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Palestinians caught in fight between Hamas and Israel, expert says

As Israel conducts raids in the Gaza Strip following attacks by Hamas, a journalist-turned-humanitarian says Palestinians are "just scared."
Palestinians caught in fight between Hamas and Israel, expert says
Posted at 9:05 AM, Oct 09, 2023

Arwa Damon, a former journalist who now heads the International Network for Aid, Relief and Assistance (INARA), is closely monitoring the humanitarian conditions in Israel and the Gaza Strip following Hamas' attacks in Israel. 

As of Monday morning, more than 700 Israelis and 400 Palestinians have been killed during the conflict. The Israel Defense Force said the attack started Saturday morning with Hamas gunning down civilians in cars within miles of the Palestinian-held Gaza Strip. 

While Israel is equipped to respond to attacks like the ones carried out by Hamas, there are fewer resources for those in the Gaza Strip impacted by violence, Damon said. 

"The great challenge when one is inside Gaza is that unlike in other areas, unlike in Israel itself, for example, Gazans don't have very easy access to medical facilities," Damon said. "There are a number of hospitals inside the Gaza Strip, but they are not very well equipped."

While Hamas has carried out attacks on Israel in the past, none have been as deadly as the one conducted over the weekend. Damon said this has Palestinians concerned over Israel's response, as Israel said it is conducting a "complete siege" on the Gaza Strip. 

"Gazans are on the one hand fairly accustomed to in the sense that this happens every single time Hamas launches an attack against Israel, and at the same time it is completely unchartered territory because to date, neither Hamas nor any other armed organization, Islamic Jihad Hezbollah, for example, have launched an attack of this scale against Israel," Damon said. "So a lot of Gazans that I've been talking to right now, they're not celebrating what happened. They're not happy necessarily, they're just scared."

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As Israel conducts its attacks on Gaza, Damon said Israel generally provides what are called "soft knocks." This is intended to give people several minutes to vacate a building Israel plans on bombing. But Damon said some don't always receive these warnings. 

"I was actually just messaging with a friend of mine last night and she's in Gaza and she wrote back to me saying, 'My aunt's entire family was killed, 20 of my relatives were killed in one building and they didn't get the warning strike,'" Damon said. 

Major Doron Spielman of the IDF said on Monday that Israel has a responsibility to find Hamas fighters in Gaza Strip. He added that some of the victims may remain hostages in Gaza.

In hopes of cutting funds to Hamas, the European Union announced it is ending "all payments immediately" to Palestinians. Like the U.S., the European Union considers Hamas a terrorist organization. It's unclear whether the decision will have an effect on humanitarian aid intended for Palestinians. 

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