Within just one week of the violence, the Palestinian death toll has passed 2,400, already making it the deadliest of all 5 Gaza wars
After Israel ordered the evacuation of 1.1 million residents of northern Gaza, Israeli tanks and troops began amassing on the Gaza border as it readies “significant group operations,” while airstrikes on the besieged Palestinian territory continue. Yet Israel’s plans have raised concerns of further mass casualties and forcible population transfer. Within just one week of the violence, the Palestinian death toll has passed 2,400, already making it the deadliest of all five Gaza wars.
Israel has framed its ground campaign as a mission to dismantle Hamas and secure the release of Israeli hostages, stemming from the Oct. 7 attack known as Operation Al-Aqsa Flood by the Palestinian faction.  During this operation, Hamas breached Israel’s security perimeter and blockade, killing over 1,400 Israelis and dozens of hostages taken. Cited among the worst attacks in Israel’s history, it was also considered to have inflicted a psychological shock to the nation along with exposing intelligence failures.
Israel garnered significant international sympathy following Hamas’ attack, with Israel’s invasion plans receiving tacit approval from the U.S. and Western allies. They emphasized Israel’s “right to defend itself” after the operation, and refrained from calling for restraint as they’ve prioritized Israel’s safety.  And in a further display of support, Washington and European nations deployed their navies’ warships to the East Mediterranean, while the Biden administration has pledged additional military aid weapons to Israel. [3,4]
However, these sentiments persisted despite widespread concerns that Gaza would face collective punishment, which would therefore represent violations of international law. Fears for civilian lives were amplified after the Israeli government announced it would cut off Gaza’s electricity, food, and water supply to the densely populated area, which has over 2.2 million inhabitants.
And beneath Western support lies a lack of political efforts to facilitate Palestinian statehood, particularly due to lukewarm international diplomatic initiatives to achieve this. Notably, the Joe Biden administration has not even appointed a US ambassador to Israel, thereby weakening its diplomatic presence in the conflict.  This lack of pressure on Israel’s government to ease the blockade and support Palestine’s sovereignty is therefore concerning.
Shortcomings of regional agreements
Even before the current violence, the situation in Gaza was clearly untenable. Since 2007, a year after Hamas was elected in Gaza’s first and only election in 2006, Israel has blockaded Gaza’s borders, airspace, and territorial waters and continued its de facto occupation despite withdrawing its troops in 2005. This has exacerbated a growing humanitarian emergency which has been worsened by several subsequent multiple conflicts.
The situation in the Middle East becomes even more complex considering the impact of the Abraham Accords, which were spearheaded by the Trump administration to normalize diplomatic relations between Israel and several Arab states throughout 2020.  The failure to make substantial progress on resolving the Palestinian question, coupled with the disappointment surrounding the “Deal of the Century” in January 2020, has added fuel to the fire.  Although these accords were hailed as diplomatic victories within Washington, they attracted criticism for failing to promote adequate pressure on Israel to alleviate the dire conditions in the occupied territories and facilitate the Palestinians’ right to self-determination under international law and a lack of pressure.
Gulf states like the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which normalized relations with Israel during the accords, had strongly sympathized with Israel while condemning Hamas during the Oct. 7 operation.  However, with escalating violence in Gaza, they felt obliged to send humanitarian aid to Gaza and stress de-escalation, to avoid criticisms that they’re not helping the Palestinian people. This balancing act is even more delicate for Saudi Arabia, as it has now suspended further normalization talks orchestrated by the Biden administration, which Riyadh accepted with the hope of gaining further advanced weaponry and US support for a domestic nuclear program. 
Even before the current violence, Saudi Arabia carefully navigated its stance towards normalizing with Israel, striving to avoid accusations of disregarding the Palestinian issue. Riyadh’s actions also aim to avoid a backlash from regional divisions, particularly amid concerns of Israel becoming drawn into a conflict with Iranian-backed groups in Syria and Tehran’s Lebanese ally Hezbollah. Indeed, hardline voices in the US have called for renewed sanctions on Iran, pre-emptively blaming it for Hamas’ operation, thus risking enflamed regional tensions.
On Oct. 12, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi discussed the importance of regional security and Islamic unity amid the conflict, said Raisi’s office.  Saudi Arabia, having eased tensions with Iran after China-brokered talks in March, is looking to further play it cool with Iran, while taking a “wait-and-see” approach to normalizing with Israel and therefore putting extra US weaponry on hold.
Hopes for ending the conflict
In the grand scheme of things, while some may critique the Abraham Accords for their perceived shortcomings in achieving peace and stability, it is crucial to acknowledge that the primary responsibility for the conflict doesn’t rest on regional states alone. Instead, it is Israel’s Western partners that hold the most leverage and could therefore take on a more purposeful role in addressing the conflict.
This is especially pertinent when considering that the dire conditions in Gaza have largely been overlooked, despite it having been in a state of humanitarian crisis long before the recent outbreak of violence. And now there exists legitimate potential that the unrest could spread to the West Bank, which has been under Israeli occupation since 1967, despite the Palestinian Authority’s alignment with Israel.
This is raising growing apprehensions even among Western and European circles on the safety and well-being of Gazans. Notably, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, despite the European Union’s strong support for Israel, has now criticized Israel’s 24-hour evacuation plan as “utterly unrealistic” and voiced his alarm about the “rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation” in Gaza.  Moreover, Biden warned on Oct. 15 that Israel occupying Gaza would be a “big mistake,” despite supporting the operation to take out Hamas. 
Concerns for the well-being of Gazans have intensified following reports from humanitarian organizations such as Doctors without Borders, which highlighted the severe shortage of medical supplies in Gaza’s hospitals.  The Norwegian Refugee Council has gone so far as to warn that “absolutely no humanitarian aid is getting into Gaza” as the violence in Gaza heats up. 
Ultimately, Palestinians continue to endure immeasurable suffering, and the current situation is untenable, even from the prospect of long-term security for Israel and its citizens. Despite Israel citing security concerns, it is important to recognize that, even if Hamas were to be dislodged, a military offensive and occupation may engender further animosity towards Israel and perpetuate the cycle of violence.
To break this cycle and address the immediate crisis, it is imperative to take swift action to halt the violence, including advocating for a cease-fire and establishing a humanitarian corridor for the people in the Gaza Strip. Ending the unsustainable status quo that perpetuates the conflict would also be vital. Only then can we think of a legitimate and sustainable path for peace and stability for the region and its peoples.