Israel Reels After Day 1 of 'War' Against Hamas

Netanyahu warns of heavy price if hostages are harmed
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2023 5:50 PM CDT
Israel Reels After Day 1 of 'War' Against Hamas
Israelis wait to donate blood at Magen David Adom emergency service in Jerusalem on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Israeli forces pressed its counterstrikes late Saturday against Hamas positions after a surprise attack began what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said is now a war that his country will win. Hundreds of people have been killed already in Israel and in the Gaza Strip. It was Israel's deadliest day in at least 75 years, the Washington Post reports. An unknown number of Israelis have been taken hostage. President Biden denounced the attack and affirmed US support of its ally. Developments include:

  • Hostages held: Israeli soldiers and civilians have been taken hostage. People in Israeli border towns said gunmen were going door to door, looking for civilians, per the New York Times. An Israeli military official said hostage situations were ongoing in the towns of Ofakim and Beeri, and local media reported that as many as 50 hostages were being held in a dining hall in Beeri. Netanyahu said Hamas will pay a heavy price if "even a single hair" on the hostages is harmed. per the AP.
  • The toll: Rescue officials in Israel said at least 250 people were killed and more than 1,000 wounded, per the Post. Palestinian officials reported at least 232 people in the Gaza Strip killed, per the AP, and at least 1,700 wounded in the Israeli strikes.
  • Nighttime barrage: Gaza militants fired a fresh round of rockets on Saturday evening that scored direct hits inside Israel, including in Tel Aviv, Israeli officials said. Hamas posted on Telegram that it had fired another 150 rockets after a residential tower in Gaza City was bombed, per CNN.
  • Security questions: Israel's military on Saturday was caught off-guard, and its people were given no warning. "The entire system failed," Jonathan Conricus, a former defense forces spokesperson told CNN. "It's not just one component. It's the entire defense architecture." For Israel, he said, this is a "Pearl Harbor type of moment." Security officials had warned for months about the nation's insufficient capacity for military deterrence, per the Post.
  • International reaction: The UN Security Council called an emergency meeting for Sunday afternoon. Egypt said it's involved in "intensive" communication with peers to "halt the ongoing escalation." Like Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called Hamas' assault a terrorist attack, per CNN. Iranian media reported government backing for the militants, and Saudi Arabia voiced support for Palestinians' rights while calling on both sides to avoid escalation. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said his country "condemns these Hamas attacks and stands by Israel." The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin was lit Saturday night in the colors of the Israeli flag.
(More Israel stories.)

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