Peace has for decades been illusive along the Israel border with the Hezbollah terrorists in the North and Hamas terrorists to the South in Gaza. A faux calm was shattered Saturday morning during Simchat Torah (a Jewish holiday meaning “Rejoicing in the Torah”) when thousands of rockets were fired by Hamas militants from Gaza, the Hamas enclave, impacting across Israel. This attack is the largest Israel has suffered in many years. Early reports describe the rocket attack as a coordinated land and sea assault. As many as 100 Israelis have been killed and 800 injured in the surprise attack.
Israel Declares War on Hamas Militants
Sporadic violence had occurred since the last major Hamas-instigated missile attacks in May. However, Saturday’s rocket barrage has taken the Israeli-Palestinian terrorist confrontation to a much higher level. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) was quick to respond. “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country was now ‘at war’ and that he had convened the heads of the security forces and instructed them to first clear all Israeli villages of Palestinian militants who had entered from Gaza,” The Wall Street Journal posted. Netanyahu made it clear in a video announcement he considers the confrontation an actual war, “not an operation, not in rounds of fighting – at war.”
The Hamas militant terrorists have used as a pretense for the surprise attack a vague accusation of insults and violence against the Muslim Al-Aqsa Mosque, also revered by the Jews as the Temple Mount, the site of King Solomon’s first Israeli temple. Hamas terrorist have dubbed their attacks “Operation Al-Aqsa Storm.” Israel has declared its response to the Hamas attacks as “Operation Swords of Iron.” As in the past, Hamas can expect iron to conquer a storm.
So far, “At least 270 Palestinians have been killed…and more than 1,000 injured, according to Palestinian medical authorities,” the WSJ said. Additionally, Netanyahu has called up IDF reserves to engage the militants “at an intensity and scale that the enemy has not known before. The enemy will pay a price they have never paid before,” Netanyahu said. In a recent report from The Times of Israel, ground attacks by Hamas militants have included destroying at least one Israeli tank and reports of kidnappings and hostage-taking in a kibbutz near the Gaza border. The violence started by the Hamas rocket assault has spread to rioting in Palestinian refugee camps, the Times explained.
“Several hours after the invasion began, Hamas militants were still fighting gunbattles inside Israeli communities in a surprising show of strength that shook the country,” according to a posting by Fox News reporter Chris Pandolfo. Hamas has infiltrated Israel with squads of terrorist gunmen. Prime Minister Netanyahu has vowed destroying these invaders is the priority.
Hamas Militants Attacking From the Sea Destroyed
Attacks by Hamas militants from the sea have been quickly eliminated. According to staff reports from The Jerusalem Post, attempts to engage in an amphibious assault on Israel’s Mediterranean coast failed. “The Israeli Navy eliminated dozens of terrorists in the southern maritime space and on the coastline in the early hours of Saturday morning, according to an IDF spokesperson.” Israeli gun and missile fire destroyed two rubber boats and two other vessels carrying Hamas invaders as seen in a video provided by the IDF online service.
The world’s reaction has been to denounce Hamas for its unprovoked rocket barrage targeting Israel. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s X (formerly Twitter) posting on Saturday was typical of the support for Israel. “Deeply shocked by the news of terrorist attacks in Israel. Our thoughts and prayers are with the innocent victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with Israel at this difficult hour.” Similar sentiments have been posted by the governments of Japan and Austria, according to the Post.
The initial US government reaction came from a statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III:
“I am closely monitoring developments in Israel. Our commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself remains unwavering, and I extend my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this abhorrent attack on civilians. Over the coming days the Department of Defense will work to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself and protect civilians from indiscriminate violence and terrorism.”
The White House also condemned the Hamas attacks in a tweet from National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson, who said: “The US unequivocally condemns the unprovoked attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians. 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.”
In past Hamas militant terrorist attacks on Israel, Hamas has taken a beating and quickly negotiated a ceasefire or other cessation of hostilities. This time, the Jerusalem government gives no indication of disengaging until the Hamas threat is completely eliminated.