Israel News: 2,200 wounded, relatives of the missing issue impassioned pleas for help; after 36 hours, IDF still tackling terrorists in several communities; some Israelis evacuated from border areas. In an unexpected escalation, the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas has initiated Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, resulting in significant casualties and the abduction of several individuals. This audacious move, executed during the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, has heightened global concerns regarding the stability of the Middle East.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced a “total blockade” on the already restricted region. He emphasized that the 2.3 million residents will face severe shortages, including “no electricity, food, water, or gas.”
Israel’s commitment to severely damage Hamas locations in Gaza has drawn the UN’s attention. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated, “While understanding Israel’s genuine security worries, I emphasize that any military actions must strictly adhere to international humanitarian laws.”
In response, Hamas warned of executing hostages if the Israeli military conducts air raids on the Gaza Strip without prior notice. The Ezzedine al-Qassem Brigades, Hamas’s military faction, declared, “Any unannounced attack on our citizens will result in the death of a civilian hostage.”
This assault by Hamas is eerily timed, taking place 50 years and one day after the Egyptian and Syrian forces’ offensive during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. Their mission back then was to reclaim territories that Israel had annexed during the 1967 conflict.
The Operation: A Detailed Timeline
- 03:30 GMT: Early morning witnessed a massive rocket barrage by Hamas into southern Israel. Alarm systems echoed as far as Tel Aviv and Beersheba. While Hamas claimed a launch of 5,000 rockets, Israeli defense sources reported a count of 2,500.
- 04:40 GMT: Using the rocket onslaught as a smokescreen, Hamas fighters penetrated Israeli borders. Most breached security barriers separating Gaza and Israel. Disturbingly, a Hamas soldier was seen using a powered parachute, and a motorboat filled with fighters was detected heading towards Zikim, an Israeli coastal town.
- 06:45 GMT: Explosions were reported in Gaza, and by 07:00 GMT, Israeli air forces were confirmed to be launching strikes in the region.
- 07:00 GMT: Reports emerged of Palestinian fighters infiltrating at least three Israeli military installations. Footage from Hamas showed fighters approaching a burning structure and even overtaking parts of an Israeli military base.
- Border Town Incursions: Hamas fighters were reported in the Israeli towns of Sderot, Be’eri, and Ofakim. By dusk, Israeli forces were still in the process of reclaiming areas dominated by Hamas fighters.
- Casualties: Reports indicated that around 700 individuals had perished. Israel’s Ministry of Health documented 2,382 Israelis receiving medical attention. The Gaza Strip’s Ministry of Health reported 413 deaths, including 78 children, with over 2,300 injured.
- Hostage Crisis: Armed individuals reportedly took hostages in Ofakim. Videos on social media depicted captives, including Israeli soldiers, being led into Gaza.
- 19:00 GMT: The conflict raged on with Israeli air raids and continued rocket fire into southern Israel. Israeli forces were engaged in combat with Hamas fighters in 22 locations near the Gaza Strip.
The international community is on high alert, with numerous nations advocating for an immediate ceasefire and a peaceful resolution. The United Nations has voiced its deep concern over the escalating hostilities and the potential for a wider conflict in the region.
The audacious move by Hamas in Operation Al-Aqsa Flood has not only intensified the Israel-Palestine conflict but has also raised alarms about the future peace and stability of the Middle East. As the situation unfolds, the world hopes for a swift resolution and an end to the violence.