Hamas' Largest Assault in Years
On Saturday, Hamas carried out a massive attack, the biggest against Israel in years, leading to the death of over 20 people and injuring hundreds. This meticulously planned assault featured Hamas gunmen infiltrating Israel and simultaneous rocket attacks from Gaza.
Israeli Leadership Reacts
Israel's leaders claim this act by the Iran-backed Hamas is tantamount to declaring war. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded sternly, stating, "Our enemy will pay a price the type of which it has never known. We are in a war and we will win it." As the Israeli military retaliated with airstrikes, residents in Gaza reported hearing deafening explosions and seeing numerous casualties.
Unprecedented Tactics and Fallout
This operation is marked by Hamas' unanticipated entry into Israel from the Gaza Strip, representing the gravest blow to Israel since the suicide bombings of the Second Intifada two decades ago. Additional reports also suggest involvement from the militant Islamic Jihad group, with claims of capturing several Israeli soldiers.
Media Reports and Captive Accounts
Israeli media outlets have been bustling with reports of gun battles between Palestinian fighters and Israeli security forces. Moreover, Israeli broadcaster Reshet 13 TV News alleged that Palestinian militants were holding hostages in Ofakim. In Gaza, citizens are preparing for extended conflict, with many evacuating and seeking shelter.
Please and Accounts from Civilians
Dorin, a resident near Gaza, recounted a horrifying experience over the phone, describing how militants attempted to breach her bomb shelter and her husband's efforts to hold them off. Israeli Defense Minister Gallant noted that battles were underway at various locations and approved the call-up of reservists.
Backdrop: Rising Tensions and Political Strife
The sudden escalation is set against increasing violence between Israel and Palestinian militants. These developments also coincide with Israel's political turbulence regarding its judiciary and Washington's endeavor to strengthen Israel-Saudi Arabia ties.
Reactions from the Middle East
The Iran-supported Lebanese group Hezbollah saw the assault as a clear answer to Israel's ongoing occupation. Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's adviser commended Palestinian fighters for their actions. Meanwhile, video footage from Hamas purportedly showing the aftermath of the assault, including Israeli captives and damaged military equipment, remains unverified.
Gaza's Response and Outlook
With rocket launches resonating throughout Gaza and reports of armed clashes near the separation fence with Israel, Palestinians anticipate a forceful Israeli response. "We are afraid," stated Amal Abu Daqqa, while others expressed astonishment over the infiltration into Israel.
This unexpected attack took place just a day after Israel commemorated the 50th anniversary of the 1973 war, in which Israel was nearly defeated by a surprise strike from Syria and Egypt.