Gaza Strip —
On Saturday, the militant Palestinian group Hamas surprised Israel with a large, violent attack. Hundreds of people were killed, and over 150 were taken prisoner. Israel has responded by declaring war on Hamas, killing hundreds in its attacks on the Gaza Strip.
Hamas is a group of militant Palestinians who have promised to fight over Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Hamas is considered a terrorist group by many countries, including the United States. Hamas and Israel have a long history of fighting.
Gaza is an area of Palestinian land controlled by Hamas. The Gaza Strip has been largely cut off from the outside world by Israel and Egypt since Hamas took control in 2007.
On Saturday morning, Hamas began firing rockets at Israel. The group sent thousands of rockets over a wide area. Israel has a special defense system which usually protects it well against rocket attacks.
After the rocket attacks started, Hamas began a large ground attack. Hundreds of Hamas fighters crossed into Israel, over land, across water, and even by air. They attacked soldiers and civilians in 22 Israeli towns.
By Sunday morning, at least 700 people in Israel were reported dead, and thousands injured. Hamas militants took over 150 people prisoner. The prisoners included the very young and very old.
The attack on Israel came as a huge surprise. The two sides have fought for years, but almost all of the fighting has been in the West Bank or Gaza, which aren’t part of Israel’s land.
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, declared, “We are at war and we will win it.” Mr. Netanyahu called up reserve forces, and Israel began working to make its borders stronger.
Israel’s military quickly began using jets to attack the Gaza Strip, flattening buildings, and killing over 400 people. Israel said it was targeting buildings that held Hamas fighters. But Palestinian sources say the attacks killed many civilians, and hit a hospital, a refugee camp, and a market.
Palestinians have long been upset by the way they’ve been treated by Israel. But it’s not clear why Hamas launched its attack when it did. The attack came during a Jewish holiday and almost exactly 50 years after another famous surprise attack on Israel.
It’s also not clear what Hamas hoped to gain by making the attack. Whenever there is fighting between the two sides, Israel’s more powerful military almost always responds with far greater force and loss of life than the attacks by Hamas. In an 11-day war between the two sides in 2021, about 15 people in Israel were killed, while over 250 Palestinians were killed.
Though Hamas controls Gaza, not all Palestinians like Hamas. Hamas leaders might have thought that a fight with Israel would unite Palestinians behind the group. The attack could also be an attempt to keep Israel and Saudi Arabia from becoming more friendly.
Israel is now promising to block Gaza off completely, with “no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel.”
One of the great concerns is that the fighting could grow and the situation could become even more deadly.
Note: The situation between Israel and Gaza is very serious. If this article brings up questions or worries for you, be sure to discuss them with an adult you trust. This article attempts to explain the background for this event in simple terms. But these issues are extremely complicated, and there are many important points that haven’t been covered here.