Bloodshed surges in Israel- Hamas War
Hamas unleashed the bloodiest single-day massacre of Jews since the Jewish Holocaust on Oct. 7, and an unprecedented surge of violence in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank followed.
The death toll of Palestinians and Israeli civilians in less than two weeks of fighting is greater than the death toll of the 50 days of fighting in the 2014 Gaza war. Hundreds of Palestinians died this week in a bombing of a Gaza hospital.
Here are the key facts about the bloodshed on the ground.
What happened on Oct. 7?
The IDF spokesman said Oct. 7 was "the worst day in Israeli history so far." Global political pundits consider this tragedy the equivalent of 9/11 and America's Pearl Harbor.
The world was shocked by Hamas's terrorist attacks on Israelis. Most of the militants infiltrated southern Israel through a section of the wire fence around the Gaza Strip that had been bulldozed. Some fighters flew across the border using powered paragliders.
The attacks were cunning and vicious.
Hamas moved through Israeli towns, setting fire to homes where families had taken refuge. They fired on music festival revelers, taking dozens of civilian hostages, including 13 Americans. They threw grenades into bomb shelters and slaughtered Israelis indiscriminately.
There are many more horrific details recounted by eyewitnesses. In all, more than 1,400 Israelis were murdered, the vast majority of them civilians. Another 3,400 were injured.
Israel then launched missile strikes and airstrikes on Gaza, leveling entire city neighborhoods and cutting off fuel, food and electricity supplies into Gaza. Gazan casualties are expected to rise sharply as Israel, which has vowed to overthrow Hamas, prepares to launch a major military invasion of Gaza.
"There will be no winners anyway," Tahani Mustafa, a senior Palestinian analyst at the International Crisis Group, told the Voice of America, adding that "[the war] could take weeks and months and have a lasting impact on both sides. "
Gaza Humanitarian Crisis
News clips circulating on social media showing entire residential buildings and mosques flattened gave the world a sense of Gaza's devastation.
Gaza authorities said Israeli missiles killed nearly 3,500 Palestinians and wounded 12,000 others. The bombing of a hospital in Gaza reportedly killed at least 471 Palestinians, with the IDF and Gaza officials trading accusations.
The IDF and the White House said a misfired rocket in Gaza was the cause, but the Gaza Ministry of Health said an Israeli attack was responsible.
Regardless of who caused the disaster, the human suffering in Gaza is clear.
An estimated one million Gazans have been displaced. Activists warn that nearly half of Gaza's population are children, vulnerable to war.
Save the Children UK says an average of one child is killed every 15 minutes in Gaza.
"If Israel wants to go in and destroy Hamas, he can probably do it, but we're talking about at least hundreds of Israeli casualties and thousands of Arab civilian casualties," said Paul Scham, a scholar at the Middle East Institute, "and it's hard to distinguish between the civilians and the military itself ."
David Silbey, a professor of military history at Cornell University, agrees that the war could last weeks and is likely to be bloody. He said, "I don't think Hamas wants to actually hold Gaza from a military perspective, but rather inflict as much damage and casualties on the IDF as possible."
Sibley, meanwhile, expects Hamas to be under the most combat pressure because the IDF has better armored protection.
Sibley told the Voice of America that Hamas' goal is to demoralize the Israeli public so that "they start to think whether it's worth fighting."