On Saturday morning, October 7, the Palestinian Islamist organization Hamas initiated its most significant attack on Israel with an unexpected assault. Multiple gunmen infiltrated various Israeli towns, accompanied by a heavy barrage of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip.
As at press time, warning sirens sounded across southern and central Israel, including in Jerusalem.
At least 40 people have been killed since Hamas launched the surprise attack on Israel, the country’s emergency service said.
Another 779 people have been wounded, according to the Israeli Health Ministry.
Israel’s military said it was on a war footing and the defense minister said the Iran-backed Hamas had made a “grave mistake” by declaring war on Israel, in retaliation, Israeli military launched air strikes into Gaza.
Israeli Defense Minister Gallant said Hamas had “launched a war against the State of Israel”. Israeli “troops are fighting against the enemy at every location”, he said.
The Israeli military said its forces were operating inside Gaza but gave no details.
“A number of terrorists have infiltrated into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip,” the military said in a statement, adding that residents in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip had been told to stay in their homes.
The attack marked an unprecedented infiltration by an unknown number of Hamas gunmen into Israel from Gaza, and one of the most serious escalations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in decades.
Israeli media reported gunbattles between bands of Palestinian fighters and security forces in towns in southern Israel. Israel’s police chief said there were “21 active scenes” in southern Israel.
In Gaza, people rushed to buy supplies in anticipation of days of war ahead. Some evacuated their homes and headed for shelters.
Hamas military commander, Mohammad Deif announced the start of the operation in a broadcast on Hamas media, calling on Palestinians everywhere to fight.
“This is the day of the greatest battle to end the last occupation on earth,” he said, adding that 5,000 rockets had been launched.
Speaking to Israel N12 News by phone from a Nir Oz, a kibbutz near Gaza, a woman identified as Dorin said militants had infiltrated her house and tried to open the bomb shelter where she was hiding.
“They just came in again, please send help,” she said. “There are a lot of homes harmed … My husband is holding the door closed … They are firing rounds of bullets.”
Palestinian media reported that a number of Israelis had been taken captive by fighters and Hamas media circulated video footage apparently showing a destroyed Israeli tank.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a speech this morning said the country was in war. His office said he would meet top security officials in the coming hours.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad group said its fighters were joining Hamas in the attack.
“We are part of this battle, our fighters are side-by-side with their brothers in the Qassam Brigades until victory is achieved,” said Islamic Jihad armed wing spokesman Abu Hamza on a post on Telegram.
The attack came a day after Israel marked the 50th anniversary of the 1973 war that brought the country to the verge of catastrophic defeat in a surprise attack by Syria and Egypt.
They celebrate by shouting Allah-Hu -Akbar and carrying out cowardly attacks and killing innocents.
Radical Islamic terrorism has becomes a headache for world peace.
— AJ Bakshi (@iam_bakshi) October 7, 2023
????????BREAKING: ISRAEL DECLARES ‘STATE OF WAR’ & MOBILIZES SOLDIERS AS HAMAS ENTERS ISRAEL
– Hamas attack Israel, the largest in decades
– Hamas claim they fired 5,000 rockets
– Militants ENTERED ISRAEL from Gaza
– Israel declares war, mobilizes soldiers
– Hamas military… pic.twitter.com/51z8yLeDdz
— Mario Nawfal (@MarioNawfal) October 7, 2023