The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

5 questions to ask about the Israel-Hamas war

Trigger Warnings: Mentions of violence, terrorism, genocide, and hostages.

1. What is happening?
Following the Israel-Hamas war, international powers have chosen opposing sides. While the West supports Israel, the Middle East has remained largely supportive of Palestine. (Israel Palestine Flags / Ted Eytan / Bao Cali Today / CC BY-SA 2.0)
Following the Israel-Hamas war, international powers have chosen opposing sides. While the West supports Israel, the Middle East has remained largely supportive of Palestine. (Israel Palestine Flags / Ted Eytan / Bao Cali Today / CC BY-SA 2.0) (Ted Eytan)

On Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement, launched a major assault on Israel, involving rocket attacks from Gaza and the infiltration of fighters across the border. This event resulted in the taking of an estimated 200 to 500 Israeli citizens as hostages, with a significant loss of life. The international community has responded with concern and varying reactions to this development.

On Oct. 7, Jerusalem’s air raid sirens rang at 6:30 a.m. I.S.T. (Israeli Standard Time). Later, the Israel Defense Forces reported approximately 2,200 rockets launched towards southern and central Israel, targeting cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and devastating Israel’s state-of-the-art Iron Dome defense system. Hamas, however, claimed to have fired at least 5,000 rockets

Hamas militants entered restricted areas within the Gaza Strip, leading to violent confrontations with Jewish settlers and resulting in casualties. Video footage has emerged showing Hamas militants taking Israeli citizens, including women, children, and the elderly, hostage and transporting them into Gaza.

Mohammed Deif, the commander of Hamas’ military arm, Al Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for the attack in an official video statement. 

As of Oct. 17, the reported death toll has surpassed 1,400 citizens on the Israeli side, while approximately 3,500 people have been confirmed as injured due to the ongoing attacks. On the Palestinian side, specifically in Gaza, the Palestinian Health Authority has reported over 3,000 fatalities and 12,500 injuries.

In response, Israel launched a series of airstrikes, causing significant damage in the Gaza Strip and resulting in over 300,000 residents being displaced. On October 7, an Israeli airstrike caused the destruction of a high-rise residential building and the Al-Sousi Mosque in Gaza. In an official press statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, "Israel is at war.”

Israel has also issued warnings to over 1 million Palestinians in southern Gaza. A sizable Israeli military presence is prepared to address the Hamas militant units, which are believed to be located in an extensive tunnel network under residential areas. 

2. A freedom fight or terrorism?
Hamas claims to be acting in resistance to Israeli occupation of Palestinian land– this map displays Israel’s current state of occupation in Gaza as of 2023.
Hamas claims to be acting in resistance to Israeli occupation of Palestinian land– this map displays Israel’s current state of occupation in Gaza as of 2023. (Emma Yin)

The classification of the Hamas group remains a subject of contention. While the United States officially categorizes Hamas as a terrorist organization, others characterize it as a resistance movement. Notably, the United Nations has refrained from making an official classification.

"The U.N. Security Council votes to impose sanctions and designations on groups like Al Qaeda, the Taliban or ISIS. But no such sanctions or designations exist for Iran’s axis of terror groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah," Richard Goldberg, senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said in an interview with Fox News

Hamas, short for "Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya" and translates to the "Islamic Resistance Movement," is a Sunni Islamist political and military organization that governs the Gaza Strip within the Palestinian Territories. Hamas also maintains a notable presence in the West Bank, the larger of the two Palestinian territories, which is under the control of the Fatah party and overseen by the Palestine Liberation Organization (P.L.O.).

Article 9 of the Charter of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) of Palestine,’* published in 1988, highlights the objectives of the Hamas movement as the following: “The Islamic Resistance movement is a link in [a long] chain of the Jihad against the Zionist occupation.”

However, Hamas claims to act as a resistance against Israeli occupation and expansion into Palestinian territory. Israel has currently cut off Gaza’s access to electricity, fuel, water, medical supplies, and food, worsening Gaza’s already dire economic situation.

According to data published by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, 81.5% of Gazans live below the national poverty line, 64% of citizens are food insecure, and 80% rely on humanitarian assistance. As of 2021, 47% of citizens were unemployed, with an overall youth unemployment rate of 64%. 

Furthermore, between 2007 and 2022, nearly 300 of the water wells in Gaza used for both domestic consumption and farmlands were destroyed by Israeli Security Forces. Over 80% of water extracted from Gaza aquifers does not meet W.H.O.-approved water quality.

Since the beginning of the attacks on Oct. 7, the Israeli government’s retaliation has led to the destruction of seven mosques: Al-Abbas, Al-Susi, Al-Yarmouk, Al-Amin Muhammad, Ahmed Yassin, Al-Habib Mohammad, and Al-Garbi mosques. 

Earlier this year, Israeli military personnel used “blatantly excessive and unjustified force” against Palestinian Muslims gathered for Ramadan prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site following Mecca and Medina, in Jerusalem.

According to the U.N., at least 31 Palestinians were reportedly injured inside the compound while paramedics were allegedly prevented from providing medical treatment to the wounded. According to initial accounts, Israeli forces violently entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque. They used various methods of force, including tear gas, stun grenades, sponge-tipped bullets, and physical force against Muslim worshippers. At least 450 Palestinian men were arrested and led out of the Haram Al-Sharif compound.

This incident provoked Muslims worldwide and in the Middle East, especially reigniting Hamas' animosity towards Israel. Given Israel’s actions towards Palestinians in the past, many Muslims are hesitant to classify the Hamas movement as a terrorist organization. 

Hamas claims that its attack is a response to the Al-Aqsa incidents and a reaction to the general situation in Palestine. However, Hamas does not represent the entirety of the Palestinian people. The Fatah party, which governs the West Bank, has historically disagreed with Hamas leadership and distanced itself from the group.

Despite these divisions, a scientific poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research revealed that 53% of Palestinians believe Hamas is "most deserving of representing and leading the Palestinian people," whereas only 14% prefer the secular Fatah party. This data underscores the significant support that Hamas has among Palestinians.

While a substantial portion of Palestinians identify with the Hamas movement, President Joe Biden has emphasized that the conflict is not against Palestine as a whole but specifically directed at Hamas.

3. What is the current international response?

The ramifications of the Israel-Hamas conflict extend well beyond the region's borders as countries have begun to align themselves with either side. While most Middle Eastern nations express solidarity with Palestine, Western countries, including the United States, have officially sided with Israel.

On Oct. 9, President Joe Biden officially released a statement expressing America’s support for Israel.

“In this moment of heartbreak, the American people stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israelis. We remember the pain of being attacked by terrorists at home, and Americans across the country stand united against these evil acts that have once more claimed innocent American lives. It is an outrage. And we will continue to show the world that the American people are unwavering in our resolve to oppose terrorism in all forms,” Biden said. “The United States and the State of Israel are inseparable partners. I affirmed to Prime Minister Netanyahu again when we spoke yesterday that the United States will continue to ensure Israel has what it needs to defend itself and its people.”

Following this release, Biden promised to bolster U.S. aid to Israel with a $2 billion package. In addition, the U.S. Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, said on Friday that the Pentagon was ready to deploy more military aid to Israel following the attacks. 

Adjusting for inflation, U.S. aid to Israel between 1946 and 2022 totaled $243.9 billion, making it the largest recipient of American foreign aid since World War II. 

Conversely, Iran has pledged support to Palestine. According to the Washington Institute of Middle Eastern Policy, Iran and Hezbollah have offered Hamas military training and facilitated smuggling of military weaponry, arms, and missiles into Gaza. In 2021, Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh praised Iran for enabling Hamas’ growth, noting that Tehran “did not hold back with money, weapons, and technical support.” 

Qatar and Turkey are other significant supporters of Hamas. Their relationship with Hamas is characterized by generous financial backing for the Qatari and Turkish governments, along with providing shelter for its leadership members. 

Since Hamas fighters initiated their assault against Israel on Saturday, senior Biden administration officials have sought to address reports linking Iran directly to the attacks and to counter allegations that the Biden administration facilitated them by unfreezing approximately $6 billion worth of frozen Iranian assets. This action was taken as part of an agreement to secure the release of six American citizens from Iranian custody. 

Biden's choice to release substantial Iranian assets has generated significant criticism. Numerous government officials from various political backgrounds are urging the Biden Administration to reinstate the freeze on these funds.

Biden began visiting Israel on Oct. 18, sparking hope for a diplomatic solution between Israel and Palestine—however, this further soured relations between the U.S. and Arab countries. 

After several meetings with Netanyahu, Biden engaged in talks regarding fresh humanitarian aid pacts for Gaza and the West Bank. Yet, casting a shadow over the visit was the assault on Gaza City's Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital on Tuesday, an incident that the Palestinian Ministry of Health claimed resulted in hundreds of casualties. 

As of Oct. 18, Israel and Hamas have been shifting blame on each other for the attack. U.S. intelligence has found evidence that the attack may have resulted from one of Hamas’ failed rocket launches

With Israeli and Gazan authorities pointing fingers at each other for the hospital tragedy, demonstrations have erupted in various Middle Eastern urban centers, including Amman, the capital of Jordan, where protesters have approached the Israeli embassy. 

Biden was scheduled to visit Jordan to commence peace talks following his visit to Israel; the trip has since been canceled as violent protests have begun to threaten the president's safety.

4. Why are there such polarized reactions?
International powers take opposing sides on the Israel-Hamas conflict, making it a global proxy war.
International powers take opposing sides on the Israel-Hamas conflict, making it a global proxy war. (Emma Yin)

In contrast to the widespread unity observed in the Russia-Ukraine war, the Israel-Hamas conflict has left people largely divided when it comes to choosing sides. The Israel-Palestine conflict has been the cause of much contention between the Arab world and the West for the past century. Historically, the West has tended to offer staunch support to Israel, while the general Middle East has stood steadfastly beside Palestine.

While there have been calls for the U.S. to re-evaluate its stance on the issue, a statement released by the U.S. Department of Defense has confirmed that the Biden administration maintains that the U.S.’ support for Israel is “non-negotiable.”

British journalist Harry Fear leveled accusations against Western media, claiming a bias in their portrayal of the Israel-Hamas conflict in favor of Israel. This viewpoint was echoed by numerous Muslim and Arab media outlets, which alleged that the U.S. and Western media's coverage of the conflict has had dehumanizing** effects on Arab populations.

The media has begun to scrutinize whether Hamas' attack can be categorized as an act of resistance or as their reaction to what they view as Israel's alleged humanitarian transgressions. 

In a televised cabinet meeting, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shteyyeh expressed blame for the Israel-Hamas conflict. He asserted that Israel's policies, which he described as "aggression and murder," drove the ongoing hostilities. Shteyyeh characterized Israel as a "state of aggression and occupation."

5. Who are the winners and losers?
Citizens in Gaza live in impoverishment and their standard of living does not meet World Health Organization standards.
Citizens in Gaza live in impoverishment and their standard of living does not meet World Health Organization standards. (Emma Yin)

As the Israel-Hamas conflict continues, its ultimate outcome remains uncertain, but the one undeniable casualty of this war is the suffering endured by Gazan citizens. By Oct. 17, tens of thousands of impoverished Gaza residents had been forced to flee their homes with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. The international implications of this conflict have largely overshadowed their plight.

While this conflict has garnered global attention, it's crucial to remember that the primary victims are Israel's and Palestine's ordinary citizens. They have witnessed the loss of loved ones, their sources of income, and their dreams of peaceful coexistence. Amid this ongoing crisis, the innocent people on both sides bear the heaviest burden.


*The original document of the ‘Charter of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) of Palestine’ was published in Arabic. The document referenced is a translation published by Muhammad Maqdsi for the Islamic Association for Palestine, Dallas, Texas, in 1990. The University of California Press Association has published this paper on behalf of the Institute for Palestine Studies.

** The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) coverage does not reflect the Arab or Muslim population. As characterized by the ‘Charter of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) of Palestine,’ Hamas is an extremist organization that does not reflect the views of all Arabs/Muslims.

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About the Contributors
Jasneh Sasan
Jasneh Sasan, Staff Writer
Jasneh Sasan is presently in her senior year at Carlmont, where she excels as a news and opinion writer with a fervent passion for delving into the realm of politics. Controversial subjects invigorate her and provide the driving force for her pursuits. Beyond her academic commitments, she dedicates a significant portion of her time to engaging in debate competitions and actively participating in journalistic endeavors. Her writing inclination leans towards exploring profound global socio-political matters, but from time to time, she also explores more lighthearted and amusing topics. Twitter: @JasnehSasan Instagram: @jk.sasan (main) and @jasneh.sasan (journalism)
Emma Yin
Emma Yin, Staff Writer
Emma Yin is a senior at Carlmont High School. This is her third year in the journalism program and currently serves as a staff writer and cartoonist. She is interested in art and dabbling in global news. You can find her drawing on her iPad, playing badminton and music, and hunting for a new boba shop. Follow her on Instagram

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