Gaza – Operation Swords of Iron – 2023

Timeline of the Conflict [official actions and significant occurrences – with documentation]

Situation Updates

IDF - Real Time Updates
The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Daily Reports
   Week 1 8-12 Oct 2023   Week 612-16 Nov 2023
   Week 215-19 Oct 2023   Week 719-23 Nov 2023
   Week 322-26 Oct 2023   Week 826-30 Nov 2023
   Week 429 Oct to 2 Nov 2023   Week 9Daily Reports
   Week 55-9 Nov 2023
IDF - Daily Recaps
   Week 110-14 Oct 2023   Week 55-11 Nov 2023
   Week 215-21 Oct 2023   Week 612-13 Nov 2023
   Week 322-28 Oct 2023   Week 720-24 Nov 2023
   Week 429 Oct to 4 Nov 2023   Week 825-28 Nov 2023
Institute for the Study of War - Israel-Hamas War (Iran Updates)
   Week 17-14 Oct 2023   Week 612-18 Nov 2023
   Week 215-21 Oct 2023   Week 719-25 Nov 2023
   Week 322-28 Oct 2023   Week 826 Nov-2 Dec 2023
   Week 429 Oct to 4 Nov 2023   Week 9Daily Reports
   Week 55-11 Nov 2023
Institute for the Study of War - Interactive Map: Israel's Operation in Gaza


Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad

The war began when Israel was subjected to a large-scale surprise attack by Hamas on Saturday, 7 Oct 2023, the Jewish Shabbat and the religious holiday of Shmini Atzeret.  This is a description of the initial unfolding of events, from an article by Dr. Eado Hecht posted at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies:

The Hamas offensive began shortly before 06:29 on October 7, 2023. By 10:00 IDF radars had detected approximately 2,200 rocket launches at dozens of Israeli cities, towns and villages between Gaza and the Tel-Aviv-Jerusalem-Beersheva line. During the day, Hamas and the other Palestinian militias fired many hundreds more…

Simultaneously with the beginning of the rocket bombardment, Hamas troops began crossing the border into Israel at variety of locations. The majority had approached the border in tunnels, climbed out just before the underground wall built by Israel, and then, using explosives, broke through the above-ground obstacle of a steel-rod fence and advanced into Israel. Observation cameras monitoring the fence were shot up with small arms and RPG rockets. One group attacked and captured the civilian crossing into Israel at Erez where 20,000 Palestinian civilians cross daily into Israel to work and where hundreds of trucks transit with goods. A small group crossed the border using paragliders (parachutes with small propeller engines) and a final group attacked from the sea, landing on an Israeli beach. (Of this group only a few got through; most were intercepted by Israeli navy patrol boats and strike-drones).

All together, within the first couple of hours, more than 1,000 Hamas troops crossed the border into Israel in approximately 15 to 30 locations (different sources have provided different numbers) and then fanned out in groups to attack Israeli civilians and military positions. They entered two Israeli towns and 12 villages (at least), driving through the streets shooting at passersby and breaking into houses to kill the residents. In three locations they captured buildings and held the occupants as hostages. The biggest such case included 50 people of all ages at Kibbutz Be’eri who were herded into the communal dining room.

One group reached a large nature-party (like a rave party but held outdoors in nature) where approximately 3,000 young Israelis, mostly in their twenties, had gathered to dance. They attacked them with grenades and assault rifles, then chased the fleeing group, hunting down people who had sought to hide in the low brush. This is probably the location where the largest number of casualties was inflicted.

One large and a few small IDF bases along the border were also attacked in the first rush, pinning down the outnumbered troops at those locations to fight for survival rather than assist the civilians who were simultaneously under attack.

The first responders in the civilian residential areas were local response teams of IDF reservists living in the villages (usually 10 to 20 people per village). They grabbed their weapons and ran out to face the attackers together with a few on-duty policemen in the towns. Here and there, Israelis with private weapons (pistols) also attempted to face the Hamas teams, who were armed with assault rifles.

The IDF units in the area were initially busy trying to fend off the surprise assault, so the first organized IDF response took a few hours as units located in other areas of Israel were rushed to the Gaza border…

What ensued was an unprecedented and barbaric onslaught against the citizens of Israel. Children, babies, women, elderly and entire families, were massacred in a most depraved way. It has been described as the worst criminal act against the Jewish people since the Holocaust. Over 1,400 people were murdered and thousands more injured. Over 240 individuals were kidnapped and taken hostage.

Israeli Declaration of War

In response to this massive, savage, and unprovoked attack, Israel formally declared war, pursuant to Article 40 aleph of Israel’s Basic Law: Government. 

Official Actions [additional documentation on the Timeline page]

Law-Related Commentary and Analysis

Additional Resources