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Israel–Gaza: Situation update, 8 October 2023

Israel–Gaza: Situation update, 8 October 2023

Israel-Gaza conflict: Timeline (Janes)

Israel-Gaza conflict: Timeline. (Janes)

Operation ‘Swords of Iron'

On 8 October 2023, at 0459 h local time, the Prime Minister of Israel's X (formerly Twitter) account posted, “The Security Cabinet convened this evening and made a series of operational decisions, the goal of which is to achieve the destruction of the military and governing capabilities of Hamas and [the Palestinian] Islamic Jihad in a way that will preclude their ability and willingness to threaten and attack the citizens of Israel for many years.” It further stated that “Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu concluded the discussion: ‘We are embarking on a long and difficult war that was forced on us by a murderous Hamas attack. The first stage is ending at this time by the destruction of the vast majority of the enemy forces that infiltrated our territory.'” It ended by mentioning that “among the decisions made by the Security Cabinet is halting the supply of electricity, fuel, and goods [to Gaza]”.

In a briefing to Janes at 1700 h local time, an Israeli IDF Officer stated that fighting is still going on in and around 10 locations in southern Israel and that clearing these areas is the first priority for the IDF. The officer also stated that they are keeping a close eye on the West Bank.

Israeli Air Force statements on X

1700 h local time: “In recent hours, the IAF [Israeli Air Force] struck terror targets in Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip. IAF fighter jets struck 120 terror targets in three rounds in the Beit Hanoun area in the Gaza Strip. Beit Hanoun serves as a hub for the Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip, from which many operations against Israel were launched, including over the last two days. These strikes constitute a significant advancement in the IAF's responsive strikes against the Hamas terrorist organization. Simultaneously, a Hamas operational terror tunnel was struck. The tunnel was located under a multi-storey building in the northern part of Gaza City. A mosque is located adjacent to the tunnel, proving once again that Hamas deliberately embeds its military infrastructure in civilian areas.”

1407 h local time: “Following reports of an interceptor being launched in the north of the country, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] identified a target moving towards the territory of the State of Israel and launched an interceptor towards it. An examination shows that it is not a hostile aircraft and does not pose a threat to the residents. No attack was carried out on Lebanese territory.”

1345 h local time: “Dozens of warplanes are now attacking the Gaza Strip. The Air Force began a short time ago a powerful air strike in the Gaza Strip using dozens of fighter jets. The IDF attacks targets in the areas near the fence in Beit Hanoun, which are used by the terrorist organization Hamas to carry out attacks against the State of Israel. The IDF will continue to act against the terrorist organization Hamas.”

1206 h local time: “Fighter jets attacked three operational headquarters of the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip in the last hour. An operational headquarters of the Hamas terrorist organization, which is used to direct terrorism, an operational headquarters of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist organization, from which combat was conducted in the latest operations, and another operational headquarters of the PIJ terrorist organization, which was used by the organization's rocket force, were attacked.”

0956 h local time: “IAF UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] struck a number of terrorist squads in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip overnight. Three terrorists attempting to approach the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip were thwarted. In addition, seven terrorists were thwarted in Kibbutz Kfar Aza.”

0956 h local time: “A terrorist squad of six terrorists was thwarted by a UAV adjacent to the Nahal Oz Post. Two terrorist squads that attempted to infiltrate into Kibbutz Be'eri from the north and south were thwarted by a combined attack of two aircraft.”

0728 h local time: “A short while ago, IAF fighter jets struck a compound belonging to the head of the intelligence department in the Hamas terrorist organization. The IAF is currently continuing to strike terror targets in the Gaza Strip.”

0638 h local time: “A short while ago, the IAF struck ten Hamas terrorist organization targets; the targets were located in multi-storey buildings used by the Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip.”

0638 h local time: “Overnight, the IAF struck operational infrastructures belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip used for carrying out terror from the Gaza Strip against Israeli civilians. Among them, the intelligence headquarters belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization and a military compound used by the Hamas terrorist organization's aerial forces were struck. In parallel, the IAF struck two banks belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization for terror funds, among them the Islamic National Bank which serves the organization by financing terrorist activity, and the First Bank belonging to the organization. The IAF struck an aerial weapons production site used by the aerial forces belonging to the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization in the city of Gaza, and a building including offices and storage units where the terrorist organization stores weapons and military equipment.”

2342 h local time (7 October): “IAF fighter jets attacked earlier today two operational infrastructures that were located in mosques and were used by the terrorist organization Hamas to direct terror against the State of Israel.”


At approximately 0100 h local time on 8 October, during a press release, the IDF stated that the number of militants that had crossed into Israel the previous day was in the “high hundreds”.

Statements of participation in Operation ‘Al-Aqsa Flood' were also made by other significant Palestinian militant groups including the PIJ , Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and groups based in the West Bank including Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Estimates from the Israeli Ministry of Defense (MoD) in September 2023 stated that there were approximately 30,000 Hamas militants in Gaza and approximately 10,000 PIJ militants suggesting that Hamas withheld a considerable number of personnel during the offensive.

As of 1200 h local time, Al-Qassam Brigades' Telegram channel announced that it was continuing to target Israel with rocket attacks. In addition, Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV published statements that Hamas militants were continuing to attack the Sufa and Holit communities in southern Israel approximately 2.5 km from the Gaza border.

Hamas also released a statement claiming that during the night and early morning of 7–8 October Hamas militants were able to reinforce locations in southern Israel.

Palestinian security sources told Janes on 8 October that they believe the military leadership of Hamas in the Gaza Strip (Muhammad Al-Deif and Yahya Al-Sinwar) hid their plan from the political leadership of Hamas in Qatar. This was done in order to prevent the news from leaking and so as not to cause them embarrassment with Qatar, Egypt, and Turkey, with whom they have strong relations, and for fear of opposing the attack.

A Palestinian senior General Intelligence Service source told Janes that the Hamas political leadership had advance knowledge of the plan and was invited to come to Qatar from Beirut and Istanbul 48 hours before the operation began.

A Palestinian political source from the Fatah movement told Janes that he assessed the Gaza leadership wanted, with this operation, to weaken the Hamas leadership in Qatar and replace it. That part of this operation is related to Hamas' internal disputes.

West Bank

Tensions remain very high in the West Bank. Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces are working to prevent militant demonstrations from occurring. In the evening of 7 October, the security forces of Nablus prevented the organisation of a march called for by the armed Lions' Den group in solidarity with the Gaza Strip and prevented it from clashing with the IDF

Fatah called for organising demonstrations at 1800 h local time on 8 October 2023 in all Palestinian city centres in solidarity with the ongoing Israeli targeting of Gaza.

The Israeli army closed all military checkpoints in the West Bank, and on 8 October, there was a large strike by Palestinians in the West Bank to mourn the killing of 7 Palestinians. The army closed the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron by blocking the checkpoints around the city of Jerusalem, as well as closing all entrances to Palestinian villages near Israeli settlements with piles of dirt to prevent attacks launched by Palestinians against the Israeli army and settlers in the West Bank. Israel wants to devote itself to focus on the Gaza Strip and northern front with Hezbollah and does not want to open another front in the West Bank. In addition, the Allenby Bridge, the West Bank's only land-crossing connecting it to Jordan, remains closed.

There is a belief that Hamas has sleeper cells of militants in the West Bank that could be active and target the Israeli army and settlers. However, that would cause inconvenience to Israel and not deter it, similar to Hezbollah's participation in the battle.

There have also been several instances of settler violence in the West Bank since 7 October, and there remains a heightened risk of further Israeli settler reprisal violence in the West Bank.


On 8 October 2023 Hezbollah outlet Al-Manar TV published a statement covering comments from head of Hezbollah Executive Council Sayyed Hashem Safieddine. The press release stated that while “addressing an event of solidarity with the Palestinian people in face of the Zionist enemy, held in Beirut's Dahiyeh, Sayyed Safieddine indicated that the resistance fighters have proved that faith and will enable us to reach victory”. It also mentioned that “Sayyed Safieddine hailed Operation ‘Al-Aqsa Flood', affirming that it reflects the military capabilities of the Palestinian resistance and will identify ultimate destiny of the conflict with the Zionist enemy”, and finally he “emphasized that Hezbollah may never take a neutral stance, affirming that the Resistance fighters are completely ready to engage in the war”.

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) reported that early on the morning of 8 October 2023, their “peacekeepers detected several rockets fired from southeast Lebanon towards Israeli-occupied territory in the general area of Kfar Chouba, and artillery fire from Israel to Lebanon in response”.

Other actors

Egypt: Multiple media outlets reported that an Egyptian policeman fired upon and killed two Israeli tourists and one Egyptian in Alexandria. Two others were reportedly injured.

Political statements

Prime minister of Israel: At 1454 h local time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted on X that he “spoke with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. All of them expressed unqualified support for Israel's right to defend itself as necessary”.

Prime minister of Israel: At 1539 h local time, the Prime Minister of Israel's X account posted stating that “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed [Brigadier General] (Retd) Gal Hirsch as coordinator for the captives and the missing. All government ministries will carry out his directives on this issue”.

Supreme leader of Iran: On 7 October at 2058 h local time, Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei posted on X, “Today, the Palestinian youth and the Palestinian movement is more energetic, more alive, and more prepared than it has ever been during the last 80 years.”

President of the United States: On 8 October 2023 at 0035 h local time, President Joe Biden released a statement saying, “Let me say this as clearly as I can. This is not a moment for any party hostile to Israel to exploit these attacks to seek advantage. My Administration's support for Israel's security is rock solid and unwavering.”

Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs: On 7 October 2023 the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a statement saying, “We are deeply concerned about the violence and tension occurred in Israel and Palestine today [October 7]. We attach high importance to the restoration of calm in the region as soon as possible, and strongly condemn the loss of civilian lives. We underline that acts of violence and associated escalations will not benefit anyone, and call on the parties to act with restraint and avoid impulsive steps. As Türkiye, we are always ready to contribute to the best of our ability to ensure that these developments can be taken under control before they escalate further and spread to a wider area. In this regard, we continue our intensive contacts with the relevant parties. These sad developments once again show the importance of the two-state solution vision. We call on the parties to renounce the use of force and work for a lasting solution in line with this vision without further delay.”

Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs: On 7 October 2023 the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a statement stating that it “expresses its deep concern over the developments in [the] Gaza Strip and calls on all parties to de-escalate, and exercise maximum restraint” and that “the Ministry of Foreign Affairs holds Israel solely responsible for the ongoing escalation due to its ongoing violations of the rights of the Palestinian people, the latest of which was the repeated incursions into Al-Aqsa Mosque under the protection of the Israeli police”. The statement also said that the ministry stressed “the need for the international community to act urgently to compel Israel to stop its flagrant violations of international law, respect the resolutions of international legitimacy and the historical rights of the Palestinian people, and to prevent these events from being used as a pretext to ignite a new asymmetric war against Palestinian civilians in Gaza”.

Hamas' rocket arsenal

It is too early to tell the mix of rockets launched by Hamas over the last day and a half. That said, fundamental to Hamas' strategy has long been a diversity of approaches for the smuggling of weapons and weapon components, and relying on domestic manufacturing capabilities.

In terms of smuggling, tunnels have historically been widely used to smuggle weapons and equipment into the Gaza Strip.

Since 2014 the Egyptian government has maintained a general policy of sealing tunnels across the Egypt-Gaza border, which IDF officials told Janes in September 2023 was a largely effective policy. Before this, Hamas had effectively managed to establish secure smuggling routes into the Gaza Strip from Libya or transiting via Sudan by bribing Egyptian military officers and tribes. Despite this policy it appears tunnel systems continue to be accessible from Egypt.

For its part Israel has done a large amount of work to destroy and inhibit Hamas' tunnels. In May 2021, during the Israel-Gaza conflict, the IDF reported it had conducted airstrikes that had destroyed 100 km of Hamas' underground tunnels, although Hamas disputes this. More recent Israeli attempts to destroy tunnel networks have driven an increase in smuggling routes by sea. Israel's border fence has concrete foundations that at places are 60 m deep and incorporate seismic detectors.

Despite the emphasis on smuggling materials through tunnels (both sea and land), smuggling through the goods crossings (at Karem Shalom in Israel and Rafah in Egypt) still frequently occurs. Approximately 80 trucks of goods move through Karem Shalom crossing a day. According to the Israeli MoD much of the smuggling is co-ordinated by Palestinian families based in Turkey and China.

However, the vast majority of Hamas' rocket arsenal is referred to as Qassam-type rockets that are domestically manufactured. They require a basic workshop and materials and can be mass produced by Hamas and other similar types by the PIJ. These are unguided missile systems that use improvised solid propellant and importantly require no advanced technology to be launched. Qassam rockets are considered by the Israeli authorities to be ‘statistical' rockets in that they rely on large numbers to cause an effect. Once manufactured these rockets are frequently placed into concrete bunkers that can typically contain 2–8 rockets. Once in place these static launchers can be covered and left until there is a need for them to be used. Once the rockets have been launched there is almost no value left in the site and any subsequent airstrike by Israel has very little utility.

Hamas has also historically relied on Iranian support for its arsenal. Iran for its part has smuggled a range of weapons systems including Grad rockets, Iranian Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 rockets, and systems to enhance domestic rockets. These weapon systems can be smuggled as components, with final assembly taking place in Gaza. There is also evidence of Iran transferring designs of rockets to Palestinian militants enabling weapons such as PIJ's Badr-3 to be domestically produced.