In a devastating turn of events, Hamas launched a massive surprise attack, labeled “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood,” bombarding southern Israel with an overwhelming onslaught of over 5,000 rocket barrages from the Gaza Strip. According to Al Jazeera, this onslaught resulted in at least 22 Israelis losing their lives, and over 500 others were left injured.
The Al Jazeera correspondent reported that the unprecedented attack has left Israelis in “tremendous shock.” He emphasized that this level of orchestrated attack on several villages and towns is unprecedented and underscores the careful planning and strategy executed by Hamas.
In response to this massive surprise attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war against Palestine, asserting that Hamas had committed a “grave mistake.”
The Israeli military, in retaliation to the Palestinian attacks, initiated airstrikes in Gaza, with witnesses on the ground reporting heavy explosions.
This incident marked an unprecedented infiltration by an unknown number of Hamas gunmen into Israel from Gaza, signifying one of the most serious escalations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in recent years, as reported by Reuters.
Israel’s police chief reported “21 active scenes” in southern Israel, indicating the widespread nature of the attack. Meanwhile, in Gaza, residents hurried to secure supplies, bracing themselves for days of anticipated conflict. Some evacuated their homes, seeking shelter.
Hamas military commander Mohammad Deif formally announced the commencement of the operation via a broadcast on Hamas media, urging Palestinians worldwide to join the fight. He proclaimed, “This is the day of the greatest battle to end the last occupation on earth,” noting that a staggering 5,000 rockets had been launched.
The last major conflict between Israel and Hamas unfolded in a 10-day war back in 2021.
Prime Minister Netanyahu underscored the gravity of the situation, stating that Israel’s adversary would face an unprecedented price for their actions. He affirmed that the country was entrenched in a “war” that it was determined to emerge victorious from.
Reports emerged of dramatic encounters as individuals in southern Israel grappled with the reality of gunmen infiltrating their homes. Gunshots rang out, intensifying the chaos.
Defence Minister Gallant emphasized that Hamas had effectively declared war against Israel. He asserted that Israeli troops were engaging with the enemy at various locations.
The Israeli military acknowledged that its forces were active within Gaza but refrained from providing specific details.
As the situation developed, reports emerged of potential captives among Israelis, as Hamas media circulated footage purportedly showing an Israeli tank in ruins.
In response to the escalating crisis, Prime Minister Netanyahu convened a meeting with top security officials, and Defence Minister Gallant authorized the mobilization of reservists.
In Gaza, the relentless launch of rockets persisted, and residents reported armed clashes near the separation fence with Israel. There were also reports of significant movements among armed fighters.
Israel’s ambulance service promptly dispatched teams to areas in southern Israel near Gaza, cautioning residents to remain indoors.
In an unexpected turn, a group representing military reservists, initially intending to boycott training due to objections against the government’s judiciary overhaul plans, called upon reservists to report for duty.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad group expressed solidarity with Hamas, vowing to stand side by side in their struggle until victory was achieved.
Palestinians in Gaza grappled with disbelief at the audacious infiltration into Israel, with some likening it to a dream they could scarcely believe.
This dramatic event unfolded on the heels of Israel’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 1973 war, a conflict that brought the nation to the precipice of catastrophic defeat in a surprise attack by Syria and Egypt.