Saturday, October 7, 2023

Hamas launched Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, entering Israeli towns and villages near Gaza through the Gaza fence and by air, using improvised paramotoring gliders, attacking military equipment with explosive drones, and firing thousands of rockets. Palestinian militants took control of at least 14 Israeli bases, police stations, and towns, in addition to the Beit Hanun (Erez) crossing, and bulldozed parts of the Gaza fence. More than 200 people were captured by militants and brought to Gaza, as were dozens of Israeli military vehicles. After the launch of the operation, Israeli forces began fighting militants in the area near the Gaza fence and conducted airstrikes, killing more than 198 Palestinians and injuring 1,610 as of 6 p.m. Israeli airstrikes targeted the Indonesian Hospital and destroyed the second largest building in Gaza, Palestine Tower, among many other residential buildings. Israel said that at least 70 Israelis had been killed and more than 986 wounded as of 5.30 p.m. 20,000 Palestinians were internally displaced, sheltering in UNRWA schools and emergency shelters. Israel dubbed its attacks on Gaza Operation Swords of Iron. In the West Bank, Israeli settlers with a military escort raided Yasuf, injuring 32 Palestinians, including 6 with live ammunition and 1 in a stabbing, and set fire to 3 homes. Israeli settlers also attacked Palestinians in Aqraba, Qusra, Tuqu’, Khirbat Makhul, and Huwwara, injuring 6, including at least 1 with live ammunition. Israeli forces shot and killed 6 Palestinian protesters, including a child, in Beit Umar, Deir Sharaf, Hebron, Qalqilya, Jericho, and al-Bireh, wounding 92 others, including 30 with live ammunition. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces violently dispersed Palestinian protesters in Shu’fat, Isawiya, Silwan, and al-Tur, injuring 1 with a baton round and others with tear-gas. (AJ, AJ, AJ, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, UNOCHA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 9/7; AP, AP, AP, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, WAFA 10/8; AJ, AJ, AP, HA, HA, HA, REU, REU, REU 10/9; AP, HA 10/10; HA 10/11; AP 10/12; HA 10/17)

Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh said Hamas had warned Israel about damaging al-Aqsa Mosque, continued settlement expansion, and raids on Palestinian cities and towns, but that Israel had ignored its warnings. Haniyeh further stated, “Israel could have silenced us by giving us crumbs, but the government turned its back on any possibility of a prisoner exchange and continued the siege of the strip.” Islamic Jihad spokesperson Dauod Shihab said Israeli captives would only be released in a prisoner exchange, adding the organization had taken women and children captives because Israel does the same. PA president Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement saying he had directed the PA forces to “protect Palestinians everywhere,” and that the “Palestinian people has the right to defend itself from any aggression by settlers and the Israeli occupation forces.” All Palestinian factions called for a general strike in the West Bank over the Israeli attacks on Gaza. (AJ, AJ, HA, WAFA 10/7; WAFA 10/8)

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “Israel is at war. This is not a so-called military operation, not another round of fighting, but war.” He further stated that Israel will “purge the area [around Gaza] of enemy forces” and then “exact a huge price from the enemy, also in the Gaza Strip.” Netanyahu also spoke with opposition leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid about forming an emergency unity government. Lapid said he would only join the government if Netanyahu fired National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich. Israel also called up tens of thousands of reservists in preparation for a potential ground invasion. Israeli energy minister Yisrael Katz signed an order to disconnect Gaza from the Israeli power grid. (AJ, AJ, HA, HA, WAFA 10/7; HA 10/8)

U.S. president Joe Biden spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Biden condemned Hamas in a speech, calling their operation “unconscionable.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to President Mahmoud Abbas, calling on him to condemn the Hamas operation. Abbas also spoke with French president Emmanuel Macron. (HA, HA, WAFA 10/7; HA 10/8)

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said Israel had imposed punitive measures against Palestinian prisoners, including placing sections of prisons on lockdown, seizing televisions, increasing jamming devices, and stopping family and lawyer visits. (WAFA 9/8)

Israel closed all crossings from the West Bank and Gaza and closed several checkpoints in the West Bank. (WAFA 10/7; WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 10/8)

Arab League secretary-general Ahmed Aboul Gheit called for an immediate ceasefire. (WAFA 10/7)