In an unprecedented surprise attack on Saturday, dozens of Hamas militants, backed by rocket fire, crossed into nearby Israeli towns from the blockaded Gaza Strip, resulting in dozens of casualties and abductions. “Sirens blared across the country’s south and central areas, with Israel authorities urging people to stay near bomb shelters,” NDTV reported.
The armed wing of the Palestinian terror group Hamas said it was behind the attack, claiming that it launched over 5,000 rockets at its neighbour.
Hamas militants infiltrated up to 22 locations outside Gaza, including areas up to 15 miles from the border on Saturday, the Associated Press reported. The conflict has resulted in significant casualties, with over 200 killed in Israel and over 198 in Gaza. Hamas took captives into Gaza, it was reported, escalating the situation.
The attack took Israel by surprise due to its scale and sophistication. Israel’s prime minister declared a mass army mobilization and vowed to respond forcefully. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Saturday, said the country was “at war” and swore fierce counterattack after ordering an extensive mobilization of the army reserve. Israeli airstrikes intensified in Gaza, causing significant damage, while Hamas fired thousands of rockets into Israel, including Tel Aviv.
Hamas attributed the attack to various factors, including the blockade of Gaza, Israeli raids in the West Bank, violence at the Al-Aqsa holy site, settler attacks on Palestinians, and settlement growth. The situation has raised concerns about a potential ground assault in densely populated Gaza.
Hamas claimed to be holding captive Israelis, including soldiers, while Israel has not provided specific numbers. The conflict has escalated tensions in the region, with uncertainty about its duration and impact.
The US stands with Israel: Biden
US President Joe Biden addressed the attack by Palestinian militants Saturday, saying, “The United States stands with Israel.”
“There is never justification for terrorist attacks,” Biden said in his remarks from the White House, where he condemned the militant group Hamas for launching a surprise attack on Israel early this morning, CNN reported.
He added that the US will have Israel’s back. Biden said he spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and said that his administration’s support for Israel’s security “is rock solid and unwavering.”
“I told him the United States stands with the people of Israel in the face of these terrorists assaults,” Biden said of his call with Netanyahu. “Israel has the right to defend itself and its people, full stop.”
The US president also discouraged other parties hostile to Israel from exploiting these attacks, the report said.
The United States on Saturday “unequivocally” condemned attacks by “Hamas terrorists” against Israel, the White House said in a statement, reported news agency AFP.
“The United States unequivocally condemns the unprovoked attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement, adding that “there is never any justification for terrorism.”
Rescue service says more than 200 Israelis killed
An Israeli rescue service has said that the attack by Hamas in southern Israel has left at least 200 people dead.
According to news agency AP, Rescue Service Zaka says an additional 1,100 people were wounded in the attack Saturday that took Israel by surprise.
Hamas militants fired thousands of rockets and sent dozens of fighters into Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip in an unprecedented surprise early morning attack during a major Jewish holiday on Saturday.
It was the deadliest attack against Israel in decades.
Soldiers, civilians kidnapped by Hamas: Israel Army
Militants of Palestinian Islamist group Hamas kidnapped Israeli soldiers and civilians during their ground incursion from Gaza on Saturday, the army said, reported news agency AFP.
“There are kidnapped soldiers and civilians. I can’t give figures about them at the moment. It’s a war crime committed by Hamas and they will pay the price,” army spokesman Daniel Hagari told journalists.
‘Israel will settle the score if captives are harmed’
The Israeli PM Netanyahu said that Israel will “reach every place Hamas is hiding” and told the people in Gaza to “leave those places now,” according to Reuters.
He said Hamas is responsible for the wellbeing of captives. “Israel will settle the score with anyone who harms them,” he added.
In his statement, the Israeli PM said what happened on Saturday has never been seen in Israel, and that Israel will take “mighty vengeance for this black day,” news agency Reuters reported.
Hamas Solely Responsible, Will Bear Results: Israel To UN Security Council On Attacks
Israel told the United Nations Security Council on Saturday that the Palestinian terror group Hamas “holds the sole responsibility and will bear the results” of its attack on the country.
“The state of Israel will act in any way necessary to protect its citizens and sovereignty from the ongoing terrorist attacks originating from the Gaza Strip and carried out by Hamas and other terrorist organizations,” Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan wrote to the 15-member council in a letter, Reuters reported.
PM Modi vows “Solidarity with Israel at this difficult hour”
“Deeply shocked by the news of terrorist attacks in Israel. Our thoughts and prayers are with the innocent victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with Israel at this difficult hour,” tweeted Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.
(This news article was written by Mokokchung Times with inputs from agencies)