Israel continues to bomb Hamas targets in Gaza, five days after the Islamist rebels killed civilians in their homes and on the streets in an unprecedented attack on Israeli soil.
Thousands of people were killed in the ensuing battle, which erupted as Israel retaliated with overwhelming shelling of the Palestinian enclave.
Israel has subsequently stated that it has secured border regions along Gaza that were captured by Hamas militants during Saturday’s assault, and that it has massed its military forces around the embattled Palestinian enclave in apparent preparation for a land invasion.
This is what we know about the conflict so far:
How the assault unfolded
Hundreds of Hamas militants launched an attack on Israel at 6:30 a.m. (0330 GMT) on Saturday, the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, 50 years and one day after the Arab-Israeli war began.
The Islamists, backed by Iran, fired thousands of rockets into Israel and used explosives and bulldozers to breach the security fence surrounding the blockaded Palestinian enclave.
The extremists rushed into Israel on motorbikes, pickup trucks, motorised gliders, and speed boats, targeting places such as Ashkelon, Ofakim, and Sderot.
At a music festival on Kibbutz Reim, near Gaza, gunmen opened fire on hundreds of young Israelis and visitors. At the location alone, 270 individuals were killed.
According to Israel, Hamas also abducted approximately 150 hostages. At least 11 Thais, two Mexicans, and an unknown number of Americans and Germans are among them.
How Israel is responding
Israel declared war on Hamas on Sunday and has since carried out thousands of air attacks inside the 2.3 million-person region.
According to Palestinian authorities, the bombing campaign has destroyed over 1,000 homes, while another 560 have been seriously damaged and are uninhabitable.
Defence Minister Yoav Gallant ordered a “complete siege” of Gaza on Monday, which means “no electricity, no food, no water, no gas,” in a move condemned by the UN as a possible violation of international law.
The military has gathered tens of thousands of troops and heavy armor around Gaza, as well as 300,000 reservists, for the “Swords of Iron” campaign.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that his country’s military operation is simply the beginning of a long conflict, vowing to turn Hamas’s hideouts in Gaza to “rubble.”
By Tuesday evening, the United Nations reported that the air attacks had driven more than 260,000 people to evacuate their homes in the impoverished territory that has been boxed in for more than 15 years by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade.
Three Israeli strikes have also targeted the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, the only non-Israeli access point into Gaza.
Meanwhile, the Israeli military announced Tuesday that it had largely regained the besieged south and the border around Gaza, as well as expelled remaining Hamas fighters from more than a dozen towns and kibbutzim.
However, troops supported by helicopters and drones traded fire with seven militants late Tuesday in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, killing three of them, according to the army.
On Wednesday, a rocket fired from Gaza hit a hospital in Ashkelon.
After days of back-and-forth bombardment with the Iran-backed Shiite militant group Hezbollah on Lebanon’s northern border, Israel faced the possibility of a multi-front war.
On Tuesday, Israel and Syrian forces exchanged fire after Israel’s military reported missiles were fired towards the Golan Heights, which Israel has held since 1967.
Death toll mounts
Over 3,900 Israeli and Palestinian citizens, troops, and combatants have died as a result of the battle.
According to Israel, Hamas gunmen have killed over 1,200 people and injured over 2,700 in Israeli cities, towns, and kibbutz communities.
According to a volunteer who assisted in the recovery of the dead, Hamas terrorists killed more than 100 individuals in the kibbutz of Beeri alone.
According to the Israeli military, 169 Israeli soldiers were killed in the combat, and the bodies of 1,500 Islamist militants were discovered in reclaimed areas.
Eighteen Thais, 14 Americans, and ten Nepalis are among the foreigners killed from more than a dozen nations.
According to health officials in Gaza, 1,055 people were killed and another 5,000 were injured.
The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas said on Monday that Israeli air attacks on Gaza had killed “four of the enemy’s prisoners,” an allegation that could not be independently verified.
According to media unions and officials, eight Palestinian journalists have been murdered in Israeli air attacks.
Unrest has also erupted in the occupied West Bank, killing 15 Palestinians since Saturday.
What Hamas says about the attack
Hamas claimed to have launched 5,000 missiles as part of its “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” onslaught.
On Monday, it vowed to begin executing captives whenever Israel performs an unprovoked attack on a civilian target.
Because “the military operation is still ongoing,” it has ruled out arranging a prisoner swap with Israel.
Its leader, Ismail Haniyeh, promised on Saturday to continue “the battle to liberate our land and our prisoners languishing in occupation prisons.”
Hamas has urged “resistance fighters in the West Bank” and “Arab and Islamic nations” to join the struggle.
How the world has reacted
The US has pledged “rock solid and unwavering” support for Israel, with President Joe Biden branding Hamas’s strikes “sheer evil” and showing no signs of asking for moderation from its major partner.
Biden stated that the US is “surging assistance” for Israel, including missiles for the Iron Dome interceptor system, and that the largest US aircraft carrier has been ordered to come closer to Israel.
Biden stated that he is prepared to transfer “additional assets” if necessary to dissuade Israel’s adversaries.
Washington is also sending hostage negotiators to Israel to assist, but it is not sending troops at this time.
The United States, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy issued a unified statement condemning the attack and expressing their entire support for Israel.
They made it clear that they “recognise the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people” but claimed that Hamas “offers nothing for the Palestinian people other than more terror and bloodshed” .
Meanwhile, Iran has applauded the Hamas attack while consistently denying any involvement.