On 7 October, tensions sharply rose as Palestinian militant groups, prominently led by Hamas, initiated Operation al-Aqsa Storm, launching an unprecedented incursion from the Gaza Strip into Israel.
This event marks the first direct engagement on Israeli soil since the landmark 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
The offensive was signalled by a pre-dawn barrage of rockets from Gaza. Following this initial onslaught, militants successfully circumvented the Gaza-Israel barrier, entering Israeli territories with a pronounced focus on civilian settlements and military installations near the border.
- Rocket Launches: Over 3,000 rockets were dispatched from Gaza towards Israel.
- Casualties: Reports indicate the loss of 700 Israelis and 500 Palestinians, encompassing 78 children and 41 women. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) state the neutralisation of over 400 combatants.
- Hostage Situation: Several individuals have reportedly been taken hostage by Palestinian militants, with some possibly relocated to Gaza.
In retaliation, the IDF has embarked on a comprehensive operation termed Iron Swords. The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, made a forthright declaration during a national broadcast that Israel is now at war, the first such formal pronouncement since the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
- Aerial Campaign: Israel has orchestrated a systematic series of airstrikes, targeting key locales within Gaza. Notably, 426 sites were bombed overnight, leading to significant damage in Beit Hanoun. The Al-Amin Muhammad Mosque has also been levelled.
- Ground Engagements: As of 9 October, the IDF asserts its regained control over all Israeli communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip.
In a strategic move, Israel has enforced a full blockade on Gaza, cutting off electricity and halting the inflow of essential goods such as food and fuel.
Rescue operations are underway, with the IDF confirming the successful resolution of two such situations. Evacuations of residents from areas bordering Gaza continue apace. Concurrently, the Israeli government has mobilised an estimated 300,000 reservists, aiming to undermine Hamas’s military strength and end its governance over Gaza.
9 October Briefing:
- Aerial Engagements: The IDF has reported targeting 500 distinct sites within Gaza, with significant bombardments in the densely populated Jabalia refugee camp leading to multiple casualties.
- Ongoing Ground Operations: Ground operations persist, notably in Sderot, even as the IDF claims control over the surrounding areas of Gaza.
This developing situation highlights a significant intensification in the long-standing Israel-Gaza dispute. We will endeavour to provide continuous updates on this rapidly evolving situation.
Lt Col Stuart Crawford is a defence analyst and former army officer. Sign up for his podcasts and newsletters at www.DefenceReview.uk
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