The militant Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip have carried out an unprecedented, multi-front 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. Israel says at least 40 people have died.
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.
PALESTINIAN DEATH TOLL IS AT LEAST 198
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.
DEATH TOLL IN ISRAEL RAISED TO 40
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.
NETANYAHU PROMISES TO EXACT ‘A HUGE PRICE’ FROM HAMAS
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.”
UKRAINE’S PRESIDENT CALLS FOR UNITY AGAINST TERROR
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said “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.
WHITE HOUSE CONDEMNS ATTACK
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.
IRANIAN LAWMAKERS CHANT ‘DEATH TO ISRAEL’
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 the 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 CALLS FOR RESTRAINT
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.
RUSSIA SAYS IT IS IN CONTACT WITH ALL SIDES AND URGES A CEASE-FIRE
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.
AT LEAST 462 PEOPLE RECEIVING MEDICAL TREATMENT
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.
UN HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF CALLS FOR AN END TO VIOLENCE
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.”
EUROPE’S LEADERS EXPRESS SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL
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, “Israel has the right to defend itself against such heinous attacks.”
German Chancellor Olaf 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.
HEZBOLLAH SAYS THE ATTACK IS THE ONLY RESPONSE TO ISRAEL’S OCCUPATION
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.
UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SAYS ISRAEL HAS THE RIGHT TO DEFEND ITSELF
Ukraine’s foreign ministry has voiced its support for Israel’s “right to defend itself and its people” in a Saturday post 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.