On Saturday, the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched an unprecedented sea, air, and ground offensive on Israel. It marked the most devastating attack on the country for decades.
Thousands of rockets were fired by the group’s militants toward southern and central Israel, striking major cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Israeli Defense Forces said Monday that more than 700 people were killed, including people who were attending a music festival near the Gaza Strip — the Palestinian exclave which has been controlled by Hamas since 2006. Scores more were taken hostage.
Israel has since retaliated with full force, drafting a record 300,000 reservists and attacking housing blocks, a mosque, and other buildings in Gaza with its own missiles. They have killed more than 550people as of Monday, the Gaza Ministry of Health said.
The attack has been a “historic failure” for the Israeli intelligence service, which used to be seen as one of the most capable in the world, David Khalfa of the North Africa and Middle East Observatory at French think tank the Fondation Jean-Jaurs, told France24.
Rising tensions between Israel and Hamas
Though it caught Israel by surprise, the Hamas attack comes after months of worsening tensions between the two sides.
Last month, Israeli police carried out a raid on the al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem — one of the three holiest sites in Islam.
Israel dealing with domestic division
For months, Israel’s government has been in turmoil over plans to change the way the judicial system works, the BBC reported.
Earlier this year, Netanyahu announced plans to remove the power of the Supreme Court so that it cannot scrutinize and overrule the government.
Thousands of people against the proposal took to the streets in cities across the country. The protesters, who were backed by Netanyahu’s political rivals and some military officials, also called for his resignation.
Khalfa told France24 that Hamas launched its attack now “to capitalize on Israel’s vulnerability.”
“This terrorist operation comes at a time when Israel is facing an unprecedented political and institutional crisis,” he added.