1,000 killed as Israel declaress long war with Hamas

Death toll on Israeli side reaches 600 while 400 in Palestine cities with thousands injured on both sides n Netanyahu says, ‘We are embarking on a long and difficult war forced on us’ n Hamas calls on ‘resistance fighters in West Bank’ and ‘Arab and Islamic nations’ to join the battle.

JERUSALEM  –  The death toll surged to almost 1,000 since Palestinian group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel with a barrage of rockets and a large-scale ground assault, officials on both sides of the war zone said on Sunday.

The conflict’s worst escalation in de­cades has claimed more than 600 lives on the Israeli side, the government press office said, while Gaza officials re­ported at least 390 deaths, with thou­sands more wounded on each side.

Thousands of Israeli forces were de­ployed to battle holdout Hamas fight­ers in the south and the airforce again pounded targets in the Gaza Strip as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Ne­tanyahu warned of a “long and diffi­cult” war ahead.

“We are embarking on a long and dif­ficult war that was forced on us by a murderous Hamas attack,” Netanya­hu said on X, formerly Twitter, early on Sunday. Gun battles raged in towns and on highways as the Israeli army sought to secure desert regions near the coastal enclave, rescue Israeli hos­tages and evacuate all areas near Gaza within 24 hours. “We’ll reach each and every community until we kill ev­ery terrorist in Israel,” vowed military spokesman Daniel Hagari, a day after hundreds of Hamas fighters launched their shock offensive and surged into Israel using vehicles, boats and even motorised paragliders.

As fighting raged on Sunday, Leba­non’s powerful Hezbollah movement said it had fired “large numbers of artillery shells and guided missiles” at Israeli positions in contested bor­der areas “in solidarity” with Hamas, while in Alexandria, two Israeli tourists were shot dead along with their Egyptian guide. Bodies of Israeli civilians were strewn across the streets of Sderot in southern Israel, near Gaza, surrounded by broken glass. The bodies of a man and woman were sprawled across the front seats of a car. Senior military officers were among those killed in fighting near Gaza, the Israeli military said. Israeli troops clashed with Hamas fighters throughout the night in some parts of southern Israel. In a briefing on social media, an Israeli army spokes­person said the situation was not fully under control.

In Gaza, black smoke, orange flashes and sparks lit the sky from explosions. Israeli drones could be heard overhead. Ear­lier, crowds of mourners had carried the bodies of martyrs through the streets, wrapped in green Hamas flags. Gaza’s mar­tyrs and wounded were carried into crumbling and overcrowd­ed hospitals with severe short­ages of medical supplies and equipment. The health ministry said 232 people had been killed and at least 1,700 wounded.

Overnight Israel attacked the Gaza Strip with air strikes as rockets from the blockaded Pal­estinians territory rained on Is­rael. In southern Israel, Hamas fighters were still fighting Is­raeli security forces 24 hours after the surprise attack. Israe­li air strikes hit housing blocks, tunnels, a mosque and homes of Hamas officials in Gaza. Hamas has labelled its attack “Opera­tion Al-Aqsa Flood” and called on “resistance fighters in the West Bank” and “Arab and Is­lamic nations” to join the battle.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh has predicted “victory” and vowed to press ahead with “the battle to liberate our land and our prisoners languishing in occupation prisons”. As many as 370 Palestinians have been martyred in the aerial bombing by Israeli jets on the residential areas in the besieged Gaza Strip during the past 24 hours, with the Jerusalem press office on Sunday claiming over 600 lives on its side during the conflict´s worst escalation in decades.

The health ministry of the Pal­estinian authority said at least 370 Palestinians have been martyred, including 20 children, and nearly 2,000 wounded by Israeli air strikes in Gaza since Saturday. According to Israeli media reports, over 2,000 peo­ple sustained injuries during the two-day attacks by Hamas freedom fighters. In addition to this, over 100 Israelis were held hostage by Hamas, the re­ports also claimed. Israeli forces battled holdout Hamas fighters and pounded targets in the Gaza Strip with the army saying tens of thousands of soldiers were deployed in southern desert re­gions near the coastal enclave, to rescue Israeli hostages and then evacuate the entire region within 24 hours. “We´ll reach each and every community till we kill every terrorist in Isra­el,” said military spokesperson Daniel Hagari, a day after hun­dreds of Hamas fighters crossed into Israel in vehicles, boats and even using paragliders. Hamas said its unprecedented offen­sive by land, air and sea was in response to the desecration of the Al Aqsa Mosque as well as Israeli atrocities against Pales­tinians over the decades. These include the 16-year blockade of Gaza, Israeli raids inside West Bank cities over the past year, increasing attacks by settlers on Palestinians as well as the growth of illegal settlements, according to Al Jazeera.

Mohammed Deif, a Hamas mil­itary commander, said the time has come “for the enemy to un­derstand… they cannot keep go­ing without consequences”. Is­raeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to turn the besieged Palestinian enclave into a “deserted island”. “We will take mighty vengeance for this wicked day,” PM Netanyahu said. Israeli army Major Gener­al Ghasan Alyan warned Hamas had “opened the gates of hell”. Is­rael’s military said it had warned residents to evacuate before tar­geting the multi-storey buildings used by Hamas. Israel’s state-run electricity company cut the power supply to Gaza as army flares lit up the night sky.

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. Before Saturday, at least 247 Palestinians were marytred, 32 Israelis and two foreigners had been killed this year, includ­ing combatants and civilians, ac­cording to Israeli and Palestinian officials. Hamas labelled 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. Its armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, claimed to have fired more than 5,000 rockets, while Hecht said Israel had counted more than 3,000 incoming rockets.

Hamas chief Ismail Hani­yeh said the group was on the “verge of a great victory”. “The cycle of intifadas (uprisings) and revolutions in the battle to liberate our land and our pris­oners languishing in occupation prisons must be completed,” he said. Western capitals con­demned the wave of attacks by Hamas, which Israel, the Unit­ed States, and European Union label as a terrorist group. Eu­ropean Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the attack “terrorism in its most de­spicable form”. But Hamas drew support from other foes of Is­rael, with Iran’s supreme lead­er declaring he was “proud” and Lebanese group Hezbollah praising the “heroic operation”.

UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland warned of “a dangerous precipice” and called on all sides to “pull back from the brink”. Saudi Arabia’s For­eign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan has engaged in discus­sions regarding the recent esca­lation between Israel and Pales­tine with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

Saudi media reported that Prince Faisal has also had tele­phone conversations with his counterparts in Egypt, Qatar, and Jordan. Prince Faisal firmly con­veyed Saudi Arabia’s stance, em­phasising their rejection of any targeting of unarmed Palestin­ians. The conversation between Prince Faisal and Borrell focused on the unprecedented develop­ments in Gaza and its surround­ing areas. Both leaders empha­sised the utmost importance of de-escalation in the region.

Furthermore, Prince Faisal re­affirmed the Kingdom’s com­mitment to upholding interna­tional humanitarian law and stressed the need for all parties involved to respect it. He specif­ically called upon the European Union to redouble its efforts in de-escalating the situation and preventing further acts of vio­lence. Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has spoken with leaders of Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, official media said today. “Raisi discussed the devel­opments in Palestine in separate phone calls with Ziyad al-Nakha­lah, secretary general of the Is­lamic Jihad Movement, and Is­mail Haniyeh, the head of the (Hamas) political bureau,” state news agency IRNA reported, without giving further details.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *