Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a televised address last night in which he told the Israeli people that Israel is now “at war” with the Hamas militants who rule the Gaza Strip. He ordered mobilization of reservist troops and said Hamas will “pay a price that it hasn’t known until now.”
“We are at war,” Netanyahu said. “Not an ‘operation,’ not a ’round,’ but at war.”
The prime minister also ordered the military to clear the infiltrated towns of Hamas militants that remained locked in gunfights with Israeli soldiers.
Hamas on Saturday fired thousands of rockets at Israel and sent dozens of fighters across the country’s heavily fortified border, a massive show of force that caught Israel off-guard on a major holiday.
The serious invasion on Simchat Torah revived memories of the 1973 war practically 50 years to the day, in which Israel’s enemies launched a surprise attack on Yom Kippur.
Comparisons to one of the most traumatic moments in Israeli history sharpened criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right allies, who had campaigned on more aggressive action against threats from Gaza.
Political commentators lambasted the government over its failure to anticipate what appeared to be a Hamas attack unseen in its level of planning and coordination.
The Israeli rescue service said that its medics were tending to 16 casualties in southern Israel, including a woman in her 60s who was killed when a rocket fired from Gaza made a direct hit, and two people in serious condition.
There were reports of many more casualties on both sides, but authorities did not immediately release details. Israeli media reported that dozens of people were hospitalized in southern Israel.
The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza reported injuries among “many citizens” without giving numbers and loudspeakers on mosques broadcast prayers of mourning for killed militants.
The Israeli military struck targets in Gaza in response for over 2,000 rockets that sent air raid sirens wailing constantly as far north as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It said its forces were engaged in gunfights with Hamas militants who had infiltrated Israel in at least seven locations. The fighters had sneaked across the separation fence and even invaded Israel through the air with paragliders, the army said.
It was not immediately clear what prompted Hamas to launch its attack, which came after weeks of simmering tensions along the Gaza frontier.
Howeve the fact that it occurred exactly 50 years after the outbreak of the Yom Kippur war on October 6th, 1973 cannot be completely ignored.
The shadowy leader of Hamas’ military wing, Mohammed Deif, announced the start of what he called “Operation Al-Aqsa Storm.”
“Enough is enough,” he said in the recorded message, as he called on Palestinians from east Jerusalem to northern Israel to join the fight. “Today the people are regaining their revolution.”
In a televised address, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned that Hamas had made “a grave mistake” and promised that “the state of Israel will win this war.”
Judging by responses on X, formerly known as Twitter, almost all international leaders of major nations responded by condemning the attacks on Israel, with the exception of Iran which was egging on the Palestinians.
Sources: VOA, AP, news agencies.