A surprise attack by Hamas fighters on Israel left about 250 Israelis dead on Saturday, prompting Israel to respond with intense airstrikes.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to demolish Hamas strongholds in Gaza, reducing them to rubble, as the conflict continues to escalate.
“We are at war and we will win,” he asserted, adding, “Not an ‘operation,’ not a ’round,’ but at war.”
What happened in Israel
At 6.30 a.m. on Saturday, Hamas fired a huge barrage of rockets into southern Israel. Air raid sirens across Israel shattered the morning silence and the Iron Dome system, one of the best air defense systems in the world, was again in action.
5,000 Rockets Rained From Sky
The group launched 5,000 rockets and in response, Israel’s military fired 2,500 rockets.
Reuters report said that smoke billowed over residential Israeli areas and people sheltered behind buildings as sirens were heard.
“We announce the start of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood and we announce that the first strike, which targeted enemy positions, airports, and military fortifications, exceeded 5,000 missiles and shells,” Mohammed Deif, head of the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, said.
Over 300 Israelis and 232 Palestinians were killed in the deadliest escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in decades.
“Today, 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.
What is Iron Dome
Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system is a land-based air defense system. It is designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets, mortars, and artillery shells fired from distances of 4 kilometers to 70 kilometers.
The system has guarded Israel since 2011. During the 2006 Lebanon conflict, thousands of rockets were fired by Hezbollah and several northern areas including Haifa were attacked, killing many. The 2006 attacks prompted Israel to develop its own air defense system.
What is Hamas?
Established in 1987 during the First Intifada, Hamas’ objective is to establish an Islamic state in Palestine. The group currently governs the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian territory on the eastern Mediterranean coast. After winning the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, it seized control of Gaza in 2007 following a violent conflict with its rival, Fatah. Since then, Hamas has been the de facto authority in Gaza, while Fatah governs the West Bank.
Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, the European Union, and others.
History of the Israel-Palestine Conflict
The conflict began with Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. In August 2005, Israeli forces unilaterally withdrew from Gaza 38 years after capturing it from Egypt in the Middle East war, abandoning settlements and leaving the enclave under the control of the Palestinian Authority, reported Reuters.
In January 2006, the Islamist group won a majority of seats in a Palestinian legislative election. Israel and the U.S. cut off aid to Palestinians because Hamas refuses to renounce violence and recognize Israel, the international agency reported.
Over the years, the conflict was not resolved and in Jan 2023 Islamic Jihad in Gaza fired two rockets towards Israel after Israeli troops raided a refugee camp and killed seven Palestinian gunmen and two civilians.
In October, Hamas launched the biggest attack on Israel in years from the Gaza Strip.
Post a commentIsrael’s military said it was on a war footing, adding it had carried out strikes targeting Hamas in Gaza and had called up reservists.