Timeline of Events

7 Oct 2023 – The Outbreak. The likely commencement of the third Intifada*. Hamas, a designated terrorist organisation according to the UK and US, launched a surprise assault against Israel. Their operation combined land, sea, and air operations as well as rocket attacks. While Hamas claimed they launched 5,000 rockets into Israel, Israel estimates this number at 2,500. The scope and scale of this current incursion into Israel has not been seen since the last Intifada in 2005, with Hamas having taken a number of Israeli settlements that border the Gaza Strip. Israel has responded with what it has called Operation Iron Sword. 

Rocket Barrage. At approximately 0630 local time, Hamas launched a large-scale rocket attack against multiple locations in Israel. Due to Hamas firing thousands of rockets simultaneously, they were able to overwhelm Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system which has historically had a high effectiveness in intercepting against Hamas’s less-technologically developed munitions. The attack has drawn criticism of Israel’s security services’ preparedness. Hamas cites decades of Israeli persecution against Palestinians as the motivation behind these attacks. Their operation, spearheaded by the Al-Qassem Brigade, led to the abduction of hostages, including the elderly, women, and children, likely held for ransom. The casualties include ten (10) British nationals and nine (9) American citizens among others.

Gaza Breached. Following the initial onslaught of Hamas’ rocket strikes, approximately 1,000 armed militants stormed blockaded locations of the Gaza fence. Geolocated footage has emerged showing militants bulldozing, and cutting holes in fencing, and subsequently, infiltrating Israeli settlements, as well as the Supernova music festival in Re’im – where approximately 260 people alone have been killed. They demonstrated a well-orchestrated assault, targeting 27 different locations, as well as being able to penetrate approximately 23km into Israel, into the town of Ofakim. Further videos have emerged of gun fights taking place in the streets between Hamas militants and the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). Hamas fighters have reportedly taken over 130 Israeli citizens and soldiers, including high-ranking officers, hostage, and are holding them in various, underground, and unknown locations within Gaza. Reports are already circulating that at least four (4) hostages have been killed while under the custody of Hamas.

8 Oct 2023 – Hezbollah’s Solidarity. The Islamist militant, and designated terrorist group, Hezbollah launched missiles and artillery shells into Israel from southern Lebanon “in solidarity” with Hamas. Rocket attacks from Lebanon continue to be intercepted by Israeli air defence but no casualties have been reported in relation to this specific attack. Hezbollah has an estimated 100,000 rockets at their disposal and is heavily backed by Iran. Hezbollah also maintains a presence in the Lebanese parliament and occupies important ministerial roles, granting them substantial sway within the nation’s political landscape. Lebanese opposition parties to Hezbollah have also stated that the group have steered the nation into conflicts. 

9 Oct 2023 – Gaza Siege. The Israeli Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, has ordered for the complete siege of Gaza, stating that they are fighting barbarians and will respond accordingly. Additionally, the Defence Minister of Israel has ordered the cessation of electricity, food, water and gas to be sent to the Gaza Strip. This will almost certainly lead to the worsening of humanitarian conditions in Gaza for the civilian population. The IDF has now confirmed that they have deployed helicopters to target enemy locations within Lebanon. Air raid sirens continue to sound in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. This has seen a large-scale mobilisation of reserves to the south of the country bordering the Gaza Strip. The death toll among Israelis stands at over 800, whilst retaliatory strikes have killed at least 500 people in Gaza.

So What?

Rescuing the hostages will require the IDF to conduct a highly complex ground assault on multiple locations throughout the Gaza Strip. They would have to cover a 140-square mile, densely populated region, consisting of more than 2 million people, as well as including tunnels which Hamas fighters exploit to infiltrate Israeli territory from Gaza. Hamas will highly likely employ the hostages as leverage in prisoner swaps and as instruments for gaining global recognition through propaganda. Israel has conducted prisoner negotiations with terrorist groups previously but has also responded to such events by conducting precision strike operations against military leadership. Being able to uncover hostage locations without alerting Hamas fighters will be an almost impossible task, and one that will lead to catastrophes for both Israel and Palestine, seeing casualties soar.

The international response to the outbreak of a new phase of the Israel/Palestine conflict has been largely as expected. The UK, EU and US have come out in strong support of Israel and its right to defend itself as a sovereign recognised nation. The US has sent its flagship aircraft carrier the USS Gerald R. Ford along with its accompanying strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean in a show of support for Israel. Hezbollah and Iran have shown their strong support for the action taken by Hamas and their continued fight for liberation against what they see as an occupation of Palestinian lands. Moreover, there have been continued displays of support for Palestine in major Western cities including, New York, Chicago and Ottawa. Demonstrations have also taken place in Spain and South Africa in support of the Palestinian cause. Further, the Taliban have asked permission from Middle Eastern countries for safe passage to Israel to back the Hamas movement, stating it will "conquer Jerusalem". This is unlikely mostly given the distance of over 3000km between Afghanistan and Israel. 

*Intifada: translates directly from Arabic as “shaking off” and is the term used to describe the major uprisings/rebellions against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

What Next (in the short term)?

  • We will likely see the Gaza Strip situation deteriorate before it gets better, with an ever-increasing humanitarian crisis continuing. Israeli air attacks and shelling targeted at residential locations have displaced approximately 124,000 Palestinians in Gaza.
  • It is highly likely that there will be a significant humanitarian crisis in Gaza following the conclusion of kinetic activities. This could be exacerbated by any Israeli occupation of the area.
  • It is likely that Hamas's latest offensive operation was largely funded, and weapons supplied by Iran, in their continued campaign to destabilise the Israeli state. 
  • It is a realistic possibility that Israel's counter-offensive against Hamas will see the re-occupation of the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces, this will likely draw other regional actors into the conflict with the possibility of Israel having to fight a war on at least two fronts, with Lebanese Hezbollah, another designated terrorist organisation highly likely to be involved.
  • It is likely that insurgent activity will take place in and around the West Bank in order to force Israel to open a second front and spread their combat power and intelligence/reconnaissance assets more thinly.

At this stage of the conflict, it is unlikely that there will be any significant involvement from Israel’s military partners such as the US. However, should there be an increase in support to Hamas from Hezbollah, Iran or Syria militarily, the US and EU may have no choice but to lend air support at a minimum. Further regional actors worth keeping an eye on include Egypt, who have subsequently recalled its Second Field Army, cancelling all leave and being at a state of complete readiness.

Conclusion

It is important for the international community to continue diplomatic efforts toward finding a peaceful resolution to the Israel/Palestine conflict. It is also essential that humanitarian aid and support be provided to those affected by the ongoing violence.

Prevail Partners has the capability and local expertise to offer logistics, security risk management, close protection, intelligence and extractions.

Please request our brochure at your convenience.