JERUSALEM/GAZA/SDEROT — Gunmen from the Palestinian group Hamas stormed Israeli cities on Saturday (7/10), killing 250 people and fleeing with hostages. So far, the attack was the deadliest day in Israel since the Yom Kippur War 50 years ago.
More than 230 Gazans were also killed as Israel responded with one of its most devastating days of counteroffensive.
“We will launch a strong revenge attack, or these (will be) dark days,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Hamas is waging a cruel and cunning war. “We will win this war, but the consequences will be too hard to bear,” he said. “Hamas wants to kill us all. This enemy kills mothers and children in their homes in their beds. Enemies who kidnap old people, children, young women.”
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said attacks that started in Gaza would spread to the West Bank and Jerusalem.
“This is a morning of defeat and humiliation for our enemy, its soldiers and its people,” Ismail said in his statement. “What happened revealed the prowess of our preparations. What happened today exposed the enemy’s weakness.”
Sea of corpses
The bodies of Israeli civilians lie along a road in Sderot in southern Israel, near Gaza and are surrounded by broken glass. The bodies of a woman and a man lay in the car’s front seat.
“I left the house; I saw many bodies of terrorists, civilians, and cars shot at. “A sea of corpses inside Sderot along the road, in some places, lots of corpses,” said Shlomi from Sderot.
Frightened Israelis hid in safe rooms and narrated what happened to them on live TV.
The Israeli military said several senior military officers were killed in fighting near Gaza on Saturday (7/10).
In Gaza, black smoke and orange flames rose from high-rise buildings hit by Israeli counterattacks. Crowds of mourners passed through the streets carrying the bodies of recently killed militants. The bodies were wrapped in green Hamas flags.
Dead and injured Gazans were rushed to damaged and overcrowded hospitals due to a lack of medical supplies and equipment. The Health Ministry said 232 people were killed, and at least 1,700 were injured.
Until evening, Gaza residents were not allowed to return to their homes.
Hamas said it fired 150 rockets towards Tel Aviv on Saturday (7/10) evening to respond to Israeli air strikes that destroyed a multi-storey building with more than 100 apartment units.
Arrest Israel citizens
Hamas Deputy Chairman Saleh al-Arouri told Al Jazeera television that his party was detaining many Israelis, including senior officials. He said Hamas had enough hostages to force Israel to release all imprisoned Palestinians.
The Israeli military confirmed that Israeli citizens were being held captive in Gaza. A military official said Israel could mobilize hundreds of thousands of reservists and was preparing to fight on the northern front against Lebanon’s Hezbollah group.
Hamas, which supports Israel’s destruction, said the attacks were sparked by increasing attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and on Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
“This is the day of the greatest war to end the last occupation on Earth,” said Hamas military commander Mohammad Deif, announcing the start of the operation in a broadcast on Hamas media.
He also called on Palestinians everywhere to take up arms.
Gaza has been hit by four wars and countless clashes between Hamas and Israel since the militants took power in the territory in 2007. However, there is more to the violence in Israel than meets the eye there, even at the height of the intifada movement. Palestine in recent decades.
The fact that Israel was caught off guard was regrettable as one of the worst intelligence failures in its history. It was a shock to a country that prides itself on intensive infiltration and monitoring of militants.