Israel’s Netanyahu: ‘We are at war’

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Oct 07, 2023 |

Rockets are fired from Gaza toward Israel, in Gaza [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel “is at war” after Hamas launched a devastating surprise attack on the country on Saturday, and vowed revenge.

“Citizens of Israel, we are at war. Not an operation, not a round [of fighting,] at war! This morning Hamas initiated a murderous surprise attack against the state of Israel and its citizens,” Netanyahu said in his filmed statement in Hebrew.
Under cover of a barrage of rockets, dozens of Hamas militants broke out of the blockaded Gaza Strip and into nearby Israeli towns, killing hundreds and abducting others in an early morning attack during a major Jewish holiday Saturday.

‘We are at war,’ Israel’s Netanyahu says as Hamas launches surprise multi-front attack

A stunned Israel said it is now at war with Hamas and launched airstrikes in Gaza, vowing to inflict an “unprecedented price.”

In an assault, Hamas gunmen rolled into as many as 22 locations outside the Gaza Strip, including towns and other communities as far as l (24 kilometres) from the Gaza border.

Reuters reports in some places, they roamed for hours, gunning down civilians and soldiers as Israel’s military scrambled to muster a response. Gunbattles continued well after nightfall, and militants held hostages in standoffs in two towns.

Israel’s national rescue service said at least 300 people were killed and 1,100 wounded, making it the deadliest attack in Israel in decades.

At least 230 people in the Gaza Strip have been killed and at least 1,610 wounded in Israeli strikes, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

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.

Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from Gaza, as seen from Ashkelon in southern Israel, on October 7. Amir Cohen/Reuters

The conflict threatened to escalate to an even deadlier stage with Israel’s vows of greater retaliation.

Previous conflicts between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers brought widespread death and destruction in Gaza and days of rocket fire on Israeli towns.

Israeli airstrikes in Gaza intensified, flattening several residential buildings in giant explosions, including a 14-story tower that held dozens of apartments as well as Hamas offices in central Gaza City.

Soon after, a Hamas rocket barrage into central Israel hit four cities, including Tel Aviv and a nearby suburb, where two people were seriously injured.

The strength, sophistication and timing of the Saturday morning attack shocked Israelis.

Hamas fighters used explosives to break through the border fence enclosing the long-blockaded Mediterranean territory, then crossed with motorcycles, pickup trucks, paragliders and speed boats on the coast.

Bodies of dead Israeli civilians and Hamas militants were seen on streets of Israeli towns.

Associated Press photos showed an abducted elderly Israeli woman being brought back into Gaza on a golf cart by Hamas gunmen and another woman squeezed between two fighters on a motorcycle.

Images showed fighters parading captured Israeli military vehicles through Gaza streets.

Biden calls attacks on Israel ‘appalling’

President Joe Biden said Hamas’ surprise assault on Israel was “appalling” and condemned the Palestinian militant group’s attacks on civilians as “unconscionable” in Saturday afternoon remarks in which he pledged that U.S. support would not waver.

“Israel has the right to defend itself and its people. Full stop,” Biden said. “There’s never a justification for terrorist attacks.”

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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