The Israeli army is launching a new offensive in the Gaza Strip, in response to relentless rocket attacks by the Islamist militant group Hamas. On Monday night, as many as 12 people were killed in Israeli airstrikes in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, from which Hamas has been firing rockets into Israel, striking targets far to the north of where it was previously believed Hamas had the capability to strike, including Tel Aviv.
Israel's cabinet authorized the military to call up 40,000 reservists, and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that "we are preparing for a battle against Hamas which will not end within a few days."
Tensions between Israel and the Arab militant group were already at the boiling point, but now there's a real chance for the of the first full-blown war between the two sides since 2012. This particular conflict started with the killings of four young boys, three Israelis in the first incident, and one Palestinian in the second. The backlash from these murders has evolved into a crisis that's challenging both societies.
The conflict continues to escalate with no clear end in sight. The airstrikes on Gaza targeted weapons storage, command centers, smuggling tunnels, homes of suspected militants, and the alleged militants themselves. An urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council was called, and a statement from Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's office was released; Egypt often acts as a negotiator between the two sides. It said that strong efforts were underway to negotiate an end to the outbreak of violence.
However, neither the Israeli government nor Hamas gave any indication that the confrontation would soon ease.
Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal blamed Israel for the escalation of hostilities. "We did not ask for this war. It was forced upon us," he said in a television interview in Qatar. "We will do what we have to do to defend ourselves and our people and to live in dignity, even if we have to do it alone."
The violence may mean the end of the current "unity deal" between enemies Hamas and Fatah, the more moderate Arab militia that rules the West Bank. Fatah had no part in the provocative Hamas missile strikes, and is trying to stay neutral in the current conflict. This undercuts the so-called "two-state solution" often touted by Liberals — how can there be a single, unified, "Palestinian" state, when the West Bank and Gaza are non-contiguous, and the militias ruling each area despise each other?
Hopefully, this chaos will ease soon — or else this might escalate to an all-out war that the United States might have to intervene in, and who knows where that can go. Stay tuned for more info as the situation progresses.