In an unforeseen and large-scale assault, Palestinian militants launched a massive invasion into Israel, marking one of the most significant breaches of Israeli territory in the past half-century.
Here's a deep dive into the unfolding situation.
Saturday saw a continuation of hostilities as rockets originating from Gaza targeted Israel’s central regions, including the pivotal city of Tel Aviv. This surge in violence was a continuation of the large-scale attack on southern Israel in the early hours, during which militants managed to infiltrate 22 Israeli towns and military establishments. The magnitude of the assault was further magnified as several Israeli citizens and military personnel were abducted and countless rockets were fired, reaching as far as Jerusalem.
The suddenness and extent of the assault spread shock and panic across the Israeli populace. Individuals sought refuge within their homes, as the sounds of sirens, detonations, and gunfire pervaded the outdoors. A slew of graphic images depicting the aftermath swiftly took over social media platforms, leading to international attention.
As per Israeli official statements, the attacks resulted in at least 250 Israeli fatalities and over 1,400 injured. Concurrently, the Palestinian Health Ministry located in Gaza confirmed the death of approximately 234 Palestinians and injuries to over 1,600, attributed to both gunfights and airstrikes.
Highlighting the unprecedented nature of this assault, militants managed to infiltrate Israeli borders through diverse means – land, sea, and air. Consequently, this led to major confrontations, a spectacle not seen on Israeli territory in decades. Two significant battlefronts were identified near Ofakim and Beeri towns, as conveyed by Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.
In a public address, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu articulated the gravity of the situation, predicting prolonged military operations and anticipating "challenging days" on the horizon. He vehemently promised retaliation against Hamas.
Scene in Gaza
Gazan cities bore witness to relentless Israeli airstrikes, resulting in towering plumes of black smoke. The immediate aftermath of the attacks saw morgues reaching their capacities, citizens scrambling for essential supplies, and a significant chunk of Gaza grappling with power outages.
U.S. President Biden, speaking from the White House, reasserted unwavering support for Israel, while several Western nations expressed their disapproval, directing criticism at Hamas. The long-standing blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt, in place for 16 years, was cited by Muhammad Deif, the head of Hamas's military division, as a catalyst for this "operation". The intent, he conveyed, was to signal to Israel that their actions would no longer go unchecked.
Hamas’s military wing, the Al Qassam Brigades, justified the unexpected assault on Israel as a stance against the Israeli blockade, and as a protective action for the Aqsa Mosque, a site holding religious significance for both Jews and Muslims, and a focal point of contention in the region.