Smoke rises following an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip, 06 November 2023. EFE-EPA/MOHAMMED SABER

One month on, 11,000 dead, no end in sight to Israel-Hamas war

By Pablo Duer

Israeli army flares illuminate the sky over Al Shatea refugee camp during an exchange of fire between the Israeli army and militants of the Ezz Al-Din Al Qassam militia, the military wing of the Hamas movement, in the northern Gaza Strip, 05 November 2023. EFE-EPA/MOHAMMED SABER

Jerusalem, Nov 6 (EFE).- The death toll in a month-long war between Israel and Hamas has exceeded 11,000, with the Israeli military entering the besieged Gaza Strip after a brutal bombing campaign, sparking a severe humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave with no clear end in sight.

Residents evacuate northern Gaza Strip by foot following the latest Israeli warning during increased military operations in the northern Gaza Strip, 05 November 2023. EFE-EPA/MOHAMMED SABER

A month ago, Israel woke up to the deadliest tragedy in its 75-year history, when Hamas militants went on a killing spree and stormed into Israeli territory, butchering more than 1,400 and wounding 5,000, most of them civilians, and taking over 240 hostages into Gaza.

Smoke rises following Israeli air strikes in the northern Gaza Strip, 05 November 2023. EFE-EPA/MOHAMMED SABER

What followed became the bloodiest month for the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza. The Israeli military, caught off-guard by the Islamist militants, retaliated brutally and bombed the impoverished strip in a daily campaign, killing more than 9,700 Palestinians, including 4,000 children.

The military onslaught wounded almost 25,000, internally displacing around 1.5 million in the strip. The conflict also forced 200,000 Israelis from their homes.

While the casualty figures are unprecedented, they do not fully capture the harrowing ordeal both sides have endured over the past month.

Mass graves filled with corpses and the dead covered in debris in Gaza, along with containers holding the bodies of mutilated civilians awaiting identification by Israeli forensics, depict one of the most harrowing scenes in the history of regional conflicts.

“The terrorist attack represents a turning point for Israel,” Miri Eisin, who served more than 20 years in the Israeli military intelligence and heads the International Counterterrorism Institute, told EFE.

“The massacre changed us completely, both in how we see Hamas and in our military actions. The destruction of Hamas capabilities is the only alternative and that means a long and hard campaign.”

To dismantle Hamas and gain control of Gaza, Israel conducted continuous bombings for 31 days and deployed troops that encircled the strategic Gaza city in under ten days after the ground offensive began on Oct.27. Israel has defended its actions as self-defense, but not everyone agrees.

Tahani Mustafa, an analyst with the International Crisis Group, said the Israeli response had already gone beyond the self-defense justification.

“Israel itself has already admitted that this goes beyond self-defense,” Mustafa told EFE. “The Palestinians continue to be treated as a problem to be solved and not as a people with legitimate rights and concerns.”

Several global organizations have accused Israel of grave human rights violations due to its strikes on civil infrastructure in Gaza, including schools and hospitals.

Israel has imposed a strict blockade around the enclave, obstructing the supply of essential resources such as water, food, electricity, medical supplies, and fuel.

“No one has learned anything, and those who have the opportunity to redirect the situation do not seem interested,” said Mustafa.

She noted that the only thing the war created was “a gigantic humanitarian catastrophe.”

The Palestinian analyst highlighted the regional dimension of the conflict, which she said could be “a turning point in the Middle East.”

It refers to the spillover of violence to other fronts, mainly the border between Israel and Lebanon, where more than 80 people have died in the last month due to the frequent exchanges of fire between the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah and the Israeli military.

Added to this was a series of attacks on Israel from Yemen and a significant spike in violence in the occupied West Bank, which was already experiencing its bloodiest year since the Second Intifada (2000-2005).

Some 150 Palestinians and two Israelis have died in the occupied territory since Oct. 7.

Both experts ruled out the possibility of a cessation of hostilities sometime soon.

“For Israel, the idea of a ceasefire is irrelevant, the only thing we could consider are humanitarian pauses,” said Eisin.

Mustafa said the Israeli government, made up of right-wing, far-right, and ultra-Orthodox parties, did not have the capacity or the interest to de-escalate the conflict and was en-cashing the situation for domestic politics. EFE