Hamas Attacks, Israel Declares War

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    Fire and smoke rise after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on October 7, 2023. (AP/Fatima Shbair)
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    Palestinians wave their national flag and celebrate by a destroyed Israeli tank at the Gaza Strip fence east of Khan Younis on October 7, 2023. (AP/Yousef Masoud)
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On Saturday, Hamas fighters attacked Israel. They killed dozens of people and abducted others in a surprise assault. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war on Sunday—and vowed to inflict an “unprecedented price.”

Hamas is a Palestinian Islamist terrorist organization. At daybreak on Saturday, the group fired 3,000 rockets from Gaza into Israel. Fighters flew hang gliders over the border. On the ground, they secured the area, and an elite unit stormed Israel’s fortified walls. They used explosives to breach the barriers and sped across on motorbikes. Then bulldozers widened the gaps. More fighters poured in.

An estimated 1,000 invading Hamas gunmen rampaged for hours. One unit attacked the Israeli army’s southern Gaza headquarters. Fighters jammed communications, so Israeli soldiers couldn’t call each other.

Hamas also took Israeli hostages back into Gaza. The group claims to be holding over 130 people.

Similar attacks occurred in as many as 22 Israeli towns.

Israel lost no time hitting back. The military summoned 300,000 reservists—a massive mobilization in a short time. Just two days after the attack, the Israeli military has now largely regained control.

On Monday, the military ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. It halts deliveries of food, fuel, and supplies to Gaza’s 2.3 million people.

The Israeli military also blared messages to residents of a central Gaza district to evacuate. The messages signal heavy strikes ahead. Israeli Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari says Israel plans to hit thousands of targets.

Israel evacuated thousands of Israelis from more than a dozen towns near Gaza.

Civilians on both sides have already paid a high price. Around 700 people, including 73 soldiers, were killed in Israel. The Gaza Health Ministry says 493 people were killed in the territory. Thousands were wounded on both sides.

The United Nations says more than 123,000 people fled their homes in Gaza. Many left after Israeli warnings of coming bombings.

Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman Abdel-Latif al-Qanoua says the group’s fighters continue to battle outside Gaza. He claims Hamas captured Israelis as recently as Monday morning. He says the group aims to free all Palestinian prisoners held by Israel in exchange for those abducted in the surprise attack.

Hamas says the attack was a response to mounting Palestinian suffering under Israeli occupation. The group also mentions the blockade of Gaza and unfair policies in east Jerusalem. Further tension surrounds control of the Temple Mount, a Jerusalem holy site sacred to both Muslims and Jews.

Palestinians want a state of their own. But the last serious peace talks broke down over a decade ago. Israel opposes Palestinian statehood.

“Hamas [members] probably succeeded beyond their expectation,” says Dennis Ross, a former Middle East negotiator. “Now they will have to deal with an Israel determined to decimate them.”

When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. — Mark 13:7