It was the sixth of October 1973. The Jews of Israel were celebrating Yom Kippur, the holiest religious festival of the year. On that day, a joint army consisting of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria immediately invaded Israel. The Israeli government as well as the army was shocked by this attack. They had no prior information about such an attack. This conflict that lasted for nineteen days is known as the Yom Kippur War or the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. The goal of the invading Arab forces was to retake the territory captured by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

The Yom Kippur War

2,656 Israeli soldiers died and another 7,251 were injured in this war that lasted for nineteen days which the Arab forces could not regain their territory. During the Civil War, the United States supported Israel and the Soviet Union supported the Arab League. It was during this conflict that the two world powers came close to nuclear war after the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Hamas attack that surprised Israel

On the 7th of this month, fifty years since the Yom Kippur War, Hamas launched a massive attack on southern Israel. It was launched from the air, sea and land. More than four thousand rockets were fired from Gaza to Israel on the first day alone. This Hamas attack is an attack that stunned Israel just like the attack by the Arab front led by Egypt and Syria fifty years ago.

Taking hostages is a war crime

“Hostage taking in the context of hostilities is a war crime. UN experts said civilians taken by Hamas must be released immediately and their fate and whereabouts revealed.

Until 15 October Israeli air, land and sea attacks against the Gaza Strip have killed 2,600 Palestinians, including at least 724 adults and children, injuring more than 9714. Further 54 Palentinians reported killed in the West Bank and 1100 wounded. At least 1300 Israelis has been killed and 3300 wounded.

The airstrikes seem to have targeted populated areas including markets. Two hospitals and residential buildings were destroyed and 20 United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) facilities, including schools housing displaced civilians, were damaged.

As of October 15, the United Nations estimated that at least 423,000 people were displaced within the Gaza Strip and nearly 218,600 people were displaced and sheltered in 92 UNRWA schools across the Gaza Strip. This was the worst fighting between the two sides since the Yom Kippur War, fifty years later.

“The indiscriminate killing of civilians in the context of hostilities without regard to the principles of distinction, precaution and proportionality is a war crime,” the experts said.

They stressed that the incessant rocket attacks, bombing of civilian infrastructure and shelling of populated areas, whether by Palestinian armed groups or the Israeli Defense Forces, constitute serious violations of international humanitarian law.

What is Hamas?

Hamas is called Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya movement. It means Islamic Resistance Movement. Hamas was founded by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, a Muslim Brotherhood activist. He was educated in the Islamic religion in Egypt and engaged in welfare work in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Hamas emerged as a radical Islamic organization that provided an alternative to Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Hamas, which strongly criticized the financial corruption within the Palestine Liberation Organization, gradually consolidated its power in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas extremists who rejected the Oslo Accords

In April 1993, PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo Accords. This historic agreement established limited autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip under a newly created governing structure called the Palestinian Authority. Hamas rejected the Oslo Accords and denounced the PLO and Israel’s recognition of each other. The United States and the European Union have designated Hamas as a terrorist organization that attacks Israel.

What is the Gaza Strip?

The Gaza Strip is an area of 365 square kilometers bordered by Egypt, Israel and the Mediterranean Sea. Its population is 2.4 million. It is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. The Oslo Accords consist of the Palestinian Authority as an amalgamation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Israel occupied Gaza from 1967 to 2005. In 2005, Israeli forces withdrew from Gaza. In 2006, Hamas defeated the PLO-affiliated Fatah group and established the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip. Before that, there was armed conflict between the two sides for about a week. There, Hamas armed operatives managed to drive the Fatah group out of the Gaza Strip. But the PLO-affiliated Fatah group took power in the western belt. These two groups that stand for the liberation of the Palestinian people are still at war. Israel imposed sanctions against Hamas after it seized power in the Gaza Strip. Due to these sanctions, the Palestinian people living there do not get even the basic needs including food, electricity and medicine properly. Fifty percent of Gaza’s population is unemployed. Eighty percent of the population lives on food subsidies. Israelis decide how much food to be sent to the Gaza. There is only one power plant in Gaza which is constantly bombed by the Israeli forces. The youth living in Gaza are deprived of proper education and job opportunities. Their only popular option is to join an extremist group like Hamas. Former British premier call the Gaza Strip the world’s largest open prison.

Hamas is a popular organization among the Palestinian people

A June 2023 poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) revealed that one-third of Palestinians strongly believe that the Hamas-Fatah conflict is hindering the Palestinian people’s progress. The poll also revealed that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are ready to support Ismail Haniyeh, who is the leader of the Hamas organization and unofficial prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, with over fifty percent support in the upcoming presidential elections. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has thirty-three percent of the popular vote. No elections have been held in Palestine since 2008. Abbas has also postponed the national elections to be held in 2021 indefinitely. Many foreign commentators point out that Abbas’s aim is to prevent the victory of Hamas.

Is Iran Behind Hamas?

Hamas became popular among the Palestinian people due to PLO corruption and a somewhat quiet policy in the face of Israeli attacks. Since Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip, it has occasionally fired rockets at Israel. Initially these rockets were given to Hamas by Iran and then under the training of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Hamas started producing these rockets in Gaza. Hamaz constantly goes inside Israel and launches immediate attacks. An Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, was kidnapped in a similar attack in 2006. He was held by Hamas for five years and released in exchange for a thousand Palestinian suspects in custody. This time, Hamas has kidnapped a large number of people, including 5 Israeli generals. Americans are among them.

Year 2021 Hamas attack

In May 2021, Hamas launched another attack on Israel. During the eleven-day battle, Hamas fired more than four thousand rockets. Ten Israeli citizens were killed and hundreds injured in the attack. The Israeli counter-attacks caused a great loss of life to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and about $290 million in property damage was caused. In this conflict, the pro-Iranian Hezbollah group in Lebanon launched attacks on Israel together with the Hamas organization. Iran is the main source of funding for Hamas. They provide funds, weapons and training. It is reported that Iran gives 100 million dollars annually to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and other Palestinian groups, which are currently designated as terrorist organizations.

Turkish, Qatari, Saudi support for Hamas

After President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to power in 2002, Turkey also became a strong supporter of Hamas. The Turkish government emphasizes that it supports Hamas only politically. But Israel accuses Turkey of funding Hamas.

In addition to Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Arab countries are known to fund Hamas. Due to these provisions as well as a certain will of the people, the Hamas organization has become the main force in the Palestinian liberation movement today.

Why did Israel hesitate in the face of the Hamas attack?

America is Israel’s main military backer. America annually provides billions of dollars in modern military equipment and aid. The value of the military aid given in 2020 is about 3.8 billion dollars. Israel inherits some of the highest military technology in the world. Their intelligence agency Mossad is the number one intelligence agency in the world. How could an organization like Hamas launch such a massive attack on a country with such a strong organized military infrastructure? Especially how was it possible to launch an attack that stunned the world?

The results of Benjamin Netanyahu’s hunger for power

Many military analysts believe that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his extremist government’s greed for political power paved the way for such a massive attack. Netanyahu’s plan to destroy the independence of Israel’s Supreme Court divided the Israeli people and created a massive political crisis in the country. Even today, Israelis protest against the anti-democratic program of the Netanyahu government. Visit our previous article on this here.

Extremist Netanyahu, who killed thousands of Palestinians, begins to destroy the state of Israel..! -Azgar Nuhman

Despite public opposition to destroying the independence of the judiciary, the Netanyahu government continued its actions in parliament.

Warning from Israeli security chiefs

Israeli military and security chiefs, Mossad intelligence chief appealed to the Netanyahu government to stop this anti-democratic program that divides Israeli society. They warned that Israel’s security will be in crisis due to this political crisis. But Netanyahu’s extremist government ignored that appeal. Instead, he destroyed the independence of the judiciary to strengthen his political power. The main factor contributing to the jeopardy of Israel’s security was the rejection of voluntary military service by Israeli youth to protest the anti-democratic measures of the Netanyahu government. Israel’s military strength depends primarily on volunteer military service. Defense analysts point out that this rejection directly affected the strength of the army.

When armed Hamas members stormed into southern Israel on October 8th the Israeli army was not in the area to repel them. Hamas gunmen killed hundreds of ordinary Israeli citizens like brutal terrorists. Hundreds more were kidnapped and taken to the Gaza Strip. When Israeli army arrived three hours later! the Israeli civilians asked “What have you been doing for so long?” the Israelis shouted at the soldiers.

Illegal new settlement program ahead.

The extremist Netanyahu government’s program of establishing illegal new settlements also worked to the benefit of Hamas. The acts of violence by the Israeli settlers against the traditional Palestinian residents increased rapidly in the recent past, and the attacks received the official support of the Netanyahu government. Even America and the European Union, which support Israel, continued to demand that this illegal program be stopped but all those requests are ignored. The United Nations strongly criticized this illegal settlement program and called for it to be stopped. According to the United Nations Humanitarian Agency (OCHA), in 2023, 700 cases of Israeli settlers violently attacking Palestinians were reported.

Whistle blowing from Israel’s far-right national defense minister

It is the highest number of attacks in recent history. Israel’s far-right National Defense Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir praised the settlement expansion and called for the illegal program to continue. Netanyahu’s far-right government also unveiled plans to build 5,000 new Israeli settlements in the West Bank. “In 2021, an average of one incident per day of violent assaults by Israeli settlers on Palestinians was reported, rising to two in 2022 and three in 2023,” said Andrea De Domenico, OCHA’s Palestinian Resident Chief.

This illegal settlement program was strongly opposed in the Arab world, and the sympathy that emerged through that opposition earned the Hamas organization. Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, which issued statements about the current Hamas attack, claimed Israel to take responsibility for the attack.

The need for a negotiated solution

Since the creation of Israel in 1947, Palestinian and Israeli military conflicts have occurred from time to time. Tens of thousands of innocent lives were lost. The value of property damage worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Whenever there was a military conflict, armistice agreements were signed and they fell apart within months. There will be war again. This cycle has been going on for seven decades. This cycle can only be broken through a negotiated political solution. As agreed in the Oslo Accords, Palestine and Israel should create two separate states and create lasting peace.

Dangerous language and crime against humanity

“In addition to this appalling language that dehumanizes the Palestinian people, who have been illegally “imprisoned” in the Gaza Strip for 16 years, we condemn the suspension of essential supplies such as food, water, electricity and medicine. Such actions would trigger a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza, whose population is now at imminent risk of starvation. “Deliberate starvation is a crime against humanity,” the experts said.

The experts reminded the international community of its responsibilities to address the root causes of the current conflict, including the 56-year-old occupation of the territory and the annexation pursued by Israel. They urged the international community to identify viable ways to prevent further violations of international law, human suffering and bloodshed.

Experts say a peaceful solution is essential given the increasingly inhumane language used against Palestinians and Israelis. “As the civilian death toll from the violence rises, we call for an immediate halt to the escalation of tensions in the region and for an effective response by the international community based on international law to protect the equal rights and dignity of all,” they said.

In the short term, experts urge:

1. International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights,
In particular, the immediate cessation of violations of the right to life. To this end, support the investigation launched by the Commission of Inquiry into East Jerusalem and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Israel, and the investigation by the International Criminal Court into all violations reported since October 7, including unlawful killings and enforced disappearances;

2. A ceasefire agreement to be monitored by an independent international body.

3. Release hostages seized by Hamas and Palestinians arbitrarily detained by Israel, especially women, children, the elderly, the disabled, and the seriously ill;

4. Establish an international security presence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory;

5. Provide all necessary financial and humanitarian assistance and create humanitarian corridors that will allow people to leave Gaza and return as soon as hostilities cease; and

6. Respect the dignity of those who have died in the current acts of violence and promptly release their bodies to their bereaved relatives.

Stop killing innocent people!

That path has only been reached through a negotiated political solution, not through military action that kills thousands of innocents. Therefore, at this moment, the attacks on each other should be stopped and the lives of citizens should be protected. The civilians kidnapped by Hamas must be released immediately and unconditionally. Both parties should abandon the racist and class slogans addressed to the gallery and enter into serious and deep political discussions.

As Nelson Mandela, the founder of the African National Congress, who even led an armed struggle against apartheid South Africa’s white rulers, once said, peace is the greatest weapon for development. We have no choice but to avoid peace.

Azgar Nuhman