white on transparent (1)

Karpatské Námestie 10A, Bratislava, Slovakia 


Ashkelon or Tel Aviv: Decisive Targets in the Gaza Conflict Narrative

2023-11-03 07:53

Issam Khoury

#GazaConflict , #Ashkelon , #TelAviv , #HamasStrategy , #MiddleEastTensions,

Ashkelon or Tel Aviv: Decisive Targets in the Gaza Conflict Narrative

"Ashkelon and Tel Aviv in Hamas' crosshairs amid Gaza's plight."

Most of the Hamas fighters who infiltrated were either returned or killed inside Israeli borders on October 13, 2023. The raging conflict between Palestinians and Israelis entered a second phase, with the primary focus being the evacuation of Northern Gaza.


The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. In 2014, the population was 1.8 million. [1] Despite the deteriorating economic situation in the region and ongoing conflicts, the population increased to 2.3 million by 2023. This number reflects the fertility of Palestinian society and its resilience in the face of adverse political, economic, and social conditions. Certainly, this significant increase in population has dispelled any notion among the Israeli government of incorporating the Gaza Strip into the Israeli state.


The attack by Hamas on October 7, 2023, did not originate solely from the city of Gaza but rather from several areas, targeting the entire southern region of Israel. The Israeli response, however, primarily focused on the city of Gaza, indicating the Israelis' determination to exclude this city from Hamas' operational plans.


The population of Gaza City is 1.1 million people, [2] which is approximately 47.8% of the total population of the Gaza Strip. Gaza is the city closest to Ashkelon, the largest city in southern Israel, which has a population of 137.9 thousand people.[3] 


In response to the bombardment of Gaza, Hamas fighters have adopted a strategy of intensive shelling of this city. Several Hamas spokespeople have declared that 'the shelling of Ashkelon will not stop until the shelling on Gaza stops.'


Despite the ability of Hamas rockets to breach the Iron Dome, their capability to target Ben Gurion Airport in Israel is limited. Therefore, Hamas seeks to intensify its shelling on Ashkelon, which is close to the northern border of Gaza, to deplete the Iron Dome's missiles. Their aim is to launch several long-range rockets to target Ben Gurion Airport or the city of Tel Aviv, thereby increasing the state of terror among Israelis and forcing them to negotiate.


The dilemma for Palestinian civilians is that they have limited options. Before announcing its comprehensive attack, the Israeli army destroyed entire neighborhoods in Gaza, forcing many residents to flee towards UNRWA schools or areas that have not yet been affected by the destruction.


The tragedy is that the destroyed homes of Palestinians have been turned into military fortifications by Hamas fighters, making it easier for them to hide and carry out a street war that exhausts the Israeli army. This means that Palestinian civilians have lost those homes whether Hamas or Israel emerges victorious, and they are now displaced. They cannot rebuild their destroyed homes, and there are no international organizations supporting the reconstruction of their neighborhoods. Therefore, the option of displacement from northern Gaza may be an inevitable reality.


The risk inherent in this proposal is that the Egyptian state has shown no interest in hosting Palestinian refugees in the Sinai region. Such an influx could increase the population density in the southern towns of the Gaza Strip, potentially negatively affecting sustainable development projects for Palestinians. This may also heighten Palestinian resentment towards Israelis, possibly sparking a new conflict between the two sides in the future.


  1. Therefore, it is essential for the United Nations to activate peace channels between the warring parties, based on the following points:
  2. The release of Israeli civilians in exchange for a commitment to avoid targeting civilian Palestinian camps in northern Gaza.
  3. The establishment of a United Nations unit deployed along the Gaza-Israel border to ensure the resolution of military conflicts.
  4. The recognition of Gaza as a state with 'Limited Legitimacy', which would involve security and administrative coordination with the neighboring Egyptian state until the establishment of a recognized Palestinian state.
  5. The provision of international financial aid to the Egyptian state aimed at assisting Palestinian civilians in Gaza with administrative affairs, such as issuing passports and internationally recognized educational documents, and enabling their free travel through Egyptian airports, among other things.
  6. The activation of sustainable development projects for Palestinians to reduce their dependency on Hamas and other extremist organizations.


[1] World Bank/2014



[2] Israel warns half of Gaza's population to move south, UN says/ By Michelle Nichols/ Reuters/ Oct 13, 2023



[3] Population of Ashkelon 2023


Lorem Ipsum dolor sit amet