On October 7, Palestinian militants launched a major attack on Israel, infiltrating the country through air, sea, and land from the blockaded Gaza Strip. Israeli officials labeled it as a “war” and confirmed that 22 people had been killed. In response to the attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel was at war and vowed severe retaliation, ordering a mobilization of army reserves. He warned that the enemy would face an unprecedented price for their surprise attack.
Hamas, the Iran-backed group that controls the Gaza Strip, released a video showing its fighters capturing three men described as “enemy soldiers.” They announced Operation Al-Aqsa Flood and claimed to have fired over 5,000 rockets in the first 20 minutes.
The Israeli army confirmed that their forces were engaging Palestinian militants on the ground near the Strip and named their operation “Swords of Iron.” The militants carried out a combined raid using paragliders, the sea, and the ground. Reports of Israeli citizens being captured have not been confirmed.
Videos on social media showed the bodies of individuals in military attire, as well as deceased motorists and passengers on a highway. The attack occurred during a Jewish holiday and on Shabbat.
Netanyahu promised a response of a magnitude that the enemy had not known, while Israeli Major General Ghasan Alyan warned that Hamas had opened the gates of hell and would pay for their actions. Air strikes were carried out by Israel’s military on Gaza in response to the rocket barrage.
Residents in Israel, including in Jerusalem, experienced air raid sirens and sought shelter in bomb shelters. In response to the escalating violence, hundreds of Gazans fled their homes near the border with Israel.
The EU, US, and Israel consider Hamas to be a terrorist group, and Western capitals denounced the Palestinian attacks. The United Nations Middle East peace envoy called for a de-escalation to prevent further harm to Israeli communities and civilians.
The recent surge in violence follows heightened tensions in September, when Israel closed the border to Gazan workers and Palestinian demonstrators clashed with Israeli troops. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been ongoing, with casualties on both sides.