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Hamas' surprise attack on Israeli military installations and civilians is dividing media voices and threatening to upend geopolitical efforts in the Middle East.

Over the weekend, Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip launched a large-scale attack, infiltrating Israel’s border by air, land, and sea, killing over 1,000 people. Israel responded by bombing the Gaza Strip, killing over 1,000 more.

Why now? After decades of conflict, what caused Hamas to escalate their efforts to, as President Joe Biden described in a speech Tuesday, terrorism akin to the "worst rampages of ISIS"? This is one question where voices across the spectrum are finding some common ground.

In recent years, Israel has established stronger relations with its Arab neighbors. Former President Donald Trump oversaw the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020, in which both the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain formally recognized Israel's sovereignty. In recent months, Saudi Arabia and Israel reportedly seemed on the verge of reaching a similar agreement championed by Biden.

This context led New York Times Opinion (Left bias) columnist Thomas L. Friedman (Lean Left bias) to speculate that Hamas' attack was planned to "trigger an Israeli overreaction, like an invasion of the Gaza Strip, that would lead to massive Palestinian civilian casualties and in that way force Saudi Arabia to back away" from discussions to normalize relations with Israel.

Similarly, in Fox News Opinion (Right bias), K.T. McFarland, formerly Trump's Deputy National Security Advisor, determined that "the window to sabotage Arab-Israeli peace is closing." McFarland also argued that Iran was masterminding the Hamas attack, stating, "Iran funds Hamas, supplies their weapons, and gave the order to attack Israel from the west."

The Palestinians: Some left-rated voices have expressed more sympathy for the Palestinian population of Gaza. In the Qatari state-owned outlet Al Jazeera (Lean Left bias), a policy analyst framed the Hamas attack as a product of Israeli efforts "to erase Palestine and Palestinian people from Arab and global consciousness."

These sentiments are being challenged by other voices across the spectrum, who accuse them of being antisemitic and excusing terrorism. Charles C. W. Cooke (Right bias) argued it is "not within the normal bounds of human behavior to look at what has happened in Israel and to filter one’s instinctive moral reaction through whatever goofy, specious, ugly ideology one might have picked up in an overpriced seminar hall when aged 19."

What's Next? Israel announced the formation of an emergency unity government, and a ground offensive into Gaza is expected to begin soon. The United States sent an aircraft carrier to the Mediterranean Sea in an effort to deter Israel's hostile neighbors from entering the conflict.

As the conflict continues to escalate, misinformation and divides in coverage will persist. Already, there is disputed coverage over stories and claims coming out of the fighting. We're tracking media coverage and looking out for misinformation on our blog.

Top words about Hamas and Israel used more on each side of the media.
Analysis from Partisan Playground; Media Bias Ratings from AllSides

More from AllSides

  • Israel-Hamas War: We're tracking media coverage and flagging potential misinformation emerging from the conflict.
  • Opinion from the Center: "Biden faces a handful of crises. If he is re-elected, it will not be because he fixed them, but because he convinced voters that the Republicans’ shortcomings are even worse."
  • Opinion from the Center: "Education should be a part of the solution to overall political depolarization. But it should not be the only solution."

Snippets from the Right

Hamas Apologists Are Freaks
Charles C. W. Cooke (opinion)

"Well-adjusted people do not read about surprise attacks that involve the machine-gunning of concertgoers, the live-streaming of executions, the beheading of babies, the raping and desecration of women, and the immolation of corpses and respond by musing about how intersectional the dead might have been.'"

Terrorists are fighting war on Israel, but one country is pulling the strings
Fox News (opinion)

"Make no mistake, while Hamas terrorists might be doing the actual fighting, Iran is pulling the strings. Iran funds Hamas, supplies their weapons, and gave the order to attack Israel from the west... If splinter terrorist groups go against Israel from the Palestinian territories in the east, Israel will face a multifront war fought by Palestinians, but paid for and directed by Iran."

Snippets from the Center

What's the Israel-Palestinian conflict about? The origin of wars explained
Reuters (analysis)

"The conflict pits Israeli demands for security in what it has long regarded as a hostile region against Palestinian aspirations for a state of their own. Israel's founding father David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the modern State of Israel on May 14, 1948, establishing a safe-haven for Jews fleeing persecution and seeking a national home on land to which they cite deep ties over generations. Palestinians lament Israel's creation as the Nakba, or catastrophe, that resulted in their dispossession and blocked their dreams of statehood."

Hamas attack shocks Israel, but what comes next?
BBC News

"Israel undoubtedly sees the potential for a war that could open up on multiple fronts. A worst-case scenario is that it could draw in the powerful Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah. Meanwhile, the Israeli military has ordered a massive reinforcement of troops. As well as its intense air raids on Gaza, it has indicated that it is planning a ground operation there."

Snippets from the Left

What was Hamas thinking? For over three decades, it has had the same brutal idea of victory
Associated Press (analysis)

"Israel has faced virtually no calls for restraint in the wake of the Hamas attack, but that could change if the war drags on. In the end, the two sides could find themselves returning to the status quo: An internationally mediated truce, with Hamas ruling over a devastated and aid-dependent Gaza, and Israel redoubling security along its frontier. That too, for Hamas at least, would look like a victory."

Palestinians are showing that they will not be erased
Al Jazeera (opinion)

"Palestinians have, for decades, tried to put under a global spotlight the violence Israel has been inflicting on them on a daily basis. They recorded all the killings, the torture and the abuse. They catalogued the stolen homes, lands and other vital resources. They documented in painstaking detail how Israeli state violence deprives them of their freedom and dignity, and harasses and abuses them on a regular basis, in blatant violation of international law."

See more big stories from the past week.