'This is our 9/11': Israel strikes back at Hamas after 'worst massacre of innocent civilians' in its history

9 October 2023, 08:20 | Updated: 9 October 2023, 08:53

Israel has stepped up attacks on Hamas targets. Bottom right - bodies piled up after Hamas massacred revellers at a peace festival
Israel has stepped up attacks on Hamas targets. Bottom right - bodies piled up after Hamas massacred revellers at a peace festival. Picture: Alamy/Social media

By Asher McShane

Israel has stepped up bombardments of the Gaza Strip, hitting more than 1,000 targets belonging to Hamas overnight.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

It comes after Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel that has killed more than 700 Israelis. Officials in Gaza have reported at least 413 Palestinian deaths.

Israel’s military has said: “This is our 9/11” and said that they are still fighting Hamas in “seven to eight places”.

"This is our 9/11," spokesman Major Nir Dinar said. "They got us."

British citizen in Israel: 'This is a war.'

Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, former IDF spokesman, said: “This could be a 9/11 and and a Pearl Harbor wrapped into one.”

Read more: Bodies of 260 killed in Israel festival massacre piled up after Hamas went 'tree by tree' executing victims

Read more: US sends warships and planes to Israel as Sunak vows 'steadfast support' for Middle East ally in war with Hamas

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City. Picture: Alamy

"It is, by far, the worst day in Israeli history. Never before have so many Israelis been killed by one single thing let alone enemy activity on one day."

Airstrikes have levelled much of the town of Beit Hanoun in the north east which Israel said was being used as a staging ground for the attacks.

Elsewhere, Hamas attacked a peace rave in southern Israel, killing 260 unarmed revellers.

Israel is stepping up its retaliation on Hamas
Israel is stepping up its retaliation on Hamas. Picture: Alamy

Images from the aftermath of the massacre were shared across social media by the Israeli government, with victims seen being placed in body bags and piled up in tents.

The Supernova Festival, which takes place near the border with Gaza, was set upon by Hamas terrorists who crossed into Israel using motorised paragliders before killing the power and opening fire on festival-goers.

Israeli soldiers patrol a street in the Israeli town of Metula
Israeli soldiers patrol a street in the Israeli town of Metula. Picture: Alamy

The Israel Defence Forces said “unprovoked war crimes” by Hamas included the deliberate killing of civilians, the abduction of civilians to hold them hostage, the desecration of corpses and the use of innocent civilians as human shields.

Children, babies, elderly people and disabled people are among those kidnapped by Hamas, Israel said.

Israelis inspect a damaged residential building after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, Israel
Israelis inspect a damaged residential building after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, Israel. Picture: Alamy

Daniel Hagari, a spokesman for the Israel Defence Forces, said that Hamas had started the war with “the worst massacre of innocent civilians in Israel’s history”. He added: “We will do whatever it takes to protect our people and restore security to Israel.”

The surprise attack brought with it Israeli soldiers and civilians fighting on the streets of southern Israel, following a barrage of 2,000 rockets sent over the border by Hamas.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately declared a state of war and has promised 'mighty vengeance' on Israel's attackers.

“What happened today has never been seen in Israel, we will take mighty vengeance for this black day,” he added.

The United Nations says the number of displaced people in Gaza has risen to more than 123,000 as a result of the fighting between Israel's military and Hamas.

Retaliatory Israeli airstrikes in response to Hamas attacks had destroyed 159 housing units across Gaza and severely damaged 1,210 others.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said a school sheltering more than 225 people took a direct hit.

At least 700 people have been killed in Israel, including 44 soldiers.

The Gaza Health Ministry said 413 people, including 78 children and 41 women, were killed. An Israeli official said security forces have killed 400 militants and captured dozens more.

Around 2,000 people have been wounded on each side.

An estimated 1,000 Hamas fighters took part in Saturday's initial attacks from Gaza, according to the Israeli military

Hamas said it launched the attack in response to mounting Palestinian suffering under Israel's occupation and blockade of Gaza.

Israel - which declared war on Hamas on Sunday - hit more than 800 targets in Gaza in response, including airstrikes that levelled much of the town of Beit Hanoun in the enclave's northeast corner.

Israeli Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told reporters Hamas was using Beit Hanoun as a staging ground for attacks.

There was no immediate word on casualties for the airstrike and most of the community's population of tens of thousands had likely fled.

"We will continue to attack in this way, with this force, continuously, on all gathering (places) and routes" used by Hamas, Rear Admiral Hagari said.

Meanwhile, Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad group claimed to have taken captive more than 130 people from inside Israel and brought them into Gaza, saying they would be traded for the release of thousands of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

The Israeli military said only that the number of captives is "significant."

The Security Cabinet also approved "significant military steps."

The steps were not defined, but the declaration appears to give the military and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a wide mandate.

In a statement, Mr Netanyahu's office said the aim will be the destruction of Hamas' "military and governing capabilities" to an extent that prevents it from threatening Israelis "for many years."

The Israeli rescue service Zaka said its paramedics removed about 260 bodies from a music festival attended by thousands that came under attack.

The total figure is expected to be higher as other paramedic teams were working in the area.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is helped off the stage at a campaign event in Butler, Pa., on Saturday, July 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Several pops and a fist in the air: Donald Trump's assassination attempt minute-by-minute

What will following the shooting of Donald Trump?

Donald Trump shot during campaign rally: Jon Sopel explains what it means for the US Presidential race

The nation is gripped by Euros fever

England expects! Nation gripped by Euros fever as fans prepare for historic final against Spain

Donald Trump has been shot through the ear at a rally in Pennsylvania - as one bystander was killed and two others were critically injured.

Pictured: Shocking scenes as gunman shoots Donald Trump during rally leaving one bystander dead

Liz Truss has reacted to her party's terrible election results

Liz Truss blames Tory election drubbing on Rishi Sunak ‘trashing her record’ before pointing finger at Tony Blair

Joe Biden reacts to the assassination attempt of Donald Trump

‘Everyone must condemn it’: Joe Biden labels Donald Trump assassination attempt ‘sick’ as world leaders react

Donald Trump was shot at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania yesterday

Gunman behind Donald Trump’s assassination attempt is 20-year-old Republican supporter, FBI reveals

Donald Trump's ear was grazed in a shooting at a campaign rally yesterday

‘Much bleeding took place’: Donald Trump releases new statement after being shot at campaign rally

President Trump was shot at a rally in Pennsylvania

Donald Trump carried off stage by Secret Service after shooting at campaign rally

American XL bully

Police raid suspected XL Bully farm and arrest man as 13 dogs seized inside house with children

Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer has told the England team that they have "made the country proud" before their crunch Euros final against Spain on Sunday.

'Bring it home': Keir Starmer sends message to England team ahead of showpiece Euros final against Spain

spanhoe airfield near corby main runway

Pilot killed in plane crash at former RAF airfield near Corby as police urge witnesses to come forward

A child is dead and five people have been injured after a house fire in East Ham, London.

Child dead after deadly blaze that injured five which gutted east London home and needed 40 firefighters to tackle

Daniel Halliday went missing while playing in the water with his brother on June 30.

Body found in the sea confirmed to be 14-year-old Daniel Halliday who was swept away in River Mersey on June 30

A Scottish council has come under fire for handing almost 2,000 penalties in the first 11 days of its low emission zone

Scottish council under fire after handing out 2,000 fines in first 11 days of new low emission zone

Graziano Di Prima has broken his silence

Strictly Come Dancing pro Graziano Di Prima breaks silence after being 'sacked' following misconduct claims