Israel is attacked in a surprise move by Gaza during Sukkoth

Gaza rockets attack Israel. (Hatem Moussa / AP)

It came without warning. 500 rockets were fired by Hamas – the government body in the Gaza Strip part of the State of Palestine, in just 20 minutes at South and Central Israel.

232 Palestinians have been killed and over 1,700 injured.

Over 600 Israeli civilians, police and soldiers have been killed, over 2,040 injured and 53 have been captured.

17 Nepalis kidnapped by Hamas, 7 Nepalis injured.

1 Indonesian medic killed by Israel, 1 Chilean killed by Hamas.

At least 2,200 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip as Hamas militants broke through the border and entered Israel, killing at least 300 Israelis and prompting Israel’s government to declare a state of emergency.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Israel “is at war” in a national address.

Why is this happening?

The ongoing conflict between the Gaza Strip and Israel dates back to 2005 when Israel withdrew from Gaza, leading to Hamas taking control following elections in 2006 and a civil war with Fatah in 2007. Since then, the Gaza Strip has been subjected to an Israeli and Egyptian blockade, primarily due to its refusal to halt violent actions. This blockade has had severe economic consequences for Palestinians in the region, and it was one of the reasons cited by Hamas for its recent offensive. This recent escalation saw Palestinian militant groups launch Operation Al-Aqsa Deluge, while Israel responded with Operation Swords of Iron. Some observers have referred to this as the Third Intifada. The conflict occurred during Jewish holidays and followed weeks of violence along the Israel-Gaza separation fence. Leading up to this escalation in 2023, there had already been casualties on both sides, with Palestinians suffering a higher toll.

The attack has broader implications for the region, particularly in terms of diplomatic efforts. Israel and Saudi Arabia were engaged in negotiations to normalize relations, with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman stating that this normalization was “for the first time, real.” Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry expressed concerns about Israel’s ongoing occupation of Gaza, warning that it could lead to further violence. Leaders from Palestinian groups, including Mohammed Deif of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades and Saleh al-Arouri of Hamas, framed the attack as a response to perceived injustices, including the desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the defense of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, who number in the thousands, including women and minors. These complexities highlight the deep-rooted issues and geopolitical tensions in the region.

What other leaders are saying

Argentina, Brazil, most European countries and the United States condemned the attacks by Hamas, expressed solidarity with Israel, and said Israel has a right to defend itself from armed attacks and describing Hamas’ tactics as terrorism.

Some Arab League countries such as Oman, Yemen, and Qatar, and non-Arab countries such as Iran, expressed support for the Palestinians, blaming the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories for the escalation of violence. A number of other countries called for a ceasefire.