‘We will avenge this dark day’: Netanyahu vows to turn Gaza strongholds ’to rubble’ as Israel seeks to regain territory

7 October 2023, 22:43 | Updated: 9 October 2023, 08:25

Israel’s Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu (bottom right) declared war after Hamas militant group launched a surprise attack from Gaza which saw the terrorists take both civilian and military hostages.
Israel’s Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu (bottom right) declared war after Hamas militant group launched a surprise attack from Gaza which saw the terrorists take both civilian and military hostages. Picture: Getty/Israeli Government

By Chay Quinn

Israeli airstrikes on Gaza have continued into the morning in retaliation to a surprise attack from Hamas militants as PM Netanyahu vows to turn Hamas strongholds "to rubble",

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It comes after Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group has claimed responsibility for a rocket and artillery attack on Israel this morning.

Hezbollah said in a statement that the attack, using "large numbers of rockets and shells", was in solidarity with the "Palestinian resistance".

The group said it targeted three positions on the country’s border, including the Shebaa Farms, a small piece of land occupied by Israel since 1967 - but Lebanon claims is its own.

The Israeli military says it fired back at the Lebanese areas on Sunday morning.

“The IDF has been taking preparational measures for this type of possibility and will continue to operate in all regions and at any time necessary to ensure the safety of the Israeli civilians," a spokesman said.

Israel’s Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu declared war after Hamas militant group launched a surprise attack from Gaza which saw the terrorists take both civilian and military hostages.

Thousands of rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel in a surprise attack by the Hamas militant group on Saturday morning.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned in a statement overnight that the IDF will “use all its strength to destroy Hamas's capabilities”.

He continued: “We will destroy them and we will forcefully avenge this dark day that they have forced on the State of Israel and its citizens. As Bialik wrote: 'Revenge for the blood of a little child has yet been devised by Satan'.

“All of the places which Hamas is deployed, hiding and operating in, that wicked city, we will turn them into rubble.

“I say to the residents of Gaza: Leave now because we will operate forcefully everywhere.”

Death toll from Israeli attacks on Gaza rises to 232
Israeli forces levelled a shopping centre in Gaza after the initial attack on southern Israel yesterday morning. Picture: Getty

The Israeli military has said that hundreds of Hamaz gunmen who infiltrated the border have now been killed and dozens have been taken prisoner.

Its air force also said its fighter jets struck a “compound belonging to the head of the intelligence department in the Hamas terrorist organisation.”

More than 250 Palestinians have been killed in the retaliatory strikes, according to Palestinian authorities.

At least 250 Israelis have reportedly been killed, while the Israeli Embassy in the US has claimed some 100 have been kidnapped.

The Israeli defence minister, Yoav Gallant, approved a call-up for military reservists amid plans to retaliate against the airstrikes - the number of reservists has not yet been confirmed.

The IDF confirmed civilians and military personnel had been taken but would not confirm numbers.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, declared war in a statement on Saturday as he said: “Citizens of Israel. We are at war, not an operation, not an escalation, a war.

"This morning Hamas launched a murderous surprise attack against the state of Israel and its citizens. We've been at it since early morning.

"I convened the heads of the security system, first of all I instructed to cleanse the settlements of the terrorists who had infiltrated - this operation is being carried out during these hours.

"At the same time, I ordered an extensive reserve mobilisation and a retaliatory war with a strength and scope that the enemy had never known.

"The enemy will pay a price he has never known. In the meantime, I call on all citizens of Israel to strictly obey the instructions of the army and the instructions of the Home Command.

"We are in a war and we will win it.

The Israeli military then began retaliatory airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, as the military warned that Hamas will “face the consequences and responsibility” of its actions.

Reacting to the attack, the Israeli military announced in a statement on Saturday: “The military declares a state of war alert.

“In the last hour, the Hamas terrorist organisation had begun a massive shooting of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, and terrorists infiltrated into Israeli territory in a number of different locations.”

The IDF warned that “the Hamas terror group will pay a very heavy price”.

The military ordered Israeli residents to stay indoors amid the airstrikes.

Gaza launched a surprise attack on Israel.
Gaza launched a surprise attack on Israel on Saturday morning. Picture: Getty
At least 22 have been killed in the airstrikes.
At least 200 have been killed in subsequent IDF airstrikes on the Gaza strip. Picture: Alamy

Isreal said it began airstrikes in the Gaza Strip in retaliation to “the barrages of rockets” launched by Hamas.

Images shared online show cars on fire and buildings damaged as a result of the attacks, and Israeli officials have reported more than 70 of their countrymen have been killed in the airstrikes with hundreds more injured.

Hamas fighters have been spotted attempting to reach Israel via small boats, while other Palestinian fighters have reportedly been seen crossing the border using paragliders.

Air raid sirens sounded across southern and central Israel amid the attacks, with explosions taking place in cities Ashkelon, Tel Aviv, Yavne and Kfar Aviv.

Hamas’ infiltration comes despite Israrel’s fence along its border designed specifically to prevent infiltration, as it’s fitted deep underground and is equipped with cameras, high-tech sensors and sensitive listening technology.

Israel's Magen David Adom rescue agency said a 70-year-old woman was critically injured when a rocket hit a building in southern Israel. Elsewhere, a 20-year-old man was moderately injured by rocket shrapnel, it said.

The UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said of the situation: “I am shocked by this morning's attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli citizens.

“Israel has an absolute right to defend itself. We're in contact with Israeli authorities, and British nationals in Israel should follow travel advice.”

The US has also said it stands with Israel following the attack from the Hamas militant group.

“The United States unequivocally condemns the unprovoked attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said.

“There is never any justification for terrorism. We stand firmly with the Government and people of Israel and extend our condolences for the Israeli lives lost in these attacks.”

Netanyahu declared war after the early morning attack in the Middle East
Netanyahu declared war after the early morning attack in the Middle East. Picture: Israel Government
Israel declared a state of war alert following the surprise attack.
Israel declared a state of war alert following the surprise attack. Picture: Alamy

Israel has maintained a blockade over Gaza since Hamas, an Islamic militant group that opposes Israel, seized control of the territory in 2007.

Hamas said its attack is just the start and is a response to Israeli violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and around Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem.

“We’ve decided to say enough is enough,” Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif said. “This is the day of the greatest battle to end the last occupation on earth.”

He also said that 5,000 rockets had been launched, while talking on Hamas radio.

He labelled the strike the beginning of “Operation Al Aqsa Storm”.

The launches came after weeks of heightened tensions along Israel's volatile border with Gaza, and heavy fighting in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Nearly 200 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli military raids this year.

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