Jerusalem/Gaza, Oct 7 (The Street Press) – Hamas, a Palestinian group, launched a major attack on Israel on Saturday. This surprise assault involved gunmen crossing the border and firing many rockets from the Gaza Strip, making it the largest attack in years.
As warning sirens blared across southern and central Israel, including in Jerusalem, Israel’s military went into high alert. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened an emergency meeting with security officials.
Saturday’s event was a remarkable breach as Hamas fighters entered Israel from Gaza, representing the most severe escalation since the 10-day conflict between Israel and Hamas in 2021. Israeli news outlets reported clashes between groups of Palestinian fighters and security forces in southern Israeli towns. Meanwhile, in Gaza, people hurried to purchase supplies in preparation for days of conflict ahead. Hamas military commander Mohammad Deif declared the commencement of the operation in a broadcast on Hamas media, urging Palestinians everywhere to join the fight.
Hamas military commander Mohammad Deif declared, “This is the day of the greatest battle to end the last occupation on earth,” and mentioned that they had launched 5,000 rockets. According to emergency services, one Israeli woman lost her life, and ambulance crews were dispatched to areas near the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli military confirmed its forces were active within Gaza but did not provide specifics. In a statement, they mentioned, “A number of terrorists have infiltrated into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip,” and advised residents in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip to remain in their homes.
Israeli media conveyed reports of gunmen firing at pedestrians in the town of Sderot in southern Israel. Additionally, videos on social media depicted confrontations on city streets and armed individuals in jeeps in rural areas.
A young woman named Dvir, sheltered in a bomb shelter at Beeri Kibbutz, shared, “We were told there are terrorists inside the kibbutz, we can hear gunfire,” during her conversation on Israeli Army Radio.
REPORTS OF ISRAELIS TAKEN CAPTIVE
There were reports from Palestinian media indicating that several Israelis had been taken captive by fighters. Hamas media shared video footage that appeared to show a damaged Israeli tank. The Israeli military acknowledged the reports of captives, but no additional information was provided, according to a security source.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office announced that he would hold meetings with senior security officials in the coming hours. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also authorized the mobilization of reservists.
In Gaza, the sound of rocket launches was audible, and residents reported armed confrontations along the separation fence with Israel, particularly in the vicinity of the southern town of Khan Younis. They also noted a notable presence of armed fighters.
Israel’s ambulance service confirmed dispatching teams to areas in southern Israel near Gaza, and residents were advised to remain indoors for their safety.
A group representing military reservists, who had initially intended to abstain from training due to their objections to the government’s judiciary overhaul plans, has now urged reservists to fulfill their duty.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad group announced that its fighters were aligning with Hamas in the ongoing attack. Spokesman for the Islamic Jihad armed wing, Abu Hamza, stated, “We are part of this battle, our fighters are side-by-side with their brothers in the Qassam Brigades until victory is achieved,” in a post on Telegram.
Palestinians in Gaza reacted with astonishment to the news of the infiltration into Israel. “It’s like a dream. I still can’t believe it – fighters inside our occupied land?” exclaimed one Gaza shopkeeper.
The attack occurred just a day after Israel commemorated the 50th anniversary of the 1973 war, during which the country faced a near-catastrophic defeat due to a surprise attack by Syria and Egypt.