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Israel says Hamas 'launched a war' following rocket attacks

October 7, 2023

The Israeli military has said militant-Islamist Hamas fired rockets from Gaza, and has urged residents around the Gaza Strip to stay in their homes.

Three people look around a demolished street after Gaza rocket launches
The attack came during the Jewish festival of Simchat TorahImage: Amir Cohen/REUTERS

You can read the latest updates on the fighting in Gaza and Israel in our live blog, where we provide rolling coverage of the conflict.

The Israel Defense Forces, on Saturday, declared a "state of alert for war" after Islamist-militant organization Hamas launched massive barrages of rockets from Gaza. The IDF also claimed that "terrorist operatives" have infiltrated into Israel in a number of different locations in the south.

"The Hamas terrorist organization is responsible for these attacks and will face consequences for them," it said in an update on its website. Hamas is recognized as a terrorist organization by the German government, the EU, the US and some Arab states.

Meanwhile, Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Hamas had "launched a war against the State of Israel."

"IDF troops are fighting the enemy at every location. I call on all of Israel’s citizens to follow security instructions," he said in a post on X, formerly Twitter. "The State of Israel will win this war."  

Defense Minister Gallant has approved the mobilization of reservists, a Defense Ministry spokeswoman said, according to a DPA report.

Almost all Israeli residents who have completed military service are assigned to the reserve force to provide reinforcements during emergencies.

Hamas claims launch of thousands of rockets

Senior Hamas commander Mohammad Deif said 5,000 rockets had been launched.

"We've decided to say enough is enough," Deif was quoted as saying by The Associated Press news agency. 

The Israeli military said it has retaliated by hitting targets in the Gaza Strip.

The IDF ordered civilians in southern and central Israel to remain near shelters. Those in the area surrounding the the Palestinian enclave were advised to stay inside shelters.

"The Chief of the General staff is currently conducting a situational assessment and approving plans for the IDF's continued activity," the military added.

In a separate post, the army said Israelis across the country "woke up to sirens sounding and Hamas firing rockets at them from Gaza."

"We will defend ourselves," said the Israel Defense Forces.

What do we know about the attack?

A building burning following attacks in Gaza
Injuries were reported following rocket attacksImage: Itai Ron/REUTERS

Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired dozens of rockets at Israel, the army said. This set off sirens in several cities across the country, including Tel Aviv.

The attack comes as Israel is marking the Jewish festival of Simchat Torah. It celebrates the conclusion of the annual cycle of public readings of the Torah.

Casualties were reported in the towns of Ashkelon, Gedera and Yavne. A 70-year old woman was critically injured when a rocket directly hit a building near Gedera, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said. Fifteen others were hurt, two of them seriously, medics added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to hold consultations with top defense officials later in the day, DPA news agency reported.

EU states condemn Hamas attack on Israel

The French Embassy in Israel condemned the attack by the Palestinian group, describing them as "inadmissible terrorist attacks."

"Horrified by the developments coming from the south of the country. These terrorist attacks are inadmissible and must be condemned by everyone. We stand side by side alongside Israel and Israelis," the French Embassy wrote on X.

Czech Republic's Prime Minister Petr Fiala said that his country "has always stood and will stand fully with Israel," in a post. "My thoughts are with the innocent victims of the violence and I wish our friends in Israel the swiftest possible handling of the situation and the fulfilment of their ambitions to live in peace and security."

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said violence and "rocket attacks against innocent people must stop immediately."

"I condemn the terrorist attacks from Gaza against Israel in the strongest possible terms," she wrote in an online post.

mk/dj (AFP, AP, Reuters)