Following a surprise Hamas strike on Saturday that involved aircraft, maritime, and ground operations, launched by the Palestinian organisation from the Gaza Strip, Israel and Palestine appear to be on the verge of another battle. 

Israel’s response was to heavily bombard the coastal outpost that was under blockade.

Here is what to know:

What happened and when?

The most significant escalation since Israel and Hamas engaged in an 11-day war in 2021 has been the Palestinian organisation Hamas’s launch of “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” against Israel.

While Israel confirmed that the group’s fighters had invaded its territory, Hamas claimed to have launched 5,000 rockets.

The organisation launched attacks from land, sea, and air, according to Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari.

At 03:30 GMT, the first rocket launch occurred at 06:30 local time.

Additionally, the Israeli military claimed to have begun “Operation Iron Swords” against the Hamas organisation in the Gaza Strip.

The early-morning attacks took place on Simchat Torah, a holiday that falls towards the conclusion of the weeklong Jewish festival known as Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles.

Where did the attacks take place?

Tel Aviv in the north was reached by the missile fire. Additionally, Hamas dispatched troops into southern Israel.

Israeli media reported that gunmen opened fire on bystanders in the town of Sderot, and videos circulating on social media claimed to show street brawls and gunmen driving about in jeeps. 

According to one report, Hamas fighters had taken over several Israeli settlements where civilians were pleading with their government for assistance.

Numerous fighter jets were allegedly attacking Hamas locations in the Gaza Strip, according to the Israeli army.

The Times of Israel said that the gunfights are currently occurring in and around the communities of Kfar Aza, Sderot, Sufa, Nahal Oz, Magen, Be’eri, and the Re’im military base.

How many casualties in Israel and Palestine?

According to emergency agencies and local media, at least 22 Israelis have died, while more than 500 Israelis have sustained injuries.

Conflicts between the Israeli army and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip’s border region have resulted in at least four Palestinian deaths and five injuries, according to the Anadolu news agency.

Why did Hamas attack Israel?

According to Khaled Qadomi, a spokesman for Hamas, the organisation’s military action is a response to all the crimes that Palestinians have endured over the years.

“We want the international community to stop atrocities in Gaza, against Palestinian people, our holy sites like Al-Aqsa. All these things are the reason behind starting this battle,” he said.

“This is the day of the greatest battle to end the last occupation on earth,” Mohammed Deif, the Hamas military commander said, adding that 5,000 rockets were launched.

“Everyone who has a gun should take it out. The time has come,” Deif said, according to reports.

Hamas called on “the resistance fighters in the West Bank” as well as “our Arab and Islamic nations” to join the battle, in a statement posted on Telegram.

What is the Israeli government saying?

Israeli residents living close to Gaza have been advised by the Israeli army to remain inside or seek shelter.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims that his nation is engaged in a conflict that it “will win”.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel “will win this war.” Hamas, he said, had made a “grave mistake this morning and launched a war against the State of Israel.”

What is the latest on the ground?

According to the Times of Israel, the Israeli military is engaged in combat with Hamas militants in seven areas in southern Israel close to the border with the Gaza Strip.

At 1pm (10:00 GMT), the Israeli cabinet is scheduled to meet in the Ministry of Defense’s administrative building.

Blood donations are being requested at hospitals in the besieged territory of Gaza, according to the ministry of health there.

What are the international reactions so far?

Israel, a longtime ally of Prague, was the target of “terrorist attacks” by Hamas, according to the Czech government.

Josep Borrell, the top diplomat for the European Union, endorsed Israel.

According to the French Foreign Ministry, France denounced the “terrorist attacks underway against Israel and its population” and expressed its unwavering support for Israel.

The UK “unequivocally condemns” a surprise attack by Palestinian group Hamas on Israel on Saturday, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said.

Egypt warned of “grave consequences” from an escalation in a statement from the foreign ministry carried by the state news agency on Saturday. It called for “exercising maximum restraint and avoiding exposing civilians to further danger”.

Lebanese group Hezbollah issued a statement on Saturday saying it was closely following the situation in Gaza and was in “direct contact with the leadership of the Palestinian resistance”.

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