FOR THE WEEK OF OCT. 16, 2023
Summarize fresh news about this showdown.
Share a reaction from someone in your state or city.
Pick a photo from the Gaza Strip or Israel and tell how it makes you feel.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited Israel last week to discuss American support after surprise attacks by Hamas militants. Hundreds of gunmen crashed through fences and walls between Israel and the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian area with 2.2 million people that has been blockaded by the Jewish state since 2007. "We will always be there by your side," Blinken told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv.
The Oct. 7 infiltration of more than 20 Israeli towns and army bases across 30 square miles is called "Israel's 9/11." Raiders killed more than 1,300 Israelis (mostly civilians) and at least 11 U.S. citizens, and injured over 3,400, according to the government. In addition, roughly 150 people were taken hostage and are held in Gaza, President Biden confirmed at a news conference three days later. He called Hamas' barbaric slaughter of men, women and children an "act of sheer evil" and added: "There is no justification for terrorism. . . . Let there be no doubt: The United States has Israel's back. The ties between Israel and the United States run deep." He moved an aircraft carrier offshore, sent hostage rescue experts and put special forces on standby nearby.
As its response began, Israel struck the Gaza Strip from the air and restricted food, electricity and fuel. Netanyahu called up 300,000 reservists and predicts "a long war." Over 1,900 people have been killed in Gaza and 338,000 have been displaced, officials there say. "This is a Pearl Harbor type of moment for Israel," an Israel Defense Forces spokesman said. The army and spy agencies are criticized for not anticipating the extensive border crossings by vehicle, foot and even motorized hang gliders "Israel's eyes appeared to have been closed," The Times of Israel said.
The conflict is deeply steeped in centuries of history. The United States long ago designated Hamas, which challenges Israel's right to exist, as a terrorist group. Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 from more moderate Palestinian groups, prompting Israel and neighboring Egypt to isolate the enclave with barriers. Israel's ambassador in Washington, Michael Herzog, says the attack was intended to halt further normalization with Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia. "This would deal a blow to Iran and its proxies, including Hamas," he explains. After visiting Israel, the U.S. secretary of state met Friday with Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan's capital, Amman. For 18 years, Abbas has led the Palestinian Authority, which partially governs the Israeli-occupied West Bank but is a bitter political rival to Hamas, which controls Gaza. Blinken also is stopping in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt.
Former President Barack Obama tweets a balanced reaction: "As we support Israel's right to defend itself against terror, we must keep striving for a just and lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians alike." A different view comes from Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Detroit, a Democratic congresswoman who's the daughter of Palestinian immigrants. "The failure to recognize the violent reality of living under siege, occupation and apartheid makes no one safer," she says of Palestinians in Israel. "As long as our country provides billions in unconditional funding to support the apartheid government, this heartbreaking cycle of violence will continue."
Israeli says: "Virtually everyone in Israel has been directly affected, knowing someone who has been killed, injured or taken hostage" – Shirin Herzog, wife of Israeli’s ambassador in Washington
President Biden says: "The United States will continue to make sure Israel has what it needs to defend itself and its people." – Oct. 9 statement
Israeli newspaper says: "The prime minister . . . completely failed to identify the dangers he was consciously leading Israel into when establishing a government of annexation and dispossession . . . that openly ignored the existence and rights of Palestinians." – Editorial in Haaretz, a major national paper