50 years after the Yom Kippur War, Israelis woke up to another massive attack on a Jewish holiday. Hamas Military Commander has announced the start of Operation ‘Al Aqsa Flood’ against Israel. Palestinian militant organization Hamas fired thousands of rockets into Israel, breached heavily fortified border defenses, entered Israeli settlements, and took Israelis hostage. 

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu declared that “Israel is at war” following the early morning surprise attack from Gaza which has left at least 40 dead and >740 injured. Israeli authorities said Palestinian armed groups have launched > 2,500 rockets from Gaza and taken control of three settlements. Long-range rockets struck near West Jerusalem & Tel Aviv. Palestinian fighters infiltrated Israeli settlements near Gaza, attacked Police Stations and are battling Israeli troops in at least half a dozen locations including border crossings & Israeli settlements. Hamas says 57 Israelis (soldiers & civilians) have been taken prisoner by Palestinian fighters. 

Israel Defence Forces (IDF) has launched Operation “Iron Swords” in retaliation for unprecedented and surprise Hamas attack and called up military reservists. Israeli military has activated “Iron Dome” Defence System in response to barrage of rockets fired from Gaza. Israeli Air Force has launched air strikes on Gaza killing at least 160 Palestinians and injuring nearly 950. Smoke is billowing over Northern & Western Gaza. Israeli Army has strengthened its defenses along the border with Lebanon.

Hamas political bureau chief said the operations are in opposition to the desecration of ‘Al Aqsa’ Mosque & crimes of occupation. Hamas Military Commander has called on Palestinian armed groups to join the fight against Israel. Islamic Jihad said its fighters have already joined Hamas in the fight against Israel. Hezbollah said recent events are response to Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine.

Gaza – a landmass of 365 sq Km with 2 million people (among most densely populated in the world) – has been under Israeli blockade since 2007. Palestinians in West Bank took to the streets to support the Hamas invasion of Israel.

Information Operations: Hamas is trying to control the narrative – putting out videos of rocket attacks, captured Israeli soldiers & vehicles, Palestinians breaching heavily fortified Israeli defenses on land & using paragliders, Israeli civilians fleeing in panic, people celebrating in the streets of Gaza & Ramallah etc.

International Reaction: Western countries including UK, Spain, France & Germany have strongly condemned the attacks by Palestinian armed groups. Regional powers Egypt & Turkiye have been more measured in their reaction. Israel has been facing internal divisions and protests – the scale of offensive seems to have taken Israel by surprise.

The conflict has brought the Palestinian conflict to the global center stage. Expect massive retaliation from Israel and continued resistance from Palestinians. It will be a setback for normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. It also puts a question mark on the proposed India-Middle East-Europe Corridor. Syria is witnessing intensification of conflict and Turkish government has intensified operations against PKK.

This article has reference to open sources including Al Jazeera and CNN.

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