On October 7, Palestinian fighters launched a major attack on Israel, infiltrating southern Israel and firing a barrage of rockets from the Gaza Strip. This operation, named “Operation Al-Aqsa Storm,” marks one of the most substantial confrontations between the two sides in years. The attack began with rocket fire from multiple locations in Gaza and included unexpected tactics such as paragliders and fighters inside Israel.
The Israeli military stated that Hamas executed a coordinated operation, involving rocket attacks and a terrorist infiltration into Israeli territory.
Hamas: A Profile of the Palestinian Sunni-Islamic Organization
Hamas, established in 1987, is a Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist organization with militant and nationalist ideals. Following its victory in the 2006 Palestinian legislative election, Hamas assumed de facto control over the Gaza Strip following the 2007 Battle of Gaza. Additionally, it holds a majority in the Palestinian National Authority’s parliament.
Hamas has been designated as a terrorist organization by several countries and entities, including Canada, the European Union, Israel, Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Prominent Hamas leaders, Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal, are currently based in Qatar.
Israel Declares ‘State of War’ in Response to Hamas Attack Backed by Iran
The Israel Defense Forces pledged retaliation and officially declared the situation as more than just an escalation; the nation was now classified as ‘in a state of war‘. Highlighting the unexpected nature of the attack, which didn’t spare civilians, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, former spokesperson of the Israel Defense Forces, emphasized that this assault by Hamas, funded and supplied by Iran with weapons, personnel, equipment, and financial resources, represented a significant and unacceptable escalation.
Context of Escalating Tensions
The recent attack follows weeks of growing tensions along Israel’s volatile border with Gaza and clashes in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israeli forces have reportedly killed at least 247 Palestinians this year, while 32 Israelis and two foreign nationals have lost their lives in Palestinian attacks.
Hamas, in a statement, called on “resistance fighters in the West Bank” and “Arab and Islamic nations” to join the battle. Saleh al-Arouri, an exiled Hamas leader, framed the operation as a response “to the crimes of the occupation,” with a focus on defending the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and fighting for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
In response to the Hamas operation, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant approved the mobilization of army reservists, as confirmed by an Israeli defence ministry spokesperson.
Israel’s military declared “a state of war alert” earlier in the day, signifying the seriousness of the situation.