Palestinian resistance in Gaza launches historic surprise attack against Israel

The surprise attack, “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” is the biggest attack launched by a Palestinian resistance force in years, and broke through a nearly two-decades blockade of Gaza

October 07, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades hold a Palestinian flag as they destroy a tank of Israeli forces in Gaza City, Gaza on 07 October 2023. Photo: Hani Alshaer – Anadolu Agency

In a major turn of events, Hamas fighters in the early morning of October 7 launched a surprise offensive called “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” against Israel from Gaza.  The operation involves land, sea and air attacks across Israel, breaking through a nearly 17-year long blockade.

As per reports, Hamas claims to have launched over 5,000 rockets across Israeli territory from Gaza. The rockets were reported to have hit as far north as Tel Aviv. The attack also included Hamas fighters pushing through the land and sea routes and penetrating into Israeli territory.

The offensive is viewed as the biggest escalation since 2021 in the ongoing violence between Israel and the Gaza Strip, which has been under a total Israeli land, air, and sea blockade since 2005. It is also reported to be the first time ever that Gazan fighters were able to conduct an armed operation into Israel on such a massive scale.

Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades has also declared that it has taken several Israeli soldiers and civilians hostage from southern Israel, with local reports estimating around 50 hostages.

According to Israeli authorities, at least 40 people are reported to have been killed in the attack and over 500 injured during the attack.

The multi-fronted attack prompted Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare that Israel is “at war”. Israel has responded with airstrikes against Gaza and close to 200 Palestinians have already been killed.

Hamas leaders have stated that the attacks were in response to an escalation of Israeli atrocities against Palestinians in both the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“We want the international community to stop atrocities in Gaza, against Palestinian people, our holy sites like Al-Aqsa. All these things are the reason behind starting this battle,” said Hamas spokesperson Khaled Qadomi.

“This is the day of the greatest battle to end the last occupation on earth,” said Mohammed Deif, the Hamas military commander. Deif has also called on the resistance movement in the West Bank, as well as “Arab and Islamic nations” to join the struggle against Israel.

Deif’s statement is widely seen as a message to the leaders of the Arab and Islamic world against forming normalization deals at the expense of Palestinians.

The Hamas offensive is possibly the first of its kind in decades wherein resistance fighters were able to launch on Israeli territory, sending shockwaves across the world.

As outlined by Hamas commanders, the operation is directly in response to the intensification of violence against Palestinians by Israeli occupation forces, especially under the new right-wing coalition government led by Netanyahu.

Israeli violence and oppression against Palestinians has increased substantially with deadly raids becoming increasingly regular. Prior to the attacks, Israeli forces had already killed over 224 Palestinians, including 38 children, already this year. Of the total, 187 were killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and 37 in Gaza. This figure had already surpassed the record high of 178 killings in the whole of 2022.

The widespread occupation violence can also be seen in the 1,264 Palestinians currently being held in administrative detention without charge or trial, a two-decade high, as well as the 170 children that are currently being held in Israeli prisons.

This year has also witnessed an increase in Palestinian armed resistance, with both the formation of new groups and the strengthening of historic formations.