Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture > News

The Past Month in Palestine from a Humanitarian Perspective

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Hofstra chapter.

Amongst immense turmoil between Israel and Palestine in the past month, western media has provided the public with more confusion than clarity, often inciting bias and refusing to display the more graphic truths of the actual situation in the Gaza Strip. Due to the United States’ generous aid to Israel totaling more than $260 billion since World War II, the largest amount of aid given to any country in that time frame, U.S. citizens must understand exactly what their tax dollars fund.1

On October 7, 2023, Hamas, a militant group working out of Gaza, launched an attack on Israel killing an estimated 1,400 Israelis, stating the cause of attack to be the longstanding blockade of Gaza, Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, and crimes against Muslims.2 As of November 10, 2023, Israel revised its death toll to be about 1,200, while the Palestinian death toll climbed past 11,000, with over 40% of fatalities being children, a number that exceeds the total amount of children killed in armed conflicts in the past four years.3

Israel’s military campaign consists of heavy carpet bombing of the densely populated Gaza Strip as well as a slow moving ground offensive.4 No civilian location remains safe in Gaza with frequent hospital bombings including Al Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in Gaza.5 Israel claims that Hamas operates out of schools, mosques, homes, UN facilities and of course hospitals as justification for these attacks.6 Consider a functioning school with an active shooter inside. Would it be justified to destroy the entire school and all the children inside if it meant killing the shooter?

Because Israel owns Gaza, Gaza relies completely on Israel and international aid for food, water, electricity, and fuel, all of which have been totally cut off from the people since the beginning of the conflict.7 Even prior to the war, Israel held a total air, land, and sea blockade on Gaza, prohibiting Gazan people from entering or leaving the territory in what human rights groups deem to be “the world’s largest open-air prison.”8 Israel operates an apartheid system that “dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated” Palestinians within their own land.9 With no international aid allowed in, people wait an entire day for a single piece of bread, almost all water is unsafe to drink, and hospitals are running out of fuel to power their generators with no electricity available.10

All of this begs the question, if one side of a conflict controls all means of war and heavily targets civilians’ safety and resources, can the conflict be considered just under international law? According to international law, Israel must not use deprivation of essentials for survival, minimize civilian death and property destruction and allow for the return of displaced citizens after the end of the conflict.11 Additionally, the use of deadly white phosphorus gas in the densely populated Gaza Strip fails to adhere to the minimization of civilian casualties.12 These offenses amount to collective punishment, punishing an entire people for acts they did not commit, which is also prohibited by international law.13 Thus far, Israel’s western allies, including the U.S., have gently reproached Israel’s unlawful campaign, but have made no real effort to end it.14

The U.S. engaged in its fair share of conflict with terrorists in the Middle East and can serve as a forewarning for the events of the Israel-Hamas conflict. Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda who orchestrated 9/11, was eventually killed by a U.S. special forces unit that did not involve the deaths of civilian targets.15 On the other hand, in attempting to kill Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq in 2003, the U.S. launched a war in Iraq resulting in 4,500 American fatalities and more than 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths.16 Israel currently seems to be choosing the second path of mass civilian destruction.

Malcolm X warned, “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”17 Throughout the entire conflict with Hamas, Israel has been tightly controlling its media narrative to garner political support, with statements such as Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant calling Gazans “human animals.”18 An abundance of real, heart-wrenching photographs arose from the Gaza Strip throughout the bombings, however Israel has spread several misleading AI generated images to promote their cause.19 Additionally, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated early on in the conflict that innocent Palestinian civilians do not exist due to his claim that they must be aware and involved with the October 7 attack.20 Lastly, Yocheved Lifshitz, aged 85, was a hostage released by Hamas who later spoke of how gentle the fighters were with hostages, but Israel condemns her account as propaganda.21 With Israel’s point of view being heavily promoted in western media, the casual reader inevitably supports their cause through the demonization and dehumanization of Palestinian people.

As a final note, neutrality cannot be the common response to the Israel-Hamas conflict. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection,” an example of people’s continuous unwillingness to provide genuine support to a side of a conflict.22 Upholding international law, regardless of allied status and financial interests, holds greater importance now more than ever. If world leaders cannot hold their allies accountable for war crimes, how can international law possibly be upheld at all? It seems that this conflict repeats mistakes the world has already made, especially when comparing the 1948 “Nakba,” or “catastrophe”, which displaced between 520,000 and 1,000,000 people who were never able to return to their land,23 to the current conflict which has displaced around 1.5 million people with no return in sight currently.24

In order to create a just and lasting peace, accountability must be upheld and the rights of international law protected throughout the world for all people. The Israel-Hamas conflict brings with it not only political but also great humanitarian concern, which must be addressed now in order to prevent any more suffering.


1 Wolf, Christopher. “How Much Aid Does the U.S. Give to Israel?” US News & World Report, 10 Oct. 2023, www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2023-10-10/how-much-aid-does-the-u-s-give-to-israel.

2 Robinson, Kali. “What Is Hamas?” Council on Foreign Relations, 31 Oct. 2023, www.cfr.org/backgrounder/what-hamas.

3 Wilson, Rachel, et al. “One Month’s Death Toll in the Israel-Hamas War, in Charts.” CNN, Cable News Network, 7 Nov. 2023, www.cnn.com/2023/11/07/middleeast/palestinian-israeli-deaths-gaza-dg.

4 Saul, Jonathan. “What Are Israel’s Tactics in Ground Invasion of Gaza?” Reuters, 31 Oct. 2023, www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/hostages-mind-israel-moves-slowly-gaza-ground-offensive-2023-10-30.

5 “‘Intense Bombings’ by Israeli Forces Around Gaza Hospitals Amid Blackout.” Al Jazeera, 5 Nov. 2023, www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/11/5/intense-bombings-by-israeli-forces-around-gaza-hospitals-amid-blackout.

6 “‘Intense Bombings’ by Israeli Forces Around Gaza Hospitals Amid Blackout.”

7 Shan, Lee Ying. “What Is the Gaza? What You Need to Know About the Territory at the Heart of the Israel-Hamas War.” CNBC, 2 Nov. 2023, www.cnbc.com/2023/10/17/what-is-the-gaza-strip-and-who-controls-it.html.

8 Shan, Lee Ying. “What Is the Gaza Strip? What You Need to Know About the Territory at the Heart of the Israel-Hamas War.”

9 Shakir, Omar. “A Threshold Crossed.” Human Rights Watch, 28 Mar. 2023, hrw.org/report/2021/04/27/threshold-crossed/israeli-authorities-and-crimes-apartheid-and-persecution.

10 Yerushalmy, Jonathan. “Crisis in Gaza: Why Food, Water and Power Are Running Out.” The Guardian, 17 Oct. 2023, www.theguardian.com/world/2023/oct/17/crisis-gaza-why-food-water-power-running-out.

11 Scheffer, David J. “What International Law Has to Say About the Israel-Hamas War.” Council on Foreign Relations, 19 Oct. 2023, www.cfr.org/article/what-international-law-has-say-about-israel-hamas-war.

12 “Questions and Answers on Israel’s Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza and Lebanon.” Human Rights Watch, 12 Oct. 2023, www.hrw.org/news/2023/10/12/questions-and-answers-israels-use-white-phosphorus-gaza-and-lebanon.

13 Doctors Without Borders | the Practical Guide to Humanitarian Law. guide-humanitarian-law.org/content/article/3/collective-punishment.

14 “Humanitarian Hypocrisy, Double Standards and the Law in Gaza.” ODI: Think Change, 8 Nov. 2023, odi.org/en/insights/humanitarian-hypocrisy-double-standards-and-the-law-in-gaza.

15 “Osama Bin Laden.” Federal Bureau of Investigation, 7 June 2023, www.fbi.gov/history/famous-cases/osama-bin-laden.

16 Laub, Zachary. “The Iraq War.” Council on Foreign Relations, 1 May 2017, www.cfr.org/timeline/iraq-war.

17 “Malcolm X on Racism, Capitalism and Islam.” Al Jazeera, 22 Feb. 2022, www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/2/21/malcolm-x-quotes.

18 Rahman, Sameena, and Joyce Chediac. “Israel Calls Palestinians ‘Human Animals,’ Denies Gaza Civilians Food and Water Amid Mass Bombing.” Liberation News, 29 Oct. 2023, www.liberationnews.org/israel-calls-palestinians-human-animals-denies-gaza-civilians-food-and-water-bombs-homes-markets-mosques.

19 Klee, Miles. “AI Has Made the Israel-Hamas Misinformation Epidemic Much, Much Worse.” Rolling Stone, 27 Oct. 2023, www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/israel-hamas-misinformation-fueled-ai-images-1234863586.

20 “‘No Innocent Civilians in Gaza’, Israel President Says as Northern Gaza Struggles to Flee Israeli Bombs.” The Wire, thewire.in/world/northern-gaza-israel-palestine-conflict.

21 “After She Was Freed, Israeli Hostage Offered a Handshake to Her Hamas Captor.” NBC News, 25 Oct. 2023, nbcnews.com/news/world/israeli-hostage-handshake-hamas-rcna121852.

22 “Lukewarm Acceptance — BridgeBuilders.” BridgeBuilders, 17 Oct. 2016, bridgebuilders.org/news/lukewarm-acceptance.

23 “Palestine | History, People, Conflict, and Religion.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 10 Nov. 2023, www.britannica.com/place/Palestine/Palestine-and-the-Palestinians-1948-67.

24 Wilson, Rachel, et al. “One Month’s Death Toll in the Israel-Hamas War, in Charts.”

Emily Carroll

Hofstra '27

Emily is a freshman at Hofstra University majoring in computer science. She is from Long Island and loves reading and writing!