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The Israel-Hamas War: Operation Iron Sword

(October 7, 2023 - Present)
By Mitchell Bard

From the opening phase of the war in Gaza, Hamas continued a steady barrage of rockets in the direction of Israel’s population centers. By October 12, the IDF reported there had been 6,000 rocket launches: 3,000 were hit by the Iron Dome, 260 landed in the water, 400 landed in Gaza, and the rest landed in open areas.

The rockets rarely have specific targets and are primarily designed to land anywhere they can, causing destruction and death. As in the past, the Iron Dome shot down most of the incoming projectiles, but the system was overwhelmed by the sheer number, so some got through and damaged buildings, causing injuries and a handful of deaths. Due to the proximity of rockets to Ben-Gurion Airport, most international carriers canceled flights, and many Israelis abroad had difficulty getting home on the relatively few El Al and Israir charter flights. Other nations arranged flights to bring home their citizens who could not leave Israel.

Unlike past engagements, the IDF did not release statistics on the number of rockets intercepted by Iron Dome or misfires.

On October 27, a rocket hit a residential building in Tel Aviv for the first time, wounding three people.

On November 4, the IDF said its Arrow 2 air defense intercepted a Hamas rocket launched at Eilat, 250 kilometers from Gaza, the farthest distance Hamas rockets have ever reached. On November 9, the more sophisticated Arrow 3 intercepted a Houthi-fired missile on November 9. Israel intercepted several more missiles in the following days.

Hamas resumed launching rockets on December 1, breaking the ceasefire. More than 100 were fired on December 5, the most since the end of the truce. Three people in Ashkelon and one in Tel Aviv were wounded.

On December 6, the IDF reported that 12 rockets were launched from near the tents of Gazans who were sheltering near United Nations facilities.

Despite more than 100 days of intense combat and the destruction of many rockets and launchers, Hamas continued to fire barrages into Israel. On January 16, 2023, more than 50 rockets were launched toward southern Israel, the largest salvo in weeks.

The total number of launches since the start of the war exceeded 14,000, with more than 1,000 misfires that landed inside the Gaza Strip.

From the start of the war, Hezbollah also launched rockets, drones, and anti-tank missiles at mostly civilian areas of northern Israel. They caused a handful of casualties and extensive damage in Israeli towns along the border, which had to be evacuated when the bombardment began. By the end of February, the intensity had reached the point where Israel was launching strikes deeper into Lebanon and warning of an all-out war in Lebanon.

Few rockets were launched from Gaza in the first four months of 2024. In May, however, several were fired at Beersheba where shrapnel hit an empty playground. Rockets were also fired at the Kerem Shalom crossing where aid was being delivered. An empty apartment in Ashkelon was also hit.

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