On October 7, 2023, Hamas launched operation Al-Aqsa Flood, a surprise attack on Israel on the early morning of a major Jewish holiday. As part of the attack, the Gaza-based terrorist group fired thousands of rockets into Israel and dispatched fighters into Israeli towns near the Gaza strip. In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a mass mobilization and said "we are at war" during a televised address on the developments.
The following report compiles initial statements issued by the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and the Lions' Den regarding the conflict.
Following the launching of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood on October 7, 2023, Hamas released several statements regarding the course of the conflict and its intended goals.
Statement By Al-Qassam Brigades Commander
On October 7, Mohammed Al-Daif, the General Commander of Hamas' armed wing, the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Martyrs' Brigade, released on the group's website a statement announcing the beginning of the operation.
The statement, which focused on recent tensions with worshippers at Al-Aqsa, accusing Israel of planning to demolish the mosque to rebuild a temple on top of the site, announced the beginning of the operation and its codename, saying: "We have decided to put an end to all of this, with Allah's help, so that the enemy understands that the time for him to revel without accountability has ended. We announce the start of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood. We also announce that the first strike, which targeted the enemy's positions, airports, and military fortifications, exceeded 5,000 missiles and shells."
Statement By Hamas Political Wing
Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh issued an official statement on its website, confirming ongoing fighting and linking it to ongoing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians regarding Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Haniyeh claimed that the group had information indicating that Israel intended to assert control over the Aqsa Mosque, and thus he justified the operation as a precautionary measure to prevent the alleged seizure of the holy site by the Israeli authorities: "We had information saying this would be happening as a prelude to imposing sovereignty over Al-Aqsa Mosque."
After asserting that Allah would grant the Palestinians victory, Haniyeh urged Muslims everywhere to join in the fight, without elaborating on what that might entail, calling on "every Muslim everywhere and all the free people of the world to stand in this just battle in defense of Al-Aqsa and the Prophet's mission, to do whatever they can, for this is not the time to wait and watch, and it is not the time for victory in the heart only, but victory in action."
He closed by promising to continue the fight wherever the group's fighters could be found, referencing Operation Al-Aqsa Flood: "This Flood began in Gaza and will extend to the West Bank and abroad and every place where our people and nation are present."
Call To Arms, Lone Wolf Attacks
Hamas released a statement on its website calling on Palestinian supporters in the West Bank to launch attacks on Israeli military sites and settlements in the West Bank: "Oh, heroes of our people in the West Bank, to our people in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Nablus, our pride in Hebron and Jenin, and all the villages and ruins: The time has come for a comprehensive and urgent mobilization to engage in the battle of the Al-Aqsa Flood, and to show Allah our goodness."
The statement called on supporters to engage in lone-wolf style attacks on Israeli targets, wherever they may be: "Let everyone go, whether in groups or alone, toward the targets of the occupation and the settlers in all locations. Storm the settlements and military sites, knock out the enemy's soldiers and settlers, and restore the rights of the martyrs and the holy sites."
It again linked the fighting to ongoing tensions around Al-Aqsa Mosque, promising to suffer any cost to keep the site in Palestinian hands: "Let the enemy know that Al-Aqsa Mosque will not remain alone, and will not be divided, no matter the sacrifices, and that Palestinian blood is not cheap. The moment of revenge for our martyrs has come, and those who wronged will know which side to turn against."
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Military Communique By Al-Qassam Brigades
Later in the day, Hamas' armed wing, the 'Izz Al-Deen Al-Qassam Martyrs' Brigade, released what it called its first "military communique" on Telegram, describing the first day of fighting.
The statement confirmed air and ground attacks on more than 50 sites in Israel: "Under intense missile cover and targeting of the enemy's command and control systems, the mujahideen of the Qassam Brigades were able to cross the enemy's defensive line and carry out a simultaneous coordinated attack on more than 50 sites in the Gaza sector and the southern region of the [Israeli] Occupation army, leading to the overcoming of the defenses in the area."
It claimed that fighting was still ongoing in 25 areas, including an Israeli base east of Gaza: "Our mujahideen are still fighting heroic battles in 25 locations, and including at the Ra'im base, the headquarters of the Gaza sector."
Statements By Palestinian Islamic Jihad
Abu Hamza, the spokesman for the Quds Companies, the armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), said in a series of statements released on Telegram as posters, that the group was taking part in the ongoing aggression and attacks within Israel, with goal of displacing Israelis. He said that "thanks to Allah," the group has taken "several Zionist soldiers as captives."
Further, he said: "We in the Quds Companies and the [anti-Israel] resistance, are recording today a new chapter of victory and breaking the prestige of the 'enemy entity' [Israel] and its defeated army, during which our heroes made the enemy small and humiliated, feeling death everywhere. What we called on the enemy and its settlers to leave peacefully from our land did not happen, so killing was our way to do so."
Abu Hamza asserted that the initial reports of casualties and captives within Israel proved that the conflict with Israel could be won: "By the grace of Allah, we and the resistance have caused, through a series of operations behind enemy lines, as part of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, a resounding, historical shock that revealed the truth of our statement that this powerful enemy is an illusion made of dust and capable of being defeated and broken."
The PIJ spokesman also commemorated the Palestinian fighters who had died in the fighting: "We salute the souls of the martyrs, the righteous fighters, and with them the heroes of our people, and we pray for recovery for the wounded, and that tomorrow is near."
He also confirmed that PIJ fighters were continuing attacks, including ground operations against Israeli communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip: "Our forces are still in the fight with missiles and through the elite forces in the 'Gaza envelope,' accompanied by their brothers in [Hamas'] Al-Qassam Brigades and the rest of the resistance factions, in the continuation of the blessed, heroic operation."
The statement did not include specific claims of casualties inflicted or suffered by PIJ.
"Capturing Zionist Soldiers" Poster
The Quds Companies also released a poster on Telegram, featuring Abu Hamza's claims that the group had captured "Zionist soldiers" as part of the ongoing fighting. The imagery showed a group of Palestinian civilians celebrating outside of an abandoned military vehicle.
Statement By Lions' Den
The Lions' Den, a Palestinian militant group centered in Nablus, West Bank, also issued a statement on Telegram calling for a state of general mobilization among all Palestinians, including potential attacks on Israeli targets.
In part, the statement said it was joining the ongoing fighting, calling on all fighters and supporters to join in the operation: "We declare a state of general mobilization and begin an immediate attack from every position on the occupation forces and their settlers."
The statement also listed five guidelines, which included guidelines for those inside and outside of the group.
Calling for an immediate commencement of attacks, it said: "Our lone wolves must act immediately and urgently, now and before anything else."
It also called on bands of fighters to begin their own attacks on Israel: "All fighters must close ranks and go out to attack the occupation with ambushes of bullets and explosive devices."
Directing its commands to civilians, it called for massive demonstrations in support of Palestinian armed groups amid the ongoing fighting.
"Disable Surveillance System"
It also urged Palestinians to disable surveillance systems that could be used to provide evidence against Palestinians who participate in attacks: "All owners of shops and homes located near occupation checkpoints and settlements must withdraw their recording devices and turn off their cameras immediately."
Finally, it called on all Palestinian civilians with arms to rise up and join in attacks, relying on appeals to traditional interpretations of masculinity: "For everyone who owns a weapon and does not use it to defend religion and the country, it is time for you to emerge as a man and perform your duty of honor and manhood," promising that any attackers would sweep through Israeli settlements "like the wind."
"This time is a time of pride, honor and victory, with Allah's help," it wrote, celebrating the violence.
As part of its closing remarks, the statement from the Lions' Den noted the occurrence of the fighting on the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana, lobbing epithets commonly associated with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories: "Will your Sabbath and holiday not get worse, oh descendants of monkeys and pigs?"