Israel’s Security Cabinet formally declared war Saturday night in response to surprise Hamas rocket attacks into southern Israel that killed hundreds and wounded thousands, The Times of Israel reported.
Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had already stated Israel was “at war” after Hamas militants entered southern Israel, the Security Cabinet’s declaration makes such a declaration official and authorizes “significant military activities,” according to The Times of Israel.
A day after the surprise attack which reportedly killed at least 600 Israelis and wounded 2,000 others, Israeli soldiers fought Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists in the streets of southern Israel, Fox News reported. Fighting was also reported with Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah militants in the north, according to the outlet. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: ‘Babies Being Taken By Terrorists’: Israel Reacts To Hamas’ ‘Shocking’ Surprise Attack)
Iran funded terror proxies launch war against Israel amid surprise invasion against Jewish state https://t.co/WTftJtBS4l
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In retaliatory strikes, Israeli forces reportedly hit 462 targets in Gaza, including a 14-story building in Central Gaza which reportedly housed dozens of apartments and Hamas offices, according to FOX.
Israeli military officials confirmed Hamas took a “substantial” number of Israeli women, children and elderly hostage during Saturday’s incursion, Fox News reported. The terrorist group claims to have captured enough Israeli hostages to free the thousands of Palestinian prisoners being held in Israel, per the outlet.
The attack coincided with Simchat Torah, a significant Jewish holiday, and was reminiscent of the surprise Egyptian-Syrian attack on Yom Kippur in 1973 which caught the Israeli military unprepared, the AP reported. Saturday’s war declaration is Israel’s first since that war nearly 50 years ago, Fox News reported.
Netanyahu vowed Hamas “will pay an unprecedented price” and warned, “This war will take time. It will be difficult.”
Saleh al-Arouri, deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, told Al-Jazeera TV, “We are prepared for all options, including all-out war. We are ready to do whatever is necessary for the dignity and freedom of our people.”
President Biden and senior administration officials reiterated the U.S. “stands with Israel” while “unequivocally” condemning Hamas, Fox News reported.