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Israel vows 'mighty vengeance' after surprise attack by Hamas kills hundreds

Published 10/07/2023, 12:49 AM
Updated 10/07/2023, 10:46 PM
© Reuters. Rockets are fired by Palestinian militants into Israel, in Gaza City October 7, 2023. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

By Maayan Lubell, Nidal al-Mughrabi and Ammar Awad

JERUSALEM/GAZA/SDEROT (Reuters) -Gunmen from the Palestinian group Hamas rampaged through Israeli towns on Saturday, killing at least 250 Israelis and escaping with dozens of 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. Fighting continued into the night.

"We will take mighty vengeance for this wicked 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, a narrow strip that is home to 2.3 million Palestinians, would spread to the West Bank and Jerusalem. Gazans have lived under an Israeli blockade for 16 years.

In a speech, Haniyeh highlighted threats to Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, the continuation of the blockade on Gaza and Israeli normalization with countries in the region. "How many times have we warned you that the Palestinian people have been living in refugee camps for 75 years, and you refuse to recognise the rights of our people?"

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

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."

Senior military officers were among those killed in fighting near Gaza, the Israeli military said.

Israeli troops clashed with Hamas fighters throughout the night in some parts of southern Israel. In a briefing on social media, an Israeli army spokesperson said the situation was not fully under control.

The Israeli prime minister's office said the security cabinet had approved steps to destroy the military and governmental capabilities of Hamas and Islamic Jihad "for many years", including cutting electricity and fuel supplies and the entry of goods into Gaza.

In Gaza, black smoke, orange flashes and sparks lit the sky from explosions. Israeli drones could be heard overhead. Earlier, crowds of mourners had carried the bodies of 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.

BIDEN OFFERS SUPPORT TO NETANYAHU

Western countries, led by the United States, denounced the attack.

At the White House, President Joe Biden went on national television to say Israel had the right to defend itself and issued a blunt warning to Iran and other countries hostile to Israel. "This is not a moment for any party hostile to Israel to exploit these attacks to seek advantage. The world is watching," he said.

A senior Biden administration official told reporters that the United States was working with other governments to make sure the crisis does not spread and is contained to Gaza.

The United States has been trying to strike a deal that would normalize ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, seen by Israelis as the biggest prize yet in their decades-long quest for Arab recognition. Palestinians fear any such agreement could sell out their dreams of an independent state.

Osama Hamdan, the leader of Hamas in Lebanon, told Reuters that Saturday's operation should make Arab states realize that accepting Israeli security demands would not bring peace.

"For those who want stability and peace in the region, the starting point must be to end the Israeli occupation," he said. "Some (Arab states) unfortunately started imagining that Israel could be the gateway for America to defend their security."

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

The Hamas attack was praised by Iran and by Hezbollah, Iran's Lebanese allies.

Long after nightfall, residents had not been given the all-clear to go home.

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

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

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 exceeded anything 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.

Scores of Palestinians were killed and hundreds wounded in clashes at Gaza's border into Israel, where fighters captured the crossing point and tore down fences. Some of the 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.

The escalation comes against a backdrop of surging violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where a Palestinian authority exercises limited self-rule, opposed by Hamas that wants Israel destroyed.

The West Bank has seen stepped-up Israeli raids, Palestinian street attacks and assaults by Jewish settlers on Palestinian villages. Conditions for Palestinians have worsened under Netanyahu's hard-right government. Peacemaking has been stalled for years.

© Reuters. Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip, as seen from Ashkelon in southern Israel October 7, 2023. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

There were clashes in several locations in the West Bank on Saturday, with stone throwing youths confronting Israeli troops. Four Palestinians including a 13-year-old boy were killed. Palestinian factions called a general strike for Sunday.

Israel itself has been experiencing internal political upheaval, with the most right-wing government in its history attempting to overhaul the judiciary.

Latest comments

sad . . . .fear and panic move all markets in deep red
Buy Gold,Silver .Yen,Crude Oil.All safe haven assets.Sell stocks.
why? this is a decades, if not centuries old conflict.. nothing has really changed, just more of the same, in a seemingly endless spiral...
hey Ram
US deep state alphabet controlled social media and news has everyone distrusting everything reported. Lack of support for Israel is the result. Oh well.
deep state - greed and religious crazy is whats happening - greed in ukraine with putin and religious hate in the mid east, innocents dying in both cases
Buy and hold Gold. Something is going to snap whether it's Political, Economic or the rapid decline of the general state of affairs it's not going to end well or recover to what was normal.
Yes yes yes. You are spot on.
I'll be getting a a few more guns and ammunition after this. I recommend all conservatives do the same.
What's the other 3.9%?
dave many of the few remaining percent are accidents.. imagine your son finding your gun and accidentally shooting his sister or friend.. hunting accidents etc.. guns definitely do not make us safer, and that's a scientific fact.
 If we were to make suicide legal and the method to do so widely available, we could reduce gun deaths by 54%
so many Russian trolls today, and their Americans far right supports of Trump's betrayal of the American Constitution.
Sure. Keep passing gun laws that violate 2A
You mean like prohibitions against drug users owning firearms?
If the U.S. would simply enforce the gun laws that we have already, there would be no need for more.  Also, after enforcing them, fully prosecute the people using firearms illegally.
so many showings support for the KKK and American Nazis party's favorite presidential candidate ..Donald Trump, Russia's man in the White House..... maybe again, and the destruction of American Democracy.,
I see William Smith has rationalized his support for the far right, and is using phrases and propaganda used by calling liberals fascist. and using their catch phrases..perhaps a course in comparative political systems would help him understand that liberals can't be fascists .people that support the ideas of the far right can be. Trump already gave away the battle plans for the middle east and Iran Trump has already shown how weak and dangerous he is to America's national security.
Mike Pence gets it. From Politico: "Former Vice President Mike Pence tore into Donald Trump and pointed to isolationism in the Republican Party as complicit in the sweeping Hamas attack on Israel, decrying American “retreat on the world stage.”
no one is saying we should be isolationist. We are not the world's police, nor go fund me page. We need to take care of the problems here as a priority. The problems are even worse during this administration. Even the Biden administration realizes that Trump was right and we need a border wall.
how could mossad not see any of this coming..? according to hollywood-propaganda, they are a competent intelligence organisation.. maybe they were too busy spying on the US and other friendly countries' technologies, planting malware and misinformation, and performing extrajudicial killings..?
do you ever read your own dribble? you make a complete fool of yourself more often than not.
unlike you, I live in the real world. I travel much of the year, have even been to Israel/Palestine, and I see the world exactly as it is.
So interesting. I come to this site several times a week to look at the news headlines. I rarely comment, maybe average once a week. But no matter when I come here there are ALWAYS 3 or 4 left wingers posting the same talking points. Brad Albright being one and here he is today again, as always, posting the lefts talking points. All day, generally 7 days a week, same group. Who hires these guys to post left wing talking points constantly? Soros? Obama? The DNC? Would certainly be interesting to find out.
pretty sure russia was formerly communist which is as far left as it gets so not sure why right wingers would have anything to do with Russia. The whole russia troll thing was proven to be fraudulent anyway. Maybe get your head out of your butt.
Proven that there are no Russian trolls? Your naïveté is alarming.
Such naïveté is alarming. If you are not sure why right-wingers have an affinity for Russia, you have by your own admission, gaps in your understanding.
Trump's legal problems, Biden's fault. Putin's military adventurism, Biden's fault. Hama's attacking Israel, Biden's fault. A lot of dupes and saps letting bad behavior off the hook with misplaced responsibility.
Hunter Biden. Bob Menedez. Yet again you espouse an opinion that is detached from the facts and devoid of reason.
Brad. Venezuela just emptied their prisons of 60,000 vicious felons and sent them across our border. The federal government has accepted on-line applications from 210,000 illegals and flown them into the United States, to the city of their choice. Biden is a treasonous traitor. He is guilty of immigration crimes against the United States of America!
Ronald what far right propaganda network are you listening too
This is real bad!!! I would expect Isreal will go extreme prejudice now. Gaza Strip will be no more. Its is written where the world start is where it ends.
Hilarious to see the know-nothing boys suggest this was somehow caused by Biden's "weakness" -- the same confederacy of dunces who would prefer Biden turn a blind eye to Russia's aggression. Astounding, really, how confused they are.
I'm an independent centrist. Typical MAGloon: anybody not as steeped in extremists ignorance as they must be dismissed as tied to some bogeyman trope.
brad you are as independent centrist as Carl marx
Thank you for so perfectly illustrating my point.
The US should just tell Israel to take the issue in own hands. One can expect them to behave prudently and obliterate the terrorist haven in shortest time. Of course, the US should not spend any money on this. Can you expect Biden to do something like this? Of course, he will not. He will pay Israel to stay passive, maintaining status-quo, funded by the U.S. taxpayers on both sides.
Once again you demonstrate yourself in possession of the highest order of ignorance. Biden just approved $8 billion in emergency aid for Israel. Another deluded dupe.
 So it exactly confirms what my message expected. Biden paid $6B to Iran/Hamas, and he pays now $8B to Israel. Of course, it is not his own money, it is money from the US taxpayer pockets. Understood, ignoramus?
it's going to be hard for the radical left not to celebrate.
Many already are.
 We all know you Fs are enjoying every second of this.
You don't know snit, which is the primary problem with the MAGAloons.
funny how the same people in here, condemning Biden for being a war-monger, now suddenly are pro-war, and call for millions of people to be 'wiped out'.. you c(lowns) can't even keep your own bs straight...
who said Americans should fund it? that's the issue with Ukraine
This is an issue between Israel and Hamas terrorist, America should not get involved.
Wonder who writes all of Biden's STATEMENTS these articles refer to considering Joe doesn't even know what day it is.
if this goes to all out conflict, which I am sure it will. Taiwan better be on guard.
China knows how weak, and bought, Biden is and certainly might use this as reason to attack Taiwan.
stok market?
This conflict is carefully planed by Hamas and aimed  Israel's shoot back. I think it can be worsen to be another full scale war between Israel and Coran countries. Oil futures market closed but on Monday it may soar, then Friday market rally will be in vein.
You could see this coming from a mile away. Super weak leadership (and I use that word quite loosely) has been inviting this since the day Biden was sworn in.
what happened to the iron dome? is that not set up to detect this?
It did but too many rocket made it out of control.
Passive defense always fails, sooner or later. You got to destroy your enemies, if you wish to stay safe.
It was just announced that Saudi Arabia is holding Israel responsible for this war and calling for them to cease hostilities. Thank goodness I positioned myself short on the DOW for next week. I have no oil positions. Crude $100 by Market open Monday. Jump on USO.
Wars are bullish for the market money printer baby, this is why the market went up on Friday when in reality it had no reason to go up.
The market will sell at the onset, so the big money can buy in low before the rally. Also, being in an inflationary environment, when oil soars, equities will come under pressure.
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