Israel hit by surprise. Why did the Hamas attack happen today? 50 years after the Yom Kippur War


By John

The conflict between Israel and Hamas explodes again. This morning the Palestinian militant group that controls the Gaza Strip launched thousands of rockets against the territory of the Jewish State and infiltrated ground units that fired on soldiers and civilians and kidnapped, according to Israeli sources, dozens of hostages. Israel responded with an air raid on militia positions in the coastal enclave.

The death toll already allows us to define the escalation as the most serious since the May 2021 clash. According to the respective emergency services, at least 100 Israelis were killed – while 198 victims were reported by the Palestinians. Hundreds of people were injured on both sides, at least 900 Israelis and 1,600 Palestinians. “We are at war”, was the first declaration of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Nethanyau, who promised that “the enemy will pay an unprecedented price”. Reservists were mobilized and new opposition demonstrations against the government’s justice reform were called off.

The escalation follows months of increasingly bloody clashes between Palestinian Israelis, which saw the occupied West Bank as the main theater, whose fighters, together with the “Arab and Islamic nations”, were invited by Hamas to join the offensive called «Al-Aqsa flood». This year alone, at least 247 Palestinians, 32 Israelis and two foreigners have perished in the violence. “We have decided to put an end to all the crimes of the occupation”, announced the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, “the time for them to lash out without being held responsible is over”. The Palestinian faction claims to have launched over 5,000 rockets in the first 20 minutes of the attack alone. The Israeli army, for its part, claims to have counted at least 2,200 rockets. Among the Israeli victims was the president of a regional council for Israeli communities north-east of Gaza, who was reportedly killed in a firefight with the attackers.

50 years after the Yom Kippur War

The offensive began on a symbolic date, fifty years and one day after the start of the Yom Kippur War, and marks a tactical leap in quality for Hamas, which launched a combined air, land and sea attack and, in some cases, it managed to evade the Iron Dome anti-missile system, hitting buildings in several Jewish settlements. Hamas fighters – traveling in vehicles, boats and even motorized paragliders – breached the security barrier separating Gaza from Israel and attacked nearby Israeli towns and military posts. Firefights took place in numerous locations as panicked residents hid in bunkers. In the city of Sderot, France Presse reporters saw corpses lying in the street. Other journalists reported on armed Palestinians gathered around a burning Israeli tank and their fellow soldiers returning to Gaza driving a stolen Humvee.
The Israeli defensive operation, called “Iron Sword”, saw, in addition to air raids, ground forces intervene to counter the infiltrated militiamen. Israeli Army Major General Ghasan Alyan warned that Hamas had “opened the gates of hell” and would “pay for its actions.”

Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007 and Israel responded with a blockade of the enclave, where 2.3 million people live, mostly in poverty.