Israel declares war after Hamas attacks kill at least 250 people

  • Israel declared a "state of war" after a stunning attack from Hamas from the land, sea, and air.

  • Authorities say 250 Israeli citizens have so far been killed and more than 1,500 wounded.

  • At least 232 Palestinians have been killed and 1,700 wounded in retaliatory air strikes from Israel.

Editor's note: This story is being updated as events unfold.

Israel has declared a "state of war" after Hamas launched a surprise wave of attacks from Gaza that has so far killed at least 250 people. More than 1,500 people have also been wounded, according to the Israeli authorities.

"Citizens of Israel, we are at war, not in an operation or in rounds, but at war," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video address to the nation. "This morning, Hamas launched a murderous surprise attack against the State of Israel and its citizens. We have been in this since the early morning hours."

Militants from the blockaded Palestinian territory infiltrated Israel with paragliders, as well as boats and motor vehicles, in a brazen Saturday attack.

"Over the past half an hour, barrages of rockets have been launched by the Hamas terrorist organization from Gaza into Israel," the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement early Saturday morning. "We urge the public in southern and central Israel to stay near protected areas and follow the instructions of the Home Front Command."

Emergency sirens were activated across central and southern Israel. There are reports of civilians and Israeli soldiers being kidnapped. One woman told The Times of Israel that her father told her he was being taken to Gaza. Another Israeli civilian told Insider that Israeli officials were calling on armed civilians to guard towns.


In a recorded message, Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif urged Israeli Arabs and others within Israel to join the fight. He dubbed the attack "Operation Al-Aqsa Storm," claiming it was a response to Israeli misdeeds, including the treatment of worshippers at the Al-Aqsa mosque.

In response to the attacks, the IDF announced Operation "Swords of Iron." Israeli fighter jets bombed targets in Gaza, including a high-rise apartment building. Photographs published later by the military showed the mobilization of ground forces near Gaza. Already, at least 232 Palestinians have been killed and 1,700 wounded in retaliatory air strikes from Israel, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

"At this time, the IDF is reinforcing the south and the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip with several operational forces. Operational commanders are arriving to manage the combat in each location. In parallel to this, we have begun a wide mobilization of reservists for all IDF units," said Rear. Adm. Daniel Hagari, an IDF spokesperson, in a Telegram statement.

Smoke rises following Israeli strikes in Gaza, October 7, 2023.
Smoke rises following Israeli strikes in Gaza, October 7, 2023.REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Washington is prepared to assist Israel's response to the Hamas attack. In the coming days, he said, the United States would "work to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself and protect civilians from indiscriminate violence and terrorism."

White House National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the United States "unequivocally condemns the unprovoked attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians."

"There is never any justification for terrorism. We stand firmly with the Government and people of Israel and extend our condolences for the Israeli lives lost in these attacks," she said, adding that national security advisor Jake Sullivan is in contact with his Israeli counterpart, Tzachi Hanegbi.

The wave of coordinated attacks across southern and central Israel is the heaviest in years and comes as the country marks the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

In 2014, a war between Israel and fighters in Gaza — also known as Operation Protective Edge — left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead, a majority of them civilians, as Israel bombarded the densely populated territory.

Read the original article on Business Insider