Israel-Palestine conflict: 500 killed, hostages held as violence escalates; PM Netanyahu vows ‘mighty vengeance’
The deadliest war between Israel and Palestine in five decades escalated on Sunday as the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) launched retaliatory attacks, bombarding the Gaza Strip and flattening many Hamas military targets, including 14-storeyed buildings. Gaza, a narrow strip that is home to 2.3 million Palestinians.
Over 250 Gazans were killed in the IDF strikes while over 250 Israelis lost their lives as Hamas fighters launched a pre-dawn attack on Saturday with rockets into Southern Israel. Many, including civilians and a significant number of Israeli civilians and soldiers, are being held hostage by Hamas.
According to an Israeli military spokesperson, operations were going on in eight areas around Gaza on Sunday, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of “mighty vengeance for this wicked day.”
In a televised address on Saturday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the military will use all of its strength to destroy Hamas’ capabilities. “All the places that Hamas hides in, operates from, we will turn them into ruins,” he added.
“Get out of there now,” he told Gaza residents, who have no way to leave the tiny, overcrowded Mediterranean territory. Israeli military was also heard relaying warnings in Arabic to communities near the border with Israel to leave their homes for areas deeper inside the tiny enclave.
Sources from Palestine said the Israeli mortars targetted two homes in Gaza’s Beit Hanoun district, killing 18 people. Of the over 256 killed, 20 were children. Over 1,800 have been wounded.
According to Netanyahu’s office, his security cabinet had approved steps to destroy the military and governmental capabilities of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another militant group. Plumes of black smoke and orange flashes lit up the sky as Israeli drones flew all over Gaza.
Footages also showed bodies being carried to hospitals in Gaza while overcrowded hospitals faced severe medical shortages.
As for the hostages taken by Hamas, an Israeli military spokesperson said that two hostage situations had been “resolved” but did not say whether all the hostages had been rescued alive.
Amid the IDF raids in Gaza, Hamas continued to rain on Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv and a nearby suburb. Throughout the day, Hamas fired more than 3,500 rockets, the Israeli military said.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the assault was in response to the 16-year blockade of Gaza. “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?” Haniyeh said,
The shadowy leader of Hamas’ military wing, Mohammed Deif, too claimed the assault was in response to the 16-year blockade of Gaza.
“Enough is enough,” Deif, who does not appear in public, said in the recorded message. He said the attack was only the start of what he called “Operation Al-Aqsa Storm” and called on Palestinians from east Jerusalem to northern Israel to join the fight.