What’s Happening In Israel And Palestine? What You Need To Know About The Festival Attack And Hamas

This weekend, disaster struck at the Tribe of Nova trance music festival after Hamas terrorists launched a surprise attack on the site.

By Meredith Evans3 min read
Shutterstock/Nick Brundle Photography

On October 7, 2023, hundreds of people attended the Tribe of Nova trance music festival, held in the desert of southern Israel. It was a rave billed as a celebration of "friends, love, and infinite freedom" – but it soon turned into an event that failed to live up to its promises. Rockets were launched by Hamas terrorists, prompting a “red alert” warning over the loudspeakers. Then, the festivalgoers were met with gunfire. Hamas fired thousands of rockets the entire day, striking targets as distant as Tel Aviv and the outskirts of Jerusalem, areas that rarely experience direct hits due to Israel's advanced Iron Dome missile defense system.

At the festival, panicked men and women screamed as they ran for their lives. Arik Nani from Tel Aviv went to the rave for his 26th birthday. “We were hiding and running, hiding and running, in an open field – the worst place you could possibly be in that situation,” he tells The Associated Press. “For a country where everyone in these circles knows everyone, this is a trauma like I could never imagine.”

A man named Peleg Orev said, “It was all very quickly happening. It escalated in a few minutes. We were at work having fun, the music was amazing, and the atmosphere the best. In a few minutes, it all turned upside down into hell on earth.”

Some people hid in bushes to avoid getting shot. Others were purportedly abducted, including a woman named Noa Argamani, who is seen being taken away in a video yelling, "Don't kill me." One German-Israeli woman was recorded in the back of a pick-up truck face down with broken limbs. It’s unknown whether or not she was unconscious or dead. At least 260 lives were taken at the festival, according to Israeli rescue service Zaka.

About one hour following the deadly attacks, Hamas terrorists crossed by land, sea, and air. They infiltrated 22 Israeli towns and army bases. They took civilians and soldiers hostage; many were transported back to Gaza. As of Sunday, officials have confirmed that 700 Israelis have been reported dead, and another 2,000 are wounded. Meanwhile, more than 1,300 people have been killed on both sides. 

What Is Hamas? 

Founded in 1987 during an uprising against Israeli occupation, Hamas is a Palestinian terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip (the area bordering Israel and Egypt on the Mediterranean Sea). 

Hamas – which stands for the Islamic Resistance movement – has ties to a prominent Sunni organization known as the Muslim Brotherhood, a group founded in the 1920s. Hamas has declared its intent to annihilate Israel and has been responsible for suicide bombings and attacks on civilians and Israeli militants. In 1997, the U.S. State Department, the EU, and other Western countries classified Hamas as a terrorist organization.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has historical roots dating back to the end of the 19th century. In 1947, the UN adopted Resolution 181, to "partition Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish, with Jerusalem placed under a special international regime." In 1948, the creation of Israel and its declaration of independence sparked wars, leading to ongoing tension. Since then, there have been failed efforts for peace and agreements between the two nations. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 5,600 Palestinians died from 2008 to 2020, while 115,000 were injured. Meanwhile, 250 Israelis died during that same time period, and 5,600 were injured. 

Why Did Hamas Choose October 7 To Attack? 

Hamas's attack on the Tribe of Nova festival coincides with Simchat Torah, a Jewish holiday celebrating the annual cycle of public Torah readings, as well as the beginning of a new cycle. People have noted that the date chosen for one of the deadliest attacks was just one day after the Yom Kippur War was launched 50 years ago on October 6, 1973, when Arab nations attacked Israeli-occupied territories. 

Israel Retaliates

Israel has ordered a "complete siege" of the Gaza Strip, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared that the country is now "at war." “Citizens of Israel, we are at war. Not an operation, not a round [of fighting,] at war! This morning Hamas initiated a murderous surprise attack against the state of Israel and its citizens,” he said.

Toav Gallant, the Defense Minister of Israel, says that "no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel" would be allowed into Gaza. Warplanes have already struck hundreds of sites in Gaza, including marketplaces and mosques. In another televised address from this week, Netanyahu vowed to "eliminate" Hamas.

Will America Go To War?

Retired United States Army General Barry Richard McCaffrey suggests things will only escalate if Israel's neighboring Middle Eastern countries get involved in the conflict. When speaking with MSNBC's Weekends With Alex Witt, McCaffrey shares that America may intervene should Israel's existence be threatened. "The other shoe we're waiting to see if it drops is, will Hezbollah intervene out of Lebanon with their 100,000 some odd rockets? Will the West Bank ignite? And what will the Syrians and the Egyptians do?" he asked.

"I would suggest to you our support of Israel will be absolute, and if we see Syrian military intervention, active Iranian military intervention, we'll go to war," he added.

On Sunday, the U.S. announced its decision to deploy an aircraft carrier strike group to deter the possibility of a full-scale conflict involving Israel's neighboring nations. In his own assessment, McCaffrey explained that there "is absolutely no way" that any U.S. official can declare that America could go to war in Israel: "What I am saying is that if the existence of the state of Israel is at stake, if the Syrian military intervene, if Hezbollah started overwhelming the Israelis, in my judgment, at that point, we would consider actively intervening with air power and naval power."

"I think the deterrence factor is what the Biden administration is after right now. They want to make sure that the Syrian military and Hezbollah don't enter this fray," McCaffrey said. "If they do, it's going to be a lethal threat to the existence of Israel."

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