A photo of Hamas militants celebrating near the border after destroying a tank and two IDF soldiers in Israel looking at a destroyed building.

2023-2024 Hamas-Israel Conflict

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Updated May 01, 2024 at 02:15PM EDT by Owen.

Added Oct 07, 2023 at 09:21PM EDT by Brandon.

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Overview

The 2023-2024 Hamas-Israel Conflict, also known as the 2023 Gaza-Israel Conflict, refers to the initial surprise attack on Israel from Palestinian militant groups led by Hamas and the subsequent counteroffensive from Israel and Israel Defense Forces (IDF). On October 7th, 2023, Hamas, which has been designated a terrorist group by numerous countries including Israel, the U.S. and the E.U., launched an invasion against Israel from the Gaza Strip, breaking through barriers and border crossings, as well as conducting offensives via boats and motorized paragliders. Hamas called this attack "Operation al-Aqsa Storm." Following the initial attack, Israel formally declared war and responded with its own operation called "Iron Swords." The conflict, resulting after years of increased tension between Hamas, Israel and Palestine, quickly received global media coverage and sparked protests around the world. Online, the events resulted in heated discourse on social media platforms as waves of antisemitism and Islamophobia spread online among other posts such as viral videos and even memes.

Background

On October 7th, 2023, Hamas, also known as the "Islamic Resistance Movement," launched a full-scale attack on Israel. This attack included numerous rocket barrages, as well as ground forces, boats and motorized paragliders crossing into Israeli territory, with reports of multiple villages being taken over by the group shortly after. According to reports on October 8th, around 700 Israelis were killed and over 2,200 were wounded, with roughly 400 Palestinians also killed.[11]

On the morning of October 7th, footage began appearing on X of the ground invasion. For example, X user @RZabaneh[1] uploaded a video showing Palestinians breaking down a fence as part of their invasion, which received over 750,000 views in 12 hours (shown below).


Also that day, footage of a missile salvo being launched toward Israel from Gaza was uploaded on X by the user @RealLifeFootage.[2] As part of the post, a callout was made by the account, which claimed that Hamas was targeting civilians with its barrage whereas Israel was strictly going after terrorists. This reaction notably followed several other heated posts that were made earlier about Israel's counteroffensive also harming civilians, with the post gaining over 141,000 views in three hours (shown below).


Developments

Supernova Music Festival Attack

One of the major stories to come out the day of the attacks on October 7th, 2023, was from a music festival called Supernova that was intended to celebrate peace outside of Re’im. The attack reportedly began around 7 a.m. local time as sporadic rocket attacks on southern Israel interrupted the concert with roughly 5,000 people in attendance.[12] Video footage of the events started to surface early in the day, such as a clip uploaded to X by user @Tr00peRR[7] that showed people dancing with music playing while looking out in the distance and reportedly spotting Hamas fighters paragliding into the area before attacking the festival grounds (shown below).


According to reports and an eyewitness account of the rave massacre published by Tablet Magazine[13] on October 8th, terrorists approached the festival in pickup trucks bearing Hamas military markings and began shooting attendees, with many fleeing into the western Negev desert. Hamas members reportedly rounded up many victims and bound and kidnapped them. A survivor told Tablet:

I saw videos with a male getting held by a group of Arab kids. Like, they’re like 16, 17. They’re kids, but they’re young men already, and they’re holding this guy, and he looks as his girlfriend is being mounted on a bike and driven away from him. God knows what she’s going to experience … Women have been raped at the area of the rave next to their friend's bodies, dead bodies.

Later in the day, it was reported that a 30-year-old German citizen named Shani Louk, who posted on her Instagram that she had attended the festival earlier that day, was taken by Hamas. X user @manyambizo[8] uploaded footage that reportedly showed Shani Louk as she was being moved into the back of a vehicle, with later footage reportedly showing her dead body being seen naked in the bed of a Hamas truck.

On October 8th, 2023, X user @BGOnTheScene posted footage of protestors in NYC outside the Israeli Consulate discussing the festival, receiving over 2.6 million views, 2,200 likes and 622 replies in 18 hours (seen below). Shortly after, X user @TerresaHobbs[14] replied to the video and the man's comments in it, including purported photos of Shani Louk at the festival and one of her body after she was killed by Hamas.


Several other videos of the attacks on the Supernova Music Festival and the aftermath continued to spread over the following days (example seen below).[15]



Shani Louk's Abduction

During the attack on October 7th, 2023, news outlets like The Telegraph[26] reported on a story that 23-year-old Shani Louk, a German-Israeli festival-goer, was tortured, killed and then paraded by Hamas militants. A video of Louk at the festival, posted to her Instagram[27] on the day of, was reposted and shared on X.[28] Several days after initial media coverage asserted that Louk was captured, tortured, and killed by Hamas, Louk's mother reported that her daughter was alive and being treated at a hospital in Gaza for a critical head injury.[29]



Israeli Counterattack

As the day progressed, reports of Israel launching counterattacks into Gaza increased on October 7th, 2023.[19] These reports were confirmed when, while live on air during a news report, a large building was hit and then later demolished by Israeli bombardments. That same day, X user @t0mk0pca[5] uploaded this footage and added context by claiming the first shot was simply a warning shot meant to alert people to evacuate, as many others began to respond by saying that specifically targeting residential buildings is equally terroristic in nature (shown below).


Egypt Intelligence Warning

On October 9th, 2023, articles emerged online from publications such as The Times of Israel[22] reporting that Egyptian intelligence officials attempted to warn Israel that Hamas was planning "something big" but were repeatedly ignored. The Prime Minister’s Office, however, refuted this and said they were a "complete lie."

The same day it was published, X user and The Intercept reporter Ken Klippenstein quoted the article in a post to his X account, receiving nearly 200,000 views, 2,500 likes and 470 retweets in roughly three hours.[23]

Online Reactions

Celebrity Involvement

Throughout the day on October 7th, 2023, many different celebrities voiced their support for either Israel or Palestine, with varying reactions from others online. For example, adult actress Mia Khalifa quickly announced her support[3] for Palestine with a statement made early in the morning claiming that anyone not on the side of Palestine is on the wrong side of history, earning over 7.6 million views and receiving both praise and hate online (shown below).


Mia K. @miakhalifa ... If you can look at the situation in Palestine and not be on the side of Palestinians, then you are on the wrong side of apartheid and history will show that in time 9:02 AM Oct 7, 2023 7.6M Views

Following her additional comments and posts on X, such as one in which she said "Can someone please tell the freedom fighters in Palestine to flip their phones and film horizontal" and another that read "this is a renaissance painting" on an image of Hamas troops shooting vehicles in the back of a pickup truck,[16][17] Khalifa was then reportedly fired by a company she worked with named Red Light Holland that called her posts "horrendous."[18]

Meanwhile, influencer and celebrity Kylie Jenner posted an Instagram Story in which she declared her support for Israel. However, it was later revealed that the post was deleted, with X user @Naija_Analyst[4] posting what is purported to be a long trail of comments on said post of her fans replying with Palestine flags, causing some to jump to conclusions about her post and it's deletion (shown below).


Anti-Israeli Sentiment Online

Online, several memes and commentaries relating to the issue and taking sides began to take shape. Later in the day on October 7th, 2023, 4chan threads began to appear postulating that since Israel is at a time of war and purportedly has a restricted internet in place, threads on 4chan and other websites relating to Happy Merchant stereotypes, interracial couples, fatherless behavior and transgender people, among others, were being seen less, placing the blame on Israel for these things that the posters perceive as bad and coming from it (shown below, reuploaded by X user @PaxTubeOfficial).


Anonymous (ID: s4PW7g11) INFIDELS 575 KB JPG 10/07/23(Sat)08:41:45 No.443612300 >Not one BBC thread >Not one lolicon thread >Not one furry thread >Not one LARPagan thread >Not one Christian hate thread >Not one t----- acceptance thread >Not one chud hate thread >Not one random subject twitter thread >>443621805 # It's like something happened :D Anonymous (ID: mZDz4zgy) [+ > Israel internet outages > 99% drop in: 10/07/23(Sat)10:04:27 No.443622193 > bbc/mutt/race mixing threads > anti Christian/Christianity is Jewish threads > uhg slow asf > other general degeneracy Hmmm.....hmm... I can't help but nootice.

Late into the night on October 7th, X journalist @Visegrad24[6] uploaded footage reportedly taken from the streets of London in which several cheering adults were crowded together and waving Palestinian flags, seemingly happy with news coverage of the conflict that was being shown nearby and cheering on the attacks of Hamas (shown below).


Several other protests around the U.S. and other places showing pro-Palestinian supporters protesting and even clashing with pro-Israeli supporters continued to emerge online heading into mid-October 2023 (examples seen below, left and right).



Pro-Israel Sentiment Online

Alongside the pro-Palestine support both online and in real-world demonstrations, numerous instances of pro-Israel support also appeared on social media as the conflict continued to spread into mid-October 2023.

Early in the morning on October 7th, 2023, Republican Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy posted his support for Israel on X. In his post,[9] he decried the reported crimes caused by Hamas and declared that the United States should also stand with Israel, earning over 3.6 million views in 12 hours (shown below).


Vivek Ramaswamy @VivekGRamaswamy I am appalled by the barbaric and medieval Hamas attacks. Shooting civilians and kidnapping children are war crimes. Israel's right to exist & defend itself should never be doubted and Iran-backed Hamas & Hezbollah cannot be allowed to prevail. I stand with Israel and the U.S. should too. 9:55 AM - Oct 7, 2023 3.6M Views .

On the night of October 7th, United States President Joe Biden notably gave a speech that was uploaded to his X[10] account in which he declared the United States was going to continue to stand with Israel and would support it in this conflict. This video quickly went viral, receiving over 1 million views in two hours while being referenced by other political commentators on both sides of American politics (shown below).


Numerous rallies around the world and the U.S. also garnered news coverage and were uploaded online depicting Israeli supporters decrying the actions of Hamas (examples seen below, left and right).



Indians Supporting Israel

Following the attacks, various internet users began noting the perceived tendency of Indian internet users to support Israel (notably part of a longstanding macro trend). For example, on October 8th, 2023, X[24] user @BiruniKhorasan posted a meme depicting their perception of the issue, gathering over 15,000 likes in a day (seen below, left). On October 7th, X[25] user @AltHistCody also posted about the sentiment, gathering over 37,000 likes in two days (seen below, right).


imgflip.com Cody @AltHistCody Follow The Palestinian shakes in fear as Israel deploys its greatest weapon. Random ass Indian Twitter users 11:12 PM Oct 7, 2023 1M Views

Meme Examples

During the widespread coverage and discourse surrounding the conflict online, numerous memes about the event also began appearing. For example, on October 8th, 2023, Redditor redbush4real posted a Who Had X For Y? meme to the /r/memes[20] subreddit, receiving nearly 2,000 upvotes and 250 comments before it was removed (seen below, left). That same day, Redditor Bright-Repeat-4616 posted a meme to /r/dankmemes[21] using scenes from The Office, receiving over 1,700 upvotes and 180 comments in 19 hours (seen below, right).


WERE WOLF ALIEN BEAST MUTANTS WRAITHS ZOMBIES REPTILIUS CLOWNS WITCHES Y WITCHES MON'S L LORD ANCE MED MOLITION ELE OPERA ARCHIVI SITTERS MOLESTING, TREE WRANGI imgflip.com T SNAKE INTERNAL LO DITES YIN SCARECROW FOLK NOWMAN AGON BAT AMPIRES EMBERMENT GOBLINS FLUM FAIRY AN NIMATED PN LIITT DATA ARCHIVES COMMUNICATIONS DISTRIBUTION ENDIGO HADLEY ADMINISTRATION ENGINEERING R+D YETI KITCHEN STAFF ACCOUNTING TORS TORTURE FAMILY MAINTENANCES •ONALD THE INTERN SECURITY OOLOGY OK, WHO HAD ISRAEL AND PALESTINE CAUSING WORLD WAR 3? Supporters of Israel made with mematic Supports of Palestine Me: I don't know what they are talking about

False Flag Conspiracy Theories

Israel False Flag Attack Conspiracy Theory is a conspiracy theory surrounding the October 2023 Israel-Gaza Conflict that suggests Israel either knowingly let the attack from Hamas happen, did parts of the attack themselves, either directly or indirectly, or possibly orchestrated the entire event as an excuse to invade and reoccupy the Gaza Strip.

A core belief of the theory hinges on reports that Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu and Israeli intelligence were supposedly aware of the threat of an attack and chose to do nothing, and the response from many Israeli officials calling for harsh retaliation against Palestine following the initial attack. While the theory is unfounded, it spread online shortly after the initial offensive by Hamas in early October 2023.


Day of Rage / Day of Jihad

The Day of Rage or Day of Jihad refers to Friday, October 13th, 2023, when former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal called for people in Arab countries and around the world who support the Palestinian cause to protest and act against Israel. The call came on the eve of a looming Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip amid the escalation of war between Israel and the militant group Hamas following the October 2023 conflict. In the United States and elsewhere, rightwing media outlets interpreted the message as a call to war, with some posting content reframing it as "2nd Amendment Appreciation Day." In many major U.S. cities and other places around the world, leaders also stated that there would be increased police presence in response to the call for Friday demonstrations.



October 17th, 2023, Gaza Hospital Explosion

The October 17th, 2023, Gaza Hospital Explosion, also known as the Gaza Hospital Strike, refers to an explosion that took place at the al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Northern Gaza amid the Israel-Hamas conflict on October 17th, 2023, with the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry claiming over 500 deaths consisting mostly of women and children. The cause of the explosion is strongly disputed among various parties, with the Gaza Health Ministry accusing Israel of launching an airstrike at the hospital and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stating that the explosion was caused by a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad targeting Israel. The event and initial lack of expert consensus on the cause of the blast led to widespread discussions about misinformation, disinformation, the "fog of war" and the lack of clarity and accountability regarding real-time events in Gaza.



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