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Print Print 2023-10-08

Scores dead in Israel and Gaza after Hamas shock attack on Israeli towns

  • At least 200 Israelis killed, more than 1000 wounded
  • At least 230 Palestinians killed in Gaza in Israeli airstrikes
  • Reports of gunbattles in towns in southern Israel
Published October 8, 2023

OCCUPIED JER-USALEM: Gunmen from the Palestinian group Hamas rampaged through Israeli towns on Saturday, killing more than 200 people and escaping with hostages in by far the deadliest day of violence in Israel since the Yom Kippur war 50 years ago.

More than 230 Gazans were also killed when Israel responded with one of its most devastating days of retaliatory strikes. “We will take mighty vengeance for this black day,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

“Hamas launched a cruel and wicked war. We will win this war but the price is too heavy to bear,” he said. “Hamas wants to murder us all. This is an enemy that murders mothers and children in their homes, in their beds. An enemy that abducts elderly, children, teenage girls.”

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the assault that had begun in Gaza would spread to the West Bank and Jerusalem.

“This was the morning of defeat and humiliation upon our enemy, its soldiers and its settlers,” he said in a speech. “What happened reveals the greatness of our preparation. What happened today reveals the weakness of the enemy.”

Israeli troops kill two Palestinians in West Bank clash

Bodies of Israeli civilians were strewn across the streets of Sderot in southern Israel, near Gaza, surrounded by broken glass. The bodies of a woman and a man were sprawled across the front seats of a car.

“I went out, I saw loads of bodies of terrorists, civilians, cars shot up. A sea of bodies, inside Sderot along the road, other places, loads of bodies,” said Shlomi from Sderot.

Terrified Israelis, barricaded into safe rooms, recounted their plight by phone on live TV.

“They just came in again, please send help,” a woman identified as Dorin told Israel’s N12 News from Nir Oz, a kibbutz near Gaza. “My husband is holding the door closed ... They are firing rounds of bullets.”

Esther Borochov, who fled a dance rave party attacked by the gunmen, told Reuters she survived by playing dead in a car after the driver trying to help her escape was shot point blank.

“I couldn’t move my legs,” she told Reuters at the hospital. “Soldiers came and took us away to the bushes.”

In Gaza, black smoke and orange flames billowed into the evening sky from a high rise tower hit by an Israeli retaliatory strike. Crowds of mourners carried the bodies of freshly killed militants through the streets, wrapped in green Hamas flags.

Gaza’s dead and wounded were carried into crumbling and overcrowded hospitals with severe shortages of medical supplies and equipment. The health ministry said 232 people had been killed and at least 1,700 wounded.

Streets were deserted apart from ambulances racing to the scenes of air strikes. Israel cut the power, plunging the city into darkness.

Western countries, led by the United States, denounced the Palestinian attack and pledged support for Israel.

At the White House, President Joe Biden said Israel had the right to defend itself “full stop”.

“We will never not have her back.”

Across the Middle East, there were demonstrations in support of Hamas, with Israeli and US flags set on fire and marchers waving Palestinian flags in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen.

The Hamas attack was openly praised by Iran and by Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanese allies. By nightfall on Saturday in southern Israel, residents had yet to be given the all-clear to leave the shelters where they had hidden from the gunmen since the early hours.

“It’s not over because the (army) hasn’t said the kibbutz is clear of terrorists,” Dani Rahamim told Reuters by telephone from the shelter where he was still hiding in Nahal Oz, close to the Gaza fence. Gunfire had subsided but regular explosions could still be heard.

Hamas said it fired a fresh volley of 150 rockets towards Tel Aviv on Saturday evening in retaliation for an Israeli air strike that took down a high rise building with more than 100 apartments.

Hamas deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri told Al Jazeera that the group was holding a big number of Israeli captives, including senior officials. He said Hamas had enough captives to make Israel free all Palestinians in its jails.

The Israeli military confirmed Israelis were being held in Gaza. A military spokesman said Israel could mobilise up to hundreds of thousands of reservists and was also prepared for war on its northern front against Lebanon’s Hezbollah group.

Hamas, which advocates Israel’s destruction, said the attack was driven by what it said were Israel’s escalated attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank, Jerusalem and against Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

“This is the day of the greatest battle to end the last occupation on earth,” Hamas military commander Mohammad Deif said, announcing the start of the operation in a broadcast on Hamas media and calling on Palestinians everywhere to fight.

Gaza has been devastated by four wars and countless skirmishes between Hamas and Israel since the militants seized control of the strip in 2007. But the scenes of violence inside Israel itself were beyond anything seen there even at the height of the Palestinian Intifada uprisings of past decades.

That Israel was caught completely off guard was lamented as one of the worst intelligence failures in its history, a shock to a nation that boasts of its intensive infiltration and monitoring of militants.

In Gaza, a narrow strip where 2.3 million Palestinians have lived under an Israeli blockade for 16 years, residents rushed to buy supplies in anticipation of days of war ahead. Some evacuated their homes and headed for shelters.

Scores of Palestinians were killed and hundreds wounded in clashes at the border into Israel, where fighters captured the crossing point and tore down fences. Some of those dead were civilians, among crowds that attempted to cross into Israel through the damaged gates.

“We are afraid,” a Palestinian woman, Amal Abu Daqqa, told Reuters as she left her house in Khan Younis.

Comments

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TidBit Oct 08, 2023 05:02am
First of all, stupid Hamas, they are keen about spoiling the Isreal KSA reconciliation. Second, sending Hamas into Israel and shooting people on the road is utterly stupid. You think Bibi is going to sit quietly. he is going to finish Hamas once and for all. And as for us in Pakistan, we are cowards. We will talk about Palestine this Palestine that. But not a single one of us is actually ready to sacrifice our lives the Palestine cause. we are just talking and no action. My position is that the Palestinians lost the plot with their disunity and lack of leadership. Hamas and Fatah are enmeis of each other. Go figure
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Az_Iz Oct 08, 2023 05:33am
@TidBit, why don’t you go and get Galvan valley from China.
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Az_Iz Oct 08, 2023 05:38am
The Romans expelled the Jews from the land of Palestine , 2000 years ago. When Muslims ruled Spain for 800 years, the Jews lived in peace and prosperity. Once the Muslim rule ended, they were expelled from Spain. For hundreds of years, Jews were allowed to live in peace and prosperity under the Muslims. As soon as they got the upper hand , with the backing of the West, they started mistreating the Palestinians. They ethnically cleansed them from their own lands. They have rendered them stateless in their own lands. This is who they are.
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Az_Iz Oct 08, 2023 09:02am
Israel was created after ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, who were rendered stateless in their own lands.
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Zeki Khan Oct 08, 2023 09:21am
This write-up seems to be taken from an Israeli newspaper// typically putting the blame on Palestinians // forgetting that the Palestinians are fighting against occupation of their lands and the Qibla alawal // quads
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Zeki Khan Oct 08, 2023 09:26am
@TidBit, Pakistan's prime minister was removed after a phone call from abroad/// Pakistani people have lost any feeling for Quads / the first Qibla/// the Pak people love collecting money by legal and other means
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KU Oct 08, 2023 10:26am
Looks very much like a fixed match, Hamas may have surprised the Israelis, but getting caught off-guard in an attack, doesn't make sense.
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