Meanwhile, a hundred people are being held hostage in Gaza by the terrorist group. In response to the brutal incursion - organised with the help of Iran - the Israeli army has bombed several Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets in the Palestinian enclave

Hamas attack on Israel leaves more than 800 dead and thousands injured

Los bomberos apagan una llama en un automóvil en la ciudad de Ashdod, en el sur de Israel, el 9 de octubre de 2023, después de que cohetes disparados desde Gaza impactaran en la ciudad 

AFP/AHMAD GHARABLI
photo_camera AFP/AHMAD GHARABLI - A missile has hit a residential building in the town of Ashkelon, injuring several people

This weekend Israel has experienced one of the bloodiest days in its history. The chaos, violence and destruction caused by Hamas is unprecedented in the country and will mark a turning point in the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as well as in the Middle East.

What many are already calling Israel's 9/11 or Pearl Harbor began on Saturday morning. Specifically at 6.30am. At that time, hundreds of Hamas fighters began a large-scale air, sea and land attack across the Gaza-Israel border, one of the most secure in the world. In total, it is estimated that up to 1,000 Hamas members were involved in the incursion.

After entering the country, the heavily armed terrorists - mounted on pick-up trucks or motorbikes - managed to reach several towns in the south and attacked 11 military bases. Once inside Israeli territory, they also began massacring civilians, often killing them inside their own homes.

Health workers from the national emergency and relief service Magen David speak of a veritable "battlefield of bodies of men, women, boys, girls, old people and animals". "Words cannot describe what happened," laments paramedic Lior Levy on his social media.  

In total, more than 800 people are estimated to have been killed during the incursion, while more than 2,200 have been injured. In addition, more than a hundred people have been kidnapped and are currently being held in Gaza by the terrorist group. It is noteworthy that among the hostages are children and a large number of women.  

Foreigners are also among the victims. Many of them were at a music festival near the Gaza border, one of the terrorist group's first targets. The bodies of 260 people were found at the site of the festival. According to Tablet Magazine, many of the women's bodies show signs of sexual violence

"Women have been raped in the area next to the bodies of their friends. Several of these victims appear to have been executed afterwards. Others have been taken to Gaza," a witness to the massacre told the media. According to the images and the register of abductees, women have been one of the main targets of the terrorists.

The escalation of tension, as well as the launching of missiles and attacks, are a constant feature of the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel. However, the situation in the country has been completely different in recent days. Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself has said that what has happened is "unprecedented in Israel" and that he will "make sure it doesn't happen again".  

Israel strikes more than 800 terrorist targets in Gaza 

Shortly after the raid, the authorities declared a state of war in the country and began Operation Iron Sword against Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip such as Islamic Jihad. So far, Israel has attacked more than 800 targets in the Palestinian enclave. Meanwhile, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has ordered a "total siege" of Gaza, cutting off electricity and blocking the entry of food and fuel.

According to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinians, more than 20,300 Gazans have sought refuge in one of its 44 schools in the Gaza Strip. On the other hand, authorities in Hamas-controlled Gaza reported 370 dead, including at least 20 children, and 2,200 wounded.  

Attacks on terrorist targets in Gaza continue today, as well as rocket fire into Israeli territory from the Palestinian enclave. Since Saturday's incursion, sirens have been wailing throughout the country, especially in the centre and south. 

In the southern town of Ashkelon, for example, a missile hit a residential building, injuring several people. Israeli security forces are also working to locate terrorists still hiding in the country, especially in the southern areas.  

However, Sunday morning also saw moments of panic on the northern border after Hezbollah, taking advantage of the chaos in Israel and in "solidarity" with the Hamas attack, launched several rockets into Israeli territory. 

Attacks on Israelis have also crossed Israel's own borders. Shortly after the Hamas raid, an Egyptian policeman killed two Israeli tourists in the coastal city of Alexandria. A local guide was also killed in the attack.

Recent events have also led to a dangerous rise in anti-Semitism around the world. For this reason, security at Israeli embassies, synagogues and other places linked to Israel or Judaism has been tightened in recent hours.  

Partidarios pro-israelíes se abrazan durante las protestas cerca del consulado de Israel el 8 de octubre de 2023 en Nueva Ciudad de York 

PHOTO/ Adam Gray / GETTY IMAGES NORTEAMÉRICA / Getty Images vía AFP
PHOTO/ Adam Gray / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP - Pro-Israeli demonstration at the Israeli consulate in New York

Similarly, the brutal attack has caused several European countries to reconsider suspending economic aid to the Palestinian authorities. Nations such as Austria have already announced that they will freeze "development aid" to Palestinian areas, while Germany will follow in its neighbour's footsteps.

The international community is also now working towards a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. In this regard, Morocco has convened an emergency meeting of the Arab League to address the issue. The United States, Jerusalem's historic ally, has also urged a halt to Hamas violence. 

Una columna de humo se eleva en el cielo de la ciudad de Gaza durante un ataque aéreo israelí el 9 de octubre de 2023 

AFP/ MAHMUD HAMS
AFP/ MAHMUD HAMS - A plume of smoke rises in the sky over Gaza City during an Israeli airstrike

Similarly, President Joe Biden has reaffirmed US support for Israel by announcing new military aid to the country. This new assistance includes military equipment and ammunition. The US has also sent the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford and several warships to the eastern Mediterranean to reinforce its presence in the region, as well as to intercept weapons destined for Hamas.  

Iran sends message to Saudi Arabia as it negotiates normalisation with Israel 

The vast majority of these weapons come from Iran, the major sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East. For years, the regime in Tehran has been supplying arms and money to groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which it uses in its war against Israel. Not surprisingly, the Iranian authorities have welcomed the attack on Israel, while opponents of the regime have condemned it.

Hamas has admitted that it was assisted by Tehran in carrying out the large-scale assault on Israel. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Iranian regime planned the attack for several weeks, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard finally gave the final go-ahead in Beirut on Monday

Another country that has contributed to the military development of organisations like Hamas is Qatar, where the group's leader, Ismail Haniya, has been living in luxury for years, while the vast majority of the Gazan population lives below the poverty line. Indeed, Doha has blamed Israel for what has happened, claiming that it is "solely responsible for the escalation of violence" in the country.

In contrast to Qatar, other Arab countries that in recent years have fostered relations with Israel have condemned Hamas's brutal actions. The United Arab Emirates, for example, has expressed its dismay at the Israeli citizens who were taken hostage, thus considering the Hamas attack "a serious and grave escalation".  

Saudi Arabia has also called for a "de-escalation of tension". It should be stressed that this attack came in the midst of US-led negotiations for a normalisation agreement between the Kingdom and Israel. Indeed, according to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, the Saudi-Israeli normalisation talks may have been part of the reason Hamas attacked Israel over the weekend