Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, has taken Israeli military forces by surprise and launched a volley of rockets. In response, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared, “we are at war and we will win it … We will defeat them to death and take revenge for this black day”.
At around 6am Israel time on Saturday morning, Hamas forces launched approximately 5,000 rockets toward Israel.
This number, provided by Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif, has been disputed by an Israeli spokesperson who claimed the number was closer to 2,500 per The Guardian.
Hamas also claimed to have taken some Israelis hostage.
Israel retaliated by launching an attack on Gaza, a strip of Palestinian land that borders Egypt and Israel.
Per the Sydney Morning Herald, an estimated 600 Israelis died in the initial attacks, which included civilians, with a further 1,500 wounded.
Israeli’s counter-offensive airstrikes on October 9 are thought to have killed 313 people in Gaza, including 20 children, with another 2,000 likely injured.
In case you haven’t been following this issue, the conflict between Palestine and Israel is one that dates back decades.
Palestine has been an illegally occupied territory according to the UN since it was invaded by Israel in 1948, which has steadily expanded settlements into the contested land despite this being considered a violation of international law (specifically the fourth Geneva convention).
When presented with the argument that settlements are a “hurdle to peace” for both Israelis and Palestinians, right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Sky News: “The idea that the presence of Jews in their ancestral homeland, which has been our homeland for the last 3,000 years, that Jews should not live there… I think that’s the obstacle to peace.”
The Hamas attack is the largest that Israel has seen since Palestinian people’s displacement. Resistance from Gaza has, outside of the Hamas attack, largely not been militant. You may have read about the Great March of Return in 2018, where civilians protested at the border of Gaza and Israel, or the Sheikh Jarrah protests in 2021.
Australian PM Anthony Albanese has thrown his support behind Israel’s counter-attack on Gaza and condemned Hamas, whose actions he labelled “indiscriminate and abhorrent”, signalling that “We recognise Israel’s right to defend itself”.
US President Joe Biden echoed a similar message, labelling the attacks “unconscionable”.
UK PM Rishi Sunak offered Britain’s support to Israel, arguing that the “attack by Hamas is cowardly and depraved”.
The Australian Palestine Advocacy Network has disputed the argument that Israel is “defending itself” and instead asserted that “events this week are a clear result of Israeli escalation”.
“Occupation is violence,” APAN President Nasser Mashni said in a statement.
“Israel hasn’t been defending itself, it’s been waging war on Palestinians, each and every day for decades.”
In the hours following the initial attacks, escalatory actions have been taken by Israel, which announced its intention to cut the electricity supply to the entire Gaza strip — which has a population of 590,000. It ordered state-run supply company Israel Electric Corporation to cease operations there.
Header photo by Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images