Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared the country “at war” following a major escalation between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in Gaza.
Palestinian militants in Gaza launched a surprise attack that resulted in at least 22 deaths and over 250 injuries, CNN reported. Hamas, the Palestinian militant movement that runs Gaza, claimed responsibility for the attack, stating they had captured Israeli soldiers and launched thousands of rockets in response to various grievances. According to the Israeli military, around 2,200 rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Saturday morning while armed gunmen infiltrated across the border in a ground assault into southern Israel.
While the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) did not confirm the capture of its soldiers, there is footage released by Reuters that shows Palestinian soldiers dragging an Israeli soldier from a tanker. According to Israel’s Magen David Adom (MDA) emergency rescue service, one of their ambulances had been taken into the Gaza Strip.
Hamas leaders dubbed the assault operation “Al-Aqsa Storm,” adding that they had targeted enemy positions, airports, and military positions with 5,000 rockets. They said the assault was in response to attacks on women, the desecration of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, and the ongoing siege of Gaza. Some militants have attempted to break into Israeli homes, prompting calls for help.
In retaliation, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza and called up thousands of reservists. Israeli forces are engaged in ground fighting in multiple locations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Hamas would face severe consequences, stating that Israel is at war.
Rocket warnings and interceptions have been ongoing, and Israeli residents near Gaza have been advised to stay in their homes or seek shelter. The IDF blamed Hamas for the attack and stated that it would face the consequences. The conflict has resulted in casualties and property damage in Israel. Social media footage showed masked gunmen in Israeli cities, and reports of infiltrators and hostages emerged. The situation is tense, with ongoing rocket attacks and restrictions on movement and goods in Gaza due to the Israeli blockade.