KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — On Saturday, a surprise attack by the Hamas group took place in Israel. Since then, the Israeli government has formally declared war and given the green light for “significant military steps” to retaliate against Hamas.

A professor of political science at Maryville College is breaking down what is known about the attack, Hamas and the history of similar attacks.

The United States Department of State branded the Hamas group a terrorist group in the 1970s according to O’Gorman. The professor explained that the group was an extremist Palestinian group. Many Palestinians were displaced following the creation of Israel in 1948.

“[Hamas] feels that the only way that any kind of resolution in the Middle East can occur is through the hands of violence. They don’t speak for all the Palestinian people, but they believe that their moment of opportunities are dwindling in terms of being able to peacefully settle a solution. And so, this is where they reached out and created mayhem,” said O’Gorman.

He went on to explain that nothing to this scale has been seen previously, especially when it comes to civilian casualties. With previous missiles attacked, the death toll has ranged from around a dozen to 100 deaths while this attack has casualties in the thousands according to O’Gorman.

“It’s the biggest attack on Israel since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, almost 50 years to the day. Literally, it was this week in 1973 that Syria at the time attacked Israel from the north and Egypt attacked it from the South and West, but that was different in terms of two military organizations from two different nations attacking,” said Mark O’Gorman, professor of political science and environmental studies at Maryville College.

O’Gorman went on to say that no one saw the attack from Hamas coming. The death toll from the attack continues to rise with thousands dead and more than 3,700 people wounded.

“The amount of mayhem that they created is just extraordinary. I just peeked at a source and looks like, sadly, the death toll now in Israel is approaching 1,000. And that’s on the Israeli side, I’m sure you’re going to see a similar amount on the Hamas side, both in terms of their terrorist troops and also just the civilian casualties. So just a horrific attack,” said O’Gorman.

“This level of violence hasn’t come down on the Israeli people in literally 50 years. And even then, the attacks were basic. The 1973 Yom Kippur War was a lot of military against military. This is of a level that’s just been unprecedented. You now have hundreds of people who are at a concert, a music concert three miles outside of the Gaza border suddenly being attacked by these terrorists, and you have these awful images of hundreds of music goers just killed,” said O’Gorman.

He also spoke on how the conflict is impacting geopolitics, stating that he believed that “the world community is hoping that just this remains a regional war.” The US has ordered the Ford carrier strike group to sail to the Eastern Mediterranean to be ready to assist Israel after the attack.

“Any war is horrible, but we certainly don’t want this to begin to enflame larger factions on all sides,” said O’Gorman. “The United States is saying, ‘don’t get involved, don’t escalate and make this horrible situation even more.’ I think that’s why the battle group is over there.”

The conflict in Israel is continuing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that the offensive against Hamas will ‘reverberate’ for generations.