- latest progress:
- Gun battle between Hamas and Israeli troops continues in southern Israel more than 24 hours after raid
- Israeli TV reported that at least 600 people were killed in the attack; Gaza’s health ministry said retaliatory attacks killed 370 people
- Israeli military spokesman: “We will crack down on Hamas severely, and it will be a long process.”
- In Lebanon, Hezbollah says its “guns and rockets” stand with Hamas
JERUSALEM/GAZA (Reuters) – Israel launched its bloodiest attack on Gaza in decades on Sunday as Hamas militants rampaged through Israeli towns, killing 600 people and kidnapping dozens in an escalating rampage. The violence threatens a new major war in the Middle East.
Israeli airstrikes hit residential areas, tunnels, a mosque and the homes of Hamas officials in Gaza, killing more than 370 people, including 20 children, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to “response to this black day.” A powerful revenge.”
In signs that the conflict could spread beyond the blockaded Gaza Strip, the Israeli- and Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah militia engaged in artillery and rocket fire, while in Alexandria two Israeli tourists and their Egyptian guide were shot dead.
In southern Israel, Hamas militants were still fighting Israeli security forces 24 hours after they launched a multi-pronged rocket attack that seized military bases and invaded border towns.
“My two little girls, they’re just babies. They’re not even five and three years old,” Yoni Asher said after taking his wife and two little girls to visit their mother. I saw the video of gunmen taking them hostage. , He said.
The Israeli military, which has faced questions over its failure to prevent the attacks, said it had regained control of most penetration points along the security barrier, killing hundreds of attackers and capturing dozens more.
An Israeli military spokesman told a press conference: “We will severely attack Hamas, and this will be a long process.”
The military said it deployed tens of thousands of troops around Gaza, a narrow strip of land home to 2.3 million Palestinians, and began evacuating all Israelis living around the territory’s borders.
“This is my fifth war. The war should stop. I don’t want to feel this way all the time,” said Qassab al-Attar, a Palestinian wheelchair user in Gaza as Israeli troops shelled them house, his brothers carried him to a shelter.
Hamas’s dawn attack on Saturday was the largest and deadliest incursion into Israel since Egypt and Syria launched surprise attacks 50 years ago to regain territory lost in the Yom Kippur War.
According to Israeli television, at least 600 people died. Israel has not released an official death toll.
The conflict threatens to derail U.S.-backed efforts to normalize ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, a security shakeup that could threaten Palestinian hopes for self-determination and weaken Iran, Hamas’s main backer.
Tehran’s other main regional ally, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which fought a war with Israel in 2006, said it was “guns and rockets” in solidarity with Hamas. An Israeli military spokesman said: “We advise Hezbollah not to get involved in this matter, and I don’t think they will get involved.”
On Sunday morning, debris from Saturday’s attacks still lay scattered around southern Israeli towns and border communities, and Israelis were shocked to see bloodied bodies on suburban streets, in cars and in their homes.
Palestinian militants fled back to Gaza with dozens of hostages, including soldiers and civilians. Hamas said it would issue a statement later Sunday on how many prisoners it had held.
Some 30 missing Israelis who attended a dance party during Saturday’s attack emerged from hiding on Sunday, Israeli media reported.
The capture of so many Israelis, some of whom were dragged through security checkpoints or herded bloodily into Gaza, has created another layer of complications for Netanyahu, who had previously been swapped for hostages. Incidents involving many Palestinian prisoners.
Hamas fired more rockets into Israel on Sunday, air raid sirens sounded in the south and the Israeli military said it would search for more gunmen while evacuating border areas.
Israel began airstrikes in Gaza shortly after the Hamas attack and continued overnight and into Sunday, destroying the group’s offices and training camps and destroying homes and other buildings.
Gaza’s health ministry said retaliatory attacks had killed 370 people and injured 2,200.
The United Nations Palestinian refugee agency says more than 20,000 Palestinians in Gaza have sought asylum in UN-run schools.
People sifted through the ruins of a mosque in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, early Sunday. “We finished our night prayers and suddenly the mosque was bombed. They terrorized children, the elderly and women,” said resident Ramez Hneideq.
The escalation comes against the backdrop of a surge in violence between Israeli and Palestinian militants in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where the Palestinian authority exercises limited autonomy but has been stymied by Hama, which wants to destroy Israel. Sri Lanka’s opposition.
The situation in the West Bank has worsened under Netanyahu’s far-right government, with more Israeli raids on Palestinian villages and attacks by Jewish settlers prompting the Palestinian Authority to call for an emergency meeting of the Arab League.
Peace-building has stalled for years, and Israeli politics has been in turmoil this year over internal disputes over Netanyahu’s plans to reform the judiciary.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the attack starting in Gaza would spread to the West Bank and Jerusalem. The people of Gaza have lived under an Israeli-led blockade for 16 years, since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.
“How many times have we warned you that the Palestinian people have been living in refugee camps for 75 years and yet you refuse to recognize the rights of our people?”
Western countries, led by the United States, condemned the attack. US President Joe Biden issued a blunt warning to Iran and other countries: “Now is not the time for any party hostile to Israel to exploit these attacks.
Pro-Hamas demonstrations broke out across the Middle East, while Iran and Hezbollah praised the attack.
Israel was caught completely off guard in what is seen as one of the worst intelligence failures in its history, a shock to a country that prides itself on intensive infiltration and surveillance of militants.
Tel Aviv’s main stock exchange index fell 6% (.TA35) and (.TA125) on Sunday as investors expected the violence to prompt a shift to gold and other safe-haven assets.
Reporting by Maayan Lubell and Ari Rabinovitch in Jerusalem, Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza and Ammar Anwar in Sderot; Additional reporting by Henriette Chacar, Emily Rose and Dan Williams in Jerusalem, Ali Sawafta in Ramallah; James McCann Written by Qi and Angus McDowell; Edited by Alex Richardson and Ross Russell
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