Illusions of peace and stability in the Middle East were shattered Saturday as militant group Hamas launched a full-thronged land, air and sea attack against Israel. Barrages of rocket attacks pummeled Israel as the attack began, punctuated by an invasion from Hamas as they broke out of the blockaded Gaza Strip and burst into Israeli territory. The invasion has already resulted in counterattacks in the Gaza Strip by Israel that left over 420 Palestinians dead, prisoners of war being taken by Hamas and massacred Israeli citizens, leaving over 700 Israeli citizens dead and echoing memories of the Yom Kippur War that began nearly fifty years to the day.
The attack has surprised the Israeli military, coinciding with the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his nation Saturday that they are “at war” and called upon his reserves to fight back against the invasion. Netanyahu has also sworn retaliation against Hamas, saying that, “We will bring the fight to them with a might and scale that the enemy has not yet known.”
The sudden attack has laid bare divides across the world on the contentious conflict between the nations of Israel and Palestine. Allies of Israel like the United States and European Union member states have roundly denounced the attack, condemning Hamas as a terrorist group bent on destroying the Jewish-majority country. Some nations, like Russia and Turkey, have struck a neutral tone and urged restraint and de-escalation. Others have expressed support for the Hamas militants and blamed Israel, like Iran and Saudi Arabia, levying responsibility for the attack on Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory and controversial practice of establishing settlements in the Gaza Strip.
Beyond the immediate destruction, questions lie on how heavy Israel’s response will be. Netanyahu has previously struck a hesitant tone on a full-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip, wary of nations and militant groups that could join the war such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah. However the scale of this attack, however, is unprecedented and eyes around the world will be watching Israel to see how the perilous situation develops.