The history of Gaza is far-reaching, extending beyond 7 October. It is a history woven with tragedies, suffering, battles, truces, and deals, reaching back long before its occupation in 1967, the Oslo Accords in 1993, the Israeli officials' dreams of it getting “swallowed by the sea,” the Israeli withdrawal in 2005, Hamas’s control over it in 2007, and the Israeli military operations in recent years.
But 7 October undoubtedly marked a pivotal moment, and the magnitude of the surprise unleashed by Hamas is unprecedented. Israel's response was also unprecedented, as was its plan to pursue "substantial changes" on the ground. Time will tell whether the Palestinians in Gaza will gain or lose from this militant operation.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has had unequivocal backing from Western nations and successfully persuaded America to re-engage militarily in the Middle East after a 15-year hiatus.
He dubbed his effort the "Second War of Independence," signalling his intent to impose a "strategic shift" in the region, starting with Gaza.
The stated goal is to eliminate Hamas' military infrastructure and leadership and displace Gazans from north to south with the possibility of relocating them to Sinai in the future.
This elimination and displacement might occur through various means, such as assassinations, bombings, air strikes, settlements, or deportations, like what happened to Fatah's leaders after the events of "Black September" who were deported from Jordan to Lebanon 50 years ago, and subsequently from Lebanon to Tunisia 40 years ago.
As for what comes next, various proposals are circulating; some are old, and some are new, ranging from reinstating the Palestinian Authority and Fatah movement to establishing a civilian administration to govern Gaza.
Additionally, there are discussions about Arab and Western investments to reconstruct Gaza, deploying authoritative and monitoring forces and setting the stage for negotiations to reach a political settlement.
On its part, Hamas perceives that “the Israeli plan will achieve nothing” except lead to a surge in civilian casualties – their number has already reached 10,000 and is likely to increase substantially.
The group also dismissed the possibility of Palestinians in Gaza being pushed to the Sinai in a "new Nakba".
Hamas argues against comparisons with the Islamic State (IS) in Mosul or Raqqa, or with Fatah in Jordan and Lebanon, asserting that such analogies “are inaccurate because Hamas is a part of the Gaza community.”
They contend that even if Hamas leaders are displaced, new generations will take their place.” Additionally, there is always the possibility that extremists might fill the void left by Hamas.