Israeli soldiers engaged in combat with Hamas militants on Sunday, as well as exchanging fire with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. This came after a surprise attack by Palestinian militants on southern Israel, which resulted in the death of at least 250 people. The Hamas militants broke through the blockaded Gaza Strip and wreaked havoc in nearby Israeli communities, taking hostages, including women, children, and the elderly. In response, Israel launched retaliatory strikes, leveling buildings in Gaza. Hezbollah also targeted Israeli positions in a disputed area along the border with Syria’s Golan Heights. Israel’s military retaliated with armed drone strikes on Hezbollah targets in an area where the borders of Israel, Lebanon, and Syria meet.
The escalation of violence on Israel’s northern border raised concerns about the involvement of Hezbollah, a fierce enemy of Israel backed by Iran. Hezbollah is estimated to have tens of thousands of rockets at its disposal. Hamas gunmen launched a widespread assault on Saturday, infiltrating as many as 22 locations outside the Gaza Strip, including towns up to 15 miles from the Gaza border. They also fired thousands of rockets at Israeli cities. The attack resulted in the death of at least 250 people, including 26 soldiers, and led to hostage situations. Israel’s military responded by fighting Hamas incursions in eight different places.
Israeli airstrikes in Gaza targeted 426 locations, including a 14-story tower that housed multiple apartments and Hamas offices in central Gaza City. The strikes resulted in the death of at least 256 people, including 20 children, and close to 1,800 injuries, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Israeli media reported that the attack was the deadliest in Israel in decades, with at least 250 people killed and 1,500 wounded.
The conflict further escalated when Hezbollah launched dozens of rockets and shells at three Israeli positions in a disputed area along the border with Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Israel and Hezbollah have engaged in several wars in the past, with the most recent conflict in 2006 resulting in the deaths of 1,200 people in Lebanon and 160 in Israel. Hezbollah stated that the attack was in solidarity with the Palestinian resistance and claimed that the Israeli positions were directly hit. Israel’s military retaliated by using armed drones to target Lebanese areas.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a televised address on Saturday night, vowed to use all of the military’s strength to destroy Hamas’ capabilities. He stated that all the places where Hamas operates from will be turned into ruins. Netanyahu also urged Gaza residents to evacuate, despite the lack of options for them to leave the overcrowded territory. Overnight, the Israeli military issued warnings in Arabic to communities near the border, advising them to move to safer areas within Gaza.
Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been living under a border blockade since 2007, when Hamas militants seized control. The blockade, enforced by Israel and Egypt, has caused immense hardship for the people of Gaza. Previous conflicts between Israel and Hamas have resulted in widespread death and destruction in Gaza, as well as rocket attacks on Israeli towns. The current situation is particularly volatile, with Israel’s right-wing government feeling the impact of the security breach and Palestinians experiencing despair over the ongoing occupation in the West Bank and the suffocating blockade in Gaza.