What you need to know about Hamas raids on Israel


Editor’s note: A version of this story appears in ‘s “Middle East Now” newsletter, which covers the biggest stories in the region three times a week. Register here.

Gaza and Jerusalem

As the conflict between Hamas and Israel enters its second day, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it is focusing on controlling the Gaza Strip as Israeli ground fighting continues.

Gaza militants launched a massive surprise attack on Israel on Saturday, killing hundreds of Israelis and leading Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to vow retaliation and launch deadly retaliatory airstrikes.

“Citizens of Israel, we are at war – not in action, not in action,” Netanyahu said in a video message shortly after Hamas, the militant group that controls the coastal enclave of Gaza, fired a barrage of rockets. In rounds — but in war.” On Saturday, Israel sent gunmen into Israel in an unprecedented multi-pronged attack in the long conflict.

At least 350 people have been killed by Israel, which retaliated with airstrikes that killed 313 Palestinians.

Hamas says the whereabouts of dozens of hostages it says are still missing, including Israeli soldiers. The Israeli military confirmed that the hostages had been taken.

Netanyahu said late Saturday that Israel was “beginning a long and difficult war” and vowed “strong revenge” against Hamas, announcing that Israel would stop supplying electricity, fuel and goods to Gaza. .

Here’s what we know so far.

At around 6:30 a.m. local time on Saturday, when many Israelis were probably asleep, rockets flew over Israel and sirens were heard as far away as Tel Aviv.

The IDF said militants from Gaza then entered Israel by land, sea and air, some using paragliders.

The Israel Defense Forces said approximately 2,200 rockets were fired into Israel. Hamas puts the number at 5,000. With this in mind, some 4,000 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel during the 50-day war between the two sides in 2014.

Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif called the operation “Aqsa Storm” and said the attacks on Israel were in response to attacks on women, the desecration of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and the ongoing siege of Gaza.

Hamas said it captured Israeli soldiers and posted footage of the captured soldiers on its social media accounts. Video geolocated and verified by showed at least one Israeli soldier being captured by the group.

“Hamas has taken hostages and prisoners of war. There have been deaths of IDF soldiers. We don’t have exact numbers yet – we are at war,” said IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari.

Hamas said in a statement on Sunday that its militants still have a presence in southern Israeli cities and are operating in Ofakim, Sderot, Admodike, Kfar Aza, Beeri, Yatai The cities of Germany and Kisufim launched rockets to support them.

In response to the attack, Israel launched Operation Iron Sword, attacking multiple targets in the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu said Israel’s response to Hamas’s invasion would cost the group “a huge price.”

The Israel Defense Forces are urging civilians in Gaza to leave residential areas immediately to ensure their safety as Israeli military operations continue to target Hamas.

“Tens of thousands” of Israeli reservists have also been called up to help, IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht told on Saturday.

He said Israel was “prepared in the north” in case of an attack from Lebanon or Syria.

In Gaza, the roar of Israeli warplanes could be heard, followed by huge explosions and rising black smoke.

By early evening, Israeli airstrikes in the area had killed hundreds and injured thousands.

The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said on Sunday that at least 313 people had died in 24 hours, including at least 20 children. Another 1,990 people were injured, the report added.

In the early hours of Sunday, an Israeli official told that 350 people had been killed in Israel. The Israel Defense Forces released the names of 44 soldiers it said were killed in the attack.

On Sunday, the Israel Defense Forces said it struck 426 targets in Gaza, including 10 towers used by Hamas.

In the north, Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group claimed responsibility for missile and artillery attacks on three Israeli sites in the Shaba Farms area. The area is considered by Lebanon to be an Israeli-occupied territory. Israel responded with artillery fire.

Seven Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers in clashes that broke out on Saturday after Israeli troops blockaded cities in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Tensions between Israel and Palestine existed long before the establishment of the state in 1948. The decades-long conflict between the two sides has left thousands dead and many injured.

The violence has been particularly high this year. The number of Palestinians (militants and civilians) killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank has reached the highest level in nearly two decades. The same goes for Israelis and foreigners, most of whom are civilians, killed in Palestinian attacks.

Israel and Hamas have been involved in armed conflict since the First Palestinian Intifada in 1987 (against Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank).

Israel captured Gaza from Egypt in the 1967 war before withdrawing in 2005. The area, home to about 2 million Palestinians, fell under Hamas control in 2007 after a brief civil war with Fatah. Palestinian Authority.

After Hamas seized control of Gaza, Israel and Egypt imposed a strict siege on the area, which continues. Israel also maintains an air and sea blockade of Gaza.

Before Saturday’s operation, the last war between Hamas and Israel was in 2021, which lasted 11 days and left at least 250 people dead in Gaza and 13 in Israel.

Saturday’s attack came on the 50th anniversary of the 1973 war, when Israel’s Arab neighbors launched a surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 6, 1973, Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

Hamas is an Islamist organization with a military wing that was founded in 1987 and grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni Islamist organization founded in Egypt in the late 1920s.

The word “Hamas” itself is the abbreviation of “Harakat Al-Muqawama Al-Islamia” – Arabic, meaning Islamic resistance movement. The group, like most Palestinian factions and parties, maintains that Israel is an occupying power and seeks to liberate Palestinian territories. It considers Israel an illegitimate state.

Its refusal to recognize Israel is one of the reasons it has rejected peace talks in the past. In 1993, it opposed the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

The group positions itself as an alternative to the Palestinian Authority (PA), which recognizes Israel and has engaged in multiple failed peace initiatives with Israel. The Palestinian Authority is led today by Mahmoud Abbas and is based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Hamas has claimed numerous attacks on Israel over the years and is designated a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel. Israel accuses its old enemy Iran of supporting Hamas.

Al-Aqsa Compound is one of the most revered places in Islam and Judaism. The holy site, known as Al Haram Al Sharif (The Noble Sanctuary) to Muslims and the Temple Mount to Jews, has been a flashpoint in tensions between Israel and the Palestinians for decades.

Hamas said it launched Saturday’s “Aqsa Storm” attack in part to defend the holy site.

Under the status quo arrangements agreed more than a century ago, only Muslims can pray in the large courtyard. Non-Muslim visitors can visit certain areas of the complex at certain times.

But many in the Muslim world fear the erosion of their rights to be the only worshipers there, while the sites themselves are threatened by a growing far-right Jewish movement and Israel’s far-right government.

Clashes frequently break out at the site between Palestinian believers and Israeli troops. Last year, police raided the compound several times.

The complex is in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians hope to make the capital of their future state and which most of the international community considers occupied territory. Israel captured it from Jordan in a six-day war in 1967 and considers East and West Jerusalem its unified “eternal capital”.

Western countries condemned the Hamas attack and pledged support for Israel, while Arab countries, including those that recognize Israel, called for calm.

In a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, U.S. President Joe Biden said Washington “unequivocally condemns this shocking attack on Israel by Hamas terrorists from Gaza.”

“I made it clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu that we stand ready to provide all appropriate means of support to the government and people of Israel,” he said.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying it was holding talks with the United States to realize the possibility of normalizing relations with Israel. Saudi Arabia said it was closely monitoring the “unprecedented” situation and called on “both sides to immediately cease escalation.” X.

Israel’s opponents welcomed the attack. “We congratulate the Palestinian fighters and will stand with them until the liberation of Palestine and Holy Jerusalem,” said Maj. Gen. Raheem Safavi, adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to Iran’s state news agency express.

Hezbollah praised the attacks and said it was in contact with Palestinian militant groups “at home and abroad”, its Al Manar channel said.

The IDF’s current focus is on controlling Gaza.

“The important thing we are focusing on right now is stabilizing control of Gaza,” Hecht told a news conference on Sunday.

“We have set a goal in the next 12 hours: to end the Gaza enclave. To control the entire enclave and kill all terrorists in our territory.” He added that the Israel Defense Forces would try to expel certain elements from Gaza. Community.

Israeli Defense Minister Yov Galante expanded the country’s “special security situation” to cover all of Israel.

This allows the IDF to provide security instructions to civilians and close public places based on security needs, the minister’s office said. Earlier on Saturday, an area of ​​”special security situation” was established within an 80-kilometer (48-mile) radius of the Gaza Strip.

Hecht said the IDF plans to present several possible next steps to the Israeli Cabinet, which meets on Sunday. He said the government could make a decision on Sunday or Monday.

Senior Hamas member Saleh al-Arouri told Al Jazeera Arabic on Saturday that Hamas was ready “to deal with all options, including war and escalation at all levels.”

“We are prepared for the worst-case scenario, including a ground invasion, which will be our best option to determine the end of this battle,” Aruri said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *