Tragedy continues to unfold in the Middle East, following the Saturday morning audacious attack by Hamas militants against targets in Southern Israel. The Palestinians broke out of Gaza into Israel, captured a number of settlement and military outposts and created havoc amongst civilian communities. The numbers of death in Israel is now above 700.
Israel has responded with a massive aerial bombardment of the densely populated Gaza strip - leaving already hundreds dead and many more injured and displaced.
The fighting is however not over yet and this tragedy continues to unfold, with most observers thinking it will get much worse. Israel is on Monday (9 October) primarily focused on clearing Israeli settlements from Palestinian gunmen. This task is made more difficult since some of the gunmen may be holding hostages. There are also reports that new Palestinian militants are crossing over from the Gaza strip even now, and the Israeli Army has not denied this.
Israel has mobilised one hundred thousands reservists. This in itself is a big burden on the economy and these reservists will need to return to their civilian jobs as soon as possible. But for the moment Israel is focused on revenge, and on obliterating Hamas. Easier said than done. This is a force that is intricately embedded within the 3.5 million civilian population of Gaza. For Israel to achieve its aim a massive human cost will be necessary.
There are big questions about how Hamas could plan and prepare such an elaborate operation without detection, given the fact that Israel controls all entry and exit points along the strip. The operation has already seriously tainted the image of Israel's security services, once considered invincible.
On Sunday, the UN Security Council met in informal session in new York. The 15 member countries took stock of the situation but could not agree on any text or resolution. But in the international community there is serious concern that the current situation may easily escalate and embroil other actors. It is a very challenging moment for world peace.