Fighting between Israeli forces and the Palestinian group Hamas raged Sunday, with more than 500 killed on both sides after an attack on Israel prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to warn they were “embarking on a long and difficult war”.
Here are the top 10 updates on this Big story
- Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to avenge what he said was a “black day” for Israel, saying the army will strike back at Hamas in Gaza with full force. “The IDF (army) is about to use all its force to destroy Hamas’s capabilities. We’ll strike them to the bitter end and avenge with force this black day they brought on Israel and its people,” he said.
- The Israeli military suffered significant losses as the Palestinian group claimed to have captured dozens of soldiers. “Terrorists rampaged and broke into homes, massacring civilians. Hundreds had invaded the country, and hundreds were still fighting troops inside Israel,” army spokesman Richard Hecht said.
- As the UN Security Council called an emergency meeting for Sunday, President Joe Biden voiced “rock solid and unwavering” support for Israel and warned, “against any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation”.
- Saturday’s assault, the biggest incursion into Israel in decades, coincides with US-backed moves to push Saudi Arabia towards normalizing ties with Israel in return for a defense deal between Washington and Riyadh.
- Hamas fighters fired thousands of rockets breached Gaza’s security barrier and attacked nearby Israeli towns and military posts, opening fire on residents and passersby. The group labeled its attack “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” and called on “resistance fighters in the West Bank” as well as in “Arab and Islamic nations” to join the battle. Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said the group was on the “verge of a great victory”.
- Hamas released images of several Israelis taken captive. Bodies were strewn on the streets of the Israeli town of Sderot near Gaza and inside cars, the windscreens shattered by hails of bullets.
- In response to the deadly attacks, the Israeli defense forces also declared a “readiness for war”. The forces launched “Operation Swords of Iron”, striking a number of targets in the Gaza Strip.
- The escalation follows months of rising violence, mostly in the occupied West Bank, and tensions around Gaza’s border and at contested holy sites in Jerusalem.
- The Indian embassy in Israel has asked its citizens to remain vigilant and observe safety protocols as advised by local authorities. “Please exercise caution, avoid unnecessary movement, and stay close to safety shelters,” it said in an advisory.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted on X, “Deeply shocked by the news of terrorist attacks in Israel. Our thoughts and prayers are with the innocent victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with Israel at this difficult hour.”