JERUSALEM/ WASHINGTON/ GAZA:
Israel made an emergency unity government on Wednesday while its jets pounded Gaza and tanks gathered around the heavily populated Palestinian area. Hamas forces said they were still fighting on Israeli soil after their shocking invasion over the weekend.
A joint statement from Gantz’s National Unity party said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to work with former Defence Minister and moderate opposition party leader Benny Gantz to form a war cabinet that would only work on the conflict.
The Israeli military said that over 2,700 people were hurt and the death toll from Hamas fighters’ hours-long rampage after breaking through the fence that surrounded Gaza on Saturday rose to 1,200.
US President Joe Biden seems to be telling Iranians who back Hamas not to use the fire in Gaza to start a bigger war in the Middle East.
One thousand people have been killed and five thousand three hundred have been hurt in Israeli attacks on Gaza, which is blocked off by Israel. Officials from Hamas said that 535 homes had been destroyed, leaving about 250,000 people without a place to live. Most of the homeless people were in shelters set up by the UN, but some were huddling together in the broken streets.
The Al Qassam Brigades, the armed part of the group, said on Wednesday that it was still fighting in Israel. Israel sent tanks and other armed vehicles to the area just north of Gaza, where the fighting was reported, but they didn’t say anything right away about Hamas’s claim.
Later that same day, reports about incoming planes were sent out across northern Israel, but not in Gaza, which is in the south. The Israeli military later said that these may have been caused by a problem.
A Reuters TV crew saw what looked like a rocket hit a house near Metulla in the far north of Israel. This is close to the border with south Lebanon, where the heavily armed Hezbollah group operates with support from Iran.
The armed branch of Hamas said it had fired an R60 rocket at the city of Haifa on the coast of northern Israel. As soon as the sirens went off in Haifa and nearby towns, there were no reports of injuries.
Israelis take cover in a bomb shelter while sirens sound as rockets from Gaza are launched towards Israel, in Ashkelon, southern Israel, October 11. PHOTO: REUTERS
Israel has vowed swift punishment for the deadliest Palestinian attack in its 75-year history, which left corpses strewn around a music festival and a kibbutz community.
The military said dozens of its fighter jets struck more than 200 targets in a neighbourhood of Gaza City overnight that it said had been used by Hamas to launch its attacks.
Smoke billows following Israeli strikes in Gaza City, October 11. PHOTO: REUTERS
“We started the offensive from the air, later on we will also come from the ground,” Defence Minister Yoav Gallant told soldiers near the fence on Tuesday.
Israel has put Gaza under “total siege” to stop food and fuel reaching the enclave of 2.3 million people, many poor and dependent on aid. Hamas media said on Wednesday electricity went out after the only power station stopped working.
With Palestinian rescue workers overwhelmed, others in the crowded coastal strip joined the search for bodies in rubble.
“I was sleeping here when the house collapsed on top of me,” one man cried as he and others used flashlights on the stairs of a building hit by missiles to find anyone trapped.
The Israeli military said its troops had killed at least 1,000 Palestinian gunmen who infiltrated from Gaza and the Chief of the General Staff met commanders to discuss their next steps.
“Wherever there are Hamas leaders – the IDF strikes with precision and power,” it said, referring to Israel’s military.
The debris of houses destroyed in Israeli strikes, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, October 12. PHOTO: REUTERS
West Bank violence
Scores of Israelis and others from abroad were taken to Gaza as hostages, some of whom were paraded through streets. Both sides have said many women and children were among the dead and wounded, and distraught relatives have held multiple funerals.
Mourners at the funeral of Palestinian members of al-Agha family, who were killed in Israeli strikes, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, October 12. PHOTO: REUTERS
Israel said it was shifting schools to remote learning from Sunday and issuing more firearms to licensed citizens, predicting possible friction between its majority Jews and Arab minority amid calls for more protests in support of Gaza.
Israeli security forces have killed at least 27 Palestinians during clashes in the occupied West Bank since Saturday, as Palestinian factions called on people in the Palestinian territory to rise up following Hamas’ strike from Gaza.
The acting governor of the West Bank city of Nablus, Ghassan Daghlas, said Palestinians were shot at and reportedly wounded by Israeli settlers. Reuters could not immediately verify the report and there was no immediate Israeli comment.
In another sign of the crisis widening, Israeli shelling hit southern Lebanese towns after a rocket attack by the powerful Hezbollah in the fourth consecutive day of violence there.
A ground offensive into Gaza carries risks for Israel, notably to the hostages held in the narrow, widely urbanised enclave. Hamas has threatened to execute a captive for each home hit without warning.
Palestinian sources said one of the homes Israeli air strikes hit in Gaza overnight killed three relatives of Hamas military wing chief Mohammed Deif, the secretive mastermind of the assault, which was planned for two years.
Israel withdrew settlers and troops from Gaza in 2005 after 38 years of occupation. An Israeli blockade since Hamas seized power in the enclave in 2007 has created conditions which Palestinians say are intolerable.
Washington said it was talking with Israel and Egypt about safe passage for civilians from Gaza, with food in short supply.
Hussein Al-Sheikh, an official in the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, said the international community must intervene urgently to avert “a major humanitarian catastrophe”.
Palestinians carry a casualty on rubble in the aftermath of Israeli strikes, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, October 12. PHOTO: REUTERS
Biden said that the Hamas strikes were “pure evil” and that the US was sending military help to Israel right away, including more Iron Dome missile defence systems.
He told Israel not to hurt civilians and said the US had increased its position in the area by sending a strike group of fighter planes and an aircraft carrier.
Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, was going to visit Israel later Wednesday to show support and work with US partners in the area to try to free more than 100 people Israel says Hamas held hostage.
US officials say they don’t have proof that Iran planned the killings, but they point out that the Islamic Republic has long backed Hamas.
A man holds his dog after a rocket, launched from the Gaza Strip, landed in Ashkelon, southern Israel, October 12. PHOTO: REUTERS