Israel Declares War: Escalation in Gaza and Beyond

Image Credit: Merch HÜSEY on Unsplash

Amira Ibrahim delves into the escalating Israel-Palestine conflict, exploring the declaration of war by Israel and its profound impact.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel had entered a state of war against Hamas.

What happened between Israel and Hamas on Saturday?

Around 6:30 a.m., many Israelis woke up to sirens after rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip. Hamas claimed that they launched an initial barrage of 5,000 rockets, while Israel's military reported the firing of 2,500 rockets. The Iron Dome, a high-tech defence system developed by Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and funded by the United States, was expected to intercept these rocket attacks. It became operational in 2011 and is acknowledged as 90% effective by Israel and US Department of Defense officials. Despite the capabilities of the Iron Dome, Hamas successfully executed a surprise attack on Saturday, breaching southern Israel and targeting twenty-two locations. The operation is now recognised as Al-Aqsa Storm by Hamas military commander Muhammad Deif.

Israel’s Response

In response to the attack, Israel initiated ‘Operation Swords of Iron’, a series of strikes on the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Netanyahu declared, "We are at war, and we will win." He affirmed that the Israel Defense Force (IDF) would use all its resources to destroy Hamas's capabilities. Air strikes intensified after nightfall, leading to the destruction of residential buildings in Gaza City. Israel formally declared war on Saturday. As of Wednesday, Israel reported launching 6,000 bombs on Gaza, further escalating the Palestinian casualty count. US Secretary of State Blinken expressed unwavering support for Israel during his visit. The situation in Gaza prompted a mass exodus of Palestinians from their homes in anticipation of an Israeli ground assault. The United Nations cautioned that the order to relocate 1.1 million people within 24 hours was "impossible" and could lead to devastating consequences.

Impact on Palestine

In response, Israel declared a "total" blockade of the already besieged Gaza Strip, including a prohibition on essential supplies. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant made a statement on Monday. "We are putting a complete siege on Gaza". 

"No electricity, no food, no water, no gas - it's all closed," said Gallant.

With approximately 2.3 million people residing in Gaza, it remains one of the most densely populated areas in the world.This order required the evacuation of Gaza City residents to move further south within the Gaza Strip. Palestinians in southern and central areas of the enclave reported airstrikes in their regions. According to Palestinian authorities, the ongoing conflict has resulted in the death of at least 1,800 people and over 6,000 others sustained injuries in Gaza since the relentless bombardment began on Saturday. The UN humanitarian office reported that "mass displacement continues," with over 400,000 people becoming homeless in Gaza and 23 aid workers killed.


Israel's Actions Target Neighbouring Nations

On Monday, Israel artillery strikes resulted in the death of three members of the Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah, according to a statement from the organisation. An Israeli deputy commander and two Palestinian combatants were also killed. In response, Hezbollah launched a guided missile at an Israeli military vehicle the following day. Israel retaliated by striking a Hezbollah observation post linked to the predominantly Shia armed group. The escalation in hostilities has prompted hundreds of Lebanese residents to seek refuge in the southern suburbs of Beirut.

Furthermore, Israeli forces also targeted runways at Syria's main airports in Damascus and Aleppo. It has recently come to light that Israel has used white phosphorus in its ongoing military operations in Gaza and Lebanon, placing civilians at significant risk. 

Human Rights Watch explained that “upon contact, white phosphorus can burn people, thermally and chemically, down to the bone as it is highly soluble in fat and therefore in human flesh. White phosphorus fragments can exacerbate woFootage verified by Human Rights Watch shows the use of artillery-fired white phosphorus in Gaza and Lebanon in violation of international law.


Recent events have showcased an escalating conflict, with Israel responding to attacks from Hamas, resulting in significant Palestinian casualties and a subsequent Israeli military operation.