Hamas attacked Israel and Netanyahu says his country is ‘at war.’ Follow live updates

Politics

Palestinians walk away from the kibbutz of Kfar Azza, Israel, near the fence with the Gaza strip on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. The militant Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip carried out an unprecedented, multi-front attack on Israel at daybreak Saturday, firing thousands of rockets as dozens of Hamas fighters infiltrated the heavily fortified border in several locations by air, land, and sea and catching the country off-guard on a major holiday. (AP Photo/Hassan Eslaiah) AP

The militant Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip have carried out an unprecedented, multifront attack on Israel, firing thousands of rockets as dozens of Hamas fighters infiltrated the heavily fortified border in several locations and catching the country off-guard on a major holiday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Israel was “at war” and called for a mass mobilization of army reserves. The invasion revived memories of the 1973 war practically 50 years to the day.

Follow our live updates.

New York Mayor Eric Adams, whose city is home to the largest Jewish population outside Israel, called the attack a “cowardly action by a terrorist organization.”

The mayor said city authorities are monitoring the situation for any possible threats.

“While there is no credible threat to New York City at this time, our administration is in touch with Jewish leaders across the five boroughs, and we have directed the NYPD to deploy additional resources to Jewish communities and houses of worship citywide to ensure that our communities have the resources they need to make sure everyone feels safe,” he said in a statement.

“We extend our sincerest condolences for all the innocent lives lost in these attacks, and hope that not another family has to experience the pain of losing a loved one.”

An Israeli army spokesman says fighting is continuing in 22 locations in southern Israel some 12 hours after Hamas militants launched a surprise attack from the Gaza Strip.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari also said that Israel was striking targets in Gaza from the air and that ground operations were imminent.

Hagari confirmed ongoing hostage situations in the towns of Ofakim and Beeri. Earlier, both the Israeli military and Hamas confirmed that some Israelis had been captured and taken hostage.

Hamas militants fired thousands of rockets and sent dozens of fighters into Israeli towns near the Gaza on Saturday, the day of a major Jewish holiday.

President Joe Biden has condemning the “appalling assault against Israel by Hamas terrorists from Gaza” and says he’s spoken with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Biden says in a statement released by the White House that he told the Israeli leader that “we stand ready to offer all appropriate means of support” to the Israeli government and the Israeli people.

Biden says that the Jewish state “has a right to defend itself and its people. The United States warns against any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation.”

The president also says his administration’s support for Israel’s security is “rock solid and unwavering.”

Other Western leaders condemned the Hamas attack and expressed support for Israel.

The head of the European Union’s executive commission, Ursula von der Leyen, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Saturday that the attack “is terrorism in its most despicable form.” She said that “Israel has the right to defend itself against such heinous attacks.”

The Israeli flag was raised at the Austrian chancellor’s office and Foreign Ministry in a gesture of solidarity, and Chancellor Karl Nehammer said in a post on X on Saturday: “We stand with Israel in the fight against terrorism. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families.”

Israel’s national rescue service said at least 70 people have been killed and hundreds more were wounded in a surprise attack by the militant group Hamas.

The casualties made Hamas’ attack on southern Israel the deadliest one in Israel in years.

The Magen David Adom said Saturday that “hundreds” of people were seriously injured and strongly urged the public to heed the directives of Israeli authorities for safety.

The wounded were being evacuated in ambulances, mobile intensive care vehicles, and by helicopter to various hospitals.

At least 198 people in the Gaza Strip have been killed in Israel’s retaliation, the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said.

The U.N. peacekeeping force deployed along the Lebanon-Israel border says it is closely monitoring the situation in Israel.

In a statement, the force said that peacekeepers are present along the border line to maintain stability and help avoid escalation.

“We have also adapted and enhanced our presence throughout our area of operations, including counter rocket-launching operations,” said the force known as UNIFIL.

It has been months since rockets were fired from Lebanon into northern Israel. The border area has been relatively calm since a monthlong war between Israel and Hezbollah ended in August 2006.

UNIFIL said its leader is in contact with all sides since the violence began in southern Israel “to ensure effective coordination and avoid misunderstandings.”

The force said its primary goal is to preserve stability along the Blue Line and avoid any escalation “that could have disastrous consequences for people living in the area.”

The Israeli military has confirmed that Hamas militants are holding Israeli civilians and soldiers hostage in Gaza. The military did not say how many hostages were seized, but their capture marks a major escalation in the fighting.

The military confirmed Hamas claims that its fighters had kidnapped a number of Israelis after infiltrating Israel’s highly fortified separation fence and storming into Israeli communities in the country’s south.

The army did not offer further details Saturday. Social media has been filled with videos showing Hamas fighters dragging lifeless Israeli soldiers on the ground and parading captured civilians through the streets of Gaza.

The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza says at least 198 people have been killed and at least 1,610 wounded in the territory in Israel’s retaliation after a wide-ranging Hamas assault into Israel.

Israel has carried out a number of airstrikes in Gaza and has clashed with gunmen at the border fence around the coastal territory.

Israel’s national rescue service says at least 40 people have been killed in a wide-ranging Hamas assault into Israel.

The latest toll came from the Magen David Adom rescue service as fighting was still underway on Saturday.

Hospitals in Israel are treating hundreds of wounded people, including dozens in critical condition.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel will exact a “huge price” from Hamas in response to an unprecedented infiltration that killed at least 22 people.

Netanyahu told his Security Cabinet on Saturday that Israel’s first goal is to “cleanse the area” of militants and regain control of the southern communities that were attacked.

“The second goal, at the same time, is to exact a huge price from the enemy, also in the Gaza Strip,” he said.

He called on the nation to remain calm and unite “to achieve our highest goal — victory in the war.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says “Israel’s right to self-defense cannot be questioned” and extended his condolences to “all whose family and friends lost their lives in (the Hamas) terrorist attack.”

“We believe that order will be restored and the terrorists will be destroyed,” he said in a post on his official Telegram channel. Zelenskyy is Jewish and had relatives who died in the Holocaust.

“The world must be united and (stand) in solidarity, so that terror cannot ever try to conquer or destroy lives anywhere in the world,” he added.

The White House said Saturday that it “unequivocally condemns” the Hamas attacks.

“We stand firmly with the Government and people of Israel and extend our condolences for the Israeli lives lost in these attacks,” said Adrienne Watson, spokeswoman for the National Security Council.

“The U.S. unequivocally condemns the unprovoked attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians. There is never any justification for terrorism.”

Watson said Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, has spoken with his Israeli counterpart, Tzachi Hanegbi. The U.S. and Israel are remaining in close touch, Watson said.

Iran’s Parliament members opened their session Saturday by chanting “Death to Israel” and “Israel will be doomed, Palestine will be the conqueror.”

State TV showed dozens of parliament members gathered in center of the parliament chamber.

Iranian TV aired footage of missiles being launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel and interviewed analysts who supported the Hamas attack.

Saudi Arabia has called for an immediate halt to fighting in Israel and the Gaza Strip after Hamas militants launched an unprecedented attack.

A statement Saturday by the Saudi Foreign Ministry also called for both sides to protect civilians and exercise restraint.

“The kingdom recalls its repeated warnings of the dangers of the situation exploding as a result of the continued occupation, the Palestinian people being deprived of their legitimate rights and the repetition of system provocations against” them by Israel, the statement said.

Saudi Arabia long has backed the Palestinians and called for the implementation of a two-state solution based on Israel’s 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.

The U.S. has been trying to negotiate a wide-ranging deal to get Saudi Arabia to agree to diplomatically recognize Israel, which could include the kingdom getting more American security guarantees and expansive aid to its nuclear program.

Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister and former ambassador to Israel and Egypt, told the state Tass agency Saturday that Moscow has been in touch with “all parties (of the conflict), including Arab countries” and urged “an immediate cease-fire and peace” between Hamas and Israel. Bogdanov did not specify which Arab states Russian diplomats were speaking to.

“We call for an immediate start to a peace process on the basis of existing, internationally recognized agreements,” Bogdanov said. He added that a number of U.N. Security Council resolutions on the conflict remain unimplemented, but gave no details.

The Soroka Medical Center in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba said it was treating at least 280 casualties, with 60 in serious condition. The Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, near Gaza, said it was treating 182 wounded people, including 12 in critical condition.

There was no official comment on casualties in Gaza, but Associated Press reporters witnessed the funerals of 15 people who were killed and saw another eight bodies arrive at a local hospital. It was not immediately clear if they were fighters or civilians.

The U.N. human rights chief says he is “shocked and appalled” by the firing of large numbers of rockets at Israel and the death of at least 22 people in the country.

Volker Türk called for an immediate end to the violence, appealing to all sides and “key countries in the region” to de-escalate and avoid further bloodshed.

Türk said in a statement released in Geneva he is also “deeply concerned at reports that Israeli civilians have been taken hostage.”

Türk said that “this attack is having a horrific impact on Israeli civilians” and that civilians must never be the target of attacks.

He added: “I note also that Israeli forces have responded with airstrikes into the densely populated Gaza Strip, reportedly killing at least five people. I call on them to take all precautions to avoid civilian casualties there.”

European leaders are condemning the Hamas attack and voicing solidarity with Israel.

The head of the European Union’s executive commission, Ursula von der Leyen, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Saturday that the attack “is terrorism in its most despicable form.” She said that “Israel has the right to defend itself against such heinous attacks.”

German Chancellor OIaf Scholz said that the militants’ rocket fire and the escalating violence “shock us deeply.” He added that “Germany condemns these attacks by Hamas and stands beside Israel.”

French President Emmanuel Macron wrote that he “firmly” condemns the “terrorist attacks” against Israel and expressed “my full solidarity with the victims, their families and their loved ones.”

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said Italy’s government condemns the attacks on Israel “with utmost firmness.”

“At risk are the life of people, the security of the region and the resumption of any kind of political process,’’ Tajani said in a post on X platform.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah congratulated Hamas for the operation, saying it had “divine backing and pledges final and comprehensive victory.” The group said the attack is a response to “Israel’s crimes” and attacks on holy places and that “the will of the Palestinian people and the rifle of the resistance is the only alternative to face occupation.”

Hezbollah said that its military command in Lebanon is following the developments on the ground and is in direct contact with the Palestinian command and they are both “evaluating the situation and the ongoing operation.”

“We call upon the government of the Zionist enemy to take lessons from the facts that the Palestinian resistance have implemented on the ground,” Hezbollah said.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry has voiced its support for Israel’s “right to defend itself and its people” in a post Saturday on its official channel on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter.

The ministry said it “strongly condemns the ongoing terrorist attacks against Israel, including rocket attacks against the civilian population in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.”

Ukraine has been fighting a war against Russia since its neighbor invaded in February 2022.


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