Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Implications of Hamas’ attack is a tragic setback for peace in the Middle East

Note: This is an edited version of an opinion article published on October, 11th 2023. This has been edited for sensitivity purposes. The original piece can still be found on our website. This was edited prior to certain events happening over the course of two weeks following the original publication.


The two-state solution is dead.

The prospect of peace for Palestine and Israel lingered for over half a century, sometimes as fantasy, sometimes deliriously close to being a reality. Its assailants were many of the significant figures in history—some of whom had helped dream it in the first place. Netanyahu, Arafat, Begin, Kissinger, Ben Gurion. But the final blow came from Hamas.

Israel, which suffered the bloodiest day in its 75-year-long history on Saturday, has been shaken to its very foundations. The image of Israel’s advanced security regime is shattered, a colossal intelligence failure compounded by warnings that were reportedly ignored. Hundreds are missing, and thousands more are dead. The attack has been likened to Israel’s 9/11—national tragedy on an unprecedented scale.

Palestine, on the other hand, is unlikely to ever recover. 

For over 70 years, the Israeli government has “indirectly” occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip, controlling these areas through repression, institutionalized discrimination, and systematic abuses of the Palestinian population’s rights. Israel’s physical occupation of the Gaza Strip occured from 1967 to 1995, and 2002-06. There were protests against Netanyahu’s hard-right government’s judiciary proposal by thousands of Israelis for months ahead of Hamas’s attack, ostensibly weakening the government. 

The history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is far too long and controversial for anyone, even the most vocal pundits on the internet, to sum up succinctly. 

In May 1916, the Sykes-Picot Agreement, between Great Britain and France for the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire, led to the division of Turkish-held Palestine into various French- and British-administered areas. Here, Palestine was to be subject to international control.  

In short, the conflict that has escalated (more or less) since the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948 (more or less) has had an equally-long history of proposed solutions to create two independent, coexisting Israeli and Palestinian states. 

The UN partition plan that split the region between Palestinian and Jewish residents, for example, was scuttled after the Arab states immediately invaded the newly-independent Israeli state, hoping to, in the words of the leader of the Arab League, “sweep the Jews into the sea.” 

The internationally recognized borders (the so-called “Green Line”) were violated in 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Sadat and Begin punted on the Palestinian issue at Camp David in 1978, settling on “land for peace” (not Palestinian statehood) as the prerequisite for peace between Israel and Egypt. The Oslo Accords, hailed as a breakthrough for Palestinian statehood, have been undermined countless times, by both sides, since 1995. Within the last decade alone, violence has escalated as Israel has stepped up bombings in the Gaza Strip, as well as Palestinian rocket attacks.

Enter Hamas.

Saturday’s strike was the boldest move against the Jewish state since the massive invasion of the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Hamas’ attack from the Gaza Strip gained the support of some Palestinians who had long soured on squalid living conditions, intermittent bombings, and, with the inert corruption of the West Bank, a lack of viable political alternatives. For Palestinians living in the “open air prison” of the Gaza strip—struggling to feed their families and maintain their livelihoods under Israeli blockade—there was, quite literally, nowhere else to go

But Hamas’ attack gambled Palestine’s future on a surprise lightning attack on Israel, one that succeeded in shocking Israel and the world. At the same time, though, Saturday’s attack offered no clear way to military victory. Hamas managed to press their advantage for a few hours, but their fighters, lacking the financial support of an established government or Western power, have no hope against the Western-backed, American-armed, state-of-the-art Israeli air and ground forces.

It is the Palestinian people that have been and will continue to pay the price.

Look no further than Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu’s declaration of war on Sunday—a major escalation even in the long history of Israeli-Arab conflicts. Israel has conducted various military operations in Gaza and Lebanon in the past, but this is the first time it has formally declared war. From a legal perspective, it is a historic moment—and one indicating that Jerusalem is willing to prosecute the conflict with far more ferocity than it ever has before.

Or take the words of Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday, who said that Israel will cut off all food, electricity and water to Gaza. While in the past, Palestinian fighters have been “militants” or “terrorists,” Gallant took this a step further—saying that Israel is at war with “human animals.” That a senior government official would so openly wield that sort of dehumanizing language does not bode well for civilians in Palestine.

With horror stories of rapes and killings committed by Hamas fighters circulating social media, it doesn’t seem as if the Israeli military is particularly inclined to show restraint at this moment. Reservists have been called up, and the whole country is on a war footing with a greenlight from Western allies to take retribution, regional consequences be damned. The onslaught has already started: over 5,000 Palestinians have already died. Gaza will be leveled. 

Beyond the wanton destruction that will be inflicted on Gaza, there is also the political dimension: it is hard to see Israel, on the footing for total war, ever accepting a two-state solution now.

“What Hamas has done in Israel, including the massacre of hundreds of teenagers at an outdoor concert, is on a par with, or even exceeds, the crimes of ISIS and al-Qaeda,” reads a particularly-inflammatory editorial in Israel’s Jerusalem Post. “Does anyone call for negotiations with, much less concessions to, those terrorists?”

The United States, a long standing player in the peace process (unsuccessfully, one might add), has taken a more centrist stance. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby stated on Tuesday that an independent Palestinian state, coexisting with Israel, “remains the best path forward for peace and security” in the Middle East.

Talk about the road not taken.

Faced with the prospect of utter annihilation, Hamas has already floated the possibility of a truce. Given that the attack was reportedly kept secret even from senior political leaders in the organization, it makes sense. For Israel, though, it’s almost impossible to see any sort of negotiated solution toward peace.

Israel’s precise war aims—what they will do if and when ground forces invade Gaza—are unclear. Maybe the West Bank’s Palestinian Authority will assume power (unlikely, given PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’ full-throated support of the Hamas attack). Maybe the IDF will stay to occupy the ruins, a sort of East Jerusalem-meets-Fallujah. Maybe there will be some sort of new local authority installed. What there will not be, however, is any sort of Hamas-led government. 

With Hamas destroyed, the PA and Abbas discredited and disempowered, and Israeli nationalism reaching a fever pitch, it is hard to see a way out for Palestinians. 

It’s not just for the foreseeable future: once the door on Palestinian statehood closes, it closes forever. And Hamas may have just kicked the doorstop in.

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About the Contributor
Camilo Fonseca
Camilo Fonseca, Editor-at-large
Camilo Fonseca is a former editor-at-large for the Beacon. He previously served as news editor and as managing editor for campus coverage. Camilo has also contributed to The Boston Globe, as a metro/express correspondent, and The Seattle Times, as a business reporter. He is currently interning at The Christian Science Monitor. Hailing from Tampa, Fla., Camilo is a senior journalism major with a minor in political science, and hopes to pursue a career in business and foreign affairs writing.

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