Hamas surprise attack out of Gaza stuns Israel Leaves Hundreds Dead

Hamas surprise attack
Palestinians celebrate and raise their national flag in front of an Israeli tank that has been destroyed near the Gaza Strip boundary east of Khan Younis on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Yousef Masoud)

In an extraordinary Hamas surprise attack on a major Jewish holiday on Saturday, Hamas fighters poured into surrounding Israeli communities from the blockaded Gaza Strip, backed by a hail of rockets. Resultantly dozens of people were killed and more arrested. Israel’s prime minister declared that his country was now at war with Hamas and threatened to exact an “unprecedented price” after Israel conducted surprise airstrikes in Gaza.

Hamas fighters rolled into as many as 22 areas outside the Gaza Strip in an astonishingly wide-ranging attack, including towns and other populations up to 15 miles (24 kilometers) from the Gaza border. While Israel’s military struggled to muster an answer, they shot and killed troops and civilians in various locations.

Long after dusk, gunfights carried on, and Hamas fighters were holding hostages in two different locations. In a third town, militants took over a police station, which Israeli soldiers battled to retake until early Sunday morning.

On Sunday morning, militants fired further rockets from Gaza, striking a hospital located in the Israeli coastal town of Ashkelon, just before dawn. According to senior hospital administrator Tal Bergman, the hospital incurred damage. A massive hole punched through a wall and pieces of debris strewn across the floor of what seemed to be vacant rooms and a hallway were seen on video given by Barzilai Medical Center. There were no casualties reported.

According to Israeli media, which cited rescue service authorities, the incident on Saturday was the bloodiest in Israel in decades, with at least 250 people killed and 1,500 wounded. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, Israeli strikes in the Gaza Strip resulted in at least 232 fatalities and 1,700 injuries. Unknown numbers of soldiers and civilians were arrested by Hamas fighters and taken into Gaza.

Israel’s threats of retribution raised the possibility that the confrontation would worsen. With the security lapse having hurt Israel’s far-right government and the Palestinians feeling hopeless due to an ongoing occupation in the West Bank and strangling blockade of Gaza, the situation could become even more explosive.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who earlier declared Israel to be at war, stated in a televised speech on Saturday night that the IDF would use all of its might to destroy Hamas’ capabilities. It will take time to win this war, he said. It will not be easy.

“All the places that Hamas hides in, operates from, we will turn them into ruins,” he added. “Get out of there now,” he told the 2.3 million residents of Gaza, who have no way of getting out of the small, packed Mediterranean region.

Residents of neighborhoods close to the Israeli border received warnings in Arabic early on Sunday from the Israeli military to evacuate and relocate to more interior sections of the small enclave. The Gaza neighborhoods near the border were particularly badly struck in prior Israel-Hamas warfare on Gaza territory, both by artillery bombardment and occasionally by ground invasions.

Since Hamas fighters took over in 2007, Gaza’s citizens have been subjected to a border blockade that is maintained to differing degrees by Egypt and Israel. In times of conflict and fighting, civilians are stranded and more susceptible.

After dusk, Israeli airstrikes on Gaza grew more intense, bringing massive explosions to a stop and demolishing residential buildings, including a 14-story skyscraper in the heart of Gaza City that housed Hamas offices and numerous apartments. Just before, Israeli soldiers shot a warning.

Residents of surrounding apartment buildings were given a severe warning to evacuate right away over a loudspeaker atop a mosque in Gaza City at around three in the morning. A few minutes later, a five-story structure in the vicinity was completely destroyed by an Israeli airstrike.

Following an Israeli strike, four cities, including Tel Aviv and a nearby suburb, were pounded by a barrage of Hamas rockets. According to the Israeli military, Hamas fired around 3,500 missiles during the course of the day.

Israelis were taken aback by the attack’s power, complexity, and timing on Saturday morning. After using explosives to breach the border fence encircling Gaza, Hamas fighters entered the border on motorcycles, pickup trucks, speed boats, and paragliders along the shoreline.

The dead of citizens lay where they had run into oncoming guns in several towns. With their bags sitting on the curb close by, at least nine victims of a shooting at a bus shelter in the town of Sderot were spread out on stretchers on the street. Screaming, a woman embraced the lifeless body of a family member lying beneath a sheet beside an overturned motorcycle.

Hundreds of young people, dancing at a rave, were captured on amateur camera running for their life when Hamas gunmen stormed the area and started shooting at them. Dozens of individuals were reported dead by Israeli media.

Col. Jonathan Steinberg, a senior officer who oversaw the Israeli military’s renowned infantry unit, the Nahal Brigade, was one of the deceased.

Mohammed Deif, the enigmatic head of Hamas’ fighter wing, claimed that the attack was a reaction to the group’s 16-year blockade of Gaza, Israeli incursions into West Bank cities in the previous year, unrest at Al Aqsa, the disputed Jerusalem site that is revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, an increase in settler attacks against Palestinians, and the expansion of settlements.

“Enough is enough,” Deif, who does not appear in public, said in the recorded message. He said the attack was only the start of what he called “Operation Al-Aqsa Storm” and urged Palestinians to join the battle from northern Israel to east Jerusalem.

Responding to a query from reporters about how Hamas had taken the army by surprise, Israeli army spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht said, “That’s a good question.”

Hamas surprise attack
After an Israeli airstrike on a Palestinian residential building in Gaza City, a ball of flames and smoke emerged from the blast on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

The arrest of Israeli soldiers and civilians also presented an especially difficult problem for Israel, which has a track record of striking extremely unfair deals in order to free its hostages. Thousands of Palestinians are detained by Israel in its jail system. Hecht attested to the “significant” number of Israelis kidnapped on Saturday.

Netanyahu promised that Hamas “will pay a price that is unprecedented.” One of the main concerns at this point was whether Israel would attack Gaza on the ground, which has historically resulted in more casualties.

According to spokeswoman Hagari, Israel’s military was adding four infantry divisions and tanks to the 31 battalions that were already present in the region near the Gaza border.

After dusk, a large portion of Gaza’s population was plunged into darkness due to an interruption in Israel’s electrical supply, which powers nearly the whole territory. Israel will no longer provide Gaza with fuel, power, and other supplies, according to a statement from Netanyahu’s office.

Hamas claimed to have prepared for a protracted conflict. Al-Jazeera TV was told by Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, “We are prepared for all options, including all-out war.” “We are prepared to take any necessary action to protect our people’s freedom and dignity.”

Speaking with Netanyahu, US President Joe Biden declared from the White House that his country “stands with the people of Israel in the face of these terrorist assaults. Israel has the right to defend itself and its people, full stop.”

Saudi Arabia, which has been in discussions with the US about restoring relations with Israel, urged moderation on both fronts. The monarchy declared that it has issued numerous warnings regarding the possibility of “the situation exploding as a result of the Palestinian people being deprived of their legitimate rights” and the ongoing occupation.

Hezbollah in Lebanon praised the strike as a reaction to “Israeli crimes” and congratulated Hamas. According to the group, Hamas and its command in Lebanon were in communication regarding the operation.

The incident occurred during a period of deep conflict over Netanyahu’s plan to restructure the legal system in Israel. Concerns about the military’s preparedness for combat have been highlighted by the massive protests against the plan, which have forced hundreds of thousands of Israeli protestors into the streets and hundreds of military reservists to forego volunteer duty.

Additionally, the peace process has been essentially dead for years, and there are growing tensions between Israel and the Palestinians at this time. In the past year, tensions have increased around a major holy site in Jerusalem, Israeli settler violence has forced hundreds of Palestinians from their homes in the occupied West Bank, and Israel’s far-right government has increased settlement development there.

On Saturday night, Palestinians staged protests in several West Bank villages and cities. Israeli fire killed five there, according to Palestinian health sources, though they did not provide many details.

Credits: APNews

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Shots from Hamas’s morning rocket attack on Israel

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