Tuesday marks one month since Hamas crossed into southern Israel killing more than 1,400 people and triggering a war. Hamas has also taken 240 hostages.
Israelis observed a moment of silence Tuesday. The 30th day is a milestone in Jewish mourning and memorial events are planned in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The Palestinian death toll has surpassed 10,300.
According to the Health Ministry of the Hamas-run Gaza strip, two-thirds of the dead are women and children. Another 2,300 are missing and believed to buried under the rubble of destroyed buildings.
To bring context for this war, professor Eric Schwartz joined MPR News host Cathy Wurzer. Schwartz is the chair of the University of Minnesota Humphrey School's global policy area and formerly worked with the state department.
Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.
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The 30th day is a milestone in Jewish mourning, and memorial events are planned in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The Palestinian death toll has surpassed 10,300, according to the Health Ministry of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. 2/3 of the dead are women and children. Another 2,300 are missing and believed to be buried under the rubble of destroyed buildings.
One month in, to bring us some context for this war, is Professor Eric Schwartz. He's on the line. He's the chair of the University of Minnesota Humphrey School's Global Policy Area, formerly worked with the State Department. Professor, welcome back.
ERIC SCHWARTZ: Oh, thank you, Cathy. It's a pleasure to be here.
CATHY WURZER: Let's begin by talking about Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu. He's given his clearest indication yet that Israel plans to maintain control in Gaza, taking overall security responsibility, those are his words-- what does that mean for Israel, for Palestinians, and for this situation?
ERIC SCHWARTZ: Well, it's really hard to know immediately. But he sort of answered a question maybe not adequately, but he's answered a question that so many people have asked, which is, if you're going about to really destroy Hamas and really wreak havoc in Gaza, what happens afterwards? So he's answered that question, which is that there will be Israeli control of Gaza.
But I don't think that ultimately is going to satisfy anybody. And a month in, there's very little good news. There may be two tiny pieces of good news a month out. And maybe, again, before I talk about the challenges and the problems, I'll mention the two pieces of encouraging news.
It does seem that Secretary Blinken is having some success in the region ensuring that this crisis doesn't widen within the region. It seems like he's having some success. And it is true that this terrible incident and series of incidents sort of have revitalized, a little bit, serious discussions about a two state solution, which there's been a lot of concern that that conversation has sort of ended.
But there's far more bad news. And if you don't mind, I can turn to that, because I think it's really important.
CATHY WURZER: Yes, please.
ERIC SCHWARTZ: Sure. Well, first, there's still no sense of what happens next. As you said, there are more than 10,000, if the Health Ministry's statistics are accurate, there are more than 10,000 dead Palestinians, a third of whom are believed to be children. There are 1,400 Israelis slaughtered by Hamas. There are still over 200 hostages.
There are outbreaks of anti-Semitism in the United States and around the world. And there are outbreaks of anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian sentiment as well. We've seen to have failed to be able to address these issues in a civil way. I think an imperative right now is the killing of Palestinian civilians.
The Israelis claim that their actions are in accordance with international humanitarian law. But at the end of the day, that really doesn't matter. There are 10,000 Palestinians who have been killed. So if I were running things right now, I would be pushing so hard on the issue of humanitarian causes.
CATHY WURZER: A ceasefire? Do you think we'll see a ceasefire?
ERIC SCHWARTZ: I don't think we're going to see a ceasefire, but I think the US administration needs to press the Israelis much harder on actions to limit civilian deaths, to have humanitarian pauses. And, yes, I would go so far at this point to even be pressing for a humanitarian ceasefire. It's not clear what that means.
But the point is we need to be communicating to the Israelis that this level of civilian death in Gaza, it's just not acceptable. And it's not going to help get us toward a Middle East peace.
And none of this is without reference in regard to the horrific actions of Hamas and the legitimate interests of the government of Israel at going after Hamas-- but not with this level of civilian deaths. It's just not acceptable.
CATHY WURZER: What's the path forward for Israel to remove Hamas from power? Because that has been the promise. How could that happen?
ERIC SCHWARTZ: Well, let me start by saying it can't be in Israel's long term security interests to have this level of civilian deaths in Gaza. Putting aside, and we shouldn't put aside, the moral implications of this level of civilian deaths-- and I don't, frankly, trust the Netanyahu government, one of the most conservative, right wing governments we've seen in Israel. And so if the government of Israel is not in a position to conduct an operation against Hamas that is far more targeted, then, yes, there needs to be a humanitarian ceasefire.
Because if that's the choice that the government of Israel is giving the world, then that's the action that needs to be taken. And there are lots of different options for either a humanitarian pause or a humanitarian ceasefire, what those would look like. Richard Haass, the former President of the Council on Foreign Relations, has suggested a sort of a humanitarian ceasefire or pause in stages, where the government of Israel would continue to be able to go after Hamas, but in a far more targeted way, and there would be staged pauses.
But this level of civilian deaths is just not acceptable. And so one of these options has got to be pursued without denying the government of Israel the right to go after Hamas and without honoring those who were killed in these horrific attacks. But both in terms of future negotiations, and getting support from Arab governments in the region, and Palestinians, and world public opinion, this approach with this level of civilian deaths just not only is it creating terrible suffering, but it's not going to be a winnable approach in terms of moving towards a two state solution.
CATHY WURZER: Professor, I wish I had more time, because there's so much to talk with you about. Thank you so much.
ERIC SCHWARTZ: Oh, my pleasure.
CATHY WURZER: Professor Eric Schwartz is the Chair of the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School's Global Policy Area.
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