Gaza.[450]

The Pentagon announced on 9 December that the Biden administration had authorized the sale of around 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition to Israel without congressional authorization by using emergency powers.[451] On 29 December, it did so again to supply Israel with $147.5 million worth of artillery shells and related items.[452]

On 15 December, the IDF released a statement announcing that they had killed three of their own hostages by friendly fire. According to the IDF, they "mistakenly identified three Israeli hostages as a threat" during operations in Shuja'iyya and subsequently fired at them, killing them.[453][454][455] According to an IDF official on 16 December, the three hostages were shirtless and were carrying "a stick with a white cloth on it" when an Israeli soldier, who declared them to be "terrorists" after feeling "threatened", opened fire, killing two hostages and injuring the third, who was killed by Israeli reinforcements.[456]

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv, Israel, 9 January 2024

In an interview to the Wall Street Journal on 25 December, Netanyahu said that Israel's objectives were to "destroy Hamas, demilitarize Gaza and deradicalize the whole of Palestinian society".[457]

On 29 December, South Africa filed a case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, alleging that Israel's conduct amounted to genocide.[458][459] South Africa asked the ICJ to issue provisional measures, including ordering Israel to halt its military campaign in Gaza.[458] South Africa was one of five countries making a referral of the war to the ICC in November 2023.[460]

The rocket attacks on Israeli cities by Hamas decreased in frequency during this period with notable attacks on the New Year's Eve and on 29 January 2024.[461][462]

On 1 January 2024, Israeli forces withdrew from neighbourhoods in North Gaza, including Sheikh Radwan, al-Mina district and parts of Tel al-Hawa.[463] On 6 January, the Israeli government said that Hamas control over the northern part of the Gaza Strip had been dismantled without providing evidence.[464] On 7 January the IDF conducted a targeted missile strike on a car carrying Al Jazeera journalists Hamza Dadouh and Mustafa Thuraya. Dadouh, Thuraya, and their driver were killed.[465]

On 15 January, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that the most intense fighting in the northern part of the Gaza Strip had ended, and a new phase of low intensity fighting was about to begin.[466]

By 18 January, the IDF stated that Hamas had begun to rebuild its armies in the occupied parts of Northern Gaza. The IDF had previously stated these armies were stripped of military capabilities but by 18 January the fighting strength of many battalions had been significantly restored without providing any evidence.[467]

On 22 January, 24 IDF soldiers died in what was the deadliest day for the IDF since the ground invasion began. Of these, 21 died in a single incident where Palestinian militants fired an RPG at a tank as well as at adjacent buildings soldiers were rigging to demolish which thus caused the buildings to collapse. The IDF soldiers brought landmines into the empty building for the demolition process. It is unclear whether the collapse of the buildings was principally due to the primary RPG explosion or the secondary landmine explosions.[468][469][470] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and President Isaac Herzog publicly mourned the loss.[471][472][473]

Preparations for attack on Rafah (February – present)

During the period from February to early April 2024, Israeli preparations to invade Rafah became a dominant issue in public rhetoric made by Israeli government officials. In February 2024, the Israeli government stated on several occasions its next objective would be the capture of Rafah. On 12 February, Israel started the bombing campaign on Rafah.[474] On February 15, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported that Egypt was building a refugee camp for over 100,000 people south of Rafah, surrounded by five-meter-high concrete walls.[475][476] However, the governor of North Sinai Governorate, Mohamed Abdel-Fadil Shousha, denied these rumors in a statement published by Al-Arabiya.[477] On 18 February, Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz warned that a ground offensive will be launched in Rafah on 10 March unless Hamas has freed all hostages by then. Gantz added Israel would act in "a co-ordinated manner, facilitating the evacuation of civilians in dialogue with our American and Egyptian partners to minimise civilian casualties".[478]

On 29 February, more than 100 Palestinians were killed and 750 were wounded during the flour massacre when Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinians waiting for food aid southwest of Gaza City, with many victims run over by trucks according to some accounts.[479] Survivors described it as an ambush, stating that Israeli forces opened fire as people approached the aid trucks, resulting in a rush away from the gunfire that added to the death toll.[480][481] On 1 March, the United States announced they would begin an operation airdropping food aid into Gaza.[482] Some experts called the US airdrops performative and claimed they would do little to alleviate the food situation in Gaza.[483] During his State of the Union Address, President Biden announced a new initiative for providing food and medications to Gaza by sea, setting up a temporary port on Gaza's coast to enable aid delivery.[484]

By 6 March, Israel had completed the construction of a new road in Gaza running across the full width of the Gaza Strip from east to west. The IDF reported that the road was an "active logistical route, constantly maintained during the war", It was intended to be used for the mobilization of troops and supplies, to connect and defend IDF positions on al-Rashid and Salah al-Din streets, and to prevent people in the southern Gaza Strip from returning to the north.[485]

Israeli forces raided al-Shifa hospital again between 18 March and 1 April. The IDF clashed with Hamas fighters in the area.[486] Israeli forces killed Faiq al-Mabhouh, who they said was the head of the operations directorate of Hamas' internal security service. Hamas said al-Mabhouh was in charge of civil law enforcement and had been engaged in "purely civil and humanitarian activity,"[487] coordinating aid deliveries to northern Gaza.[488][489] Multiple news agencies reported that the IDF assaulted and detained al-Jazeera correspondent Ismail al-Ghoul and more than 80 other people, including medical staff and other journalists, and confiscated and destroyed media equipment.[490][491] Al-Ghoul was released the following day, but could not verify the whereabouts of his colleagues.[492][493] The Committee to Protect Journalists said it was "deeply alarmed and outraged by reports of the assault on Al-Jazeera reporter Ismail Al-Ghoul from Al-Shifa hospital and other journalists while doing their jobs reporting on the Israeli offensive on the hospital".[493]

According to the IDF a number of senior Hamas leader were killed during the fighting at the hospital, including Mahmoud Khalil Zakzuk, the deputy commander of Hamas’s rocket unit in Gaza City and Raad Thabet, the head of recruitment and supply acquisition.[494] Survivors of the events at al-Shifa who spoke to Mondoweiss said that workers in Gaza's civil government were receiving their governmental salaries at the hospital before it was raided. Doctors, members of the civil government and those who refused to evacuate were executed.[495] The IDF said it killed 200 people inside and around al-Shifa hospital. Time Magazine said it provided "no evidence that all were militants."[496] Photos of the hospital after the withdrawal of the Israeli forces showed its "walls blown out and frame blackened" by fire.[497] Hundreds of bodies were found on the hospital grounds, and Palestinian witnesses reported massacres in and around the site.[498]

A deputy military commander of Hamas Marwan Issa was reportedly killed in an airstrike in mid-March.[499]

On 23 March, at least 19 Palestinians were killed by the IDF while waiting for humanitarian aid at the Kuwait roundabout in Gaza City.[500]

On 25 March, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, which would last for the remainder of the month of Ramadan. The US delegate abstained, and all other delegates voted in favor of the resolution.[501] Israeli military activities in the Gaza Strip remained unchanged following the adoption of the resolution.

On 28 March, the IDF shot and killed two unarmed men near Al Rasheed Street in central Gaza before burying their bodies in the sand with bulldozers.[502] The Council on American-Islamic Relations called for a UN investigation into the "heinous war crime."[503]

On 1 April, seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen, including British, Polish, Australian, and Irish nationals, were killed in an Israeli airstrike south of Deir el-Balah.[504][505][506] World Central Kitchen said their vehicles were clearly marked and their location was known to Israeli authorities. Several aid organizations including World Central Kitchen, ANERA and Project HOPE suspended their operations in Gaza in response to the strikes. Two-hundred-forty tons of aid from World Central Kitchen were not distributed in Gaza due to the charity's withdrawal from the strip.[507][508] On 4 April, Israel opened the Erez crossing for the first time since October 7 after U.S pressure.[509] On April 7, Israel announced its withdrawal from Khan Yunis with only one brigade remaining in the Netzarim Corridor in the north.[510] Following the withdrawal, Palestinians displaced from that city began to return from the southern areas of the Gaza Strip.[511]

According to Israeli sources, Israel planned to initiate its first steps in a ground offensive in Rafah around the middle of April, but postponed it to consider their response to the Iranian strikes on Israel.[512]

Other confrontations

Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and the Houthi movement in Yemen have launched limited attacks against Israel, raising fears of a wider regional military conflict. Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria have also traded attacks with the US and IDF.[513] Israel has bombed targets in and around Damascus throughout the war,[514][515][516] with an attack on the Iranian embassy in Damascus on April 1 leading to a direct Iranian response.[517] Iran launched a series of retaliatory airstrikes on Israel.[517][518] Over 100 Palestinians have been killed in confrontations with Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank since 7 October. Settler violence has been heavily criticized by the IDF.[519][520]

West Bank

West Bank sector of war
  West Bank under Israeli control (Area C)
  Israeli-annexed Jerusalem/East Jerusalem

Amnesty International released a report[521] on 5 February 2024 stating that Israel is carrying out unlawful killings in the West Bank and displaying "a chilling disregard for Palestinian lives" and that Israeli forces are carrying out numerous illegal acts of violence that constitute clear violations of international law.[522][523]

Even before the war, 2023 was the deadliest year for Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in 20 years. From 7 to 31 October, B'Tselem said that Israeli forces had killed more than 100 Palestinians while Israeli settlers had killed at least seven, leading to fears that the situation would escalate out of control.[519] About 1,000 Palestinians have been forcibly displaced by settlers since 7 October and almost half of clashes have included "Israeli forces accompanying or actively supporting Israeli settlers while carrying out the attacks" according to a U.N. report.[524] According to the West Bank Protection Consortium, which is funded by the European Union, since the 7 October attacks six Palestinian communities have been abandoned due to the violence.[525]

By 10 October, confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli forces had left 15 Palestinians dead, including two in East Jerusalem.[526] On 11 October, Israeli settlers attacked the village of Qusra, killing four Palestinians. A 16-year-old child was fatally shot by the IDF in Bani Naim, while another person was shot dead by the IDF near Bethlehem.[527] On 12 October, two Palestinians were killed after Israeli settlers interrupted a funeral procession for Palestinians killed in prior settler attacks and opened fire.[528][529][530]

On 18 October, protests broke out over the al-Ahli Arab Hospital explosion, with clashes reported in Ramallah.[531] In Jenin, a 12-year-old girl was shot dead by crossfire from Palestinian Authority security forces, and another youth was injured by PA forces in Tubas. One Palestinian was killed in confrontations with Israeli forces in Nabi Saleh, and 30 others were injured across the West Bank.[532] On 19 October, more than 60 Hamas members were arrested and 12 people were killed in overnight Israeli raids across the West Bank. Those arrested included the movement's spokesperson in the West Bank, Hassan Yousef.[533]

On 22 October, Israel struck the al-Ansar Mosque in the Jenin refugee camp, saying that it had killed several "terror operatives" from Hamas and Islamic Jihad who were planning attacks inside without providing evidence.[534] Within a few days Ayser Mohammad Al-Amer, a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad was killed during a clash with IDF in the Jenin refugee camp.[535] On 31 October, the IDF engaged Hamas around Shuweika.[536]

On 1 November, Issa Amro said the situation in the West Bank had become "very hard", noting "All the checkpoints are closed. Israeli settlers and soldiers are acting violently with the Palestinians."[537] The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned Israeli settler violence against Palestinians was on the rise.[538]

On 30 November, two Palestinian gunmen killed three and wounded eleven Israelis at a bus stop on the Givat Shaul Interchange in Jerusalem. Hamas claimed responsibility.[539]

On 16 February 2024, a Palestinian gunman shot and killed two Israelis and injured four others in Kiryat Malakhi, Israel. The shooter was killed by an off-duty IDF reservist at the scene.[540]

On 16 April 2024, a mob of Israeli settlers in Aqraba killed two Palestinians.[541]

On 20 April, fourteen Palestinians were killed in an Israeli raid in the West Bank.[542]

Israel–Lebanon border

Northern Israel sector of war
  Israel
  Israeli-occupied Golan Heights
  Hezbollah presence in Lebanon
  Syria
  Areas ordered evacuated by Israel

A series of border clashes occurred along the Israel–Lebanon border. On 8 October, Hezbollah launched an artillery attack on Israeli positions in Shebaa Farms; this was met with immediate retaliation.[543][544] Skirmishes have occurred every day since, spilling over to the occupied Golan Heights. The clashes resulted in the deaths of 259 Lebanese militants and 14 Israeli soldiers,[545][546] as well as over 50 Lebanese civilians and six Israeli civilians,[547][548] one Lebanese Army soldier,[549] and the displacement of 55,000 people in Lebanon and tens of thousands more in Israel.[550][551]

Yemen and the Red Sea

Houthi attacks on commercial ships in the Bab-el-Mandeb strait

Several strikes against Israel and commercial ships in the Red Sea are thought to have launched by Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen.[552][553][554] On 19 October, the United States Navy destroyer USS Carney shot down several missiles that were traveling north over the Red Sea towards Israel.[555] On 31 October, Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Saree said that the group had launched ballistic missiles and drones towards Israel, and that they would continue to do so "to help the Palestinians to victory"[556] in an event that has been misrepresented in some news sites as a declaration of war by Yemen.[557] On 19 November, tensions increased when the Galaxy Leader, a cargo ship chartered by a Japanese logistics company with 25 individuals on board, was hijacked by the Houthis using a Mil Mi-17 helicopter.[558]

On 3 December, the Houthis said that they had attacked two ships, the Unity Explorer and Number 9, allegedly linked to Israel, in order "to prevent Israeli ships from navigating the Red Sea".[559][560] Any ship destined for Israel, according to the group, was a "legitimate target". Saree announced in a post on X that the "horrific massacres" against the Palestinians in Gaza was the reason for this decision and that they will not stop until the Gaza Strip is supplied with food and medicine. Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi called this development a "global issue" and that Israel is "giving the world some time to organize in order to prevent this" otherwise, the country "would will act in order to remove this naval siege".[561]

Iraq

Since November 2023, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq has claimed responsibility for drone and missile attacks against targets within Israel in retaliation for Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians in Gaza. The group stated it would continue to "strike enemy strongholds." Strikes were recorded in Eilat,[562] the Dead Sea coastline,[563][564] the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights,[565] the Karish rig,[566] Haifa Bay,[567] Ashdod,[568] Kiryat Shmona,[569] Tel Aviv,[570][571] Ramon Airport,[572] and in Elifelet.[573]

Syria

On 10 October 2023, Israel exchanged rocket and mortar fire with forces in southern Syria. On 12 October, Israel bombed the Damascus and Aleppo airports ahead of a visit to Syria by Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.[514]

In January 2024, four members of the Iranian Quds Force in Syria were killed by an Israeli airstrike in Damascus.[574]

On 22 February, an Israeli airstrike killed two people in a residential neighborhood of Damascus.[516]

On 1 April, the Israeli Air Force launched an airstrike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, killing several.[575][576]

Iran

On 24 November 2023, a suspected Iranian drone attacked the CMA CGM Symi owned by Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer in the Indian Ocean according to a US defense official. An anonymous source said the drone was suspected to have been a Shahed-136 drone. The attack caused damage to the ship but did not injure any of the crew.[577]

In December, the US military was reportedly looking to build a maritime task force to protect trade against Iranian harassment.[578]

On 23 December, a suspected Iranian drone attacked the Israel-affiliated oil tanker MV Chem Pluto in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Gujarat. The attack did not harm any of its 20 crew members but caused a fire that was put out. The vessel was reportedly carrying Saudi oil to Mangalore, India.[579]

On 13 April, the IRGC Navy boarded the Portuguese container ship 'MSC ARIES' in the Strait of Hormuz via helicopter and redirected it to Iranian territory. The MCS ARIES is partially owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer and operated by his company, Zodiac Maritime.[580]

On the same day, following an Israeli airstrike on its consulate building in Damascus, Syria on 1 April,[581] Iran launched a series of retaliatory airstrikes on Israel.[517][518]

Humanitarian impact

People stand amid the rubble of a building and looking at the ground. A man is carrying a large flower-patterned object.
Residents inspect the ruins of an apartment in Gaza destroyed by Israeli airstrikes

The humanitarian situation in Gaza has been termed a "crisis" and a "catastrophe".[582][583] More than 23,000 have been killed. As a result of Israel's blockade, Gaza faces shortages of fuel, food, medication, water, and medical supplies.[582][584] The blockade resulted in a 90% drop in electricity availability, impacting hospital power supplies, sewage plants, and shutting down desalination plants that provide drinking water.[585] According to WHO, 27 out of 35 hospitals in Gaza were shut down by 23 November 2023.[586] On 13 October, UNRWA commissioner Philippe Lazzarini said, "The scale and speed of the unfolding humanitarian crisis is bone-chilling".[587]

Casualties

Aftermath of the attack on Be'eri

As of 8 April 2024, over 34,000 people (33,091 Palestinian[588] and 1,410 Israeli[596]) have been reported as killed in the Israel–Hamas war, including 95 journalists (90 Palestinian, 2 Israeli and 3 Lebanese)[597] and over 224 humanitarian aid workers, including 179 employees of UNRWA.[598]

The vast majority of casualties have been in the Gaza Strip: over 33,091 have been killed, 70% of them are women and minors.[599] In December 2023, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor estimated 90% of the casualties were civilians,[600][601] while the IDF put the civilian ratio at 66% of those killed.[602] The death toll comes from the Gaza Health Ministry and the total death toll in Gaza is presumed to be higher than reported,[603][604] with thousands remaining unaccounted for, including those trapped under rubble.[599][605]

The October 7 attacks on Israel killed 1,139 people, including 764 civilians and 373 Israeli security personnel. A further 248 persons were taken hostage during the initial attack on Israel to the Gaza Strip.[589][606][607]

A further 382 Palestinians (including 94 children[608]) have been killed in the West Bank by the Israel military and settlers.[609] Casualties have also occurred in other parts of Israel, as well as in southern Lebanon, and Syria.[610]

Monitoring group Action on Armed Violence said that each Israeli airstrike caused an average of 10.1 civilian deaths and that the figure suggested a notable change in Israel's targeting approach. The previous Israeli campaigns in Gaza produced the averages of 1.3–1.7, while in the sieges of Mosul, Aleppo the ratio exceeded 20 civilian casualties per airstrike.[611][612][613] Israel uses an AI system known as Gospel for its targeting process and experts are sceptical that such a system reduces civilian harm.[614][341] Israeli intelligence officers said the Israeli military allowed a large number of civilians deaths as collateral damage, particularly in the early part of the conflict.[615] The rate of killing exceeds that of US-led attacks in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, which were widely criticized by rights groups.[616] The first month of the war has been the deadliest conflict for children this century.[617] Historian Robert Pape regards the bombing of Gaza as “one of the most intense civilian punishment campaigns in history".'[618]

Multiple generations of families have been killed in Israeli attacks. As of 31 October, Amnesty International has documented five cases of entire families being killed in Israeli airstrikes.[619] The Associated Press reported that the killing of entire families in single airstrikes by Israel has "raised troubling questions about Israeli military tactics".[620] As of 15 October 47 families had been completely wiped away from the population registry, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.[621] The Financial Times reported how Palestinian families could have multiple generations living in a single multistory building has had the effect of those families being nearly completely wiped out by airstrikes. As of 23 November, according to Gazan health officials, 312 families had suffered the loss of more than 10 members. This had also led to children being left without any surviving family, with the acronym "WCNSF" for "wounded child, no surviving family" being increasingly used.[622]

Healthcare collapse

External videos
video icon Emily "Cali" Callahan, an American nurse who worked in Gaza for Doctors Without Borders until early November, describes the humanitarian situation in Gaza to CNN's Anderson Cooper[623][624]
External videos
video icon Doctors from the US, the UK and France, speaking in March 2024, describe the injuries they witnessed while helping out in Gaza hospitals and doctors' inability to provide treatment[625]

Hospitals faced a lack of fuel and relied on backup generators for the first two weeks of the war.[626] By 23 October, however, the Indonesia Hospital ran out of fuel and completely shut down.[627] Hospitals around Gaza also warned they would soon lose power completely, which would lead to the death of 140 premature babies in NICUs.[628] The Gaza Health Ministry said that more than 192 medical staffers had been killed by Israeli airstrikes, as well as ambulances, health institutions, its headquarters, the Rimal Clinic, and the International Eye Center.[629] Médecins Sans Frontières stated 18 ambulances had been destroyed, and eight medical facilities destroyed or damaged.[630] On 24 October, a Health Ministry spokesman announced the healthcare system had "totally collapsed".[631]

On 16 October, doctors warned of disease outbreaks due to hospital overcrowding and unburied bodies.[583] The World Health Organization stated the situation was "spiralling out of control".[632] The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that it had lost contact with its headquarters on 27 October, disrupting Gazans' ability to contact emergency services.[633]

On 14 November, Reuters reported that Israel was coordinating the transfer of medical incubators to Al-Shifa Hospital to assist in the evacuation of newborn babies[634][635] and that the IDF stated that three battery powered incubators were on standby outside Gaza.[636] The director of Al-Shifa stated Israel's statement about providing incubators to premature babies was false.[637]

Gaza famine

According to the World Food Program, as of 9 December, more than half of the population of Gaza was starving, more than nine in ten were not eating every day, and 48% were suffering from extreme hunger.[638][639] One of the few bakeries still standing in the Gaza Strip was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Deir al-Balah, and Gazans were reported to be searching through the rubble of bombed bakeries attempting to find bags of flour.[640] The United Nations warned that a collapse of social order could result from the intense hunger among Palestinians.[640] The Associated Press reported that rare instances of public dissent against Hamas were taking place, with reports of angry chants against Hamas by hundreds of people taking refuge in a UN shelter.[641]

U.S. Air Force airdropping 38,000 meals into southern Gaza on March 2, 2024, the equivalent of four to six trucks.[642]

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, who is part of the Palestinian Authority, said Israel was using starvation as a weapon, saying "they are starving because of Israel's deliberate use of starvation as a weapon of war against the people it occupied". An Israeli official responded that the charge was "blood-libellous" and "delusional".[643] Human Rights Watch similarly found that Israel was using starvation as a weapon of war by deliberately denying access to food and water.[644] On 16 January 2024, UN experts accused Israel of "destroying Gaza's food system and using food as a weapon against the Palestinian people".[645] Michael Fakhri, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, said that Israel was intentionally starving Palestinians, stating "Intentionally depriving people of food is clearly a war crime" and that Israel was intending to "destroy the Palestinian people, in whole or in part, simply for being Palestinian."[646] On 3 March 2024, Fakhri stated that "famine may very well be already occurring".[647]

On 29 February, civilians attempting to get aid from food trucks were shot at by IDF soldiers, with at least 118 being killed.[648] The event was labelled a massacre by some sources and referred to as the "flour massacre".[649][480] The UN called for an investigation, stating it had "recorded at least 14 incidents involving shooting and shelling of people gathered to receive desperately needed supplies".[650]

In February 2024, the UN said 576,000 people were "facing catastrophic levels of deprivation and starvation".[651] As of 22 February, the entire population in the Gaza Strip was classified in Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Phase 3 – Crisis, or above. 50% of the population was in IPC Phase 4 – Emergency, and 25% is in IPC Phase 5 – Catastrophe. The IPC said the risk of famine was increasing every day.[652] An updated report released on 18 March said that food insecurity had deepened and widened, with a doubling of people projected to experience catastrophic levels of hunger and starvation by July.[653] Oxfam said in a report issued the same day that Israel was "deliberately" using bureaucracy to hinder the supply of aid.[654] Fewer aid trucks entered Gaza in February compared with January.[655]

On 6 March 2024, South Africa again asked the ICJ to act on an emergency basis asserting that the threat of starvation had materialized, pointing to the flour massacre and Israeli attempts to discredit UNRWA.[656][657][658]

On April 16, the U.N. human rights office said Israel was placing unlawful restrictions on aid entering the Gaza Strip.[659]

Scale of destruction

Damaged buildings in Gaza

The scale, extent, and pace of destruction of buildings in the Gaza Strip ranks among the most severe in modern history.[660][661][662][663][664] The 29,000 munitions -shells and bombs- Israel has dropped on Gaza in 3 months greatly exceed those (3,678) dropped by the United States between 2004 and 2010 during its Invasion of Iraq.[665] The estimated extent of the destruction ranges from 35% of all buildings (March 2024, UNITAR)[666][667] to 70% (December 2023, The Wall Street Journal),[661] with a higher level of destruction in northern Gaza.[668][669] The damage to buildings in northern Gaza reportedly exceeds that in Bakhmut and Mariupol in the Russian invasion of Ukraine,[663] Aleppo in the Battle of Aleppo,[660] and Mosul and Raqqa in the War against the Islamic State;[660] by 5 December 2023, the percentage of buildings damaged or destroyed in Gaza exceeded Dresden and Cologne during World War II and approached the level of destruction seen in Hamburg.[663][670] Bombing has destroyed or damaged apartment buildings, hospitals, schools, religious sites, factories, and shopping centers.[661] The Guardian reported that the scale of destruction has led international legal experts to raise the concept of domicide, which it describes as "the mass destruction of dwellings to make [a] territory uninhabitable".[662]

Definitively assessing the extent of destruction in Gaza has been complicated by difficulties in accessing up-to-date satellite imagery.[671] An analysis by The Washington Post found "apparent craters within 180 meters of 17 of the 28 hospitals in northern Gaza", although this represents "a conservative undercount of the actual bombs dropped near Gaza's hospitals".[660] This analysis focused on bombs weighing 2,000 pounds or more, which could irreparably damage a building 180 meters away.[660] Israel has employed unguided munitions, which are particularly destructive, and has used artificial intelligence to quickly identify targets for bombing.[663]

Environmental damage

By March 2024 38-48% of tree cover and farmland had been destroyed by Israeli forces by using bulldozers and dropping 10,000s of bombs. Due to a combination of destruction of agricultural land, displacement of people, boming and the Israeli blockade, the Gaza Strip is experiencing famine with most of the population at imminent risk of starvation.[156][157]

Israeli bombardment and the blockade has led to a total collapse of Gaza's civil infrastructure; sewage treatment, waste disposal, water management, fuel supplies. Water has been polluted by 100,000 cubic metres of sewage being discharged into the sea every day due to Israel cutting off fuel supplies. Groundwater has been contaminated by toxins and munitions and air has been polluted by smoke and particulates from bombing. Soils have been degraded by uprooting trees and contaminated by toxins, munitions, heavy bombing and demolitions. Bombing by the Israeli army has created 22.9 million tonnes of debris and hazardous material, much of which contains human remains.[156][157]

University of London research group Forensic Architecture have described the destruction as systematic and that the Israeli military are intentional targeting of the Gaza's agriculture, saying:[156][157]

What’s left is devastation... an area that is no longer livable... The targeted farms and greenhouses are fundamental to local food production for a population already under a decades-long siege.... the effects of this systematic agricultural destruction are exacerbated by other deliberate acts of deprivation of critical resources for Palestinian survival in Gaza

Responses to crisis

On 20 October, Doctors Without Borders stated it was "deeply concerned for the fate of everyone in Gaza right now".[672] On 21 October, a joint statement by UNICEF, WHO, UNDP, UNFPA, and WFP stated, "the world must do more" for Gaza.[673] On 26 October, the World Health Organization stated Gaza's humanitarian and health crisis had "reached catastrophic proportions".[674] On 28 October, the Red Cross president Mirjana Spoljaric Egger stated she was "shocked by the intolerable level of human suffering".[675] During the course of the first month of the war, the Gaza Ministry of Health recorded more than 4,000 children killed in Gaza.[676] UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on 6 November that Gaza is "fast becoming a graveyard for children". Israeli UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan responded directly to Guterres, stating "Shame on [Guterres]... More than 30 minors – among them a 9-month-old baby as well as toddlers and children who witnessed their parents being murdered in cold blood – are being held against their will in the Gaza Strip. Hamas is the problem in Gaza, not Israel's actions to eliminate this terrorist organization."[677][678] On 8 November, UN Human Rights chief Volker Turk described the Rafah Crossing as "gates to a living nightmare".[679] On 10 November, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Jens Laerke stated, "if there is a hell on earth, it is the north of Gaza".[680]

Retired Israeli major general Giora Eiland compared Israel's situation to that of the United States after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.[681] He argued that if Israel wanted to disarm Hamas, it had "no choice" but to make Gaza a place "that is temporarily or permanently impossible to live in".[682][681] This, he stated, was not a "program for revenge", but a way to get the hostages back.[683]

On 18 October, the United States UN representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning all violence against civilians and urging humanitarian aid to Gaza. She said the council must instead support direct diplomacy.[684] On 27 October, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly for a resolution on immediate humanitarian truce in Gaza and aid access.[685] The resolution attracted 121 votes in favor and 44 abstentions; 14 countries voted against, namely Israel, the United States, Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Fiji, Guatemala, Hungary, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay and Tonga.[686][687]

On 9 November, Israel agreed to daily four-hour "humanitarian pauses" to allow civilians to obtain food and medicine, as well as evacuate to the south.[688] Evacuees described the evacuation path as full of death and horror.[689][690] Jan Egeland, the Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said on 5 December that "The pulverising of Gaza now ranks amongst the worst assaults on any civilian population in our time and age. Each day we see more dead children and new depths of suffering for the innocent people enduring this hell".[691]

On 12 December, the UN General Assembly once again voted overwhelmingly for a resolution on immediate humanitarian truce in Gaza and aid access. The resolution attracted 153 votes in favor and 23 abstentions; 10 countries voted against, namely Israel, the United States, Austria, the Czech Republic, Guatemala, Liberia, Micronesia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea and Paraguay.[692][v]

Due to an agreement reportedly brokered by Qatar and France between Israel and Hamas, medicine was scheduled to leave Doha via two military aircraft and be delivered to the Gaza Strip on 17 January 2024 to aid hostages.[694][695][696] The medicine was successfully delivered.[697]

Allegations of war crimes

Both Hamas and the IDF have been accused of attempted or imminent genocide, and several other war crimes.[698]

2023 Hamas attack on Israel

Genocide accusations

Several experts in international law and genocide studies characterized Hamas's assault as genocide.[698][699][700] Legal and genocide experts have condemned the attack, during which 1,139 people were killed, including 695 Israeli civilians. They argue that these actions by Hamas constitute a significant violation of international law and were carried out with the intent to destroy the Israeli national group.[700][699][698] Some commentators highlight Hamas's founding charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel; this has led to suggestions that its intent is genocidal and that the attacks on 7 October were an attempt to fulfill this agenda.[701][215]

In a 12 October preliminary legal assessment condemning Hamas's attacks in Israel, international humanitarian law scholar and Dean of Cornell Law School Jens David Ohlin said the evidence suggested Hamas's "killings and kidnappings" potentially violated Articles 6–8 of the Rome Statute as well as the Genocide Convention and were "crimes against humanity"; over a hundred international scholars expressed support for this position.[702][703]

Sexual and gender-based violence

During the 7 October attacks by Hamas on Israeli communities, Israeli women and girls were reportedly raped, assaulted, and mutilated by Hamas militants, an allegation that Hamas denies.[704][705][706] Israeli police said dozens of women and some men were raped. The New York Times and the BBC reported that "videos of naked and bloodied women filmed by Hamas on the day of the attack, and photographs of bodies taken at the sites afterwards, suggest that women were sexually targeted by their attackers".[707][708][709] Although not investigative in nature, a United Nations team concluded in March 2024 that there was "clear and convincing information" of Israeli hostages in Gaza experiencing "sexual violence, including rape, sexualized torture, and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment", and there was also "reasonable grounds to believe that conflict-related sexual violence occurred during the 7 October attacks in multiple locations across Gaza periphery, including rape and gang-rape, in at least three locations": the Nova music festival and its vicinities of Road 232 and kibbutz Re'im.[710][711]

Witnesses described the perpetrators using shovels,[712] beheading victims, engaged in rapes, and even playing with severed body parts,[708] although a number of testimonies were subsequently discredited.[713][714][715] These acts were denounced as gender-based violence, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, aligning with the International Criminal Court's recognition of sexual violence as such.[716][717] Some of the released hostages also shared testimonies of sexual violence during their time in Gaza.[718][705]

A New York Times investigation by Jeffrey Gettleman, Anat Schwartz, and Adam Sella, released in late December 2023, found at least seven locations where sexual assaults and mutilations of Israeli women and girls were carried out. It concluded that these were not isolated events but part of a broader pattern of gender-based violence during the 7 October massacres. The newspaper's probe concluded that Hamas "weaponized sexual violence" during the attacks.[719] Nevertheless, Schwartz later revealed that she did not find any victim or complaint of sexual assault when she contacted every rape crisis clinic in Israel.[720] The Intercept and Mondoweiss both concluded that the mass rape allegations advanced by the New York Times were unfounded.[721][720]

Israel accused international women's rights and human rights groups of downplaying the assaults.[722] Hamas denied that it committed any sexual assaults, and has called for an impartial international investigation into the accusations.[723][724] On January 2024, UN experts Alice Jill Edwards and Morris Tidball-Binz [de] said in a statement that the sexual violence acts amounted to war crimes which "may also qualify as crimes against humanity".[725]

On 12 April 2024, the European Union sanctioned military and special forces wings of Hamas and the armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad due to their responsibility for the alleged sexual violence on 7 October. An asset freeze and travel ban were imposed on the Qassam and Al-Quds Brigades and the Nukhba Force.[726] The EU said the two groups' fighters “committed widespread sexual and gender-based violence in a systematic manner, using it as a weapon of war.”[727]

Hostage-taking

Human Rights Watch has stated that "Hamas and Islamic Jihad are committing war crimes by holding scores of Israelis and others as hostages in Gaza". They also added that "Civilians, including children, people with disabilities, and older people, should never be treated as bargaining chips", and "The armed groups should immediately and safely release all civilians detained".[728] The secretary-general of Amnesty International urged the immediate release of "all civilians who were abducted, including children", and supported an investigation into these incidents "as part of the International Criminal Court's ongoing investigation into crimes committed by all parties in the current conflict".[729]

Looting

Looting took place in several kibbutzim and at Nova festival.[730][731] According to the videos published by the Times of Israel the looting in kibbutz Be'eri was done by Palestinian civilians who arrived to the kibbutz after Hamas militants stealing agricultural equipment, motorbikes, and televisions.[732]

Israeli operations in Gaza

Genocide accusations

South Africa's ICJ case alleging Israel's violation of the Genocide Convention in Gaza, the Hague, 12 January 2024

Israel has been accused of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza during the war.

The Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant declared on October 9: "we are fighting human animals".[733][734] As mentioned by the Times, Gallant promised “a complete siege” on Gaza, with “no electricity, no food, no fuel”. The next day he told Israeli troops he had “released all restraints”. Giora Eiland, a former Israeli general, wrote the same month: “To make the siege effective, we have to prevent others from giving assistance to Gaza."[735]

On 15 October, Third World approaches to international law published a statement signed by over 800 legal scholars expressing "alarm about the possibility of the crime of genocide being perpetrated by Israeli forces against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip".[736] On 17 October, Genocide Watch declared a "Genocide Emergency Alert" for the conflict in Gaza.[698] Several scholars have cited numerous Israeli statements which they argue constitute an "intent to destroy" the population of Gaza, a necessary condition for the legal threshold of genocide to be met.[737] On 16 November, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) experts said that Israel's violations "point to a genocide in the making".[738] Several world leaders have accused Israel of genocide, including Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil and Gustavo Petro of Colombia.[739][740] President Hage Geingob of Namibia called the actions of the Israeli government "genocidal and gruesome."[741]

On 29 December, South Africa submitted a case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) alleging that Israel was committing genocide in Gaza and requested provisional measures for Israel to suspend its military campaign in Gaza.[742][743][459] In its filing, South Africa alleged that Israel's actions were "intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group".[744] South Africa's case was backed by Belgium, Ireland and Spain in Europe,[745] the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, as well as the Arab League. Malaysia, Namibia and Pakistan independently backed the case.[746] On 2 January 2024, Israel decided to appear before the ICJ in response to the case made by South Africa.[747] The Court issued an Order in relation to the provisional measures request on 26 January 2024 in which it ordered Israel to take all measures to prevent any acts that could be considered genocidal but stopped short of calling for a ceasefire.[748] It determined that it was "plausible" that some of Israel's actions may violate the Genocide Convention. The final ruling is expected to take years.[749]

Some researchers in the fields of urban planning and architecture have alleged that the destruction in Gaza, particularly the destruction of historic buildings and essential infrastructure such as hospitals and universities, amounts to domicide, or urbicide.[750][751][752][753][754]

Siege of Gaza

Israeli soldiers operating in a Gazan neighborhood

Israel imposed a "complete siege" on Gaza in the first ten days of the war, due to alleged security concerns that weapons, fuel and armaments would be transferred to Hamas in the guise of humanitarian aid.[755][756] Israel later allowed the delivery of limited humanitarian aid following security checks.[757] Israel's restriction of the flow of food, fuel, water and other humanitarian aid was criticized as a war crime by human rights organizations.[758]

Tom Dannenbaum, co-director of the Center for International Law & Governance at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, wrote that the order "commands the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, which is a violation of international humanitarian law and a war crime".[759] Oxfam issued a statement that accused Israel of using starvation as a weapon of war, saying "International Humanitarian Law (IHL) strictly prohibits the use of starvation as a method of warfare and as the occupying power in Gaza, Israel is bound by IHL obligations to provide for the needs and protection of the population of Gaza".[760]

Geoffrey S. Corn, Chair of Criminal Law and Director of the Center for Military Law and Policy at Texas Tech University School of Law, and Sean Watts, professor in the Department of Law at the United States Military Academy at West Point, write that sieges are subject to the same laws of war as other military tactics such as distinction and proportionality.[761] Watts previously wrote that Article 23 of the Fourth Geneva Convention "requires that parties to a conflict allow passage of a limited class of relief supplies for civilians...only if the parties are satisfied no advantage will result 'to the military efforts or economy of the enemy'", but that if the law is interpreted to allow "incidental" starvation of civilians proportional to anticipated military advantage, it "reduces the rule's humanitarian effect, perhaps to the vanishing point".[762]

Amnesty International called for an urgent investigation into Israel's mass detentions and the enforced disappearance of Palestinians in Gaza, noting that the disappearances and treatment of captives could amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity.[446]

Allegations of sexual violence

A report co-authored by Francesca Albanese and Reem Alsalem, United Nations Special Rapporteurs, urged an inquiry into allegations of serious human rights violations against Palestinian women and girls in Gaza and the West Bank by Israeli forces.[763] The allegations involve rape and sexual violence. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a press release on 19 February, citing those claims and referring to photos allegedly taken by Israeli troops showing female detainees in degrading circumstances posted online.[764] In an interview, Alsalem described the allegations as based on "reasonably credible information" and cited Euro-Med Monitor as their source.[763]

Proportionality and distinction

Israel's adherence to the principles of discrimination and proportionality as required by the laws of war has been debated.[765][766] Human Rights Watch has stated that the overall civilian death toll, and Israel's use of powerful weapons in Gaza's densely-populated neighbourhoods, raised "serious questions" about the legality of Israel's conduct.[766] Human Rights Watch further argued that a higher proportion of casualties among women and children is indicative of a lack of proportionality, demonstrating what they describe as "a disregard toward Palestinian lives".[766] Amnesty International accused Israel of war crimes in a report where it analyzed five incidents between 7 October and 12 October where the IDF targeted residential areas in Gaza. It found that in several cases the IDF struck targets with no evidence of military activity and that these attacks were "indiscriminate" in nature. Anonymous IDF officials cited in a report by +972 Magazine indicated a "loosening of constraints" in the rules of engagement, and that in numerous cases the IDF struck targets despite no evidence of military activity. The report claims that the rationale behind such attacks was "to harm Palestinian civil society" and, according to one source cited by the report, to "lead civilians to put pressure on Hamas".[341] Experts cited by The Washington Post argue that certain Israeli airstrikes show that Israel has a tolerance for civilian casualties "orders of magnitude greater" than that of the US in its war against ISIS.[767] United Nations officials and human rights groups have argued that Israel has not done enough to protect civilians.[766] In March 2024, the United Nations said that more children were killed in Gaza in four months than in four years of worldwide wars.[768] Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees, declared: "This war is a war on children".[768]

Emanuela-Chiara Gillard, an associate fellow at Chatham House, argued that, given the size and nature of the 7 October attacks, Israel has a right of self-defence that could include its stated military aim of destroying Hamas, which has threatened to repeat its assault and eradicate the state of Israel.[766] According to The Economist, the law of armed conflict (LOAC) and international humanitarian law (IHL) grant Israel flexibility when it comes to taking military action against Hamas, but in its view, Israel's "definition of military targets is being stretched to breaking-point".[765]

Photos of Palestinian healthcare workers killed during fighting in Gaza, 25 November 2023

Amichai Cohen, an Israeli lawyer, alleges that Israel does not deliberately target civilians but that Hamas's tactics make it hard to take action without affecting civilians.[765] Jill Goldenziel, a professor at the United States National Defense University and Marine Corps University, states that if Israel conducted every strike legally and with utmost precision, civilian casualties in war would still remain, and the goal of a proportionality analysis is to decide whether they are excessive.[769] Israeli security officials state that their proportionality criteria in this conflict are unchanged and that they receive legal advice in relation to strikes.[766] Other Israeli officials, speaking anonymously, acknowledged that Israel has struck "private residences and public structures, like the Gaza Parliament and the Islamic University", which would not previously have been considered valuable enough to justify the risk to civilian life.[766]

In April 2024, Human Rights Watch found that Israel violated international law by launching an airstrike on an apartment building in Gaza, killing 106 people, including 54 children, as there were no viable military targets in the area.[770]

UN condemnation

Independent United Nations experts[w] condemned the IDF's actions in Gaza, saying Israel had resorted to "indiscriminate military attacks" and "collective punishment".[772] Israeli authorities said that the airstrikes are intended to degrade the military infrastructure that is frequently constructed in close proximity to residential areas and civilian establishments.[773] They also denounced the "deliberate and widespread killing and hostage-taking of innocent civilians" by Hamas, calling them "heinous violations of international law and international crimes".[771] Israel's forced evacuation of northern Gaza also drew international condemnation. On 13 October, Paula Gaviria Betancur, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, called it a "crime against humanity".[358] On 14 October, Francesca Albanese, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, characterized it as a "repeat of the 1948 Nakba", noting Israeli public officials' open advocacy for another Nakba.[774] On 16 November, UN experts reported that "grave violations" committed by Israeli forces against the Palestinians of Gaza "point to a genocide in the making" and called on the international community to prevent this unfolding genocide.[775] The OHCHR expressed concern regarding reports of "mass detentions, ill-treatment and enforced disappearances of possibly thousands of Palestinians" in the north of Gaza.[446][776] On 23 February, the OHCHR stated that any transfer of weapons to Israel must be halted immediately as their use in Gaza is "likely to violate international humanitarian law".[777] On 27 March, Albanese stated that there are "reasonable grounds" to believe that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza through the use of unlawful weaponry, the destruction of civilian infrastructure and man made starvation, which has been accompanied by "a pervasive anti-Palestinian narrative and dehumanization emanating from the uppermost tiers of Israeli society."[778]

According to UNRWA, its staff faced "torture, ill-treatment, abuse, and sexual exploitation" at the hands of Israeli authorities. The organization also accused Israel of extracting forced confessions from its staff of being involved with Hamas through torture.[779][780][781]

Destruction of cultural heritage

Over 100 landmarks have been destroyed or damaged by Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip according to a report by Heritage for Peace group.[158] The Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, which was agreed to by both Palestinians and Israelis, protects sites of cultural heritage.[782]

The Great Mosque of Gaza was left with only the minaret standing[783] while sites that have been damaged or destroyed include Rafah Museum, Al Qarara Cultural Museum, Rashad Shawa Cultural Center, Hamam al-Sammara, and Tell el-Ajjul.[784] The Church of Saint Porphyrius, the third oldest church in the world, was damaged in an airstrike, as has the Saint Hilarion Monastery. The Byzantine Church of Jabalia, dating from the 5th century and restored in 2022, was destroyed.[784] The destruction of Gaza City's public library and central archives have been compared to the 1992 attacks on the National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[785][782][786][787] All universities in the Gaza Strip were bombed by Israeli forces, including the destruction of Al-Israa University and its museum containing several thousand rare artefacts.[788]

Destruction of cemeteries

By 20 January 2024, Israeli forces had desecrated at least sixteen cemeteries and had turned some into military outposts.[159] Forensic Architecture noted that Israel had destroyed one of Gaza's most important archaeological sites, located near al-Shati refugee camp.[789] Subsequent of destruction of a cemetery in Khan Unis, Israel said Hamas uses cemeteries to hide tunnels and that "digging up the tunnels involves unavoidable collateral damage to sacrosanct spaces".[790] Israel also said it had damaged a cemetery in southern Gaza in a search for the bodies of hostages.[791]

Looting

Israeli soldiers posted videos of their looting Palestinian property on social media, with soldiers reporting that the practice was widespread and that commanders on the ground were largely allowing it to happen.[792][793] The Military Advocate General wrote in a letter to IDF commanders that several incidents were under investigation, with some of the incidents potentially meriting criminal charges.[794][795]

Ecocide

The size and lasting impact of the environmental destruction have led to calls for the Israeli Government to be investigated for the war crime for ecocide under the Rome Statute for “widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment”.[156][157]

Negotiations and diplomacy

Ceasefire

"Ceasefire now" demand at a rally in Toronto, Canada

On 24 October, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a ceasefire.[796][797] This was followed by a United Nations General Assembly vote for a resolution calling for an immediate truce. It received 121 votes in favor and 44 abstentions; 14 countries voted no.[686][798]

On 24 October, US President Joe Biden stated, "We should have those hostages released and then we can talk",[799] and said that a ceasefire would allow Hamas to attack Israel again.[800] On 2 November 2023, Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh stated that if Israel agreed to a ceasefire and the opening of humanitarian corridors to bring more aid into Gaza, Hamas is "ready for political negotiations for a two-state solution with Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine".[801][x] This followed the 1 November statement by Hamas official Ghazi Hamad that Hamas would repeat the 7 October attack time and again until Israel is annihilated.[804] On 3 November, Benjamin Netanyahu stated Israel would not agree to a ceasefire unless Hamas releases all hostages.[805] On 6 November, both Israel and Hamas rejected calls for a ceasefire.[806] On 15 November, Hamas official Izzat al-Risheq stated Israel was "stalling to continue its aggression and war against defenceless civilians".[807]

A truce was in place between 24 November and 1 December 2023, during which Hamas released hostages and Israel released prisoners.[423]

By 13 December 2023, Israel and the United States were becoming increasingly isolated amid growing global calls for a ceasefire.[808][809][810][811] In December, new negotiations mediated by Egypt led to proposals of a multi-phase plan that would see the release of hostages, withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and creation of a technocratic Palestinian government.[812] Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad rejected a permanent ceasefire offer which would have Hamas and the PIJ relinquish their control over Gaza and hold democratic elections.[813][814]

The ceasefire talks continued in Cairo in February and March 2024. The Israeli delegation said that the key issue was Hamas's refusal to hand over the list of hostages that are alive.[815]

Hostage negotiations

Street installation in Ramat Gan, Israel, with photos of the kidnapped hostages, including Yotam Haim, 21 December 2023

The talks between Israel and Hamas on the release of hostages started almost immediately after the start of the war with Qatar and Egypt serving as mediators.[816][817][342][818] The hostage negotiations were linked to ceasefire negotiations, with different factions in the Israeli government holding different positions.[819]

The Abducted and Missing Families Forum, an Israeli group representing the families of those taken hostage in Gaza, said that they supported a blanket release of all Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the return of all Israeli hostages held in Gaza.[820] The leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, said the group was prepared to release all Israeli hostages in return for the release of all Palestinian prisoners. The IDF spokesman dismissed the report as "psychological terror cynically used by Hamas to create pressure".[821]

During the November 2023 prisoner exchange Israel released 240 Palestinian prisoners and Hamas released 105 civilians.[822]

United Nations Security Council

A map that shows the countries and their respective voting in the United Nations General Assembly resolution ES-10/21 calling for an "immediate and sustained" humanitarian truce and cessation of hostilities.
  In favor
  Against
  Abstentions
  Absent
  Non member

On 8 October 2023, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) held a closed-door meeting on the conflict, which concluded without a joint statement being agreed.[823] The Council passed a resolution calling for a humanitarian pause on 15 November.[824] Israel's ambassador to the UN called the resolution "disconnected from reality" and said Israel would "continue acting according to [international] law while the Hamas terrorists will not even read the resolution ... let alone abide by it".[825] On 6 December, UN secretary-general António Guterres invoked Article 99 of the Charter of the United Nations for the first time, which allows him to address matters that threaten "international peace and security" before the UN Security Council.[826][827]

Diplomats, concerned that Israel had no post-war plan and looking to limit the humanitarian crisis as well as any regional expansion of the war, urged delay of a full-scale land invasion of Gaza.[828] Russia requested a UNSC vote on 15 October on a draft resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire.[829] The Russian draft was rejected while negotiations continued on a Brazilian draft.[830]

On 18 October 2023, the US vetoed a UNSC resolution drafted by Brazil that "condemned the Hamas attack on Israel, called for humanitarian pauses in all attacks to allow the delivery of lifesaving aid to civilians, and called for Israel to withdraw its directive for civilians to evacuate the northern part of the Gaza Strip". The draft was supported by 12 of the 15 Council members; the UK and Russia abstained.[831][832] Louis Charbonneau at Human Rights Watch said the US had again "cynically used their veto to prevent the UNSC from acting on Israel and Palestine at a time of unprecedented carnage". The US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, explained that the US wanted more time to let American on-the-ground diplomacy "play out", and criticized the text for failing to mention Israel's right to self-defense, in line with the UN Charter – a point echoed by UK Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward.[833][834][835] Subsequently, on 25 October, China and Russia vetoed a US-drafted resolution, and a Russian drafted resolution was vetoed by the UK and US.[836] Hamas issued a statement praising Russia and China's position and thanking all the countries who demanded an end to Israel's attacks on Gaza.[837][838]

On 15 November 2023, the UNSC passed a resolution focusing on the humanitarian situation, calling for the immediate release of all hostages held by Hamas and for humanitarian corridors to save and protect civilian lives.[839] Malta drafted the resolution; twelve members voted in favor, none against and three abstained. The UK and US abstained; while they supported the emphasis on humanitarian relief, the resolution contained no explicit criticism of Hamas. Russia abstained because it did not call for an immediate ceasefire. The resolution followed a United Nations General Assembly Resolution calling for a cessation of hostilities on 27 October.[840][841]

On 8 December 2023, world leaders, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and UN officials criticized the US for its veto of another UNSC resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. The UK abstained, while the other 13 council members voted in favor.[842][843][844] In response to the US veto, Egypt invoked Resolution 377A, which allows the UN General Assembly to address an issue threatening global security neglected by the UNSC.[845]

On 20 February 2024, the United States vetoed a UNSC resolution proposed by Algeria demanding "an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza", "immediate and unconditional release of all hostages" and "unhindered humanitarian access", supported by 13 council members including permanent members France, China, and Russia; the UK abstained. The US representative said, "Sometimes hard diplomacy takes more time ... [it is] the only path available towards a longer durable peace"; the Algerian representative emphasized that "silence is not a viable option".[846][847]

On 22 March 2024, the United States put forward a draft resolution which stated the "imperative" for "an immediate and sustained ceasefire", facilitating aid delivery and supporting ongoing talks between Israel and Hamas, linked to the release of hostages. It was vetoed by Russia and China with Algeria also voting against. The resolution was supported by 11 other council members; Guyana abstained.[848][849] A key point of criticism was the draft's unusual language – Russia and China said it was not a straightforward "call" or "demand" to halt hostilities, and implied the ceasefire would be conditional on a release of all hostages.[849][850] Critics argued this would leave innocent civilians exposed to continued Israeli attacks until such time as Hamas and Israel agreed a hostage deal.[849][851] Another point of criticism was that the final draft no longer contained clear opposition to a ground offensive in Rafah.[850] While the original draft said Israel's offensive in Rafah "should not proceed under current circumstances", the version presented for the vote only expressed concern that a ground offensive into Rafah "would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement, potentially into neighboring countries, and would have serious implications for regional peace and security."[850] China criticised this backtracking, saying it "would send an utterly wrong signal and lead to severe consequences."[850]

Algeria's representative, Amar Bendjama, during his speech at the United Nations regarding the 2728 resolution.

On 25 March 2024, UNSC resolution 2728 sponsored by Algeria passed demanding an immediate ceasefire and the unconditional release of hostages for the month of Ramadan. The resolution passed with 14 votes in favor and the United States abstaining. US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield stated that the US abstained from the vote since "We did not agree with everything with the resolution ... Certain key edits were ignored, including our request to add a condemnation of Hamas" and stated that the release of captives will lead to the increase in humanitarian aid. Amar Bendjama, the representative of Algeria was quoted saying "Finally, the Security Council is shouldering its responsibility ... The bloodbath has continued for far too long."[852][853]

United Nations Human Rights Council

On 5 April, during its 55th regular session the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted several resolutions regarding the possible genocide committed by Israel in Gaza, and reinforced the illegality of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights. It marked first time that the UN's top rights body has taken action since the start of the war.[854][855] The following resolutions were adopted:

  • A/HRC/55/L.13 – On the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, the Council adopted by a vote of 42 in favour, 2 against and 3 abstentions, a resolution in which it called upon Israel, the occupying power, to immediately end its occupation of the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and to reverse and redress any impediments to the political independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Palestine, and reaffirmed its support for the two-state solution, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security. The Council urged all States to adopt measures as required to promote the realisation of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people.[856][857]
  • A/HRC/55/L.14 – Regarding human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a vote of 29 in favour, 14 against and 4 abstentions, the Council demanded that Israel immediately cease all settlement-related plans and activities in the occupied Syrian Golan and determined that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken or to be taken by Israel that seek to alter the character and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan are null and void.[858][859]
  • A/HRC/55/L.28 – As for Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, the Council adopted by a vote of 36 in favour, 3 against and 8 abstentions a resolution in which it called upon Israel to comply with all its obligations under international law and to cease immediately all actions causing the alteration of the character, status and demographic composition of the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan, and to end without delay its occupation of the territories occupied since 1967. The Council requested the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel to prepare a report on the identities of settlers, as well as settler groups and their members, that have engaged in or continue to engage in acts of terror, violence or intimidation against Palestinian civilians and the actions taken by Israel and by third states, and to present the report to the Council at its fifty-ninth session.[860][861]
  • A/HRC/55/L.30 – In the resolution on the Human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and the obligation to ensure accountability and justice, adopted by a vote of 28 in favour, 6 against and 13 abstentions, the Council demanded that Israel, the occupying power, end its occupation of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem; also demanded that Israel immediately lift its blockade on the Gaza Strip and all other forms of collective punishment; called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, for immediate emergency humanitarian access and assistance, and for the urgent restoration of basic necessities to the Palestinian population in Gaza; called upon all states to take immediate action to prevent the continued forcible transfer of Palestinians within or from Gaza; called upon all states to cease the sale, transfer and diversion of arms, munitions and other military equipment to Israel; urged all states to continue to provide emergency assistance to the Palestinian people and calls upon all States to ensure that the UNRWA receives predictable sustained and sufficient funding to fulfill its mandate; invited the General Assembly to recommend that the government of Switzerland promptly convene the Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Convention on measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem; requested the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel to report on both the direct and indirect transfer or sale of arms, munitions, parts, components and dual use items to Israel, the occupying power, and to analyse the legal consequences of these transfers, and to present its report to the Council at its fifty-ninth session; requested the Office of the High Commissioner to deploy the additional necessary personnel, expertise and logistics to the occupied Palestinian territory country office to document and pursue accountability for violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law committed in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem; and requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights to report on the implementation of the present resolution to the Council at its fifty-eighth session.[862][863][864]

With the adopted resolutions, the Council demanded Israel be held accountable for possible war crimes and demanded the halt of arms sales to Israel.[865][866][867]

Ambassador recalls

On the afternoon of Israel's 31 October airstrike on the Jabalia refugee camp, Bolivia severed all diplomatic ties with Israel, with ambassador recalls by Chile, Colombia, Jordan, Bahrain, Honduras, Turkey, Chad, South Africa, and Belize following over the next two weeks. Bolivia's minister of the presidency demanded an end to the attacks on Gaza, Chilean President Gabriel Boric cited Israel's "collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population", and Colombian President Gustavo Petro cited the "massacre of the Palestinian people".[868][869] Jordan's Foreign Minister cited an "unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe" and condemned the "Israeli war that is killing innocent people in Gaza".[454][870] Bahrain's National Assembly additionally cut off all economic relations,[871] citing a "solid and historical stance that supports the Palestinian cause and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people".[872][873] This decision does not appear to have been implemented.[874] Honduras' Minister of Foreign Affairs cited Israel's violations of international humanitarian law.[875] Turkey cited "the unfolding humanitarian tragedy in Gaza caused by the continuing attacks by Israel against civilians, and Israel's refusal (to accept) a ceasefire".[876][877] Turkey was criticized for still maintaining economic and military relations with Israel.[878][879][880] Turkey started a restriction of exports to Israel on 9 April, after facing this criticism.[881] Chad cited the "unprecedented tide of deadly violence".[882] South Africa recalled its entire diplomatic mission and criticized Israel's ambassador for disparaging those "opposing the atrocities and genocide of the Israeli government".[883] Belize suspended diplomatic relations with Israel, citing the "unceasing, indiscriminate bombing in Gaza" and its violations of international humanitarian law.[884]

Willingness to take refugees by third countries

Both Jordan and Egypt have rejected the idea of hosting Palestinian refugees fleeing from Gaza,[885][886] with King Abdullah II of Jordan warning against pushing Palestinians to seek refuge in Jordan, and emphasizing the need to address the humanitarian situation within Gaza and the West Bank.[887] Both countries have expressed serious concern that Israel may seek to permanently expel Palestinians, a statement that Israel disputes.[888] On 2 November, however, Egypt said it will help around 7,000 foreigners and Palestinians with dual-nationalities through the Rafah Border Crossing.[889]

Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf who has family in Gaza, urged the international community to establish a refugee program for those fleeing violence in Gaza and said that Scotland was ready to offer sanctuary to refugees arriving in the UK.[890] European countries are wary of a refugee influx due to recent pro-Palestinian protests.[891]

In the United States, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested that the problem of refugees be solved by "the region's partners", but emphasized the "historical role" of the US in accepting refugees, while Representative Jamaal Bowman said that the US should welcome refugees who are not affiliated with Hamas. Both former president Donald Trump and Florida governor Ron DeSantis voiced their opposition to accepting any Palestinian refugees.[886]

Reactions

Significant geopolitical divisions emerged. Much of the Western world provided "strong" support to Israel militarily and diplomatically,[892] including the United States,[893] United Kingdom,[894] and Germany[895] although the strong support is "at odds with the attitudes of Western publics which continue to shift away from Israel", according to Hugh Lovatt, a senior policy fellow with the Middle East and North Africa Programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations. Lovatt says that during the Cold War, Israel sided with the West against the Arab countries supported by the Soviets, and western leaders generally see Israel "as a fellow member of the liberal democratic club" and that this partially "explains the continued strong Western support for Israel – which has now largely become reflexive".[892] In contrast, the Islamic world and much of the Global South denounced the actions of Israel and its allies, criticizing the "moral authority of the West" and alleging that it holds double standards surrounding human rights.[892][868] The double standards, in their view, is condemning an illegal occupation in Ukraine while standing firmly behind Israel that has occupied Palestinian lands.[896]

The United States, United Kingdom, and Germany have supplied Israel with substantial military and medical aid.[894][897][898]

Israel

Volunteers organizing deliveries for soldiers in Nesher
Signs in Hebrew in front of dozens of small Israel flags planted in the grass.
Support sign for the "citizens of south" and IDF soldiers at the policeperson roundabout in Ra'anana, October 2023

A public opinion poll conducted on 23–28 October by the polling company iPanel in collaboration with Tel Aviv University found that 57.5% of Israeli Jews believed the IDF was using "too little" firepower in Gaza, while 36.6% thought the amount of firepower was "appropriate", 4.2% were not sure, and only 1.8% thought the IDF was using "too much" firepower. In contrast, 50.5% of Israeli Arabs believed that the IDF was using "too much" firepower in Gaza.[899] According to a survey by the Israel Democracy Institute, only 10% of Israeli Jews would support a pause in the war in Gaza to allow an exchange of Israeli hostages.[899] A public opinion poll conducted in December 2023 by the Israel Democracy Institute found that 87% of Jewish Israelis supported the war in Gaza.[900] 75% of Jewish Israelis rejected the Biden administration's calls to change the IDF's strategy to one that "reduces the heavy bombing of densely populated areas."[901]

According to a survey carried out by the Hebrew University on 7–9 December on the post-war handling of Gaza, 56% of Israelis opposed the annexation of Gaza with 33% in favor. When questioned on who should administer Gaza in the immediate post-war period, 23% supported a coalition of moderate Arab states, 22% Israeli military rule, 18% an international force, 18% Israeli annexation and 11% the Palestinian Authority.[902] The Direct Polls survey found that 83% of Israelis supported encouraging the voluntary emigration of residents of the Gaza Strip.[903] According to a poll published by the Israel Democracy Institute, 91% of Israeli Jews and 24% of Israeli Arabs believe that the IDF is making an effort to follow international law.[904]

In an Israel Democracy Institute survey of 510 Israeli citizens in early February 2024, 68% of survey respondents supported preventing all international aid from entering Gaza.[905]

Around 170 Palestinian citizens of Israel were arrested for posts supporting Palestinians in Gaza, which featured quoting Quran verses, "prayers for the people of Gaza, and political analysis of Israeli military operations".[906] Between 1 October and 1 November, the number of Palestinians held in administrative detention, without charge or trial, rose from 1,319 to 2,070.[907][908][909] Prisoners have been subject to torture and at least four prisoners have died in Israeli custody.[907][908][910] The ethics panel of the Knesset voted to suspend politician Ofer Cassif for 45 days over anti-Israel statements in interviews he made after the war broke out. Following a rally in support of Gaza in Haifa, police commissioner Kobi Shabtai threatened to send antiwar protesters to the Gaza Strip. As of 18 October 63 people have been arrested in Israel on suspicion of supporting or inciting "terror" since the start of the conflict, according to Israeli police.[911]

Amidst the escalating violence, Magen David Adom initiated a blood donation drive and the Education Ministry closed schools on 7 October, transitioning to online learning from 15 October.[912] Various events and performances were cancelled or postponed including the Haifa International Film Festival, a Bruno Mars concert, and football matches scheduled by UEFA.[913] The Israeli energy ministry ordered Chevron to temporarily shut down the offshore Tamar gas field.[914] Following a significant drop in the value of the New Israeli Shekel, the Bank of Israel announced that it would sell up to $30 billion in foreign reserves in its first ever sale of foreign exchange.[915]

Emergency unity government

On 11 October, an emergency unity government was formally announced between Likud and National Unity following a joint statement from the latter party, with Benny Gantz, a former defence minister and military chief of staff, joining a war cabinet also consisting of Netanyahu as Prime Minister and Yoav Gallant as Defence Minister. The statement said the unity government would not promote any policy or laws except those related to the ongoing fighting with Hamas.[916][917] It significantly reduces the influence of Netanyahu's previous far-right coalition partners over the conduct of the war, which was one of Gantz's demands.[918] Haaretz reported that former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eizenkot and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer would join the war cabinet as observers.[916][919][917]

On 29 October, Netanyahu blamed security chiefs for Hamas's attack in a post on X (formerly Twitter); this was later deleted following criticism.[920]

IDF whistleblowers

Sources identified as IDF officials have spoken to press under condition of anonymity regarding military strategies and culture resulting in unprecedented human losses. Among the concerns are applications of artificial intelligence, such as the programs Habsora ("the Gospel"), Lavender, and "Where's Daddy?" that identify and track targets potentially linked to Hamas with minimal human oversight. Policy changes include expanding the threshhold of acceptable civilian casualties and deliberately hitting targets in their homes, often killing entire family lines.[921]

A senior official expressed concern about soldiers "shooting first and asking questions later," particularly in the cases of IDF killing of hostages and the World Central Kitchen drone strikes.[922]

Palestinian territories

Popularity of Hamas

Prior to the war, Hamas was deeply unpopular in Gaza, with 52 percent of Palestinians stating they had no trust at all in the organization.[923][924] Hamas was even more unpopular in the West Bank, with only around twelve percent support.[925] During the war and Israel's bombardment of Gaza, Hamas's popularity among Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank increased, while Palestinian support for peaceful coexistence with Israel declined significantly.[926][927] According to a survey of 668 respondents carried out by Palestinian research firm AWRAD in the beginning of November 2023, 47 percent of Gazans strongly supported the 7 October attack.[928] The overwhelming majority of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank said they would never forget or forgive Israel's behavior in Gaza during the war.[926] Another survey released on 13 December found that 57% of respondents in the Gaza Strip and 82% in the West Bank believed Hamas was correct in launching the 7 October attack, while only 10% said they believed Hamas committed war crimes during the conflict. The survey also found that nearly 60% of respondents in the Palestinian territories agreed with the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority, while 88% supported the resignation of president Mahmoud Abbas.[929] In response to a critical social media video, Hamas issued a public statement warning against the publication of "any pictures, videos or materials that are offensive to the image of the steadfastness and unity of our people in Gaza".[930]

Among Gaza residents to criticize Hamas' actions and their outcome, journalist Muhammad Mansour said: "May Allah curse you, Hamas leadership. Sinwar, you are the offspring of a despicable creature. Allah will avenge the destruction you have inflicted upon us".[931] In early November, hundreds of people at a UN shelter in Gaza city shouted insults against Hamas and cried out that they wanted the war to end, in reaction to Hamas rocket launches at Israel.[932] A spokesman for a Hamas ministry was interrupted during a televised speech by a man with a wounded hand shouting: "May God hold you to account, Hamas!"[932] On Al Jazeera, an elderly woman complained that "aid does not reach the nation and the entire people; Everything goes to their houses; they take it, they will even shoot me and do whatever they want to me."[931]

The Wall Street Journal reported on 21 December that since 7 October, "quiet criticism has begun spreading" against Hamas, with Gazans "blaming the militants for having provoked Israel's wrath and for their inability to shield the population from a devastating war and a humanitarian crisis that deepens by the day". The Journal said that such opposition was unlikely to break out into the open, but that the "simmering opposition raises questions about the group's long-term hold over the strip".[930]

Gaza

Reactions in Gaza ranged from anger at the international community's response to fear.[933][934] The territory faced numerous major crises. The Israeli blockade caused significant difficulties, including a lack of food, medicine, and water.[935] A pediatrics doctor at Kamal Edwan Hospital described the situation in Gaza as "really dangerous",[936] stating that, as a result of Israel's denial of clean water, babies in his ward were experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.[937] Schools in the Gaza Strip were closed until further notice.[281] Yahya al-Sarraj, the mayor of Gaza City, commented that the Israeli siege was a violation of international law and urged the international community to "support the victims".[938]

West Bank

Initially, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asserted the Palestinians' right to self-defense against the "terror of settlers and occupation troops"[939] and condemned the orders by Israel for residents to evacuate north Gaza, labeling it a "second Nakba".[940] Later, Abbas rejected the killing of civilians on both sides, and said that the Palestinian Liberation Organization was the sole representative of the Palestinians.[941]

Following the attack, celebrations occurred in Nablus.[942] France 24 reported "Hamas called on "resistance fighters in the West Bank" to join the battle.[943] Neighborhood watches were established in 50 locations amid fears of reprisals by Israeli settlers, while a general strike was called for 8 October.[277] Seven Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli forces on 7 October,[943] while 126 others were injured.[277] As of 19 October, Al Jazeera reported that 76 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and Jerusalem, eight of them by armed Israeli settlers;[944] the Palestinian Health Ministry said that 61 people have been killed and 1,250 injured in the West Bank.[945] The Palestinian Prisoners Club said that 850 Palestinians, including lawmakers, prominent figures, journalists, and former detainees have been arrested by Israeli authorities since the start of the war.[533]

International

Arab world

In contrast to previous Palestinian–Israeli wars, as many Arab governments such as Egypt and Jordan had strongly negative views on Hamas,[946] they restrained their official reactions to neutral press statements. Public reaction in the Arab world was much more positive towards Hamas, being strongly influenced by Hamas-produced social media videos that were viewed millions of times.[947] The Al-Ahli Arab Hospital explosion, originally blamed on an Israeli airstrike, further damaged diplomatic relations between Israel and Arab states keen to avoid antagonizing their public.[948]

Whereas Al Jazeera, owned by the government of Qatar, gave airtime to Hamas officials, news channels in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, such as Al Arabiya and Sky News Arabia, interviewed mainly Arabic-speaking Jews. News anchors in these countries did not refer to the IDF as an "occupation army", and referred to Palestinian casualties as "victims" rather than "martyrs";[949] however, as the war progressed, these channels increasingly adopted an anti-Israel and pro-Hamas stance.[947] Many in Lebanon, Syria and Egypt also fear that they may unwillingly be drawn into the conflict through the actions of Hezbollah and Iran. In Egypt, populist pro-government talk show hosts opined against Hamas, asking why Egyptians should suffer to help Palestinians.[949] Egypt, despite having being pressed by the United States, refused to accept refugees from Gaza.[950]

A joint Islamic-Arab summit in Riyadh on 11 November 2023 called for the International Criminal Court to investigate "war crimes and crimes against humanity that Israel is committing" in the Palestinian territories and for an immediate end to the fighting in Gaza.[951] The summit was attended by dozens of leaders including Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who had been welcomed back into the Arab League earlier in 2023.[951] Prince Mohammed bin Salman expressed "condemnation and categorical rejection of this barbaric war against our brothers in Palestine".[951]

Many across the Middle East, particularly among the younger population, have been boycotting US brands for perceived complicity in the destruction in Gaza since the start of the war.[952]

Hezbollah

Hezbollah denied knowledge of the attacks and warned the United States not to invade Lebanon, saying that they were prepared to face the US military.[953][954] In a speech on 3 November, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Americans had threatened to bomb Iran,[955] and emphasized that Hezbollah had entered the war the day after Hamas's attack and that it would not stop its ongoing skirmishes with Israel.[956] He stated that the United States was fully responsible for the current war against Gaza and its people, and that Israel was merely the "instrument of execution". He also said that anyone who wants to prevent a regional war must immediately stop the aggression against Gaza.[957][958]

Iran

Iran has praised the attack while being cautious to distance itself from its planning and execution.[959] Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad told the BBC that Hamas had direct backing for the attack from Iran;[960][961] European, Iranian and Syrian officers corroborated Iran's involvement,[962][963] while senior Hamas official Mahmoud Mirdawi said the group planned the attacks on its own.[379] The Israeli army and the United States say that there is no evidence that Iran is connected with the attack by Hamas.[964] American intelligence appeared to show that Hamas's attack on Israel caught Iranian authorities by surprise.[965]

According to a report by Al-Monitor, since the start of the war between Israel and the Gaza militias, Iran has tried to show a face of disinterest in the spillover of the conflict, and on the other hand, it has pursued an active diplomatic campaign to isolate Israel. Supporting the cause of Palestine has been one of the ideological principles of Iran's Shia Islamic theocracy after the 1979 revolution,[966] with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the first supreme leader of Iran, announcing the last Friday of every Ramadan as "Quds Day"[967] and inviting all the Muslims of the world to express solidarity with the legitimate rights of the Palestinian Muslim people.[968]

The Iranian government opened an account for people to deliver charitable aid.[969] It also opened a website and reported that more than six million volunteered to fight.[970] Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened that Islamic resistance was going to become unstoppable should the war continue.[971] His spokesperson later said that the 2015 Iran nuclear deal would have delayed it but Israel would have collapsed within five years.[972] Khamenei pointed to foreign visits to Israel and said that the fall of Israel was imminent.[973]

On 1 November, the Iranian government criminalized expressions of support for Israel and making contact with its people.[974][975] That same day, Khamenei called on Muslim states to impose a food and fuel blockade on Israel.[976]

Khamenei however conveyed to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh that Iran would not directly intervene in the conflict with Israel, citing lack of prior warning about the 7 October attack. Despite this, Iran pledged to continue providing political and moral support to Hamas, urging restraint against calls for direct involvement by Iran and its ally Hezbollah.[977][978] The IRGC's Quds Force promised it would continue supporting Hamas,[979] while the IRGC's commander General Hossein Salami said that the war would bring about a political and economic decline of the US.[980][981]

United States

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant in Tel Aviv, Israel, 13 October 2023
The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and USS Gerald R. Ford carrier strike groups in November 2023

Polling has indicated a divide between government policy on the Israel–Hamas war and the views of the general public.[982] A March 2024 Gallup poll found that a strong majority of Americans disapproved of Israeli conduct during the war.[983] It found that 36% approved "of the military action Israel has taken in Gaza" while 55% disapproved.[983] A November 2023 poll had 68% of Americans agreeing with a statement that "Israel should call a ceasefire and try to negotiate". 43% opposed military aid to Israel and 39% said that the U.S. should be a neutral mediator.[982] A February 2024 Associated Press poll found that 44% saw Israel as "a partner that the U.S. should cooperate with, but doesn't share its interests and values", while 35% saw Israel "as an ally that shares U.S. interests and values". 50% of Americans believed Israel had "gone too far" in its response, 31% thought Israel had "been about right" and 15% thought Israel had "not gone far enough".[984] Young Americans have been significantly less supportive of Israel than older generations.[985][986] On 25 February 2024, Aaron Bushnell, a 25-year-old serviceman of the United States Air Force, fatally self-immolated outside the front gate of the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C. in protest of the ongoing military support of the war.[987][988]

Hours after Hamas's attack, US President Biden promised "rock-solid and unwavering" support to Israel and called Hamas's attack "unadulterated evil", comparing the group to ISIS.[893] Biden said the attack on Israel was intended in part to scuttle an Israel-Saudi Arabia normalization agreement.[989] To replenish Israel's stockpiles, the US said it would send Iron Dome missiles, small bombs, and JDAM conversion kits, in addition to fulfilling previous contracts to deliver F-35 fighter jets, CH-53 helicopters, and KC-46 air refueling tankers.[990] Biden also called on Congress to pass $14.3 billion in emergency military aid to Israel.[990][991] Details of weapons sent to Israel, which have been arriving daily, have been kept secret. Leaked details have shown that the US has sent laser-guided missiles, 155mm shells, new army vehicles, among others, at Israel's request.[992] Early in the war, the Pentagon said it would impose no limits on Israel's use of American weapons.[990]

A United States Navy carrier strike group, including the aircraft carriers USS Gerald R. Ford and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean after the Hamas attack,[898][993] reportedly to deter other actors from entering the conflict.[994] In mid-October, 2,000 US troops were also prepared for possible deployment to Israel.[995] US officials said the Biden administration advised Israel to delay its October ground invasion of the Gaza Strip to allow more time for hostage negotiations.[996]

Foreign Policy reported on a "groundswell of opposition" among US diplomats and national security officials, against what they saw as Biden's "blank check" for the Israeli counterattack.[997] In early November, "more than 630 employees" of the US Agency for International Development signed a letter calling for an "immediate ceasefire".[998]

The House of Representatives on 5 December passed a resolution that included language that said the House "clearly and firmly states that anti-Zionism is antisemitism" and which condemned the slogan "From the river to the sea".[999]

As the war went on, the US government became more critical of Israel and their relations became strained.[1000][1001] US Vice-President Kamala Harris said on 2 December that "too many innocent Palestinians have been killed" and that "international humanitarian law must be respected". She said that at the end of the conflict there must be "No forcible displacement, no reoccupation, no siege or blockade, no reduction in territory, and no use of Gaza as a platform for terrorism".[1002] Ten days later, US President Biden warned that Israel was losing international support because of its "indiscriminate bombing" of Gaza.[1003] Biden criticized Israel's war cabinet and called on Netanyahu to replace it.[1004]

In February 2024, Biden called Israel's actions in Gaza "over the top",[1005] and issued a national security directive requiring written assurances from Israel (and other countries) that it was using US-supplied weapons in line with international law.[1006]

On 4 March, US Vice-President Harris called for "an immediate ceasefire" because of "the immense scale of suffering in Gaza". She said Israel must let more aid into Gaza and was imposing "unnecessary restrictions".[1007] In a speech on 14 March, the US Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, berated Israeli PM Netanyahu as an "obstacle to peace". He said that Netanyahu "has been too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza" and that "Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah".[1008] Schumer called for new Israeli elections.[1009] President Biden praised the speech and said Schumer's "serious concerns" are shared by many Americans.[1008]

Mounting criticism of Israel's actions has not led to a change in US policy regarding the sale of weapons to Israel. As of March 2024, Washington has approved more than 100 military sales to Israel. The Biden administration has bypassed congressional and public scrutiny by separating arms transfers into sales below the dollar amount where an official public notification is required.[1010] On 29 March the Washington Post reported that the US approved billions of dollars in additional weapons transfers.[1011] On 2 April 2024, it was reported the Biden administration put pressure on Congress to approve the large-scale sale of F-15 fighters to Israel in a deal worth 18 billion dollars.[1012]

United Nations

On 12 December 2023, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution ES-10/22 calling for an immediate ceasefire and the "immediate and unconditional" release of the hostages.
  In favor
  Against
  Abstentions
  Absent
  Non member

On 25 October, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a ceasefire, during a speech in which he stated that the attacks by Hamas "did not happen in a vacuum" and needed to be understood in the context of 56 years of Israel's "suffocating occupation" of Palestinians, further stating, "the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people."[1013][1014] Israel responded by saying it would ban UN representatives from Israel to "teach them a lesson", and called for the Secretary-General's resignation.[1015][1016] The Secretary-General rejected the Israeli accusations.[1017]

On 27 October, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution ES-10/21 calling for an immediate and sustained humanitarian truce and cessation of hostilities and condemned "all acts of violence against Palestinian and Israeli civilians, including all acts of terror and indiscriminate attacks", adopted by a vote of 121 states to 14, with 44 abstentions.[1018]

In remarks to the Security Council, UN Secretary-General Guterres expressed deep concern at "clear violations of international humanitarian law" in Gaza and also said, "It is important to also recognise the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation", leading the Israeli ambassador Gilad Erdan to call for Guterres's resignation.[1019][1020][1014] Following this, Guterres said that he was "shocked by the misrepresentations" of his statement, pointing out he had also said "... the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas".[1021][1022]

On 12 December, the UN General Assembly voted to demand "immediate humanitarian ceasefire". The resolution passed overwhelmingly with 153 votes for, 23 neutral and 10 against.[1023]

On 26 March, the UN Security council adopted a resolution demanding a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and the release of hostages. Under Chapter V, Article 25, of the UN Charter, the resolution is binding, however, UN spokesperson Farhan Haq stated that "Ultimately, implementation is a question of international will."[1024]

On 5 April, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres criticized Israel for the high number of aid workers killed in the conflict.[1025]

Other

Solidarity with Israelis in Berlin, Germany on 8 October
Solidarity with Palestinians in Melbourne on 15 October

International leaders from Argentina,[1026] India,[1027] Philippines,[1028] the United States, and European countries condemned the attacks by Hamas. They expressed solidarity with Israel, affirmed Israel's right to defend itself from armed attacks, and described Hamas's tactics as terrorism.[1029][1030] South Korea condemned Hamas and called the attack "indiscriminate", expressing worries that despite missile interceptor defense systems it would remain vulnerable if North Korea attempted a similar attack on South Korea.[1031] Most Latin American governments condemned Hamas's attacks in Israel, while some, such as Colombia, also expressed solidarity with Palestinians.[1032] The European Union announced it would review aid to Palestinian authorities to ensure the aid was not funding terrorism, and subsequently announced that immediate humanitarian aid to Gaza would be tripled.[1033][1034]

Austria, Germany, and Sweden suspended development aid to Palestine in response to Hamas's attack and said that they would review other projects and aid given.[1035][1036][1037] Germany sent two Heron TP drones to Israel.[1038][1039] On 8 November 2023, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs announced that the German government had authorized a tenfold increase in arms exports to Israel; the export of military equipment to Israel would be treated and approved as a priority. Exports worth around 32 million euros in all of 2022 rose to almost 303 million euros in 2023, most of which was authorized after the start of the war.[1040] Heads of the World Uyghur Congress[1041] and the Uyghur Human Rights Project condemned Hamas while East Turkistan Government-in-Exile minister Salih Hudayar declared support for Israel.[1042] Croatia's president Zoran Milanović publicly stated that Israel had lost his sympathy due to its humanitarian crimes and "reprisal actions" in Gaza.[1043] Colombian president Gustavo Petro likened IDF attacks against Palestinians to Nazis and asked the Israeli ambassador to "apologize and leave the country".[1044] Spain's deputy prime minister Yolanda Díaz called on the international community to put pressure on Israel to stop what she called a massacre in Gaza.[1045] On multiple occasions, Pope Francis referred to Israel's actions in Gaza as "terror" and "terrorism".[1046]

Responses from African governments varied, showing division about the source of the conflict and who is to blame. However, most expressed grief and deep concerns about the outbreak of violence, with condemnations of attacks against civilians and calls for restraint and de-escalation to prevent further loss of Israeli and Palestinian lives.[1047]

As many as 20,000 Thai workers (around half of Israel's migrant work force) live all over Israel, including areas close to Gaza.[1048] Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said their stance towards "the deadly Hamas-led attack against Israel is one of neutrality, and the Kingdom promotes a solution that would allow Palestine and Israel to coexist".[1049]

Queen Rania of Jordan said leaders of Western countries had double standards and were "complicit" in civilian suffering in Gaza.[1050]

A summit in Amman hosted by King Abdullah II that was also to be attended by leaders of the Palestinian Authority, US and Egypt was cancelled by Jordan on 18 October, in response to the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital explosion.[1051] On the same day, China said Palestinians had been forced to move south because of Israel's evacuation order "only to suffer from air strikes in the south as well" and called the hospital explosion a "heinous attack"[1052] while Russia labeled the explosion as a war crime, saying that the US was ultimately responsible.[1053]

On 31 October, Bolivia severed diplomatic relations with Israel due to what the deputy foreign minister called "the aggressive and disproportionate Israeli military offensive".[1054] Several other countries followed suit in severing relations with Israel.[1055] South Africa, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros and Djibouti submitted a referral to the International Criminal Court asking for an investigation into possible war crimes by Israel in the Palestinian territories.[1056]

Evacuations of foreign nationals

Brazil announced a rescue operation of nationals using an air force transport aircraft.[1057] Poland announced that it would deploy two C-130 transport planes to evacuate 200 of its nationals from Ben-Gurion airport.[1058] Hungary evacuated 215 of its nationals from Israel using two aircraft on 9 October, while Romania evacuated 245 of its citizens, including two pilgrimage groups, on two TAROM planes and two private aircraft on the same day.[1059] Australia also announced repatriation flights.[1060] 300 Nigerian pilgrims in Israel fled to Jordan before being airlifted home.[1061]

On 12 October, the United Kingdom arranged flights for its citizens in Israel; the first plane departed Ben Gurion Airport that day. The government had said before that it would not be evacuating its nationals due to available commercial flights. However, most commercial flights were suspended.[1062] Nepal arranged a flight to evacuate at least 254 of its citizens who were studying in Israel.[1063] India launched Operation Ajay to evacuate its citizens from Israel.[1064] Ukraine has facilitated the evacuation of around 450 of its citizens from Israel as of 18 October, with additional evacuation flights in the planning for the near future.[1065]

Regional effects

According to Daniel Byman and Alexander Palmer, the attack showcased the decline of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the rise of Hamas as a power center in Palestinian politics. They predicted the PLO's further decline if the status quo held.[1066] Laith Alajlouni wrote that the immediate effect of the Hamas offensive was to unite Hamas and PLO. However it may soon lead to conflict between them, possibly leading the PLO losing control of the security situation in the West Bank, if more militant groups there begin to launch their own independent attacks.[1067]

Political journalist Peter Beaumont described the attack as "an intelligence failure for the ages" on the part of the Israeli government.[1068] The Jewish News Syndicate deemed it a "failure of imagination".[1069] A BBC report on the intelligence failure commented that "it must have taken extraordinary levels of operational security by Hamas".[1070] US officials expressed shock at how Israeli intelligence appeared to be unaware of any preparations by Hamas.[1071] Israeli officials later anonymously reported to Axios that the IDF and Shin Bet had detected abnormal movements by Hamas the day before the attack, but decided to wait for additional intelligence before raising the military's alert level. They also did not inform political leaders of the intelligence reports.[1072]

Amit Segal, chief political commentator for Israel's Channel 12, said that the conflict would test Benjamin Netanyahu's survival as prime minister, noting that past wars had toppled the governments of several of his predecessors such as that of Golda Meir following the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Menachem Begin following the 1982 Lebanon War, and Ehud Olmert following the 2006 Lebanon War.[1073] Prior to the formation of an emergency unity government on 11 October, Politico described the then-potential move as Netanyahu's opportunity to correct his course and save his political legacy.[1074] Citing the Israeli intelligence failure, which some observers attributed to the incumbent government focusing more on internal dissent, the judicial reform, and efforts to deepen Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories,[1075] some commentators criticized Netanyahu for putting aside the PLO and propping up Hamas,[249] and described him as a liability.[262][1076]

In an analysis by The Times of Israel, the newspaper wrote, "Hamas has violently shifted the world's eyes back to the Palestinians and dealt a severe blow to the momentum for securing a landmark US-brokered deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia."[1077] Andreas Kluth wrote in his Bloomberg News column that Hamas "torched Biden's deal to remake the Middle East", arguing that the deal that was being discussed between Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States would have left Palestinians in the cold, so the group decided to "blow the whole thing up". He added that, viewed from Gaza, things were only going to get worse, considering that Netanyahu's coalition partners opposed a two-state solution for the conflict. He suggested they would prefer to annex the entirety of the West Bank, even at the expense of turning Israel into an apartheid state.[1078]

Economic impact

On 9 November, the Bank of Israel reported that the drop in labor supply caused by the war was costing the Israeli economy $600 million a week, or 6% of weekly GDP. The bank also stated that the estimate does not reflect total damage and did not include damages caused by the absence of Palestinian and foreign workers.[1079] In the final quarter of 2023, the Israeli economy shrank by 5.2% quarter-to-quarter due to labour shortages in construction and from the mobilization of 300,000 reservists.[1080] While Israel did still see economic growth of 2%, this was down from 6.5% growth in the year before the war. Further consequences of the war were that consumer spending declined 27%, imports declined by 42% and exports were reported to decline by 18%.

Israel's high-tech factories reported on 25 December that they had been having trouble with electronic imports from China due to recent bureaucratic obstacles, leading to higher import costs and delayed delivery times.[1081] Israeli officials also reported that China had refused to send workers to their country during the war against the backdrop of a worker shortage in Israel's construction and farming sectors.[1082] China's actions were described as a de facto sanction.[1083][1081]

The Water Transport Workers Federation of India, a trade union representing 11 major Indian ports and 3,500 workers, said it would refuse to operate shipments carrying weapons to Israel.[1084] The declaration came a few months after one Indian company halted production of Israeli police uniforms due to the war in Gaza.[1085]

Media coverage

Criticism from journalists

Over 750 journalists signed an open letter condemning "Israel's killing of reporters in Gaza and criticizing Western media's coverage of the war". The letter said newsrooms are "accountable for dehumanizing rhetoric that has served to justify ethnic cleansing of Palestinians". Signers of the letter were criticized for potentially impeding their organizations' ability to gather news, and could face management backlash,[1086] Semafor reported that Los Angeles Times journalists who signed the letter were barred from covering the Gaza war "in any way" for at least three months.[1087]

On 13 November 11 international news organizations sent a letter to Israel and Egypt, asking for access to the Gaza Strip to cover the war.[1088]

CBS reported on 14 December a statement of the International Federation of Journalists noting that "the number of journalists killed in the past two months in the war in Gaza has surpassed the amount killed in the Vietnam War, which lasted two decades".[1089] More than 50 Palestinian journalists lost their lives.[1089] Various dangerous facts such as airstrikes, but also starvation due to lack of food, risks linking for having no clean water available and shelter made that "Palestine is one of the most dangerous places for a journalist to do their job".[1089] Reporters Without Borders filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court, under section 8.2.b of the Rome Statute accusing Israel of committing war crimes against 8 journalists.[1090][1091] It also lodged a complaint against Hamas, under section 8.2.a of the Rome Statute for the killing of a reporter covering the 7 October attack.[1090]

The Committee to Protect Journalists has accused Israel of targeting journalists reporting from Gaza and their families, saying that in at least two cases, "journalists reported receiving threats from Israeli officials and Israel Defense Forces officers before their family members were killed".[1092]

Unsubstantiated reports of certain 7 October atrocities

In the aftermath of the initial Hamas assault, witnesses from the IDF and the Israeli organization ZAKA reported on various media outlets that they had seen bodies of beheaded infants and children at the site of the Kfar Aza massacre.[1093][1094][1095] This claim was repeated by the US President Biden and by Secretary of State Blinken with the White House subsequently saying that the President was referring to the reports of beheadings.[1096][1097]

However, these stories were later found to be untrue or unverified.[1098][1097][1099] In reality, only two babies were known to have died on 7 October, one from a bullet and the other due to complications after birth.[1098]

Embedded journalists with Israel

Foreign media such as CNN, ABC, NBC, The New York Times, and Fox News, have limited access to Gaza only in the presence of Israeli soldiers. Vox reported that the news organizations "have to submit all materials and footage to the IDF for review before publication".[1091]

Censorship by social media companies

On 20 December, Human Rights Watch issued a 51-page report documenting Meta's pattern of removal and suppression of speech on Facebook and Instagram including peaceful expression in support of Palestine and public debate about Palestinian human rights.[1100]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b c In the Gaza Strip, smaller Palestinian groups fighting in the war include: Palestinian Freedom Movement (Al-Ansar Brigades),[6][7] Palestinian Mujahideen Movement[4][6][7] Jaysh al-Ummah,[8] and various minor al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades splinter groups (several of which possibly rejoined the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades just before the war).[7] Furthermore, a number of Palestinian militant groups in the West Bank have involved themselves in the conflict, including: Lions' Den,[9] and various al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades sub-groups such as Hornets' Nest,[10] Jenin Battalion,[11] Qalqilya Battalion, etc.[11]
  2. ^ Including 169,500 active personnel[81] and 360,000 reservists[82]
  3. ^ Per the UN[87]
  4. ^ Per Gaza Health Ministry, the total number of deaths are 34,097 including:[83]
    • 14,000+ children[84]
    • 9,220+ women[85]
    • 1,049 elderly[86]
    • 364 paramedics and medical staff[85]
    • 152 UN staff[c]
    • 200+ journalists[85]

    Per Israel:

    • 13,000–19,500 civilians (as of 10 March 2024)[88]
    • 13,000+ Hamas fighters (as of 29 February 2024)[89]

    Per US intelligence:

    • 5,000-9,000 militants (as of 21 January 2024) [90]
  5. ^ 75% women and children[83][91]
  6. ^ 70% women and children[85]
  7. ^ Per Israel
  8. ^ Per Palestinian Authority
  9. ^ Including: 116 children[92][95]
  10. ^ Per Hezbollah, Lebanon and Israel
  11. ^ Including a Canadian, Australian and Syrian national[105][106]
  12. ^ Including:
  13. ^ Per Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
  14. ^ Including:[109][110][111]
    • 80 Iran-backed militiamen
    • 52 Syrian soldiers
    • 42 Hezbollah fighters
    • 27 IRGC soldiers
    • 6 unidentified fighters
    • 2 Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters
    • 15 civilians
  15. ^ Including:
  16. ^ Including:[75]
  17. ^ Including:[124][125][126]
  18. ^ Per the UN[135]
  19. ^ Including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
  20. ^ These casualty numbers exclude the invading Palestinian militants who died in the subsequent fighting with Israeli armed personnel.
  21. ^ Sources that say Hamas calls for Israel's destruction cite the 1988 Hamas charter, while sources that say Hamas has accepted the 1967 borders cite the 2017 Hamas charter, 2005 Palestinian Cairo Declaration and 2006 Palestinian Prisoners' Document.
  22. ^ At the same time the vote was being held at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Israeli airstrikes killed dozens of Palestinians in Gaza.[693]
  23. ^ Francesca Albanese, Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, Balakrishnan Rajagopal [de], Aua Baldé, Gabriella Citroni, Angkhana Neelapaijit, Grażyna Baranowska, Ana Lorena Delgadillo Pérez, Reem Alsalem, Mama Fatima Singhateh, Morris Tidball-Binz [de], Ian Fry [de], Javaid Rehman, Siobhán Mullally [de], Ashwini K. P. [de], Tomoya Obokata, Fernand de Varennes [de], Michael Fakhri, Irene Khan, Mary Lawlor, Dorothy Estrada-Tanck [de], Ivana Radačić [hr], Elizabeth Broderick, Meskerem Geset Techane, Melissa Upreti, Farida Shaheed, Mohamed Abdelsalam Babiker [de], Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Attiya Waris, Vitit Muntarbhorn, Barbara G. Reynolds [de], Bina D'Costa, Catherine S. Namakula, Dominique Day, Miriam Ekiudoko, Isha Dyfan, Alexandra Xanthaki [de], José Francisco Calí Tzay, Richard Bennett [de], Obiora C. Okafor, David Richard Boyd, Livingstone Sewanyana, Alice Jill Edwards, Muluka-Anne Miti-Drummond [de], Ravindran Daniel, Sorcha MacLeod, Chris Kwaja, Carlos Salazar Couto, and Surya Deva [de].[771]
  24. ^ East Jerusalem is considered Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory under international law.[802][803]

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