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Israel at war after massive Hamas attack

TJI Wrap
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An Israeli soldier stands by the bodies of Israelis killed by Palestinian armed militants who entered from the Gaza strip

Published: 10 October 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

Israel's death toll rises to 900, 2,400 wounded, 130 believed kidnapped; terrorists still inside Israel; fighting on northern border; complete siege on Gaza, US offers military support.  

[Updated 7am, October 10, AEST]

Latest developments

  • Total deaths in Israel reach 900, 2,400 wounded
  • Fears for 130 Israelis believed kidnapped to Gaza
  • 260 bodies recovered from music festival near the Gaza border.
  • IDF says it has regained control of all Gaza border towns but terrorists may remain
  • Hezbollah attacks on northern border, Israelis wounded
  • Israel announces ‘complete siege’ of Gaza: No power, food or fuel
  • US offers military support to Israel

Quick overview

On Saturday 7 October Hamas launched a massive attack on Israel combining rocket attacks and land, air and attempted sea assaults.

1000 terrorists crossed into Israel at several locations, infilitrating 22 villages and kibbutzim. They shot indiscriminately at civilians, held people hostage in their homes, and kidnapped more than 100 Israelis, taking them back to Gaza.

At least 2200 rockets were fired in massive barrages at southern and central Israel causing casualties in Ashkelon, Tel Aviv and Rehovot, and rockets reaching as far as Mevaseret Zion, near Jerusalem.

The attack occurred exactly 50 years after the Yom Kippur war, on the morning of Shemini Atzeret-Simchat Torah. Israel has begun retaliatory strikes on Gaza, as Operation Iron Swords, with more than 560 deaths and more than 2000 casualties reported in Gaza.

Sporadic fighting has also occurred on the northern border, where Hezbollah has fired rockets into Israel, injuring several people.

Kidnap victims

Screenshot of an Israeli being kidnapped by Hamas terrorists
Screenshot of an Israeli being kidnapped by Hamas terrorists

Hamas and Islamic Jihad claim to hold 130 Israelis captive in Gaza after Saturday's massive attack on Israel, which saw terrorists breaking through borders and attacking civilians in southern towns.

The IDF has not released numbers but has confirmed Israelis has been kidnapped. Israeli authorities have asked relatives to report missing family members as they attempt to establish who has been taken to Gaza.

Videos released by Hamas and others distributed on social media show many Israelis being captured by Hamas terrorists and bundled into trucks, motorcycles and carts driven into Gaza.

Horror at music festival

The bodies of 260 young partygoers have been recovered from the Nova Festival, a Sukkot rave held near the Gaza border for the holiday of Sukkot.

Festival attendees, captured on video dancing moments before the attack, ran for their lives as rockets rained overhead and gunmen poured into the festival, shooting wildly at some and kidnapping others.

Gili Yoskovich told the BBC how she hid in a pomelo orchard. "They were going tree by tree and shooting. I saw people were dying all around. I was very quiet. I didn't cry, I didn't do anything."

Families held hostage

Residents of 22 towns and kibbutzim in southern and central Israel hid in their houses as gunmen rampaged outside.

Among those held hostage was Haaretz correspondent Amir Tibon, who was under siege with his family for 10 hours and was rescued by his father, a former general and democracy protest leader. Tibon wrote of how he, his wife and their daughters, aged one and three, were held hostage in their home.

“It was our worst nightmare playing out. Armed Hamas militants had infiltrated our kibbutz and were literally on our doorstep, while we were locked inside with our two little girls. We passed nerve-wracking hours of uncertainty [shut in a safe room]. We had no idea what was going on in the kibbutz and couldn’t even see one another in the darkness. My little girls were true heroines. They remained completely silent, with no food, and waited. Once in a while, they asked to open the door and play in the living room. We patiently explained to them that it was impossible because of the dangers outside. We didn’t even know if the terrorists had broken into our home.”

Israeli statements

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the mobilisation of reservists and the declaration of war on Saturday in a filmed statement. "Citizens of Israel, we are at war. Not an operation, not a round [of fighting,] at war. This morning Hamas initiated a murderous surprise attack against the State of Israel and its citizens,” he said.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant vowed that Israel “will win this war.”

“Hamas made a grave mistake this morning and started a war against the State of Israel. IDF soldiers are fighting the enemy at all the infiltration sites,” Gallant said.

The Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defence Force has made his first public statement since the attacks on Saturday.

In a video released by the military on Sunday, Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Herzi Halevi warned "long and complex days of fighting await us".

"I know the last day was difficult, the price is a heavy price, I know there are many questions and a lot of frustration," he said.

International responses

The Jewish Independent

The US will move a carrier strike group closer to Israel, which includes the Ford carrier and ships that support it, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Sunday amid fears of a multi-front war.

The Pentagon will also be adding fighter jets in the East Mediterranean region. Austin said the US will provide munitions to Israel and that its security assistance will begin moving on Sunday.

This “underscores the United States’ ironclad support for Israel,” Austin wrote in a statement he posted on X (formerly Twitter).

The US Office of Palestinian Affairs said it "unequivocally condemned the attack of Hamas terrorists and the loss of life that has occurred."

The EU condemned the attack. One commissioner said aid to Gaza was being reviewed and suspended but Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarcic said, while he "most strongly" condemned the attack, humanitarian aid would continue because "it is imperative to protect civilians."

Israeli flags are being displayed on iconic locations including the Brandenberg Gate, Downing Street, Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building and Sydney Opera House. But there were also celebratory rallies in support of the Palestinian cause in many European locations, the US and Australia.


Times of Israel live blog

Haaretz live blog

Jerusalem Post live blog

Al-Jazeera live blog

  • Top photo: An Israeli soldier stands by the bodies of Israelis killed by Palestinian armed militants who entered from the Gaza strip  (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

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