On October 7, Hamas launched an unprecedented assault on southern Israel, killing at least 1,400 Israelis and taking as many as 200 hostages to Gaza, including children and the elderly. Israel has since mobilized for full-scale war, and heavy bombardment has killed thousands and displaced many more in the Gaza Strip as rocket fire toward Israel continues. On the Lebanon-Israel border, Hezbollah has attacked Israeli posts numerous times, as Iran and Hezbollah warn that they may join the war and open a second front.
Amid the turmoil, President Joe Biden visited the region on October 18 to reinforce staunch U.S. support for Israel. His plans for a wider summit with key Arab leaders were scuttled by the explosion at Gaza’s Al Ahli Hospital which resulted in hundreds of deaths.
On October 23, the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings hosted a virtual event about the crisis. Experts discussed the Israeli military operation and its aims, the ramifications of the escalating violence on the Middle East more broadly, and ongoing U.S. diplomatic efforts to manage this volatile conflict.