JERUSALEM, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) — Hamas, an Islamist Palestinian group ruling the Gaza Strip, launched a massive surprise attack on Israel on Saturday, which included firing thousands of rockets and infiltrating militants into southern Israel.
In response, the Israeli military conducted tens of airstrikes targeting Hamas sites and headquarters in the coastal enclave. The new round of conflict has led to hundreds of people killed on both sides, with thousands injured. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared the country “at war,” and the military ordered the mass mobilization of reservists.
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has shown no sign of abating in recent years, as direct peace talks between the two sides stalled in 2014 following disputes over Israeli settlements and the recognition of a Palestinian state. The Palestinians want to establish an independent state on the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The following are some fierce confrontations between Israel and the Palestinians in recent years:
July-August 2014: Israel launched a massive military offensive in the Gaza Strip, carrying out air strikes on hundreds of Palestinian militant targets. The attack killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, over 70 Israelis and foreigners, and injured tens of thousands in 50 days of bloodshed.
May 14, 2018: Massive protests broke out in many Palestinian cities against the United States moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Clashes erupted between protesters and the Israeli army, resulting in 58 Palestinians killed and more than 2,800 injured, registering the largest single-day death toll among Palestinians since the 2014 Gaza war.
March 2018-December 2019: An anti-Israel mass rally, known as the Great March of Return, began at the fence between Israel and Gaza on March 30, 2018, demanding the return of Palestinian refugees to their lands and an end to the blockade Israel has imposed on the coastal enclave since 2007. Israeli soldiers fired at the demonstrators to keep them back.
The weekly protests lasted till the end of 2019. At least 223 Palestinians were killed and about 10,000 injured in the protests, according to B’tselem, an Israeli human rights group. The border violence also triggered fighting between Hamas and Israeli troops.
April-May 2021: During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, several clashes erupted between Israel and Palestine as the former restricted Palestinian access to parts of Jerusalem and asked more than a dozen Palestinian families to move out of East Jerusalem.
In early May 2021, serious clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli forces in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a site holy to both Muslims and Jews. Hamas demanded Israel withdraw its forces from the compound by May 10, 2021. Minutes after the deadline, Hamas unleashed about 150 rockets into Israel from Gaza.
In response, Israel carried out air strikes on the enclave. The fighting continued for 11 days, resulting in the deaths of at least 232 people in Gaza and 12 in Israel.
August 5-7, 2022: At least 44 Palestinians were killed in Gaza during three days of violence that began on Aug. 5, 2022, with Israeli airstrikes targeting a commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement.
Israel claimed that the strikes targeted PIJ sites and operatives. In retaliation, the PIJ launched about 1,100 rockets toward Israel, some reaching as far as five kilometers west of Jerusalem. Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket system intercepted the rockets, preventing casualties.
Jan. 27, 2023: PIJ militants in Gaza launched two rockets at Israel in retaliation for an earlier Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, where seven Palestinian gunmen and two civilians were killed.
The rockets triggered alarms in Israeli communities near Gaza but caused no casualties. Israel later launched airstrikes on Gaza.
May 9-13, 2023: On May 9, Israel launched an operation against the PIJ in the Gaza Strip, killing three of the group’s top commanders.
The offensive occurred less than a week after a rocket attack was launched from the Gaza Strip on southern Israel following the death of a senior PIJ member, who had been on hunger strike for months in an Israeli jail.
In response to the Israeli strike, the PIJ fired at least 1,000 rockets, some deep into Israel.
The five-day cross-border violence between the two sides claimed at least 33 Palestinian lives while killing an Israeli civilian and a Palestinian worker in Israel, according to the Israeli police. A cease-fire agreement, brokered by Egypt, between Israel and the PIJ, came into effect on May 13 and ended the escalation.
June 19, 2023: Israeli forces, supported by a rare use of an attack helicopter, killed six Palestinians and injured at least 90 others in an hours-long gunbattle in Jenin in the northern West Bank, where eight Israeli soldiers were also wounded.
July 3-4, 2023: The Israeli military waged a large-scale military operation on the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank on July 3, in an attempt to thwart militants within the camp. According to official figures, 13 Palestinians and an Israeli soldier were killed.