Israel woke up on Saturday to a barrage of rocket attacks launched by the Palestinian militant resistance group Hamas in a coordinated, multifront attack at the occupation forces.
This was the biggest, most ferocious attack mounted by Hamas in years and certified that the movement was far from depleted. Israel deemed the attack an act of war. It prompted a call from the United Nations and several countries to halt violence.
On Saturday morning, a barrage of thousands of rockets was fired at Israel from across the narrow Gaza Strip. The Israeli anti-missile and early warning system sounded alarms in the affected areas.
At least 22 people were reported to have been killed as a result of the rocket attack and subsequent infiltration of Hamas soldiers into occupied areas.
Hamas said that it had launched an operation called the "Al Aqsa Flood".
"We decided to put an end to all the crimes of the occupation (Israel); their time for rampaging without being held accountable is over," the group said as it went on to claim how it had launched more than 5,000 rockets in a 20-minute volley. If verified, it would attest to a newfound capability for Hamas to muster such a ferocious volley.
An infiltration of armed Hamas men targeted military targets. Images were shared of Israeli tanks and other armoured vehicles burning after being destroyed by Hamas. They also reportedly killed the head of a regional council for Israeli border areas northeast of the Gaza Strip, Ofir Liebstein, in a skirmish with Hamas.
There were reports that Hamas was taking Israeli civilians into custody.
Israeli Defence Forces Spokesperson Richard Hecht said that Hamas had launched a coordinated attack from different directions, including from the ground, the sea and underground, as well as from the air using paragliders.
Hamas Al-Qassam Brigades has released a video showing its fighters paragliding from Gaza over Israeli settlements.#Hamas #TelAviv #AlAqsaFlood #Jerusalem #GazaUnderAttack #Gaza #حماس #طوفان_القدس #طوفان_الأقصى #اسرائیل #فلسطين pic.twitter.com/3McDL3HQyd— Akbar Ali Khan (@Ali707khan) October 7, 2023
Subsequently, residents in the Palestinian Gaza Strip fled their homes, fearing retaliatory attacks.
Israel deemed the early morning attacks an act of "war" and noted that the Israeli military had launched a response.
"Hamas has made a grave mistake this morning and launched a war against the State of Israel," Israel Defence Minister Youav Gallant said in a statement. Shortly thereafter, reports filtered in of multiple Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later reiterated the fact that a war had begun, adding, "We return fire of a magnitude that the enemy has not known. The enemy will pay an unprecedented price."
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in an emergency meeting in Ramallah, said that Palestine has a right to defend itself against the "terror of settlers and occupation troops."
So far this year, at least 247 Palestinians, 32 Israelis and two foreigners have been killed in the conflict, including combatants and civilians on both sides, according to Israeli and Palestinian officials.