Jerusalem and Gaza
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country was “beginning a long and difficult war” in response to Palestinian militants launching sudden land, sea and air attacks from Gaza that killed hundreds and infiltrated into Israeli territory. An unprecedented hostage crisis.
Hamas’s shock attack on Saturday led to Israel’s deadliest day in decades, following months of surges in violence between Palestinians and Israelis, with the decades-long conflict now entering uncharted and dangerous new territory . Questions have also been raised about how the entire Israeli military and intelligence establishment was caught so unprepared in one of the country’s worst security failures.
Israel’s political and security cabinet met late Saturday and made “a series of operational decisions aimed at destroying the military and governmental capabilities of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, thus eliminating their ability and desire to threaten and harm Israel”. “We will be citizens of Israel for many years to come,” a statement from the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said.
Netanyahu has vowed “powerful revenge” after the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel.
From Saturday to Sunday, Hamas fired thousands of rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip, directly attacking locations in the country including Tel Aviv, while the armed terror group moved into Israel and infiltrated military bases, Towns and farms, shooting at civilians and civilians. Taking hostages.
According to Israeli media reports, an Israeli official told that at least 350 Israelis were killed and more than 1,500 injured.
Israel responded by launching air strikes against its targets. This is an alleged Hamas target in Gaza, and its forces have clashed with Hamas militants in villages, military bases and border crossings.
Israeli warplanes continued to attack Gaza on Sunday morning, with the Israel Defense Forces saying they hit 426 targets in Gaza, including 10 towers used by Hamas.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said at least 313 Palestinians were killed and nearly 1,990 injured in Gaza in the past 24 hours. The death toll included 20 children killed and 121 injured, the ministry added.
The Israeli leader said the “first phase” of the operation had “annihilated most of the enemy forces that entered our territory”.
Netanyahu announced that the Israeli army had begun an “offensive formation” that would “continue without reservation and without breath until the goal is achieved.” Among the decisions taken by the cabinet was to stop the supply of electricity, fuel and goods to Gaza.
In pictures: Deadly clashes between Israel and Gaza
Complicating Israel’s response is the “large number” of Israeli nationals held hostage by Hamas and held across Gaza.
“This morning, Israel woke up to a terrible morning. Many people were killed. People were kidnapped to Gaza, not just soldiers, but civilians, children, grandmothers,” IDF spokesman Richard Herr Lt. Col. Kurt said Sunday.
“We lost soldiers, we lost commanders, we lost a lot of civilians,” he added, without giving specific figures.
It has been more than 17 years since Israeli soldiers were captured during an attack on Israeli territory. Israel has not seen this kind of infiltration of military bases, towns and kibbutzim since the town-by-town fighting in the 1948 War of Independence.
Palestinian militant group Hamas said captured Israeli hostages were being held across Gaza and warned against launching attacks in the area.
“Threatening Gaza and its people is a losing game and a broken record,” Abu Obeida, spokesman for the Hamas armed group Qassam Brigades, said in an audio message recorded late Saturday. “What happened to the people of Gaza will happen to them, so beware of miscalculation.”
Earlier, the group claimed to have captured “dozens” of Israelis, including soldiers, and held them in “safe locations and resistance tunnels.”
Hecht said on Sunday that the Israel Defense Forces had quelled most of the major fighting in the settlement of Otef, but operations were still ongoing in many other parts of the country. He said the IDF’s goal in the next 12 hours was to “end the Gaza enclave… and kill all terrorists in our territory”.
“We may try to evict certain communities in Gaza,” he added.
The Israel Defense Forces are currently slowly withdrawing from Gaza neighborhoods and searching for remaining Hamas militants in the area. It is also seeking to control damage to the fence between Gaza and Israel.
“We will respond harshly to Hamas. It will take some time,” Hecht said.
When asked by reporters about the intelligence failures that led to such a massive attack, Hecht said: “It’s not a question right now… I’m sure it will be a big discussion in the future.”
Saturday’s attack prompted a strong reaction from around the world. U.S. President Joe Biden said his administration’s support for Israel’s security was “rock solid and unwavering” and many European leaders condemned the violence, while Brazil said it would convene an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council.
The highly coordinated attack, which began on Saturday morning, is unprecedented in scale and scope and comes on the 50th anniversary of the 1973 war, when Arab states launched a lightning attack on Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.
Efraim Halevy, the former head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service, told : “We had no warning of any kind and the outbreak of war this morning came as a complete surprise. .”
Halevi said the number of rockets fired by Palestinian militants was “unprecedented” and that it was “the first time” Gaza was able to “penetrate deep into Israel and take control of villages.”
Air raid sirens and rockets could be heard in Israel throughout the night and into early Sunday morning.
“This Iron Dome is on fire all around us right now, and it’s lighting up the sky here,” Nic Robertson, ’s international diplomacy editor in Israel, said of Israel said the rocket defense system.
Interceptor missiles can be seen streaking through the sky, destroying incoming rockets with bright flashes and a roar heard in the background.
Palestinian militants are rarely able to cross into Israel from the Gaza corridor, which is blocked and closely monitored by Israeli forces. Gaza is one of the most densely populated places in the world, an isolated coastal enclave covering 140 square miles and home to nearly 2 million people.
The territory is ruled by Hamas and has been largely cut off from the rest of the world due to Israel’s land, air and sea blockade of Gaza since 2007. Egypt controls Gaza’s southern border crossing of Rafah. Israel imposes severe restrictions on civilians’ freedom of movement and controls the import of basic supplies into a narrow coastal strip.
In the past two years, the fighting between the two sides has intensified.
The violence was caused by frequent Israeli military attacks on Palestinian towns, which Israel said was a necessary response to an increasing number of attacks by Palestinian militants against Israelis.
The move comes months after Israel’s right-wing government pushed for a controversial plan to reduce the power of the country’s courts, sparking a social and political crisis.
Israelis are sharing photos of friends and family members, many of them women and children, who they say were kidnapped by Hamas militants.
An Israeli mother told that she was on the phone with her children, ages 16 and 12, when she heard gunshots outside and someone trying to break in.
“They were scared to death. I can’t even imagine what they were feeling. I wasn’t home helping at the time,” said the mother, who was not home at the time. is not identifying the mother and her children for security reasons.
Then, on the other end of the phone, she heard the door being broken down.
“I heard the terrorists speaking in Arabic to my teenage children. The youngest told them ‘I’m too young to go,'” the mother said. “Then the phone went dead and the line went dead. That was the last I heard from them.”
Hamas militants attacked several people and took hostages at an Israeli music festival near the Israel-Gaza border.
Footage on social media shows an Israeli woman, Noa Argamani, being kidnapped along with her boyfriend; she can be seen sitting on the back of a motorcycle being driven off, asking for help. Her boyfriend, Avinatan Or, was arrested by several men and walked with his hands behind his back.
could not independently verify the video. Agamani’s roommate told that her family asked him to share the video with , while Avinatan’s brother also told Israel affiliate Channel 12 that he gave the media permission to play the video and both hoped it would be used Help secure the couple’s safe release.
Another video, authenticated and geolocated by , shows Shani Louk, a dual German-Israeli national attending the music festival, being held hostage. The video shows Luke unconscious and motionless parading around Gaza.
has reached out to her family for comment but has not yet received a response. Luke’s mother Ricarda pleaded for help in a video obtained by German news outlet Bild, saying: “We have received a video in which I can clearly see our daughter unconscious and Palestinians were traveling together in cars, and they were traveling in the Gaza corridor.”
does not know of Locke’s whereabouts or condition at this time. () did not air the video because it was graphic and disturbing.
Another Israeli resident, Yoni Asher, told that his wife and young daughter were visiting near the Gaza border and were among those abducted. On Saturday, he tracked her phone and found it in Gaza; later that day, he recognized her in a viral video of people being loaded into the back of a truck, flanked by Hamas militants.
The video shows a militant putting a scarf around the head of a woman in the truck, whom Arthur said was his wife. () has not been able to independently verify the footage.
An Israeli police spokesman told that family members who wish to report a missing loved one can go to the nearest police station if it is safe to leave their home. Police advise relatives to bring photos and personal belongings so DNA samples can be taken to aid identification.
Correction: This article has been updated to correct that Israel’s political and security cabinet aims to weaken the capabilities of Hamas and other groups in Gaza.