Israel declared war against Hamas on Sunday following a surprise attack by the Palestinian militant group based in Gaza that included the taking of military and civilian hostages. Israeli security forces, caught off-guard, have pounded Gaza with retaliatory strikes, and U.S. officials said they expect Israel to soon launch a ground incursion into Gaza as violence escalates in the conflict-ridden region.
Since winning an election in the Gaza Strip in 2006, Hamas has repeatedly attacked Israel with rockets and mortars, emerging as a defiant adversary. Israel has retaliated with its superior firepower and a punishing blockade, restricting imports and movement of civilians in a strategy of collective punishment. The blockade and recurring Israeli strikes have contributed to Gaza’s poor infrastructure and living conditions. Israel declared a full siege of the enclave on Monday, with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant promising “no electricity, no food, no fuel” and calling Hamas “savages.”
Here’s what to know about Hamas and the latest violence.