Hamas militants fired thousands of rockets into several areas of Israel on Saturday during the Jewish high holiday of Simchat Torah. The unprecedented, multi-front early morning attack included Hamas guerrillas bypassing heavy fortifications and invading more than 20 Israeli communities along the Gaza border – where they engaged in gun battles and took hostages.
Hamas launched “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood,” allegedly as retaliation for Israel’s “desecration” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Israel struck back with a counterattack named “Operation Swords of Iron.”
In less than 24 hours of the deadly attack, 300 Israelis have reportedly been killed and 1,590 have been wounded. The death toll in the Gaza Strip is at 232 Palestinians and another 1,697 have been wounded, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
Hamas terrorists reportedly captured “dozens of Israeli soldiers and civilians.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu estimated that there “could be about 60” Israelis taken hostage.
Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida alleged, “The number of hostages we have is many times more than Netanyahu says.”
NBC News posted a video purportedly showing a bloodied Israeli woman being taken hostage by Hamas terrorists.
(WARNING: Graphic video)
The Times of Israel reported, “The family of Noa Argamani is sharing harrowing footage of her abduction in southern Israel earlier today. The video shows her being taken away on the back of a motorcycle by Hamas terrorists as she screams ‘don’t kill me’ and stretches her arms out to her boyfriend, Avi Natan, who is also being held by Hamas operatives. They were both attending a festival in the south.”
Several media outlets reported that Israeli special forces rescued citizens being detained at the dining hall of Kibbutz Be’eri. The terrorists were reportedly killed in the operation.
Netanyahu declared on Saturday that his country is at war.
During a televised address on Saturday night, Netanyahu vowed that Hamas would pay an “unprecedented price” for the surprise attack.
“What happened today has never been seen in Israel, we will take mighty vengeance for this black day,” Netanyahu promised.
“We will turn all the places in which Hamas is based … all the places Hamas is hiding in, acting from into rubble,” the Israeli prime minister proclaimed.
Netanyahu warned, “All the places where Hamas is organized, of this city of evil, all the places where Hamas hides, operates from – we will turn them into cities of ruins. I say to the residents of Gaza: get out of there now because we will act everywhere and with all the strength.”
He admitted, “This war will take time. It will be difficult. Challenging days are ahead of us.”
Israeli Maj. Gen. Ghasan Alyan declared that Hamas has “opened up the gates of hell into the Gaza Strip.”
Israel had already launched several airstrikes in Gaza, including leveling the Palestine Tower – a high-rise apartment that also houses Hamas offices. The IDF had fired a warning shot before obliterating the 14-story building.
Into the night, Hamas continued to fire a barrage of rockets into southern Israel with the objective of attempting to overwhelm the Iron Dome defense system.
The United Nations has announced an emergency Security Council meeting to be held on Sunday.
Just days before the attack, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, “Today, the Palestinian movement is more alive than it has ever been during these 70 or 80 years. The honorable Imam [Khomeini], may God be pleased with him, described, the usurper [Zionist] regime as a cancer. This cancer will definitely be eradicated, God willing, at the hands of the Palestinian people and the resistance forces throughout the region.”
Members of the Iranian parliament opened their Saturday session Saturday by chanting: “Death to Israel” and “Israel will be doomed, Palestine will be the conqueror.”
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