Israelis and Palestinians are again at war, with potential consequences—including the risk of wider conflict—for the entire region. On the morning of Oct. 7, the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood,” simultaneously flooding southern Israel with a barrage of rockets and invading with ground and sea forces that targeted both military personnel and civilians. Following the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared, “Citizens of Israel, we are at war. … The enemy will pay an unprecedented price.”
The entire episode is tragic. Regardless of where one stands on the issue of Israeli-Palestinian relations, Hamas’ direct targeting of civilians was a war crime. Moreover, given the expected scale of the Israeli military’s response to the attacks, it seems that Hamas’ actions will significantly worsen, not improve, the plight of the Palestinian people.
In my WPR column last week, I wrote about how the war in Ukraine is fraying the global security order. I referenced numerous crises and could sadly have referenced many more, but I wrote that piece before the Hamas attack. Does this war fit the pattern? Can one claim that it, too, is a product of the larger international factors enabling conflicts from Kosovo to Nagorno-Karabakh?