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Over 1,000 killed after unprecedented Hamas attack on Israel

Israel has seen a staggering toll of at least 700 deaths, while over 400 people have been killed in Gaza.
Over 1,000 killed after unprecedented Hamas attack on Israel
Posted at 10:23 AM, Oct 08, 2023

The Israeli government has officially announced a state of war and authorized "significant military steps" in response to Hamas' unexpected assault, according to the Associated Press.

The military escalated its efforts to remove remaining fighters in southern towns and increased its airstrikes on the Gaza Strip on Sunday. The casualty count surpassed 1,000 fatalities and left thousands injured on both sides, the AP reported.

Israel has seen a staggering toll of at least 700 deaths, while over 400 have been killed in Gaza, AP reports.

Saturday morning, Hamas hit Israel with a surprise attack. Hamas launched thousands of rockets and took in Israeli captives, including women, children, and the elderly.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has since declared war against the Palestinian militant group, as he called for a mass army mobilization.

This comes as fighting between the two sides continued into a second day. 

It is not clear how many of the deaths are soldiers or militants, and how many are civilians — but civilians on both sides have been paying the price. Israeli television aired distraught family members begging for help finding relatives who were taken captive or missing. In Gaza, residents fled their homes to escape the violence. Israel flattened residential buildings in Gaza in a series of retaliatory strikes. 

"Responsibility for everything that's happening for the dead, for the butchered men, women and children and soldiers in Israel — and for the Palestinian civilians — lies squarely with Hamas," said international spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces Jonathan Conricus. "They started, they are the aggressors, we are responding to their aggression and we are defending ourselves against their aggression."

All eyes are on whether Israel will launch a ground attack on Gaza next. Netanyahu vowed Hamas will pay an "unprecedented price."

In a press conference Sunday, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan shared graphic images and videos of the violence in Israel, including a photograph of women's bloodied bodies laying dead on a street, and a video of Israeli's being taken hostage.

"I don't even want to imagine what is happening right now to all of those innocent Israeli civilians being held captive in Gaza," said Erdan.

Erdan likened Hamas to Isis and Al Qaeda, saying there is no reasoning with the group.

"They want one thing and one thing only — the annihilation of the Jewish State," Erdan said.

"This is Israel's 9/11," said Erdan, adding that Israel will stop at nothing to bring its sons and daughters back home.

He said now is the time to "obliterate Hamas' terror infrastructure."

On Saturday, Hamas leader Mohammed Deif said the attack against Israel was in response to the 16-year blockade of Gaza, Israeli raids on West Bank cities over the past year, and violence at Al Aqsa, according to AP.

Israel has opened a missing persons command center for friends and family members to register people who are unaccounted for. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Americans may be among those killed or taken captive.

"We have reports that several Americans may be among the dead. We are very actively working to verify those reports," Blinken said on NBC News. "Similarly, we've seen reports about hostages, and again, we're very actively trying to verify them and nail that down."

Blinken said any American held captive anywhere will be a priority for the U.S. government.

U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Netanyahu Sunday, pledging his full support for the government and people of Israel. President Biden said additional assistance for the Israeli Defense Forces is on its way.

The fighting is the deadliest attack on Israel in decades.

The Israeli-Gaza conflict has a history of attacks on both sides dating as far back as 1967.

SEE MORE: Understanding the history of the Israel-Gaza conflict

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