The Platform

Israeli tanks like the Merkava will flood Gaza during a ground incursion. (IDF)

The perennial conflict just became more deadly and costly for everyone involved.

The October 7 attack launched by Hamas represents a watershed moment, marking the most deadly assault Israel has faced in half a century. Unfolding fifty years after the infamous Yom Kippur War, the recent violence has been met with bitter accusations of colossal intelligence lapses within Israeli circles.

The human cost is staggering: Over 1,900 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, along with hundreds of Israelis, and several foreign nationals. In the occupied West Bank, nearly a dozen Palestinians have also been killed, with injuries on both sides surpassing well over 5,000.

In a grave pronouncement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cautioned his nation to brace for a “protracted and arduous” struggle. This ominous warning followed a surprise Hamas onslaught that featured a rocket barrage and the capture of at least 100 hostages.

Israel’s military response has been swift and expansive, summoning a historic 300,000 reservists. Currently, an estimated 100,000 troops are gathering near the Gaza border, escalating fears of an impending ground incursion.

The UN has urgently called for humanitarian corridors, revealing that over 120,000 Gazans have already been displaced due to Israel’s retaliatory strikes. Basic necessities like food are in perilously short supply for at least 70,000 Palestinians sheltering in UN-operated schools.

On the Israeli side, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced the suspension of all essential supplies to Gaza, even as Israeli troops continued to clear Hamas elements from bordering settlements. Meanwhile, Hamas has boasted that it is holding more than 100 hostages, including high-ranking Israeli military personnel.

The Gaza Strip, one of the planet’s most densely populated regions, has languished under an Israeli blockade since 2007. International opinion remains fractured, with the UN labeling Israel an occupier, while Western powers largely condemn Hamas, deemed a terrorist organization by both Washington and Brussels.

Amid this complex tableau, President Joe Biden has expressed unwavering support for Israel, while European capitals have mostly followed suit. In contrast, nations like Iran have lauded Hamas’ actions, and pro-Palestinian demonstrations have erupted globally.

The international diplomatic arena has also been a battleground. An emergency UN Security Council meeting yielded no consensus, exposing the geopolitical schisms that run deep. Russia and China advocated for a broader perspective, while the U.S. and its allies sided unequivocally with Israel.

The probability of external intervention has risen, with Russia cautioning against the involvement of third parties, even as the U.S. flexes its military muscle near Israeli waters.

The American stance is complicated by Iran’s ambiguous role. Although Tehran has celebrated Hamas’ tactics, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted that no evidence implicates Iran directly in the latest attacks.

As the violence escalates, a ground invasion of Gaza looms ominously on the horizon. Any ceasefire will likely be tenuous, setting the stage for future eruptions of hostilities.

It’s clear that without a sustainable solution — most feasibly, the implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 advocating a two-state solution — peace remains a distant vision. As the world watches, the dire implications of this enduring conflict continue to reverberate, leaving us in a grim stasis, teetering on the precipice of a broader regional crisis.

Sohail Mahmood is an independent political analyst focused on global politics, U.S. foreign policy, governance, and the politics of South and West Asia.