100 days since Hamas attacked Israel, triggering war in Gazaon January 14, 2024 at 7:53 am

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Thousands of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv to mark 100 days since the start of the unprecedented war against Hamas.

Supporters and families react as others hold pictures of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza take part in rally in Tel AvivImage source, EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

One hundred days ago, the previously unthinkable happened in Israel. A state, born out of adversity and war only 75 years ago, woke up to what some have since described as a threat to its very existence.

On Saturday night, in Tel Aviv, the events of 7 October were commemorated by thousands of people. Uppermost on the minds of everyone were the around 130 hostages abducted by Hamas and still being held in Gaza, although some of them may not still be alive.

Just after dawn 100 days ago, thousands of heavily armed Hamas fighters stormed through and over the Gaza border fence in several different places.

They attacked kibbutzim, military bases and border towns, accustomed to rocket attacks from Gaza but overwhelmed by the scale of the Hamas incursion.

At least 1,200 people were killed along the length of the border as Israeli defences were caught completely by surprise.

Images of hundreds of young music lovers fleeing for their lives at the Nova festival shook Israel to its core. More than 360 people were killed at the festival site and dozens more abducted to Gaza.

Yossi Schneider

Among those at the huge commemorative event in Tel Aviv were families of the disappeared, carrying posters and wearing T-shirts featuring the faces of their loved ones.

I spoke to Yossi Schneider – a cousin of Shiri Bibas, who was kidnapped along with her two young children and husband.

“There are 130 people, mainly civilians being held without medicines and the Red Cross is not even being allowed to visit them,” says Yossi, angered that the wider family has received little information on their physical or mental welfare.

“There are three generations of my family that are disappeared. Three generations of my family! And the world is keeping silent and asking us to stay calm. I cannot take it anymore,” he adds, tired but clearly frustrated.

Most people here would say that 7 October was the biggest threat ever faced by Israel and that Israelis have never felt so vulnerable. While the safe return of the hostages is their absolute priority, many also agree with their government’s war aims in Gaza and few voices are calling for tolerance and coexistence.

Displaced Palestinian Muhammad Al-Durra, 41, hangs clothes as he speaks to one of his children at the destroyed house they took shelter in, in the city of Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, 11 January 2024

Image source, EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

As Israel’s shaken defence establishment eventually responded to what was happening in the south as Saturday 7 October drew to a close, the Israeli military embarked on an unprecedented bombing campaign in Gaza – its stated goal: the complete destruction of Hamas and its support structure.

Much of the territory, from Gaza city in the north to Khan Younis in the south, has since been destroyed.

Israel says Hamas has been severely weakened and, according to the Israeli military, rendered almost inoperable as an organised force in northern Gaza.

But the number of civilians killed in the Israeli bombardment has been huge. More than 23,000 have been killed, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry, many of them women and children. Thousands more are believed to be dead under rubble.

Palestinian officials say that 85% of Gaza’s population has been displaced. While more aid is now getting into Gaza the UN’s humanitarian chief has described the situation as “intolerable”.

Fatten Abu Shahada

Faten Abu Shahada needs regular kidney dialysis which is one reason why she and her family have been forced to move south. Home for Faten and the kids is now a plastic tent in Khan Younis – the sound of an Israeli drone overhead their constant companion.

“Gaza has been destroyed. There’s no Gaza left – no hospitals, no education,” says Faten. “Our children have lost their school year, Gaza is no longer alive.”

Israel is coming under increasing international pressure to consider a ceasefire or pause in Gaza, such is the scale of the civilian suffering.

Even its closest ally the US, which consistently defends Israel’s right to self defence and to prevent a repetition of 7 October, has repeatedly told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the civilian death toll is “far too high”.

President Biden has spoken of Israel’s “indiscriminate bombing”, which he said meant the country was losing support around the world.

Gideon Levy

Gideon Levy is a columnist for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz and a frequent critic of Mr Netanyahu. I asked him if this war – already Israel’s longest since 1948 – would soon come to a conclusion.

“The war in its current shape will last as long as Americans will allow Israel (to do it),” says Levy.

He adds: “I don’t think it will be many weeks more. But that doesn’t mean that the war is over because nobody has thought about the day after.

“If Israel doesn’t pull out of Gaza, there will be resistance. And if there is resistance there will be retaliation.”

As Israeli troops continue to attack Hamas positions in central and southern Gaza, ending the war seems to be far from Mr Netanyahu’s intentions.

Israel says the fighting will not end until Hamas is completely defeated. The immediate future across the region, and especially for thousands of civilians living in appalling conditions in Gaza, looks particularly bleak.

- Advertisement -

Discover

Sponsor

Latest

Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira: Family speak of heartbreak over killingson June 16, 2022 at 2:57 pm

A suspect has confessed to burying the bodies of journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira.Image source, Getty ImagesThe family of Dom Phillips...

Grammys 2023: Beyoncé makes history and Harry Styles wins album of the yearon February 6, 2023 at 5:26 am

Pop star Harry Styles wins album of the year, while Beyoncé receives a record-breaking 32nd trophy.Image source, Getty ImagesBy Mark SavageBBC Music CorrespondentBeyoncé has...

Banksy stable at model village could fetch ‘seven figures’on January 10, 2022 at 2:35 pm

A miniature stable found at a model village is due to be sold amid security fears.

Eurovision 2022: How Sam Ryder turned things around for the UKon May 15, 2022 at 2:22 am

Sam Ryder's song Space Man gave the UK its first top 10 result since 2009. What went right?Sam Ryder's song Space Man gave the...

Commonwealth Games 2022: Katarina Johnson-Thompson leads women’s heptathlon on day twoon August 3, 2022 at 11:35 am

Katarina Johnson-Thompson leads with a total of 4718 points, 122 points clear of compatriot Jade O'Dowda, after the long jump in the women's heptathlon...