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Hamas’ 5,000 rockets rain down on Israel: Netanyahu declares state of war

Hamas’ 5,000 rockets rain down on Israel: Netanyahu declares state of war

Ramallah: Israel and Hamas are teetering on the brink of war, with the Palestinian militant group launching a massive aerial and ground operation from the blockaded Gaza Strip. This marks their most significant attack in years, prompting sirens across Israel and even as far north as Jerusalem.

The situation escalated rapidly on Saturday as Hamas claimed responsibility for launching approximately 5,000 rockets from Gaza, a scale not witnessed in over a decade.

Reports suggest an unprecedented ground infiltration by Hamas gunmen into Israeli towns and villages on the periphery. Unconfirmed initial reports and graphic visuals indicate gunfire in the border town of Sderot, leading to casualties among Israeli civilians and soldiers.

Medics confirmed the death of an elderly woman in unclear circumstances, while rocket fire claimed the lives of four individuals in Bedouin villages in Israel's south. Palestinian media reports also suggest that some Israelis have been taken captive, an assertion not yet confirmed by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

Hamas spokesperson Khaled Qadomi stated that the group's military operation is in response to decades of atrocities faced by Palestinians, citing issues such as the situation in Gaza, attacks against Palestinian people, and alleged violations at holy sites like Al-Aqsa.

Qadomi referred to Israeli settlers as occupiers and invaders under international law, framing the conflict as a war against invaders.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a strong response, declaring that Israel is in a "war" that it "will win." He warned that the enemy would pay a price unprecedented in its history, reflecting the gravity of the situation. The IDF confirmed ongoing ground fighting, describing the Palestinian attack as a combined raid involving paragliders, sea, and ground forces.

As the conflict unfolds, casualties on the Israeli side are rising, with nearly 200 reported wounded, including several in critical condition. The death toll has reached at least six. France has condemned the terrorist attacks against Israel, expressing full solidarity with the country and its victims. The international community watches with growing concern as the situation deteriorates.

Hezbollah, the Lebanese armed group, declared its support for the Palestinian resistance, characterizing recent events as a decisive response to Israel's continued occupation. There are fears that the violence might spread to other fronts, including the occupied West Bank, and the northern border with Hezbollah, or lead to intra-communal violence within Israel.

For years, the people in the occupied Gaza Strip have endured unemployment, power cuts, and the hardships imposed by the Israeli blockade. The current escalation follows a history of Israeli assaults, with the latest in September 2023 leaving 22 protesters injured.

Mohammad Deif, Hamas's military commander in Gaza, announced the start of a new operation to free Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound, citing an increase in Jewish visitors during the Jewish high holidays. Deif emphasized that this is just the first stage of renewed efforts against Israel.

Islamic Jihad, another faction in Gaza, later joined the fighting, raising concerns of a broader regional conflagration. The occupied West Bank is on lockdown, and fears persist regarding the potential involvement of Hezbollah and intra-communal violence within Israel, reminiscent of events in 2021.

In response to the unexpected attacks, Israel has declared a state of war. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stated, "Hamas has made a grave mistake," while the military urged residents around Gaza to stay in their homes.

The situation remains highly volatile, with the international community anxiously monitoring developments in the region. The consequences of this latest escalation could be far-reaching, with the spectre of a full-scale war looming over the Middle East.

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