Hamas leaders declare ‘Enough is enough’ as they launch unprecedented strikes against Israel
In a decisive surprise military attack labeled ‘Operation Al Aqsa Flood’, the Hamas military launched an unprecedented incursion into Israel in the early hours of Saturday morning 7th October, killing dozens of Israelis and capturing dozens more. A spokesperson for Hamas explained that the surprise attack was a response:
‘to the desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque and increased settler violence’
Hamas senior military commander, Mohamed Deif, published a pre-recorded speech online, in which he declared:
‘We have decided to put an end to all of this, with the help of God, so that the enemy understands that the time of recklessness without accountability is over’
Hamas issues a call to arms, saying 'Enough is enough'
Calling on all Palestinians to unite against the Israeli aggression Mohamed Deif declared:
‘Enough is enough. Today the people are regaining their revolution’
In what has been hailed by international military specialists as a remarkably well planned military operation, unseen in the entire duration of hostilities in the region, over a thousand Palestinian armed fighters managed to infiltrate into Israel, through the several checkpoints linking the Gaza strip to Israel.
The assault was preceded by the launch of over 5,000 rockets from Gaza into Israel, which bombarded the border towns over an intense twenty minute period and which clearly overwhelmed the ‘iron dome’ defense system, as significant numbers of the rockets managed to hit targets, causing major damage and injury.
Hundreds killed and injured
Estimates of the numbers killed and injured vary, but the figures released by the Israeli Department of Health, suggest that as many as 45 Israelis have been killed and up to 750 injured. Other independent reports put the number of killed as high as 100. Reports also indicate that as many as 35 Israelis soldiers and reservists have been captured by the Palestinian fighters and taken to locations in Gaza.
Hope that captured senior Israeli officers will exchange for imprisoned Palestinians
According to the deputy head of Hamas's political bureau, Saleh al-Arouri, those captured by Hamas included "senior Israeli army officers". He obviously was making a reference to a hoped for prisoner swap, when he proclaimed:
‘We captured senior officers from the occupation army...what is in our hands will free all the prisoners’
Israel was clearly taken completely by surprise by the severity of the missile attack , as in the minutes prior to the attack at 8am on Saturday morning, its citizens were enjoying the early morning calm in the final days of the national Jewish holiday of Sukkot, before the silence was sharply interrupted by the sound of missiles exploding around them. This was quickly followed by dozens of pick up trucks carrying squads of armed Al- Qassam Brigade fighters, raging across the border towns. The foot soldiers were joined by an airborne operation delivering dozens of militiamen from the air, harnessed in paragliders, as they laid siege and embarked on gun battles with police and Israeli servicemen in the towns of Nahal Oz, Magen, Be'eri, Kfar Aza and Sderot. Military bases and police stations were also attacked. The assault included militia attempting to arrive by sea. Israeli naval forces reported that they had killed dozens of Palestinian militants as they tried to leave the water.
Israeli Prime Minister declares 'since this morning, the State of Israel has been at war'
In a televised address, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel was ‘at war’ with Gaza. He said:
‘Since this morning, the State of Israel has been at war. Our first objective is to clear out the hostile forces that infiltrated our territory and restore the security and quiet to the communities that have been attacked. The second objective, at the same time, is to exact an immense price from the enemy, within the Gaza Strip as well. The third objective is to reinforce other fronts so that nobody should mistakenly join this war. We are at war. In war, one needs to be level-headed. I call on all citizens of Israel to unite in order to achieve our highest goal – victory in the war’
Israel then launched retaliatory airstrikes on Gaza, which are reported to have killed at least 200 Palestinian citizens of the strip. Footage showing hundreds of Palestinians fleeing their homes carrying food and blankets has been circulating on social media.
Israeli Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, announced in a press conference that:
'Hamas has made a grave mistake this morning and launched a war against the State of Israel. IDF troops (Israeli army) are fighting against the enemy at every location’
The US White House issued a statement in condemnation of the Hamas attack. National Security Council spokesperson, Adrienne Watson said:
‘The United States unequivocally condemns the unprovoked attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians’ adding that ‘there is never any justification for terrorism. We stand firmly with the government and people of Israel and extend our condolences for the Israeli lives lost in these attacks’
EU President, Ursula von der Leyen, responded to news of the attack by posting a comment on Twitter which read:
'I unequivicaaly condemn the attack carried out by Hamas terrorists against Israel. It is terrorism in its most despicable form. Israel has the right to defend itself against such heinous attacks'
Egypt expressed concerns about the ‘grave consequences’, resulting from an escalation in tensions in the region, adding that both sides should be:
‘exercising maximum restraint and avoiding exposing civilians to further danger’
The French President, Emmanuel Macron, posted a comment on twitter which read:
‘I strongly condemn the terrorist attacks which are currently hitting Israel. I express my full solidarity with the victims, and their families and those close to them’
Belgium’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Minister Hadja Lahbib, published a statement which read:
‘Belgium strongly condemns the massive rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. Violence and terror only perpetuates suffering and hinders the path to dialogue. Our thoughts are with all those affected. We are monitoring the situation closely’