At least 232 people have been killed and 1,697 wounded in Gaza on Saturday, the health ministry in the Palestinian enclave said, after Hamas militants fired a barrage of rockets into Israel which responded with air strikes. At the same time, 300 Israelis have been killed and more than 1,450 injured in the Hamas offensive that began earlier on Saturday, according to reports.
Israel 'is at war'
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel 'is at war' with Palestinian militant group Hamas after barrages of rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Saturday.
For the first time in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, Palestinian militants launched a massive air, sea and land attack on Israel.
"We are at war, not in an operation or in rounds, but at war," the Israeli leader said in a statement, adding Hamas had launched a "murderous surprise attack" on Israel and its people.
Israeli troops were still battling "hundreds" of Hamas militants at 22 locations inside Israel after they infiltrated from Gaza during a massive dawn rocket barrage, the army said.
"There are still 22 locations where we are engaging with terrorists that came into Israel from the sea, from the land and from the air," army spokesman Richard Hecht told journalists, adding the Hamas attack included a "robust ground invasion".
Asked by journalists how many militants had entered Israel, Hecht said "hundreds" had "invaded" the country, adding that "hundreds" were still fighting troops inside Israel.
He said there was a "severe hostage situation in Beeri and also in Ofakim", two Israeli communities in the Negev Desert, the latter 20 kilometres from the Gaza border.
Netanyahu delivered his message in a nationally televised address late Saturday after spending most of the day in meetings with top security officials.
He said the Israeli military will use all of its strength to destroy Hamas' capabilities. He also called on Palestinian civilians in Gaza to “leave now” because the Israeli military is going to “turn all Hamas hiding places into rubble.”
He vowed to extract a heavy price if “even a single hair” is harmed on the Israeli hostages in Hamas captivity.
“We will defeat them to death and take revenge for this black day,” he said.
At least 300 Israelis killed
According to Israeli media, at least 300 Israelis have been killed in the attacks by Hamas so far. Reports also confirmed that more than 1,450 Israelis injured in the attacks.
232 killed in Israel retaliatory fire
The Ministry of Health in Gaza said that 232 people have been killed and 1,697 wounded in the retaliatory Israeli strikes in the Gaza strip.
A barrage of rockets fired
Israel's army said it was fighting Gaza militants who entered Israel by land, sea and air using paragliders on Saturday, after a barrage of rockets was fired at Israel.
Social media was replete with videos of Hamas fighters parading what appeared to be stolen Israeli military vehicles through the streets. The military declined to give details about casualties or kidnappings as it continued to battle the infiltrators.
"It was a combined ground raid which happened through paragliders, through the sea and through the ground," army spokesman Richard Hecht told reporters.
Pull back from the brink: UN Middle East envoy warns
UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland on Saturday condemned the attacks on Israel, warning in a statement: "This is a dangerous precipice, and I appeal to all to pull back from the brink." He urged maximum restraint and called on all sides to protect civilians.
On the arrivals board at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport Air France, Lufthansa, Emirates, Ryanair, Aegan Airlines and some US companies were all pulling flights.
However airport authorities did not stop commercial air links with Eilat, Israel's second international airport and tourist destination on the Red Sea.
"Given the current security situation in Tel Aviv," Lufthansa maintained a single flight back to Frankfurt, said a spokesman for the German carrier, but "all other Lufthansa flights to and from Tel Aviv have been cancelled for this Saturday".
Air France said it had halted Tel Aviv flights s a day "until further notice".
Air France-KLM group's low-cost carrier Transavia also cancelled a flight from Paris to Tel Aviv on Saturday evening.
World leaders condemn attacks
Saudi Arabia called for deescalation between Palestinian and Israelis after the attacks today.
Britain's foreign minister James Cleverly on Saturday condemned attacks on Israel by militants from the Gaza Strip.
"The UK unequivocally condemns the horrific attacks by Hamas on Israeli civilians. The UK will always support Israel's right to defend itself," he wrote on social media.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was "shocked" by the attacks.
"Israel has an absolute right to defend itself. We're in contact with Israeli authorities, and British nationals in Israel should follow travel advice," he added on X.
Germany "firmly condemns the terrorist attacks from Gaza against Israel", Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Saturday after a barrage of rockets was fired at Israel.
Russia on Saturday urged restraint from all sides after Palestinian militants fired hunderds of rockets on Israel, which then launched air strikes on the Gaza Strip.
Ukraine on Saturday expressed solidarity with Israel after a barrage of rockets was fired from Gaza.