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“Has Three Months Changed the Conflict in Israel? Is Hamas Still in the Line of Fire?

As the Middle East continues to be engulfed in turmoil due to rising tensions between Israel and Hamas, fear of a potential war has become ever-more real. With the destruction that has already been wrought over the course of the past three months, it is abundantly clear that Israel is aiming to cripple or possibly completely annihilate the militant group Hamas. Since the start of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in February of this year, Israel has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure its security. It has launched large-scale military operations targeting Hamas-run Gaza Strip, an area in which Hamas has established a de facto government. In addition, it has targeted Hamas-affiliated individuals and organizations with economic sanctions, and has closed the shipping routes in and out of the Gaza Strip in order to strangle their economic lifeline. Since the beginning of violence in the region, Israel has focused most of its effort on striking key military targets, such as rocket launchers and military infrastructure. Over the course of the three months, Israel has launched targeted airstrikes that have claimed the lives of hundreds of Hamas members as well as many innocent civilians. In addition, Israeli ground troops have entered the Gaza Strip in several limited-scale operations in order to further sever the economic lifeline of Hamas and to gain tactical advantage over the militant organization. With the intensifying violence, it is yet unclear what the future holds for the Israel-Hamas conflict as both sides seem determined to press on. The recent ceasefire, wherein Israel and Hamas agreed to a mutual pause in military operations, is expected only to be a temporary one, as neither side has any real intent of deescalating the conflict. Moreover, the relation between the two sides appears to only be getting worse. Past ceasefires have seen Israel violating its stipulated terms of agreement before the agreed-upon deadline, thus ratcheting up the tension further. This consequently assimilates into the intensification of their tactics, such as increased airstrikes, limited ground-based operations and limited-scale sieges, all of which have only contributed to the massive civilian casualties and the destruction wrought by the conflict in the region. Israel has already come to a purgatory state in terms of its struggle against Hamas. War, despite Israel’s aim to swiftly finish the militant group off, has proven to be much harder to win than anticipated. With a cessation of violence in sight yet far away, the next few months could be the most decisive, and the most devastating, in the ongoing conflict.