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The numbers are devastating. More than 700 Israelis killed, around 250 at an outdoor music festival alone. In Gaza, at least 490 are dead, over 120,000 displaced.

But numbers alone won’t suffice; context is crucial. On social media over the past two days, I have read variants of “now isn’t the time for context.” But context helps people understand what seems senseless.

It is also what The Conversation provides. Over the weekend, we published two pieces to help provide context to what was going on. In our first, military analyst Aaron Pilkington provides the wider regional context. He writes that no matter what happens in the days to come, there is one clear winner in this latest escalation: Iran. Long one of Hamas’ key allies and suppliers of arms, Iran’s leaders are keen for the violence to derail Israel’s efforts to normalize diplomatic relations with Iran’s regional rival, Saudi Arabia, Pilkington explains.

Meanwhile, Dov Waxman, a scholar of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict at the University of California, Los Angeles, provides historical context. Saturday’s attack came exactly 50 years and one day after Israel was similarly taken unawares by a joint operation by neighbors Egypt and Syria. The parallels are striking, Waxman writes. Both constituted a catastrophic failure of intelligence, came after spurned overtures and were intent on sending the same message: that the status quo would not be accepted and that Israel’s military might “will not keep Israelis safe.”

While those numbers at the top of this note will surely change as Israel launches a “complete siege” of Gaza, the context will not.

To help gather that context all in one place, The Conversation’s global network has created a rolling guide to our coverage, with perspectives from around the world. We’ll keep updating it with more analysis by academic experts as the crisis continues.

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Matt Williams

Senior International Editor

Israelis inspect the rubble of a building in Tel Aviv on Oct. 8, 2023, a day after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip. AP Photo/Oded Balilty

The Israel-Hamas war: No matter who loses, Iran wins

Aaron Pilkington, University of Denver

The Palestinian fighters who launched deadly attacks into Israel on Oct. 7 are not Iranian puppets – but they are doing the work Iran wants done.

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