An ‘unprecedented’ attack on Israel
Israel is at war after Palestinian militants launched a surprise attack from the Gaza Strip early Saturday morning, firing thousands of rockets and entering Israel by land, sea and air. PM Benjamin Netanyahu has responded with airstrikes and called for a mass mobilisation of army reserves to “clear out” the Hamas gunmen and secure the “significant number” of Israeli hostages. Netanyahu also told Gazans to “leave now”, vowing to “take revenge for this black day”. Reports say at least 600 people have been killed in Israel, and deaths in Gaza stand at 413. Analysts say the attack – which came a day after the 50th anniversary of the start of the 1973 Yom Kippur War – is the most serious cross-border attack Israel has faced in more than a generation.
Back it up a bit…
There has been crisis after crisis over decades, but this year has been particularly difficult with escalating tensions and violence in the region. That includes an Israeli police raid on the holy Al-Aqsa mosque in April which kicked off a round of fighting, followed by skirmishes in May when a hunger-striking Palestinian died in prison. Then, in July, the Israeli army attacked the city of Jenin in the West Bank – an occupied Palestinian territory. As for why Hamas (which is the militant group that controls the densely populated coastal Palestinian-inhabited Gaza Strip) attacked Israel now – some reckon Hamas was trying to scupper a deal between the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia to normalise relations, which critics say doesn’t align with Palestinian interests. One thing is for sure – no one expected Hamas to execute the huge and complex attack, and Israeli officials are being asked why they didn’t see it coming.
Where to from here?
Netanyahu says his country is “embarking on a long and difficult war” and they will “return fire of a magnitude that the enemy has not known.” Already, rockets have hit targets in Palestinian territory, with video showing an apartment block in Gaza City being demolished. There are also reports that Israel has fired back at Lebanon after Hezbollah – an Islamist militant group that controls southern Lebanon – targeted 3 Israeli military positions. So there’s a lot going on… Leaders from around the world have urged restraint, while the US – an ally of Israel – has pledged support. Yesterday, PM Anthony Albanese called the Hamas attack “abhorrent” and said, “Israel has a right to defend itself.”
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