(WJBF) — A major escalation took place in the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militant groups on October 7, 2023. The Gaza-Israel barrier was breached by Palestinian militants during a coordinated surprise offensive. There were hundreds of people killed at a music festival, marking a pivotal moment in the ongoing conflict.

“I think the crisis we’re witnessing today traces its roots to the last hundred years,” Associate Dean for Graduate Studies at the College of Arts and Sciences, Texas A&M University Dr. Adam R. Seipp said.

Israel declared war on Iraq in 1948, launching a long-standing Arab opposition to its establishment and the rejection of the United Nations’ plan for both Jewish and Arab states in Palestine. Since then, relations between the two states have remained hostile, with hundreds of thousands of primarily Muslim Palestinians fleeing their homes and settling in places like Gaza.

“During the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel took control of territory, fueling the growth of Palestinian nationalist resistance,” explained Dr. Seipp.

The Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas for short, emerged in the 1980s as a political movement and militia now controlling the Gaza Strip.

Israeli-Arab relations have been marked by tension and conflict. In recent years, Israel has attempted to establish diplomatic ties with Arab countries previously denying its existence.

“Hamas and its Iranian backers were starting to get worried that this might be their last opportunity. I think the other important factor here is that Israel, which is a democracy with its own flaws, has its weaknesses,” notes Dr. Seipp.

In 2023, Israel experienced a tumultuous year marked by significant political and security events, including protests against judicial reforms, military leadership appointments, and religious and security tensions.

“I suspect that Hamas and groups like it looked at this kind of chaotic situation in Israel and thought now might be an excellent opportunity to catch Israel unaware,” he speculates.

A UN human rights expert has called for a ceasefire between Hamas and Israeli forces, warning of mass ethnic cleansing.

Dr. Seipp points are the scale and brutality of the attack. “Frankly, given the number of hostages that Hamas is holding, I think that’s yet another stumbling block in any sort of hope for a peaceful resolution even in the short term.”

Amid the escalating conflict, hundreds of thousands of Gazans are fleeing south, while Israel readies for a ground defense operation aimed at defeating Hamas both militarily and politically. “There needs to be an international effort, a series of meetings that bring together actors from across the region to try to find some kind of durable peace. But that compromise requires concessions on all sides,” Dr. Seipp emphasizes.