In the early hours of Saturday, October 7, 2023, Hamas fighters launched an unprecedented attack on Israel’s southern border with Gaza, storming Israeli towns and killing Israeli soldiers and civilians. Thousands of rockets were fired into Israeli territory, and more than 1,200 were reportedly killed, many of them civilians. More than 250 people were killed in a Hamas attack at the Supernova music festival near the Gaza border, and around 200 Israeli hostages reportedly were taken back to Gaza, including women, children, and elderly people.
In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered air attacks and a “complete siege” of Gaza, stating “our enemy will pay a price the type of which it has never known.” The subsequent Israeli airstrikes have killed thousands of Palestinians, including many civilians, and that figure will likely grow.
The siege has also fast devolved into a humanitarian crisis on the ground in Gaza, with the Israeli government shutting off Gaza’s access to water, electricity, and fuel. Gaza has been under blockade by both Israel and Egypt since 2007, and borders are closed, meaning civilians can’t leave and humanitarian aid isn’t able to get in.
More than 2 million Gazans live in a strip of land the size of Philadelphia, making it one of the most densely populated places on the planet. And about 42.5 percent of the population is under the age of 14, making childhood casualties common in times of conflict.
As Vox’s Zack Beauchamp explains, nothing like this attack has happened in the modern history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; even the bloody Second Intifada in the early 2000s never saw this kind of mass incursion into Israeli territory. Now an outright war between Israel and Hamas has begun, one whose consequences for the conflict and the broader Middle East we can only dimly anticipate.
This is a developing story. Follow along for the latest news and updates.