Israel-Hamas War

What sparked the current war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip?

The situation that has unfolded since Saturday's unprecedented incursion by Hamas has garnered global attention as hundreds were killed and hundreds more taken hostage

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A surprise weekend attack on Israel by the Palestinian militant group Hamas — which included the killing of hundreds at a crowded music festival — has led Israel to declare war and seal off the Gaza Strip.

The situation that has unfolded since Saturday's unprecedented incursion by Hamas has garnered global attention as hundreds were killed and hundreds more taken hostage. Many countries, including the U.S., the U.K. and Canada have designated Hamas a terrorist organization.

The Israeli government promised Monday to hunt down Hamas militants and to punish the Gaza Strip following the weekend attack. More than 700 people were killed in Israel, including at least 260 at a crowded, open-air music festival known as the Tribe of Nova.

The armed wing of Hamas has warned that it will kill an Israeli hostage every time Israel's military bombs civilian targets in the Gaza Strip without warning.

Previous conflicts between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers brought widespread death and destruction in Gaza and days of rocket fire on Israeli towns. The situation is potentially more volatile now, with Israel’s far-right government stung by the security breach and with Palestinians in despair over a never-ending occupation in the West Bank and suffocating blockade of Gaza.

Here's what we know:


Around 1,400 Israelis and Palestinians are dead two days after Hamas launched an attack that caught Israel's vaunted military and intelligence apparatus off guard and led to fierce battles in its streets for the first time in decades.

Hamas militants blew through a fortified border fence and gunned down civilians and soldiers in Israeli communities along the Gaza frontier during a major Jewish holiday.

Backed by a barrage of rockets, Hamas militants stormed from the blockaded Gaza Strip into nearby Israeli towns, killing dozens and abducting others.

As many as 1,000 Hamas members took part, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. The rampage included an assault on a crowded music festival where authorities had removed about 260 bodies by Sunday.

The open-air Tribe of Nova music festival will go down in Israeli history as the country's worst civilian massacre.

In an assault of startling breadth, Hamas gunmen rolled into as many as 22 locations outside the Gaza Strip, including towns and other communities as far as 15 miles from the Gaza border. In some places they gunned down civilians and soldiers as Israel’s military scrambled to muster a response.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war against Hamas after the Palestinian militant group launched a surprise attack on Israel, which the IDF says left more than 1,400 dead and thousands injured.

Gunbattles continued well after nightfall, and militants held hostages in standoffs in two towns.

Israeli media, citing rescue service officials, said at least 250 people were killed and 1,500 wounded in Saturday's attack, making it the deadliest in Israel in decades. At least 232 people in the Gaza Strip were killed and 1,700 wounded in Israeli strikes, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. Hamas took an unknown number of civilians and soldiers captive into Gaza.

Israel struck back including with airstrikes that flattened a 14-story tower that held Hamas offices. At least 700 people were reported killed in Israel and more than 400 in Gaza.

The Israeli military later said it had largely gained control in its southern towns where it had been battling Hamas gunmen. But Hamas and other militants in Gaza say they are holding more than 130 soldiers and civilians snatched from inside Israel.

Israeli tanks and drones were deployed to guard breaches in the Gaza border fence to prevent new incursions. Thousands of Israelis were evacuated from more than a dozen towns near Gaza, and the military summoned 300,000 reservists — a massive mobilization in a short time.

The moves, along with Israel’s formal declaration of war on Sunday, pointed to Israel increasingly shifting to the offensive against Hamas, threatening greater destruction in the densely populated, impoverished Gaza Strip.

Already, civilians on both sides have suffered a terrible toll: around 900 people, including 73 soldiers, have been killed in Israel, and 493 people have been killed in Gaza, according to media and authorities on each side. Israel says hundreds of Hamas militants have been killed. Thousands have been wounded on both sides.

President Joe Biden announced that at least 11 Americans have been killed in the country.

Biden also believes Americans are among those being held hostage by Hamas.

Two suburban Chicago residents are believed to be among more than 150 hostages being held by the terrorist organization. Yehudit Bat Tamar and her 19-year-old daughter Natalie, of Evanston, have been reported missing in Israel amid the heavy fighting.


Hamas officials cited long-simmering tensions including a dispute over the sensitive Al-Aqsa Mosque sacred to both Muslims and Jews. Competing claims over the site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, have spilled into violence before, including a bloody 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in 2021.

In recent years, Israeli religious nationalists — such as Itamar Ben-Gvir, the national security minister — have increased their visits to the compound. Last week, during the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot, hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews and Israeli activists visited the site, prompting condemnation from Hamas and accusations that Jews were praying there in violation of the status quo agreement.

Hamas also has cited the expansion of Jewish settlements on lands Palestinians claim for a future state and Ben-Gvir’s efforts to toughen restrictions on Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

Tensions escalated with recent violent Palestinian protests. In negotiations with Qatar, Egypt and the United Nations, Hamas has pushed for Israeli concessions that could loosen the 17-year blockade on the enclave and help halt a worsening financial crisis.

Americans across the country reacted to the surprise attack against Israel by Hamas over the weekend, taking to the streets to show support for both Israel and Palestine.


The eruption of violence comes at a difficult time for Israel, which is facing the biggest protests in its history over Netanyahu’s proposal to weaken the Supreme Court while he is on trial for corruption.

The protest movement accuses Netanyahu of making a power grab. That has bitterly divided society and unleashed turmoil within the military, with hundreds of reservists threatening to stop volunteering to report for duty in protest.

Reservists are the backbone of the army, and protests within the ranks have raised concerns about cohesion, operational readiness and power of deterrence as it confronts threats on multiple fronts. Netanyahu called up “an extensive mobilization of reserve forces” Saturday.

U.N. Secretary General António Guterres condemned the Hamas attack against Israel but said he was “deeply distressed" by the country's subsequent imposition of a total siege on the Gaza Strip.


The declaration gave the green light for Israel to take “significant military steps” against Hamas. The army called up around 300,000 reservists, and a major question was whether the Israeli military would launch a ground assault into Gaza.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Monday that he has ordered a “complete siege” on Gaza and that authorities would cut electricity and block the entry of food and fuel to the Palestinian territory.

The announcement came after the Israeli military said it had regained “control” of border communities taken by Hamas. Speaking to reporters, the chief military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said there were some isolated incidents but no fighting going on Monday morning.

He cautioned, however, that there could still be militants in the area and that forces were conducting searches.

Israel and Egypt have imposed various levels of blockade on Gaza since Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.

Israel had hit more than 1,000 targets in Gaza as of Monday, its military said. Airstrikes leveled much of the town of Beit Hanoun in the enclave’s northeast corner. Hamas had been using the town as a staging ground for attacks, Hagari said.

The leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which participated in Saturday’s attack, said it was holding more than 30 Israelis among dozens of captives in Gaza. He said they would not be released until all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are freed.

Photos: Israel-Hamas War


Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the Ford carrier strike group to sail to the Eastern Mediterranean to be ready to assist Israel. The deployment — which also includes a host of ships and warplanes — underscores the concern that the United States has in trying to keep the conflict from growing.

The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting about the situation and took no immediate action on a U.S. demand that its 15 members condemn the Hamas attack.

Russia’s U.N. ambassador told The Associated Press that long-stalled negotiations between the two sides need to resume. China’s ambassador said it was important to come back to a two-state solution, where Israel and Palestine live side-by-side.

But U.S. Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood said the ongoing violence needed to be dealt with first.

Germany’s development minister said her country would review its aid for Palestinian areas.

In Iran — a longtime supporter of Hamas and other militant groups — senior officials praised the incursion. President Ebrahim Raisi spoke by phone with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nakhalah, the state-run IRNA news agency reported Sunday.

Egypt spoke with both sides about a potential cease-fire, but an Egyptian official said Israel was not open to a truce “at this stage.”

Major airlines have suspended flights in and out of Israel after the nation declared war following a massive attack by Hamas.

Scores of arriving and departing flights at Ben Gurion were canceled or delayed, according to the airport’s online flight board, which also showed a steady trickle of flights. Most were operated by Israel's national airline El Al along with others by regional carriers like Turkey's Pegasus Airlines and Greece's Blue Bird Airways.

American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines suspended service as the U.S. State Department issued travel advisories for the region citing potential for terrorism and civil unrest.

American suspended service to Tel Aviv through Friday. The airline said that it has issued a travel alert providing additional flexibility for customers whose travel plans are impacted.

“We continue to monitor the situation with safety and security top of mind and will adjust our operation as needed,” American said.

United said it allowed two scheduled flights out of Tel Aviv late Saturday and early Sunday and accommodated its customers, crews and employee travelers who were at the airport. The airline said that its Tel Aviv flights will remain suspended until conditions improve.

Delta said its Tel Aviv flights have been canceled into this week. The airline said it's monitoring the situation and making schedule adjustments accordingly. The company said customers with canceled flights or who want to change their Tel Aviv ticket should check the Delta app, website or call Delta reservations to make adjustments.

Airlines in Europe and Asia also put flights on hold amid the hostilities, offering refunds and waiving rebooking fees for passengers.

British Airways said it’s planning to continue operating flights to Israel “over the coming days with adjusted departure times.”

President Joe Biden made remarks on Saturday after a surprise attack on Israel by Hamas.


The number of displaced Gazans staying at schools converted into shelters jumped by tens of thousands, to some 123,000, the U.N. said. The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said a school sheltering more than 225 people took a direct hit but there were no casualties amid heavy shelling and airstrikes in different parts of the crowded territory of 2 million people.

Associated Press video Sunday showed a large crater in the middle of the school.

“Schools and other civilian infrastructure, including those sheltering displaced families, must never come under attack,” UNRWA said in a statement.

Cease-fires have stopped major fighting in past rounds of conflict but have always proven shaky. Each agreement in the past has offered a period of calm, but the deeper, underlying issues are rarely addressed, setting the stage for the next round of airstrikes and rockets.

Aliza Ainis, who was raised in Chicago but now lives in Tel Aviv, is among those waiting out the worst of the fighting, and says that streets are mostly deserted during the conflict.   

 “I’ve been home all day. It’s very eerie outside,” she said. “Mostly only dogwalkers out, or people going to the store, getting supplies. We’ve mostly been home, nervous to leave. I feel more safe in my apartment than outside right now.”  

With the ongoing fighting, Ainis was asked if she had considered leaving Israel, but said that the conflict has her wary of flying.

“I don’t feel safe flying because there are rockets, and I don’t feel comfortable getting in an airplane,” she said. “I also have a dog that I don’t want to leave. I think everything needs to be played by ear. I don’t want to be here during this situation, I don’t want a war to be happening, but getting out of the country, I don’t know how safe it is either.”

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