Israel hamas conflict 2023 : Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that the country was “at war” on Saturday, after Palestinian in Gaza fired a deadly barrage of rockets and sent gunmen into Israeli territory in a major escalation of the long running conflict between the two sides.
The Israeli military said about 2,200 rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel, while armed terror groups infiltrated into Israel by land, sea and air – in paragliders. Multiple explosions were heard over Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and in southern Israel – some blasts likely the interceptions of incoming rockets – while air raids sent Israelis pouring into underground shelters.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Hamas had taken “hostages and prisoners of war” but did not give a figure. At least 200 Israelis had been killed and 1,452 have been wounded, according to Israel’s emergency rescue service and health ministry.
Israel responded by launching strikes on what it called Hamas targets in Gaza. The Palestine Tower, a high-rise building which hosts residential apartments and media offices in Gaza City, was hit by an explosion and collapsed, video showed.
The Palestinian health ministry said that 232 Palestinians had been killed and 1,697 injured, but did not say where the deaths occurred or whether the toll included Hamas militants or civilians in Gaza.
“We are at war, not in an operation or in rounds, but at war,” Netanyahu said in a video statement.
He later vowed retribution against Hamas, the Palestinian militant movement that runs Gaza, in a televised speech: “What happened today has never been seen in Israel, we will take mighty vengeance for this black day,” Netanyahu said.
“I tell Hamas, you are responsible for the wellbeing of captives, Israel will settle the score with anyone who harms them,” Netanyahu said.
The surprise assault on Saturday was unprecedented in recent history in its scale and scope, falling on the 50th anniversary of the 1973 War in which Arab states blitzed Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.
IDF spokesman Lt Col Richard Hecht said in a briefing that Israeli forces “are fighting on the ground as we speak,” listing multiple locations where fighting was taking place, including several villages, army bases and border crossings.
Hamas launch surprise air and ground attack from Gaza
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the country was “at war” on Saturday, after militants from Gaza fired a deadly barrage of rockets and sent gunmen into southern Israeli territory in a major escalation of the long-running conflict between the two sides.
Dubbing the operation “Al-Aqsa Storm,” Hamas military commander Muhammad Al-Deif said in a recorded message that the group had “targeted the enemy positions, airports and military positions with 5,000 rockets” and that the assault on Israel was a response to attacks on women, the desecration of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and the ongoing siege of Gaza.
“If you have a gun, get it out. This is the time to use it – get out with trucks, cars, axes, today the best and most honorable history starts,” Al-Deif added.
The attacks by Hamas follow one of the deadliest periods in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in nearly two decades. The violence has been driven by frequent Israeli military raids in Palestinian towns and cities, which Israel has said are a necessary response to a rising number of attacks by Palestinian militants on Israelis.
They also come at a moment of deep division in Israel, months after the government pushed through a contentious plan to reduce the power of the country’s courts, sparking a social and political crisis. The move this summer also struck a nerve with the military, prompting many reservists – the backbone of Israel’s army – to warn they would not come if called up, to protest the changes to the judicial system. An IDF spokesperson said Saturday that he did not know of any reservists refusing to be called up in the face of the latest attacks.