Hamas, since its conception, stands in opposition to Israel, with the terrorist group’s leadership vowing for the erasure of the Jewish state and the creation of an Islamic state in its place.
While the group has a history of attacking Israel, the latest violence over the weekend was on a larger scale than anything seen in decades. The military activity — which had been planned and given the go-ahead by leaders in Iran, according to the Wall Street Journal — was labelled Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.
The reason given by Hamas for launching the action was “in defense of the Aqsa Mosque,” an important Muslim holy site in Jerusalem, which it claims Israel had allowed Jewish groups to “desecrate” praying at the site.
It also cited the longstanding Israeli blockade of the Gaza strip, which has been ongoing since 2007, and Israeli violence against Palestinians as reasons for the terror attack.
As of September, 227 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank in 2023, which is more than 2022’s total and was far greater than the 29 Israeli fatalities suffered up to that point, according to the United Nations.
On Sunday, Saleh al-Arouri, deputy chief of Hamas’s political bureau, claimed the terrorist group had taken enough Israeli soldiers and civilian hostages during the shock attack on Saturday to swap for all the Palestinian prisoners in the country’s jails, said to number 5,200.
In response to Hamas’ actions, Israel Defense Forces has called up thousands of reserve troops and amassed them on the border of the West Bank and is poised to launch its own ground operation.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said told all civilians in the area to leave because the Israeli military will turn “all Hamas hiding places into rubble.”