Friday, December 8, 2023

Israel-Palestine conflict: Israeli security cabinet declares state of war

Palestinian group, Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, has announced the start of military the operation Al-Aqsa Flood against Israel. Thousands of rockets have been fired from the blockaded enclave towards the occupied territories as far away as Tel Aviv, killing over 600 Israelis, including both military and settlers. More than 300 Palestinians have been so far killed in an exchange of fire between the two sides.

US Navy moves carrier strike group to eastern Mediterranean Sea with Israel at war

A US Navy carrier strike group is headed to the eastern Mediterranean Sea, according to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, as Israel prepares for a large-scale campaign against Hamas in Gaza.

The USS Gerald R. Ford, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, was sailing with the Italian Navy earlier this week, according to the ship’s social media, putting it close to Israel.

The carrier will be accompanied by guided missile destroyers and guided missile cruisers, which are two other classes of Navy warship.

The US is also taking steps to bolster its presence of fighter jets in the region, including F-35, F-15, F-16 and A-10 squadrons. It sent several of these aircraft to the Middle East in recent months in response to aggression from Iranian forces across the region, including in Syria and in the Gulf of Oman.

The strike group’s presence is intended as a deterrent to Hezbollah in Lebanon and other militant groups aligned against Israel, the officials said.

US President Joe Biden warned Saturday that “this is not a moment for any party hostile to Israel to exploit these attacks to seek advantage.”

More US assistance is on the way to Israel: Biden tells Netanyahu

Additional US assistance is on its way to Israel, US President Joe Biden told Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a call Sunday.

“President Biden updated the Prime Minister on the intensive diplomatic engagement undertaken by the United States over the last 24 hours in support of Israel,” a readout of the call from the White House said.

“The President also conveyed that additional assistance for the Israeli Defense Forces is now on its way to Israel with more to follow over the coming days.”

Biden once again expressed sympathy for those missing, wounded and killed, and discussed efforts to ensure no other rivals of Israel take advantage of the situation, according to the readout.

The two leaders are expected to stay in contact in the coming days.

Israeli military says it has killed hundreds of Hamas fighters and wounded thousands

Israeli troops have killed hundreds of Hamas fighters, wounded thousands and captured scores of others, an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson stated Sunday.

The initial Israeli counterattack began at 3:45 a.m. local time Sunday (8:45 p.m. ET Saturday), with “tens of tons of bombs” dropped, said IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.

Israeli forces destroyed around 800 targets, including launching pads used by Hamas, with 50 planes attacking 120 targets in Beit Hanoun alone and destroying all Hamas gathering points there, Hagari added.

Sunday saw fighting in a series of Israeli communities near Gaza, including Kfar Aza, Nahal Oz, Kissufim and Be’eri, Hagari continued.

On the coast, near the community of Zikim, a Hamas squad that tried to land was foiled, the IDF spokesperson noted.

Israel tells its citizens to avoid visiting Middle Eastern countries

Israel’s National Security Council called on citizens to refrain from visiting Middle Eastern countries and asked those there already to leave immediately.

On Sunday, an Egyptian policeman opened fire on Israeli tourists in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, killing at least two Israelis and one Egyptian.

Erdogan says Turkey will ramp up diplomacy for calm

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that Turkey is determined to ramp up diplomatic efforts to achieve calm.

Speaking in Istanbul, Erdogan said that a two-state solution is the only way to achieve regional peace and it is now a necessity to establish an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

He added Ankara is ready to help stop the conflict between Israel and Hamas “and to reduce the tension that has escalated with the recent events.”

Sunak says UK ‘unequivocally’ stands with Israel

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tells Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that Britain is standing with Israel “unequivocally” and is working to ensure the world speaks in one voice.

“The PM offered Netanyahu any support Israel needs,” Downing Street announced in a statement following a phone call between the two leaders.

UN food agency calls for humanitarian corridors in Gaza

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has called for the creation of humanitarian corridors to bring food into Gaza as Israeli air strikes pounded the Palestinian enclave.

“As the conflict intensifies, civilians, including vulnerable children and families, face mounting challenges in accessing essential food supplies,” the WFP said.

The WFP provides direct food assistance to some 350,000 Palestinians every month, while also offering aid to nearly one million Palestinians in cooperation with other humanitarian partners via cash transfers.

“While most shops in the affected areas in Palestine currently maintain one month of food stocks, these risk being depleted swiftly as people buy up food in fear of a prolonged conflict,” it added.

Israeli death toll hits 659: Report

The latest reports by Israeli media reported at least 659 people have been killed in Israel.

Another 2,156 people have been injured.

Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer told CNN on Sunday that more than 600 people have been killed in Israel since Hamas launched its surprise attack Saturday — and the death toll is expected to rise further.

UN Security Council will hold a closed door emergency meeting on the Middle East Sunday

The United Nations Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East will be a closed door meeting starting at 3 p.m. ET Sunday, according to the UN.

Gilad Erdan, the permanent representative of Israel to the UN, is expected to brief reporters ahead of the meeting at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Americans among hostages held in Gaza: Israeli minister

Americans are among the “scores” of hostages being held in Gaza, Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer told CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday.

He declined to estimate the number of Americans specifically being held.

Dermer called the attack on Israel a “savage attack,” saying that women, children and elderly people are among the hostages in Gaza.

The US is “working overtime” to verify reports of missing and dead Americans overseas after Hamas launched its unprecedented attack, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Bash earlier Sunday.

Number of Israeli captives could be ‘close to 100’: Report

The number of Israelis captured by Palestinians could be close to 100, Israeli sources familiar with the matter have told Haaretz daily.

These are only estimates based on information gathered in Israel, the newspaper reported.

The actual number remains unknown.

Pope Francis: ‘Pray for Israel and Palestine’

Pope Francis has called for “peace in Israel and in Palestine”, saying “terrorism and war do not lead to a solution”.

The pontiff called for an end to attacks.

“War is a defeat. All war is a defeat. Let us pray for peace in Israel and Palestine,” he said at St Peter’s Square in the Vatican.

“May the attacks and the weapons cease, I beg you,” he told crowds after his traditional Angelus prayer.

“Terrorism and war do not lead to a solution, but only to the death and suffering of many innocent people,” he added.

Germany hikes protection of Israeli, Jewish institutions

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated Berlin has increased the protection of Israeli and Jewish institutions in Germany.

Scholz told reporters in Berlin that Germany stands firm by Israel’s side and noted Israel had the right to defend itself against the “barbaric attacks” – although he warned against fuelling the conflict.

US ‘likely’ to give new military assistance for Israel: Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says there will “likely” be additional details on new military assistance for Israel later in the day.

“We’re looking at specific additional requests that the Israelis have made – I think you’re likely to hear more about that later today,” Blinken told CNN.

He stated that President Joe Biden’s direction was to “make sure that we’re providing Israel everything it needs in this moment to deal with the attacks from Hamas.”

The US top diplomat added that authorities were “working overtime” to verify reports of missing Americans.

Schools in Israel will remain closed for two more days

Israeli Education Minister Yoav Kish says the schools across the country will stay closed for the next two days – Monday and Tuesday.

“There will be no classes and educational activities for the next two days in all educational institutions throughout the country, including special education institutions,” Kish was quoted by national media as saying.

Meanwhile, The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) announced more than 20,000 Palestinians in Gaza have sought refuge in the schools it runs.

Palestinian death toll rises to 370: Health ministry

The Palestinian healthy ministry in Gaza has updated the death toll to 370.

The ministry also added some 2,200 others have been wounded as a result of the ongoing Israeli attack on the besieged coastal enclave.

US says Saudi-Israeli normalisation efforts should continue

It is too soon to determine how the attack on Israel unfolded, what possible role Iran may have played, or whether the attack was meant to derail Saudi-Israeli normalisation talks, US Deputy National Security adviser Jon Finer has told Fox News.

“We think it would be in both countries’ interests to continue to pursue this possibility,” Finer said.

Israeli military launches bombardment on parts of Gaza Strip

The Israeli Defense Forces said fighter jets have struck three military headquarters belonging to Palestinian forces in the Gaza Strip on Sunday afternoon local time.

“Military headquarters belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization used for directing terror were struck, as well as military headquarters belonging to the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization that were used during recent operations, and additional military headquarters belonging to the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization that were used by the terrorist organization’s rocket forces,” the IDF announced.

Live video feeds Sunday showed multiple explosions and large plumes of smoke rising from northern and eastern parts of Gaza, including in the area of Beit Hanoun.

Israel has been pounding Gaza with airstrikes, which have killed more than 300 people, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Israeli security cabinet declares state of war following surprise Hamas attacks

Israel’s security cabinet has declared a state of war, according to the government press office Sunday.

The decision was taken in accordance with Article 40 of Israel’s Basic Law, the press office said.

The war “was forced on the State of Israel in a murderous terrorist assault from the Gaza Strip (that) began at 06:00 (a.m. local time)” on Saturday, according to the government statement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed Israel will “take mighty vengeance.”

Israel has been pounding Gaza with airstrikes, which have killed more than 300 people.

Israeli death toll reaches 600

At least 600 people have been killed, according to the latest casualty figures out of Israel.

More than 2,000 people have been injured, Israeli TV reported.

Over 20 Israeli communities near Gaza are being evacuated

More than 20 communities adjacent to the Gaza security fence are being evacuated, the Israeli military announced.

Civilians living in these areas are being asked to leave their homes because of the ongoing attacks by Hamas and in anticipation of the Israeli response inside the besieged enclave.

An Israel Defense Forces spokesman told CNN that severe strikes inside Gaza would be forthcoming.

The Israeli government and military were, as of Sunday morning, still in the process of determining what the goals would be for its likely military response.

International airlines suspend flights to Israel

Multiple international airlines have halted all flights to Israel as fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian fighters enters its second day.

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne told BFM TV that “Air France has suspended its flights” to Tel Aviv.

Multiple American airlines, including United Airlines, Delta Airlines and American Airlines, suspended flights to Israel amid the unrest.

German airliner Lufthansa, Emirates, Ryanair and Aegan Airlines have also suspended flights to Israel.

Hezbollah tells Palestinian fighters ‘our guns and rockets are with you’

“Our history, our guns and our rockets are with you,” Hezbollah’s senior official Hashem Safieddine has said at an event in the Hezbollah stronghold of Dahieh on Beirut’s outskirts.

“Everything we have is with you,” he added.

As fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas fighters continues, the spokesperson of the al-Qassam Brigades Abu Obeida has released a new statement calling on people “to join this battle”.

44 Israeli soldiers and 30 security officials killed by Hamas have been identified

Israeli authorities have identified 44 servicemen and servicewomen and 30 security service members killed since Hamas attacked Israel early Saturday.

The security service members who died were police and border officers and members of Israel’s National Counter Terror Unit, the Yamam.

The Israeli death toll has risen to at least 400, according to the latest reports by Israeli media. More than 2,000 have also been wounded.

Palestinian Authority calls for Arab League emergency meeting

Mohannad Aklouk, Palestine’s permanent representative to the Arab League, stated he has submitted a request for an emergency meeting of the regional body’s foreign ministers, Wafa news agency reported.

The urgent meeting comes in light of the ongoing Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people, including the escalation of incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by thousands of settlers and Israeli officials over the past days.

More Palestinian fighters entered Israel: Reports

More Palestinian fighters have entered the southern Israeli town of Magen, according to Israeli media.

Major gun battles are taking place in the area with the Israeli army using tanks against the the fighters, according to multiple Israeli media outlets.

Medical aid in Gaza challenging due to confrontation: NGO

Nebal Farsakh, the spokesperson of the NGO Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRC), has told Al Jazeera that their medical teams are facing “great challenges” in Gaza.

“We witnessed an increase in violations against our medical missions due to the confrontations. We recorded four violations so far. Three of our paramedics have been injured, one volunteer is in critical condition and one of our ambulances and medical building has been destroyed,” she said.

“Right now our medical teams are facing great challenges in also arriving safely to tend to wounded people in Gaza due to the escalation,” she explained.

Farsakh added that they had called on the international humanitarian community to open humanitarian corridors so that NGOs like them could safely carry out their work of helping people in the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu holds security meeting with senior officials

The Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a security assessment meeting at the military headquarters in Tel Aviv, according to local media.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and Herzi Halevi, army chief of staff, are in attendance among other senior officials, reports added.

Hamas says it directs ‘major missile strike’ on Sderot

The armed wing of Hamas, the Al-Qassam Brigades, “directs a major missile strike on the settlement of Sderot with 100 missiles”, the group wrote on its Telegram channel.

“We’ll bring you more information as we get it,” it added.

Osama Hamdan, senior spokesperson of Hamas, has also told Al Jazeera that the group is not attacking civilians.

“You have to differentiate between settlers and civilians. Settlers attacked Palestinians … We hope that Amnesty has international humility to send us more developed weapons to attack just only the soldiers,” Hamdan said.

Asked whether civilians in southern Israel were also considered settlers, Hamdan stated: “Everyone knows there are settlements there.”

“We are not targeting civilians on purpose. We have declared settlers are part of the occupation and part of the armed Israeli force. They are not civilians,” he added.

Israeli army plans to evacuate Israelis close to Gaza

Israel’s military spokesperson Daniel Hagari said the army will evacuate all Israelis living close to the Gaza Strip within 24 hours as thousands of Israeli soldiers are deployed to fight Palestinian fighters in Israel.

“Our mission for the upcoming 24 hours is to evacuate all residents living around Gaza,” Hagari told reporters, adding that fighting was still ongoing to “rescue hostages” held by Palestinians in Israel.

“There are tens of thousands of combat soldiers in the area. We’ll reach each and every community till we kill every terrorist in Israel.”

Palestinian death toll reaches 313

In its last death toll update, the Palestinian health ministry has confirmed at least 313 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 2,000 wounded in Israeli shelling on the Gaza Strip, including 20 children.

Seven more have been killed by Israeli fire in the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari has claimed they have killed more than 400 Palestinians in southern Israel and the Gaza Strip in the past 24 hours.

Hagari also added they have captured dozens more Palestinians.

Death toll in Israel rises to 350

The Israel Defense Forces has announced that the number of Israelis killed since Hamas launched its attack Saturday has risen to 350.

At a briefing Sunday, IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari stated the priorities now were to end the fighting in Israeli communities and control breaches in the fence dividing Gaza and Israel.

At least ‘750 Israelis missing’: Unofficial estimates

At least 750 Israelis remain missing since the Palestinian surprise attack, the Jerusalem Post has reported, quoting unofficial estimates.

Hamas has announced it captured a number of Israeli soldiers that is “several times greater” than dozens.

Israeli authorities have recognized soldiers and civilians have been taken back to the Gaza Strip, but did not provide an exact figure.

Israelis have been taking to social media to seek help for information about missing family and friends.

Hundreds of Palestinian fighters killed: Israeli army

Daniel Hagari, the Israeli army spokesman, says hundreds of Palestinian fighters have been killed in fighting and dozens of others have been captured.

Hagari told reporters in Tel Aviv that the army was pressing on with its large-scale offensive against the Gaza Strip.

“We are targeting Hamas leaders,” he stated, adding the army will utilise “its superiority in terms of firepower and we will disclose the results accordingly”.

The security forces “have harnessed all their capabilities and they will be put to maximum use in the coming hours,” he continued.

Hamas says fighters still present in southern Israeli cities

Hamas fighters are still present in southern Israeli cities, according to a statement from the armed group.

The statement said Hamas is supporting them with rocket fire on Israeli cities.

It added the fighters were present in Ofakim, Sderot, Yad Mordechai, Kfar Aza, Be’eri, Yated, and Kissufim.

Israeli army says at least 26 soldiers killed in Hamas attack

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Sunday published the names of 26 soldiers killed in the attack Hamas launched at dawn the day before.

“Israel is waking up this morning to a terrible morning. There are a lot of people killed. People have been kidnapped into Gaza, not only soldiers but civilians, children, grandmothers,” the IDF’s International spokesperson Lt. Col. Richard Hecht said in a briefing Sunday.

“We have lost soldiers, we have lost commanders, we have lost a lot of civilians,” he added.

Hecht said there are plans to activate a hotline for those with questions regarding missing or injured people.

“In the case of missing or injured persons, a hotline will be activated to clarify questions, and for the families who are disturbed,” Hecht continued, adding, “We know how to deal with difficult situations and difficult challenges and we will meet the targets we are required to achieve. We ask the public to continue to show responsibility.”

UNIFIL peacekeepers remain in place in Lebanon after exchange of fire between Hezbollah and Israel

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in south Lebanon said their peacekeepers remain in position even after an exchange of fire between Hezbollah and Israel earlier Sunday.

“Early this morning, UNIFIL peacekeepers detected several rockets fired from southeast Lebanon toward Israeli-occupied territory in the general area of Kafr Chouba, and artillery fire from Israel to Lebanon in response,” United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said on X, formerly Twitter.

“We are in contact with authorities on both sides of the Blue Line, at all levels, to contain the situation and avoid a more serious escalation. Our peacekeepers remain in their positions and on task. They continue to work, some from shelters for their safety.”

UNIFIL noted they’re available to help de-escalate the situation.

“We urge everyone to exercise restraint and make use of UNIFIL’s liaison and coordination mechanisms to de-escalate to prevent a fast deterioration of the security situation”, it added.

IDF says it targeted Hamas intelligence chief

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) says fighter jets have struck a compound in Gaza belonging to the head of the intelligence department of Hamas.

“The IDF is currently continuing to strike terror targets in the Gaza Strip,” it added.

Palestinian death toll rises to 256: Health ministry

At least 256 Palestinians were killed over the past 24 hours, including 20 children, the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza announced Sunday.

A further 1,788 Palestinians have been injured, including 121 children, the ministry said in a statement.

Over 1,800 people injured in Hamas attacks: Israel

The surprise attacks by Hamas have injured more than 1,800 people, according to Israeli officials.

As of Sunday at 6:30 a.m. local time 1,864 injured people had been evacuated to hospitals, Israel’s Ministry of Health has confirmed.

Of those, 19 are in critical condition and 326 have serious injuries.

Israel says it hit a Hezbollah post around the border with Lebanon

Israeli military has announced one of its drones struck “a Hezbollah infrastructure… in the Mount Dov” area along border with Lebanon.

The Israeli army made the statement on social media platform X.

Hezbollah claims responsibility for targeting Israeli sites

The Lebanese group Hezbollah issued a statement Sunday claiming responsibility for targeting three Israeli sites in an area known as Shebaa Farms using missiles and artillery.

Shebaa Farms is considered by Lebanon as Israeli-occupied.

The three sites include the Radar site, the Zabdin site, and the Ruwaisat Al-Alam site, the statement by Hezbollah said.

Israel responded to the attacks by firing artillery at the area in Lebanon where the strike originated, the IDF announced earlier.

Israel launches attack on southern Lebanon after ‘shot’ fired

The Israeli military has announced it fired artillery on southern Lebanon in response to a shot from the area.

“Israeli artillery is in the process of striking the area of Lebanon from which a shot was fired,” said a statement, which was issued shortly before 7:30am (04:30 GMT) and did not give any further details about the attack.

The Reuters news agency, citing three security sources, reported the projectiles launched from Lebanese territory hit an Israeli military position in the Israeli-occupied Shebaa farms early in the morning.

Israeli forces have struck 426 targets in Gaza: IDF

Israeli warplanes continued striking Gaza on Sunday morning as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) evacuated Israeli residents around the Gaza Strip overnight.

Israeli forces struck 426 targets in Gaza, including 10 towers used by Hamas, the IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari claimed in a briefing on Sunday.

Tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers are operating on the ground around the Gaza Strip, Hagari added.

The IDF shared footage showing a strike on a multi-story building in the city.

The strike hit “Hamas military targets located in multi-story buildings in the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said.

IDF fighting to clear Hamas fighters inside Israel before launching offensive: Spokesperson

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were still fighting to clear Hamas fighters inside the country early Sunday morning.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an IDF spokesman, told CNN’s Jake Tapper “many hundreds”, possibly as many as 1,000 Hamas fighters were involved in Saturday’s surprise attacks.

As of 4:15 a.m. local time Sunday morning, Conricus said: “We are still fighting, clearing the last houses and locations and communities and bases.”

“Hopefully, at the break of dawn we will be able to declare that we have finally restored sovereignty and order in Israel. But that has not yet been achieved. And that will be our number one priority,” Conricus continued.

“Then we will lock down the border and make sure that there are no other terrorists coming in,” he added, noting, “And then we shall start to focus on hitting Hamas like we have never hit Hamas before.”

Israeli security forces secure control of Sderot police station

Israel’s southern district police forces and soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Sunday secured control of Sderot police station, according to a southern district police spokesperson.

“Starting in the morning, the southern district police forces and IDF soldiers are working to neutralize terrorists who infiltrated the Sderot station,” the police spokesperson said.

“A short time ago, full control was achieved.”

About 10 armed “terrorists” were “neutralized,” after the forces were ordered to carry out live fire “by all means” on the station where “the terrorists were entrenched,” the spokesperson added.

“Our police officers and soldiers acted throughout the last day with great courage and determination. We are in a difficult time but now we raise our heads and continue to act with determination,” the police spokesperson stated.

“The instruction to the public is to stay at home, there is no permission to go out,” the police spokesperson continued, noting, “We will continue to provide ongoing security and respond to incidents quickly.”

Death toll rises to 300: Israeli official

Following Saturday’s surprise attacks from Hamas, the death toll in Israel rose to at least 300, an Israeli official told CNN early on Sunday morning.

According to Israeli media, more than 1,500 others have been injured.

Fighting carried on throughout the day, and a fresh round of rocket attacks hit Tel Aviv and other areas on Saturday evening.

IDF says number of captured Israelis is “significant” as Hamas warns hostages now spread across Gaza

The number of Israeli nationals captured by Hamas is “unprecedented”, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have told CNN as the group said that the hostages its fighters had taken were being held across Gaza.

“It is unprecedented in our history that we have so many Israeli nationals in the hands of a terrorist organization,” IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Saturday.

“These are extremely disturbing scenes for any Israeli to see. I don’t even want to imagine what the fate of this Israeli person will be at the hands of these blood-thirsty animals.”

“I can assure you that the IDF will be focused on getting each and every Israeli back”, Conricus continued, adding that the number of civilians and soldiers captured by Hamas is an “unfortunately, a significant number.”

“These are numbers that we have never, ever seen before and these are, they’re unprecedented, and they will force an unprecedented response from Israel,” stated Conricus.

In a statement Saturday, Hamas announced the captured Israeli hostages are being held across the Gaza strip and warned against attacks in the area.

“Threatening Gaza and its people is a losing game and a broken record,” Al Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obaida said in a recorded audio message late on Saturday.

“What happens to the people of the Gaza Strip will happen to them and beware of miscalculation,” Obaida added.

The Izzedine al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, claimed earlier on Saturday to have captured “dozens” of Israelis during Saturday’s surprise attack.

After the attack, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to “destroy” Hamas.

“We will forcefully avenge this dark day that they have forced on the State of Israel and its citizens,” Netanyahu said in a televised speech late on Saturday.

“I say to the residents of Gaza: Leave now because we will operate forcefully everywhere,” he added.

Israel extends “special security situation” across entire territory

Israel’s Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant expanded the country’s “special security situation” to the entirety of Israel’s territory late Saturday, according to his communications office.

This enables the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to provide security instructions to civilians and to close public sites as needed for security, the minister’s office said.

A “special security situation” area, within an 80-kilometer (48-mile) radius of the Gaza Strip, had been established earlier on Saturday.

“Today we saw the face of evil. The Hamas (terrorist organization) has launched a brutal attack against the citizens of the State of Israel – attacking men, women, children, and the elderly, indiscriminately,” Gallant said in a statement.

“Hamas will understand very quickly that it has made a mistake – a grave mistake and will pay a (heavy) price,” he added.

The defense minister’s statement comes after Gaza militants fired a fresh round of rockets on Saturday evening, making direct hits on multiple locations inside Israel, including in Tel Aviv, according to Israeli authorities.

In a Telegram post, the armed wing of Hamas announced it had fired an additional 150 rockets in response to the bombing of a residential tower in Gaza City.

In his statement, Gallant claimed he had been close to destroying Hamas 15 years ago, when he headed the military’s Southern Command, but that he was stopped by “the political echelon.”

“This phenomenon will not continue. We will change reality on the ground in Gaza for the next 50 years,” he continued, stating, “What was before will be no more. We will operate at full force.”

“I ask Israel’s citizens to remain determined and to support our security forces,” he added.

Israel is “embarking on a long and difficult war”: PM

Israel’s political-security cabinet convened late on Saturday to determine the country’s response to the surprise attack by Hamas.

The cabinet made a “series of operational decisions aimed at bringing about the destruction of the military and governmental capabilities of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority,” according to a statement from the office of Israel’s Prime Minister.

“We are embarking on a long and difficult war. The war was forced upon us by a murderous attack by Hamas,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

“The first phase ends at these hours by the destruction of the majority of the enemy forces that penetrated our territory. At the same time, we started the offensive formation, and it will continue without reservation and without respite until the objectives are achieved,” Netanyahu continued.

Israel aims to “negate [Hamas’s] ability and desire to threaten and harm the citizens of Israel for many years to come,” according to the statement.

“We will restore security to the citizens of Israel and we will win,” Netanyahu added.

“Among the decisions made by the cabinet are the stopping of the supply of electricity, fuel and goods.”

Hamas says number of Israelis taken prisoner ‘several times greater’ than dozens

The total number of Israelis captured by Hamas is “several times greater” than dozens, according to the military wing of Hamas.

A Hamas spokesman was responding to Israeli statements on those taken captive. Neither side has given a clear number.

The spokesman stated those taken captive were spread throughout all areas of the Gaza Strip.

“Our commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself remains unwavering”: US Defense Secretary

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin convened another call with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commander of US Central Command, a US defense official told CNN.

The purpose of the subsequent call was to ensure the Defense Department was in the best position to help Israel with its defense headed into the evening, the official said.

The second call comes after Austin spoke with Gen. Charles Q. Brown and Gen. Erik Kurilla about the situation on the ground in Israel.

In a statement Saturday morning, Austin underscored US support for Israel and Israel’s right to defend itself amid an unprecedented cross-border attack from Gaza.

“Our commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself remains unwavering, and I extend my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this abhorrent attack on civilians,” underlined Austin.

Palestinian death toll in the West Bank and Gaza: Report

According to the health ministries in Gaza and the West Bank, this is the death and injury toll so far:

  • 232 dead, over 1,700 injured in the Gaza Strip
  • Six dead (two in Ramallah, one in Jericho, one in Qalqilia and two in Hebron), more than 50 injured in the West Bank

Israeli death toll rises to 250: Authorities

The death toll in Israel has risen to 250, according to Israel’s emergency medical service.

Another 1,500 people were injured, with 270 more in serious condition, the emergency medical service has confirmed.

IDF tells civilians in Gaza to leave their houses

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have urged civilians in Gaza to leave their residential areas immediately for their safety as Israeli military operations continue to target Hamas following Saturday’s surprise attacks.

“Residents of the Gaza Strip, pay attention! Hamas operations force the IDF to operate in your place of residence. For your safety, you must leave your place of residence immediately,” Avichay Adraee, IDF spokesman for the Arab media, said in a post on X on Sunday.

The post includes four videos that give instructions to civilians in Gaza on where to go in each area of the city.

Almost 2 million people live in Gaza’s 140 square miles. Governed by Hamas, the densely packed territory is largely cut off from the rest of the world by an Israeli blockade of Gaza’s land, air and sea dating back to 2007. Egypt controls Gaza’s southern border crossing, Rafah.

Israel has placed heavy restrictions on the freedom of civilian movement and controls the import of basic goods into the narrow coastal strip.

Biden: “The United States stands with Israel”

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 stated in his remarks from the White House, where he condemned the militant group Hamas for launching a surprise attack on Israel early this morning.

He added that the US will have Israel’s back. “We will make sure that they have the help their citizens need, and they can continue to defend themselves,” the president said.

Biden added 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 world is watching,” he warned.

Israeli brigade leader killed: Israeli military

Israel’s military has confirmed the commander of the Nahal Brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel Yonathan Steinberg, was killed by Hamas fighters in southern Israel.

The brigade is a main infantry branch of the Israeli military.

The military said on X Steinberg was fatally shot near Kerem Shalom as he was responding to a gunfight between his brigade and Hamas fighters.

Amnesty International calls on Israeli security forces and Palestinian armed groups to protect civilians

The human rights watchdog Amnesty International has called on Israeli security forces and Palestinian armed groups to “make every effort to protect the lives of civilians in (the) outbreak of fighting in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

“We are deeply alarmed by the mounting civilian death tolls in Gaza, Israel and the occupied West Bank and urgently call on all parties to the conflict to abide by international law and make every effort to avoid further civilian bloodshed,” Amnesty International said in a statement on Saturday.

“Under international humanitarian law, all sides in a conflict have a clear obligation to protect the lives of civilians caught up in the hostilities,” stated Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

The human rights watchdog warned that “deliberately targeting civilians, carrying out disproportionate attacks, and indiscriminate attacks which kill or injure civilians are war crimes.”

UNICEF chief says monitoring for rights violations against children

The head of UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, has stressed she is “deeply concerned for the well-being of children in Israel and the State of Palestine”.

“With hundreds of civilians reportedly killed or injured, we are closely monitoring the situation for reports of grave rights violations committed against children,” Catherine Russell stated in a statement.

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