Over 500 Killed As Israel-Palestine War Escalates, Residents Flee Homes


Fighting between Israeli forces and the Palestinian group Hamas intensified today, with more than 500 killed on both sides after an attack on Israel prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to warn they were “embarking on long and difficult war”.

The conflict’s bloodiest escalation in decades saw Hamas carry out a massive rocket barrage and ground, air and sea offensive, that Israel’s army, said had killed more than 300 Israelis and wounded 1,000. Gaza officials said intense Israeli air strikes on the coastal enclave had brought the Palestinian death count to at least 232, with nearly 1,700 wounded.

Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to avenge what he said was a “black day” for Israel. “The IDF (army) is about to use all its force to destroy Hamas’s capabilities. We’ll strike them to the bitter end and avenge with force this black day they brought on Israel and its people,” he said.

He warned Palestinians living near Hamas sites in Gaza to leave as he vowed to turn its hideouts into “rubble” following its surprise attack. “I’m telling the people of Gaza: get out of there now, because we’re about to act everywhere with all our force,” he said.

The Israel military suffered significant losses as the Palestinian group claimed to have captured dozens of soldiers. “Terrorists rampaged and broke into homes, massacring civilians. Hundreds had invaded the country, hundreds are still fighting troops inside Israel,” army spokesman Richard Hecht said.

Hamas fighters fired thousands of rockets and breached Gaza’s security barrier, attacking nearby Israeli towns and military posts. They also opened fire on residents and passersby. The group labelled its attack “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” and called on “resistance fighters in the West Bank” as well as in “Arab and Islamic nations” to join the battle. Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said the group was on the “verge of a great victory”.

Hamas released images of several Israelis taken captive. Bodies were strewn on the streets of the Israeli town of Sderot near Gaza and inside cars, the windscreens shattered by hails of bullets.

In response to the deadly attacks, the Israel defense forces also declared a “readiness for war”. The forces launched “Operation Swords of Iron”, striking a number of targets in the Gaza Strip. “We have seen the face of evil. Hamas launched a criminal attack, without distinguishing between women, children and the elderly. It will realise very quickly that it made a grave mistake. We will change the face of reality in the Gaza Strip,” Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant said in a video statement.

As the UN Security Council called an emergency meeting today, US President Joe Biden voiced “rock solid and unwavering” support for Israel and warned “against any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation”.

The escalation follows months of rising violence, mostly in the occupied West Bank, and tensions around Gaza’s border and at contested holy sites in Jerusalem.

The Indian embassy in Israel has asked its citizens to remain vigilant and observe safety protocols as advised by local authorities. “Please exercise caution, avoid unnecessary movement, and stay close to safety shelters,” it said in an advisory.