Israel is at war, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday, hours after Hamas began a massive missile attack and dispatched dozens of terrorists to infiltrate Israeli communities in the South.
“We are at war, not in an operation or in rounds [of violence], but at war. This morning, Hamas launched a murderous surprise attack against the State of Israel and its citizens. We have been in this since the early morning hours,” Netanyahu said in a video address from the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv.
“I convened the heads of the security establishment and ordered—first of all—to clear out the communities that have been infiltrated by terrorists. This currently is being carried out.
“At the same time, I have ordered an extensive mobilization of reserves and that we return fire of a magnitude that the enemy has not known. The enemy will pay an unprecedented price,” the prime minister continued.
“In the meantime, I call on the citizens of Israel to strictly adhere to the directives of the IDF and Home Front Command. We are at war and we will win it.”
Since this morning, the State of Israel has been at war. Our first objective is to clear out the hostile forces that infiltrated our territory and restore the security and quiet to the communities that have been attacked.
The second objective, at the same time, is to exact an… pic.twitter.com/MzKs7tfv4M
— Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) October 7, 2023
Hamas killed at least 40 Israelis on Saturday as the terrorist organization fired 4,000 rockets at the country’s South and Center and sent dozens of terrorists into communities located along the Gaza border.
More than 750 Israelis were evaluated to hospitals across the country, the Health Ministry said, including many at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva and Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon. There were unconfirmed reports of massacres in several places.
There were reports of terrorists penetrating the country’s borders by air using hang-gliders and others doing so by sea.
Hamas said it had abducted soldiers and civilians and taken them back into the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu convened a security meeting at the military headquarters attended by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and other high-ranking officials.
The Israel Defense Forces was ordered to a “state of war readiness” and Gallant authorized a “special security situation” within 80 kilometers of the Gaza Strip, enabling the IDF to close relevant sites and impose safety restrictions on the population.
The IDF later announced the launch of an operation named “Iron Swords.”
“The whole world must stand with Israel”
Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid on Saturday gave full backing to the government to strike hard at Hamas.
“At times like these, there is no opposition or coalition in Israel. We will give full backing to the security forces for a harsh response against terrorism and its proxies,” said Lapid.
“This morning terrorists launched an unprovoked attack against Israel. Our people were awoken by the sounds of sirens, shooting and explosions. The rocket attacks against innocent civilians are relentless.
“The whole world must stand with Israel as we defend ourselves from terror,” said Lapid. “We must mobilize the international community against [Palestinian] terror.”
Lapid was set to receive a security briefing from Netanyahu at military headquarters in Tel Aviv.
Benny Gantz, head of the opposition National Unity Party, also extended his support for a forceful military response.
“Hamas made a serious mistake and will bear the consequences. All citizens of Israel stand behind the IDF and the security forces, and the government has full backing to exact a heavy price in any determined and responsible action,” said Gantz.
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