- Israeli media has reported that the number of people killed in Israel since the attacks on Saturday is at least 700. Palestinian officials, on the other hand, claim that more than 400 people have been killed in Gaza.
- Hezbollah takes credit for attack in northern Israel; Israeli armed forces retaliate by launching strikes into southern Lebanon.
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declares a cessation of providing electricity, fuel, and commodities to Gaza.
- Hamas claims that its offensive actions are in response to Israel’s increased hostility in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
- The secretary of state of the United States suggests that Hamas may have a desire to hinder efforts in establishing normal relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
- Global Affairs Canada is currently investigating reports indicating the death of one Canadian individual and the disappearance of two other Canadians.
The Israeli government formally declared war Sunday and gave the green light for “significant military steps” to retaliate against Hamas for its surprise attack from the Gaza Strip a day earlier, as the total death toll on both sides surpassed 1,100 and thousands have been wounded.
More than 24 hours after Hamas launched its unprecedented incursion out of Gaza, Israeli forces were still trying to crush the last groups of militant fighters holed up in several towns of southern Israel. The reported death toll is at least 700 in Israel and 400 in Gaza as Israeli airstrikes pound the territory.
Officials were still attempting to ascertain the exact number of civilians and soldiers who were taken hostage by Hamas militants during the chaotic situation and transported to Gaza. Based on video evidence and eyewitness testimonies, it has been established that the captives comprise women, children, and elderly individuals.
Home to some two million people, the Gaza Strip has been run by Hamas since it seized control of the territory in 2007. However an independent UN Human Rights commission last year found Israel has continued to occupy Gaza despite disengaging in 2005, by effectively controlling movement in and out of its borders and the supply of essentials like water and electricity. Gaza’s economy has long been choked by a blockade imposed by Israel with Egypt’s help — one that has been “widely condemned as a policy that may amount to collective punishment,” according to the UN.
In the last year, the government of Israel, which leans towards the right politically, has significantly increased the building of settlements in the West Bank, leading to the displacement of hundreds of Palestinians due to violence caused by Israeli settlers. Moreover, there have been escalating tensions surrounding the Al-Aqsa mosque, a highly sensitive holy site in Jerusalem.
“What we have in our hands will release all our prisoners,” Saleh al-Arouri, deputy chief of the Hamas political bureau, told Al-Jazeera TV on Saturday.
Mousa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas representative, informed al-Ghad, an Arab news outlet, that Hamas currently has over 100 individuals in captivity. Additionally, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group is said to be holding more than 30 people.
Reports of Canadians missing, killed
Reports from Global Affairs Canada indicate that a Canadian individual has passed away in the region, while two other Canadians remain unaccounted for.
Global Affairs stated that officials from the Canadian government in Israel are currently communicating with local authorities to verify and collect more details.
The organization stated that they have received more than 400 inquiries regarding the conflict. They mentioned that there are 1,419 Canadians who have voluntarily registered themselves as being in Israel, and 492 Canadians who have registered in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued an official statement on Sunday, denouncing the Hamas attack and affirming Canada’s solidarity with the Israeli people. He also acknowledged Israel’s legal right to protect itself in compliance with international law.
Trudeau has requested the prompt release of the individuals currently in captivity and urges that they be treated in compliance with international laws. He also assures that close monitoring of the situation will persist, and communication with international allies is ongoing to establish peace and security in the area.
Different perspectives on the act of holding prisoners in custody.
Israel has detained over 1,200 prisoners, mostly Palestinians, without charges. Israel says the controversial tactic is necessary to contain dangerous militants and avoid divulging incriminating material for security reasons. But Palestinians and human rights groups say the system denies due process and is widely abused.
On Sunday, the security cabinet of Israel held a discussion regarding the possibility of implementing “substantial military actions”. The specific actions were not specified, but this statement seems to grant the military and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extensive authority.
On Sunday morning, concerns grew about the possibility of the conflict extending to other areas when the Lebanon-based organization, Hezbollah, admitted to launching attacks on Israeli positions in a disputed region near Syria’s Golan Heights.
The armed forces of Israel retaliated by launching drone attacks on Hezbollah objectives in a contested region where the boundaries of Israel, Lebanon, and Syria intersect.
The flareup on Israel’s northern border threatened to draw into the battle a fierce enemy of Israel’s that is backed by Iran and estimated to have tens of thousands of rockets at its disposal.
After the exchange, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, a military official from Israel, informed reporters that the situation at the border in the north was peaceful.
However, he mentioned that there is ongoing fighting in the southern region and hostage situations remain unresolved.
At least five towns near Gaza are being evacuated, according to the Israeli military.
Hagari stated that military personnel had been deployed to all the neighboring communities of Gaza. Their objective is to evacuate all civilians and thoroughly search the vicinity for any remaining militants.
“We will go through every community until we kill every terrorist that is in Israeli territory,” he said. In Gaza, “every terrorist located in a house, all the commanders in houses, will be hit by Israeli fire. That will continue escalating in the coming hours.”
Hamas militants entered approximately 22 areas beyond the Gaza Strip on Saturday morning, including towns and communities up to 24 kilometers away from the Gaza border. They also seized hostages, prompting Israel’s military to quickly mobilize. Meanwhile, the militant group fired numerous rockets towards Israeli cities.
The Israeli military announced on Sunday that they were engaged in combat with Hamas infiltrations at eight different locations. A spokesperson for the Israeli military stated that two hostage situations in Gaza had been successfully dealt with, without providing details on whether all the hostages were saved unharmed.
The military of Israel claimed that they targeted 426 locations in Gaza, demolishing residential buildings with powerful explosions. This included a tall tower with multiple apartments and Hamas offices located in the central area of Gaza City. The Israeli forces stated that they issued a warning prior to the attack.
According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, a minimum of 413 individuals in the Gaza Strip lost their lives due to Israeli airstrikes, with 78 of them being children and 41 women. Additionally, around 2,000 people were injured. The ministry also reported that seven individuals, including a child, were killed in the West Bank as a result of Israeli army gunfire.
On Sunday, CNN interviewed Antony Blinken, the U.S. Secretary of State, discussing the possible motivation behind the Hamas attack. It was suggested that one of the reasons could be to disrupt the diplomatic agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which was brokered by the United States.
Blinken suggested that Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran, who have long been adversaries of Saudi Arabia, all share opposition towards Israel’s efforts to establish normal diplomatic ties with its neighboring countries. Therefore, it is entirely plausible.
After sunset, a significant portion of the population in Gaza experienced a power outage as the supply of electricity from Israel, which is the main provider for the region, was disconnected.
Israel ceases the provision of electricity and goods to Gaza.
Israel’s office declared that it would cease providing Gaza with electricity, fuel, and commodities.
During a broadcasted speech on Saturday evening, he declared that the military intends to utilize its full power in order to eliminate Hamas’s capabilities.
“All the places that Hamas hides in, operates from, we will turn them into ruins,” he added. “Get out of there now,” he told Gaza residents, who have no way to leave the tiny, overcrowded Mediterranean territory.
During the night, the Israeli military informed Arabic-speaking communities residing near the Israel border to evacuate their residences and relocate to safer regions within the small enclave.
UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinians, said more than 20,000 Palestinians left Gaza’s border region to head further inside the territory and take refuge in UN schools.
One important inquiry at present is whether Israel intends to initiate a land attack on Gaza, a decision that historically has resulted in increased casualties.
Netanyahu made a promise that Hamas would face an unparalleled consequence.
However, he cautioned that this conflict would not be resolved quickly and would pose significant challenges. The Israeli military planned to deploy four divisions of soldiers and tanks to the Gaza border, adding to the existing 31 battalions already stationed in the region, according to a spokesperson.
Increasing hostilities leading up to an unexpected attack.
When questioned about how Hamas was able to surprise the army, Lt.-Col. Richard Hecht, a spokesperson for the Israeli army, responded by acknowledging it as a valid inquiry.
Israelis were deeply surprised by the impressive power, complexity, and perfectly chosen timing of the attack that occurred on Saturday morning.
Hamas fighters used explosives to break through the border fence enclosing Gaza, then crossed with motorcycles, pickup trucks, paragliders and speed boats on the coast. In an amateur video, hundreds of terrified young people who had been dancing at a rave fled for their lives after Hamas militants entered the area and began firing at them.
Mohammed Deif, the leader of Hamas’s military division, stated that the attack was a reaction to the continuous 16-year blockade of Gaza. Additionally, it was prompted by various recent events such as the expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank, acts of violence by Israeli settlers, and the displacement of more Palestinians. These incidents have significantly escalated tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.
“Enough is enough,” Deif, who does not appear in public, said in the recorded message.
He said the attack was only the start of what he called Operation Al-Aqsa Storm, and called on Palestinians from East Jerusalem to northern Israel to join the fight.
Hamas stated that it had made preparations for a potentially protracted battle.
Al-Arouri, from the Hamas political bureau, expressed their readiness to face any scenario, even a full-scale conflict. They affirmed their willingness to take all essential actions to protect the dignity and freedom of their people.
Hezbollah carries out assaults in favor of the ‘Palestinian resistance’.
Hezbollah, which effectively controls southern Lebanon, said in a statement that its Sunday morning attack using “large numbers of rockets and shells” was in solidarity with the “Palestinian resistance.”
The report stated that the Israeli positions were struck directly.
Israel’s military fired back using armed drones at the Lebanese areas. By attacking Israeli positions in a disputed area rather than Israel proper, Hezbollah appears to be trying to avoid an all-out conflict with Israel.
Israel and Hezbollah are archenemies and have fought several wars in the past, the most recent a 34-day war in 2006 that left 1,200 dead in Lebanon and 160 in Israel.
During a televised interview, Aaron David Miller, a former U.S. State Department negotiator and Middle East analyst, expressed the possibility of the rocket exchanges between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah leading to a broader conflict.
“This is a volatile, broken, dysfunctional region of the world,” Miller said. “This is going to get worse before it gets worse.”