At least 22 people were killed and 545 injured in Israel following an unprovoked surprise attack by Palestinian terrorists crossing into Israel from Gaza while firing rockets.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that a number of Israelis have been kidnapped and transported back into Palestinian held territory in Gaza. In response, Israel has launched waves of air attacks against Hamas site in Gaza.
Israel is “at war,” according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Hamas, Gaza’s rulers, will “pay a price it has never known.” As missiles rained down from Gaza, the terrorists breached the perimeter fence shortly after dawn.
The Israeli military has reported that dozens of fighter jets are carrying out air raids on Hamas targets in Gaza, and that it has activated tens of thousands of reservists. According to Israeli health experts, at least one Palestinian has died as a result of the strikes.
The rocket barrages from Gaza began shortly after daybreak on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath and the day of the Simchat Torah celebration.
The IDF stated that “terrorists” had infiltrated Israeli land “in a number of different locations” as sirens rang across the country.
It advised populations in the southern and central sectors to remain near shelters, particularly within shelters in the Gaza area. Footage from the BBC circulated online showed a group of highly armed Palestinian terrorists dressed in black fatigues travelling around Sderot in a pick-up truck.
In one video, it appeared that the same militants were exchanging fire with Israeli forces on the streets of the town, which is only 1.6km (1 mile) from Gaza.
Unconfirmed allegations in Palestinian media claim that a number of Israelis have been kidnapped by terrorists, and film of Palestinians in Gaza driving Israeli military vehicles circulates.
According to Israel’s health ministry, the Hamas strikes have injured 545 Israelis. However, Ofir Liebstein, the leader of one regional council in southern Israel, was killed in an exchange of fire with terrorists while attempting to defend his town.
Meanwhile, the rocket barrages continued throughout Saturday morning, with Israeli media estimating that over 2,500 rockets had been launched at Israel. Hospitals in the southern city of Ashkelon and the central city of Beer Sheva are treating casualties.
“Citizens of Israel, we are at war, not an operation, not an escalation, but a war,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “This morning Hamas launched a murderous surprise attack against the state of Israel and its citizens.”
“I convened the heads of the security system, first of all I instructed to cleanse the settlements of the terrorists who had infiltrated – this operation is being carried out during these hours.”
“At the same time, I ordered an extensive reserve mobilisation and a retaliatory war with a strength and scope that the enemy has never known.”
In a broadcast on Hamas television, a top Hamas military commander proclaimed the commencement of the operation, calling for Palestinians worldwide to fight.
“This is the day of the greatest battle to end the last occupation on Earth,” declared Mohammed Deif.
There has been a lot of reaction to the Gaza Palestinian attacks in Israel, here’s world leaders statements:
French President Emmanuel Macron strongly condemned the attacks, saying “I express my full solidarity with the victims, their families and loved ones”
Germany’s foreign minister said “violence and rockets against innocent civilians must stop now”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described the attack as “terrorism in its most despicable form”
The United States condemned the violence and urged both sides to refrain from retaliating
Russia’s deputy foreign minister said “it goes without saying that we always call for restraint”
Iran backs Palestinian attack
We’ve just received reports saying the advisor to Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei supports the Palestinian attack on Israel.
“We congratulate the Palestinian fighters,” Rahim Safavi is quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.
“We will stand by the Palestinian fighters until the liberation of Palestine and Jerusalem”, he says.