Iranian-backed Palestinian Hamas launched a coordinated and large attack on Israel on Saturday, with gunmen crossing from Gaza and a heavy barrage of rockets.
News reports said the attack presents the largest clash since 2021 when Israel and Hamas fought a ten-day battle. Israeli media reports and videos show bands of armed Hamas fighters engaging in gunbattles with Israeli forces on the streets in towns in Southern Israel.
By mid-afternoon local time, Israeli media said that at least 100 Israelis have died and more than 900 injured and scores taken hostage by the militants.
Hamas military commander Mohammad Deif announced the start of the operation in a broadcast on Hamas media, calling on Palestinians everywhere to fight.
“This is the day of the greatest battle to end the last occupation on earth,” he said, adding that 5,000 rockets had been launched. Israeli media reported gunbattles between bands of Palestinian fighters and security forces in towns in southern Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel “is at war” and vowed to exact an “unprecedented price” from the terror group.
“Citizens of Israel, we are at war. Not an operation, not a round [of fighting,] at war! This morning Hamas initiated a murderous surprise attack against the state of Israel and its citizens,” Netanyahu said in his filmed statement in Hebrew.
Adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Rahim Safavi, commended the operation dubbed Operation Al Aqsa Storm , saying , “We support the commendable operation of Al-Aqsa Storm… We will stand alongside the Palestinian freedom fighters until the liberation of Palestine and Al-Quds.”
Tasnim news agency in Iran, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard, splashed a headline claiming Israeli soldiers and police were taken prisoner by Palestinians.
Palestinian media also reported that a number of Israelis had been taken captive by fighters and Hamas media circulated video footage apparently showing a destroyed Israeli tank. The Israeli military was aware of reports of captives, a security source said, but provided no further details. It said its forces were operating inside Gaza but gave no details.
Iran International reported in early September that some Israeli security experts believed a full-fledged conflict was possible within weeks. In the meantime, there have reports in recent months of the Lebanese Hezbollah massing forces near the Israeli border and threatening to join any Israeli military confrontation with Palestinians. The Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant threatened in August that if the Iran-backed group engages in conflict, Israeli will bomb Lebanon back “to the stone age.”
Hezbollah issued a statement saying they were closely following the situation in Gaza and are in “direct contact with the leadership of the Palestinian resistance”. The statement added that it was a “decisive response to Israel’s continued occupation and a message to those seeking normalization with Israel.”
The Islamic Republic of Iran, which for decades has called for the destruction of Israel, intensified its rhetoric earlier this year, with officials repeatedly calling on Palestinians and other “resistance forces” to increase their attacks within Israel proper. Iranian officials began openly taking credit for support they provide to militant groups, such as the Lebanese Hezbollah that act as Tehran’s proxies in the region.
In August, after Israeli attacks on the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group, the Revolutionary Guard issued a statement calling for the liberation of al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the removal of “the cancerous tumor, Israel” from the world map.
The Palestinian attack comes as talks are taking place to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Iran has strongly condemned any move by Arab countries to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, which can further isolate the Iranian regime in the region.
On October 3, Iran’s ruler Ali Khamenei repeated his fierce opposition, saying countries that seek to normalize relations with Israel are taking a big risk. “The position of the Islamic Republic is that countries that make the gamble of normalization with Israel will lose. They are betting on a losing horse.”
Jason Brodksy, policy director of United Against A Nuclear Iran, highlighted the meetings last month between Hamas, PIJ and the PFLP factions, in Tehran, attended by the groups’ leaders, which he says “provide some clues as to [the] organization of this assault on Israel today.”
Many Iranian on social media began expressing solidarity with Israel. Well-Known dissident Masih Alinejad spoke out in support of the nation, condemning the attacks and putting the blame firmly in the hands of the Iranian regime.
In a long statement on X, she wrote, “We Iranians know very well who is behind this assault. Just a few weeks ago, the Hamas leadership visited Ali Khamenei the supreme leader of Islamic Republic in Tehran where Khamenei made direct threats of destruction against Israel, stating that ‘Israel is dying’.”
She called once more on Western nations to designate the IRGC which orchestrates Iran’s regionally destabilizing activity, including its proxies which surround Israel in Lebanon, Syria and Palestine.
Source » iranintl