- Latest News
- Israel says 1,200 killed in attack; Gaza says retaliatory attack kills 1,055
- Violence erupts on Israel-Lebanon border for fourth day in a row
- US talks with Israel, Egypt on safe withdrawal from Gaza
- Airlines cut flights as countries scramble to evacuate citizens
JERUSALEM/GAZA/WASHINGTON, Oct 11 (Reuters) – Israel bombed Gaza overnight ahead of a possible ground attack on Hamas, while U.S. President Joe Biden condemned the surprise attack by the Palestinian militant group as “pure evil” ” and issued a warning that appeared to be directed at its Iranian supporters.
The Israeli military said the death toll in Israel reached 1,200 and more than 2,700 were injured in hours of rampage after Hamas gunmen breached the fence around Gaza on Saturday.
Palestinian officials say retaliatory attacks against the blockaded enclave have killed 1,055 people and injured 5,184.
Israel has vowed swift punishment for the deadliest attack by Palestinian militants in its history, which left bodies strewn around a music festival and a kibbutz community.
The military said dozens of fighter jets struck more than 200 targets near Gaza City overnight that it said were used by Hamas to launch attacks.
“Hamas wants change and it will get it. Everything in Gaza will no longer exist,” Defense Minister Yoav Galant told soldiers near the fence on Tuesday. “We attack from the air and later we will attack from the ground.”
As Palestinian rescue workers were overwhelmed, others along the crowded coastal strip joined the search for bodies in the rubble.
“I was sleeping here when the house collapsed on me,” one man cried as he and others used flashlights to search for trapped people on the stairs of a building hit by a missile.
The Israeli military said its forces had killed at least 1,000 Palestinian gunmen infiltrating from Gaza.
In another sign of the widening crisis, Israel shelled southern Lebanese towns following rocket attacks by the powerful Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah.
Dozens of Israelis and other foreigners were taken to Gaza as hostages, some paraded through the streets. Both sides said many women and children were among the dead and injured.
Israel says it is stepping up the distribution of guns to licensed citizens and expects friction between the Arab minority and the Jewish majority amid calls for more protests in support of Palestinians in Gaza.
A ground offensive would pose risks to Israel, particularly for hostages in the small, densely populated Gaza Strip, which Hamas tightly controls. It threatened to execute a prisoner without warning for every domestic attack.
An overnight Israeli airstrike on a house in Gaza killed three relatives of Palestinian militant Mohammed Dave, the secret mastermind of the attack that had been planned for two years, Palestinian sources said.
Israel withdrew its troops from Gaza in 2005 after occupying Gaza for 38 years. Israel has imposed a blockade on the area since Hamas seized power in 2007, creating conditions for its 2.3 million residents that Palestinians cannot tolerate.
Washington said it was discussing with Israel and Egypt the idea of providing safe passage for civilians in Gaza amid shortages of food supplies and depletion of fuel.
The cross-border fire from Lebanon was the fourth straight day of violence, with more shells fired from Syrian territory falling in open areas in Israel on Tuesday.
“We don’t yet know whether these rockets were fired by the Syrian armed forces, the numerous Iranian militias welcomed by the Syrian regime, Hezbollah or any other operation,” Israeli Lieutenant Colonel Conricus said.
At the White House, Biden called the Hamas attack “an act of pure evil” and said Washington was urgently sending more military aid to Israel, including munitions and interceptors to replenish the Iron Dome air defense system.
He urged Israel to abide by the “laws of war” and said the United States had strengthened its presence in the region by sending aircraft carrier strike groups and fighter jets.
“Let me say again to any country, any organization, anyone who wants to take advantage of this situation, I have one word: Don’t,” Biden said, assuming he was referring to Iran and its proxies.
U.S. officials said they had no evidence Iran was behind the attacks but noted Iran’s longstanding support for Hamas.
Former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal on Friday called on the Arab world to hold protests in support of the Palestinians.
With Israel in a state of war, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition and opposition leaders are close to forming an emergency coalition government.
Countries including Fiji, South Korea, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Canada have evacuated citizens from Israel, leaving many stranded as major airlines canceled flights.
“No place is safe”
Palestinian media said Israeli airstrikes hit homes in Gaza City, the southern city of Khan Younis and the Burij refugee camp in central Gaza. Residents said on social media that many buildings collapsed, sometimes trapping as many as 50 people.
The United Nations says more than 180,000 Gazans are homeless, with many crowded on the streets or in schools.
“It’s crazy, almost nowhere is safe,” Plestia Alaqad, 22, said on Tuesday. “I’ve personally evacuated three times since yesterday.”
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said Israeli airstrikes had destroyed more than 22,600 residential units and 10 health facilities and damaged 48 schools since Saturday.
“Such blatant acts of dehumanization and attempts to bombard a people into submission, use starvation as a means of warfare and eradicate their national existence are incompetent,” Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN envoy, wrote in a letter to the UN Security Council. Nothing short of genocide.”
Violence also broke out in Arab East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, where officials said 21 Palestinians had been killed and 130 wounded in clashes with Israeli forces since Saturday.
James Mackenzie, Dan Williams, Emily Rose, Henriette Chacar and Ari Rabinovitch in Jerusalem, Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, Maayan Lubell in Kfar Azza, Steve Holland, Nandita Bose, Rami Ayyub and Daphne Psaledakis in Washington and Andrew Mills in Kafar Reporting by Simon Lewis, Michael Georgi and Philippa Fletcher; Editing by Howard Goller, Lincoln Feast, Michael Perry and Andrew Cawthorne
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.