Israel-Hamas conflict: Israeli defense minister orders ‘total siege’ of Gaza


Jerusalem and Gaza

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that the Israeli military would attack Hamas with “unprecedented” intensity as the militant group threatened to kill civilian hostages if airstrikes in Gaza were carried out without warning.

Following Hamas’s devastating surprise attack on Israeli territory over the weekend, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant also ordered a “total siege” of Gaza on Monday and said it would stop the supply of electricity, food, water and supplies to the Palestinian enclave. fuel.

“I have given the order – Gaza will be completely surrounded,” the minister said. “We are fighting barbarians and we will respond accordingly.” Since the Hamas attack, Israel has been conducting airstrikes on “strategic” Hamas locations in the Gaza Strip.

Hours later, a spokesman for the Hamas armed wing said that if Israel targeted the people of Gaza without warning, the Hamas armed wing would begin killing civilian hostages and broadcasting the act. “We announce that we will execute our civilian hostages without any warning in response to any attack on our people who are safe in their homes,” Abu Obeida said in a statement to Algerian television. It will be broadcast via audio and video.” – Telegram channel of the Qassam Brigade.

Hamas launched an unprecedented raid early Saturday, firing thousands of rockets and sending armed fighters into Israel. The attack killed at least 900 people in Israel and injured thousands more, Israel Army Radio reported on Monday.

In response, Israel formally declared war on Hamas on Sunday.

Israeli warplanes continued deadly airstrikes in Gaza on Monday as violence continued for a third day. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, the attacks have killed at least 687 people, including dozens of children and women, and injured thousands more.

In a televised speech on Monday, Netanyahu warned that attacks on suspected Hamas strongholds in Gaza were “just the beginning.” “I said that every place where Hamas operates will be reduced to rubble. This has happened today and more will happen in the future,” he said.

“We are fighting for our homeland and our survival,” he added.

‘s ground team watched the sky billow with dust on Monday as a rocket launched from Gaza was intercepted by Israeli air defenses in Ashdod. Hamas said it fired 120 rockets at the coastal cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon on Monday in response to Israeli airstrikes.

There has been no ongoing fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas militants inside Israel, as the Israeli army has regained control of Israeli neighborhoods that were attacked by gunmen from the armed group over the weekend.

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Monday that at least 11 U.S. citizens were confirmed to have been killed in Israel.

Biden said Americans “could” also be among the hostages taken, adding that his administration was working with Israeli officials on “all aspects of the hostage crisis.”

Hamas militants claimed late Sunday that they had seized more than 100 hostages in Gaza, including senior Israeli military officers, said Mousa Abu Marzouk, chief deputy chairman of Hamas’s political bureau.

Videos on social media showed militants holding civilians, including children, captive as Israeli families across the country anxiously pleaded for the safe return of their loved ones.

In addition to the Israeli captives, other nationalities are believed to have been taken hostage, including American, Mexican, Brazilian and Thai nationals, complicating Israel’s response to the Hamas attack. At least nine citizens are missing according to their respective authorities in Peru, Paraguay, Brazil and Mexico.

Qatar has been in talks with Hamas over the hostages held by the terror group in Gaza, while the United States has also been negotiating with Qatar, a senior U.S. official and another person familiar with the matter told . to coordinate, with Qatar playing a key mediating role with Hamas. .

has contacted the governments of Qatar and Israel for comment.

Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obeida said Hamas would not negotiate on the hostage issue under Israeli fire.

“It is clear that as a result of the aggression against the Gaza Strip, the hostages of the enemy are in the same danger as our people,” Abu Obeida said in a statement. “We affirm that we will not accept the consequences of artillery fire, aggression or combat hostage issues for consideration or negotiation.”

Earlier, IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht was asked whether the IDF had stopped warning civilians before bombing a building, known as “roof-knocking.”

Hecht responded that Hamas had not issued any warning.

“When they came in and threw grenades at our ambulance, they didn’t bang on the roof. This is war. It’s on a different scale,” Hecht said.

The air strike has Israel’s main retaliatory measure in Gaza was to repeatedly bombard the densely populated 140-square-mile coastal strip with jets, turning many buildings into rubble, displacing tens of thousands of people, and sending scores of injured Palestinians to the terminal. Overburdened hospital.

An IDF spokesman said they had been fighting Hamas, destroying some 800 targets, killing “hundreds” of militants, injuring thousands and capturing dozens more.

A spokesperson for the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza told Palestinian news outlet Shihab Agency on Monday that most of those arriving at Gaza hospitals had suffered second- and third-degree burns and amputations. Many people also suffered shrapnel injuries, Ashraf Zidra said.

Those seeking hospital treatment are mainly women and children, Zidra said, adding that this was “the result of Israelis directly targeting homes and buildings.”

Israel cuts power to territory, complicating access to medical care, threatening ‘hundreds of lives’ The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said one person was injured.

The health ministry later said all services at the only functioning hospital near Gaza Beit Hanoun had been suspended due to ongoing Israeli airstrikes, leaving medical teams unable to access the building. The ministry added that nine ambulances had been targeted since Saturday.

Israel carried out air strikes on Gaza’s Shadi and Jabaliya refugee camps on Monday, the Palestinian Health Ministry said, describing the attack as “a massacre of entire communities.”

The ministry said bodies were still being retrieved after the attack killed “a large number” of people. A death toll has not yet been provided.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaila urged the international community to stop its “aggression” against medical facilities and teams in Gaza.

At least 13 family members, including four young children, were killed in an Israeli air strike in Khan Younis in southern Gaza on Sunday, journalist Hassan Eslayeh and a family relative said.

While it was unclear what the full scale of Israel’s response would be, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu predicted on Sunday it would be a “long and difficult war” and vowed a “strong fight against Hamas.” revenge”.

Hecht said on Sunday that the IDF’s top priority in the coming hours and days is “to take control of the entire enclave and kill all terrorists in our territory.”

Israel’s declaration of war sets the stage for a major military operation in Gaza, with tanks and personnel carriers seen moving near the Israeli-Gaza border on Sunday.

Thousands of Israeli reservists have been called up and the Israel Defense Forces announced it was evacuating several communities near the Gaza security fence.

Israel is asking the United States for precision-guided bombs and additional interceptors for its Iron Dome missile system, including the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), an unguided missile “Dumb” bombs become kits for unguided “dumb” bombs. Precise “smart” weapons.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the United States would provide immediate security assistance to Israel. The United States said it would also send a naval aircraft carrier strike group, including missile destroyers and missile cruisers, to the eastern Mediterranean.

Many Israelis have spent much of the past two days in bomb shelters and safe rooms.

Throughout the bloody weekend, Hamas rockets struck directly at locations across the country, including Tel Aviv, while the armed terror group moved into Israel and infiltrated military bases, towns and farms, shooting at civilians and taking hostages.

The attack has left Israel reeling and affected families far from its borders. Those killed in Israel included 12 Thai citizens, 10 Nepalese, 2 Ukrainians, 2 French and 1 British.

Israeli rescue agency Zaka told that rescue volunteers recovered at least 107 bodies from Kibbutz Beri in southern Israel, many of them local civilians.

Photos released by the Israeli Foreign Ministry showed dozens of bodies as Hamas gunmen attacked a music festival near the Israel-Gaza border, an attack that emergency workers said killed at least 260 people.

The father of an Israeli woman who was reportedly taken hostage during the holiday told he was shocked when he saw his daughter being carried on a motorcycle by Hamas attackers in a video circulating on social media. In the back seat of the car, he “didn’t want to believe it.”

“There are no words to describe it. It was impossible… It was a very difficult moment,” Yakov Argamani said, describing the first time he saw his 25-year-old daughter Noa. video of that moment.

Video obtained and located by shows at least four civilians killed in Hamas custody at Kibbutz Beeri, just feet from where militants were escorting them.

The Israel Defense Forces said earlier on Monday that Beeri “suffered a very serious blow.”

Questions remain about why Israel’s military and intelligence agencies were caught unawares in one of the country’s worst security failures.

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.

UN peacekeepers urged all parties to exercise restraint on Monday after clashes spread to the wider region, with the Lebanese group Hezbollah claiming attacks on three Israeli camps in Shab’a Farms and the Israel Defense Forces saying they had killed an Israeli “infiltrator” from Lebanon. armed personnel. Israeli occupation.

The Iran-backed group told late Monday that three of its members were killed in an Israeli airstrike in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah said in a statement that in retaliation, the “Islamic Resistance Organization” fired guided missiles at Israel, targeting the Israeli army’s Plani Barracks and Avivim Barracks.

The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting on Sunday but took no action.

EU foreign ministers are expected to meet on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Israel.

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