Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a stern warning to Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls the Gaza Strip after a series of deadly attacks by the group killed more than 300 Israelis on Saturday. Netanyahu vowed to destroy all the bases and hideouts of Hamas in Gaza and urged the civilians there to evacuate as soon as possible.
Netanyahu said that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were conducting a massive operation to hunt down and eliminate the Hamas terrorists who had infiltrated Israel and attacked its cities and military posts. He called Saturday a “black day” for Israel and expressed his condolences to the families of the victims. He posted a video message on social media X and said, “The IDF will use all its power to wipe out Hamas and its affiliates. We will not spare them. We will take strong revenge for the situation that Israel and its people are facing.”
The Israeli leader warned, “All the places where Hamas operatives are deployed, hiding and operating. We will turn all those bases into rubble.” He told the residents of Gaza, “I am telling you again to leave from here immediately because we will now take forceful action everywhere.”
He said, “At this moment our army is searching and taking out the terrorists.” Netanyahu also thanked US President Joe Biden for his support and emergency aid worth eight billion dollars to Israel in view of the attacks.
The attacks by Hamas were unprecedented in their scale and intensity, as the group fired about 5,000 rockets at Israeli cities in 20 minutes from Gaza. The rockets were followed by a ground invasion of more than 1,000 Hamas fighters who crossed the border into Israel, armed with guns, grenades, and knives.
The Hamas militants attacked military posts along the border, killing and capturing Israeli soldiers, and then proceeded to target civilians in nearby towns and villages. They indiscriminately shot at men, women, and children, took some as hostages, and sexually assaulted others. Many of the victims were brutally mutilated or beheaded by the attackers.
In response to the Hamas attacks, Israel launched a massive aerial and ground assault on Gaza, targeting Hamas leaders, operatives, weapons, and infrastructure. The Israeli military said that it had killed 198 Palestinians and injured 1610 in Gaza since the start of the operation. It also said that it had destroyed several tunnels used by Hamas to smuggle weapons and fighters into Israel.
The attacks by Hamas have triggered a new wave of violence in the region, which has already seen four wars between Israel and Hamas since 2008. The United Nations Security Council has called for an immediate ceasefire and expressed concern over the escalating situation. Many countries around the world have condemned the attacks by Hamas as terrorist acts and called for an end to its aggression against Israel. However, some countries have also expressed solidarity with the Palestinian cause and criticized Israel for its disproportionate use of force against Gaza.
The attacks by Hamas have also exposed the divisions within the Palestinian leadership, which is split between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank. Fatah is led by Mahmoud Abbas, who is the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and claims to represent all Palestinians. However, Abbas has been sidelined by Hamas, which does not recognize his authority or his peace talks with Israel.
The attacks by Hamas have also raised questions about the role of Egypt, which has been mediating between Israel and Hamas for years. Egypt shares a border with Gaza and has been trying to broker a long-term truce between the two sides. However, Egypt has also been accused of aiding Hamas by allowing it to smuggle weapons and fighters through tunnels under its border.
The attacks by Hamas have also highlighted the challenges faced by Israel in dealing with Hamas, which is considered a formidable enemy by many Israelis. Hamas has shown its ability to launch surprise attacks on Israel using rockets, tunnels, drones, and suicide bombers. It has also shown its resilience to withstand Israeli attacks on Gaza, which have failed to deter or destroy it.
The attacks by Hamas have also shaken the hopes of a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has been one of the longest and most intractable in the world. The attacks have shown that despite decades of negotiations, violence, and suffering, the two sides remain far apart on the core issues of the conflict, such as borders, security, refugees, and Jerusalem. The attacks have also shown that despite the recent normalization of relations between Israel and some Arab countries, such as the UAE and Bahrain, the conflict remains a source of instability and tension in the region.