The Israeli government declared war, claiming to have retaken control of all communities around Gaza after Hamas launched a historic surprise attack on Saturday. Some militants remain active, Israel said, adding that it launched an “extensive” attack on Hamas centers in Gaza. Nearly 1,200 people have died, according to the Associated Press. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ordered a “complete siege” of the Gaza Strip and a blockade on electricity, food and fuel. Air raid sirens are still sounding in Jerusalem and across Israel, as Hamas continues to fire rockets from Gaza.


Hamas claims to be still holding over 100 Israeli hostages, many of whom — including Americans—were taken during an assault on a music festival, leading to the deaths of at least 260 people. Muhammad Deif, the leader of the military wing of Hamas, told AP that the group launched an “operation” to “liberate all Palestinian prisoners” from Israel and end the Israeli provocations in the West Bank and Jerusalem. There has been speculation of Russian involvement. However, there has been no evidence of that. However, Russia may benefit from the shift in international attention away from its war in Ukraine. Iran has called the attack the ‘biggest failure’ ever for Israel. As the war intensifies, protests have broken out in several cities across the U.S.


What happens now? Israel now faces questions over the scale of the intelligence failure that allowed Hamas to stage an attack of this size, which has challenged the status quo in the region. According to U.S. officials, the Biden Administration has condemned the attacks but has not found a smoking gun linking Iran to the deadly assault. The U.S. promised its “full support” for Israel and is moving the USS Gerald R. Ford, the Navy’s most advanced aircraft carrier, closer to the country, while other countries have also spoken out about the conflict. Austria said it would freeze development aid for the Palestinian areas. At the same time, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have called for “diplomatic efforts” to “de-escalate violence” and establish “just and permanent peace.” Several airlines, including Egyptair, have suspended flights to Israel. Special flights are being arranged to help Israel’s military personnel living abroad to return home. As countries work to get their citizens evacuated from Israel, they have issued a travel advisory against all but essential travel (Newsweek)

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