In one of the bloodiest escalations of the Israel-Palestine conflict in decades, Hamas, the Palestine Terrorist group, launched a massive rocket barrage on the auspicious day of Simchat Torah, which led Israel to respond with airstrikes. The toll has surpassed 700 lives in Israel and more than 400 in Gaza, with over 100,000 people displaced in the Gaza Strip. This conflict marks a grim milestone, with Hamas claiming to hold more than a hundred Israelis hostage.
Hamas called its operation “Al-Aqsa Flood.” It urged other Palestinian factions and Arab and Islamic nations to join the battle. Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said the group was on the “verge of a great victory.”
Israel’s Retaliation and International Implications
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) retaliated with airstrikes, describing Hamas’s attack as their “9/11” or “Pearl Harbor” moment and labeling it the “worst massacre of innocent citizens in Israel’s history.” The IDF asserted that Hamas was more brutal than ISIS, citing hundreds of Israeli casualties and dozens of hostages taken into Gaza.
The Israeli army said it launched “Operation Iron Swords” to strike Hamas targets in Gaza and stop its rocket fire. It also said it sent ground troops into Gaza to fight Hamas militants who had breached the security barrier and attacked nearby Israeli towns and military posts.
The army said it had struck over 500 Hamas targets overnight, including rocket launchers, tunnels, command centers, weapons factories, and training camps. It also said it had killed several senior Hamas commanders and dozens of fighters.
Israel has accused Iran of funding Hamas operations, although Tehran denies involvement in the offensive. The United Nations Security Council has not agreed on the Israel-Hamas war. The conflict has also claimed the lives of citizens from various countries, including the United States, Thailand, Brazil, Britain, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Nepal, and Ukraine, who were killed, kidnapped, or remain missing.
“We have seen the face of evil. Hamas launched a criminal attack without distinguishing between women, children, and the elderly. It will realize very quickly that it made a grave mistake. We will change the face of reality in the Gaza Strip,” Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant said in a video statement.
Political and Global Response
Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, vowed to retaliate forcefully, promising to destroy Hamas’s capabilities. He warned Palestinians living near Hamas sites in Gaza, urging them to evacuate as Israel prepared to target those hideouts. Netanyahu emphasized that this marked a “black day” for Israel.
The United States responded to the conflict by acknowledging the loss of American lives and deploying warships and fighter jet squadrons to Israel. Meanwhile, Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah supported Hamas by launching artillery shells and missiles at Israeli positions.
The international community has expressed alarm over the escalating violence and called for an immediate end to hostilities. The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on Monday but disagreed on a statement.
US President Joe Biden voiced “rock solid and unwavering” support for Israel and warned, “against any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation”. He also said he worked with Egypt and other countries to broker a ceasefire.
On Monday, Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah said it fired “large numbers of artillery shells and guided missiles” at Israeli positions in a contested border area. It said the assault was “in solidarity” with the attack launched by Hamas.
Egypt opened its Rafah border crossing with Gaza to allow wounded Palestinians to receive medical treatment. It also sent ambulances and humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Turkey condemned Israel’s “disproportionate” attacks on Gaza and called for international action to stop the “massacre.” It also said it was ready to mediate between the parties.
The Indian embassy in Israel has asked its citizens to remain vigilant and observe safety protocols as advised by local authorities. “Please exercise caution, avoid unnecessary movement, and stay close to safety shelters,” it said in an advisory.
Ongoing Conflict and the Unpredictable Future
The Israel-Hamas conflict has seen multiple flare-ups since Hamas took over Gaza in 2007. The recent violence erupted shortly after Hamas called for an end to the Israeli occupation and accused Israel of committing crimes, particularly around the holy site of Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem.
As the Israel-Hamas conflict intensifies, the international community watches with growing concern. The region’s fate remains uncertain, with both sides deeply entrenched in their positions and no immediate solution.
This ongoing conflict is a grim reminder of the complexities and consequences of one of the world’s most enduring disputes. With lives lost on both sides and international tensions rising, the path to peace in the region remains elusive.