Illinois political science professor optimistic Gaza war won’t escalate

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(The Center Square) – An Illinois political science professor is optimistic no other country will enter the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

The fighting has raged on for weeks, and now the U.S. says it has intelligence that shows Hamas has used hospitals in Gaza to support their military operations and to conceal hostages.

There have been concerns another Middle Eastern country may come to Hamas’ aid, but professor Chas Thurber from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb said it is unlikely another country will get involved in the war.

“We’ve seen over recent years Arab countries such as Bahrain, UAE, and Saudi Arabia moving to have closer relationships with Israel,” said Thurber. “I think part of the motivation of Hamas’ attack was to disrupt those efforts.”

Prior to teaching, Thurber worked as a foreign and defense policy aide in the U.S. House of Representatives and as a public affairs intern at the U.S. Embassy in Doha, Qatar.

Israel is reportedly considering a proposal that would see Hamas release some of the hostages in exchange for a temporary cease fire. In a disclosure meant to add pressure to the process, the White House has revealed that a 3-year-old girl, a U.S. citizen, was among those believed to be held in Gaza.

“I think if there wasn’t a real interest on both sides in making a deal on this issue we would have seen those negotiations fall away,” said Thurber.

Israel has revised its Oct. 7 death toll to about 1,200. Over 50 Israeli soldiers have died since the ground invasion of Gaza began. The Palestinian death toll in the Gaza Strip has topped 11,000.

Thurber believes the ground operation will likely be lengthy, extending civilians’ exposure to violence. He notes one benchmark for comparison is the U.S. fight against ISIS in Mosul, Iraq in 2016, which lasted nine months and resulted in an estimated 10,000 civilian deaths, but adds there are many more Hamas fighters in Gaza than there were ISIS fighters in Mosul.

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