Hamas terrorists — travelling in automobiles, boats and motorised paragliders — breached Gaza’s safety barrier and attacked close by Israeli cities and navy posts, opening fireplace on residents and passersby.
Gun battles raged into the night time as not less than 70 folks have been reported killed in Israel, whereas Gaza authorities launched a dying depend of 232 within the battle’s bloodiest escalation in years which additionally left many lots of wounded on either side.
The military mentioned within the night its forces have been nonetheless engaged in reside gun battles in 22 areas, in an ongoing operation labelled “Swords of Iron”, as reservists have been being known as up.
“There are nonetheless 22 areas the place we’re participating with terrorists that got here into Israel, from the ocean, from the land and from the air,” mentioned military spokesman Richard Hecht, including that the Hamas assault included a “strong floor invasion”.
Hamas earlier launched pictures of a number of Israelis taken captive, and one other Israeli military spokesman, Daniel Hagari, confirmed that “there are kidnapped troopers and civilians.
“I am unable to give figures about them in the meanwhile. It is a warfare crime dedicated by Hamas and they’ll pay the value.”
“We’re at warfare,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the surprised nation because the airforce pounded targets within the blockaded coastal enclave, together with a number of residential tower blocks that have been utterly destroyed.
“The enemy can pay an unprecedented value,” the veteran premier vowed after Hamas had launched its first such mixed floor, air and sea offensive, half a century after the outbreak of the 1973 Arab-Israeli warfare.
The Islamist group began the multi-pronged assault round 6:30 am (0330 GMT) with hundreds of rockets aimed so far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, some bypassing the Iron Dome defence system and hitting buildings.
“Ship assist, please!” one Israeli girl sheltering together with her two-year-old little one pleaded as terrorists outdoors opened fireplace and tried to interrupt into their secure room, Israeli media reported.
Our bodies have been seen mendacity on the streets of Sderot close to Gaza and inside automobiles, their windscreens shattered by bullets.
“I noticed many our bodies, of terrorists and civilians,” one man who gave his title as Shlomi instructed AFP, standing beside lined corpses on a street close to Gevim Kibbutz in southern Israel.
“So many our bodies, so many our bodies.”
‘Gates of hell’
Israeli military Main Common Ghasan Alyan warned that Hamas had “opened the gates of hell”.
An AFP journalist in Gaza noticed smoke billowing from the stays of a residential tower which Gaza’s inside ministry mentioned contained 100 flats and was utterly destroyed.
Israel’s navy mentioned it had warned residents to evacuate earlier than focusing on the multi-storey buildings utilized by Hamas.
The help group Medical doctors with out Borders mentioned one strike had hit the enclave’s Indonesian hospital and an ambulance outdoors Nasser Hospital in southern Gaza, inflicting a number of deaths.
As night time fell, Israel’s state-run electrical energy firm reduce the facility provide to Gaza.
The escalation follows months of rising violence, largely within the occupied West Financial institution, and tensions round Gaza’s border and at contested holy websites in Jerusalem.
Hamas labelled its assault “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” and known as on “resistance fighters within the West Financial institution” in addition to in “Arab and Islamic nations” to hitch the battle.
“We determined to place an finish to all of the crimes of the occupation (Israel),” mentioned its armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, claiming to have fired greater than 5,000 rockets.
Hecht mentioned Israel had counted greater than 3,000 incoming rockets although the day.
Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh claimed the group was on the “verge of an important victory and a transparent conquest on the Gaza entrance”.
“Sufficient is sufficient,” he mentioned in a televised handle. “The cycle of intifadas (uprisings) and revolutions within the battle to liberate our land and our prisoners languishing in occupation prisons should be accomplished.”
Air raid sirens wailed throughout southern and central Israel, in addition to in Jerusalem, the place a number of incoming rockets have been intercepted by air defence programs.
In Tel Aviv, a gaping gap was ripped right into a constructing, with residents boarding a bus to hunt security in a resort.
Rocket impacts left automobiles burning beneath residential buildings within the Israeli metropolis of Ashkelon, north of Gaza.
Among the many useless was the president of a regional council for Israeli communities northeast of Gaza, who was killed in a gun battle.
Colleges will stay closed on Sunday, the beginning of the week in Israel.
The battle sparked main disruption at Tel Aviv airport, with American Airways, Emirates and Ryanair amongst carriers with cancelled flights.
Hamas took management of Gaza in 2007, resulting in Israel’s crippling blockade of the impoverished enclave of two.3 million folks.
Israel and Hamas have since fought a number of wars. The final main navy change, in Could, killed 34 Palestinians and one Israeli.
In northern Gaza on Saturday, lots of of individuals fled their houses, carrying meals and blankets, an AFP correspondent mentioned.
Throughout the West Financial institution, together with annexed east Jerusalem, three Palestinians have been killed and round 80 wounded in clashes with Israeli forces and settlers, the Palestinian well being ministry and Purple Crescent Society mentioned.
In Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, some Palestinian residents cheered and blew their automotive horns as sirens blared.
Western capitals condemned the assaults by Hamas, which america, European Union and Israel contemplate a terrorist group.
However Hamas drew help from different foes of Israel, with Iran’s supreme chief declaring he was “proud” and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah praising the “heroic operation”.
America condemned the assaults by “Hamas terrorists” and vowed to make sure the important thing US ally has the means to defend itself.
European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen known as the assault “terrorism in its most despicable kind”.
UN Center East peace envoy Tor Wennesland warned of “a harmful precipice” and known as on all sides to “pull again from the brink”.
Earlier than Saturday’s violence, not less than 247 Palestinians, 32 Israelis and two foreigners had been killed this yr, together with combatants and civilians, in accordance with Israeli and Palestinian officers.