Israel dispatch: war is officially declared against Hamas after Israel suffers the largest single-day death toll in its history Dispatches
© Amos Ben Gershom, Israel Government Press Office
Israel dispatch: war is officially declared against Hamas after Israel suffers the largest single-day death toll in its history

Sharon Basch is an Israeli American who lived in Israel before starting her JD at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where she is currently a 2L. 

As of early Sunday morning, Israel has confirmed over 600 deaths, 2,000+ injured, an estimated 100+ kidnapped, and hundreds more missing following Saturday’s surprise attack by Hamas. Hamas launched over 4,000 rockets into Israel, in a surprise attack already being likened to the attack that started the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In fact, this surprise attack took place fifty years to the day of the start of that war, and on Simchat Torah – a joyous and important holiday where Jews around the world celebrate receiving the Torah, the Jewish holy text, on Mount Sinai some 3,000 years ago. It is currently unclear how Israeli military intelligence failed to detect the onslaught in advance.

Early on Saturday morning, Hamas militants infiltrated the borders of Israel and took over nearly 22 neighborhoods – entering and occupying police stations and roaming through the streets murdering elderly people at bus stations, entering homes and shooting families, raping women, and taking hostage over a hundred individuals – mostly women and children. Hamas even released a video of a drone bombing an Israeli ambulance – a war crime. Videos are circulating of militants dragging Israeli citizens, including women and their young children, over the border into Gaza. Reports say that many of the men taken hostage have been killed, while the women are being used as sex slaves. Videos have surfaced of Hamas militants parading the bodies of the murdered in the street, including the body of a German woman who came to Israel to participate in a “nature festival” that was aimed at peace. Hosting music out in nature is a common Israeli past-time. As of this morning, Israeli officials have counted over 240 bodies at the site of this “nature festival”. These videos have been verified, but I am unwilling to link them here.

Many in the US have been likening this attack to 9/11. The death toll of the first day of this attack is unprecedented in Israeli history – proportionally to the United States population, it is equivalent to three 9/11’s. Historically, there have not been this many Jews murdered in a single day since the Holocaust. Lists of the missing are being circulated online and posted throughout the streets in Israel, while families and friends wait to hear any news about their loved ones. Hospitals, some of which have been bombed, are being overrun by injured civilians.

Israel has mobilized, including sending troops to the northern border with Lebanon to prepare for potential attack by Hezbollah. The prediction was accurate – Hezbollah bombed the north but rocket launch sites were swiftly taken out by Israeli forces. Numerous military operations against Hamas have also occurred throughout the night.

Most global leadership has come out in support of Israel and against these crimes against humanity. However, Iranian and Qatari leadership have backed Hamas and rallies in support of the attacks have been held in various western countries, including Canada, England the United States and Germany.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet has officially declared war against Hamas under Section 40 of the Basic Law. There have been multiple addresses to the Israeli public by Israeli officials. Opposition leader Yair Lapid has urged the formation of an emergency unity government in the country to better direct the war effort following over 10 months of anti-government protests. The casualty estimates will only increase as this war goes on.