Israel is “at war,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, after militants from the Gaza Strip fired over 3,000 missiles and infiltrated southern parts of the country early Saturday. The surprise attack — not yet under control as of early Sunday — killed at least 200 Israelis, while at least 230 Palestinians died in fighting and reprisal strikes by the Israeli military.
(Bloomberg) — Israel is “at war,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, after militants from the Gaza Strip fired over 3,000 missiles and infiltrated southern parts of the country early Saturday. The surprise attack — not yet under control as of early Sunday — killed at least 200 Israelis, while at least 230 Palestinians died in fighting and reprisal strikes by the Israeli military.
The operation by militant group Hamas — which included taking scores of Israeli hostages — was an unprecedented incursion into Israel and a consequential failure of the nation’s intelligence operations. The Israel embassy in the US said 100 civilians and soldiers have been kidnapped.
Meanwhile, on Israel’s northern border, Lebanese militant group Hezbollah said it fired missiles and artillery fire against three Israeli positions in Shebaa Farms.
All timestamps Israel.
EU Stands in Solidarity With Israel, Borrell Says (8:44 a.m.)
The EU stands in solidarity with Israel, which “has the right to defend itself in line with international law, in the face of such violent and indiscriminate attacks,” the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.
In comments sent to reporters, Borrell said he also spoke to Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh to ask the Palestinian Authority to help immediately end hostilities and “promote the interest of the Palestinian people and the aspiration of the whole region to security and stability.”
“The scale of the aggression has taken the international community by surprise, but we were aware that going forward without peace was not sustainable,” Borrell said.
Hezbollah Fires at Israeli Posts in Shebaa Farms (8:28 a.m.)
Lebanese militant group Hezbollah said it fired missiles and artillery fire against three Israeli positions in Shebaa Farms, Mayadeen TV reported, citing a statement from the group. Shebaa Farms is land claimed by both Lebanon and Syria that Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.
IDF Says Fighting Continues in the South (8:01 a.m.)
There is still fighting in eight southern locations, including the Zikim military camp, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht, a spokesman for the Israeli Defence Forces, said in a briefing. The military has now retaken full control of 29 points on the border with Gaza that were breached yesterday, he said.
There was limited mortar fire this morning in the Har Dov area and near the Astra outpost on the northern border with Lebanon, Hecht said.
The Israeli Air Force has hit 426 targets in Gaza so far, including tunnels and places from which missiles have been launched, Hecht said in the briefing. Israel has cut off power supply to Gaza and will continue to do so as it carries out operations there, he said. Civilians in Israeli areas near Gaza are being evacuated on a scale not seen in almost a decade, Hecht said.
IDF Strikes Lebanon (7:25 a.m.)
The Israeli Defence Forces said it’s carrying out artillery strikes in an area in Lebanon from where a shooting took place.
Al Jazeera said explosions were heard in the Shebaa Farms area, land claimed by both Lebanon and Syria that Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.
China Says Two-State Solution Needed to Resolve Conflict (5:40 a.m)
China called for an immediate ceasefire to prevent a further deterioration of the situation, according to a foreign ministry statement. It reiterated a call for a “two-state solution” and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
“The recurring conflicts between Palestine and Israel fully demonstrate that the long-term stagnation of the peace process is unsustainable,” it said. “The international community should increase its sense of urgency, increase investment in the Palestinian issue, promote the early resumption of peace talks between Palestine and Israel, and seek a path to lasting peace. China will continue to work with the international community to make unremitting efforts to this end.”
Rocket Warning Sirens Continue (3:40 a.m.)
Sirens to warn of incoming rocket attacks continued to sound in parts of southern Israel in the early hours of Sunday, the Times of Israel reported.
Israeli forces rescued at least 48 people who were held hostage in a dining hall in Kibbutz Be’eri, the paper said.
Hundreds May Be Missing From Music Festival: New York Times (3:30 a.m.)
Dozens of bodies were reported to have been removed from the site of a music festival held in the Negev Desert in southern Israel, the New York Times said, citing local media.
Lists are circulating on social media of attendees who were still missing as of Saturday evening, and one seen by the New York Times had more than 500 names on it, the paper said.
Israel Targets Gaza in Overnight Strikes (12:16 a.m.)
Israeli warplanes struck targets in Gaza overnight, including militant cells it said were trying to enter Israel by sea and through the security fence that encloses the enclave, the military said in a statement.
An operational command center tied to rocket launching and a Palestinian Islamic Jihad post were also targeted, the military said.
Blinken Urges PA to Help Restore Calm (10:50 p.m.)
In a call with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the attacks and “urged the Palestinian Authority to continue and enhance steps to restore calm and stability in the West Bank,” spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.
Netanyahu Says War ‘Will Be Difficult’ (10:38 p.m.)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the war with Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip will be lengthy. He said the attack that left over 200 Israelis dead is some of the worst violence the nation has ever seen.
“This war will take time. It will be difficult. Challenging times are ahead,” Netanyahu said in a televised address from the Defense Ministry headquarters. “We will win this war, but the price is hard to bear.”
The Israeli prime minister said children and elderly civilians are among the dead and among the hostages taken to Gaza.
Biden Says Israel Under Terrorist Attack (10:08 p.m.)
President Joe Biden condemned the deadly surprise attacks by the Palestinian militant group Hamas as an assault by a “terrorist organization” and pledged “rock solid” US support for Israel.
“Today, the people of Israel are under attack, orchestrated by a terrorist organization, Hamas. In this moment of tragedy I want to say to them and to the world, and to terrorists everywhere: The United States stands with Israel. We will not ever fail to have her back,” Biden said Saturday in remarks from the White House.
Israeli Air Force Targets High Rises (9:41 p.m.)
Israeli fighter jets struck two multi-story buildings in the Gaza Strip, which housed Hamas’s Intelligence headquarters and its weapons production offices, among other units, Israel’s military spokesman said. This demonstrates how Hamas deliberately embeds its military assets in the heart of Gaza’s civilian population, the spokesman said.
“We will change the reality on the ground in Gaza for the next 50 years,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said in a separate statement. “What was before, will be no more. We will operate at full force.”
Netanyahu Calls for Emergency Unity Government (9:06 p.m.)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has invited opposition leaders to form an emergency unity government, his party said in a statement, following the deadly incursion in southern Israel.
The Likud Party says the proposal was raised in a meeting between Netanyahu and opposition party leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz earlier today. Lapid has called for an emergency unity government. Gantz, in a statement, said he is considering Netanyahu’s offer to join a wartime government “that would focus solely on the security challenges.”
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Ex-PM Lapid Warns of ‘Multi-Front War’ (6:30 p.m.)
Yair Lapid, Netanyahu’s predecessor as prime minister and now opposition leader, warned there “is a serious risk that this becomes a multi-front war.”
Attack on Israel Is Shrewd, Brutal. That’s Hamas: Marc Champion
He said he told Netanyahu he was “willing to put aside our differences and form an emergency, narrow professional government.”
Iran Praises Attacks on Israel (6 p.m.)
A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry praised the attacks, saying they “opened a new page in resistance and armed operations against the usurpers of occupied territories.”
“The element of surprise was used again in this operation and it shows the self-confidence of Palestinians against their usurpers,” the spokesman, Nasser Kanaani, said, according to the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency. It “showed once again how fragile the Israelis are in the face of a serious operation.”
Israel’s Military Says Hamas Has Taken Prisoners (5:40 p.m.)
The Israel military confirmed prisoners of war were taken by Hamas during Saturday’s fighting, citing hostage “incidents” in Ofakim and Bari. The military spokesman, Daniel Hagari, added that they don’t have exact numbers yet. An unspecified number of Israeli soldiers have been killed.
Hagari said dozens of Hamas militants infiltrated a large number of locations, with a separate naval infiltration at Zikim. “We are fighting in 22 locations,” he said Saturday evening.
Biden Backs Israel’s Right to Defend Itself in Call (5 p.m.)
President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the US stands by Israel and backed Israel’s right to defend itself, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office after the pair spoke by phone Saturday. Netanyahu thanked Biden for his support.
Biden Offers Israel Sweeping US Support in Hamas Attack Response
Netanyahu told the US president that a forceful, prolonged campaign is needed to neutralize threats to Israel.
Saudi Arabia Calls for Halt to Escalation (4 p.m.)
Saudi Arabia called for an end to hostilities, while saying the situation had been inflamed by Israel depriving Palestinians of their rights.
White House Weighs Defense Treaties to Aid Israel-Saudi Pact
“The Kingdom recalls its repeated warnings of the dangers of the explosion of the situation as a result of the continuation of the occupation, the deprivation of the Palestinian people of their legitimate rights, and the repetition of systematic provocations against its sanctities,” the Saudi government said in a statement.
The international community needs to “activate a credible peace process leading to the two-state solution,” according to the statement.
UN Envoy Urges All Sides to ‘Pull Back From the Brink’ (3:10 p.m.)
“I am deeply concerned for the well-being of all civilians,” said Tor Wennesland, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, who said he was in close contact with all sides.
“This is a dangerous precipice and I appeal to all to pull back from the brink.”
Israeli Jets Strike Hard in Gaza Strip (1:52 p.m.)
Dozens of Israeli fighter jets struck 17 military compounds and four operational command centers belonging to Hamas in the past few hours, Israel’s defense forces said.
Israel ‘At War’ With Militants, Netanyahu Says in Video Message (11:40 a.m.)
Israel is “at war. Not an operation, not a round — war,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video statement in Hebrew after what he termed a “lethal, surprise offensive” by Hamas early Saturday.
Netanyahu said he’d issued guidance to the heads of Israel’s security establishment to “cleanse all settlements of the terrorists who have infiltrated them.” Israel’s reserves will be mobilized to “fight back at a scope and power that the enemy has not met,” he added.
–With assistance from Marie Patino, Galit Altstein, Natalia Drozdiak, Dana Khraiche, Ethan Bronner, Gwen Ackerman, Fadwa Hodali, Arsalan Shahla and Grant Smith.
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