Hamas launches major attack on Israel
Militants have launched rockets from Gaza into southern and central Israel on Saturday morning, the IDF said. At least five people have reportedly been killed.
“Hamas carried out a combined operation involving rocket fire and infiltrations by terrorists into Israeli territory,” the IDF said in a statement.
At least five people are believed to have been killed by the missiles. Four fatalities were reported in the town of Kuseife, and another one in the Gderot area.
Information coming from medical institutions across the country suggests that more than 100 people were wounded. Soroka Hospital in Beersheba said it had been treating 80 patients, some of whom were in a serious condition.
According to Israeli media, some projectiles hit Ashkelon and Tel Aviv. Rocket sirens have also been heard in Jerusalem and Beersheba.
Hamas has claimed that it fired some 5,000 rockets at Israel in just the first 20 minutes of the attack.
In another message on X (formerly Twitter), the IDF said “terrorists have infiltrated Israel from Gaza,” and it asked residents to remain indoors. A video was posted online purportedly showing Palestinians driving several trucks, with gunshots heard in the background. It’s claimed to have been made in the Israeli city of Sderot, near the border with Gaza.
Another video captured a gunfight between heavily armed IDF troops and attackers in the streets of Sderot. According to the Times of Israel paper, there’ve been several casualties in the city as result of the incursion.
Hamas terrorists seen clashing with Israeli forces in southern Israel. pic.twitter.com/uJWd07xpVO— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) October 7, 2023
The IDF has declared “a state of readiness for war” following the attack. “Hamas … will bear the results and responsibility for the events,” it said. Shortly afterwards, Israel announced that retaliatory strikes were underway in Gaza.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has approved a call-up of reservists in response to the attack from Gaza. The size of the draft will depend on the needs of the IDF, his office said.
According to Israeli media reports, Hamas fighters captured a police station in Sderot. Some videos uploaded online purportedly show a number of IDF troops being killed and captured by the attackers. There’s also social media footage and photos of what appears to be a burning Israeli tank and Palestinians celebrating the seizure of a US-made Humvee military vehicle from the IDF. The videos have yet to be verified.
Israel’s Channel 12 reported that Hamas fighters have also infiltrated the settlements of Beeri and Netiv HaAsara, where hostages have allegedly been taken.
Hamas military commander Mohammad Deif said in a statement that Saturday’s attack was retaliation for Israel’s “desecration” of Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem – Islam’s third-holiest site, which is controlled by Israeli security forces.
Deif also blamed Israel for killing and wounding hundreds of Palestinians this year alone, and for refusing offers of prisoner exchanges with the group.