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World Bank President Says Israel-Hamas War Poses Serious Economic Damage Globally

The war between Israel and Hamas could deal a “serious” blow to global economic development, the president of the World Bank told an investor conference in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. At the same time, Ajay Banga vowed to increase the lender’s firepower to help address global challenges such as poverty, climate change, and debt. He said steps underway could boost the bank’s lending capacity by $150 billion over a decade. But more is needed to address the scale of the global problems, analysts say.

The escalation between the Middle East’s most populous democracy and its most radical Palestinian faction has killed dozens of people, including 222 Israeli hostages seized by Hamas. Thousands of others have been caught in the crossfire as Israel’s ferocious air and sea strikes pound Gaza.

For the first time, Hamas militants have infiltrated Jewish communities near the Gaza Strip border, killing and capturing civilians. Unverified video footage showed terrified Israelis covered in blood with their hands tied behind their backs as gunmen took them away. Israeli soldiers have also been killed, causing widespread fear in communities across southern Israel.

Hamas operatives have used the opportunity to launch rocket attacks into Israel, which has responded with air and sea strikes. The death toll from both sides has risen quickly.

Many analysts think the conflict is unlikely to change the long-running status quo in the region. The militants control Gaza, but Israel retains control of the West Bank and keeps a blockade on the territory, preventing Hamas from becoming more than an armed resistance to Israeli occupation.

According to experts, even if Israel succeeds in driving Hamas out of Gaza, it will leave a power vacuum, and the group could find ways to fill it. One possibility is creating a Palestinian authority that would include parts of the West Bank. It is also possible that the group will rework its charter to drop language called antisemitism.

However, some analysts point to other factors contributing to the violence. They say Israel’s intelligence and border security failures allowed Hamas operatives to attack so close to home. They also cite a plan by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to overhaul the country’s justice system, which has triggered mass protests from the right, as another sign of a deteriorating political environment in Israel. They argue that if the government were to try something new, like easing its blockade on Gaza or reforming its military, it might be able to break the cycle of conflict. For now, though, the leaders of both sides seem to be clinging to the belief that periodic flare-ups are simply part of the price needed to maintain a tolerable status quo. Zack Beauchamp is a senior correspondent for Vox, where he covers ideology and challenges to democracy, both at home and abroad. He previously edited TP Ideas, a section of ThinkProgress focused on the ideas shaping our politics.

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