Israel proclaimed an urgent "state of war" on Saturday following an intense barrage of rockets reportedly launched from Gaza and a series of violent infiltrations resulting in direct attacks on Israeli civilians.
The attacks, orchestrated by Hamas—an Islamic extremist group with known financial ties to Iran—took place during Simchat Torah and Shabbat, significant days of rest in the Jewish calendar.
Hamas's military leader, Mohammad Deif, announced that as part of "Operation Al-Aqsa Storm", 5,000 rockets had been fired into Israel. He also called upon neighboring Islamic nations to support the Palestinian militants in their invasion of Israel.
A few hours post-attack, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) shared a map illustrating the impact sites of the rocket barrage. They estimated the rocket count to be around 2,500, a figure at variance with Hamas's claim.
While the exact death toll remains uncertain in the early aftermath, early indications from local sources suggest the number of injured runs into the hundreds. The official death toll currently stands at 198 killed, and 1,600 wounded—a count that may yet rise.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant responded robustly to the assault, stating, "Hamas made a grave error by initiating a war against the State of Israel." Gallant, in a statement from his office, reinforced the commitment of the IDF, stating that they were actively engaged with the militants at all intrusion points. He added, "The State of Israel will win this war."
The IDF also issued a stern warning, stating that Hamas would "pay a heavy price for its actions."
Images and footage that emerged on various media platforms depicted the stark reality of the situation—rockets hitting residential structures, blazing vehicles, numerous casualties, and Israeli soldiers coming under direct attack. Reports also suggest that hostages, possibly including Israeli soldiers and civilians, might have been taken. There were further indications that the militants managed to seize significant military equipment from Israel.
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