Tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers continue their deployment on Monday in the desert regions near the Gaza Strip to try to regain control from Hamas fighters, on the third day of the deadliest clashes on Israeli territory since his creation.
The fighting has left more than 1,100 dead in total on both sides since Saturday.
The Israeli army is working to save the Israeli hostages who are still in Gaza and evacuate all the inhabitants of the region, while oil prices soared on Monday.
Seeking to regain control after this large-scale surprise attack – by land, air, sea – in the middle of Shabbat, the weekly Jewish rest, Israeli forces continued to hunt down Hamas members in southern Israel where they massed 10,000 reservists according to an army spokesperson. They also continued their airstrikes against targets in Gaza, where more buildings were destroyed.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned of a “long and difficult” war.
More than 700 Israelis have been killed since the start of the attack and 2,150 have been injured, the Israeli army announced in a new report published Monday morning.
“The enemy is still on the ground” in Israel, “we are strengthening our forces especially near Gaza and are clearing the area,” the Israeli army spokesperson declared on Sunday evening, promising to track down “terrorists wherever they will be”.
Civilian and military hostages
In the Gaza Strip under Hamas control since 2007, 413 Palestinians including 78 children and 41 women were killed and 2,300 injured, local authorities announced on Sunday.
The Israeli army estimates that around 1,000 Hamas fighters participated in the “invasion of Israel,” a spokesperson said on X (formerly Twitter).
The Israeli army is also working to save the Israeli hostages still “in large numbers” in Gaza, “women, children, babies, the elderly and the disabled”, he declared.
According to the Government Press Office (GPO), Hamas has taken “more than 100 prisoners.”
“Civilians and soldiers are in the hands of the enemy, it is time for war,” said Israeli army chief Herzi Halevi.
A 37-year-old Israeli woman said she was horrified to see several members of her family kidnapped in videos from Gaza, including her cousin and her children, aged nine months and three years. “This is the only confirmation we have,” Yifat Zailer told AFP by telephone, his voice breaking.
“Several” Americans were killed in the Hamas offensive, according to an American official, as were ten Nepalese as well as nationals of other countries, including a French woman. The Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported “the death of a Canadian and the disappearance of two others”.
Comparison with September 11
Israel was further attacked on its northern border with Lebanon. Lebanese Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas and Iran, fired shells into a contested area of the border, prompting an Israeli drone strike on a Hezbollah position.
In Egypt, two Israeli tourists were killed by a police officer who shot at them in Alexandria, according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian armed group, claimed to have captured “numerous soldiers”.
“What happened is unprecedented in Israel,” admitted Mr. Netanyahu.
Jonathan Panikoff, director of the Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative, also said that “Israel was taken by surprise by this unprecedented attack” and “many Israelis have difficulty understanding how this could have happened.” occur”.
For Yaakov Shoshani, 70, a resident of Sderot, “the systems have all failed here, whether military intelligence, civilian intelligence, detection systems, the border fence (with Gaza), everything has failed.”
“This is by far the worst day in Israel’s history. Never before have so many Israelis been killed in one go,” said an Israeli army spokesperson, adding that it could be “both a September 11 and a Pearl Harbor”.
A former Israeli soldier said the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, which remains a national trauma in Israel, was “little matter” compared to Saturday’s Hamas raid, adding that it was a “very serious failure”. The Hamas offensive was launched 50 years and one day after this war which took Israel completely by surprise and left 2,600 dead on the Israeli side in three weeks of fighting.
The Al-Qassam Brigades, the military branch of Hamas, announced that they had launched this operation and fired more than 5,000 rockets towards Israel to “put an end to the crimes of the occupation”. Israel has occupied the West Bank, a Palestinian territory, and the eastern part of Jerusalem since 1967, and has imposed a blockade on Gaza since 2007.
Israel has suspended deliveries of electricity, food and goods to the Palestinian territory.
Oil prices soared Monday morning at the start of trading on Asian markets. Brent jumped 4.7% to US$86.65 and West Texas Intermediate was up 4.5% to US$88.39.
Israel’s Education Ministry announced the closure of schools until at least Tuesday.
The Hamas attack was condemned by the West. On Sunday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Israel had “the right to defend itself” against Hamas’ “barbaric” attacks. The United States began sending military aid to Israel on Sunday with new munitions, and moving its carrier strike group closer to the aircraft carrier USS Gerald Ford in the Mediterranean.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak assured his Israeli counterpart of the UK’s “unwavering support”, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Israel and Hamas to “support peace” and spare civilians .
France “is also active to prevent the conflict from degenerating, via a conflagration in the West Bank, in Lebanon, or in the region,” declared the spokesperson for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
For its part, “Iran supports the legitimate defense of the Palestinian nation,” Iranian President Ebrahim Raïssi declared on Sunday.
Several members of the UN Security Council condemned the Hamas offensive on Sunday even if the United States regretted the lack of unanimity during this emergency meeting.