On Saturday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) initiated a substantial counteroffensive, responding to an early morning assault by the terrorist organization Hamas from Gaza. The attack involved the firing of 2000 rockets on Israel and the infiltration of multiple areas by terrorists who seized control of Israeli towns. The Israeli offensive, dubbed “Swords of Iron,” involved numerous air strikes in the Gaza Strip. Additionally, thousands of reserve troops were called up, indicating a readiness for potential ground operations.
Unverified reports suggested that around 30 Israelis had been taken captive, while Israel acknowledged the death of the mayor of the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council in a gun battle during one of the raids. In the southern town of Rahat, four Israelis lost their lives as a result of rocket fire.
In the ongoing conflict in the southern region, Mohammed Deif, the leader of Hamas’ military wing, publicly acknowledged and claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks directed at Israel. Additionally, the military wing of Islamic Jihad is actively participating in the offensive.
Hamas has designated this series of attacks as “Operation Al-Aqsa.” Salah al-Arouri, the Deputy Leader of Hamas, stated that the primary goal of the operation is to defend Al-Aqsa and secure the release of prisoners. Concerns have been raised regarding potential abductions. Simultaneously, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have conducted strikes targeting Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip.
Deif emphasized that this offensive is a response to various issues, including “crimes in Jerusalem, land confiscation, the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes, attacks on residences, harassment of individuals in the West Bank, and the siege on Gaza.” He asserted that the era of occupation without consequences has concluded.
Furthermore, televised images showed top Hamas leaders abroad expressing gratitude for what they referred to as a victory. Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, stated, “We thank Allah for this victory,” while his deputy, the terror strategist Saleh al-Arouri, was also seen alongside him.