Image Courtesy of Al Jazeera
By John Maggio
Palestinian militant group Hamas has launched an attack on Israel, firing rockets from the Gaza Strip and taking hundreds of soldiers and civilians as hostages over the border.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced these attacks on X, formerly known as Twitter. The Prime Minister promises to make Hamas understand they “have made a mistake of historic proportions” for a war “we didn’t want.”
Hamas entered Israel on Saturday, October 7, attacking villages, military bases, and a music festival near the border. Some of the Hamas militants came across the border by breaching the several miles of border fencing between the Gaza Strip and Israel, while others flew across the border with motorized paragliders.
The BBC says that the Gaza Strip is a 25-mile long and 6-mile wide strip of land on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, with a population of over 2 million people, making it one of the densest regions in the world. It is one of three regions commonly recognized under the umbrella term of Palestine, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem. During the 1920s, the UK had a protectorate mandate over the region which ended in 1948. According to the US State Department, United Nations Resolution 181 would have divided the area into separate Jewish and Arab regions and have Jerusalem under international control once the mandate ended. Israel declared itself a state not under the UN resolution once the mandate ended, sparking countless wars with its neighbors in its 75 years of existence.
The Guardian reports that over 1,100 of Israeli and Palestinians have died. Of the over 1,100 killed so far, the US State Department has confirmed that at least 22 are Americans, with others being held by Hamas. More foreign nationals are among the dead, and reports of Ukrainians, Nepali, French, and British citizens are among the rising death toll. Thailand’s foreign ministry also reports that dozens have been killed, kidnapped, and injured during this conflict.
Prime Minister Netanyahu informs the world that Israel is ready to face this “long and difficult war.” Hamas responded to Israel with a spokesperson saying they would kill civilian hostages if Gazan civilians continued to be killed by Israeli retaliatory missiles. Hamas has often placed weapons depots and tunnels near civilian places such as schools and hospitals, intentionally making it difficult for Israel to target such military strategic sites without risking the lives of Gazan citizens.
Catholic University Professor Dr. Bianca L. Adiar is the Director of the Intelligence Studies Program for the Department of Politics and is a retired CIA officer with 20 years of experience specializing in Iranian counterintelligence and foreign policy.
“No one wants loss of life,” Adiar said.
She warns people not to watch the videos of the brutality of the “butchering of civilians, of the children, women being violated, and elderly being killed. These people are being brutalized as most of the young men have already been killed.”
A spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Force described the attack as “9/11 and a Pearl Harbor wrapped into one” due to the tragedy, though some are comparing this attack to those two past ones due to the suddenness of the attack.
Dr. Adiar says calling this an intelligence failure “is not helpful to label” and that “no one is omnipotent” as Israel “needs to focus on the tasks at hand.” She says that “this has been a part of 25 years of planning” from Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran to remove Israel from the map. To her, it “is not even a question” whether Iran was involved. Iran has denied involvement in these latest attacks, but a Wall Street Journal story states that Iran “gave the green light for the assault.”
It is not clear how Israel is looking to secure the release of the hostages taken. Whether this happens through a full-scale “boots on the ground” attack, special operations, negotiations, or a mixture of the methods remains uncertain as Israeli military forces push into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The international community has had a mixed reaction to the attack. Numerous landmarks have depicted the Israeli flag and its colors as a show of support, including the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, New York’s Empire State Building, a screen in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, the Sydney Opera House, and the White House in Washington, DC. Just outside the UK’s Israeli embassy, thousands of pro-Palestinian marched, letting off fireworks and chanting, “Israel is a terrorist state” and “free Palestine.” Similar demonstrations have sprung up across the US, including in New York’s Times Square and outside the Israeli consulates in Atlanta and Chicago.