Israel has declared a state of war following the biggest attack on the country in decades. More than 1500 people have died. Below, we provide a summary of the latest developments.
More than 1500 people have died including at least one confirmed British citizen, as Israel declared a state of war in the country following an attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza.
Hamas has been in power in Gaza since 2007 having won local elections despite being designated a terrorist group by the likes of Israel, the United States (US), the European Union (EU), and the UK. The group says it is committed to establishing a Palestinian state within its own borders, and that attacks come in retaliation to atrocities that Palestinians have faced over decades.
On the morning of October 7th, Hamas launched rockets and sent fighters into Israel in a surprise attack killing over 800 Israelis, including the massacre of 260 attendees of the Nova music festival in Southern Israel. The group are said to have taken more than 100 hostages.
In response, Israel launched a series of air strikes on Gaza killing more than 700 Palestinians. The Israeli military has since laid siege to Gaza, a densely populated strip of land home to 2.3 million people, blocking access to all electricity, fuel, food, and water.
Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant vowed, “we are fighting human animals and we will act accordingly”.
Hamas has committed to execute Israeli hostages if Palestinians are not warned of impending Israeli airstrikes.
Rocketfire has also been exchanged along Israel’s Lebanese border with the militant group Hezbollah. The two incidents aren’t said to be linked but some experts argue Hamas and Hezbollah may yet co-ordinate attacks on Israel if it continues plans to launch a first ground offensive into Gaza in over a decade after it called up 300,000 army reservists to fight.
Word leaders have condemned the attacks
Leaders from around the world have condemned the attacks. A joint statement released by leaders of the UK, US, France, Italy and Germany states they were united in support of Israel and its right to defend itself.
The US has gone further in its support by sending warships and military aircraft to the region, in addition to weapons ammunition. Although White House National Security Council spokesman, John Kirby, said the government has no plans to send US troops into Israel.
Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salmon said the Kingdom would continue to stand by the Palestinians and pledged its support to restore calm and stability.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on both sides to demonstrate restraint and bring an end to violence to protect citizens.
China’s official response said it condemned the attacks and called for an end to hostilities and any moves which seek to escalate the conflict and destabilize the region further.
The UN is engaging with key regional actors but internal disagreements stall the release of a joint statement
The United Nations (UN) chief of the Middle East Peace Process, Tom Wennesland, has said its officials are engaging with key regional actors including the US, EU, Qatar, Egypt, and Lebanon to coordinate a response that will “avoid further loss of civilian life and deliver much needed humanitarian aid to the (Gaza) Strip.”
However, following a briefing from Wennesland, the UN Security Council (the primary body charged with the maintenance of international peace and security) failed to reach the agreement required for it to release a joint statement on the matter amid divisions between two camps led by Russia and the US. The Russian-led group of members is said to favour a broader statement condemning more than just the Hamas group, which the US-led group favours.
UN special rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Francesca Albanese, has cautioned the international community it is necessary to “stand both with the Palestinians and the Israelis without resorting to (…) selective outrage or worse, calls for violence.”