The first Hamas militants flew into Israel by paraglider as dawn broke over the Gaza Strip on Saturday.
It was a sight not seen in decades of conflict, terrorists carrying machine guns floating across the heavily-fortified border wall in motorised dune-buggies attached to giant sails.
When the men in balaclavas landed, they stormed Israeli bases and shot everyone they could find, according to slick video footage of the raids published by the militants’ media wing.
This was just one prong of an extraordinary multi-front attack on Israel that saw fighters in pick-up trucks, boats and on motorcycles storm the border out of Gaza as some 3,000 rockets rained down on Israeli territory.
Almost immediately it was apparent that the raids amounted to the gravest security lapse Israel had witnessed in decades, with the IDF apparently caught off-guard on the final day of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
On Saturday evening, some 34 battalions of troops were still fighting Hamas militants in the border region, in an invasion that has already drawn comparisons to the Yom Kippur war fifty years ago - when the Egyptian and Syrian armies similarly caught Israel by surprise.