Israel faces ‘long, hard war’ after Hamas attack from Gaza

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See: What the BBC has confirmed about Israel’s attacks

Israel’s military has warned that Hamas militants from Gaza are still fighting inside Israel after they infiltrated southern areas and reported 300 dead.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told Israelis they are headed for a “long and difficult war”.

Hundreds of gunmen swept into southern Israel, killing soldiers and civilians, and taking what the military described as a “significant number” of hostages in Gaza.

Israel has responded to the airstrikes.

It continued into Sunday morning, with the Israeli air force saying it was targeting “operational infrastructure” in Gaza.

The Israeli army also carried out artillery strikes in southern Lebanon when mortars were fired at Israeli positions in the disputed Mount Dou/Sheba Farms area.

Lebanon’s militant movement Hezbollah claimed it carried out the attack as “an expression of solidarity with the Palestinian resistance”.

According to Palestinian health officials, more than 300 people have been killed in Israeli attacks in Gaza since Palestinian militants entered Israel from Gaza on Saturday morning.

Gazans received overnight Israeli text messages telling them to leave their homes and move to city centers or take shelter in shelters.

The Israeli prime minister said in a late-night message that the war had been “forced upon us by the murderous attack of Hamas”, and that the first phase would end in the coming hours once most of the militants on Israeli soil had been wiped out. will He added that Israel will restore the security of its citizens and win.

The Israeli government also said it would cut off the supply of electricity, fuel and goods to Gaza.

Israel’s nightmare – mass armed Palestinian militants in the south of the country – began on Saturday, the morning of the Jewish Sabbath and Simchat Torah festival.

Gunmen cut through Gaza’s border fence, sneaking into Israel on motorcycles, paragliders and by sea. An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman said they numbered in the hundreds, while more than 3,000 rockets were fired at Israel throughout the day.

“They attacked dozens of Israeli communities and IDF bases and went door-to-door, door-to-door,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conrex.

“They executed Israeli citizens in cold blood in their homes and then dragged Israeli citizens and military personnel into Gaza. I am talking to women, children, the elderly, the disabled.”

Disturbing videos have emerged of Israeli citizens running for their lives from a festival in the desert, and women being bundled into cars and kidnapped.

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WATCH: Partygoers recall militant attack

Israelis told news channels that they were hiding in their homes and fearing for their lives. The native town of Hasara said 15 of its residents were shot dead by Hamas militants.

In the town of Sderot, a resident named Shlomi reported a “sea of ​​bodies inside Sderot along the road”.

More on the Israel-Gaza attacks

Gradually, the Israeli army began to regain control of much of the southern region. Israeli media reported that the hostages, held in a dining room at Kibbutz Beri, were finally freed after 18 hours. A short time later, further reports indicated that the troops had freed the hostages in the town of Ofakim and that the attackers had been killed.

US President Joe Biden spoke of America’s “rock-solid and unwavering” support for Israel, which was “under attack by a terrorist organization”.

Hamas’s military wing said the number of captured Israelis was many times more than dozens, including senior military officers.

By the end of the week, more than 1,500 people had been injured in Gaza and more than 1,500 in Israel, officials said.

The military said there would be an unprecedented response to the unprecedented level of violence by Hamas.

Tens of thousands of security forces have been mobilized and are now expected to begin ground operations in Gaza.

On Saturday, Israeli strikes destroyed the 11-story Palestine Tower in downtown Gaza City, which housed a Hamas radio station on its roof.

The Israeli Air Force said it “targeted military infrastructure in two multi-story buildings used by senior Hamas terrorist operatives for terrorist activities”, and that it evacuated the occupants before it struck. was warned for.

Violence also broke out in several places in the West Bank on Saturday. Palestinian medics reported that six Palestinians were shot dead during clashes with Israeli forces.

Hamas military commander Mohammad Daef called on Palestinians everywhere to join the group’s actions.

“We have decided to put an end to these Israeli crimes with God’s help, so the enemy understands that the time to wreak havoc without accountability is over,” he said.

Ismail Haniyeh, the exiled leader of Hamas, claimed that Palestinian factions intend to spread violence to the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad told the BBC that the group had direct support for the attack from Iran.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a political rival of Hamas, said the Palestinian people had the right to defend themselves against the “terrorism of settlers and occupying forces”.

The attacks by Hamas have been strongly condemned at the international level.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “shocked by reports that civilians have been attacked and abducted from their own homes”, while UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverley said he “Israel unequivocally condemns the horrific attacks by Hamas on civilians”.

Saudi Arabia, however, called for an immediate end to the tensions, saying it had repeatedly warned of the dangers posed by “continued occupation” and “depriving the Palestinian people of their legitimate rights”.

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