On Saturday, Hamas militants launched a surprise attack on Israeli towns, killing and capturing numerous civilians and soldiers.
This was met by intense Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip, resulting in heavy casualties.
The violence was described as the most severe attack on Israel in decades, igniting a war that both sides intend to escalate.
Reports indicate at least 200 Israelis killed and 1,100 injured, while in Gaza, over 230 deaths and 1,600 injuries were recorded.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted Israel’s intent to prevail, while Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh warned of further expansion of the assault into the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Sderot, located near Gaza, witnessed particularly harrowing scenes with many dead civilians.
Residents of southern Israel remained in shelters well into the evening, fearing further attacks.
Despite the violence, Hamas launched 150 rockets towards Tel Aviv, in retaliation for an Israeli strike that destroyed a large residential building.
Hamas’ deputy chief announced the group’s capture of numerous Israeli captives, including key officials, suggesting a potential exchange for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.
The Israeli military confirmed this while indicating readiness to mobilize a significant reserve force if needed.
The assault by Hamas is seen as a response to what it perceives as intensified Israeli actions against Palestinians in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and prisons.
The magnitude of this conflict surpasses anything observed since the Palestinian Intifada two decades ago, marking it as a significant intelligence oversight for Israel.
Gaza’s residents, living under a 16-year Israeli blockade, are bracing for extended conflict.
At the border, scores were killed or injured during confrontations and attempts to breach the fence into Israel.
International reactions varied. Western nations, led by the U.S., condemned the Palestinian assault, pledging support for Israel.
Demonstrations across the Middle East, however, expressed support for Hamas. The attack was commended by Iran and Hezbollah.
The U.N.’s Middle East peace envoy denounced the assaults and cautioned about the situation’s gravity.
This surge in hostilities is set against an existing backdrop of growing Israel-Palestine tensions in the West Bank and internal Israeli political instability.
Concurrently, the U.S. is negotiating to strengthen ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, a move Palestinians fear might jeopardize their aspirations for statehood.