Israel launches massive attack on Gaza
Israeli planes began bombing Gaza in the early hours of Friday, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed the Palestinian group Hamas for Thursday’s rocket attack from Lebanese territory.
“The IDF is currently striking in Gaza,” the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tweeted at 12:21 am local time.
Palestinian media outlets reported that Hamas air defenses have been activated. There were no reports of casualties so far. Videos shared on social media showed explosions lighting up the night.
مستوطنون غلاف غزة يلتقطون صورا لغزة وهي تقصف الآن من قبل الطيران الحربي الإسرائيلي 🇵🇸 pic.twitter.com/McliQFW4SK— غزة الآن - Gaza Now (@GazaNownews) April 6, 2023
“We will strike our enemies and they will pay the price for any act of aggression,” Netanyahu said on Thursday, after some 34 rockets were fired from southern Lebanon. No one took responsibility for the attack, but the IDF blamed Hamas, a militant Palestinian group headquartered in Gaza.
Israeli media called the attack the most serious escalation since 2006, when Israel attempted to dislodge Hezbollah from southern Lebanon. That war is widely considered a Hezbollah victory.
According to local media, Hamas and Hezbollah have placed their long-range rockets on high alert, and may strike at central Israel in response to the IDF bombing.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, whom Netanyahu fired last week but reinstated after public backlash, has instructed the IDF to prepare for “all possible options of retaliation.” All IDF personnel were reportedly recalled from leave and the units near the border with Lebanon placed on high alert on Thursday.
Media outlets in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have speculated that a strike on Gaza was certain, while another operation in Lebanon was highly likely.
Earlier this week, Israeli riot police arrested hundreds of Palestinians at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, disrupting services during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Some Palestinians had flocked to the mosque after reports that Israeli settlers were planning to ritually sacrifice a goat there.
Previous clashes at al-Aqsa, in May 2021, triggered an 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas. It eventually ended in a ceasefire mediated by Egypt.
Just last week, Netanyahu faced mass protests organized by the liberal opposition, which called for his resignation over the proposed overhaul of Israel’s supreme court.