At the break of dawn on Saturday, the Gaza-based resistance initiated Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, commencing with a barrage of rockets and infiltrating towns surrounding the besieged enclave.
It said the surprise attack was in response to the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Occupied East Jerusalem and increased Israeli settler violence.
In retaliation, the Israeli occupation forces conducted relentless air strikes on Saturday and Sunday, killing more than 500 Palestinians and causing widespread destruction of high-rise structures in the Gaza Strip.
In what is the biggest attack on the occupation state of Israel since the 1973 October War, reactions to the events have been varied.
In the Arab world, reactions were divided between nations calling for restraint from both sides and those placing sole responsibility on Israel, citing its treatment of Palestinians and the indiscriminate nature of retaliatory attacks on residential buildings in Gaza.
Qatar squarely held Israel accountable for the ongoing military escalation between the Palestinian resistance and the occupation state. The Qatari Foreign Ministry attributed the escalation to Israel’s continuous violations of Palestinian rights, including repeated incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque, protected by Israeli forces.
In a statement, the Qatari Foreign Ministry said Israel is “solely responsible for the ongoing escalation due to its continuous violations of the rights of the Palestinian people, including the recent repeated incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque under the protection of the Israeli police.”
It stressed “the urgent need for the international community to compel Israel to cease its blatant violations of international law, abide by international legitimacy resolutions, and respect the historical rights of the Palestinian people.”
Iraq on Saturday also condemned the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip after Hamas launched an offensive, saying it always stands by the Palestinians.
Iraq also condemned the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip following Hamas’ offensive, expressing unwavering support for the Palestinian cause. Iraqi officials emphasised that the Palestinian people’s actions were a natural response to years of systematic oppression by the Zionist occupation authority, which has consistently ignored international and UN resolutions.
Government spokesman Bassim Al-Awadi called on the international community to stop the injustice done to the Palestinian people and to intervene to restore the rights of the Palestinians.
يؤكد العراق موقفه الثابت، شعباً وحكومة، تجاه القضية الفلسطينية، ووقوفه إلى جانب الشعب الفلسطيني في تحقيق تطلّعاته ونيل كامل حقوقه المشروعة، وأنّ الظلم واغتصاب هذه الحقوق لا يمكن أن يُنتج سلاماً مستداماً. pic.twitter.com/VRBvxuf4N5
— المكتب الإعلامي لرئيس الوزراء 🇮🇶 (@IraqiPMO) October 7, 2023
Iran and Syria issued statements endorsing Operation Al-Aqsa Flood through their government news media. Iranian Foreign Minister Nasser Kanaani congratulated the Palestinian people, characterising the operation as a new chapter in resistance against occupiers in the occupied territories.
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, called for an end to all acts of violence but identified the root of the conflict as the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry called for an immediate cessation of the escalation between Israel and the Palestinians. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is closely following the developments of the unprecedented situation between a number of Palestinian factions and the Israeli occupation forces, which has resulted in a high level of violence on several fronts there,” the ministry said in a statement.
Moreover, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday that lasting peace in the Middle East is only possible through the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including the establishment of a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. Adding that this “could not be delayed any longer”.
Turkiye, he added, was determined to ramp up diplomatic efforts to achieve calm in the fighting between Israeli and Palestinian forces, but added that a two-state solution was the only way to achieve regional peace.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden expressed strong support for Israel’s right to self-defence during a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He emphasised the unwavering US stance alongside Israel.
Let there be no mistake: the United States stands with the State of Israel. pic.twitter.com/lRbPLflhzc
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 7, 2023
In Britain, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly unequivocally condemned Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel, emphasising the UK’s support for Israel’s right to defend itself.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, also condemned the Hamas attacks, which the former Labour MP for Derby Chris Williamson, criticised since the mayor never condemned Israel’s 75-year-long “daily terrorist acts against the Palestinian people.”
What a pity that the @MayorofLondon never condemns Israel's 75-year-long record of daily terrorist acts against the Palestinian people.
Furthermore, the Palestinian armed struggle of liberation is perfectly legitimate under international law. https://t.co/0JJHkLMt2g
— Chris Williamson (@DerbyChrisW) October 7, 2023
Palestinian American human rights attorney Noura Erakat highlighted that shock at the attacks against Israel following the longstanding Gaza blockade reflects an expectation for quiet Palestinian suffering and complicity in their oppression.
#Gaza has been under a naval blockade & land siege for 17 years & its 2 mil Palestinians subject to 4 large scale offensives. Any shock in response to this multi scalar attack reflects an expectation that those Palestinians die quietly and a complicity in their strangulation.
— Noura Erakat (@4noura) October 7, 2023
Translator Jason Shawa, based in Gaza, framed the attack on Israel as a response to decades of Israeli occupation and oppression. This perspective was echoed by Palestinian journalist and Jerusalemite Mohammed El-Kurd, who emphasised that the current situation in occupied Palestine is a reaction to ongoing Israeli military incursions, killings of Palestinians and the prolonged siege on Gaza.
What is going on now is a normal response to decades of Israeli occupation & oppression. What Israelis are experiencing now does not even qualify as fraction of what Palestinians have been experiencing for more than 7 decades.
— J. Shawa جاسم الشوا (@shawajason) October 7, 2023
What is happening in occupied Palestine is a response to weeks and months and years of daily Israeli military invasions into Palestinian towns, killings of Palestinians, and the very fact that millions of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are besieged under Israeli blockade.
— Mohammed El-Kurd (@m7mdkurd) October 7, 2023
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.