The head well-known as Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Saturday that the country was in a “state of war” as Palestinian militants in Gaza launched a deadly rocket barrage, leading to a significant increase in armed fighters and creating a conflict between these two sides.
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According to the Israeli military, militants in Gaza fired around 2,200 rockets into Israel, while armed fighters attacked Israel through different sources of medium like land, sea, and air using paragliders which are highly explosive. Several explosions were reported in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and southern Israel, some of which were likely caused by intercepted rockets, while airstrikes forced Israelis to seek shelter in underground bunkers which are looking like ships.
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According to Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s emergency medical service, by Saturday afternoon, approximately 70 people had been killed in Israel, with hundreds more injured.
The Israeli military stated that Hamas had taken “prisoners and captives” but did not provide a specific figure.
A video showed the collapse of Palestine Tower, a high-rise building with two towers in Gaza City, which was heavily damaged by an explosion.
Israel responded with airstrikes targeting Hamas strongholds in Gaza. The Palestinian Health Ministry reported that approximately 200 Palestinians had been killed and 1,612 injured, but did not specify whether the casualties included Hamas militants or civilians.
Netanyahu announced that an operation was underway to remove militants from cities and called up reserve soldiers. He stated, “We are not in an operation or a round, but in a war.” He accused Hamas of launching a “lethal attack against the state of Israel” and its citizens.
The Saturday attack was unprecedented in scale and scope in recent history, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War when Arab states launched an attack on Israel on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Huch, stated in a briefing that the IDF was fighting “on the ground, as we speak,” listing several locations of ongoing conflicts, including several villages, military bases, and border crossings.
Huch continuously refused to answer questions from journalists about whether the IDF had prior knowledge of the attacks in.
“Operation Al-Aqsa Sword” by Hamas military commander Mohammad al-Deif in a recorded message, the group claimed to have targeted enemy locations, airports, and military bases with “5,000 rockets” and characterized the attack on Israel as a response. The violence included attacks on women, desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, and an ongoing siege in Gaza.
Al-Deif” ordered to their army that if you have any weapons, take them out. Now its the correct time to act – get out with trucks, cars, and pitchforks. Today marks the beginning of the best and most honorable chapter in history”.
The attacks by Hamas represent one of the deadliest escalations in Israel’s occupied West Bank in nearly two decades. This violence is highly by the continuous Israeli military incursions into Palestinian towns and cities, which Israel has cited as a necessary response to an increasing number of attacks by Palestinian militants on Israelis.
The situation has also deepened divisions in Israel, with the government advancing a controversial plan to reduce the power of the country’s courts, creating a social and political crisis. This move has also strained the military, with many reservists – who form the backbone of the Israeli Defense Forces – hesitant to respond if called upon, as they are unwilling to participate in a change to the judicial system. An IDF spokesperson stated on Saturday that they were unaware of any reservists refusing to be called up in light of the recent attacks in Israel.
Israel has responded to aerial, maritime, and ground attacks.
Dean Elsudun, a spokesperson for the Israeli police, stated that the police were responding to multiple locations and threats, mentioning that bomb disposal technicians were deployed to clear missile remnants and explosive devices at various sites in Israel.
Another IDF spokesperson, Brigadier General Daniel Hagari, stated that the military was “fighting in 22 different locations” without providing further details. He mentioned two locations – Ofakim and Beer Sheva – were experiencing security situations.
Residents of the Israeli communities Kibbutz Be’eri and Kibbutz Nir Oz near Gaza told Channel 12 television that armed infiltrators from Gaza had attempted to breach their homes. They repeatedly called on the IDF for assistance.
A resident of Kibbutz Nir Oz informed the broadcaster that their family, including two young children aged 7 and 9 years old, had barricaded themselves in a secure room while militants attempted to breach their doors.
Channel 12 also reported that infiltrators had taken people in the native Harsa area hostage. Israeli authorities have not confirmed these reports.
Entering Israel from Gaza is rare for Palestinian militants, as Israel has sealed off the territory and maintains strict surveillance in Israel and IDF issued warnings to Israeli residents near Gaza to stay in their homes or head to shelters.
It remains unclear how many Israelis have been captured by Hamas in Israel. In a verified video, the moment when some individuals were detained was shown Israel.”
In a video captured by CNN near Shejaiya in Gaza, a gunman can be seen forcibly dragging a naked woman with bleeding injuries from the back of a jeep and placing her on the rear seat of the car. The jeep appears to have an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) license plate in Israel, suggesting it may have been stolen and brought to Gaza.
Another video, showing Hamas militants detaining several Israelis, was filmed by CNN in Bureij, located near Gaza.
The IDF has stated that its teams are responding to areas where rocket attacks were reportedly launched. They have also provided information on “live firing incidents” and encouraged people to take shelter in protected areas when alarms sound.
The rescue service reported that one of their employees was killed in the attack, and four others were injured. An ambulance was also taken to Gaza.
IDF spokesperson Jacky Heller urged people to donate blood due to an “urgent need,” and a special blood donation campaign was scheduled for Saturday morning in Tel Aviv.
Social media footage obtained by CNN showed scenes in Ashkelon, a coastal city in southern Israel, after rocket attacks, with several cars burning nearby and thick black smoke filling the air.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, were conducting a security assessment at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv.
Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas globally, with approximately 2 million people living in a small coastal area of 140 square miles. Controlled by Hamas since 2007, it has been largely cut off from the rest of the world due to Israeli land, air, and sea blockades. Egypt controls Gaza’s southern border at Rafah.
Israel has imposed strict restrictions on civilian movement and controls the import of essential goods into the Gaza Strip.
The White House issued a statement condemning “unprovoked attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians.”
Adrian Watson, spokesperson for the National Security Council, stated, “We stand with the government and people of Israel and express our condolences to the Israeli people who have lost their lives in these attacks.”
In Israel, top American diplomat Stephanie Hallett expressed her support for Israel’s right to defend itself, saying, “I condemn the indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians in the strongest terms. Israel has the right to defend itself against such heinous attacks.”
In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on all parties involved to “act with restraint and avoid taking provocative steps” in light of the morning’s events in Israel. Meanwhile, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said he was in “intensive communication with international officials” to stop the escalation.
Several European leaders also used social media to denounce the violence. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, tweeted, “I condemn the violence in the strongest terms. This is terrorism in its vilest form. Israel has the right to defend itself against such brutal attacks.”
French President Emmanuel Macron expressed solidarity with the victims, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated that “Germany condemns these attacks by Hamas and stands with Israel.”