An unprecedented surprise Hamas attack on Israel early Saturday during a major Jewish holiday might appear operationally successful, but “it will be a major strategic mistake for these Palestinian groups,” says Northeastern University professor Max Abrahms. “Israel’s reprisal will be fierce, and it will be extremely damaging for the Palestinian cause,” says Abrahms, an associate professor of political science who is an expert on the Middle East, international security and terrorism.
Reports on Sunday said at least 600 Israelis had been killed and over 2,000 injured after Hamas militants fired thousands of rockets and sent dozens of fighters into Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip, taking hostages along the way. “We’ve never seen an attack of this level of sophistication involving thousands of rockets,” not to mention militant infiltration by boat and paragliders, Abrahms says.
Israel’s response to the Hamas attack was swift, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declaring that the country was at war, and the launch of airstrikes on Gaza, where the Palestinian Health Ministry said Sunday nearly 370 Palestinians had been killed and 2,200 injured.