Over 100 Israeli civilians were killed Saturday after Hamas fired rockets into Israel and scores of Hamas militants entered Israeli territory from Gaza, according to Israeli officials. The Palestinian Ministry of Health also reported that 198 Palestinians were killed after Israel conducted airstrikes on Gaza in response to the incursions.The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist organization, are said to be engaged in fierce firefights in Southern Israel, with violence continuing.The Israeli government said that Hamas, which is proscribed as a terrorist organization by countries including the US and the UK, had declared war on Israel, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announcing in a video clip posted on X (formerly Twitter) “Citizens of Israel, we are at war” against the Hamas separatists.Israel’s Foreign Ministry said that over 2000 rockets were fired from Gaza in the early hours of the morning. This resulted in the IDF announcing operation ‘Swords of Iron’ a “large-scale operation to defend Israeli civilians”.Meanwhile, the State of Palestine has issued a statement calling for the recognition of Palestine’s “legitimate right to self-determination” and called for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. They continued to say that “continuation of the injustice and oppression to which the Palestinian people are exposed is the reason behind this explosive situation.”Countries across the world, including Germany, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the US have been quick to condemn Hamas’ attacks, calling for an end to the violence and for the protection of civilians. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said, “There is never any justification for terrorism.” Additionally, UN Secretary General António Guterres condemned Hamas’s attacks “in the strongest terms” and urged a diplomatic solution to the conflict.Reuters reported that Brazil’s Foreign Ministry, who is currently holding rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council, said it would convene an emergency meeting of the UN body over the attacks.The number of casualties  is continuing to rise, and further calls have been made for Hamas to respect customary law obligations, international humanitarian law and the international laws of armed conflict. A senior policy expert at the Norwegian Refugee Council commented, “The significant escalation in and around Gaza requires a solemn reminder of the [International Humanitarian Law] rules prohibiting deliberate or indiscriminate attacks on civilians, in Israel and in Gaza alike.” The International Committee of the Red Cross has also called for the “immediate protection of civilians”.Last week, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), a unit in the Israeli Ministry of Defense, announced that the Erez Crossing would be reopened for workers to leave the Gaza Strip area, the sole land border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel by land. In a recent interview with JURIST, UN Rapporteur Francesca Albanese discussed the challenges she has faced as UN Special Rapporteur, the findings from her recent report on the conditions of Israel’s ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories, where she found: “that arbitrary and deliberate ill-treatment is inflicted upon the Palestinians not only through unlawful practices in detention but also as a carceral continuum comprised of techniques of large-scale confinement -physical, bureaucratic, digital- beyond detention.” “These violations,” Albanese continued “may amount to international crimes prosecutable under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and universal jurisdiction”.The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a longstanding issue in the Middle East, involving political, historical, and religious factors. Its origins can be traced back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries when Jewish and Arab national movements developed in the region, leading to competing claims for the same land. The British mandate after World War I laid the foundation for future tensions between Jews and Arabs. In 1947, the United Nations partitioned the British Mandate for Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states, leading to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The Oslo Accords, signed in the 1990s, aimed to create a framework for peaceful coexistence but faced significant challenges. The conflict has profoundly impacted the lives of both Israelis and Palestinians.

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