In a shocking turn of events, the Middle East has once again become the epicenter of global attention. The militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip, launched a surprise attack on Israel, marking the biggest sustained assault in years25. This attack, however, was not solely the work of Hamas. According to senior members of Hamas and Hezbollah, another Iran-backed militant group, Iranian security officials played a significant role in planning the assault1.
The attack, dubbed "Operation Al-Aqsa Storm," was a coordinated effort involving land, sea, and air forces6. The assault began with a barrage of over 5,000 rockets fired into Israel, followed by Hamas fighters crossing the border from Gaza into Israel's southern cities56. The Israeli military responded by calling up reservists and ordering retaliatory strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza5.
The involvement of Iran in this attack is a significant revelation. A spokesman for Hamas, Ghazi Hamad, confirmed that the militant group had received support from its ally Iran for the surprise attacks on Israel4. The Biden administration also acknowledged that there was "no doubt" Tehran has been providing support for Hamas in the form of funding and arms9.
The attack has resulted in a state of war between Israel and Hamas, as declared by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu5. Israeli troops have been engaged in fierce fighting to regain control of territory in the country’s south and struggling to seal the border to further incursions3811.
The violence, according to Hamad, came in response to attacks by Jewish settlers in the West Bank. He stated, “Every day they build settlements, seize our lands, kill our people, and enter our cities, and through mediators, Egyptians, Qataris or the United Nations, we told them to stop, but they did not listen to anyone”4.
The surprise attack has not only affected Israel but has also caught the U.S. national security community off guard10. The U.S. is now looking for ways in which it could assist Israel following Saturday’s unprecedented attack by Hamas fighters9.
This event underscores the growing risks to U.S. allies and the existential peril faced by Israel21012. The involvement of Iran in the planning and execution of the attack adds a new dimension to the conflict, highlighting the intricate web of alliances and rivalries that continue to shape the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East.