At least 700 people have died and more than 2,300 others have been injured after Hamas militants fired missiles from Gaza, Israeli officials said Saturday.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said the death toll reached 300 as of this writing and at least 1,610 were injured Saturday in retaliatory attacks from Israel.
“We are at war. We will win,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) declared: “We will defend ourselves.”
“Over the past hour, the Hamas terrorist organization launched massive barrages of rockets from Gaza into Israel, and its terrorist operatives have infiltrated into Israel in a number of different locations in the south,” the IDF said early Saturday.
“Civilians in southern and central Israel must remain near shelters, and in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip, inside shelters,” the IDF continued. “The Chief of the General staff is currently conducting a situational assessment and approving plans for the IDF’s continued activity. The Hamas terrorist organization is responsible for these attacks and will face consequences for them.”
Mohammed Deif, the leader of Hamas’ military, claimed 5,000 rockets had been launched. Meanwhile, the IDF said the number was closer to 2,000.
“This is the day of the greatest battle end the last occupation on earth,” he said in a recorded message.
Netanyahu released a video statement Saturday.
“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. I convened the heads of the security establishment and ordered – first of all – to clear out the communities that have been infiltrated by terrorists,” Netanyahu said in Hebrew.
Meanwhile, the IDF confirmed that they are striking Hamas targets in Gaza.
Speaking from the White House on Saturday, President Joe Biden said U.S. support for Israel is “rock solid and unwavering.”
“Israel has the right to defend itself and his people full stop. There is never a justification for terrorist attacks and my administration’s support for Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering. Let me say this as clearly as I can. This is not a moment for any party hostile to Israel to exploit these attacks to seek advantage. The world is watching,” Biden said.
The White House announced earlier in the day that Biden and Netanyahu spoke by phone with the President saying the U.S. “condemns” Hamas’ assault on Israel.
“I made clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu that we stand ready to offer all appropriate means of support to the Government and people of Israel,” the statement said.
The U.S. embassy in Israel said that it is “closely monitoring” the security situation.
“The U.S. Embassy is aware that there have been casualties as a result of these incidents. U.S. citizens are reminded to remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness as security incidents, including mortar and rocket fire, often take place without warning,” the embassy said in the statement.