As the coming days of the "state of war" between Israel and Hamas drag on, it is important to highlight how this latest episode of conflict is unlike anything seen before.
Not only did Hamas start the war, but it is also the first time a ground invasion has crossed the Green Line into Israeli territory — a move even Hezbollah never dared to attempt.
It is too early to predict the potential outcome of hostilities, but for now, it is important to understand why Hamas launched this attack.
First and foremost, the offensive was a politically-motivated move aimed at boosting its dwindling popularity with the Palestinian people.
During its 16-year rule in Gaza, Hamas has struggled to establish itself as a respected and effective authority compared to Fatah in the West Bank — particularly when it comes to addressing the needs of the people.
Moreover, it has been unable to shield Gazans from frequent and brutal Israeli attacks. The severe blockade imposed on Gaza has compounded these challenges, leading to heightened unemployment, poverty, and despair in a region already lacking resources.
Gaza's residents have borne the brunt of Israeli military campaigns, with thousands of Palestinians killed, tens of thousands injured, and significant damage to infrastructure and properties.