Israel–Hamas war

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Israel–Hamas war
Part of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict
Map of the Gaza Strip and part of Israel. The part of Israel surrounding the Strip is marked as evacuated. Some parts of the Strip is marked as under Israeli control, and the remainder is marked as under Hamas control.
  Gaza Strip under Palestinian control
  Current extent of the Israeli invasion of Gaza
  Evacuated areas inside Israel
  Maximum extent of the Gazan invasion of Israel
  Area of Gaza subject to Israeli evacuation orders



See here for a more detailed map.

See here for a list of engagements.
Date7 October 2023 – present
(4 months, 2 weeks and 5 days)
Location
Status Ongoing
Belligerents
Gaza Strip:
 Israel
Commanders and leaders
Units involved

State of Palestine Joint Operations Room[3]


 Israel Defense Forces
Israel Police[22]
Israel Shin Bet[23][24]
Mossad[25]
Strength
Hamas 25,000–40,000+[26][27] Israel 529,500[b]
Casualties and losses

Gaza Strip:

Inside Israel:[g]

  • 1,000+ militants killed[40]
  • 200+ militants captured[41]

Other theaters:

Per Israel:


Per Hamas:

  • 1,600+ soldiers killed[77]
  • 1,900,000 Palestinians displaced in Gaza Strip[r]
  • 200,000–500,000 Israelis displaced[79][80]

Other theaters:
  • 76,000 people displaced in Lebanon[81]
    7 border guards[82] and 6 civilians[83] injured in Egypt

An armed conflict between Israel and Hamas-led Palestinian militant groups[s] has been taking place chiefly in and around the Gaza Strip since 7 October 2023. On that day, Palestinian militant groups launched a surprise attack on southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, initiating the most significant military escalation in the region since the Yom Kippur War 50 years earlier.[84] After clearing Hamas militants from its territory, the Israeli military embarked on an extensive aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip followed by a large-scale ground invasion beginning on 27 October. Clashes have also occurred in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and with Hezbollah along the Israel–Lebanon border. The hostilities constitute the fifth war of the Gaza–Israel conflict since 2008, part of the broader Israeli–Palestinian conflict.[85]

The war began when Hamas-led Palestinian militant groups launched a surprise offensive against Israel named "Operation Al-Aqsa Flood". The attack began when a barrage of several thousand rockets were fired into Israel, while around 3,000 militants breached the Gaza–Israel barrier and attacked neighboring Israeli communities and military bases. During this attack, 1,139[t] Israelis and foreign nationals were killed, including 766 civilians and 373 security forces personnel,[u][90][91][86] while 253 Israelis and foreigners were taken captive to the Gaza Strip with the stated goal to force Israel to release Palestinian prisoners.[92][93] In response, Israel declared a state of war, tightened its blockade and launched "Operation Swords of Iron" with the stated goals of destroying Hamas and freeing the hostages.[94][95][96] Analysts suggested that Palestinian frustration at Arab–Israeli normalization despite the ongoing blockade of Gaza and rising settler violence in the West Bank contributed to the attack by Hamas.[97][98][99] Hamas said its attack was in response to the continued Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, the blockade of the Gaza Strip, the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, the alleged "Judaization" of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the plight of Palestinian refugees and prisoners.[100][101][102][103][104]

Since the start of the Israeli operation,[105] more than 29,782 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza,[30] including 6,000-12,000 militants,[106] over 12,300 children,[107] 152 UN staff members,[108] 70 journalists,[109] and 8,400 women,[107] with another 7,000 people missing and presumed dead under the rubble of destroyed buildings.[110][111] According to Gaza's Health Ministry, children make up 43% of total deaths, and women and minors make up three-quarters.[107] By mid-December, Israel had dropped 29,000 munitions on Gaza, destroying or damaging 70 percent of homes in the Strip.[112] Experts say that the scale and pace of destruction in Gaza is among the most severe in modern history.[113][114][115] A humanitarian crisis has developed in the Gaza Strip, with healthcare in a state of collapse,[116] shortages of food, clean water, medicine and fuel due to the blockade,[117][118][119] electricity and communications blackouts,[120] and the UN warning of potential famine.[121] It was widely reported that there is "no safe place in Gaza" as Israel struck areas it had previously told Palestinians to evacuate to.[122][123][124] The widespread civilian deaths have led to accusations of war crimes against both Israel and Hamas.[125][126] Nearly all of Gaza's 2.3 million population have been internally displaced[127] and around 250,000–500,000 Israelis were internally displaced,[128][129][130] while thousands of Palestinians have been detained by Israel,[131][132][133] and Israel has lost 225 additional soldiers in its invasion as of 4 February 2024.[134]

Throughout the war, there have been widespread global protests that have primarily called for a ceasefire.[135][136] The United States has vetoed multiple UN Security Council resolutions proposing a ceasefire,[137][138][139] instead allowing one resolution calling for a humanitarian pause to pass on 15 November.[140] During a subsequent seven-day truce, 105 Israeli and foreign hostages were exchanged for 240 Palestinian prisoners.[141] Geopolitical divisions emerged by region, with much of the Western World providing "strong"[142] support to Israel militarily or diplomatically, including the United States (US),[143] United Kingdom (UK),[144] and Germany,[145][146] while the Islamic world and much of the Global South denounced its actions, and accused the west of double standard in condemning an illegal occupation in Ukraine while standing firmly behind Israel that has occupied Palestinian lands.[147][142][148] In response to U.S. backing of Israel, Iranian-backed militias attacked American bases in Iraq, Syria, and Jordan. The US, UK and other countries also engaged in conflict with the Yemeni Houthi movement, after Houthis attacked civilian commercial ships in the Red Sea they said were linked to Israel.[149][150] Houthis have stated they will not stop until Israel ceases its war in Gaza and "food, medicines and fuel are allowed to reach [Gaza's] besieged population".[151][152] Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz said that Israel will start a ground offensive in Rafah, currently home to over a million Palestinian refugees, if Hamas does not free all hostages by March 10. Evacuation of civilians would be facilitated in collaboration with Egypt and the U.S.[153] On 26 February 2024, the Palestinian government collapsed, with the entire Palestinian government resigning, including the prime minister.[154][155][156]

Background

Rockets fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip, 2001–2021[157]
A bar chart from 2008 to before October 2023. 6,407 Palestinians have been killed during this time frame, while a smaller 308 Israelis have been killed.
Israeli and Palestinian deaths preceding the war before the 2023 Hamas-led attack on Israel. Most were civilians.[158][159]

Israel occupied the Palestinian territories, including the Gaza Strip, in 1967. In 1987, the First Intifada, a popular uprising by the Palestinians against the Israeli occupation, began.[160] The conflict lasted five years and ended with the Oslo Accords, creating the Palestinian National Authority and dividing the West Bank into three administrative areas.[161] Following the failure of the subsequent peace talks at the Camp David Summits in 2000,[162] violence once again escalated during the Second Intifada, which ended with the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit and Israel's military withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and subsequent blockade.[163][164]

Hamas, an Islamist militant group, won the 2006 Palestinian legislative election and a subsequent battle in the Gaza Strip between it and Fatah, which led to Hamas taking over governance of Gaza, and further escalating tensions with Israel.[165][166] Israel, along with Egypt, imposed a blockade that significantly damaged Gaza's economy, citing security concerns as the justification.[167] International rights groups have characterized the blockade as a form of collective punishment,[168][169] while Israel defended it as necessary to prevent weapons and dual-use goods from entering the territory.[170][171]

Since the blockade, Israel and Palestinian militants have had several clashes and made attacks on each other.[167][172][173] The Palestinian Authority has not held national elections since 2006.[167][174] Hamas tunneled under the border wall to launch cross-border attacks and fired rockets into Israeli territory. This led to multiple conflicts, escalating into outright wars. Israel relied on the Iron Dome rocket defense system for defense, and responded with targeted strikes into Gaza, aiming to minimize the militant threat.[173] Surveys in 2023 of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank before the war indicated that a majority supported the use of "armed struggle", the creation of "militant groups", and an intifada ("uprising") against the Israeli occupation.[175][176]

The Gaza Strip's economy declined greatly due to the blockade, with a 30% drop in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) within a year. By 2015, the unemployment rate had risen to 45% (compared to the pre-blockade level of 10%).[177] In 2023, UNRWA statistics for Gaza reported 81% of people living below the poverty level, and 63% being food insecure and dependent on international assistance.[159] According to UNICEF, "Israel only approves 64%" of patients' requests to leave Gaza for specialized medical treatment.[178] According to an analysis in The Independent, the Gaza blockade created hopelessness among Palestinians, which was exploited by Hamas, convincing young Palestinian men that violence was their only solution.[179] Daoud Kuttab wrote that Palestinian attempts to solve the conflict via negotiations or non-violent boycotts have been fruitless.[180]

Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by a number of states and regional blocs, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and the European Union.[181][182][84][183] Other UNSC permanent members including China[184] and Russia do not regard Hamas as a terrorist organization.[185][137][186] A 2018 attempt to condemn Hamas for "acts of terror" at the United Nations failed to achieve the required two-thirds majority, with 87 votes in favor, 58 votes against, 32 abstentions and 16 non-votes.[187] The UN Israeli Ambassador at the time criticized the procedure, stating the vote had been "hijacked" due to a change in procedure requiring a two-thirds majority instead of a simple majority which would have passed the motion.[188]

In February–March 2021, Fatah and Hamas reached agreement to jointly conduct elections for a new Palestinian legislative assembly, in accordance with the Oslo Accords. Hamas committed to upholding international law, transferring control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority and to allowing it to negotiate with Israel to establish a Palestinian state along the 1967 ceasefire lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital. According to Menachem Klein, Israeli Arabist and political scientist at Bar-Ilan University, Mahmoud Abbas subsequently cancelled the elections under pressure from Israel and the United States.[189] Soon after the 2021 Israel–Palestine crisis exploded, the Al-Qassam Brigades started planning the operation which would break out on 7 October 2023.[189][190]

Hamas motivations

Hamas officials said shortly following the attack that it was a response to the Israeli occupation, blockade of the Gaza Strip, Israeli settler violence against Palestinians, restrictions on the movement of Palestinians, and imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians.[100][101][102]

Mohammad Deif, the head of Hamas's military wing, the Qassam Brigades, said in a recorded message on 7 October that it was in response to what he called the "desecration" of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and Israel killing and wounding hundreds of Palestinians in 2023.[191] He called on Palestinians and Arab Israelis to "expel the occupiers and demolish the walls".[191][192] Deif also called on "Muslims everywhere to launch an attack" against Israel and to urged supporters to "kill them [the enemy] wherever you may find them".[193][194] He continued, "in light of the continuing crimes against our people, in light of the orgy of occupation and its denial of international laws and resolutions, and in light of American and western [sic] support, we've decided to put an end to all this, so that the enemy understands that he can no longer revel without being held to account."[195][196]

The long-term goals of Hamas are disputed. Hamas has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel, notably in its 1988 charter.[197][v] Some commentators have argued that Hamas is antisemetic and "genocidal".[198] In 2017, Hamas replaced its old charter with a new one that removed antisemitic language and stated that its struggle was with Zionists, not Jews.[199][200][201][202] The 2017 charter accepts the idea of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.[203] However, the new charter indicates that Hamas will accept the peace agreements only provisionally, without relinquishing a claim to the entirety of Palestine nor recognizing Israel.[204][198] The attack was also seen as a resolution of internal tensions within Hamas as to whether the group's main goal is governing the Gaza Strip or fighting against Israel.[205]

The disruption of Israel-Arab diplomacy and the desire to assert its presence as a significant security and political force are considered as likely motives by experts as well.[206] In addition, internal strife in Israeli society caused by protests against the judicial reform encouraged Hamas to go ahead with its attack.[207][208]

On 21 January 2024, Hamas released an 18-page English-language document reiterating its previously stated rationales and framing the attack in a wider context as a struggle against colonialism, describing its actions as "a necessary step and a normal response to confront all Israeli conspiracies against the Palestinian people".[209][210] It said that "maybe some faults happened" during the attacks "due to the rapid collapse of the Israeli security and military system, and the chaos caused along the border areas with Gaza" and that "[if] there was any case of targeting civilians it happened accidentally".[211][209] The timing of the release raised questions; sources in Gaza, including those aligned with Hamas, told Haaretz that the document was designed to contend with criticism of the heavy price Gazans have paid for the attacks on Israel.[212][213]

Israeli policy

Benjamin Netanyahu has been Israel's prime minister for the one and half decade preceding the war, with the exception of the period from June 2021 to January 2023 when Naftali Bennett and later Yair Lapid took office.[214] Both governments have been criticized for having championed a policy of empowering the Hamas government in Gaza by, for instance, granting work permits to Gazan residents, facilitating the transfer of funds to Hamas and maintaining relative calm.[215][216][217] By the conclusion of Netanyahu's fifth government in 2021, the issuance of work permits to Gazans reached approximately 2,000-3,000. Later, under the Bennett-Lapid government, this number significantly increased to 10,000,[215] and since Netanyahu's return to power in 2023 the number rose again to 20,000.[215] These workers were accused of spying on Israel and complicit of the October 7 attack.[218][219][220] After the attack, the Israeli war cabinet granted additional 8,000 permits for agricultural works to West Bank residents, despite concerns about their vetting and potential security risks.[218]

In addition to granting workers permits, millions of dollars from Qatar have been transported into Gaza, escorted by Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, intended for Gaza's power plant, infrastructure projects and monthly stipends for impoverished Palestinian families, while Israeli officials were aware that Hamas might divert the funds to acquire weapons and rockets.[221][216]

These strategies towards Hamas have been criticized as having backfired in light of the attacks on 7 October 2023.[217] Critics, including human-rights activists and aid organizations, cautioned that such policies may have prolonged Hamas's power in Gaza while weakening Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank thus sabotaging a two-state solution.[222][217] This criticism has been echoed by several Israeli officials, including former prime minister Ehud Barak and former head of the Shin Bet internal security service Yuval Diskin.[222] The Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia were also critical of Netanyahu's government allowing Qatar to deliver suitcases of money to Hamas[222] in exchange for maintaining the ceasefire.[215] A Times of Israel op-ed argued after the Hamas attack that Netanyahu's policy to treat the Palestinian Authority as a burden and Hamas as an asset had "blown up in our faces".[215] Netanyahu himself has criticized opinions on his responsibility for the 7 October attacks, stating "Did people ask Franklin Roosevelt, after Pearl Harbor, that question? Did people ask George Bush after the surprise attack of November [sic] 11?" referring to the 11 September 2001 terror attacks.[223]

Numerous commentators have identified the broader context of Israeli occupation as a cause of the war.[224][225][226][227][228] The Associated Press wrote that Palestinians are "in despair over a never-ending occupation in the West Bank and suffocating blockade of Gaza".[229] Several human rights organizations, including Amnesty International,[230] B'Tselem[231] and Human Rights Watch[232] have likened the Israeli occupation to apartheid, although supporters of Israel dispute this characterization.[233][234] The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported roughly 6,400 Palestinians and 300 Israelis were killed in the wider Israeli–Palestinian conflict from 2008 through September 2023 before the start of this war.[158][159][235]

2023 Israeli-Palestinian escalation

Over the course of 2023, before the October 7 attack, 32 Israelis and two foreign nationals had been killed in Palestinian attacks, while at least 247 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli forces.[236] Increases in settler attacks had displaced hundreds of Palestinians, and there were clashes around the Al-Aqsa Mosque which sits on the Temple Mount, a contested holy site in Jerusalem.[237]

In August 2023, 1,264 Palestinians were held in administrative detention in Israel, without charge or trial, the highest number in three decades.[238][239] Israel says this tactic is necessary to contain dangerous militants.[238]

Tensions between Israel and Hamas rose in September 2023, and the Washington Post described the two "on the brink of war".[240] Israel found explosives hidden in a shipment of jeans and halted all exports from Gaza.[240] In response, Hamas put its forces on high alert, and conducted military exercises with other groups, including openly practicing storming Israeli settlements.[240] Hamas also allowed Palestinians to resume protests at the Gaza–Israel barrier.[240] On 13 September, five Palestinians were killed at the border. According to the Washington Post, the Palestinians were attempting to detonate an explosive device.[240] Al-Jazeera reported that a Palestinian Explosives Engineering Unit was working to deactivate the device.[241] On 29 September, Qatar, the UN, and Egypt mediated an agreement between Israel and Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip to reopen closed crossing points and deescalate tensions.[242][243]

Simon Tisdall argues that an uptick in Israeli–Palestinian violence in the West Bank in the first half of 2023 had portended war,[244] and stated that Netanyahu's "refusal to contemplate any type of peace process" added "fuel to the smouldering fire" in the context of "the relentless expansion of illegal Israeli settlements".[244] Prior to the attack, Saudi Arabia warned Israel of an "explosion" as a result of the continued occupation,[245] Egypt had warned of a catastrophe unless there was political progress,[180] and similar warnings were given by Palestinian Authority officials.[180] Two months before the attacks, King Abdullah II of Jordan commented that Palestinians have "no civil rights; no freedom of mobility".[180]

Israeli intelligence failure

Israeli intelligence officials initially stated that they had no warnings or indications of the 7 October attack by Hamas, despite Israel exercising extensive monitoring over Gaza.[246] Furthermore, the United States warned the Israeli government of the possibility of a surprise attack from Hamas a few days before the incident.[247] Egypt said it warned Israel days before the attack, "an explosion of the situation is coming, and very soon, and it would be big".[248] Israel denied receiving such a warning,[249] but the Egyptian statement was corroborated by Michael McCaul, Chairman of the US House Foreign Relations Committee, who said warnings were made three days before the attack.[250]

According to the New York Times, Israeli officials had obtained detailed attack plans more than a year prior to the actual attack. The document described operational plans and targets, including the size and location of Israeli forces, and raised questions in Israel as to how Hamas was able to learn these details. The document provided a plan that included a large scale rocket assault prior to an invasion, drones to knock out the surveillance cameras and gun turrets that Israel has deployed along the border, and gunmen invading Israel, including with paragliders. The Times reported that "Hamas followed the blueprint with shocking precision". According to the Times, the document was circulating among Israeli military and intelligence leadership, who largely dismissed the plan as being beyond Hamas's capabilities, though it was unclear if the political leadership was informed. In July 2023, a member of the Israeli signals intelligence unit alerted her superiors that Hamas was conducting preparations for the assault, saying that "I utterly refute that the scenario is imaginary". An Israeli colonel ignored her concerns.[251] According to the Financial Times, alerts from the signals unit were ignored because they came from lower-ranking soldiers, contradicted the belief that Hamas was contained by Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, bombing, and placation via aid, and the belief that Hamas was seeking to avoid a full war.[252][253]

Israel–Saudi normalization talks

At the time of the attack, Israel and Saudi Arabia were conducting negotiations to normalize relations. Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman said normalization was "for the first time real".[254] According to US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the aim of the 7 October attacks was to disrupt the normalization talks.[255] According to Menachem Klein, Israeli normalization with other Middle Eastern states, including Saudi Arabia, threatened to leave the Palestinians "isolated and weak".[189]

As of 7 February 2024, Saudi Arabia confirmed that diplomatic relations with Israel requires an independent Palestinian state on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.[256]

Iran

Shortly following the 7 October attack, a Wall Street Journal article reported that Iran was involved in the attack's planning. It specifically claimed that the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) worked with Hamas to plan the 7 October attack and gave the green light to launch the assault in a meeting in Beirut on 2 October.[257] The IDF and the United States said shortly after that there was no evidence of Iranian involvement.[258] American intelligence appeared to show that Hamas's attack on Israel caught Iranian authorities by surprise.[259] The WSJ subsequently reported that in the weeks leading up to the attack, some 500 fighters from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad received training in Iran under the guidance of the IRGC Quds Force.[260]

In December 2023, an IRGC spokesman said that the 7 October attacks were revenge for the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani by US forces in 2020. Hamas, however, denies this.[261]

Iranian officials publicly boasted for years about their role in arming militants in Gaza, and a 2020 US State Department report said Iran funnels $100 million a year to Hamas.[262]

Events

7 October attack

The map of the Gaza Strip and some of Israel. A large amount of territory in Israel is marked as having a Hamas presence.
Approximate situation on 7–8 October
Footage of Israeli soldiers securing the area after the Re'im music festival massacre

The attack took place during the Jewish holidays of Simchat Torah and Shemini Atzeret on Shabbat,[263] and one day after the 50th anniversary of the start of the Yom Kippur War, which also began with a surprise attack.[264] At around 6:30 a.m. IDT (UTC+3) on 7 October 2023,[236] Hamas announced the start of what it called "Operation Al-Aqsa Flood", stating it had fired over 5,000 rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel within a span of 20 minutes. Israeli sources reported that at least 3,000 projectiles had been launched from Gaza. At least five people were killed by the rocket attacks.[265][266][267] Explosions were reported in areas surrounding the strip and in cities in the Sharon Plain including Gedera, Herzliyya,[268] Tel Aviv, and Ashkelon.[269] Air raid sirens were activated in Beer Sheva, Jerusalem, Rehovot, Rishon Lezion, and Palmachim Airbase.[270] Hamas issued a call to arms, with commander Mohammad Deif calling on "Muslims everywhere to launch an attack" and to "kill them [the enemy] wherever you may find them".[271][267]

Hamas employed tactics such as using aerial drones to disable Israeli observation posts, paragliders for infiltration into Israel, and motorcycles, which was unusual for Hamas.[272] Palestinian militants opened fire on Israeli boats, while clashes broke out between Palestinians and the Israel Defense Forces along the Gaza perimeter fence.[270] In the evening, Hamas launched another barrage of 150 rockets towards Israel, with explosions reported in Yavne, Givatayim, Bat Yam, Beit Dagan, Tel Aviv, and Rishon Lezion.[266]

Simultaneously, around 3,000 Hamas militants[273] infiltrated Israel from Gaza using trucks, pickup trucks, motorcycles, bulldozers, speedboats, and paragliders.[264][236][254] They took over checkpoints at Kerem Shalom and Erez, and created openings in the border fence in five other places.[274] Images and videos showed armed and masked militants, riding pickup trucks[269][275] and opening fire in Sderot. Other videos display Israelis taken prisoner, a burning Israeli tank,[276][267] and militants driving Israeli military vehicles.[269]

Hamas has also stated that its attack was in response to the blockade of the Gaza Strip, the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, rising Israeli settler violence and recent escalations at Al-Aqsa.[100][101][102] Intelligence and security officials from multiple Western countries say that Hamas initiated the war to create a "permanent" state of war and to revive interest in the Palestinian cause.[277][278]

Military base attacks

Hamas militants carried out an amphibious landing in Zikim.[269][279] A military base near Nahal Oz was also taken by the militants, leaving at least two Israeli soldiers dead and six others captured. The IDF said it killed two attackers on the beach and destroyed four vessels, including two rubber boats.[280] Fighting was reported at Re'im military base, headquarters of Israel's Gaza Division.[281] It was later reported that Hamas took control of the base and took several Israeli soldiers captive,[281] before the IDF regained control later in the day.[282] The police station of Sderot came under Hamas control, with militants killing 30 Israelis, including policemen and civilians.[283] At least six Israeli military bases near the Gaza border were attacked.[284]

Towns and rural communities

Satellite view of widespread fires in Israeli areas surrounding the Gaza Strip on 7 October 2023[268]
Caked blood on the floor inside a house
A blood-stained home floor in the aftermath of the Nahal Oz massacre in Nahal Oz, Israel

Militants killed civilians at Nir Oz,[275] Be'eri, and Netiv HaAsara, and other agricultural communities, where they took hostages[285] and set fire to homes.[268] This resulted in widespread fires and smoke across the region.[268] 52 civilians were killed in the Kfar Aza massacre, 108 in the Be'eri massacre (a loss of 10% of the kibbutz's population) and 15 in the Netiv HaAsara massacre,[286][287][288] in what has been described as the bloodiest day in Israel's history and the worst single-day massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.[288] In Sderot, gunmen targeted civilians and set houses ablaze. In Ofakim, hostages were taken during Hamas's deepest incursion.[289][288] Hamas said it took prisoners to force Israel to release Palestinian prisoners.[290] In Be'eri, Hamas militants took up to 50 people hostage.[291] Videos showed hostages being led barefoot across a street in the town.[292] At least 325 people were killed and more injured at an outdoor music festival near Re'im and Hamas took at least 37 attendees hostage.[91][293][294][295] Witnesses recounted militants on motorcycles opening fire on participants who were already fleeing due to rocket fire.[296][297] Graeme Wood reported that the video footage retrieved from the body cameras of Hamas militants displayed several victims "in the beginning of the footage they are alive, by the end they're dead. Sometimes, in fact frequently, after their death their bodies are still being desecrated".[298]

Around 240 people were taken hostage during the attacks, mostly civilians.[291][299] Captives in Gaza include children, festivalgoers, peace activists, caregivers, elderly people, and soldiers.[300]

An Israeli spokesman said militants had entered Israel through at least seven locations from both land and sea,[264] and invaded four small rural Israeli communities, the border city of Sderot, and two military bases.[254] Israeli media reported that seven communities came under Hamas control, including Nahal Oz, Kfar Aza, Magen, Be'eri, and Sufa,[301] and there were 21 active high-confrontation locations in southern Israel.[302]

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority denied the massacre, stating that Israeli helicopters and fighter jets were behind the high number of casualties.[303][304] An Israeli Police investigation stated that the first helicopters at the scene arrived hours after the massacre began, and that they were likely responsible for only a few friendly fire casualties.[303][91]

In Be'eri, an Israeli tank fired on a house known to contain around 40 Hamas fighters and 14 hostages, among them 2 children; only one of the hostages in the house survived.[305][306] The families of those killed demanded an investigation.[307] A Ynet article stated that there was an "immense and complex quantity" of friendly-fire incidents during the 7 October attack that "it would not be morally sound to investigate" given their number and the challenges soldiers were facing at the time.[86][87] In January 2024, an investigation by Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronoth concluded that the IDF had in practice applied the Hannibal Directive, ordering all combat units to stop "at all costs" any attempt by Hamas terrorists to return to Gaza, even if there were hostages with them.[89][88] It is unclear how many hostages were killed by friendly fire as a result of the order.[89][88]

Reported 7 October atrocities

In the aftermath of the initial Hamas assault, witnesses from the Israeli soldiers, the Israeli Department Forces, and the first responder Israeli organization ZAKA said on French Israeli TV channel i24news that they had seen the bodies of beheaded infants at the site of the Kfar Aza massacre.[308][309][310] An Israeli ZAKA volunteer reported on 14 October seeing children's bodies with severe injuries and burns. Some of the bodies appeared to have been decapitated, but the exact circumstances were not clear.[311] These and a number of other, similar stories about murdered babies and children, told by soldiers and ZAKA volunteers and later repeated by politicians, were later found to be untrue.[312] During Antony Blinken's visit to Israel, he said he was shown photos of the massacre by Hamas of Israeli civilians and soldiers, and specifically that he saw beheaded IDF soldiers.[313] U.S. President Biden separately said that he had seen photographic evidence of beheaded children; the White House subsequently clarified that Biden was alluding to news reports of beheadings, which have not contained or referred to photographic evidence.[314] NBC News called reports of "40 beheaded babies" unverified allegations,[314] adding that they appeared "to have originated from Israeli soldiers and people affiliated with the Israel Defense Force" and that "an Israeli official told CNN the government had not confirmed claims of the beheadings".[314] The allegation mainly "stemmed from a viral Israeli news broadcast clip" and the main X / Twitter accounts propagating the statements were i24NEWS and Israel's official account, even though Israeli Defense spokesperson Doron Spielman told NBC News that he could not confirm i24NEWS's report.[314] As of 12 October, CNN had extensively reviewed online media content to verify Hamas-related atrocities but found no evidence to support statements about decapitated children.[315]

According to The Jerusalem Post, which reprinted an article from the Israeli website Themedialine.org (whose founder, Felice Friedson, was praised by The Jerusalem Post and is a contributor to it[316]), approximately 200 forensic pathologists and other experts—from Israel, Switzerland, New Zealand, the U.S. and elsewhere—reviewed evidence of the attack at the National Center of Forensic Medicine (Abu Kabir) in Tel Aviv.[317] Chen Kugel, head of the center, said that many bodies, including those of babies, were without heads. When asked whether the bodies had been decapitated, Kugel answered yes.[318] He added that it was difficult to determine whether the dead were decapitated before or after death, or whether their heads had been "cut off by knife or blown off by RPG".[317]

On 24 October, Israeli authorities screened bodycam footage of Hamas atrocities for journalists, including "an attempt to decapitate someone who appeared to be still alive using a garden hoe",[319] as well as a still image of a decapitated IDF soldier.[320]

On 4 December, Haaretz reported that "unverified stories [had been] disseminated by Israeli search and rescue groups, army officers and even Sara Netanyahu".[312][321] Haaretz journalists Nir Hasson and Liza Rozovsky related the chronology of the news items about "beheaded babies" and "hung babies" and concluded, "this story is false".[312] They quoted Ishay Coen, a journalist for the ultra-Orthodox website Kikar Hashabbat, who admitted he made a mistake by unquestioningly accepting the IDF's statements.[312] "Why would an army officer invent such a horrifying story?", Hashabbat asked, adding, "I was wrong".[312] A ZAKA volunteer's story about a baby having been cut from a pregnant woman's womb was likewise found to be made up; in total only two babies are actually known to have died on October 7: one was struck by a bullet, the other was an injured Bedouin woman's baby that died in hospital shortly after birth.[312]

Initial Israeli counter-operation (7–27 October)

Two buildings are enveloped in clouds of black smoke with one damaged and falling.
Destruction of the residential Palestine Tower in Gaza by an Israeli airstrike
Aftermath of a Hamas rocket hit on the maternity ward of Barzilai Medical Center, a hospital in Ashkelon, Israel, on 8 October 2023[322]
A severely-damaged building, looking as if it were a cross-section. In front is a burned car partially submerged in murky brown water.
Remains of the Sderot police station, following recapture by IDF
The Israeli General Staff confers during a meeting on 8 October 2023

After the initial breach of the Gaza perimeter by Palestinian militants, it took hours for the Israeli military to start its counter-attack.[323] The first helicopters sent to support the military were launched from the north of Israel, and arrived at the Gaza Strip an hour after fighting began.[293] They immediately encountered difficulty in determining which outposts and communities were occupied, and distinguishing between Palestinian militants and the soldiers and civilians on the ground.[293] The helicopter crews initially sustained a high rate of fire, attacking approximately 300 targets in 4 hours. Later on the crews began to slow down the attacks and carefully select targets.[293] According to Haaretz's journalist Josh Breiner, a police source said that a police investigation indicated an IDF helicopter which had fired on Hamas militants "apparently also hit some festival participants" in Re'im music festival massacre.[91] The Israeli police denied the Haaretz report.[324]

A subsequent Israeli investigation claimed that militants had been instructed not to run so that the air force would think they were Israelis.[293] This deception worked for some time, but pilots began to realize the problem and ignore their restrictions. By around 9:00 am, amid the chaos and confusion, some helicopters started laying down fire without prior authorization.[293]

The attack appeared to have been a complete surprise to the Israelis.[325] Prime Minister Netanyahu convened an emergency gathering of security authorities, and the IDF launched Operation Swords of Iron in the Gaza Strip.[326][266] In a televised broadcast, Netanyahu said, "We are at war".[254] He threatened to "turn all the places where Hamas is organized and hiding into cities of ruins", called Gaza "the city of evil", and urged its residents to leave.[327][100] Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant conducted security assessments at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv.[275][269] Overnight, Israel's Security Cabinet voted to act to bring about the "destruction of the military and governmental capabilities of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad".[328] The Israel Electric Corporation, which supplies 80% of the Gaza Strip's electricity, cut off power to the area.[269] This reduced Gaza's power supply from 120 MW to 20 MW, provided by power plants paid for by the Palestinian Authority.[329]

The IDF declared a "state of readiness for war",[266] mobilized tens of thousands of army reservists,[236][269] and declared a state of emergency for areas within 80 kilometers (50 mi) of Gaza.[301] The Yamam counterterrorism unit was deployed,[302] along with four new divisions, augmenting 31 existing battalions.[264] Reservists were reported deployed in Gaza, in the West Bank, and along borders with Lebanon and Syria.[330]

Residents near Gaza were asked to stay inside, while civilians in southern and central Israel were "required to stay next to shelters".[269] The southern region of Israel was closed to civilian movement,[302] and roads were closed around Gaza[264] and Tel Aviv.[269] While Ben Gurion Airport and Ramon Airport remained operational, multiple airlines cancelled flights to and from Israel.[331] Israel Railways suspended service in parts of the country and replaced some routes with temporary bus routes,[332][333] while cruise ships removed the ports of Ashdod and Haifa from their itineraries.[334]

Israeli blockade and bombardment

Building in the Gaza Strip being destroyed by Israeli missiles
Aftermath of an Israeli airstrike on the El-Remal area of Gaza City, 9 October 2023
Approximate situation on 9 October

Following the surprise attack, the Israeli Air Force conducted airstrikes that they said targeted Hamas compounds, command centers, tunnels, and other targets.[266][301][335] Israel employed its artificial intelligence Habsora ("The Gospel") software with a new and superior capacity to automatically generate targets to be attacked.[336][337] Two days after the surprise attack, Israel said that 426 Hamas targets had been hit, including destroying Beit Hanoun, homes of Hamas officials, a mosque, and an internet hub.[335][338][339][340] Israel also rescued two hostages before declaring a state of war for the first time since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.[341][342] Defense Minister Gallant announced a "total" blockade of the Gaza Strip, cutting off electricity and blocking the entry of food and fuel, adding "We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly".[343] This drew criticism from Human Rights Watch who described the order as "abhorrent" and as a "call to commit a war crime".[344] The first aid convoy after the start of the war entered Gaza on 21 October 2023,[345] while fuel entered Gaza only in November.[346]

The IDF later deployed C-130 and C-130J transport aircraft to retrieve off-duty personnel from abroad.[347]

As a part of a bombing run targeting Hamas command centers and weapon caches, the IDF stated that it had bombed the Nukhba forces—a Hamas special forces unit that is thought to have led the attack on Israel.[348]

Human Rights Watch accused Israel of using white phosphorus munitions over Gaza on 10 and 11 October, stating that it violated international law.[349] Israel denied the allegations.[350]

Evacuation of Northern Gaza

Almost a week after the initial attack on Israel, on 13 October, the IDF issued an evacuation warning for communities north of the Wadi Gaza. All Palestinians in that region, including those in Gaza City, were given 24 hours to evacuate to the south. The Hamas Authority for Refugee Affairs responded by telling residents in northern Gaza to "remain steadfast in your homes and stand firm in the face of this disgusting psychological war waged by the occupation".[351]

The statement by Israel faced widespread backlash; with numerous agencies, such as Doctors Without Borders, the World Health Organization, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, among others, condemning the order as "outrageous" and "impossible" while calling for an immediate reversal of the order.[352][353][354][355]

As a part of the order, the IDF announced a six-hour window from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time on 13 October, for refugees to flee south along specified routes within the Gaza Strip.[356] An explosion at 5:30 p.m. along one of the safe routes killed 70 people.[357] Some sources attributed it to an IDF airstrike, while CNN said the cause was unclear. The Jerusalem Post said open-source analysts believed the explosion originated from a car on the ground, but the cause was unclear.[358][359] The Financial Times carried out an investigation, concluding "analysis of the video footage rules out most explanations aside from an Israeli strike", although it was "difficult to conclusively prove whether these blasts came from an IDF strike, a potential Palestinian rocket misfire or even a car bomb".[360]

The IDF stated Hamas set up roadblocks to keep Gaza residents from evacuating south and caused traffic jams.[361] Israeli officials stated this was done to use civilians as "human shields", which Hamas denied.[362] A number of countries and international organizations condemned what they called Hamas's use of hospitals and civilians as human shields.[363][364][365][366]

According to an unnamed Israeli official, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar left Gaza City using a vehicle associated with a humanitarian relief mission.[367]

17 October

A man carries the body of a Palestinian child killed during the shelling of 17 October 2023

On 17 October, Israel bombed in areas of southern Gaza.[368] Ministry of Health officials in Gaza reported heavy overnight bombing killing over 70 people, including families who had evacuated from Gaza City in the north.[369] One of the airstrikes killed a senior Hamas military commander Ayman Nofal.[370] In the afternoon, an Israeli strike hit a UNRWA school in the Al-Maghazi refugee camp, killing six and injuring 12.[371]

A bloodied child on the floor of a hospital being treated by a nurse. A man with his head wrapped in a bandage wearing blood-stained clothes lays on the floor nearby.
Wounded child and man receive treatment on the floor at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City

Late in the evening, an explosion occurred in the parking lot of the Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist Hospital in the center of Gaza City, burning some nearby vehicles. The cause of the explosion was disputed by Hamas and the IDF, and the ongoing conflict prevented independent on-site analysis.[372] Palestinian statements that it was an Israeli airstrike were denied by the IDF, which stated that the explosion resulted from a failed rocket launch by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.[373] The PIJ denied any involvement.[374][375] An independent analysis by Human Rights Watch indicated that the evidence pointed to a misfired Palestinian rocket as the cause, but stated that further investigation was required.[376]

On 18 October, President Biden said the Pentagon had independently concluded that the explosion was not caused by Israel, but by "the other team", based on data from the Defense Department.[377] Over the next few days, Canadian, British, and French officials announced that their respective intelligence agencies concluded the cause to be a failed Palestinian rocket and not an Israeli airstrike.[378][379][380] In its article dated 2 November, CNN stated that multiple experts said "they believe this to be the most likely scenario – although they caution the absence of munition remnants or shrapnel from the scene made it difficult to be sure. All agreed that the available images of evidence of the damage at the site was not consistent with an Israeli airstrike."[381]

Invasion of the Gaza Strip until the truce (27 October – 24 November)

Men in desert-brown fatigues walk towards rows of tanks. All of them have backpacks, and some have firearms.
Israeli soldiers preparing for the ground invasion of the Gaza Strip on 29 October

On 27 October, the IDF launched a large-scale ground incursion into northern Gaza. Clashes between Hamas and the IDF were reported near Beit Hanoun and Bureij.[382] The Israeli invasion of Gaza was confirmed after Israel said its units were still in Gaza the next day.[383] Hamas leader Ali Baraka said the invading Israeli forces suffered heavy casualties and loss of equipment due to an ambush.[384] Two days later, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), described as "deeply concerning" reports from the Palestinian Red Crescent that the al-Quds hospital had received an urgent evacuation warning. He reiterated that it was "impossible to evacuate hospitals full of patients without endangering their lives".[385] Israeli airstrikes targeted the area around the hospital, filling parts of the building with smoke and dust, prompting staff to give breathing masks to some patients.[386] Around 14,000 civilians were believed to be sheltering in or near the hospital.[386] Associated Press reported that Israeli airstrikes also destroyed roads leading to the Al-Shifa hospital, making it increasingly difficult to reach.[387]

Three days following the beginning of ground operations, a video showed an Israeli tank firing on a taxi with a white flag on its roof that had attempted to turn around. An IDF spokesperson said they were "not shown any proof" that the vehicle was civilian, adding, "terrorists use civilian infrastructure like cars".[388]

External videos
video icon Gazan child speaks of having to carry decapitated body after Israeli strike on Jabalia (via The Irish Times)

The following day, the IDF struck at densely-populated Jabalia refugee camp, killing 50 and wounding 150 Palestinians according to the Hamas run Gaza Health Ministry. According to Israel, a senior Hamas commander and dozens of militants in a vast underground tunnel complex were among those killed. Hamas denied the presence of a senior commander on the scene.[389][390][391] According to the IDF, the destruction of the tunnels caused the collapse of the foundations of several nearby buildings, leading to their collapse.[392] Eyewitnesses interviewed by CNN and Der Spiegel spoke of "apocalyptic" scenes, with dozens of collapsed buildings, children carrying other injured children, and bodies lying in the rubble.[393][394][395] The nearby Indonesian Hospital's surgical director said they had received 120 dead bodies and treated 280 wounded, the majority of them women and children.[396] The attack resulted in several ambassador recalls (see § Ambassador recalls).[397][398][399] Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, wrote on the social media platform X that he was "appalled by the high number of casualties" from the bombing.[400] According to The New York Times at least two 2,000-pound bombs, the second largest type in Israel's arsenal, were used.[401]

Two tanks roll on dirt, surrounded by a massive amount of destruction. There is rubble on the ground, and buildings that have been exploded
Israeli tanks during operations in the Gaza Strip on 31 October

On 1 November, the first group of evacuees left Gaza for Egypt. 500 evacuees, comprising critically wounded and foreign nationals, would be evacuated over the course of several days, with 200 evacuees already waiting at the border crossing.[402] On the same day, the Jabalia refugee camp was bombed for a second time; the UN Human Rights Office expressed "serious concerns" that these were "disproportionate attacks that could amount to war crimes".[403][404] The IDF released what it stated was an intercepted call between Hamas operatives and the head of the Indonesia Hospital, where they discuss diverting some of the hospital's fuel supply to Hamas.[405]

Two days later, the Gaza health ministry stated that Israel struck an ambulance convoy directly in front of Al-Shifa Hospital, killing at least 15 people and injuring 60 more.[406] The IDF acknowledged having launched an airstrike at "an ambulance that was identified by forces as being used by a Hamas terrorist cell in close proximity to their position in the battle zone", adding that a "number of Hamas terrorist operatives were killed in the strike".[407] The IDF did not provide evidence that the ambulances were being used by Hamas combatants but said that additional information would be released.[407] A Hamas official described the Israeli statement as "baseless".[407] The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said one of its ambulances was struck "by a missile fired by the Israeli forces" about two metres from the entrance to al-Shifa hospital.[407] The PRCS said another ambulance was fired on about a kilometre from the hospital.[407] WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on X that he was "utterly shocked by reports of attacks on ambulances evacuating patients", adding that patients, health workers and medical facilities must always be protected.[406][408]

On 4 November a UNRWA spokeswoman confirmed reports that Israel had conducted an airstrike against a UN-run school in the Jabalia refugee camp.[409] According to the Gaza health ministry, the attack killed 15 and wounded dozens more.[409]

Abu Ubaida, the spokesperson for the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, reported that due to Israeli air strikes, the bodies of 23 missing Israeli hostages were buried under the rubble.[410][411]

External videos
Instagram videos by Ahmed Hijazi of the Al-Shifa Hospital strike shown in the Visual Investigations report published by The New York Times.[412] Contains graphic images of severe injury.
video icon A video of the airstrikes and immediate injuries.
video icon Shows dead and injured in the aftermath.

Fighting continued through the middle of November and on 18 November Israeli strikes killed more than 80 people in Jabalia refugee camp.[413] On 22 November, Israel and Hamas reached a temporary ceasefire agreement, providing for a four-day "pause"[414] or "lull"[415][416] in hostilities, to allow for the release of 50 hostages held in Gaza.[414][415] The deal also provided for the release of approximately 150 Palestinian women and children incarcerated by Israel.[415] The agreement was approved by the Israeli cabinet in the early hours of the day; in a statement, the Israeli Prime Minister's Office stated Israel's intention to continue the war.[414][415]

Duration of the truce (24 November – 1 December)

Following the introduction of a Qatari-brokered truce on 24 November, starting at 7:00 am Israel time, active fighting in the Gaza Strip ceased and some of the Israeli and foreign hostages were released by Hamas in exchange for the release of some of the Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel. The truce was announced for a period of four days, but was extended for a longer period.

From 24 to 30 November, Hamas released hostages and Israel released prisoners. On 27 November, Qatar announced that an agreement between Israel and Hamas to extend the truce by two days had been reached.[417] Both Israel and Hamas accused each other of violating the truce on 28 November. On 30 November, Hamas released two more hostages as the truce, which was supposed to end minutes later, was extended by another day.[418]

Resumption of hostilities (1 December 2023–present)

Israeli Merkava tank in a Gaza street, 4 January 2024

The truce expired in the morning on 1 December, as both Israel and Hamas blamed the other side for failing to agree on an extension. According to the New York Times, the disagreement centered on "how to define soldiers versus civilians and how many Palestinian prisoners Israel would release for its hostages".[419] The remaining hostages include a year old baby, his 4 years old brother and their mother, additional 13 women aged 18-39, and 85 men with some over the age of 70 and 80.[420]A Hamas official said that after the exchange, the only remaining hostages were "soldiers and civilian men who served in the occupation army", and refused to exchange them until "all our prisoners are freed and a ceasefire takes hold".[421] US National Security Advisor John Kirby said that "Hamas agreed to allow the Red Cross access to these hostages while the pause was in place", which "didn't happen and is still not happening".[422]

Israel adopted a grid system to order precise evacuations within Gaza, released a map online, and dropped leaflets with a QR code for the link. The maps were criticized for being hard to access due to the lack of electricity and internet connectivity, and for causing confusion or panic. Some evacuation instructions have been vague or contradictory,[423][424][425][426] and Israel still operated in areas it had told people to evacuate to.[427]

Two law experts said they had not seen significant changes in previous days of how Israel waged the war, due to its warnings to civilians appearing ineffective and it being unclear if anywhere in Gaza is truely safe.[428] Agnes Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said in a press release that "US-made weapons facilitated the mass killings of extended families". Amnesty found no evidence of military targets at the sites of the strikes, or any indication that the occupants of the homes were affiliated with Hamas, prompting the group to request that the airstrikes be investigated as possible war crimes.[429] Several decomposed babies were found in the ICU of Al-Nasr Children's Hospital in northern Gaza, two weeks after its forced evacuation.[430] US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin warned against replacing "a tactical victory with a strategic defeat" if Israel does not work towards protecting Palestinian civilians.[431] The US State Department said it was too early to definitively assess whether Israel was heeding US calls to protect civilians.[432]

The IDF reported that its troops had reached the centers of Khan Younis, Jabalia, and Shejaiya reporting the most "intense fighting" since the ground invasion of Gaza began.[433] Intensified bombing pushed Palestinian civilians further south to Rafah.[434]

On 7 December, Israel detained 150 men in the Gaza Strip, with dozens more detained on 10 December. According to Israel, the detentions followed a mass surrender of Hamas militants.[435][436] The New York Times reported that the statement about Hamas fighters surrendering was made after video and photographs of "men stripped to their underwear, sitting or kneeling on the ground, with some bound and blindfolded" were seen on social media.[437]The Guardian reported that among the people seen in the images were people identified as civilians, among them a journalist. The ICRC said it was concerned by the images and that it strongly emphasized "the importance of treating all those detained with humanity and dignity, in accordance with international humanitarian law".[438] The BBC reported that a video of the apparent surrender of weapons is unclear whether a man is "surrendering" weapons or just moving them as instructed, suggested the event was performed for the camera, rather than as an act of authentic surrender, and that it not known whether the individuals shown have any involvement with Hamas or the 7 October attack.[439] Haaretz reported that Israeli security officials believed that approximately 10–15% of the people shown in the video were actually affiliated with Hamas, and that despite the public statements by Israel that this was not a "massive surrender" by Hamas units.[440] Amnesty International described the treatment of those detained on 7 December as a violation of international law.[131]

On 8 and 9 December, the IDF released footage of what it said was its soldiers engaging combatants near and inside two schools in Shejaiya. According to the IDF, fighters also discovered a tunnel leading from one of the schools to a nearby mosque.[441][442] It also released footage of armament that it stated was found on the campus of Al-Azhar University, along with a tunnel shaft leading to a school 1 km away.[443] The Israeli military said that, since it designated a humanitarian zone for civilians in the Gaza Strip on 18 October 116 rockets had been fired from there toward Israel, including 38 falling inside Gaza.[444]

The Pentagon announced on 9 December that the Biden administration had authorized the sale of around 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition to Israel without congressional authorization by using emergency powers.[445] On 29 December, it did so again to supply Israel with $147.5 million worth of artillery shells and related items.[446]

On 15 December, the IDF released a statement announcing that they had killed three of their own hostages by friendly fire. According to the Israeli military, they "mistakenly identified three Israeli hostages as a threat" during operations in Shuja'iyya and subsequently fired at them, killing them.[447][448][449] According to an Israeli military official on 16 December, the three hostages were shirtless and were carrying "a stick with a white cloth on it" when an Israeli soldier, who declared them to be "terrorists" after feeling "threatened", opened fire, killing two hostages and injuring the third, who was killed by Israeli reinforcements.[450]

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv, Israel, 9 January 2024

In an interview to the Wall Street Journal on 25 December, Netanyahu said that Israel's objectives were to "destroy Hamas, demilitarize Gaza and deradicalize the whole of Palestinian society".[451]

On 29 December, South Africa filed a case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, alleging that Israel's conduct amounted to genocide.[452][453] South Africa asked the ICJ to issue provisional measures, including ordering Israel to halt its military campaign in Gaza.[452] South Africa was one of five countries making a referral of the war to the ICC in November 2023.[454]

The rocket attacks on Israeli cities by Hamas decreased in frequency during this period with notable attacks on the New Year's Eve and on 29 January 2024.[455][456]

On 1 January 2024, Israeli forces withdrew from neighbourhoods in North Gaza, including Sheikh Radwan, al-Mina district and parts of Tel al-Hawa.[457] On 6 January, the Israeli government said that Hamas control over the northern part of the Gaza Strip had been dismantled.[458] On 15 January, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stated that the most intense fighting in the northern part of the Gaza Strip had ended, and a new phase of low intensity fighting was about to begin.[459]

By 18 January, the IDF stated that Hamas had begun to rebuild its armies in the occupied parts of Northern Gaza. The IDF had previously stated these armies were stripped of military capabilities but by 18 January the fighting strength of many battalions had been significantly restored.[460]

On 22 January, 24 IDF soldiers died in what was the deadliest day for the IDF since the ground invasion began. Of these, 21 died in a single incident where Palestinian militants fired an RPG at a tank as well as at adjacent buildings soldiers were rigging to demolish which thus caused the buildings to collapse. The IDF soldiers brought landmines into the building for the demolition process. It is unclear whether the collapse of the buildings was principally due to the primary RPG explosion or the secondary landmine explosions.[461][462][463] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and President Isaac Herzog publicly mourned the loss.[464][465][466]

In February, the Israeli government stated on several occasions its next objective would be the capture of Rafah. On 12 February, Israel started the bombing campaign on Rafah.[467] On February 15, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported that Egypt was building a refugee camp for over 100,000 people south of Rafah, surrounded by five-meter-high concrete walls.[468][469] However, the governor of North Sinai Governorate, Mohamed Abdel-Fadil Shousha, denied these rumors in a statement published by Al-Arabiya.[470] On February 18, Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz warned that a ground offensive will be launched in Rafah on 10 March unless Hamas has freed all hostages by then. Gantz added Israel would act in "a co-ordinated manner, facilitating the evacuation of civilians in dialogue with our American and Egyptian partners to minimise civilian casualties".[153]

Other confrontations

The Iranian-backed Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and Houthi militias in Yemen have launched attacks on a limited scale against Israel, raising fears of a wider regional military conflict. Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria have also traded attacks with the US and Israeli military.[471] Over 100 Palestinians have been killed in confrontations with Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank since 7 October. Settler violence has been heavily criticized by the IDF.[472][473]

West Bank

West Bank sector of war
  West Bank under Israeli control (Area C)
  Israeli-annexed Jerusalem/East Jerusalem

Amnesty International released a report[474] on 5 February 2024 stating that Israel is carrying out unlawful killings in the West Bank and displaying "a chilling disregard for Palestinian lives" and Israeli forces are carrying out numerous illegal acts of violence that constitute clear violations of international law.[475][476]

Even before the war, 2023 was the deadliest year for Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in 20 years. From 7 to 31 October, B'Tselem said that Israeli forces had killed more than 100 Palestinians while Israeli settlers had killed at least seven, leading to fears that the situation would escalate out of control.[472] About 1,000 Palestinians have been forcibly displaced by settlers since 7 October and almost half of clashes have included "Israeli forces accompanying or actively supporting Israeli settlers while carrying out the attacks" according to a U.N. report.[477] According to the West Bank Protection Consortium, which is funded by the European Union, since the 7 October attacks six Palestinian communities have been abandoned due to the violence.[478]

By 10 October, confrontations between rock-throwing Palestinians and Israeli forces had left 15 Palestinians dead, including two in East Jerusalem.[479] On 11 October, Israeli settlers attacked the village of Qusra, killing four Palestinians. A 16-year-old was fatally shot by the IDF in Bani Naim, while another person was shot dead by the IDF near Bethlehem.[480] On 12 October, two Palestinians were killed after Israeli settlers interrupted a funeral procession for Palestinians killed in prior settler attacks and opened fire.[481][482][483]

On 18 October, protests broke out over the al-Ahli Arab Hospital explosion, with clashes reported in Ramallah.[484] In Jenin, a 12-year-old girl was shot dead by crossfire from Palestinian Authority security forces, and another youth was injured by PA forces in Tubas. One Palestinian was killed in confrontations with Israeli forces in Nabi Saleh, and 30 others were injured across the West Bank.[485] On 19 October, more than 60 Hamas members were arrested and 12 people were killed in overnight Israeli raids across the West Bank. Those arrested included the movement's spokesperson in the West Bank, Hassan Yousef.[486]

On 22 October, Israel struck the al-Ansar Mosque in Jenin, saying that it had killed several "terror operatives" from Hamas and Islamic Jihad who were planning attacks inside.[487] Within a few days Ayser Mohammad Al-Amer, a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad was killed during a clash with IDF in the Jenin refugee camp.[488] On 31 October, the IDF engaged Hamas around Shuweika.[489]

On 1 November, Issa Amro stated the situation in the West Bank had become "very hard", noting "All the checkpoints are closed. Israeli settlers and soldiers are acting violently with the Palestinians."[490] The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned Israeli settler violence against Palestinians was on the rise.[491]

On 30 November, two Palestinian gunmen killed three and wounded eleven Israelis at a bus stop on the Givat Shaul Interchange in Jerusalem. Hamas claimed responsibility.[492]

On 16 February, a Palestinian gunman shot and killed two Israelis and injured four others in Kiryat Malakhi, Israel. The shooter was killed by an off-duty IDF reservist at the scene.[493]

Israel–Lebanon border

Northern Israel sector of war
  Israel
  Israeli-occupied Golan Heights
  Hezbollah presence in Lebanon
  Syria
  Areas ordered evacuated by Israel

A series of border clashes occurred along the Israel–Lebanon border. On 8 October, Hezbollah launched an artillery attack on Israeli positions in Shebaa Farms; this was met with immediate retaliation.[494][495] Skirmishes have occurred every day since. The clashes resulted in the deaths of 89 Lebanese militants and nine Israeli soldiers,[496][497] as well as 19 Lebanese and three Israeli civilians,[498][499] one Lebanese Army soldier,[500] and the displacement of 55,000 people in Lebanon and tens of thousands more in Israel.[501][502]

Syria

From 12 to 22 October, Israel launched at least three attacks on airports in Syria, particularly on Damascus and Aleppo,[503][504] killing two workers from the Syrian meteorology service based at Damascus International Airport.[505]

On 24 October, Israeli airstrikes in Daraa Governorate reportedly resulted in the death of eight Syrian soldiers and injuries to seven others, as per Syria's state-run news agency SANA. The IDF acknowledged the airstrikes, stating they were a response to two rockets fired from Syria into Northern Israel.[506]

On 20 December, four rockets were fired from Syria at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, setting off sirens in Mas'ade and Ein Qiniyye. The IDF shelled the source of the fire and targeted a Syrian Army position in response.[507]

Iraq

On 2 November, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for an attack against a "vital Israeli target" on the Dead Sea coastline in retaliation to Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians in Gaza. In a statement later that day, the group stated it would continue to "strike enemy strongholds".[508]

On 3 November, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for a missile attack on Eilat.[509] On 12 November, it claimed responsibility for another missile attack on Eilat.[510]

On 21 December, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for a drone attack on Eilat which was reportedly intercepted by the Royal Jordanian Air Force.[511] It also claimed responsibility for a drone attack on the Karish rig hours after the attack on Eilat which was intercepted by IDF fighter jets.[512]

On 28 December, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for a drone attack near Eli-ad in the southern part of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.[513]

On 31 December, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for two drone attacks on the Golan Heights which were intercepted by Israeli fighter jets.[514] A few hours after the drone attacks on Golan Heights, they claimed responsibility for a drone attack on Eilat which was intercepted by the IDF.[515]

On 7 January, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for an attack on an Israeli base in the Golan Heights and a cruise missile attack on a 'vital target' on Haifa Bay.[516][517]

On 22 January, the Islamic Resistance In Iraq claimed responsibility for an attack on the port of Ashdod, Israel using drones.[518] On 24 January, it claimed responsibility for another drone attack on Ashdod port. These attacks were after the Islamic Resistance of Iraq announced it had entered its second phase of operations which included blockading the Mediterranean maritime routes to Israeli ports and disabling the ports.[519][519]

On 28 January, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for a drone attack on a target in Eilat.[520]

On 9 February, the Islamic Resistance In Iraq claimed responsibility for an attack against a vital Israeli target on the Dead Sea coastline.[521]

Yemen

Houthi attacks on commercial ships in the Bab-el-Mandeb strait

Several strikes against Israel and commercial ships in the Red Sea are thought to have launched by Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen.[522][523][524] On 19 October, the United States Navy destroyer USS Carney shot down several missiles that were traveling north over the Red Sea towards Israel.[525] On 31 October, Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Saree said that the group had launched ballistic missiles and drones towards Israel, and that they would continue to do so "to help the Palestinians to victory"[526] in an event that has been misrepresented in some news sites as a declaration of war by Yemen.[527] On 19 November, tensions increased when the Galaxy Leader, a cargo ship chartered by a Japanese logistics company with 25 individuals on board, was hijacked by the Houthis using a Mil Mi-17 helicopter.[528]

On 3 December, the Houthis stated that they had attacked two ships, the Unity Explorer and Number 9, allegedly linked to Israel, in order "to prevent Israeli ships from navigating the Red Sea".[529][530] Any ship destined for Israel, according to the group, was a "legitimate target". Saree announced in a post on X that the "horrific massacres" against the Palestinians in Gaza was the reason for this decision and that they will not stop until the Gaza Strip is supplied with food and medicine. Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi called this development a "global issue" and that Israel is "giving the world some time to organize in order to prevent this" otherwise, the country "would will act in order to remove this naval siege".[531]

Iran

On 24 November, a suspected Iranian drone attacked the CMA CGM Symi owned by Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer in the Indian Ocean according to a US defense official. The drone was suspected to have been a Shahed-136 drone. The attack caused damage to the ship but did not injure any of the crew.[532]

In December, the US military was reportedly looking to build a maritime task force to protect trade against Iranian harassment.[533]

On 23 December, a suspected Iranian drone attacked the Israel-affiliated oil tanker MV Chem Pluto in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Gujarat. The attack did not harm any of its 20 crew members but caused a fire that was put out. The vessel was reportedly carrying Saudi oil to Mangalore, India.[534]

In December, Iranian proxy militias escalated their attacks against the US military following the killing of one of its generals in Syria in an Israeli attack.[535]

In January 2024, four members of the Iranian Qods Force in Syria were killed by a suspected Israeli airstrike in Damascus.[536]

Humanitarian impact

People stand amid the rubble of a building and looking at the ground. A man is carrying a large flower-patterned object.
Residents inspect the ruins of an apartment in Gaza destroyed by Israeli airstrikes

The humanitarian situation in Gaza has been termed a "crisis" and a "catastrophe".[537][538] The entire population in the Gaza Strip is classified in Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Phase 3 - Crisis, or above. 50% of the population is in IPC Phase 4 - Emergency, and 25% is in IPC Phase 5 - Catastrophe.[539] More than 23,000 have been killed. As a result of Israel's blockade, Gaza faces shortages of fuel, food, medication, water, and medical supplies.[537][540] The blockade resulted in a 90% drop in electricity availability, impacting hospital power supplies, sewage plants, and shutting down desalination plants that provide drinking water.[541] According to WHO, 27 out of 35 hospitals in Gaza were shut down by 23 November 2023.[542] On 13 October, UNRWA commissioner Philippe Lazzarini said, "The scale and speed of the unfolding humanitarian crisis is bone-chilling".[543]

Casualties

Aftermath of the attack on Be'eri

As of 18 February 2024, over 30,000 people (28,473 Palestinian[544] and 1,410 Israeli[552]) have been killed in the Israel–Hamas war, including 88 journalists (83 Palestinian, 2 Israeli and 3 Lebanese) and over 136 UNRWA aid workers.[553][554]

On 7 October 2023, 1,139 Israelis and foreign nationals, including 764 civilians, were killed, and 248 persons taken hostage during the initial attack on Israel from the Gaza Strip.[545][555][556] Since then, over 28,473 Palestinians (the majority of whom were women and minors) in the Gaza Strip have been killed according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The Gaza Health Ministry does not distinguish between combatant and civilian casualties in its reports. The IDF estimated 12,000 Hamas combatants were killed as of 19 February 2024.[557][558] A further 320 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank by Israel military and settlers.[559] Casualties have also occurred in other parts of Israel, as well as in southern Lebanon, and Syria.[560]

Monitoring group Action on Armed Violence said that each Israeli airstrike caused an average of 10.1 civilian deaths and that the figure suggested a notable change in Israel's targeting approach. The previous Israeli campaigns in Gaza produced the averages of 1.3–1.7, while in the sieges of Mosul, Aleppo the ratio exceeded 20 civilian casualties per airstrike.[561][562][563] Israel uses an AI system known as Gospel for its targeting process and experts are sceptical that such a system reduces civilian harm.[564][337]

The rate of killing exceeds that of US-led attacks in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, which were widely criticized by rights groups.[565] The first month of the war has been the deadliest conflict for children this century.[566]

Multiple generations of families have been killed in Israeli attacks. As of 31 October, Amnesty International has documented five cases of entire families being killed in Israeli airstrikes.[567] The Associated Press reported that the killing of entire families in single airstrikes by Israel has "raised troubling questions about Israeli military tactics".[568] As of 15 October 47 families had been completely wiped away from the population registry, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.[569] The Financial Times reported how Palestinian families could have multiple generations living in a single multistory building has had the effect of those families being nearly completely wiped out by airstrikes. As of 23 November, according to Gazan health officials, 312 families had suffered the loss of more than 10 members. This had also led to children being left without any surviving family, with the acronym "WCNSF" for "wounded child, no surviving family" being increasingly used.[570]

Healthcare collapse

External videos
video icon Emily "Cali" Callahan, an American nurse who worked in Gaza for Doctors Without Borders until early November, describes the humanitarian situation in Gaza to CNN's Anderson Cooper[571][572]

Hospitals faced a lack of fuel and relied on backup generators for the first two weeks of the war.[573] By 23 October, however, the Indonesia Hospital ran out of fuel and completely shut down.[574] Hospitals around Gaza also warned they would soon lose power completely, which would lead to the death of 140 premature babies in NICUs.[575] The Gaza Health Ministry said that more than 192 medical staffers had been killed by Israeli airstrikes, as well as ambulances, health institutions, its headquarters, the Rimal Clinic, and the International Eye Center.[576] The Médecins Sans Frontières said it had counted 18 ambulances destroyed and eight medical facilities destroyed or damaged.[577] On 24 October, a Health Ministry spokesman announced the healthcare system had "totally collapsed".[578]

On 16 October, doctors warned of disease outbreaks due to hospital overcrowding and unburied bodies.[538] The World Health Organization stated the situation was "spiralling out of control".[579] The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that it had lost contact with its headquarters on 27 October, disrupting Gazans' ability to contact emergency services.[580]

On 14 November, Reuters reported that Israel was coordinating the transfer of medical incubators to Al-Shifa Hospital to assist in the evacuation of newborn babies[581][582] and that the IDF stated that three battery powered incubators were on standby outside Gaza.[583] The director of Al-Shifa stated Israel's statement about providing incubators to premature babies was false.[584]

Gaza famine

According to the World Food Program, as of 9 December more than half of the population of Gaza was "starving" and more than nine in ten were not eating everyday and 48% suffering from "extreme hunger".[585][586] One of the few bakeries that had still been standing in the Gaza Strip was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Deir al-Balah overnight, and Gazans were reported to be searching through the rubble of bombed bakeries attempting to find bags of flour.[587] The United Nations has warned that a collapse of social order could result from the intense hunger among Palestinians.[587] The Associated Press reported that rare instances of public dissent against Hamas were taking place, with reports of angry chants against Hamas by hundreds of people taking refuge in a UN shelter.[588]

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, who is part of the Palestinian Authority, said Israel was using starvation as a weapon, saying "they are starving because of Israel's deliberate use of starvation as a weapon of war against the people it occupied". An Israeli official responded that the charge was "blood-libellous" and "delusional".[589] Human Rights Watch similarly found that Israel was using starvation as a weapon of war by deliberately denying access to food and water.[590] On 16 January 2024, UN experts accused Israel of "destroying Gaza's food system and using food as a weapon against the Palestinian people".[591]

Scale of destruction

The scale, extent, and pace of destruction of buildings in the Gaza Strip ranks among the most severe in modern history.[113][592][593][115][594] The 29,000 munitions -shells and bombs- Israel has dropped on Gaza in 3 months greatly exceed those (3,678) dropped by the United States between 2004 and 2010 during its Invasion of Iraq.[595] Nearly 70% of homes in Gaza and roughly half of all buildings have been damaged or destroyed.[592] As of January 2024, Israel's offensive has either damaged or destroyed 70–80% of all buildings in northern Gaza.[596][597] The damage to buildings in northern Gaza reportedly exceeds that in Bakhmut and Mariupol in the Russian invasion of Ukraine,[115] Aleppo in the Battle of Aleppo,[113] and Mosul and Raqqa in the War against the Islamic State;[113] by 5 December 2023, the percentage of buildings damaged or destroyed in Gaza exceeded Dresden and Cologne during World War II and approached the level of destruction seen in Hamburg.[115][598] Bombing has destroyed or damaged apartment buildings, hospitals, schools, religious sites, factories, and shopping centers.[592] The Guardian reported that the scale of destruction has led international legal experts to raise the concept of domicide, which it describes as "the mass destruction of dwellings to make [a] territory uninhabitable".[593] By 30 January 2024, satellite image analysis found Israel had destroyed 50-61% of the buildings in Gaza since the start of the war.[599]

Definitively assessing the extent of destruction in Gaza has been complicated by difficulties in accessing up-to-date satellite imagery.[600] An analysis by The Washington Post found "apparent craters within 180 meters of 17 of the 28 hospitals in northern Gaza", although this represents "a conservative undercount of the actual bombs dropped near Gaza's hospitals".[113] This analysis focused on bombs weighing 2,000 pounds or more, which could irreparably damage a building 180 meters away.[113] Israel has employed unguided munitions, which are particularly destructive, and has used artificial intelligence to quickly identify targets for bombing.[115]

Responses to crisis

On 20 October, Doctors Without Borders stated it was "deeply concerned for the fate of everyone in Gaza right now".[601] On 21 October, a joint statement by UNICEF, WHO, UNDP, UNFPA, and WFP stated, "the world must do more" for Gaza.[602] On 26 October, the World Health Organization stated Gaza's humanitarian and health crisis had "reached catastrophic proportions".[603] On 28 October, the Red Cross president Mirjana Spoljaric Egger stated she was "shocked by the intolerable level of human suffering".[604] During the course of the first month of the war, the Gaza Ministry of Health recorded more than 4,000 children killed in Gaza.[605] UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on 6 November that Gaza is "fast becoming a graveyard for children". Israeli UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan responded directly to Guterres, stating "Shame on [Guterres]... More than 30 minors – among them a 9-month-old baby as well as toddlers and children who witnessed their parents being murdered in cold blood – are being held against their will in the Gaza Strip. Hamas is the problem in Gaza, not Israel's actions to eliminate this terrorist organization."[606][607] On 8 November, UN Human Rights chief Volker Turk described the Rafah Crossing as "gates to a living nightmare".[608] On 10 November, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Jens Laerke stated, "if there is a hell on earth, it is the north of Gaza".[609]

Retired Israeli major general Giora Eiland compared Israel's situation to that of the United States after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.[610] He argued that if Israel wanted to disarm Hamas, it had "no choice" but to make Gaza a place "that is temporarily or permanently impossible to live in".[611][610] This, he stated, was not a "program for revenge", but a way to get the hostages back.[612]

On 18 October, the United States UN representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield vetoed a UN Security Council resolution urging humanitarian aid to Gaza.[613] On 27 October, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly for a resolution on immediate humanitarian truce in Gaza and aid access.[614] The resolution attracted 121 votes in favor and 44 abstentions; 14 countries voted against, namely Israel, the United States, Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Fiji, Guatemala, Hungary, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay and Tonga.[615][616]

On 9 November, Israel agreed to daily four-hour "humanitarian pauses" to allow civilians to obtain food and medicine, as well as evacuate to the south.[617] Evacuees described the evacuation path as full of death and horror.[618][619] Jan Egeland, the Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said on 5 December that "The pulverising of Gaza now ranks amongst the worst assaults on any civilian population in our time and age. Each day we see more dead children and new depths of suffering for the innocent people enduring this hell".[620]

On 12 December, the UN General Assembly once again voted overwhelmingly for a resolution on immediate humanitarian truce in Gaza and aid access. The resolution attracted 153 votes in favor and 23 abstentions; 10 countries voted against, namely Israel, the United States, Austria, the Czech Republic, Guatemala, Liberia, Micronesia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea and Paraguay.[621][w]

Due to an agreement reportedly brokered by Qatar and France between Israel and Hamas, medicine was scheduled to leave Doha via two military aircraft and be delivered to the Gaza Strip on 17 January 2024 to aid hostages.[623][624][625] The medicine was successfully delivered.[626]

Allegations of war crimes

Both Hamas and the IDF have been accused of attempted or imminent genocide, and several other war crimes, based on their actions in the war.[627]

The International Criminal Court issued a statement on 10 October confirming that its mandate to investigate alleged war crimes committed since June 2014 in the State of Palestine extends to the current conflict.[628] ICC prosecutor Karim Ahmad Khan visited the Rafah crossing[when?] and said "the ICC is independently looking at the situation in Palestine", including "events in Israel and allegations that Palestinian nationals have also committed crime".[citation needed] The UN Human Rights Council said it had "clear evidence" of war crimes by both sides.[628] The Permanent United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Israel Palestine conflict said there is "clear evidence that war crimes may have been committed in the latest explosion of violence in Israel and Gaza, and all those who have violated international law and targeted civilians must be held accountable".[629][630][631]

2023 Hamas attack on Israel

Genocide accusations

Several experts in international law and genocide studies characterized Hamas's assault as genocide.[627][632][633] Legal and genocide experts have condemned the attack, during which 1,139 people were killed, including 695 Israeli civilians. They argue that these actions by Hamas constitute a significant violation of international law and were carried out with the intent to destroy the Israeli national group.[633][632][627] Some commentators highlight Hamas's founding charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel; this has led to suggestions that its intent is genocidal and that the attacks on 7 October were an attempt to fulfill this agenda.[634][198]

In a 12 October preliminary legal assessment condemning Hamas's attacks in Israel, international humanitarian law scholar and Dean of Cornell Law School Jens David Ohlin said the evidence suggested Hamas's "killings and kidnappings" potentially violated Articles 6–8 of the Rome Statute as well as the Genocide Convention and were "crimes against humanity"; over a hundred international scholars expressed support for this position.[635][636]

Sexual and gender-based violence

During the 7 October attacks by Hamas on Israeli communities, Israeli women and girls were reportedly raped, assaulted, and mutilated by Hamas militants, an allegation that Hamas denies.[637][638][639] In the months following the attacks, The Wall Street Journal reported on 21 December, there was "mounting evidence of sexual violence, based on survivor accounts, first responders and witnesses".[640] A two-month New York Times investigation by Jeffrey Gettleman, Anat Schwartz, and Adam Sella, released in late December 2023, found at least seven locations where sexual assaults and mutilations of Israeli women and girls were carried out. It concluded that these were not isolated events but part of a broader pattern of gender-based violence during the 7 October massacres. The probe was based on video footage, photographs, GPS data from mobile phones and interviews with more than 150 people. The newspaper's probe concluded that Hamas "weaponized sexual violence" during the attacks.[641] Israeli police said dozens of women and some men were raped. The New York Times and the BBC reported that "videos of naked and bloodied women filmed by Hamas on the day of the attack, and photographs of bodies taken at the sites afterwards, suggest that women were sexually targeted by their attackers".[642][643][644]

These acts were denounced as gender-based violence, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, aligning with the International Criminal Court's recognition of sexual violence as such.[645][646] Witnesses recounted scenes, including instances of rape, beheadings, and other brutalities.[647]

Testimonies described the perpetrators using shovels,[648] beheading victims, and even playing with severed body parts.[643] Forensic examinations showed signs of sexual abuse, mutilations, broken limbs, and broken pelvises,[649][650] prompting scholars and legal experts to conduct investigations, amassing substantial evidence pointing to crimes against humanity and war crimes.[651][643][652][653] Hamas was accused of employing rape as a weapon of war.[654][655] In an interrogation of Hamas militants, one militant said they were given permission to perform necrophilia.[656]

Some of the released hostages also shared testimonies of sexual violence during their time in Gaza.[657][638]

Israel accused international women's rights and human rights groups of downplaying the assaults.[658]

Hamas denied that it committed any sexual assaults, and has called for an impartial international investigation into the accusations.[659][660] On January 2024, UN experts Alice Jill Edwards and Morris Tidball-Binz [de] said in a statement that the sexual violence acts amounted to war crimes which "may also qualify as crimes against humanity".[661]

Hostage-taking

Human Rights Watch has stated that "Hamas and Islamic Jihad are committing war crimes by holding scores of Israelis and others as hostages in Gaza". They also added that "Civilians, including children, people with disabilities, and older people, should never be treated as bargaining chips", and "The armed groups should immediately and safely release all civilians detained".[662] The secretary-general of Amnesty International urged the immediate release of "all civilians who were abducted, including children", and supported an investigation into these incidents "as part of the International Criminal Court's ongoing investigation into crimes committed by all parties in the current conflict".[663]

Israeli operations in Gaza

Genocide accusations

South Africa's ICJ case alleging Israel's violation of the Genocide Convention in Gaza, the Hague, 12 January 2024

Israel has been accused of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza during the war. On 15 October, TWAILR published a statement signed by over 800 legal scholars expressing "alarm about the possibility of the crime of genocide being perpetrated by Israeli forces against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip".[664] On 17 October, Genocide Watch declared a "Genocide Emergency Alert" for the conflict in Gaza.[627] Several scholars have cited numerous Israeli statements which they argue constitute an "intent to destroy" the population of Gaza, a necessary condition for the legal threshold of genocide to be met.[665] On 16 November, OHCHR experts said that Israel's violations "point to a genocide in the making".[666]

On 29 December, South Africa submitted a case to the International Court of Justice alleging that Israel was committing genocide in Gaza and requested provisional measures for Israel to suspend its military campaign in Gaza.[667][668][453] In its filing, South Africa alleged that Israel's actions were "intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group".[669] On 2 January 2024, Israel decided to appear before the ICJ in response to the case made by South Africa.[670] The Court issued an Order in relation to the provisional measures request on 26 January 2024 in which it ordered Israel to take all measures to prevent any acts that could be considered genocidal but stopped short of calling for a ceasefire.[671] It determined that it was "plausible" that some of Israel's actions may violate the Genocide Convention. The final ruling is expected to take years.[672]

Some researchers have alleged that destruction in Gaza amounts to "domicide".[673][674]

Siege of Gaza

Israeli soldiers operating in a Gazan neighborhood

Israel imposed a "complete siege" on Gaza in the first ten days of the war, due to security concerns that weapons, fuel and armaments would be transferred to Hamas in the guise of humanitarian aid.[675][676] Israel later allowed the delivery of limited humanitarian aid following security checks.[677] Israel's restriction of the flow of food, fuel, water and other humanitarian aid was criticized as a war crime by human rights organizations.[678]

Tom Dannenbaum, co-director of the Center for International Law & Governance at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, wrote that the order "commands the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, which is a violation of international humanitarian law and a war crime".[679] Oxfam issued a statement that accused Israel of using starvation as a weapon of war, saying "International Humanitarian Law (IHL) strictly prohibits the use of starvation as a method of warfare and as the occupying power in Gaza, Israel is bound by IHL obligations to provide for the needs and protection of the population of Gaza".[680]

Geoffrey S. Corn, Chair of Criminal Law and Director of the Center for Military Law and Policy at Texas Tech University School of Law, and Sean Watts, professor in the Department of Law at the United States Military Academy at West Point, write that sieges are subject to the same laws of war as other military tactics such as distinction and proportionality.[681] Watts previously wrote that Article 23 of the Fourth Geneva Convention "requires that parties to a conflict allow passage of a limited class of relief supplies for civilians...only if the parties are satisfied no advantage will result 'to the military efforts or economy of the enemy'", but that if the law is interpreted to allow "incidental" starvation of civilians proportional to anticipated military advantage, it "reduces the rule's humanitarian effect, perhaps to the vanishing point".[682]

Amnesty International called for an urgent investigation into Israel's mass detentions and the enforced disappearance of Palestinians in Gaza, noting that the disappearances and treatment of captives could amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity.[131]

Proportionality and distinction

Israel's adherence to the principles of discrimination and proportionality as required by the laws of war has been debated.[683][684] Human Rights Watch has stated that the overall civilian death toll, and Israel's use of powerful weapons in Gaza's densely-populated neighbourhoods, raised "serious questions" about the legality of Israel's conduct.[684] Human Rights Watch further argued that a higher proportion of casualties among women and children is indicative of a lack of proportionality, demonstrating what they describe as "a disregard toward Palestinian lives".[684] Amnesty International accused Israel of war crimes in a report where it analyzed five incidents between 7 October and 12 October where the IDF targeted residential areas in Gaza. It found that in several cases the IDF struck targets with no evidence of military activity and that these attacks were "indiscriminate" in nature. Anonymous IDF officials cited in a report by +972 Magazine indicated a "loosening of constraints" in the rules of engagement, and that in numerous cases the IDF struck targets despite no evidence of military activity. The report claims that the rationale behind such attacks was "to harm Palestinian civil society" and, according to one source cited by the report, to "lead civilians to put pressure on Hamas".[337] Experts cited by The Washington Post argue that certain Israeli airstrikes show that Israel has a tolerance for civilian casualties "orders of magnitude greater" than that of the US in its war against ISIS.[685] United Nations officials and human rights groups have argued that Israel has not done enough to protect civilians.[684]

Emanuela-Chiara Gillard, an associate fellow at Chatham House, argued that, given the size and nature of the 7 October attacks, Israel has a right of self-defence that could include its stated military aim of destroying Hamas, which has threatened to repeat its assault and eradicate the state of Israel.[684] According to The Economist, the law of armed conflict (LOAC) and international humanitarian law (IHL) grant Israel flexibility when it comes to taking military action against Hamas, but in its view, Israel's "definition of military targets is being stretched to breaking-point".[683]

Amichai Cohen, an Israeli lawyer, alleges that Israel does not deliberately target civilians but that Hamas's tactics make it hard to take action without affecting civilians.[683] Jill Goldenziel, a professor at the United States National Defense University and Marine Corps University, states that if Israel conducted every strike legally and with utmost precision, civilian casualties in war would still remain, and the goal of a proportionality analysis is to decide whether they are excessive.[686] Israeli security officials state that their proportionality criteria in this conflict are unchanged and that they receive legal advice in relation to strikes.[684] Other Israeli officials, speaking anonymously, acknowledged that Israel has struck "private residences and public structures, like the Gaza Parliament and the Islamic University", which would not previously have been considered valuable enough to justify the risk to civilian life.[684]

UN condemnation

Independent United Nations experts[x] condemned the Israel Defense Forces' actions in Gaza, saying Israel had resorted to "indiscriminate military attacks" and "collective punishment".[688] Israeli authorities said that the airstrikes are intended to degrade the military infrastructure that is frequently constructed in close proximity to residential areas and civilian establishments.[689] They also denounced the "deliberate and widespread killing and hostage-taking of innocent civilians" by Hamas, calling them "heinous violations of international law and international crimes".[687] Israel's forced evacuation of northern Gaza also drew international condemnation. On 13 October, Paula Gaviria Betancur, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, called it a "crime against humanity".[354] On 14 October, Francesca Albanese, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, characterized it as a "repeat of the 1948 Nakba", noting Israeli public officials' open advocacy for another Nakba.[690] On 16 November, UN experts reported that "grave violations" committed by Israeli forces against the Palestinians of Gaza "point to a genocide in the making" and called on the international community to prevent this unfolding genocide.[691] The OHCHR expressed concern regarding reports of "mass detentions, ill-treatment and enforced disappearances of possibly thousands of Palestinians" in the north of Gaza.[131][692] On 23 February, the OHCHR stated that any transfer of weapons to Israel must be halted immediately as their use in Gaza is "likely to violate international humanitarian law".[693]

Destruction of cultural heritage

Over 100 landmarks have been destroyed or damaged by Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip according to a report by Heritage for Peace group.[694] The Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, which was agreed to by both Palestinians and Israelis, protects sites of cultural heritage.[695]

The Great Mosque of Gaza was left with only the minaret standing[696] while sites that have been damaged or destroyed include Rafah Museum [ar], Al Qarara Cultural Museum, Rashad Shawa Cultural Center, Hamam al-Sammara, and Tell el-Ajjul.[697] The Church of Saint Porphyrius, the third oldest church in the world, was damaged in an airstrike, as has the Saint Hilarion Monastery. The Byzantine Church of Jabalia [ar], dating from the 5th century and restored in 2022, was destroyed.[697] The destruction of Gaza City's public library and central archives have been compared to the 1992 attacks on the National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[698][695][699][700] All universities in the Gaza Strip were bombed by Israeli forces, including the destruction of Al-Israa University and its museum containing several thousand rare artefacts.[701]

Destruction of cemeteries

By 20 January 2024, Israeli forces had desecrated at least sixteen cemeteries and had turned some into military outposts.[702] Forensic Architecture noted that Israel had destroyed one of Gaza's most important archaeological sites, located near al-Shati refugee camp.[703] Subsequent of destruction of a cemetery in Khan Unis, Israel said Hamas uses cemeteries to hide tunnels,sand that "digging up the tunnels involves unavoidable collateral damage to sacrosanct spaces".[704] Israel also said it had damaged a cemetery in southern Gaza in a search for the bodies of hostages.[705]

Sexual violence

United Nations experts urged an inquiry into serious human rights violations against Palestinian women and girls in Gaza and the West Bank by Israeli forces. The allegations involve rape and sexual violence. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement on 19 February, citing credible claims and referring to photos allegedly taken by Israeli troops showing female detainees in degrading circumstances posted online.[706]

Looting

Israeli soldiers posted videos of their looting Palestinian property on social media, with soldiers reporting that the practice was widespread and that commanders on the ground were largely allowing it to happen.[707][708] The Military Advocate General wrote in a letter to IDF commanders that several incidents were under investigation, with some of the incidents potentially meriting criminal charges.[709][710]

Negotiations and diplomacy

Ceasefire

"Ceasefire now" demand at a rally in Toronto, Canada

On 24 October, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a ceasefire.[711][712] This was followed by a United Nations General Assembly vote for a resolution calling for an immediate truce. It received 121 votes in favor and 44 abstentions; 14 countries voted no.[615][713]

On 24 October, US President Joe Biden stated, "We should have those hostages released and then we can talk",[714] and said that a ceasefire would allow Hamas to attack Israel again.[715] On 2 November 2023, Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh stated that if Israel agreed to a ceasefire and the opening of humanitarian corridors to bring more aid into Gaza, Hamas is "ready for political negotiations for a two-state solution with Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine".[716][y] This followed the 1 November statement by Hamas official Ghazi Hamad that Hamas would repeat the 7 October attack time and again until Israel is annihilated.[719] On 3 November, Benjamin Netanyahu stated Israel would not agree to a ceasefire unless Hamas releases all hostages.[720] On 6 November, both Israel and Hamas rejected calls for a ceasefire.[721] On 15 November, Hamas official Izzat al-Risheq stated Israel was "stalling to continue its aggression and war against defenceless civilians".[722]

By 13 December 2023, Israel and the United States were becoming increasingly isolated amid growing global calls for a ceasefire.[723][724][725][726]

In December, new negotiations mediated by Egypt led to proposals of a multi-phase plan that would see the release of hostages, withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and creation of a technocratic Palestinian government.[727] Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad rejected a permanent ceasefire offer which would have Hamas and the PIJ relinquish their control over Gaza and hold democratic elections.[728][729]

Hostage negotiations

On 9 October, Reuters reported that Qatar was mediating talks between Israel and Hamas to secure the release of female Israeli hostages in exchange for Israel releasing 36 Palestinian women and children.[730] Israel publicly denied such negotiations were taking place.[730] An Egyptian official told the Associated Press that Israel sought Egyptian assistance to ensure the safety of hostages held by Palestinian militants, and that Egypt's intelligence chief contacted Hamas and Islamic Jihad to seek information.[731] Egyptian officials were reportedly mediating the release of Palestinian women in Israeli prisons in exchange for Israeli women captured by Palestinian militants.[338] Egypt and Qatar are both trying to mediate talks; according to The Wall Street Journal, Hamas's military wing mostly communicates to Egypt.[732]

According to The Guardian, an early offer involved the release of "children, women and elderly and sick people" held hostage in exchange for a 5-day ceasefire, and Netanyahu "rejected the deal outright". More recent offers, after the 27 October ground offensive, involved the release of 10–15 hostages in exchange for a 1–3-day ceasefire. According to The Guardian, Netanyahu, right-wing ministers, and "hawks in the military" took a hardline position on the talks, unlike the Mossad, which leads the hostage negotiations.[733]

The Abducted and Missing Families Forum, an Israeli group representing the families of those taken hostage in Gaza, said that they supported a blanket release of all Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the return of all Israeli hostages held in Gaza.[734] The leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, said the group was prepared to release all Israeli hostages in return for the release of all Palestinian prisoners. The IDF spokesman dismissed the report as "psychological terror cynically used by Hamas to create pressure".[735]

United Nations Security Council

A map that shows the countries and their respective voting in the United Nations General Assembly resolution ES-10/21 calling for an "immediate and sustained" humanitarian truce and cessation of hostilities.
  In favor
  Against
  Abstentions
  Absent
  Non member

On 8 October, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) held a closed-door meeting for 90 minutes on the conflict. The meeting concluded without a joint statement being agreed.[736] The Council passed a resolution calling for a humanitarian pause on 15 November.[737] Israel's ambassador to the UN called the resolution "disconnected from reality", and stated that "Israel will continue acting according to [international] law while the Hamas terrorists will not even read the resolution... let alone abide by it".[140] On 6 December, United Nations secretary-general António Guterres invoked Article 99 of the Charter of the United Nations for the first time, which allows him to address matters that threaten "international peace and security" before the UN Security Council.[738][739]

Diplomats, concerned that Israel has no plan post war and looking to limit the humanitarian crisis as well as prevent any regional expansion of the war, are urging delay of a full-scale land invasion of Gaza.[740] Russia requested a UNSC vote on 15 October on a draft resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire.[741] The Russian draft was rejected while negotiations continued on a Brazilian draft resolution.[742]

On 18 October, the United States vetoed a UNSC resolution that "condemned the Hamas attack on Israel, called for humanitarian pauses in all attacks to allow the delivery of lifesaving aid to civilians, and called for Israel to withdraw its directive for civilians to evacuate the northern part of the Gaza Strip". The UNSC resolution, sponsored by Brazil and supported by 12 of the 15 Council members, calling for "humanitarian pauses" to deliver aid to Gazan civilians. The UK and Russia abstained.[743][744] Louis Charbonneau at Human Rights Watch said the US had again "cynically used their veto to prevent the UNSC from acting on Israel and Palestine at a time of unprecedented carnage". The US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, explained that the US wanted more time to let American on-the-ground diplomacy "play out", and criticized the text for failing to mention Israel's right to self-defense, in line with the UN Charter – a point echoed by UK Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward.[745][746][747] Subsequently, on 25 October, China and Russia vetoed a US drafted resolution and a Russian drafted resolution was vetoed by the UK and US.[748] Hamas then issued a statement praising Russia and China's position and thanking all the countries who demanded an end to Israel's attacks on Gaza.[749][750]

On 15 November, the UNSC passed a resolution focusing on the humanitarian situation, calling for the immediate release of all hostages held by Hamas and for urgent and extended humanitarian corridors throughout Gaza to save and protect civilian lives.[751] Malta drafted the resolution; twelve members voted in favor, none against and three abstained. The United Kingdom and United States abstained, while they supported the emphasis on humanitarian relief, because it contained no explicit criticism of Hamas. Russia abstained because it did not call for an immediate ceasefire. The resolution followed four unsuccessful efforts the previous month, and a United Nations General Assembly Resolution calling for a cessation of hostilities on 27 October.[752][753]

World leaders, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and United Nations officials criticized the US for its veto on 8 December of a UNSC resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. The UK abstained while the remaining 13 members of the council voted in favor.[754][755][756] In response to the US veto, Egypt invoked Resolution 377A, which allows the UN General Assembly to address an issue threatening global security neglected by the UNSC.[757]

Ambassador recalls

On the afternoon of Israel's 31 October airstrike on the Jabalia refugee camp, Bolivia severed all diplomatic ties with Israel, followed by a series of ambassador recalls by Chile and Colombia hours later, Jordan on 1 November, Bahrain on 2 November, Honduras on 3 November, Turkey on 4 November, Chad on 5 November, South Africa on 6 November, and Belize on 14 November. Bolivia's minister of the presidency demanded an end to the attacks on the Gaza Strip, while Chilean President Gabriel Boric cited Israel's "collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population" and Columbian President Gustavo Petro cited the "massacre of the Palestinian people".[148][758] Jordan's Foreign Minister cited an "unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe" and condemned the "Israeli war that is killing innocent people in Gaza".[448][759] Bahrain's National Assembly additionally cut off all economic relations,[760] citing a "solid and historical stance that supports the Palestinian cause and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people".[761][762] This decision does not appear to have been implemented.[763] Honduras' Minister of Foreign Affairs cited Israel's violations of international humanitarian law.[764] Turkey cited "the unfolding humanitarian tragedy in Gaza caused by the continuing attacks by Israel against civilians, and Israel's refusal (to accept) a ceasefire".[765][766] Turkey was criticized for still maintaining economic and military relations with Israel.[767][768][769] Chad cited the "unprecedented tide of deadly violence".[770] South Africa recalled its entire diplomatic mission and criticized Israel's ambassador for disparaging those "opposing the atrocities and genocide of the Israeli government".[771] Belize suspended diplomatic relations with Israel, citing the "unceasing, indiscriminate bombing in Gaza" and its violations of international humanitarian law.[772]

Willingness to take refugees by third countries

Both Jordan and Egypt have rejected the idea of hosting Palestinian refugees fleeing from Gaza,[773][774] with King Abdullah II of Jordan warning against pushing Palestinians to seek refuge in Jordan, and emphasizing the need to address the humanitarian situation within Gaza and the West Bank.[775] Both countries have expressed serious concern that Israel may seek to permanently expel Palestinians, a statement that Israel disputes.[776] On 2 November, however, Egypt said it will help around 7,000 foreigners and Palestinians with dual-nationalities through the Rafah Border Crossing.[777]

Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf who has family in Gaza, urged the international community to establish a refugee program for those fleeing violence in Gaza and said that Scotland was ready to offer sanctuary to refugees arriving in the UK.[778] European countries are wary of a refugee influx due to recent pro-Palestinian protests.[779]

In the United States, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested that the problem of refugees be solved by "the region's partners", but emphasized the "historical role" of the US in accepting refugees, while Representative Jamaal Bowman said that the US should welcome refugees who are not affiliated with Hamas. Both former president Donald Trump and Florida governor Ron DeSantis voiced their opposition to accepting any Palestinian refugees.[774]

Reactions

Significant geopolitical divisions emerged. Much of the Western World provided "strong" support to Israel militarily or diplomatically,[142] including the United States,[143] United Kingdom,[144] and Germany.[146] According to Hugh Lovatt, a senior policy fellow with the Middle East and North Africa Programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations, Western leaders generally see Israel "as a fellow member of the liberal democratic club" and that this partially "explains the continued strong Western support for Israel – which has now largely become reflexive".[142] In contrast, the Islamic world and much of the Global South denounced the actions of Israel and its allies, criticizing the "moral authority of the West" and alleging that it holds double standards surrounding human rights.[142][148] The double standards, in their view, is condemning an illegal occupation in Ukraine while standing firmly behind Israel that has occupied Palestinian lands.[147]

The United States, United Kingdom, and Germany have supplied Israel with substantial military and medical aid.[144][145][780]

Israel

Volunteers organizing deliveries for soldiers in Nesher
Signs in Hebrew in front of dozens of small Israel flags planted in the grass.
Support sign for the "citizens of south" and IDF soldiers at the policeperson roundabout in Ra'anana, October 2023

Public opinion poll conducted on 23–28 October by the polling company iPanel in collaboration with Tel Aviv University found that 57.5% of Israeli Jews believed the Israeli military was using "too little" firepower in Gaza, while 36.6% thought the amount of firepower was "appropriate", 4.2% were not sure, and only 1.8% thought the IDF was using "too much" firepower. In contrast, 50.5% of Israeli Arabs believed that the Israeli military was using "too much" firepower in Gaza.[781] According to a survey by the Israel Democracy Institute, only 10% of Israeli Jews would support a pause in the war in Gaza to allow an exchange of Israeli hostages.[781]

Following the Hamas attack on Israel, the protest group Kaplan Force cancelled its protest against the Israeli judicial reform scheduled on 7 October, instead extending support to the IDF amidst the crisis.[782] Other protest groups like Forum 555 and Brothers in Arms also urged reservists to serve if called up.[263] The Israeli government distributed weapons to civilians.[783]

Some construction sites in Jerusalem prohibited Israeli Arabs from entering due to security concerns, including senior managers, stating that only Jews and foreign workers were permitted.[784] Around 72,000 Palestinian construction workers were employed in Israel prior to the attack, so in February 2024 Israel announced it would bring in 65,000 foreign workers from India, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan to resume stalled construction.[785]

Adalah, an Israeli human rights organization that advocates for Palestinians living in Israel, reported that 50 Palestinians studying at academic institutions in Israel had been summoned to disciplinary committees due to perceived support for Hamas on social media, with some suspended from their studies.[786] A newly created community coalition said that 30 Palestinian citizens of Israel had lost their jobs for the same reason.[786]

Adalah also reported that 100 Israelis have been arrested for posts supporting Palestinians in Gaza, with 70 in detention as of 18 October.[787] Dalal Abu Amneh, a Palestinian singer born in Israel, was arrested on 17 October for posting "there is no victor but God" in Arabic, alongside an image of the Palestinian flag.[788] She was released the following day and placed under house arrest for five days.[789] Israeli police said that 170 Palestinians (all citizens of Israel or residents of Jerusalem) had been arrested or brought in for questioning since the beginning of the war due to social media posts. According to Adalah, this is the highest rate of arrests in such a short period of time for 20 years.[786] Content that led to these arrests included quoting Quran verses, "prayers for the people of Gaza, and political analysis of Israeli military operations".[787]

Between 1 October and 1 November, the number of Palestinians held in administrative detention, without charge or trial, rose from 1,319 to 2,070.[790][791][792] Prisoners have been subject to torture and at least four prisoners have died in Israeli custody.[790][791][793]

Amidst the escalating violence, Magen David Adom initiated a blood donation drive and the Education Ministry closed schools on 7 October, transitioning to online learning from 15 October.[794] Various events and performances were cancelled or postponed including the Haifa International Film Festival, a Bruno Mars concert, and football matches scheduled by UEFA.[795] The Israeli energy ministry ordered Chevron to temporarily shut down the offshore Tamar gas field.[796] Following a significant drop in the value of the New Israeli Shekel, the Bank of Israel announced that it would sell up to $30 billion in foreign reserves in its first ever sale of foreign exchange.[797]

Investigations were initiated into the failure of Israeli authorities to prevent the attack, with criticism targeted towards Prime Minister Netanyahu for his inability to foresee and prevent the crisis.[798][799]

To support the war effort, El Al announced special flights to retrieve vital personnel from New York City and Bangkok on 13 October.[800] Schools advised parents to have certain social media apps deleted from their children's phones to shield them from violent war-related media.[801] IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi acknowledged military failures in preventing the attacks on 12 October.[802]

The ethics panel of the Knesset voted to suspend left-wing politician Ofer Cassif for 45 days over what it deemed as anti-Israel statements in interviews he made after the war broke out. Following a rally in support of Gaza in Haifa, police commissioner Kobi Shabtai threatened to send antiwar protesters to the Gaza Strip. As of 18 October 63 people have been arrested in Israel on suspicion of supporting or inciting "terror" since the start of the conflict, according to Israeli police.[803] The Palestinian prisoners' rights group Addameer said that about 4,000 labourers from Gaza who were working in Israel were arrested by Israeli authorities along with 1,070 other Palestinians in overnight raids in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the start of the conflict, with most of the detainees from Gaza being held in Sde Teyman near Beersheba.[804] Amer al-Huzail, a former mayoral candidate in Rahat, was arrested after sharing a map of the Gaza Strip on social media with an analysis of possible scenarios for an expected ground operation by Israeli forces.[805]

A poll by the Israeli newspaper Maariv, conducted on 18–19 October, found that 65% of Israelis supported a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip and 21% opposed it.[806] In comparison, according to a poll conducted for the same newspaper on 25–26 October, 29% of Israelis supported an immediate large-scale ground offensive into the Gaza Strip. Maariv said, "It is almost certain that the developments on the matter of the hostages, which is now topping the agenda, have had a great impact on this shift."[807] The Hostages and Missing Families Forum, that represents the families of kidnapped Israelis, complained that no-one had explained "whether the ground operation endangers the well-being" of the hostages.[808]

According to a survey carried out by the Hebrew University on 7–9 December on the post-war handling of Gaza 56% of Israelis opposed the annexation of Gaza with 33% in favor while 11% were uncertain. When questioned on who should administer Gaza in the immediate post-war period 23% of Israelis supported a coalition of moderate Arab states, 22% for Israeli military rule, 18% for an international force take charge of the territory, 18% for Israel annexing Gaza and 11% support for the return of the Palestinian Authority.[809] The Direct Polls survey found that 83% of Israelis supported encouraging the voluntary emigration of residents of the Gaza Strip.[810] According to a poll published by the Israel Democracy Institute, 91% of Israeli Jews and 24% of Israeli Arabs believe that the IDF is making an effort to follow international law.[811]

Emergency unity government

On 11 October, an emergency unity government was formally announced between Likud and National Unity following a joint statement from the latter party, with Benny Gantz, a former defence minister and military chief of staff, joining a war cabinet also consisting of Netanyahu as Prime Minister and Yoav Gallant as Defence Minister. The statement said the unity government would not promote any policy or laws except those related to the ongoing fighting with Hamas.[812][813] It significantly reduces the influence of Netanyahu's previous far-right coalition partners over the conduct of the war, which was one of Gantz's demands.[814] Haaretz reported that former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eizenkot and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer would join the war cabinet as observers.[812][815][813]

On 29 October, Netanyahu blamed security chiefs for Hamas's attack in a post on X (formerly Twitter); this was later deleted following criticism.[816]

Palestinian territories

Hamas popularity

Prior to the war, Hamas was deeply unpopular in Gaza, with 52 percent of Palestinians stating they had no trust at all in the organization.[817][818] Hamas was even more unpopular in the West Bank, with only around twelve percent support.[819] During the war and Israel's bombardment of Gaza, Hamas's popularity among Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank increased, while Palestinian support for peaceful coexistence with Israel declined significantly.[820][821] According to a survey of 668 respondents carried out by Palestinian research firm AWRAD in the beginning of November 2023, 47 percent of Gazans strongly supported the 7 October attack.[822] The overwhelming majority of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank said they would never forget or forgive Israel's behavior in Gaza during the war.[820] Another survey released on 13 December found that 57% of respondents in the Gaza Strip and 82% in the West Bank believed Hamas was correct in launching the 7 October attack, while only 10% said they believed Hamas committed war crimes during the conflict. The survey also found that nearly 60% of respondents in the Palestinian Territories agreed with the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority, while 88% supported the resignation of president Mahmoud Abbas.[823] In response to a critical social media video, Hamas issued a public statement warning against the publication of "any pictures, videos or materials that are offensive to the image of the steadfastness and unity of our people in Gaza".[640]

Among Gaza residents to criticize Hamas actions and their outcome, journalist Muhammad Mansour said: "May Allah curse you, Hamas leadership. Sinwar, you are the offspring of a despicable creature. Allah will avenge the destruction you have inflicted upon us".[824] In early November, hundreds of people at a UN shelter in Gaza city shouted insults against Hamas and cried out that they wanted the war to end, in reaction to Hamas rocket launches at Israel.[825] A spokesman for a Hamas ministry was interrupted during a televised speech by a man with a wounded hand shouting: "May God hold you to account, Hamas!"[825] On Al-Jazeera an elderly woman complained that "aid does not reach the nation and the entire people; Everything goes to their houses; They take it, they will even shoot me and do whatever they want to me, Hamas"[824]

The Wall Street Journal reported on 21 December that since 7 October, "quiet criticism has begun spreading" against Hamas, with Gazans "blaming the militants for having provoked Israel's wrath and for their inability to shield the population from a devastating war and a humanitarian crisis that deepens by the day". The Journal said that such opposition was unlikely to break out into the open, but that the "simmering opposition raises questions about the group's long-term hold over the strip".[640]

Gaza

Reactions in Gaza ranged from anger at the international community's tepid response to fear.[826][827] The territory faced numerous major crises. The Israeli blockade caused significant difficulties, including a lack of food, medicine, and water.[828] Azmi Keshawi, a US-educated researcher in Gaza, expressed outrage, stating, "How the hell did the entire world just watch and let Israel turn off the water?"[829]

Some Gazans in Israel on work permits were unable to return to Gaza.[830] In interviews, workers indicated they were subject to intensive police questioning and abuse.[831] Speaking to The Washington Post, one man stated, "I can't stay here, eating and drinking while my children are dying. There is no electricity or water or anything. Let me die there between my children".[831]

Due to the Israeli Air Force's airstrikes, many Gazans expressed fears they could die. In an interview, a US citizen said, "People are worried, people are essentially preparing to die".[832] Muhammad Smiry, a journalist, wrote, "We are losing everyone and everything".[833] A 27-year-old engineer said, "I just really, really want to live".[834]

Healthcare workers

Among healthcare workers in Gaza, reactions ranged from grief to outrage. A pediatrics doctor at Kamal Edwan Hospital described the situation in Gaza as "really dangerous".[835] He described the difficulties of compliance with Israel's mandatory evacuation order, as transferring the children would mean "handing them a death sentence".[835] He stated that, as a result of Israel's denial of clean water, babies in his ward were experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.[836] A doctor who survived the explosion at al-Ahli hospital, stated, "We collected bodies of children and many body parts. It's a sight that will remain in my mind even if I live a thousand years".[837]

In response to the 27 October communications blackout in Gaza, Al Jazeera journalist Hani Mahmoud reported via satellite that the "fear just begins to mount".[838]

Dual citizens

When both of Gaza's border points were closed at the start of the conflict, foreign nationals and dual citizens were trapped.

This included some 500–600 US citizens, who reported the US Embassy provided little to no support to them.[839][840] A resident of Salt Lake City reported the embassy said their "emergency line is for Israel".[839] A US citizen visiting Gaza with her husband and five children, stated, "The double standard is incredibly harsh".[841] Another US national stated, "America's not helping us, Biden's not helping us, the embassy is not helping us".[841] Sammy Nabulsi, an immigration attorney in Boston, stated, "We are barreling toward a grave national tragedy, and the White House and the State Department do not seem to care".[842] Another US citizen complained that they had been unsuccessfully contacting the US embassy for two days.[843]

An Australian man trapped in Gaza with his family stated, "We are terrified that we may not live until tomorrow".[844]

A Canadian teenager trapped in Gaza stated that the Canadian embassy only sent "emails telling us to stay safe, but they give us no way of staying safe. They really haven't done anything for us."[845]

Gazan officials

The Palestinian Education Ministry said schools in the Gaza Strip were closed until further notice.[270] On 7 October, the Palestinian Health Ministry appealed for blood donations.[264] On 13 October, the spokesperson for Gaza's Interior Ministry said Israel had not been honest about only striking military targets, and "everyone in Gaza is a target".[846] Yahya al-Sarraj, the mayor of Gaza City, commented that the Israeli siege was a violation of international law and urged the international community to "support the victims".[847]

Hamas officials said that they expected a severe Israeli retaliation and were "proud to sacrifice martyrs".[848] Hamas hoped that the attack would trigger a wider war against Israel.[205][848]

Hamas military aims

Hamas stated it abducted Israelis to secure the freedom of Palestinian prisoners, currently estimated to number between 4,499 and 5,200, including 170 children.[290][264][849] Prisoner exchanges have long been practiced in the Arab–Israeli conflict.[850] In 2006, Hamas exchanged Gilad Shalit for 1,000 Palestinians as part of a prisoner swap.[291][851] Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri told Al Jazeera they had enough Israeli hostages to secure the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israel.[849] Hamas spokesperson Abu Obaida said they were holding captured Israeli soldiers in "safe places" and tunnels.[264]

On 10 October, Hamas official Basem Naim denied any civilians were killed, saying that only Israeli soldiers were killed.[852] On 11 October, Hamas again denied in a statement that it had killed civilians and said its military wing "worked to target the Israeli military and security systems", calling them "legitimate targets".[853] A spokesperson for Palestinian Islamic Jihad stated they did not consider Israelis to be civilians, due to Israel's mandatory military service.[854]

Senior Hamas leader Ghazi Hamad said that the grouped planned to repeat the 7 October attack "until Israel is annihilated".[855][856] Senior Hamas official Khaled Mashal said that the group was fully aware of the consequences of attack on Israel, stating that Palestinian liberation comes with sacrifices.[857]

According to Taher El-Nounou, a Hamas media adviser, the goal of Hamas is to create a permanent state of war. Hamas also rejected its responsibility to govern Gaza with Khalil al-Hayya stating, "Hamas's goal is not to run Gaza and to bring it water and electricity and such."[277]

West Bank

Initially, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asserted the Palestinians' right to self-defense against the "terror of settlers and occupation troops"[858] and condemned the orders by Israel for residents to evacuate north Gaza, labeling it a "second Nakba".[859] Later, Abbas rejected the killing of civilians on both sides, and said that the Palestinian Liberation Organization was the sole representative of the Palestinians.[860]

Following the attack, celebrations occurred in Nablus.[861] France 24 reported "Hamas called on "resistance fighters in the West Bank" to join the battle.[862] Neighborhood watches were established in 50 locations amid fears of reprisals by Israeli settlers, while a general strike was called for 8 October.[266] Seven Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli forces on 7 October,[862] while 126 others were injured.[266] As of 19 October, Al Jazeera reported that 76 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and Jerusalem, eight of them by armed Israeli settlers;[863] the Palestinian Health Ministry said that 61 people have been killed and 1,250 injured in the West Bank.[864] The Palestinian Prisoners Club said that 850 Palestinians, including lawmakers, prominent figures, journalists, and former detainees have been arrested by Israeli authorities since the start of the war.[486]

Arab world

In contrast to previous Palestinian–Israeli wars, as many Arab governments such as Egypt and Jordan had strongly negative views on Hamas,[865] they restrained their official reactions to neutral press statements. Public reaction in the Arab world was much more positive towards Hamas, being strongly influenced by Hamas-produced social media videos that were viewed millions of times.[866] The Al-Ahli Arab Hospital explosion, originally blamed on an Israeli airstrike, inflicted further damage on diplomatic relations between Israel and Arab states keen to avoid antagonizing their public.[867]

Whereas Al Jazeera, owned by the government of Qatar, gave airtime to Hamas officials, news channels in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, such as Al Arabiya and Sky News Arabia, interviewed mainly Arabic-speaking Jews. News anchors in these countries did not refer to the IDF as an "occupation army", and referred to Palestinian casualties as "victims" rather than "martyrs";[868] however, as the war progressed, these channels increasingly adopted an anti-Israel and pro-Hamas stance.[866] Many in Lebanon, Syria and Egypt also fear that they may unwillingly be drawn into the conflict through the actions of Hezbollah and Iran. In Egypt, populist pro-government talk show hosts opined against Hamas, asking why Egyptians should suffer to help Palestinians.[868] Egypt, despite having being pressed by the United States, refused to accept refugees from Gaza.[869]

A joint Islamic-Arab summit in Riyadh on 11 November 2023 called for the International Criminal Court to investigate "war crimes and crimes against humanity that Israel is committing" in the Palestinian territories and for an immediate end to the fighting in Gaza.[870] The summit was attended by dozens of leaders including Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who had been welcomed back into the Arab League earlier in 2023.[870] Prince Mohammed bin Salman expressed "condemnation and categorical rejection of this barbaric war against our brothers in Palestine".[870]

Many across the Middle East, particularly among the younger population, have been boycotting US brands for perceived complicity in the destruction in Gaza since the start of the war.[871]

Hezbollah

Hezbollah denied knowledge of the attacks and warned the United States not to invade Lebanon, saying that they were prepared to face the US military.[872][873] In a speech on 3 November, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Americans had threatened to bomb Iran,[874] and emphasized that Hezbollah had entered the war the day after Hamas's attack and that it would not stop its ongoing skirmishes with Israel.[875] He stated that the United States was fully responsible for the current war against Gaza and its people, and that Israel was merely the "instrument of execution". He also said that anyone who wants to prevent a regional war must immediately stop the aggression against Gaza.[876][877]

Iran

Iran has praised the attack while being cautious to distance itself from its planning and execution.[878] Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad told the BBC that Hamas had direct backing for the attack from Iran;[879][880] European, Iranian and Syrian officers corroborated Iran's involvement,[881][882] while senior Hamas official Mahmoud Mirdawi said the group planned the attacks on its own.[375] The Israeli army and the United States say that there is no evidence that Iran is connected with the attack by Hamas.[258] American intelligence appeared to show that Hamas's attack on Israel caught Iranian authorities by surprise.[259]

According to a report by Al-Monitor, since the start of the war between Israel and the Gaza militias, Iran has tried to show a face of disinterest in the spillover of the conflict, and on the other hand, it has pursued an active diplomatic campaign to isolate Israel. Supporting the cause of Palestine has been one of the ideological principles of Iran's Shia Islamic theocracy after the 1979 revolution,[883] with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the first supreme leader of Iran, announcing the last Friday of every Ramadan as "Quds Day"[884] and inviting all the Muslims of the world to express solidarity with the legitimate rights of the Palestinian Muslim people.[885]

The Iranian government opened an account for people to deliver charitable aid.[886] It also opened a website and reported that more than six million volunteered to fight.[887] Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened that Islamic resistance was going to become unstoppable should the war continue.[888] His spokesperson later said that the 2015 Iran nuclear deal would have delayed it but Israel would have collapsed within five years.[889] Khamenei pointed to foreign visits to Israel and said that the fall of Israel was imminent.[890]

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said that the IDF would be depleted through the ground invasion of Gaza.[891]

Addressing the United Nations, Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian warned Americans they would be unsafe if the conflict did not remain under control.[892] US military forces conducted strikes on two facilities in eastern Syria used by the IRGC.[893] President Joe Biden warned Khamenei not to attack the US military.[894]

On 1 November, the Iranian government criminalized expressions of support for Israel and making contact with its people.[895][896] That same day, Khamenei called on Muslim states to impose a food and fuel blockade on Israel.[897]

On 15 November, Reuters and the Telegraph reported that Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, conveyed to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh during their November meeting in Tehran that Iran would not directly intervene in the conflict with Israel, citing lack of prior warning about the 7 October attack. Despite this, Iran pledged to continue providing political and moral support to Hamas, urging restraint against calls for direct involvement by Iran and its ally Hezbollah.[898][899] The IRGC's Quds Force promised it would continue supporting Hamas,[900] while the IRGC's commander General Hossein Salami said that the war would bring about a political and economic decline of the US.[901][902]

The Municipality of Tehran announced that it would help rebuild Gaza after the conflict.[903]

Following the US veto of a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian called the threat of war by any party as uncontrollable.[904]

The IRGC said that the 7 October attack was done by Hamas in revenge for the killing of its head, Qassem Soleimani in 2020, which Hamas denied.[905]

United States

Polling has indicated a divide between official government policy on the Israel–Hamas war and the viewpoints of the general public.[906] A large majority of Americans support an immediate ceasefire in the conflict. A plurality of Americans oppose American military aid to Israel and believe that the United States "should be a neutral mediator".[906] A Gallup poll found that 50% of respondents supported Israel's actions in Gaza, while 45% disapproved.[907] Young Americans were less supportive of Israel than older generations.[908]

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant in Tel Aviv, Israel, 13 October 2023

Hours after Hamas's attack, US President Biden promised "rock-solid and unwavering" support to Israel and called Hamas's attack "unadulterated evil", comparing the group to ISIS.[143] To replenish Israel's stockpiles, the US said it would send Iron Dome missiles, small bombs, and JDAM conversion kits, in addition to fulfilling previous contracts to deliver F-35 fighter jets, CH-53 helicopters, and KC-46 air refueling tankers.[909] Biden also called on Congress to pass $14.3 billion in emergency military aid to Israel.[909][910] Details of weapons sent to Israel, which have been arriving daily, have been kept secret. Leaked details have shown that the US has sent laser-guided missiles, 155mm shells, new army vehicles, among others, at Israel's request.[911]

While the US says it is discussing with Israel about ways to minimize civilian casualties, the Pentagon said it would impose no limits on Israel's use of American weapons in the war.[909] Annie Shiel of the Center for Civilians in Conflict expressed concerns, saying that America is responsible for ensuring that "its assistance does not contribute to devastating civilian harm and possible violations of international humanitarian law".[909] Foreign Policy reported on a "groundswell of opposition" among US diplomats and national security officials, against what they perceived as Biden's "blank check" for the Israeli counterattack.[912] "More than 630 employees" of the US Agency for International Development signed a letter calling for an "immediate ceasefire".[913] US State Department official Josh Paul, who spent more than 11 years as the director of congressional and public affairs at the bureau overseeing arms transfers to foreign nations, resigned in protest at the US government's decision to send weapons to Israel.[914]

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the deployment of the United States Navy's Carrier Strike Group 12—led by the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford, and supported by the cruiser USS Normandy and the destroyers USS Thomas Hudner, USS Ramage, USS Carney, and USS Roosevelt—to the Eastern Mediterranean. The United States Air Force augmented its F-35, F-15, F-16, and A-10 fighter squadrons in the region,[780] reportedly to deter other actors from entering the conflict.[915]

On 15 October, it was reported that a US naval strike group composed of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, the guided missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the guided missile destroyers USS Laboon, USS Mason and USS Gravely was deployed to the eastern Mediterranean.[916] Austin also ordered that approximately 2,000 troops be prepared for possible deployment to Israel, according to several defense officials.[917]

On 17 October, it was reported that a US naval group consisting of the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan, the amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde and the dock landing ship USS Carter Hall, was deployed to the eastern Mediterranean and the Red Sea to transport the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit in case they were needed in the area.[918]

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and USS Gerald R. Ford carrier strike groups in November 2023

On 19 October, the US Department of Defense announced that the USS Carney had shot down three cruise missiles and eight drones that were northbound over the Red Sea. They said the missiles had been fired by Houthi rebels in Yemen and may have been en route to Israeli targets.[919][920]

After multiple drone and rocket attacks on military bases in Iraq that house US troops, the US ordered all non-emergency staff to leave their embassy in Baghdad and consulate in Erbil on 22 October.[921] A few days earlier, a false alarm in Al-Asad Airbase caused the death of a civilian contractor from cardiac arrest.[922] Secretary of State Antony Blinken threatened Iran that its attacks would not be tolerated.[923]

US officials said the Biden administration advised Israel to delay the ground invasion of the Gaza Strip to allow more time for hostage negotiations.[924] President Biden said that attacks on Israel were intended in part to scuttle the potential normalization of the US ally's relations with Saudi Arabia. He mentioned that Hamas attacks aimed to halt Israel-Saudi Arabia agreement.[925]

On 4 November, the Defense Department confirmed that it was flying reconnaissance drones over Gaza in "support of hostage recovery efforts".[926]

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives on 5 December passed a resolution that included language that said the House "clearly and firmly states that anti-Zionism is antisemitism". and which condemned the slogan "From the river to the sea". Yasmine Taeb, the human rights attorney and Democratic National Committee official said, "The intent of these members is to smear and silence peace activists calling to end the massacre of Palestinian children and families."[927]

On 10 December, Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said that the United States had not given Israel any deadline to complete military operations in Gaza, and that "they understand that they are not in a position to tell the IDF how long it needs in order to achieve the goals".[928]

Also in December, Biden criticized Israel's war cabinet and called on Netanyahu to replace it.[929] Later on White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby declared that some of the steps the IDF has taken to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza might go further than what the United States would have done if it were in Israel's place.[930]

United Nations

On 12 December 2023, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution ES-10/22 calling for an immediate ceasefire and the "immediate and unconditional" release of the hostages.
  In favor
  Against
  Abstentions
  Absent
  Non member

On 25 October, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a ceasefire, during a speech in which he stated that the attacks by Hamas "did not happen in a vacuum" and needed to be understood in the context of 56 years of Israel's "suffocating occupation" of Palestinians, further stating, "the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people."[931][932] Israel responded by saying it would ban UN representatives from Israel to "teach them a lesson", and called for the Secretary-General's resignation.[933][934] The Secretary-General rejected the Israeli accusations.[935]

On 27 October, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution ES-10/21 calling for an immediate and sustained humanitarian truce and cessation of hostilities and condemned "all acts of violence against Palestinian and Israeli civilians, including all acts of terror and indiscriminate attacks", adopted by a vote of 121 states to 14, with 44 abstentions.[936]

In remarks to the Security Council, UN Secretary-General Guterres expressed deep concern at "clear violations of international humanitarian law" in Gaza and also said, "It is important to also recognise the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation", leading the Israeli ambassador Gilad Erdan to call for Guterres's resignation.[937][938][932] Following this, Guterres said that he was "shocked by the misrepresentations" of his statement, pointing out he had also said "... the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas".[939][940]

On 12 December, the UN General Assembly voted to demand "immediate humanitarian ceasefire". The resolution passed overwhelmingly with 153 votes for, 23 neutral and 10 against.[941]

International

Solidarity with Israelis in Berlin, Germany on 8 October
Solidarity with Palestinians in Melbourne on 15 October

International leaders from Argentina,[942] India,[943] Philippines,[944] the United States, and European countries condemned the attacks by Hamas, expressed solidarity with Israel, said Israel has a right to defend itself from armed attacks and described Hamas's tactics as terrorism.[945][946] South Korea condemned Hamas and called Hamas's attack "indiscriminate"; expressed worries that despite missile interceptor defense systems it would remain vulnerable if North Korea attempted a similar attack on South Korea.[947] Most Latin American governments condemned Hamas's attacks in Israel, while some, such as Colombia, expressed solidarity with Palestinians.[948] The European Union announced it would review aid to Palestinian authorities to ensure the aid was not funding terrorism, and subsequently announced that immediate humanitarian aid to Gaza would be tripled.[949][950]

Austria, Germany, and Sweden suspended development aid to Palestine in response to Hamas's attack and said that they would review other projects and aid given.[951][952][953] Germany sent two Heron TP drones to Israel.[954][955] On 8 November 2023, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs announced that the German government had authorized a tenfold increase in arms exports to Israel; the export of military equipment to Israel would be treated and approved as a priority. Exports worth around 32 million euros in all of 2022 rose to almost 303 million euros in 2023, most of which was authorized after the start of the war.[956] Heads of the World Uyghur Congress[957] and the Uyghur Human Rights Project condemned Hamas while East Turkistan Government-in-Exile minister Salih Hudayar declared support for Israel.[958] Croatia's president Zoran Milanović publicly stated that Israel had lost his sympathy due to its humanitarian crimes and "reprisal actions" in Gaza.[959] Colombian president Gustavo Petro likened IDF attacks against Palestinians to Nazis and asked the Israeli ambassador to "apologize and leave the country".[960] Spain's deputy prime minister Yolanda Díaz called on the international community to put pressure on Israel to stop what she called a massacre in Gaza.[961] On multiple occasions, Pope Francis referred to Israel's actions in Gaza as "terror" and "terrorism".[962]

Responses from African governments varied, showing division about the source of the conflict and who is to blame. However, most expressed grief and deep concerns about the outbreak of violence, with condemnations of attacks against civilians and calls for restraint and de-escalation to prevent further loss of Israeli and Palestinian lives.[963]

As many as 20,000 Thai workers (around half of Israel's migrant work force) live all over Israel, including areas close to Gaza.[964] Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said their stance towards "the deadly Hamas-led attack against Israel is one of neutrality, and the Kingdom promotes a solution that would allow Palestine and Israel to coexist".[965]

Queen Rania of Jordan said leaders of Western countries had double standards and were "complicit" in civilian suffering in Gaza.[966]

A summit in Amman hosted by King Abdullah II that was also to be attended by leaders of the Palestinian Authority, US and Egypt was cancelled by Jordan on 18 October, in response to the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital explosion.[967] On the same day, China said Palestinians had been forced to move south because of Israel's evacuation order "only to suffer from air strikes in the south as well" and called the hospital explosion a "heinous attack"[968] while Russia labeled the explosion as a war crime, saying that the US was ultimately responsible.[969]

On 31 October, Bolivia severed diplomatic relations with Israel due to what the deputy foreign minister called "the aggressive and disproportionate Israeli military offensive".[970] Several other countries followed suit in severing relations with Israel.[971] South Africa, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros and Djibouti submitted a referral to the International Criminal Court asking for an investigation into possible war crimes by Israel in the Palestinian territories.[972]

Evacuations of foreign nationals

Brazil announced a rescue operation of nationals using an air force transport aircraft.[973] Poland announced that it would deploy two C-130 transport planes to evacuate 200 of its nationals from Ben-Gurion airport.[974] Hungary evacuated 215 of its nationals from Israel using two aircraft on 9 October, while Romania evacuated 245 of its citizens, including two pilgrimage groups, on two TAROM planes and two private aircraft on the same day.[975] Australia also announced repatriation flights.[976] 300 Nigerian pilgrims in Israel fled to Jordan before being airlifted home.[977]

On 12 October, the United Kingdom arranged flights for its citizens in Israel; the first plane departed Ben Gurion Airport that day. The government had said before that it would not be evacuating its nationals due to available commercial flights. However, most commercial were suspended.[978] Nepal arranged a flight to evacuate at least 254 of its citizens who were studying in Israel.[979] India launched Operation Ajay to evacuate its citizens from Israel.[980] Ukraine has facilitated the evacuation of around 450 of its citizens from Israel as of 18 October, with additional evacuation flights in the planning for the near future.[981]

Regional effects

According to Daniel Byman and Alexander Palmer, the attack showcased the decline of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the rise of Hamas as a power center in Palestinian politics. They predicted the PLO's further decline if the status quo held.[982] Laith Alajlouni wrote that the immediate effect of the Hamas offensive was to unite Hamas and PLO. However it may soon lead to conflict between them, possibly leading the PLO losing control of the security situation in the West Bank, if more militant groups there begin to launch their own independent attacks.[983]

Political journalist Peter Beaumont described the attack as "an intelligence failure for the ages" on the part of the Israeli government.[984] The Jewish News Syndicate deemed it a "failure of imagination".[985] A BBC report on the intelligence failure commented that "it must have taken extraordinary levels of operational security by Hamas".[986] US officials expressed shock at how Israeli intelligence appeared to be unaware of any preparations by Hamas.[987] Israeli officials later anonymously reported to Axios that the IDF and Shin Bet had detected abnormal movements by Hamas the day before the attack, but decided to wait for additional intelligence before raising the military's alert level. They also did not inform political leaders of the intelligence reports.[988]

Amit Segal, chief political commentator for Israel's Channel 12, said that the conflict would test Benjamin Netanyahu's survival as prime minister, noting that past wars had toppled the governments of several of his predecessors such as that of Golda Meir following the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Menachem Begin following the 1982 Lebanon War, and Ehud Olmert following the 2006 Lebanon War.[989] Prior to the formation of an emergency unity government on 11 October, Politico described the then-potential move as Netanyahu's opportunity to correct his course and save his political legacy.[990] Citing the Israeli intelligence failure, which some observers attributed to the incumbent government focusing more on internal dissent, the judicial reform, and efforts to deepen Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories,[991] some commentators criticized Netanyahu for putting aside the PLO and propping up Hamas,[221] and described him as a liability.[244][992]

In an analysis by The Times of Israel, the newspaper wrote, "Hamas has violently shifted the world's eyes back to the Palestinians and dealt a severe blow to the momentum for securing a landmark US-brokered deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia."[993] Andreas Kluth wrote in his Bloomberg News column that Hamas "torched Biden's deal to remake the Middle East", arguing that the deal that was being discussed between Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States would have left Palestinians in the cold, so the group decided to "blow the whole thing up". He added that, viewed from Gaza, things were only going to get worse, considering that Netanyahu's coalition partners opposed a two-state solution for the conflict. He suggested they would prefer to annex the entirety of the West Bank, even at the expense of turning Israel into an apartheid state.[994]

Economic impact

On 9 November, the Bank of Israel reported that the drop in labor supply caused by the war was costing the Israeli economy $600 million a week, or 6% of weekly GDP. The bank also stated that the estimate does not reflect total damage and did not include damages caused by the absence of Palestinian and foreign workers.[995] In the final quarter of 2023, the Israeli economy shrank by 5.2% quarter-to-quarter due to labour shortages in construction and from the mobilization of 300,000 reservists.[996] While Israel did still see economic growth of 2%, this was down from 6.5% growth in the year before the war. Further consequences of the war were that consumer spending declined 27%, imports declined by 42% and exports were reported to decline by 18%.

Israel's high-tech factories reported on 25 December that they had been having trouble with electronic imports from China due to recent bureaucratic obstacles, leading to higher import costs and delayed delivery times.[997] Israeli officials also reported that China had refused to send workers to their country during the war against the backdrop of a worker shortage in Israel's construction and farming sectors.[998] China's actions were described as a de facto sanction.[999][997]

The Water Transport Workers Federation of India, a trade union representing 11 major Indian ports and 3,500 workers, said it would refuse to operate shipments carrying weapons to Israel.[1000] The declaration came a few months after one Indian company halted production of Israeli police uniforms due to the war in Gaza.[1001]

Media coverage

Criticism from journalists

Over 750 journalists signed an open letter condemning "Israel's killing of reporters in Gaza and criticizing Western media's coverage of the war". The letter said newsrooms are "accountable for dehumanizing rhetoric that has served to justify ethnic cleansing of Palestinians". Signers of the letter were criticized for potentially impeding their organizations' ability to gather news, and could face management backlash,[1002] Semafor reported that Los Angeles Times journalists who signed the letter were barred from covering the Gaza war "in any way" for at least three months.[1003]

On 13 November 11 international news organizations sent a letter to Israel and Egypt, asking for access to the Gaza Strip to cover the war.[1004]

CBS reported on 14 December a statement of the International Federation of Journalists noting that "the number of journalists killed in the past two months in the war in Gaza has surpassed the amount killed in the Vietnam War, which lasted two decades".[1005] More than 50 Palestinian journalists lost their lives.[1005] Various dangerous facts such as airstrikes, but also starvation due to lack of food, risks linking for having no clean water available and shelter made that "Palestine is one of the most dangerous places for a journalist to do their job".[1005] Reporters Without Borders filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court, under section 8.2.b of the Rome Statute accusing Israel of committing war crimes against 8 journalists.[1006][1007] It also lodged a complaint against Hamas, under section 8.2.a of the Rome Statute for the killing of a reporter covering the 7 October attack.[1006]

The Committee to Protect Journalists has accused Israel of targeting journalists reporting from Gaza and their families, saying that in at least two cases, "journalists reported receiving threats from Israeli officials and Israel Defense Forces officers before their family members were killed".[1008]

Embedded journalists with Israel

Foreign media such as CNN, ABC, NBC, The New York Times, and Fox News, have limited access to Gaza only in the presence of Israeli soldiers. Vox reported that the news organizations "have to submit all materials and footage to the Israeli military for review before publication".[1007]

Censorship by social media companies

On 20 December, Human Rights Watch issued a 51-page report documenting Meta's pattern of removal and suppression of speech on Facebook and Instagram including peaceful expression in support of Palestine and public debate about Palestinian human rights.[1009]

Anonymous Sudan, a hacker group, launched a DDoS attack on ChatGPT[1010][1011] for having a perceived bias against Palestine, reflecting public statements made by OpenAI's leadership dehumanizing Palestinians, calling for more intense bombing in Gaza, and advocating ethnic cleansing.[1011][1012]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d In the Gaza Strip, smaller Palestinian groups fighting in the war include: Palestinian Freedom Movement (Al-Ansar Brigades),[6][7] Palestinian Mujahideen Movement[4][6][7] Jaysh al-Ummah,[8] and various minor al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades splinter groups (several of which possibly rejoined the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades just before the war).[7] Furthermore, a number of Palestinian militant groups in the West Bank have involved themselves in the conflict, including: Lions' Den,[9] and various al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades sub-groups such as Hornets' Nest,[10] Jenin Battalion,[11] Qalqilya Battalion, etc.[11]
  2. ^ Including 169,500 active personnel[28] and 360,000 reservists[29]
  3. ^ Per the UN[33]
  4. ^ Per Gaza Health Ministry, the total number of casualties are 29,782, including:[30]
    • 12,660+ children[31]
    • 8,570+ women[31]
    • 1,049 elderly[32]
    • 340 paramedics and medical staff[31]
    • 152 UN staff[c]
    • 200+ journalists[31]

    Per Israel:

    • 10,000+ civilians (as of 6 December 2023)[34]
    • <12,000 Hamas fighters (as of 19 February 2024)[35]

    Per US intelligence:

    • 5,000-9,000 militants (as of 21 January 2024) [36]

    Per Hamas:

    • ~6,000 Hamas fighters (as of 19 February 2024)[37]
  5. ^ 75% women and children[30][38]
  6. ^ 70% women and children[31]
  7. ^ Per Israel
  8. ^ Per Palestinian Authority
  9. ^ Including: 105 children[39][42]
  10. ^ Per Hezbollah, Lebanon and Israel
  11. ^ Including a Canadian, Australian and Syrian national[52][53]
  12. ^ Including:
  13. ^ Per Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
  14. ^ Including:[56][57]
    • 54 Iranian-backed militiamen
    • 28 Hezbollah fighters
    • 14 Syrian soldiers
    • 10 IRGC fighters
    • 5 unidentified fighters
    • 2 Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters
    • 13 civilians
  15. ^ Including:
  16. ^ Including:
  17. ^ Including:[67][68][69]
  18. ^ Per the UN[78]
  19. ^ Including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
  20. ^ It is unclear how many of them were killed by friendly fire or as a result of the Hannibal Directive. An Ynet article stated that there was an "immense and complex quantity" of friendly-fire incidents during the 7 October attack.[86][87][88][89]
  21. ^ This excludes the invading Palestinian militants who died in the subsequent fighting with Israeli armed personnel.
  22. ^ Sources that say Hamas calls for Israel's destruction cite the 1988 Hamas charter, while sources that say Hamas has accepted the 1967 borders cite the 2017 Hamas charter, 2005 Palestinian Cairo Declaration and 2006 Palestinian Prisoners' Document.
  23. ^ At the same time the vote was being held at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Israeli airstrikes killed dozens of Palestinians in Gaza.[622]
  24. ^ Francesca Albanese, Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, Balakrishnan Rajagopal [de], Aua Baldé, Gabriella Citroni, Angkhana Neelapaijit, Grażyna Baranowska, Ana Lorena Delgadillo Pérez, Reem Alsalem, Mama Fatima Singhateh, Morris Tidball-Binz [de], Ian Fry [de], Javaid Rehman, Siobhán Mullally [de], Ashwini K. P. [de], Tomoya Obokata, Fernand de Varennes [de], Michael Fakhri [de], Irene Khan, Mary Lawlor, Dorothy Estrada-Tanck [de], Ivana Radačić [hr], Elizabeth Broderick, Meskerem Geset Techane, Melissa Upreti, Farida Shaheed, Mohamed Abdelsalam Babiker [de], Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Attiya Waris, Vitit Muntarbhorn, Barbara G. Reynolds [de], Bina D'Costa, Catherine S. Namakula, Dominique Day, Miriam Ekiudoko, Isha Dyfan, Alexandra Xanthaki [de], José Francisco Calí Tzay, Richard Bennett [de], Obiora C. Okafor, David Richard Boyd, Livingstone Sewanyana, Alice Jill Edwards, Muluka-Anne Miti-Drummond [de], Ravindran Daniel, Sorcha MacLeod, Chris Kwaja, Carlos Salazar Couto, and Surya Deva [de].[687]
  25. ^ East Jerusalem is considered Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory under international law.[717][718]

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