The October 7 Massacre
On October 7, 2023, Palestinian terrorist organizations launched a surprise attack from Gaza involving a massive barrage of rockets and a mass infiltration into southern Israel. At least 22 Israeli communities near the border were targeted. Documentation found on the bodies of terrorists indicate their mission was to “kill as many individuals as possible” and to “capture hostages,” alongside maps that marked “places with crowds, synagogues, and kindergartens.” The terrorists were instructed to kill any hostages that may resist, use the others as “human shields,” and torture them if they didn’t comply. Horrific atrocities were committed during the attack, with widespread evidence of rape and torture and people being burned alive. By the end of the attack, approximately 1,200 Israelis had been killed, the vast majority of them civilians. More than 240 individuals, including children, disabled, and elderly, were taken hostage.
Reports from both the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post indicate that the attack was planned over many months in cooperation with numerous other terror proxies of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The U.S. has said that the Iranian regime was broadly complicit in the attack due to its funding and arming of the terrorist organizations involved.
The War in Gaza
In response to the 10/7 terror attack, Israel declared war on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, launching Operation Swords of Iron. Some 360,000 reservists were subsequently called up. The IDF initially focused on securing southern Israel where numerous terrorists remained hidden, as well as re-establishing a secure border with Gaza. Thousands of airstrikes have since been carried out on terrorist targets inside Gaza, including tunnels, command centers, and senior Hamas leaders. After a series of more limited raids, IDF ground forces entered the Gaza Strip on 10/27 and have remained there ever since, fighting terrorist forces.
At least 9,500 rockets, mortars, and drones have been launched at Israel. Approximately 12% of the rockets and mortars have misfired and landed inside the Gaza Strip.
The IDF has identified at least 240 Israelis who were taken hostage and remain in Gaza. Another four who were taken hostage were released, and one was rescued. The body of at least one hostage, Shani Louk, was located on 10/30. The number of hostages may change as more bodies are identified.
At least 800 terrorists were killed inside Israel during the attack. The Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry claims more than 11,000 Gazans have been killed, though these figures have not been verified by any independent sources, nor do they distinguish between civilians and terrorists. The figures include the 471 that Hamas claims were killed at al-Ahli hospital on 10/17, notwithstanding Western intelligence suggests the true figure could be as few as 10-50, and that it was hit by an Islamic Jihad rocket. An unknown number have been killed by misfired rockets launched by terrorist groups inside Gaza.
As the war progressed, Israel has made numerous efforts to remove civilians from conflict areas. Over 250,000 Israelis have been evacuated from communities near the borders with Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria. Since 10/13, the IDF has also been urgently requesting Gazans residing in the northern part of the territory to evacuate southward, away from where the fighting is expected to be most intense. Approximately 750,000 Gazans complied. The IDF also began instituting daily humanitarian pauses to facilitate the further evacuation of Gazans from the northern part of the territory. The IDF continues to make efforts to warn residents to evacuate ahead of specific airstrikes. There have been numerous reports that Hamas is preventing civilians from leaving their homes after such warnings, and that the terrorist organization also worked to block Gazans attempting to evacuate southward.
After the 10/7 terror attack, the IDF instituted a siege on the Gaza Strip. The flow of electricity was shut off, though it had already been mostly cut off after 9 of the 10 electricity lines from Israel into Gaza were destroyed by Palestinians. The flow of goods from Israel into Gaza was also shut down. Israel has taken steps to ensure essential supplies enters the Gaza Strip, however. Though Israel supplies only 7% of Gaza’s water, it has restored 2 of the 3 water pipelines into Gaza since 10/15. After inspection by Israeli security, trucks carrying humanitarian aid are also being allowed into Gaza through Egypt’s Rafah Crossing. On 10/29, Israel reportedly agreed to dramatically increase the number of aid trucks entering the territory. Concerns remain, however, about the documented practice of terror organizations in Gaza diverting such aid for use in its terror activities, and the IDF reports that Hamas is hoarding a large amount of fuel.
Judea & Samaria
After the 10/7 massacre, Palestinians throughout Judea & Samaria held marches and distributed sweets to celebrate. Numerous support demonstrations have since been held, during which Palestinians – including officials belonging to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’ party, Fatah – have called for Palestinians to carry out terror attacks throughout Judea, Samaria, and the rest of Israel.
Palestinian terrorists have attempted numerous attacks in Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem, including bombings, shootings, stabbings, and ramming attacks. On 10/30, an Israeli was also arrested on suspicion of killing a Palestinian.
Israeli forces have also carried out numerous operations to detain wanted terrorists and to destroy terrorist infrastructure. As of 11/15, approximately 1,750 Palestinians have been detained, including 1,000 Hamas operatives. There have been numerous attempts to attack Israeli forces during these operations, resulting in the death of numerous terrorists. On 10/21, the IDF struck a terror cell inside Al-Ansar mosque in Jenin that was planning an imminent terror attack. On 10/7, a group of terrorists was hit by a drone strike in the Jenin refugee camp. On 10/30, another 4 armed terrorists were killed during a raid in Jenin, including one of the founders of the Jenin branch of the Islamic Jihad’s al-Quds Brigade.
Since the war began, Hezbollah and other terror organizations in Lebanon and Syria have carried out at least 190 attacks against Israel, including rockets, mortars, anti-tank missiles, and attempted infiltration attacks.
There have also been a number of attempts by terrorists in Yemen to launch missiles and drones toward Israel. The attacks have either been intercepted by the U.S. Navy, the Israeli Defense Forces, or instead hit Egyptian territory.