Israel–Hamas war

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Israel–Hamas war
Part of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict
Map of the Gaza Strip and part of Israel. The part of Israel surrounding the Strip is marked as evacuated. Some parts of the Strip is marked as under Israeli control, and the remainder is marked as under Hamas control.
  Gaza Strip under Palestinian control
  Gaza Strip under Israeli control
  Furthest Israeli advance in Gaza Strip
  Evacuated areas inside Israel
  Maximum extent of the 2023 Hamas-led attack on Israel
  Areas of Gaza subject to Israeli evacuation orders



See here for a more detailed map.

See here for a list of engagements.
Date7 October 2023 – present
(7 months and 2 weeks)
Location
Status Ongoing
Belligerents
 Israel
Commanders and leaders
Strength
Hamas 25,000–40,000+[19][20] Israel 529,500[b]
Casualties and losses

Gaza Strip:

  • 35,647+ killed[d]
  • 79,852+ wounded[e]
  • 9,312+ detained[33]
  • 10,000+ missing[f]

Inside Israel:[g]

  • 1,609 militants killed[35]
  • 200+ militants captured[36]

Other theaters:

Per Israel:


Per Hamas:

  • 1,600+ soldiers killed[87]
  • 1,900,000 Palestinians displaced in Gaza Strip[88]
  • 200,000–500,000 Israelis displaced initially,[89][90] down to 60,000 by early 2024[91]

Other theaters:
  • 76,000 people displaced in Lebanon[92]
    7 border guards[93] and 6 civilians[94] injured in Egypt

An armed conflict between Israel and Hamas-led Palestinian militant groups[r] has been taking place chiefly in the Gaza Strip since 7 October 2023. Clashes have also occurred in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and with Hezbollah along the Israel–Lebanon–Golan Heights border. The fifth war of the Gaza–Israel conflict since 2008, it is part of the broader Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and the most significant military engagement in the region since the Yom Kippur War 50 years earlier.[95]

The war began when Hamas-led militant groups launched a surprise attack on Israel on 7 October, involving a barrage of several thousand rockets concurrent to an estimated 3,000 militants breaching the Gaza–Israel barrier and attacking Israeli civilian communities and military bases. During this attack, 1,139 Israelis and foreign nationals including 766 civilians and 373 security personnel were killed,[s] while 252 Israelis and foreigners were taken hostage to the Gaza Strip.[96] Hamas said its attack was in response to Israel's continued occupation, expansion of settlements, persisting blockade, and threats to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as the plight of Palestinian refugees and prisoners.[97][98] After clearing militants from its territory, Israel tightened its blockade and launched one of the deadliest and most destructive bombing campaigns in modern history,[99][100] before commencing a large-scale ground invasion on 27 October with the stated objectives of destroying Hamas and releasing the hostages.[101][102]

Since the start of the Israeli operation, more than 35,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed,[23] including over 15,000 children and 10,000 women.[24][25] Over 10,000 others are missing and presumed trapped under rubble.[34] Nearly all of the strip's 2.3 million Palestinian population has been forcibly displaced,[103][104] and over one hundred thousand Israelis remain internally displaced.[105] Israel's tightened blockade cut off basic necessities and its attacks on infrastructure have led to a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, including a collapse of the healthcare system and an impending famine.[106] By early 2024, Israeli forces had damaged or destroyed more than half of Gaza's houses,[107] at least a third of its tree cover and farmland,[108][109] most of its schools and universities,[110] hundreds of cultural landmarks,[111] and dozens of cemeteries.[112] A seven-day truce took place in late November 2023 during which captives were exchanged.[113] Israel's offensive in Rafah, criticized by the international community, is nearing execution while ceasefire negotiations remain ongoing.[114]

The war has had significant international repercussions. Large protests have occurred across the world, primarily pro-Palestinian ones calling for a ceasefire and an end to the Israeli occupation. Israel's actions have been denounced in the Islamic world and much of the Global South. In December 2023, South Africa launched proceedings at the International Court of Justice alleging that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza. Israel has received significant support from its traditional Western allies, most notably the United States, which has provided Israel extensive military aid throughout the war and has vetoed multiple UN Security Council ceasefire resolutions.[115] Meanwhile, the self-proclaimed Axis of Resistance has attacked American military bases in the Middle East, and the Yemeni Houthi movement started attacks on commercial ships they alleged were linked to Israel, incurring a US-led military response.[116]

Background

A bar chart from 2008 to before October 2023. 6,407 Palestinians have been killed during this time frame, while a smaller 308 Israelis have been killed.
Israeli and Palestinian deaths preceding the war before the 2023 Hamas-led attack on Israel. Most were civilians.[117][118]

In 1967, following the Six-Day War fought between Israel and a coalition of Arab states (primarily Egypt, Syria, and Jordan), Israel occupied the Palestinian territories, including the Gaza Strip which had formerly been occupied by Egypt.[95] A process of Arab-Israeli normalization began in the 1970s, with the fourth and final war between Arab states and Israel ending in 1973 and an Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty signed in 1979.[119] In 1987, the First Intifada, a popular uprising by the Palestinians against the Israeli occupation, began.[120] The conflict lasted five years and ended with the Oslo Accords, creating the Palestinian National Authority and dividing the West Bank into three administrative areas.[121] Following the failure of the subsequent peace talks at the Camp David Summits in 2000,[122] violence once again escalated during the Second Intifada, which ended with the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit, Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and subsequent blockade.[123][124]

Hamas, an Islamist militant group, won the 2006 Palestinian legislative election and a subsequent battle in the Gaza Strip between it and Fatah, which led to Hamas taking over governance of Gaza, and further escalating tensions with Israel.[125][126] Israel, along with Egypt, imposed a blockade that significantly damaged Gaza's economy, citing security concerns as the justification.[127] International rights groups have characterized the blockade as a form of collective punishment,[128][129] while Israel defended it as necessary to prevent weapons and dual-use goods from entering the territory.[130][131] The Palestinian Authority has not held national elections since 2006.[127][132]

Since the imposition of the blockade, Israel has been involved in numerous military confrontations with Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups in Gaza.[127][133][134] There have been four previous major hostilities between Israel and Hamas: in 2008–2009, 2012, 2014, and 2021.[135][136] Hamas's tactics included tunnel warfare and firing rockets into Israeli territory, whereas Israel generally conducted airstrikes in Gaza.[134] Israel also conducted ground invasions of Gaza in the 2008–2009 and 2014 wars.[137] In 2018–2019, there were weekly organized protests near the Gaza-Israel border involving thousands of Gazan participants. The protests were met with violence by Israel, with hundreds killed and thousands injured by sniper fire.[138][139] Surveys in 2023 of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank before the war indicated that a majority supported the use of "armed struggle", the creation of "militant groups", and an intifada ("uprising") against the Israeli occupation.[140][141] The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported roughly 6,400 Palestinians and 300 Israelis were killed in the wider Israeli–Palestinian conflict from 2008 through September 2023 before the start of this war.[142][117][118]

The Gaza Strip's economy declined greatly due to the blockade, with a 30% drop in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) within a year. By 2015, the unemployment rate had risen to 45% (compared to the pre-blockade level of 10%).[143] In 2023, UNRWA statistics for Gaza reported 81% of people living below the poverty level, and 63% being food insecure and dependent on international assistance.[118][144] According to an analysis in The Independent, the Gaza blockade created hopelessness among Palestinians, which was exploited by Hamas, convincing young Palestinian men that violence was their only solution.[145] Daoud Kuttab wrote that Palestinian attempts to solve the conflict via negotiations or non-violent boycotts have been fruitless.[146]

Hamas has been designated as a terrorist organization by a number of states and regional blocs, particularly Israel's Western allies including the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and the European Union.[147][148][95][149] Other UNSC permanent members including China[150] and Russia do not regard Hamas as a terrorist organization.[151][152][153] A 2018 attempt to condemn Hamas for "acts of terror" at the United Nations failed to achieve the two-thirds majority requirement set in place for the vote, with 87 votes in favor, 58 votes against, 32 abstentions and 16 non-votes.[154]

In February–March 2021, Fatah and Hamas reached agreement to jointly conduct elections for a new Palestinian legislative assembly, in accordance with the Oslo Accords. Hamas committed to upholding international law, transferring control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority and to allowing it to negotiate with Israel to establish a Palestinian state along the 1967 ceasefire lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital. According to Menachem Klein, Israeli Arabist and political scientist at Bar-Ilan University, Mahmoud Abbas subsequently cancelled the elections under pressure from Israel and the United States.[155] Soon after the 2021 Israel–Palestine crisis exploded, the Al-Qassam Brigades started planning the 7 October 2023 operation.[155][156]

Hamas motivations

Hamas officials said shortly following the attack that it was a response to the Israeli occupation, blockade of the Gaza Strip, Israeli settler violence against Palestinians, restrictions on the movement of Palestinians, and imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians. Hamas took hostages with the intention of exchanging them for Palestinians held by Israel in administrative detention or as political prisoners. [157][97][158]

Mohammad Deif, the head of the Qassam Brigades, said on 7 October that the Hamas attack was in response to what he called the "desecration" of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and Israel killing and wounding hundreds of Palestinians in 2023.[159] He called on Palestinians and Arab Israelis everywhere to "expel the occupiers and demolish the walls."[159][160] He said, "in light of the continuing crimes against our people, in light of the orgy of occupation and its denial of international laws and resolutions, and in light of American and western [sic] support, we've decided to put an end to all this, so that the enemy understands that he can no longer revel without being held to account."[161][162]

The long-term goals of Hamas are disputed. Hamas has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel, notably in its 1988 charter.[163][t] Bruce Hoffman has argued that Hamas' 1988 charter lays out aims that are antisemitic and "genocidal" in nature.[164] In 2017, Hamas replaced its old charter with a new one that removed antisemitic language and stated that its struggle was with Zionists, not Jews.[165][166][167][168] The 2017 charter accepts the idea of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.[169] However, the new charter indicates that Hamas will accept the peace agreements only provisionally, without relinquishing a claim to the entirety of Palestine nor recognizing Israel.[170][164] The attack was also seen as a resolution of internal tensions within Hamas as to whether the group's main goal is governing the Gaza Strip or fighting against Israel.[171] Experts consider the disruption of Israel-Arab diplomacy and Hamas' desire to assert its presence as a significant security and political force likely motives.[172] In addition, internal strife in Israeli society caused by protests against the judicial reform encouraged Hamas to go ahead with its attack.[173][174]

On 21 January 2024, Hamas released an 18-page English-language document reiterating its previously stated rationales and framing the attack in a wider context as a struggle against colonialism, describing its actions as "a necessary step and a normal response to confront all Israeli conspiracies against the Palestinian people".[175][176] It said that "maybe some faults happened" during the attacks "due to the rapid collapse of the Israeli security and military system, and the chaos caused along the border areas with Gaza" and that "[if] there was any case of targeting civilians it happened accidentally".[177][175] The timing of the release raised questions; sources in Gaza, including those aligned with Hamas, told Haaretz that the document was designed to contend with criticism of the heavy price Gazans have paid for the attacks on Israel.[178][179]

Israeli policy

Benjamin Netanyahu has been Israel's prime minister for nearly the entire 15 year period preceding the war, with the exception of the 18 months from June 2021 to January 2023 when Naftali Bennett and later Yair Lapid took office.[180] The Netanyahu government has been criticized within Israel for having championed a policy of empowering the Hamas government in Gaza by, for instance, granting work permits to Gazan residents, facilitating the transfer of funds to Hamas and maintaining relative calm.[181][182][183] By the conclusion of Netanyahu's fifth government in 2021, the issuance of work permits to Gazans reached approximately 2,000–3,000. Later, under the Bennett-Lapid government, this number significantly increased to 10,000,[181] and since Netanyahu's return to power in 2023 the number rose again to 20,000.[181] These workers were accused of spying on Israel and being complicit in the October 7 attack.[184][185][186] After the attack, the Israeli war cabinet granted additional 8,000 work permits to West Bank residents, despite concerns about their vetting and potential security risks.[184]

In addition to granting workers permits, millions of dollars from Qatar have been transported into Gaza, escorted by Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, intended for Gaza's power plant, infrastructure projects and monthly stipends for impoverished Palestinian families, while Israeli officials were aware that Hamas might divert the funds to acquire weapons and rockets.[187][182]

These strategies towards Hamas have been criticized as having backfired in light of the attacks on 7 October 2023.[183] Critics cautioned that such policies may have strengthened Hamas's power in Gaza while weakening Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, thus sabotaging a two-state solution.[188][183] This criticism has been echoed by several Israeli officials, including former prime minister Ehud Barak and former head of the Shin Bet internal security service Yuval Diskin.[188] The Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia were also critical of Netanyahu's government allowing Qatar to deliver suitcases of money to Hamas[188] in exchange for maintaining the ceasefire.[181] Netanyahu's strategy towards the Palestinian issue has been described as that of "divide-and-conquer".[189][190] A Times of Israel op-ed argued after the Hamas attack that Netanyahu's policy to treat the Palestinian Authority as a burden and Hamas as an asset had "blown up in our faces".[181] Netanyahu himself has criticized opinions on his responsibility for the 7 October attacks, stating "Did people ask Franklin Roosevelt, after Pearl Harbor, that question? Did people ask George Bush after the surprise attack of November [sic] 11?" referring to the 11 September 2001 terror attacks.[191]

Numerous commentators have identified the broader context of Israeli occupation as a cause of the war.[192][193][194][195][196] The Associated Press wrote that Palestinians are "in despair over a never-ending occupation in the West Bank and suffocating blockade of Gaza".[197] Several human rights organizations, including Amnesty International,[198] B'Tselem[199] and Human Rights Watch[200] have likened the Israeli occupation to apartheid, although supporters of Israel dispute this characterization.[201][202]

2023 Israeli-Palestinian escalation

Over the course of 2023, before the October 7 attack, 32 Israelis and two foreign nationals had been killed in Palestinian attacks. At least 247 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli forces.[203] Increases in settler attacks had displaced hundreds of Palestinians, and there were clashes around the Al-Aqsa Mosque which sits on the Temple Mount, a contested holy site in Jerusalem.[204]

In August 2023, 1,264 Palestinians were held in administrative detention in Israel, without charge or trial, the highest number in three decades.[205][206] Israel says this tactic is necessary to contain dangerous militants.[205]

Tensions between Israel and Hamas rose in September 2023, and the Washington Post described the two "on the brink of war".[207] Israel found explosives hidden in a shipment of jeans and halted all exports from Gaza.[207] In response, Hamas put its forces on high alert, and conducted military exercises with other groups, including openly practicing storming Israeli settlements.[207] Hamas also allowed Palestinians to resume protests at the Gaza–Israel barrier.[207] On 13 September, five Palestinians were killed at the border. According to the Washington Post, the Palestinians were attempting to detonate an explosive device.[207] Al-Jazeera reported that a Palestinian Explosives Engineering Unit was working to deactivate the device.[208] On 29 September, Qatar, the UN, and Egypt mediated an agreement between Israel and Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip to reopen closed crossing points and deescalate tensions.[209][210]

Simon Tisdall argues that an uptick in Israeli–Palestinian violence in the West Bank in the first half of 2023 had portended war,[211] and stated that Netanyahu's "refusal to contemplate any type of peace process" added "fuel to the smouldering fire" in the context of "the relentless expansion of illegal Israeli settlements".[211] Prior to the attack, Saudi Arabia warned Israel of an "explosion" as a result of the continued occupation,[212] Egypt had warned of a catastrophe unless there was political progress,[146] and similar warnings were given by Palestinian Authority officials.[146] Two months before the attacks, King Abdullah II of Jordan commented that Palestinians have "no civil rights; no freedom of mobility".[146]

Israeli intelligence failure

Israeli intelligence officials initially stated that they had no warnings or indications of the 7 October attack by Hamas, despite Israel exercising extensive monitoring over Gaza.[213] Furthermore, the United States warned the Israeli government of the possibility of a surprise attack from Hamas a few days before the incident.[214] Egypt said it warned Israel days before the attack, "an explosion of the situation is coming, and very soon, and it would be big".[215] Israel denied receiving such a warning,[216] but the Egyptian statement was corroborated by Michael McCaul, Chairman of the US House Foreign Relations Committee, who said warnings were made three days before the attack.[217]

According to the New York Times, Israeli officials had obtained detailed attack plans more than a year prior to the actual attack. The document described operational plans and targets, including the size and location of Israeli forces, and raised questions in Israel as to how Hamas was able to learn these details. The document provided a plan that included a large scale rocket assault prior to an invasion, drones to knock out the surveillance cameras and gun turrets that Israel has deployed along the border, and gunmen invading Israel, including with paragliders. The Times reported that "Hamas followed the blueprint with shocking precision". According to the Times, the document was circulating among the Israeli military and intelligence leadership, who largely dismissed the plan as being beyond Hamas's capabilities, though it was unclear if the political leadership was informed. In July 2023, a member of the Israeli signals intelligence unit alerted her superiors that Hamas was conducting preparations for the assault. An Israeli colonel ignored her concerns.[218] According to the Financial Times, alerts from the signals unit were ignored because they came from lower-ranking soldiers, contradicted the belief that Hamas was contained by Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, bombing, and placation via aid, and the belief that Hamas was seeking to avoid a full war.[219][220]

Israel–Saudi normalization talks

At the time of the attack, Israel and Saudi Arabia were conducting negotiations to normalize relations. Amid the negotiations, in early August, Israeli PM Netanyahu rejected a Palestinian state.[221][222][223] Neverthelees Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman said normalization was "for the first time real".[224] This was an apparent reversal of Saudi policy, articulated in the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, when Saudi Arabia had offered Israel normalization with the whole Arab world if Israel allows the creation of a Palestinian state.[225][226][227][228] Israeli[228] and other officials involved in the negotiations confirmed that the Saudis were considering normalization with Israel without the creation of a Palestinian state.[229] Many Palestinians worried that Israeli-Saudi normalization would cost them their last significant leverage for Palestinian statehood.[230] Most in the US foreign policy establishment believed Palestinian statehood "no longer matters in the Middle East".[231] On October 4, three days before the Hamas attack, US diplomat Dennis Ross said Palestinian statehood "is not an option" in the Israeli-Saudi talks.[232]

On October 21, US President Joe Biden said the aim of the 7 October attacks was to disrupt the normalization talks.[233] According to Menachem Klein, Israeli normalization with other Middle Eastern states, including Saudi Arabia, threatened to leave the Palestinians "isolated and weak".[155] On 7 February 2024, Saudi Arabia stated that diplomatic relations with Israel requires an independent Palestinian state on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.[234]

Events

7 October attack

Approximate situation on 7–8 October
Footage of Israeli soldiers securing the area after the Re'im music festival massacre

The attack took place during the Jewish holidays of Simchat Torah and Shemini Atzeret on Shabbat,[235] and one day after the 50th anniversary of the start of the Yom Kippur War, which also began with a surprise attack.[236] At around 6:30 a.m. IDT (UTC+3) on 7 October 2023,[203] Hamas announced the start of what it called "Operation Al-Aqsa Flood", stating it had fired over 5,000 rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel within a span of 20 minutes. Israeli sources reported that at least 3,000 projectiles had been launched from Gaza. At least five people were killed by the rocket attacks.[237][238][239] Explosions were reported in areas surrounding the strip and in cities in the Sharon Plain including Gedera, Herzliyya,[240] Tel Aviv, and Ashkelon.[241] Air raid sirens were activated in Beer Sheva, Jerusalem, Rehovot, Rishon Lezion, and Palmachim Airbase.[242] Hamas issued a call to arms, with commander Mohammad Deif calling on "Muslims everywhere to launch an attack" and to "kill them [the enemy] wherever you may find them".[243][239]

Hamas employed tactics such as using aerial drones to disable Israeli observation posts, paragliders for infiltration into Israel, and motorcycles, which was unusual for Hamas.[244] Palestinian militants opened fire on Israeli boats, while clashes broke out between Palestinians and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) along the Gaza perimeter fence.[242] In the evening, Hamas launched another barrage of 150 rockets towards Israel, with explosions reported in Yavne, Givatayim, Bat Yam, Beit Dagan, Tel Aviv, and Rishon Lezion.[238]

Simultaneously, around 3,000 Hamas militants[245] infiltrated Israel from Gaza using trucks, motorcycles, bulldozers, speedboats, and paragliders.[236][203][224] They took over checkpoints at Kerem Shalom and Erez, and created openings in the border fence in five other places.[246] Images and videos showed armed and masked militants, riding pickup trucks[241][247] and opening fire in Sderot. Other videos display Israelis taken prisoner, a burning Israeli tank,[248][239] and militants driving IDF vehicles.[241]

Hamas militants carried out an amphibious landing in Zikim.[249][250] A military base near Nahal Oz was also taken by the militants, leaving at least two Israeli soldiers dead and six others captured. The IDF said it killed two attackers on the beach and destroyed four vessels, including two rubber boats.[251] Fighting was reported at Re'im military base, headquarters of Israel's Gaza Division.[252] It was later reported that Hamas took control of the base and took several Israeli soldiers captive,[252] before the IDF regained control later in the day.[253] The police station of Sderot came under Hamas control, with militants killing 30 Israelis, including policemen and civilians.[254] At least six IDF bases near the Gaza border were attacked.[255]

Satellite view of widespread fires in Israeli areas surrounding the Gaza Strip on 7 October 2023[256]

Militants killed civilians at Nir Oz,[257] Be'eri, and Netiv HaAsara, and other agricultural communities, where they took hostages[258] and set fire to homes.[256] This resulted in widespread fires and smoke across the region.[256] 52 civilians were killed in the Kfar Aza massacre, 108 in the Be'eri massacre (a loss of 10% of the kibbutz's population) and 15 in the Netiv HaAsara massacre,[259][260][261] in what has been described as the bloodiest day in Israel's history and the worst single-day massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.[261] Magen David Adom responded to those injured from the attacks, particularly in Be'eri, Sderot, and Ofakim, with 1,400 ambulances responding to thousands of emergency calls to MDA's dispatch.[262] In Sderot, gunmen targeted civilians and set houses ablaze. In Ofakim, hostages were taken during Hamas's deepest incursion.[263][261] Hamas said it took prisoners to force Israel to release Palestinian prisoners. In Be'eri, Hamas militants took up to 50 people hostage.[264] Videos showed hostages being led barefoot across a street in the town.[265] At least 325 people were killed and more injured at an outdoor music festival near Re'im and Hamas took at least 37 attendees hostage.[266][267][268][269] Witnesses recounted militants on motorcycles opening fire on participants who were already fleeing due to rocket fire.[270][271] Graeme Wood reported that the video footage retrieved from the body cameras of Hamas militants displayed several victims "in the beginning of the footage they are alive, by the end they're dead. Sometimes, in fact frequently, after their death their bodies are still being desecrated".[272] Israeli authorities screened bodycam footage of Hamas atrocities for journalists, which included an attempt to decapitate someone and a still image of a decapitated IDF soldier.[273][274]

Around 240 people were taken hostage during the attacks, mostly civilians.[264][275] Captives in Gaza include children, festivalgoers, peace activists, caregivers, elderly people, and soldiers.[276] Hamas militants also engaged in mutilation, torture, and sexual and gender-based violence.[277]

An Israeli spokesman said militants had entered Israel through at least seven locations from both land and sea,[278] and invaded four small rural Israeli communities, the border city of Sderot, and two military bases.[279] Israeli media reported that seven communities came under Hamas control, including Nahal Oz, Kfar Aza, Magen, Be'eri, and Sufa,[280] and there were 21 active high-confrontation locations in southern Israel.[281]

Hamas has also stated that its attack was in response to the blockade of the Gaza Strip, the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, rising Israeli settler violence and recent escalations at Al-Aqsa.[157][97][158] Intelligence and security officials from multiple Western countries say that Hamas initiated the war to create a "permanent" state of war and to revive interest in the Palestinian cause.[282][283]

Initial Israeli counter-operation (7–27 October)

Two buildings are enveloped in clouds of black smoke with one damaged and falling.
Destruction of a residential building in Gaza by an Israeli airstrike
Aftermath of a Hamas rocket hit on the maternity ward of Barzilai Medical Center, a hospital in Ashkelon, Israel, on 8 October 2023[284]
A severely-damaged building, looking as if it were a cross-section. In front is a burned car partially submerged in murky brown water.
Remains of the Sderot police station, following recapture by IDF
The Israeli General Staff confers during a meeting on 8 October 2023

After the initial breach of the Gaza perimeter by Palestinian militants, it took hours for the IDF to start its counter-attack.[285] The first helicopters sent to support the military were launched from the north of Israel, and arrived at the Gaza Strip an hour after fighting began.[286] They immediately encountered difficulty in determining which outposts and communities were occupied, and distinguishing between Palestinian militants and the soldiers and civilians on the ground.[286] The helicopter crews initially sustained a high rate of fire, attacking approximately 300 targets in 4 hours. Later on the crews began to slow down the attacks and carefully select targets.[286] According to Haaretz's journalist Josh Breiner, a police source said that a police investigation indicated an IDF helicopter which had fired on Hamas militants "apparently also hit some festival participants" in the Re'im music festival massacre.[287] The Israeli police denied the Haaretz report.[288]

A subsequent Israeli investigation claimed that militants had been instructed not to run so that the air force would think they were Israelis.[286] This deception worked for some time, but pilots began to realize the problem and ignore their restrictions. By around 9:00 am, amid the chaos and confusion, some helicopters started laying down fire without prior authorization.[286]

The attack appeared to have been a complete surprise to the Israelis.[289] Prime Minister Netanyahu convened an emergency gathering of security authorities, and the IDF launched Operation Swords of Iron in the Gaza Strip.[290][238] In a televised broadcast, Netanyahu said, "We are at war".[224] He threatened to "turn all the places where Hamas is organized and hiding into cities of ruins", called Gaza "the city of evil", and urged its residents to leave.[291][157] Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant conducted security assessments at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv.[247][241] Overnight, Israel's Security Cabinet voted to act to bring about the "destruction of the military and governmental capabilities of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad".[292] The Israel Electric Corporation, which supplies 80% of the Gaza Strip's electricity, cut off power to the area.[241] This reduced Gaza's power supply from 120 MW to 20 MW, provided by power plants paid for by the Palestinian Authority.[293]

The IDF declared a "state of readiness for war",[238] mobilized tens of thousands of army reservists,[203][241] and declared a state of emergency for areas within 80 kilometers (50 mi) of Gaza.[294] The Yamam counterterrorism unit was deployed,[281] along with four new divisions, augmenting 31 existing battalions.[236] Reservists were reported deployed in Gaza, in the West Bank, and along borders with Lebanon and Syria.[295]

Residents near Gaza were asked to stay inside, while civilians in southern and central Israel were "required to stay next to shelters".[241] The southern region of Israel was closed to civilian movement,[281] and roads were closed around Gaza[236] and Tel Aviv.[241] While Ben Gurion Airport and Ramon Airport remained operational, multiple airlines cancelled flights to and from Israel.[296] Israel Railways suspended service in parts of the country and replaced some routes with temporary bus routes,[297][298] while cruise ships removed the ports of Ashdod and Haifa from their itineraries.[299]

Israeli blockade and bombardment

Building in the Gaza Strip being destroyed by Israeli missiles
Aftermath of an Israeli airstrike on the El-Remal area of Gaza City, 9 October 2023
Approximate situation on 9 October

Following the surprise attack, the Israeli Air Force conducted airstrikes that they said targeted Hamas compounds, command centers, tunnels, and other targets.[238][294][300] Israel employed its artificial intelligence Habsora ("The Gospel") software with a new and superior capacity to automatically generate targets to be attacked.[301][302] Two days after the surprise attack, Israel said that 426 Hamas targets had been hit, including destroying Beit Hanoun, homes of Hamas officials, a mosque, and an internet hub.[300][303][304][305] Israel also rescued two hostages before declaring a state of war for the first time since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.[306][307] Defense Minister Gallant announced a "total" blockade of the Gaza Strip, cutting off electricity and blocking the entry of food and fuel, adding "We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly".[308] This drew criticism from Human Rights Watch who described the order as "abhorrent" and as a "call to commit a war crime".[309] Later, Gallant changed his position of a complete blockade after receiving pressure from US President Joe Biden and a deal was made on 19 October for Israel and Egypt to allow aid into Gaza.[310] The first aid convoy after the start of the war entered Gaza on 21 October 2023,[311] while fuel entered Gaza only in November.[312]

The IDF later deployed C-130 and C-130J transport aircraft to retrieve off-duty personnel from abroad.[313]

As a part of a bombing run targeting Hamas command centers and weapon caches, the IDF stated that it had bombed the Nukhba forces—a Hamas special forces unit that is thought to have led the attack on Israel.[314]

Human Rights Watch accused Israel of using white phosphorus munitions over Gaza on 10 and 11 October, stating that it violated international law.[315] Israel denied the allegations.[316]

Evacuation of Northern Gaza

Almost a week after the initial attack on Israel, on 13 October, the IDF issued an evacuation warning for communities north of the Wadi Gaza. All Palestinians in that region, including those in Gaza City, were given 24 hours to evacuate to the south. The Hamas Authority for Refugee Affairs responded by telling residents in northern Gaza to "remain steadfast in your homes and stand firm in the face of this disgusting psychological war waged by the occupation".[317]

The statement by Israel faced widespread backlash; with numerous agencies, such as Doctors Without Borders, the World Health Organization, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, among others, condemning the order as "outrageous" and "impossible" while calling for an immediate reversal of the order.[318][319][320][321]

As a part of the order, the IDF announced a six-hour window from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time on 13 October, for refugees to flee south along specified routes within the Gaza Strip.[322] An explosion at 5:30 p.m. along one of the safe routes killed 70 people.[323] Some sources attributed it to an IDF airstrike, while CNN said the cause was unclear. The Jerusalem Post said open-source analysts believed the explosion originated from a car on the ground, but the cause was unclear.[324][325] The Financial Times carried out an investigation, concluding "analysis of the video footage rules out most explanations aside from an Israeli strike", although it was "difficult to conclusively prove whether these blasts came from an IDF strike, a potential Palestinian rocket misfire or even a car bomb".[326]

The IDF stated Hamas set up roadblocks to keep Gaza residents from evacuating south and caused traffic jams.[327] Israeli officials stated this was done to use civilians as "human shields", which Hamas denied.[328] A number of countries and international organizations condemned what they called Hamas's use of hospitals and civilians as human shields.[329][330][331][332]

According to an unnamed Israeli official, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar left Gaza City using a vehicle associated with a humanitarian relief mission.[333]

17 October

A man carries the body of a Palestinian child killed during the shelling of 17 October 2023

On 17 October, Israel bombed in areas of southern Gaza.[334] Ministry of Health officials in Gaza reported heavy overnight bombing killing over 70 people, including families who had evacuated from Gaza City in the north.[335] One of the airstrikes killed a senior Hamas military commander Ayman Nofal.[336] In the afternoon, an Israeli strike hit a UNRWA school in the Al-Maghazi refugee camp, killing six and injuring 12.[337]

A bloodied child on the floor of a hospital being treated by a nurse. A man with his head wrapped in a bandage wearing blood-stained clothes lays on the floor nearby.
Wounded child and man receive treatment on the floor at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City

Late in the evening, an explosion occurred in the parking lot of the Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist Hospital in the center of Gaza City, killing hundreds. The cause of the explosion was disputed by Hamas and the IDF, and the ongoing conflict prevented independent on-site analysis.[338] Palestinian statements that it was an Israeli airstrike were denied by the IDF, which stated that the explosion resulted from a failed rocket launch by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.[339] The PIJ denied any involvement.[340][341] An independent analysis by Human Rights Watch indicated that the evidence pointed to a misfired Palestinian rocket as the cause, but stated that further investigation was required.[342]

On 18 October, President Biden said the Pentagon had independently concluded that the explosion was not caused by Israel, but by "the other team", based on data from the Defense Department.[343] Over the next few days, Canadian, British, and French officials announced that their respective intelligence agencies concluded the cause to be a failed Palestinian rocket and not an Israeli airstrike.[344][345][346] In its article dated 2 November, CNN stated that multiple experts said "they believe this to be the most likely scenario – although they caution the absence of munition remnants or shrapnel from the scene made it difficult to be sure. All agreed that the available images of evidence of the damage at the site was not consistent with an Israeli airstrike."[347]

Invasion of the Gaza Strip until the truce (27 October – 24 November)

Men in desert-brown fatigues walk towards rows of tanks. All of them have backpacks, and some have firearms.
Israeli soldiers preparing for the ground invasion of the Gaza Strip on 29 October

On 27 October, the IDF launched a large-scale, multi-pronged ground incursion into parts northern Gaza. The IDF was building up a force of over 100,000 soldiers in the cities of Ashkelon, Sderot and Kiryat Gat. Clashes between Hamas and the IDF were reported near Beit Hanoun and Bureij.[348][349] The Israeli invasion of Gaza was confirmed after Israel said its units were still in Gaza the next day.[350] Hamas leader Ali Baraka said the invading Israeli forces suffered heavy casualties and loss of equipment due to an ambush.[351] Two days later, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), described as "deeply concerning" reports from the Palestinian Red Crescent that the al-Quds hospital had received an urgent evacuation warning. He reiterated that it was "impossible to evacuate hospitals full of patients without endangering their lives".[352] Israeli airstrikes targeted the area around the hospital, filling parts of the building with smoke and dust, prompting staff to give breathing masks to some patients.[353] Around 14,000 civilians were believed to be sheltering in or near the hospital.[353] Associated Press reported that Israeli airstrikes also destroyed roads leading to the Al-Shifa hospital, making it increasingly difficult to reach.[354]

Three days following the beginning of ground operations, a video showed an Israeli tank firing on a taxi with a white flag on its roof that had attempted to turn around. An IDF spokesperson said they were "not shown any proof" that the vehicle was civilian, adding, "terrorists use civilian infrastructure like cars".[355]

External videos
video icon Gazan child speaks of having to carry decapitated body after Israeli strike on Jabalia (via The Irish Times)

The following day, the IDF struck at densely-populated Jabalia refugee camp, killing 50 and wounding 150 Palestinians according to the Gaza Health Ministry. According to Israel, a senior Hamas commander and dozens of militants in a vast underground tunnel complex were among those killed. Hamas denied the presence of a senior commander on the scene.[356][357][358] According to the IDF, the destruction of the tunnels caused the collapse of the foundations of several nearby buildings, leading to their collapse.[359] Eyewitnesses interviewed by CNN and Der Spiegel spoke of "apocalyptic" scenes, with dozens of collapsed buildings, children carrying other injured children, and bodies lying in the rubble.[360][361][362] The nearby Indonesian Hospital's surgical director said they had received 120 dead bodies and treated 280 wounded, the majority of them women and children.[363] The attack resulted in several ambassador recalls (see § Ambassador recalls).[364][365][366] Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, wrote on the social media platform X that he was "appalled by the high number of casualties" from the bombing.[367] According to The New York Times at least two 2,000-pound bombs, the second largest type in Israel's arsenal, were used.[368]

On 31 October, Israel bombed a six-story apartment building in central Gaza, killing at least 106 civilians including 54 children in what Human Rights Watch called an "apparent war crime." HRW found "no evidence of a military target in the vicinity of the building at the time of the Israeli attack," and called the bombing "unlawfully indiscriminate."[369]

Two tanks roll on dirt, surrounded by a massive amount of destruction. There is rubble on the ground, and buildings that have been exploded
Israeli tanks during operations in the Gaza Strip on 31 October

On 1 November, the first group of evacuees left Gaza for Egypt. 500 evacuees, comprising critically wounded and foreign nationals, would be evacuated over the course of several days, with 200 evacuees already waiting at the border crossing.[370] On the same day, the Jabalia refugee camp was bombed for a second time; the UN Human Rights Office expressed "serious concerns" that these were "disproportionate attacks that could amount to war crimes".[371][372] The IDF released what it stated was an intercepted call between Hamas operatives and the head of the Indonesia Hospital, where they discuss diverting some of the hospital's fuel supply to Hamas.[373]

Two days later, the Gaza health ministry stated that Israel struck an ambulance convoy directly in front of Al-Shifa Hospital, killing at least 15 people and injuring 60 more.[374] The IDF acknowledged having launched an airstrike at "an ambulance that was identified by forces as being used by a Hamas terrorist cell in close proximity to their position in the battle zone", adding that a "number of Hamas terrorist operatives were killed in the strike".[375] The IDF did not provide evidence that the ambulances were being used by Hamas combatants but said that additional information would be released.[375] A Hamas official described the Israeli statement as "baseless".[375] The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said one of its ambulances was struck "by a missile fired by the Israeli forces" about two metres from the entrance to al-Shifa hospital.[375] The PRCS said another ambulance was fired on about a kilometre from the hospital.[375] WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on X that he was "utterly shocked by reports of attacks on ambulances evacuating patients", adding that patients, health workers and medical facilities must always be protected.[374][376]

On 4 November a UNRWA spokeswoman confirmed reports that Israel had conducted an airstrike against a UN-run school in the Jabalia refugee camp.[377] According to the Gaza health ministry, the attack killed 15 and wounded dozens more.[377]

Abu Ubaida, the spokesperson for the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, reported that due to Israeli air strikes, the bodies of 23 missing Israeli hostages were buried under the rubble.[378][379]

External videos
Instagram videos by Ahmed Hijazi of the Al-Shifa Hospital strike shown in the Visual Investigations report published by The New York Times.[380] Contains graphic images of severe injury.
video icon A video of the airstrikes and immediate injuries.
video icon Shows dead and injured in the aftermath.

Fighting continued through the middle of November and on 18 November Israeli strikes killed more than 80 people in Jabalia refugee camp.[381] On 22 November, Israel and Hamas reached a temporary ceasefire agreement, providing for a four-day "pause"[382] or "lull"[383][384] in hostilities, to allow for the release of 50 hostages held in Gaza.[382][383] The deal also provided for the release of approximately 150 Palestinian women and children incarcerated by Israel.[383] The agreement was approved by the Israeli cabinet in the early hours of the day; in a statement, the Israeli Prime Minister's Office stated Israel's intention to continue the war.[382][383]

Duration of the truce (24 November – 1 December)

Following the introduction of a Qatari-brokered truce on 24 November, starting at 7:00 am Israel time, active fighting in the Gaza Strip ceased and some of the Israeli and foreign hostages were released by Hamas in exchange for the release of some of the Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel. The truce was announced for a period of four days, but was extended for a longer period.

From 24 to 30 November, Hamas released hostages and Israel released prisoners. On 27 November, Qatar announced that an agreement between Israel and Hamas to extend the truce by two days had been reached.[385] Both Israel and Hamas accused each other of violating the truce on 28 November. On 30 November, Hamas released two more hostages as the truce, which was supposed to end minutes later, was extended by another day.[386]

Resumption of hostilities (1 December 2023 – 6 May 2024)

Israeli Merkava tank in a Gaza street, 4 January 2024

Continuation of operations in Northern Gaza (December 2023 – January 2024)

The truce expired in the morning on 1 December, as both Israel and Hamas blamed the other side for failing to agree on an extension. According to the New York Times, the disagreement centered on "how to define soldiers versus civilians and how many Palestinian prisoners Israel would release for its hostages".[387] The remaining Israeli hostages include a year old baby, his 4 year old brother and their mother, an additional 13 women aged 18–39, and 85 men, some of whom are over the age of 70 and 80.[388] Thousands of Palestinians remain in administrative detention.[389] A Hamas official said that after the exchange, the only remaining hostages were "soldiers and civilian men who served in the occupation army", and refused to exchange them until "all our prisoners are freed and a ceasefire takes hold".[390] US National Security Advisor John Kirby said that "Hamas agreed to allow the Red Cross access to these hostages while the pause was in place", which "didn't happen and is still not happening".[391] The Palestinian Prisoners' Club said that during the same week that 240 Palestinian prisoners were released as part of the ceasefire deal, another 240 Palestinians were incarcerated. Released Palestinian prisoners reported mistreatment in Israeli prisons including daily beatings, overcrowding, food deprivation, and a suspension of access to prisoners for the Red Cross.[392] Released prisoners were forbidden from speaking with the media and threatened with fines for doing so.[393]

Israel adopted a grid system to order precise evacuations within Gaza, released a map online, and dropped leaflets with a QR code. The maps were criticized for being hard to access due to the lack of electricity and internet connectivity, and for causing confusion or panic. Some evacuation instructions have been vague or contradictory,[394][395] and Israel has struck "safe" areas it had told people to evacuate to.[396][397][398]

Two law experts said they had not seen significant changes in previous days of how Israel waged the war, due to its warnings to civilians appearing ineffective and it being unclear if anywhere in Gaza is truly safe.[399] Agnes Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said in a press release that "US-made weapons facilitated the mass killings of extended families". Amnesty found no evidence of military targets at the sites of the strikes, or any indication that the occupants of the homes were affiliated with Hamas, prompting the group to request that the airstrikes be investigated as possible war crimes.[400] Several decomposed babies were found in the ICU of Al-Nasr Children's Hospital in northern Gaza, two weeks after its forced evacuation.[401] US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin warned against replacing "a tactical victory with a strategic defeat" if Israel does not work towards protecting Palestinian civilians.[402] The US State Department said it was too early to definitively assess whether Israel was heeding US calls to protect civilians.[403]

Advance into Central Gaza (December 2023 – February 2024)

The IDF reported that its troops had reached the centers of Khan Yunis, Jabalia, and Shejaiya reporting the most "intense fighting" since the ground invasion of Gaza began.[404] Intensified bombing pushed Palestinian civilians further south to Rafah.[405]

On 7 December, Israel detained 150 men in the Gaza Strip, with dozens more detained on 10 December. According to Israel, the detentions followed a mass surrender of Hamas militants.[406][407] The New York Times reported that the statement about Hamas fighters surrendering was made after video and photographs of "men stripped to their underwear, sitting or kneeling on the ground, with some bound and blindfolded" were seen on social media.[408]The Guardian reported that among the people seen in the images were people identified as civilians, among them a journalist. The ICRC said it was concerned by the images and that it strongly emphasized "the importance of treating all those detained with humanity and dignity, in accordance with international humanitarian law".[409] The BBC reported that a video of the apparent surrender of weapons is unclear whether a man is "surrendering" weapons or just moving them as instructed, suggested the event was performed for the camera, rather than as an act of authentic surrender, and that it not known whether the individuals shown have any involvement with Hamas or the 7 October attack.[410] Haaretz reported that Israeli security officials believed that approximately 10–15% of the people shown in the video were actually affiliated with Hamas, and that despite the public statements by Israel that this was not a "massive surrender" by Hamas units.[411] Amnesty International described the treatment of those detained on 7 December as a violation of international law.[412]

On 8 and 9 December, the IDF released footage of what it said was its soldiers engaging combatants near and inside two schools in Shejaiya. According to the IDF, fighters also discovered a tunnel leading from one of the schools to a nearby mosque.[413][414] It also released footage of armament that it stated was found on the campus of Al-Azhar University, along with a tunnel shaft leading to a school 1 km away.[415] The IDF said that, since it designated a humanitarian zone for civilians in the Gaza Strip on 18 October, 116 rockets had been fired from there toward Israel, including 38 falling inside Gaza.[416]

The Pentagon announced on 9 December that the Biden administration had authorized the sale of around 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition to Israel without congressional authorization by using emergency powers.[417] On 29 December, it did so again to supply Israel with $147.5 million worth of artillery shells and related items.[418]

On 15 December, the IDF released a statement announcing that they had killed three of their own hostages by friendly fire. According to the IDF, they "mistakenly identified three Israeli hostages as a threat" during operations in Shuja'iyya and subsequently fired at them, killing them.[419][420][421] According to an IDF official on 16 December, the three hostages were shirtless and were carrying "a stick with a white cloth on it" when an Israeli soldier, who declared them to be "terrorists" after feeling "threatened", opened fire, killing two hostages and injuring the third, who was killed by Israeli reinforcements.[422]

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv, Israel, 9 January 2024

Withdrawal from Northern Gaza (January 2024 – February 2024)

On 1 January 2024, Israeli forces withdrew from neighbourhoods in North Gaza, including Sheikh Radwan, al-Mina district and parts of Tel al-Hawa.[423] On 7 January the IDF conducted a targeted missile strike on a car carrying Al Jazeera journalists Hamza Dadouh and Mustafa Thuraya. Dadouh, Thuraya, and their driver were killed.[424]

Rocket attacks on Israeli cities by Hamas decreased in frequency during this period with notable attacks on the New Year's Eve and on 29 January 2024.[425][426]

On 15 January, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that the most intense fighting in the northern part of the Gaza Strip had ended, and a new phase of low intensity fighting was about to begin.[427]

On 13 January, an Israeli tank fired at a convoy of Paltel repair workers on their way back to Rafah from the Paltel central offices in Khan Younis. Two workers were killed. The job they completed and the route they took were pre-approved by COGAT.[428]

By 18 January, the IDF stated that Hamas had begun to rebuild its armies in formerly occupied parts of Northern Gaza. The IDF had previously said that Hamas control over Northern Gaza was "dismantled" without providing any evidence.[429] By 18 January the fighting strength of Hamas' northern battalions had been significantly restored.[430]

On 22 January, 24 IDF soldiers died in what was the deadliest day for the IDF since the ground invasion began. Of these, 21 died in a single incident where Palestinian militants fired an RPG at a tank as well as at adjacent buildings soldiers were rigging to demolish which thus caused the buildings to collapse. The IDF soldiers brought landmines into the empty building for the demolition process. It is unclear whether the collapse of the buildings was principally due to the primary RPG explosion or the secondary landmine explosions.[431][432][433] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and President Isaac Herzog publicly mourned the loss.[434][435][436]

Preparations for the attack on Rafah (February 2024 – May 2024)

During the period from February to early May 2024, Israeli preparations to invade Rafah became a dominant issue in public rhetoric made by Israeli government officials. In February 2024, the Israeli government stated on several occasions its next objective would be the capture of Rafah. On 12 February, Israel started the bombing campaign on Rafah.[437] On February 15, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported that Egypt was building a refugee camp for over 100,000 people south of Rafah, surrounded by five-meter-high concrete walls.[438][439] However, the governor of North Sinai Governorate, Mohamed Abdel-Fadil Shousha, denied these rumors in a statement published by Al-Arabiya.[440] On 18 February, Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz warned that a ground offensive will be launched in Rafah on 10 March unless Hamas has freed all hostages by then. Gantz added Israel would act in "a co-ordinated manner, facilitating the evacuation of civilians in dialogue with our American and Egyptian partners to minimise civilian casualties".[441]

On 29 February, more than 100 Palestinians were killed and 750 were wounded during the flour massacre when Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinians waiting for food aid southwest of Gaza City, with many victims run over by trucks according to some accounts.[442] Survivors described it as an ambush, stating that Israeli forces opened fire as people approached the aid trucks, resulting in a rush away from the gunfire that added to the death toll.[443][444] On 1 March, the United States announced they would begin an operation airdropping food aid into Gaza.[445] Some experts called the US airdrops performative and claimed they would do little to alleviate the food situation in Gaza.[446] During his State of the Union Address, President Biden announced a new initiative for providing food and medications to Gaza by sea, setting up a temporary port on Gaza's coast to enable aid delivery.[447]

By 6 March, Israel had completed the construction of a new road in Gaza running across the full width of the Gaza Strip from east to west. The IDF reported that the road was an "active logistical route, constantly maintained during the war", It was intended to be used for the mobilization of troops and supplies, to connect and defend IDF positions on al-Rashid and Salah al-Din streets, and to prevent people in the southern Gaza Strip from returning to the north.[448]

Re-occupation of al-Shifa Hospital (March 2024 – April 2024)

Israeli forces raided al-Shifa hospital again between 18 March and 1 April. The IDF clashed with Hamas fighters in the area.[449] Israeli forces killed Faiq al-Mabhouh, who they said was the head of the operations directorate of Hamas' internal security service. Hamas said al-Mabhouh was in charge of civil law enforcement and had been engaged in "purely civil and humanitarian activity,"[450] coordinating aid deliveries to northern Gaza.[451][452] Multiple news agencies reported that the IDF assaulted and detained al-Jazeera correspondent Ismail al-Ghoul and more than 80 other people, including medical staff and other journalists, and confiscated and destroyed media equipment.[453][454] Al-Ghoul was released the following day, but could not verify the whereabouts of his colleagues.[455][456] The Committee to Protect Journalists said it was "deeply alarmed and outraged by reports of the assault on Al-Jazeera reporter Ismail Al-Ghoul from Al-Shifa hospital and other journalists while doing their jobs reporting on the Israeli offensive on the hospital".[456]

According to the IDF a number of senior Hamas leaders were killed during the fighting at the hospital, including Mahmoud Khalil Zakzuk, the deputy commander of Hamas’s rocket unit in Gaza City and Raad Thabet, the head of recruitment and supply acquisition.[457] Survivors of the events at al-Shifa who spoke to Mondoweiss said that workers in Gaza's civil government were receiving their governmental salaries at the hospital before it was raided. Doctors, members of the civil government and those who refused to evacuate were executed.[458] The IDF said it killed 200 people inside and around al-Shifa hospital. Time Magazine said it provided "no evidence that all were militants."[459] Photos of the hospital after the withdrawal of the Israeli forces showed its "walls blown out and frame blackened" by fire.[460] Hundreds of bodies were found on the hospital grounds, and Palestinian witnesses reported massacres in and around the site.[461]

A deputy military commander of Hamas Marwan Issa was reportedly killed in an airstrike in mid-March.[462]

On 23 March, at least 19 Palestinians were killed by the IDF while waiting for humanitarian aid at the Kuwait roundabout in Gaza City.[463]

On 25 March, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, which would last for the remainder of the month of Ramadan. The US delegate abstained, and all other delegates voted in favor of the resolution.[464] Israeli military activities in the Gaza Strip remained unchanged following the adoption of the resolution.

On 28 March, the IDF shot and killed two unarmed men near Al Rasheed Street in central Gaza before burying their bodies in the sand with bulldozers.[465] The Council on American-Islamic Relations called for a UN investigation into the "heinous war crime."[466]

On 1 April, seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen, including British, Polish, Australian, and Irish nationals, were killed in an Israeli airstrike south of Deir el-Balah.[467][468][469] World Central Kitchen said their vehicles were clearly marked and their location was known to Israeli authorities. Several aid organizations including World Central Kitchen, ANERA and Project HOPE suspended their operations in Gaza in response to the strikes. Two-hundred-forty tons of aid from World Central Kitchen were not distributed in Gaza due to the charity's withdrawal from the strip.[470][471] On 4 April, Israel opened the Erez crossing for the first time since October 7 after U.S pressure.[472] On April 7, Israel announced its withdrawal from Khan Yunis with only one brigade remaining in the Netzarim Corridor in the north.[473] Following the withdrawal, Palestinians displaced from that city began to return from the southern areas of the Gaza Strip.[474]

According to Israeli sources, Israel planned to initiate its first steps in a ground offensive in Rafah around the middle of April, but postponed it to consider their response to the Iranian strikes on Israel.[475]

On 25 April, Israel intensified strikes on Rafah ahead of threatened invasion.[476][477] On 5 May, Hamas launched a rocket attack from the area of Rafah towards Kerem Shalom, killing three Israeli soldiers.[478]

Rafah offensive begins (6 May 2024 – present)

On 6 May, the Israeli military ordered civilians in eastern Rafah to evacuate to Al-Mawasi, west of Khan Yunis, affecting about 100,000 people.[479] Later that day, Hamas announced that it had accepted the terms of a ceasefire brokered by Egypt and Qatar.[480] The deal included a 6-week ceasefire and exchange of prisoners.[481] However, Israel rejected this deal.[482] Israel responded that the terms the Hamas had accepted were "far from Israel's basic requirements", but that it would send a delegation to further negotiate "to exhaust the possibility of reaching an agreement under conditions acceptable to Israel", while the military operation on Rafah would continue in the meantime to "exert military pressure on Hamas".[483][484]

Hours after Hamas' announcement, Israel ordered a series of airstrikes on Rafah, while the Israeli war cabinet voted to invade Rafah.[485][486] Later that day, the IDF entered the outskirts of Rafah and approached the Rafah Crossing and Egyptian border.[485][487][488] On 7 May, the Israeli military seized control of the Gaza side of the Rafah Crossing bordering Egypt.[489] Haaretz reported that as talks continued, Israel committed to Egypt and the United States that it would limit fighting to the Rafah crossing and transfer control of the area to an American security company. However, the State Department and White House denied any knowledge of this commitment.[490] The previous week, the US had paused a shipment of bombs to Israel over concerns of a Rafah offensive,[491] and on 8 May, US President Joe Biden said that the US would stop sending arms to Israel if it went ahead with a major invasion of Rafah.[492] By 11 May, the Israeli military ordered more residents to evacuate eastern and central Rafah.[493] By 15 May, an estimated 600,000 had fled Rafah and another 100,000 from the north, according to the United Nations.[494]

Other confrontations

Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and the Houthi movement in Yemen have launched limited attacks against Israel, raising fears of a wider regional military conflict. Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria have also traded attacks with the US and IDF.[495] Israel has bombed targets in and around Damascus throughout the war,[496][497][498] with an attack on the Iranian embassy in Damascus on April 1 leading to a direct Iranian response.[499] Iran launched a series of retaliatory airstrikes on Israel.[499][500] Over 100 Palestinians have been killed in confrontations with Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank since 7 October. Settler violence has been heavily criticized by the IDF.[501][502]

West Bank

West Bank sector of war
  West Bank under Israeli control (Area C)
  Israeli-annexed Jerusalem/East Jerusalem

Amnesty International released a report[503] on 5 February 2024 stating that Israel is carrying out unlawful killings in the West Bank and displaying "a chilling disregard for Palestinian lives" and that Israeli forces are carrying out numerous illegal acts of violence that constitute clear violations of international law.[504][505]

Even before the war, 2023 was the deadliest year for Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in 20 years. From 7 to 31 October, B'Tselem said that Israeli forces had killed more than 100 Palestinians while Israeli settlers had killed at least seven, leading to fears that the situation would escalate out of control.[501] About 1,000 Palestinians have been forcibly displaced by settlers since 7 October and almost half of clashes have included "Israeli forces accompanying or actively supporting Israeli settlers while carrying out the attacks" according to a U.N. report.[506] According to the West Bank Protection Consortium, which is funded by the European Union, since the 7 October attacks six Palestinian communities have been abandoned due to the violence.[507]

By 10 October, confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli forces had left 15 Palestinians dead, including two in East Jerusalem.[508] On 11 October, Israeli settlers attacked the village of Qusra, killing four Palestinians. A 16-year-old child was fatally shot by the IDF in Bani Naim, while another person was shot dead by the IDF near Bethlehem.[509] On 12 October, two Palestinians were killed after Israeli settlers interrupted a funeral procession for Palestinians killed in prior settler attacks and opened fire.[510][511][512]

On 18 October, protests broke out over the al-Ahli Arab Hospital explosion, with clashes reported in Ramallah.[513] In Jenin, a 12-year-old girl was shot dead by crossfire from Palestinian Authority security forces, and another youth was injured by PA forces in Tubas. One Palestinian was killed in confrontations with Israeli forces in Nabi Saleh, and 30 others were injured across the West Bank.[514] On 19 October, more than 60 Hamas members were arrested and 12 people were killed in overnight Israeli raids across the West Bank. Those arrested included the movement's spokesperson in the West Bank, Hassan Yousef.[515]

On 22 October, Israel struck the al-Ansar Mosque in the Jenin refugee camp, saying that it had killed several "terror operatives" from Hamas and Islamic Jihad who were planning attacks inside without providing evidence.[516] Within a few days Ayser Mohammad Al-Amer, a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad was killed during a clash with IDF in the Jenin refugee camp.[517] On 31 October, the IDF engaged Hamas around Shuweika.[518]

On 1 November, Issa Amro said the situation in the West Bank had become "very hard", noting "All the checkpoints are closed. Israeli settlers and soldiers are acting violently with the Palestinians."[519] The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned Israeli settler violence against Palestinians was on the rise.[520]

On 30 November, two Palestinian gunmen killed three and wounded eleven Israeli civilians at a bus stop on the Givat Shaul Interchange in Jerusalem. Hamas claimed responsibility.[521]

On 16 February 2024, a Palestinian gunman shot and killed two Israeli civilians and injured four others in Kiryat Malakhi, Israel. The shooter was killed by an off-duty IDF reservist at the scene.[522]

On 12 April 2024 a 14-old Israeli shepherd was killed and on 16 April 2024 two Palestinians were killed by Israeli settlers in Aqraba.[523]

On 20 April, fourteen Palestinians were killed in clashes during an Israeli raid in the West Bank. The Palestinian sources identified one of the victims as a militant,[524] while Israel said that 14 gunmen were killed.[525]

On 13 May, at the Tarqumiya checkpoint, a convoy of trucks carrying food supplies to Gaza was attacked by Israeli settlers, who damaged the trucks and threw supplies on the ground.[526]

Israel–Lebanon border

Northern Israel sector of war
  Israel
  Israeli-occupied Golan Heights
  Hezbollah presence in Lebanon
  Syria
  Areas ordered evacuated by Israel

A series of border clashes occurred along the Israel–Lebanon border. On 8 October, Hezbollah launched an artillery attack on Israeli positions in Shebaa Farms; this was met with immediate retaliation.[527][528] Skirmishes have occurred every day since, spilling over to the occupied Golan Heights. The clashes resulted in the deaths of 513 Lebanese militants and 15 Israeli soldiers,[529][530] as well as over 72 Lebanese civilians, 15 Syrian civilians and six Israeli civilians,[531][532] one Lebanese Army soldier,[533] and the displacement of 100,000 people in Lebanon and 80,000 more in Israel.[534][535]

Yemen and the Red Sea

Houthi attacks on commercial ships in the Bab-el-Mandeb strait

Several strikes against Israel and commercial ships in the Red Sea are thought to have launched by Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen.[536][537][538] On 19 October, the United States Navy destroyer USS Carney shot down several missiles that were traveling north over the Red Sea towards Israel.[539] On 31 October, Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Saree said that the group had launched ballistic missiles and drones towards Israel, and that they would continue to do so "to help the Palestinians to victory"[540] in an event that has been misrepresented in some news sites as a declaration of war by Yemen.[541] On 19 November, tensions increased when the Galaxy Leader, a cargo ship chartered by a Japanese logistics company with 25 individuals on board, was hijacked by the Houthis using a Mil Mi-17 helicopter.[542]

On 3 December, the Houthis said that they had attacked two ships, the Unity Explorer and Number 9, allegedly linked to Israel, in order "to prevent Israeli ships from navigating the Red Sea".[543][544] Any ship destined for Israel, according to the group, was a "legitimate target". Saree announced in a post on X that the "horrific massacres" against the Palestinians in Gaza was the reason for this decision and that they will not stop until the Gaza Strip is supplied with food and medicine. Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi called this development a "global issue" and that Israel is "giving the world some time to organize in order to prevent this" otherwise, the country "would will act in order to remove this naval siege".[545]

Iraq

Since November 2023, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq has claimed responsibility for drone and missile attacks against targets within Israel in retaliation for Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians in Gaza. The group stated it would continue to "strike enemy strongholds". Strikes were recorded in Eilat,[546] the Dead Sea coastline,[547][548] the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights,[549] the Karish rig,[550] Haifa Bay,[551] Ashdod,[552] Kiryat Shmona,[553] Tel Aviv,[554][555] Ramon Airport,[556] and in Elifelet.[557]

Syria

On 10 October 2023, Israel exchanged rocket and mortar fire with forces in southern Syria. On 12 October, Israel bombed the Damascus and Aleppo airports ahead of a visit to Syria by Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.[496]

In January 2024, four members of the Iranian Quds Force in Syria were killed by an Israeli airstrike in Damascus.[558]

On 22 February, an Israeli airstrike killed two people in a residential neighborhood of Damascus.[498]

On 1 April, the Israeli Air Force launched an airstrike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, killing several.[559][560]

Iran

On 24 November 2023, a suspected Iranian drone attacked the CMA CGM Symi, owned by Eastern Pacific Shipping, whose principal is Israeli, in the Indian Ocean, according to a US defense official. An anonymous source said the drone was suspected to have been a Shahed-136 drone. The attack caused damage to the ship but did not injure any of the crew.[561]

In December, the US military was reportedly looking to build a maritime task force to protect trade against Iranian harassment.[562]

On 23 December, a suspected Iranian drone attacked the Israel-affiliated oil tanker MV Chem Pluto in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Gujarat. The attack did not harm any of its 20 crew members, but caused a fire that was extinguished. The vessel was reportedly carrying Saudi oil to Mangalore, India.[563]

On 13 April, following an Israeli airstrike on its consulate building in Damascus, Syria on 1 April,[564] Iran launched Operation True Promise,[565] a series of retaliatory airstrikes on Israel,[499][500] attacking the country from Iranian soil for the first time.[566] On the same day, the IRGC Navy boarded the Portuguese-registered and Madeira-flagged container ship MSC Aries in the Strait of Hormuz via helicopter, and directed it to Iranian territory for "violating maritime law". The ship is leased by MSC from Gortal Shipping, an affiliate of Zodiac Maritime, whose principal is Israeli.[567][568]

Casualties

Palestinian man surrounded by body bags in Jabalia refugee camp

As of 13 May 2024, over 37,000 people (35,562 Palestinian[569] and 1,478 Israeli[581] have been reported as killed in the Israel–Hamas war, including 105 journalists (100 Palestinian, 2 Israeli and 3 Lebanese)[582] and over 224 humanitarian aid workers, including 179 employees of UNRWA.[583]

The vast majority of casualties have been in the Gaza Strip. The death toll reported by the UN OCHA comes from the Gaza Health Ministry.[584] The breakdown of the figures in the UN OCHA report only includes casualties whose identities have been confirmed while the overall figure is the number of reported deaths.[585] Over 24,000 of the dead have been identified by the Gaza Health Ministry,[586] of these 52% are women and children, 40% are men and 8% are elderly of both sexes.[587] Some have speculated that the total death toll in Gaza might be higher than reported,[588][589] with thousands remaining unaccounted for, including those trapped under rubble.[590]

The October 7 attacks on Israel killed 1,139 people, including 764 civilians and 373 Israeli security personnel. A further 252 persons were taken hostage during the initial attack on Israel to the Gaza Strip.[570][591][592] A further 479 Palestinians, including 116 children, and 9 Israelis have been killed in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem).[569] Casualties have also occurred in other parts of Israel, as well as in southern Lebanon, and Syria.[593]

Humanitarian crisis

People stand amid the rubble of a building and looking at the ground. A man is carrying a large flower-patterned object.
Residents inspect the ruins of an apartment in Gaza destroyed by Israeli airstrikes

The Gaza Strip is experiencing a humanitarian crisis as a result of the Israel–Hamas war.[594][595] The crisis includes both a famine and a healthcare collapse. At the start of the war, Israel tightened its blockade on the Gaza Strip, which has resulted in significant shortages of fuel, food, medication, water, and essential medical supplies.[594][596][597] This siege resulted in a 90% drop in electricity availability, impacting hospital power supplies, sewage plants, and shutting down the desalination plants that provide drinking water.[598] Widespread disease outbreaks have spread across Gaza.[595]

Heavy bombardment by Israeli airstrikes caused catastrophic damage to Gaza’s infrastructure, further deepening the crisis. Direct attacks on telecommunications infrastructure by Israel, electricity blockades and fuel shortages caused the near-total collapse of Gaza's largest cell network providers.[599][600][601] Lack of internet access has obstructed Gazan citizens from communicating with loved ones, learning of IDF operations, and identifying both the areas most exposed to bombing and possible escape routes.[599] The blackouts have also impeded emergency services, making it more difficult to locate and access the time-critical injured,[599] and have impeded humanitarian aid agencies and journalists as well.[599] By December 2023, 200,000 Gazans (approximately 10% of the population) had received internet access through an eSIM provided by Connecting Humanity.[602]

The Gaza Health Ministry reported over 4,000 children killed in the war's first month.[603] UN Secretary General António Guterres stated Gaza had "become a graveyard for children."[u][606][607] Organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, the Red Cross, and a joint statement by UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the UN Development Programme, United Nations Population Fund, and World Food Programme have warned of a dire humanitarian collapse.[608][609][610] On November 8, UN Human Rights chief Volker Turk described the Rafah Crossing as "gates to a living nightmare."[611]

War crimes

Both Hamas and the IDF have been accused of attempted or imminent genocide, and several other war crimes.[612] A UN Commission to the Israel–Palestine conflict stated that there is "clear evidence that war crimes may have been committed in the latest explosion of violence in Israel and Gaza, and all those who have violated international law and targeted civilians must be held accountable."[613][614][615] On 27 October, a spokesperson for the OHCHR called for an independent court to review potential war crimes committed by both sides.[616]

On 29 December, South Africa filed a case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, alleging that Israel's conduct amounted to genocide.[617][618] South Africa asked the ICJ to issue provisional measures, including ordering Israel to halt its military campaign in Gaza.[617] South Africa was one of five countries making a referral of the war to the ICC in November 2023.[619]

The International Criminal Court confirmed that its mandate to investigate alleged war crimes committed since June 2014 in the State of Palestine extends to the current conflict.[620][621][622] On 20 May, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan announced his intention to seek arrest warrants against Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh, as well as Israeli leaders Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity during the war.[623][624][625]

Diplomatic impact

The war sparked a major diplomatic crisis, with many countries around the world reacting strongly to the conflict that affected the momentum of regional relations.[626] At least nine countries took the drastic step of recalling their ambassadors and cutting diplomatic ties with Israel.[627][628] The conflict has also resulted in a renewed focus on a two-state solution to the ongoing conflict.[629][630]

Negotiations have focused on the possibility of a ceasefire in the war, with Egypt and Qatar serving as mediators in negotiations between Israel and Hamas.[631][632] The United Nations Security Council passed resolution 2728 in March 2024, demanding an immediate ceasefire and the unconditional release of hostages for the month of Ramadan.[633][634]

Reactions

Israel

The Israeli government's response to the 2023 Hamas-led attack on Israel has multiple aspects, including a military response leading to the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip. In October, the Knesset approved a war cabinet in Israel, adding National Unity ministers and altering the government; Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz froze non-war legislation, establishing a war cabinet with military authority.

The IDF's subsequent large-scale bombing and invasion of Gaza led to a humanitarian crisis, mass detentions, and famine. Israel's response was criticized as resulting in war crimes, and it was charged with genocide by South Africa in the International Court of Justice.[635] Settler expansions and officials' controversial remarks heightened unrest, leading to protests in Israel. The Knesset's law criminalizing "terrorist materials" consumption drew criticism.[636]

In an interview to the Wall Street Journal on 25 December, Netanyahu said that Israel's objectives were to "destroy Hamas, demilitarize Gaza and deradicalize the whole of Palestinian society".[637]

Palestinian territories

Initially, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asserted the Palestinians' right to self-defense against the "terror of settlers and occupation troops"[638] and condemned the orders by Israel for residents to evacuate north Gaza, labeling it a "second Nakba".[639] Later, Abbas rejected the killing of civilians on both sides, and said that the Palestinian Liberation Organization was the sole representative of the Palestinians.[640]

International

Significant geopolitical divisions emerged. Much of the Western world provided "strong" support to Israel militarily and diplomatically,[641] including the United States,[642] United Kingdom,[643] and Germany[644] although the strong support is "at odds with the attitudes of Western publics which continue to shift away from Israel", according to Hugh Lovatt, a senior policy fellow with the Middle East and North Africa Programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations. Lovatt says that during the Cold War, Israel sided with the West against the Arab countries supported by the Soviets, and Western leaders generally see Israel "as a fellow member of the liberal democratic club" and that this partially "explains the continued strong Western support for Israel – which has now largely become reflexive".[641] At least 44 nations denounced Hamas and explicitly condemned its conduct on October 7 as terrorism, including a joint statement by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany. [645] In contrast, the Islamic world and much of the Global South denounced the actions of Israel and its allies, criticizing the "moral authority of the West" and alleging that it holds double standards surrounding human rights.[641][646] The double standards, in their view, is condemning an illegal occupation in Ukraine while standing firmly behind Israel that has occupied Palestinian lands.[647]

Bolivia has cut all ties with Israel as a result of the conflict, while fellow South American countries Colombia and Chile recalled their ambassadors to the country.[648][649]

The United States, United Kingdom, and Germany have supplied Israel with substantial military and medical aid.[643][650][651]

The Israeli government's response prompted international protests, arrests, and harassment.

Evacuations of foreign nationals

Brazil announced a rescue operation of nationals using an air force transport aircraft.[652] Poland announced that it would deploy two C-130 transport planes to evacuate 200 of its nationals.[653] Hungary evacuated 215 of its nationals from Israel using two aircraft on 9 October, while Romania evacuated 245 of its citizens, including two pilgrimage groups, on two TAROM planes and two private aircraft on the same day.[654] Australia also announced repatriation flights.[655] 300 Nigerian pilgrims in Israel fled to Jordan before being airlifted home.[656]

On 12 October, the United Kingdom arranged flights for its citizens in Israel; the first plane departed Ben Gurion Airport that day. The government had said before that it would not be evacuating its nationals due to available commercial flights. However, most commercial flights were suspended.[657] Nepal arranged a flight to evacuate at least 254 of its citizens who were studying in Israel.[658] India launched Operation Ajay to evacuate its citizens from Israel.[659] Ukraine has facilitated the evacuation of around 450 of its citizens from Israel as of 18 October, with additional evacuation flights in the planning for the near future.[660]

Regional effects

According to Daniel Byman and Alexander Palmer, the attack showcased the decline of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the rise of Hamas as a power center in Palestinian politics. They predicted the PLO's further decline if the status quo held.[661] Laith Alajlouni wrote that the immediate effect of the Hamas offensive was to unite Hamas and PLO. However, it may soon lead to conflict between them, possibly leading the PLO to lose control of the security situation in the West Bank, if more militant groups there begin to launch their independent attacks.[662]

Political journalist Peter Beaumont described the attack as "an intelligence failure for the ages" on the part of the Israeli government.[663] The Jewish News Syndicate deemed it a "failure of imagination".[664] A BBC report on the intelligence failure commented that "it must have taken extraordinary levels of operational security by Hamas".[665] US officials expressed shock at how Israeli intelligence appeared to be unaware of any preparations by Hamas.[666] Israeli officials later anonymously reported to Axios that the IDF and Shin Bet had detected abnormal movements by Hamas the day before the attack, but decided to wait for additional intelligence before raising the military's alert level. They also did not inform political leaders of the intelligence reports.[667]

Amit Segal, chief political commentator for Israel's Channel 12, said that the conflict would test Benjamin Netanyahu's survival as prime minister, noting that past wars had toppled the governments of several of his predecessors such as that of Golda Meir following the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Menachem Begin following the 1982 Lebanon War, and Ehud Olmert following the 2006 Lebanon War.[668] Prior to the formation of an emergency unity government on 11 October, Politico described the then-potential move as Netanyahu's opportunity to correct his course and save his political legacy.[669] Citing the Israeli intelligence failure, which some observers attributed to the incumbent government focusing more on internal dissent, the judicial reform, and efforts to deepen Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories,[670] some commentators criticized Netanyahu for putting aside the PLO and propping up Hamas,[187] and described him as a liability.[211][671]

In an analysis by The Times of Israel, the newspaper wrote, "Hamas has violently shifted the world's eyes back to the Palestinians and dealt a severe blow to the momentum for securing a landmark US-brokered deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia."[672] Andreas Kluth wrote in his Bloomberg News column that Hamas "torched Biden's deal to remake the Middle East", arguing that the deal that was being discussed between Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the United States would have left Palestinians in the cold, so the group decided to "blow the whole thing up". He added that viewed from Gaza, things were only going to get worse, considering that Netanyahu's coalition partners opposed a two-state solution for the conflict. He suggested they would prefer to annex the entirety of the West Bank, even at the expense of turning Israel into an apartheid state.[673]

Economic impact

On 9 November, the Bank of Israel reported that the drop in labor supply caused by the war was costing the Israeli economy $600 million a week, or 6% of weekly GDP. The bank also stated that the estimate does not reflect total damage and did not include damages caused by the absence of Palestinian and foreign workers.[674] In the final quarter of 2023, the Israeli economy shrank by 5.2% quarter-to-quarter due to labour shortages in construction and from the mobilization of 300,000 reservists.[675] While Israel did still see economic growth of 2%, this was down from 6.5% growth in the year before the war. Further consequences of the war were that consumer spending declined by 27%, imports declined by 42% and exports were reported to decline by 18%.

Israel's high-tech factories reported on 25 December that they had been having trouble with electronic imports from China due to recent bureaucratic obstacles, leading to higher import costs and delayed delivery times.[676] Israeli officials also reported that China had refused to send workers to their country during the war against the backdrop of a worker shortage in Israel's construction and farming sectors.[677] China's actions were described as a de facto sanction.[678][676]

The Water Transport Workers Federation of India, a trade union representing 11 major Indian ports and 3,500 workers, said it would refuse to operate shipments carrying weapons to Israel.[679] The declaration came a few months after one Indian company halted production of Israeli police uniforms due to the war in Gaza.[680]

About 9,855 Thai workers in the agricultural sector, 4,331 workers in the construction sector and 2,997 in the nursing sector left Israel following al-Aqsa Flood. In addition, the prevention of 85,000 Palestinian workers from entering Israel created a shortage of about 100,000 foreign and Palestinian workers.[681]

Media coverage

Criticism from journalists

Over 750 journalists signed an open letter condemning "Israel's killing of reporters in Gaza and criticizing Western media's coverage of the war". The letter said newsrooms are "accountable for dehumanizing rhetoric that has served to justify ethnic cleansing of Palestinians". Signers of the letter were criticized for potentially impeding their organizations' ability to gather news and could face management backlash,[682] Semafor reported that Los Angeles Times journalists who signed the letter were barred from covering the Gaza war "in any way" for at least three months.[683]

On 13 November eleven international news organizations sent a letter to Israel and Egypt, asking for access to the Gaza Strip to cover the war.[684]

CBS reported on 14 December a statement of the International Federation of Journalists noting that "the number of journalists killed in the past two months in the war in Gaza has surpassed the amount killed in the Vietnam War, which lasted two decades".[685] More than 50 Palestinian journalists lost their lives.[685] Various dangerous facts such as airstrikes, but also starvation due to lack of food, risks linking for having no clean water available and shelter made that "Palestine is one of the most dangerous places for a journalist to do their job".[685] Reporters Without Borders filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court, under section 8.2.b of the Rome Statute accusing Israel of committing war crimes against 8 journalists.[686][687] It also lodged a complaint against Hamas, under section 8.2.a of the Rome Statute for the killing of a reporter covering the 7 October attack.[686]

The Committee to Protect Journalists has accused Israel of targeting journalists reporting from Gaza and their families, saying that in at least two cases, "journalists reported receiving threats from Israeli officials and Israel Defense Forces officers before their family members were killed".[688]

Unsubstantiated reports of certain 7 October atrocities

In the aftermath of the initial Hamas assault, witnesses from the IDF and the Israeli organization ZAKA reported on various media outlets that they had seen bodies of beheaded infants and children at the site of the Kfar Aza massacre.[689][690][691] This claim was repeated by the US President Biden and by Secretary of State Blinken with the White House subsequently saying that the President was referring to the reports of beheadings.[692][693]

However, these stories were later found to be untrue or unverified.[694][693][695] In reality, only three babies were known to have died on 7 October, one from a bullet and the other due to complications after birth.[694]

Embedded journalists with Israel

Foreign media such as CNN, ABC, NBC, The New York Times, and Fox News, have limited access to Gaza only in the presence of Israeli soldiers. Vox reported that the news organizations "have to submit all materials and footage to the IDF for review before publication".[687]

Censorship by social media companies

On 20 December, Human Rights Watch issued a 51-page report documenting Meta's pattern of removal and suppression of speech on Facebook and Instagram including peaceful expression in support of Palestine and public debate about Palestinian human rights.[696]

Israel's ban of Al Jazeera

On 5 May 2024, the Israeli government shut down Al Jazeera in Israel and authorized seizing its equipment.[697][698]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b c In the Gaza Strip, smaller Palestinian groups fighting in the war include: Palestinian Freedom Movement (Al-Ansar Brigades),[6][7] Palestinian Mujahideen Movement,[4][6][7] Jaysh al-Ummah,[8] and various minor al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades splinter groups (several of which possibly rejoined the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades just before the war).[7] Furthermore, a number of Palestinian militant groups in the West Bank have involved themselves in the conflict, including: Lions' Den,[9] and various al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades sub-groups such as Hornets' Nest,[10] Jenin Battalion,[11] Qalqilya Battalion, etc.[11]
  2. ^ Including 169,500 active personnel[21] and 360,000 reservists[22]
  3. ^ Per the UN[28]
  4. ^ Per Gaza Health Ministry, the total number of deaths are 35,456 including:[23]

    Per Israel:

    • 13,000–19,500 civilians (as of 10 March 2024)[29]
    • 13,000+ Hamas fighters (as of 29 February 2024)[30]

    Per US intelligence:

    • 5,000–9,000 militants (as of 21 January 2024) [31]
  5. ^ 75% women and children[23][32]
  6. ^ 70% women and children[34][25]
  7. ^ Per Israel
  8. ^ Per the Palestinian Authority
  9. ^ Including: 124 children[37][38]
  10. ^ Per Hezbollah, Lebanon and Israel
  11. ^ Including a Canadian, Australian and Syrian national[53][54]
  12. ^ Including: [56][57][58]
  13. ^ Per the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
  14. ^ Including:[59][60][61]
    • 80 Iran-backed militiamen
    • 52 Syrian soldiers
    • 42 Hezbollah fighters
    • 27 IRGC soldiers
    • 6 unidentified fighters
    • 2 Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters
    • 15 civilians
  15. ^ Including:
  16. ^ Including:[75]
  17. ^ Including:[77][78][79]
  18. ^ Including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
  19. ^ These casualty numbers exclude the invading Palestinian militants who died in the subsequent fighting with Israeli armed personnel.
  20. ^ Sources that say Hamas calls for Israel's destruction cite the 1988 Hamas charter, while sources that say Hamas has accepted the 1967 borders cite the 2017 Hamas charter, 2005 Palestinian Cairo Declaration and 2006 Palestinian Prisoners' Document.
  21. ^ Israeli UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan responded directly to Guterres, stating, "Shame on [Guterres]... More than 30 minors – among them a 9-month-old baby as well as toddlers and children who witnessed their parents being murdered in cold blood – are being held against their will in the Gaza Strip. Hamas is the problem in Gaza, not Israel's actions to eliminate this terrorist organization."[604][605]

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