The group took an estimated 200 people hostage, and killing many more. Israel retaliated with air strikes, announced a complete siege on the Palestinian territory of Gaza and declared war on Hamas.
As of October 19, more than 1,400 people have been killed inside Israel and more than 3,500 have been killed inside Gaza.
The crisis has divided the countries around the globe, with much of the West – including Ukraine – siding with Israel.
But Russia has positioned itself as a potential mediator, even though it is currently isolated on the world stage due to its invasion of Ukraine.
Here’s a look at why Moscow is publicly calling for peace – even if, as one expert suspects, it doesn’t actually want the crisis to be resolved.
What has Russia said about Israel-Hamas war so far?
Russia has a strong alliance with Iran – one of the states backing Hamas – and has publicly supported an independent Palestinian state with occupied East Jerusalem as its capital.
It has also avoided called Hamas a terrorist state, unlike the West, and sent 27 tonnes of humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza to be transported via Egypt on Thursday.
Yet, Russian president Vladimir Putin has tried to maintain close ties with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in recent years, and allegedly the world leaders spoke for the first time since the attacks last week.
The Kremlin said Putin expressed “his sincere condolences to the families and friends of the deceased Israelis” while calling for de-escalation.
Putin has also said he believes no major actors wanted the conflict to escalate into war, and voiced concerns over the “catastrophic” deaths in the war.
Russia also proposed amendments to a draft UN resolution which would have called for an immediate full ceasefire and end attacks on civilians.
However, it was rejected by the security council, who said it was too early to craft a response and for failing to underline Israel’s right to self-defence.
Does the conflict in the Middle East actually benefit Moscow?
Yes, according to Nikolay Kozhanov, a consulting fellow at the Russia and Eurasia Programme of Chatham House, an international think tank.
He told HuffPost UK that it definitely works to Moscow’s advantage in several different ways.
Firstly, he said it helps by “diverting international attention from Putin’s aggression in Ukraine and from Russia’s other anti-Western actions”. He pointed to the Kremlin’s recent decision to withdraw from a treaty which limits its ability to conduct nuclear tests, and mysterious damage to a gas pipeline between Estonia and Finland – two moments which “attracted much less attention that they should have”.
This is a widespread opinion, and was echoed by Alexander Gabuev, director of Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, when speaking to AFP news agency. He said: “This conflict is a boon for Russia because it diverts a huge amount of attention of the United States and the West.”
Secondly, the struggles of the citizens in Gaza boosts Russian propaganda against the US, according to Kozhanov.
The specialist noted that the Middle East crisis “allows Moscow to actively criticise” the US by blaming it for the Hamas attack on Israel, and for Tel Aviv’s response, because the two countries are so closely aligned.
He told HuffPost UK: “According to Russian propagandists, the United States has consistently undermined international efforts to resolve the Palestinian issue and this resulted in new bloodshed.”
Putin did indeed blame the US in his first public statement on the crisis on October 10, saying the conflict was a “vivid example” of Washington’s failed policy.
There’s another motive for Russia when it comes to the conflict in the Middle East, too – the Kremlin has used the war to blame Kyiv for supposedly smuggling Western weapons to Hamas.
Kozhanov said: “This, in turn, was supposed to create [a] rift between Israel and Ukraine as well as to support the stance of those political forces in the West who doubt the need to keep high volumes of [military] assistance to Ukraine.”
Doubts about the amount of money and weaponry being sent to Kyiv have crept in recent months, particularly in the US and in Poland.
Why would Russia position itself as a peace negotiator if the war is beneficial to Moscow?
Well, Kozhanov suggested this was actually one of the most advantageous elements of the conflict – the chance for Moscow to present itself as a mediator.
He said: “Russia is trying to strengthen its position in the international arena and resist attempts to isolate it.”
This comes shortly after the UN human rights council rejected Russia’s request to be readmitted to the panel, having been kicked out for its “gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights” last year.
Kozhanov claimed: “On the one hand, it shows the international community that interaction with Moscow can still be useful, whereas positioning Russia as an international pariah is a mistake.
“On the other hand, Moscow is trying to build up closer relations with the Global South, whose elites and population are extremely concerned about the fate of Gaza and hesitant on whose side to take in the war in Ukraine.”
Previous reports have suggested that some nations who were on the fence over the Ukraine-Russia war have been turned off by the West’s decision to back Israel over the conflict in the Middle East.
Kozhanov noted that Moscow can now “further entrench itself in the Middle East, playing on differences in behaviour with the United States,” as many nations are frustrated with Washington DC’s recent with Israel.
Russia already had strong links to the region, particularly through Iran and Syria, too.
So, could Russia succeed at calling for peace?
The specialist pointed out that Russia has succeeded before – its recent initiatives at the UN were positively received in the Middle East, especially as the US comes under fire for its support for Israel.
“This, in turn, may push the Arab states away from supporting Ukraine whose president, Zelensky, was extremely vocal in his support of Israel’s actions,” Kozhanov said.
But – will it end the conflict?
While Russia might actually be in a better place to resolve the crisis that previously assumed, Kozhanov still speculated that – regardless of what the country says – “Moscow is not interested in ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”.
He said the outbreak of violence in the region has enabled Russia to exercise its authority, both internationally and regionally, after being frozen out by so many due to the invasion of Ukraine.
He added “frozen conflicts and simmering crisis situations in the Middle East” allow Moscow to use the “opacity” works to its advantage.
Yet, Kozhanov suggested Russia does not want it to be a “hot” conflict, because it could negatively impact its allies in the area.
And, the critical destabilisation of “the region may affect the post-Soviet space, diverting Moscow’s attention and resources from the war in Ukraine to respond to the new challenges,” the specialist said.
So while, “not all of Russia’s initiatives to resolve the current conflict should be considered useless or shallow”, Kozhanov suggested there should be a wariness around Moscow’s suggestions.
“Given the Kremlin’s more global and obviously malevolent priorities with regard to Ukraine and the West, the Russian leadership cannot be trusted or accepted as a partner either,” he concluded.