Major Escalation between Gaza and Israel: A Timeline

October 9, 2023

The Hamas attack included waves of rocket fire into Israel and infiltration from Gaza into Israeli settlements.
Smoke rises over the buildings as the Israeli airstrikes continue in Gaza City, Gaza on October 9, 2023. Photo by Anadolu Images.


major escalation in Gaza began on October 7, 2023, when the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) launched a sudden and unprecedented attack on Israel, targeting settlements near Gaza and in the Negev. The surprise attack caught Israel completely off guard and revealed its lack of preparedness for a full-scale confrontation with Gaza, let alone a multifront war.

The roots of the escalation can be traced to the tensions between Palestinians and Israelis in recent weeks. The Occupied Palestinian Territories have witnessed an increase in violence by the Israeli military and settlers around the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces/settlers in the West Bank, including settler attacks on Palestinian villages in the West Bank.

The Hamas attack began at 6:30 a.m. local time on Friday, when sirens went off in several areas, including Israeli settlements on the Gaza border. Rockets were then fired into Israel, reaching Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Unprecedent attack

The Hamas onslaught included waves of rocket fire into Israel and infiltration from Gaza into Israeli settlements. According to media reports, more than 5,000 rockets were fired at Israel in the early hours of the escalation.

The commander-in-chief of the Al-Qassam Brigades, Mohammed Deif, issued a statement at 8:00 a.m. in which he openly declared the start of a military operation called Operation Al-Aqsa Typhoon. He confirmed that the first attack targeted Israeli positions, airports, and military sites. Deif explained the reason for launching the operation, stressing the “desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque by the Israelis and their audacity to insult the Prophet Muhammad.”

He added that the operation aims to put an end to the Israeli violations, stressing that as of October 7 “the security coordination with the occupation will stop and the Palestinian people will also resume their revolution and establish a state.” Deif called for the unity of all Arab and Muslim forces to defeat the occupation, urging “everyone who has a weapon to use it.”

Palestinian control of Sderot police station and the use of drones

Palestinian fighters who stormed Sderot took control of the town’s police station. They reportedly took the entire police force hostage.

Hamas used advanced technology to coordinate its attacks, employing modern communication systems and aerial surveillance to identify Israeli targets. The Israeli military struggled to counter Hamas’s attacks, as Palestinian rockets were fired at different areas, making them difficult to intercept.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) responded with intensive air strikes on Gaza, destroying many Palestinian civilian and military targets. This resulted in a significant number of casualties, with over 560 deaths reported, including 78 children and 41 women, while 2,900 others were injured (as of Monday, October 9, 2023 at 3 am local time). Palestinians reported that entire families were killed under the rubble after Israeli air strikes targeted residential buildings.

In Israel, the escalation resulted in more than 700 casualties, including over 2,300 wounded. More than 100 Israelis were reportedly captured by Palestinian fighters and taken to Gaza. Israel said that of the 700 Israelis killed, more than 74 were members of its armed forces.

Lebanon joins the escalation

Mortar shells were heard in the Shebaa Farms and Kfar Shuba Hills in Southern Lebanon. Israeli army radio reported the firing of shells from inside Lebanon at Israeli army positions in the Shebaa Farms and Mount Hermon.

According to Reuters, quoting security sources, the shells hit an Israeli military position in the Shebaa Farms. The Israeli army responded by firing at what it called “targets in Southern Lebanon.” Hezbollah resumed shelling, saying it had targeted the Israeli intelligence site and other sites with a large number of artillery shells and guided missiles.

Gunmen from Lebanon broke into the Israeli borders, where they clashed with Israeli forces, injuring 6, one of them in critical condition.

The escalation has created a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, with 21,000 Palestinians displaced by Israeli air strikes on civilian homes. Many countries, including Egypt and Jordan, have called on both parties to cease hostilities and seek peaceful ways to resolve the conflict.

It is unclear how the escalation will end. Israel is seeking revenge for its losses, and the Palestinian factions will not stop until the siege of Gaza is lifted and a future deal is reached to exchange Israeli prisoners for the 6,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

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