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Recap: The First Two Days Of The Israel-Hamas War


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The results of the airstrikes last night in the Gaza Strip. (Photo: Reuters)

Gaza is under siege with an interruption of electricity, gas, water and food supplies, as Israel declares state of war for the first time since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Here’s a mega-recap about the first two days of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Since the beginning of the massive surprise attack on Israel by Palestinian militant movement Hamas in the morning on Oct. 7, 2023, news from the area are continuing to flood the media. Adding to the confusion caused by the “fog of war” and the reports by a myriad of sources, fake news and disinformation are also spreading, much like happened in Ukraine, videos that have nothing to do with Gaza or Israel, old videos from past attacks passed as recent ones and even videogames’ videos passed as real combat footage.

With the situation constantly evolving minute by minute, let’s try to do a recap of what happened in the past 48 hours and what is likely to come.

The initial attack

In the morning on Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas launched what has been dubbed as Operation Al-Aqsa Storm, with approximately 2,200 rockets launched from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory while a number of terrorists infiltrated into Israeli territory in southern Israel. Multiple explosions were heard over Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and in southern Israel, either by rockets strikes and Iron Dome’s interceptions.

One of the first objectives was the Supernova music festival not far from the borders. The result was a bloodshed, with more than 260 bodies recovered from the site and many still unaccounted for or kidnapped. Another primary target was the Israeli Army’s southern Gaza headquarters, whose communications were jammed, cutting it off from the rest of the IDF.

More than 700 Israelis lost the life in what is being already considered the deadliest day in Israel’s history. The attack, which was timed to coincide with the Jewish Sabbath and a religious holiday, caught completely off guard the Israeli Defence Forces, whose spokesperson defined it as Israel’s 9/11.

How is even possible that one of borders with the tightest surveillance in the world was violated with almost no resistance is not yet clear. Reuters reports Hamas ran a deception campaign to look like it wasn’t ready for a military confrontation, after Israel sought to provide a basic level of economic stability in Gaza by offering incentives including thousands of permits so Gazans can work in Israel or the West Bank. In the meanwhile, however, they were amassing weapons and munitions and running exercises.

Reuters also described how, according to its sources, the attack was divided in four parts. The first one was a rocket barrage, which should have included up to 3,000 rockets, that coincided with incursions by fighters who flew hang gliders, or motorised paragliders, over the border. The second phase started once they landed, with the militants securing the terrain and breaching the fortifications with explosives and bulldozers, opening the way for motorbikes and four-wheel drives.

During the third phase, an “elite commando unit” attacked the IDF’s southern Gaza headquarters and jammed its communications, effectively isolating it from the rest of the forces. The final part involved moving hostages to Gaza, mainly party-goers fleeing the festival the kibbutz of Re’im, but also civilians from border villages, including elders, women and children.

The reaction

Obviously, Israel was not going to stay still after this bloodshed. Immediately the IDF started to amass troops, main battle tanks, artillery and armored personnel carriers near the Gaza border. Reserves were also recalled and additional ones were drafted from universities. In total, more 300,000 reserves have been mobilized and are being assigned to staging areas.

While ground troops fought on the ground to retake control of the border settlements invaded by Hamas, the air force started a massive bombing campaign against hundreds of targets in the Gaza strip. According to BBC, the IDF is warning in advance civilians to vacate areas they are about to hit, trying to minimize collateral damages.

On Oct. 8, Israel’s government ratified the state of war under Article 40A for first time since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The IDF spokesperson said Israel will respond with determination and force to Hamas’ unprovoked war crimes which resulted in the worst massacre of innocent civilians in Israel’s history, adding that Hamas was more barbaric and more brutal than ISIS.

Israel is coordinating with the United States Central Command, with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordering the USS Gerald Ford carrier strike group to sail to the Eastern Mediterranean to be ready to assist Israel. Along with the USS Ford, the U.S. Navy’s newest and most advanced aircraft carrier, the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Normandy, Arleigh-Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS Thomas Hudner, USS Ramage, USS Carney, and USS Roosevelt are also heading to the area.

All U.S. air bases in the CENTCOM area of responsibility have been reportedly put on high alert, with Austin saying the Air Force will augment F-35, F-15, F-16 and A-10 squadrons in the area to further reinforce the deterrence posture if required. Additionally, the US will provide Israel with equipment, munitions and resources as part of new security assistance packages.

Multiple countries already started to evacuate foreign nationals from Israel, with Brazil, Poland, Portugal, Hungary and Bulgaria being among the first to send multiple military aircraft for the evacuation. Western countries are also taking steps to suspend all aids to Palestinians.

On Oct.9, the IDF said ground forces have taken back control of the Gaza border region. Israeli media are reporting that between 800 and 1,000 terrorists entered Israel during the initial attack through about 80 gaps in the border, attacking 20 civilian communities and 11 IDF bases. The latest reports state the death toll reached 1,300 people on both sides, while the wounded reached almost 3,000 people. At least 130 people are reported to have been taken hostage.

Israel is also striking back at the highest levels of Hamas. Last night, the Shayetet 13 commando unit (considered an equivalent of the U.S. Navy Seals) took into custody a senior member of the group, the deputy commander of the southern division of the Hamas naval force. The Hamas naval force has attempted to launch several seaborne attacks, with an unspecified number stopped by the Israeli navy.

The next phase

While the airstrikes continue, striking in excess of 1,200 targets so far, Israel’s Defense Minister ordered the siege of the Gaza strip, interrupting the supply of electricity, gas, water and food. Israel is in fact considering a ground invasion, but the IDF spokesperson said no orders have been issued yet. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly told U.S. President Joe Biden that Israel has no choice but to launch a ground operation in Gaza. The U.S. estimated the ground invasion could start in the next 24-48 hours.

Both Israel and the U.S. are neither confirming nor ruling out an involvement of Iran in the attacks, although the country has been known to provide weapons, money and equipment to the movement in the past. Unverified reports mentions that that Iran might also be pushing Hezbollah to join the war, while the latter said that it will join the war only if attacked.

As troops and equipment continue to pour to the Gaza border, however, the IDF reported that a number of terrorists infiltrated Israel from the Lebanon border and have been neutralized. Complicating the situation, Hamas is now blackmailing Israel saying that will execute on video an hostage for each “attack without prior warning on Palestinian homes”.

A view on the war

Along with a constant stream of images showing horrifying acts of terror directed at civilians, widespread destruction, Iron Dome interceptions and fake news, social media networks and in particular X (formerly, Twitter) are also providing a lot of insights into the air war over Gaza with several photographs showing the pretty heavy loadout of the Israeli fighters being circulated online.

Flight tracking websites are also offering a “picture”, obviously limited, of the IAF assets (mainly transport, tanker and intelligence gathering aircraft) currently operating over Israel and around Gaza.

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Some of the IAF aircraft flying over Israel at 20.24GMT on Oct. 9, 2023. (Image credit: screenshot from ADSBExchange.org)

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Some of the IAF aircraft flying over Israel at 20.24GMT on Oct. 9, 2023. (Image credit: screenshot from ADSBExchange.org)

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About Stefano D’Urso
Stefano D’Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he’s also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.
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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

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