Savannah Brooks ’26
On Oct. 7, Hamas, a militant group classified as an Islamic terrorist group by the U.S., executed a planned attack on the Israeli border, tearing holes in the border fence and taking Israeli lives and hostages. This incident catapulted the Israel-Palestine conflict into the public consciousness across the world, spurring numerous social media infographics that covered Instagram feeds and garnering responses from world leaders, including President Joe Biden. Landmarks like the White House and the Empire State Building lit up in blue and white (the colors of the Israel flag) to demonstrate their support to the country. The state of Israel was established on May 14, 1948 after hundreds of thousands of Jewish Europeans immigrated to what was then Palestine following World War II, leading to increased religious tensions and a civil war in 1947-48. Due to the war, about 750,000 Palestinians were displaced. Since then, the land has been divided into three: the state of Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Since the state of Israel was established, the territory has changed several times, leading to Israel occupying the vast majority of the territory Palestine once held the entirety of.
Since 2014, violence between Israel and Palestine has been rising steadily. The recent streak of violence is a product of years of unrest that led to deaths on both sides. However, Palestinians have been killed at a much higher rate than Israelis, largely due to Israel’s nearly complete occupation of Palestinian land and their much more robust military. Israel’s military is made up of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), which boasts about 169,500 troops. Palestine has no army in a more typical sense, but it does have the Palestinian National Authority, which serves more as law enforcement.
Since the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 that took the world by surprise, Israel has launched staunch defenses that have turned aggressive. The Israeli government reportedly instructed citizens of Gaza (including those in hospitals) to flee to the South to avoid military action, a move that is nearly impossible in such a densely populated area that Israel has declared to be under “full siege,” meaning that no humanitarian aid like fuel, food or medicine are allowed to enter. As of Sunday, Oct. 15, over 1 million Gazans have been displaced. According to videos verified by the Human Rights Watch, Israel has fired white phosphorus, a chemical capable of burning through bone, on Gaza. White phosphorus is a prohibited substance to use near civilians under Protocol III of the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. All in all, as of Monday, Oct. 16, 1,400 Israelis and 2,208 Palestinians have been confirmed dead.
As the conflict has continued to unfold, both the Trinity and Hartford community have responded in several ways. On Tuesday, Oct. 10, Trinity President Joanne Berger-Sweeney sent an email to the Trinity community, expressing support to “everyone who is part of our community and is touched by the events in Israel and Gaza.” She held that “violence—particularly against unarmed civilians—can never be condoned and will never produce a world of human flourishing,” directing students in need to the Counseling and Wellness Center as well as the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life. The following day, the Chapel, led by Reverend Marcus Halley, held a Candlelight Vigil to honor the lives lost and hold space for students to grieve. At the event, Reverend Hailey referenced Trinity’s “global community” and referenced both the Israeli and Palestinian lives lost.
Last Tuesday, an “All Out for Palestine” event was held in Hartford, organized by the American Muslims for Palestine Connecticut and the University of Connecticut’s Students for Justice in Palestine. AMPC representatives urged the American people to pay attention to the news sources they were using, warning that, without the proper context of the decades of Israeli occupation, news stories can be misleading.
Connecticut senior senator Richard Blumenthal has continued pushing for the U.S. to provide aid to Israel while junior senator Chris Murphy has begun to speak out against Israel’s aggressive military actions, posting on X that “accountability for Hamas can be achieved without unnecessary harm to civilians.” Blumenthal, along with the Senate Armed Services Committee, is currently writing legislation to send military aid to Israel that includes artillery and missiles among other items. As the American public has begun to be more sympathetic towards Palestinians, congressional Democrats such as Senator Murphy have been providing more and more verbal support for Gaza, while congressional Republicans have raised worries over members of Hamas infiltrating the United States through the Mexican border. These comments come during an increase of border-related fears along with mass criticism of President Biden’s border policies by Republicans.
Late Monday night, President Biden announced that he will be visiting Israel after being invited by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has recently met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In his meeting with Secretary Blinken, both were forced to shelter in a bunker among air raid sirens in Tel Aviv. According to the State Department, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary Blinken discussed the swift release of Hamas’ hostages as well as reaffirming “U.S. determination to provide the Israeli government with what it needs to protect its citizens.” In his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Putin reportedly asserted that he was ready to assist in stopping the conflict, according to the Kremlin.
Biden’s visit comes among calls for more U.S. congresspeople and celebrities to speak out on behalf of the people of Palestine. Gigi Hadid, a half-Palestinian supermodel, reposted an infographic that read “There is nothing Jewish about the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians. Condemning the Israeli government is not anti-Semitic and supporting Palestinians is not supporting Hamas.” The state of Israel’s Instagram account responded to her post with a caption that reads “Have you been sleeping the past week? Or are you just fine turning a blind eye to Jewish babies being butchered in their homes? Your silence has been very clear about where you stand. We see you.” The caption is referring to reports that Hamas beheaded 40 Israeli babies that were largely unsubstantiated and could not be confirmed by the Israeli government.
This is an ongoing story