Spookily, Israeli television broadcast live from all of the hospitals in the southern part of the country even before any casualties were showing up, a reflection of the fear of the size and nature of the reprisals that are expected — as were the ambulances deployed across the region. It didn’t take long until they arrived; residents of the city of Netivot rushed into shelters as rockets began to fall there — all broadcast live on television. Similar scenes in Sderot quickly followed as the Israeli casualty list began.
Quick on the heels of the attack were calls from European leaders to stop the attacks. The European Union wasted no time in calling for an immediate ceasefire. The U.S. reaction harshly criticized Hamas and asked the Israelis to do their best to limit casualties.
Condemnations were obviously quick in coming from Arab nations, who were described by the AP as being “in shock” although such action was far from unexpected.
Protests immediately broke out in the West Bank and in Arab cities within Israel.
The fury and impact of the attack was clearly designed to send a message to Hamas that the continued lobbing of missiles into Israeli territory has grave consequences. If not, Israeli commentators are saying, Israel is signaling that today’s attack is only the beginning of an operation that will almost certainly escalate and include ground forces.
Whether that message will be acknowledged — or responded to by Hamas — in any way is yet to be seen.