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A digger removes the rubble from the police station that was overrun by Hamas militants on Saturday, in Sderot, Israel, Sunday, Oct.8, 2023. Hamas militants stormed over the border fence Saturday, killing hundreds of Israelis in surrounding communities. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)
The Associated Press
Published: 08 October 2023

Israeli soldiers are battling Hamas fighters in the streets of southern Israel and launching airstrikes on Gaza, a day after an unprecedented surprise attack by Hamas fighters.

In northern Israel a brief exchange of strikes with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group raised fears of a broader conflict. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared that Israel is “at war.”  The updates below show how the situation is unfolding.

Leaders of Egypt, Jordan discuss crisis 

The leaders of Israel’s neighbors, Egypt and Jordan, discussed the ongoing fighting between Israel and the Palestinians.

According to a statement by the Egyptian president, President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi received a phone call from King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Both leaders agreed on working to avoid further deterioration of the situation, the statement said.

Both Egypt and Jordan are close allies with the U.S. and are the first Arab nations to establish diplomatic ties with Israel.

The latest round of violence began with an unprecedented surprise attack in which Hamas militants raced into Israel, killing hundreds of people and taking captives back to Gaza.

Israel responded by rushing troops to the border area and launching airstrikes across the blockaded territory. Palestinian officials say more than 300 Gazans have been killed.

Explosions and airstrikes in Rafah 

In the southern Gaza town of Rafah on Sunday, residents heard a loud explosion, apparently from an Israeli airstrike that hit a target close to the borders with Egypt. It was not immediately clear what was targeted. Residents said a house in the area had been evacuated.

Israel carried out dozens of airstrikes in Rafah overnight. One of the strikes hit three homes in one of the most crowded refugee camps, Shaboura, killing 19 members of the same family, according to a family member who posted their names on his social media. Surviving family members and neighbors filled al-Farouk mosque, holding funeral prayers as the bodies of those killed wrapped in white shrouds lined the floor. The crowd then marched to the nearby cemetery for burial, some carrying the bodies.

Also on Sunday, loudspeakers from mosques and moving cars in Rafah blared with condolences and praise for fighters from Hamas, believed to be natives of Rafah, who were killed during the assault on Israel.

Pope Francis calls for the violence to stop 

Pope Francis on Sunday expressed “apprehension and pain at what is happening in Israel, where violence is again exploding even faster, causing hundreds of deaths and injuries.”

Speaking to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square, the pope offered prayers for the victims and their families “and for all those who are experiencing hours of terror and anguish.” The pontiff called on the attacks by both sides to stop. “Terrorism and war don’t bring solutions, only death. War is a defeat. Every war is a defeat."

Islamic bloc condemns ‘Israeli military aggression’ 

The world’s largest bloc of Muslim countries has condemned what it refers to as “Israeli military aggression” amid ongoing fighting between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation said Sunday that it is “greatly concerned about the developments on the ground and the dangerous Israeli escalation in the occupied Palestinian territory.”

The 57-member bloc went on to condemn “the Israeli military aggression that led to the fall of hundreds of martyrs and wounded among the Palestinian people.”

The latest round of violence began with an unprecedented surprise attack in which Hamas militants raced into Israel, killing hundreds of people and taking captives back to Gaza.

Israel responded by rushing troops to the border area and launching airstrikes across the blockaded territory. Palestinian officials say more than 300 Gazans have been killed.

Hezbollah replace destroyed tent that had led to tensions 

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency says Hezbollah fighters have set up a tent in a disputed area along the country’s tense southern border hours after an Israeli drone destroyed another one in the same place.

Hezbollah initially erected the tent over the summer in a disputed area along Lebanon’s border with Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights that Lebanon claims is Lebanese territory.

That has led to tensions with Israel over the past months and the U.N. has been working to persuade Hezbollah to remove the tent.

Earlier Sunday, Hezbollah fired dozens of rockets and shells at three Israeli positions in the disputed area of Chebaa Farms and Kfar Chouba hills and Israel’s military fired back using armed drones.

Romania repatriates hundreds of citizens and other foreigners 

Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that 346 Romanian citizens and other foreigners were repatriated from Israel overnight on two separate flights.

The ministry said Sunday that a mobile consular team was sent to Ben Gurion Airport from the Romanian Embassy in Tel Aviv and Romania’s representative office in Ramallah to provide consular assistance.

On Saturday, the ministry “strongly condemned” Hamas’ rocket attacks against Israel, “including against the civilian population, terrorist infiltrations and hostage-taking.” It said Israel has a sovereign right to defend itself.

Media reports: Egyptian policeman opens fire on Israeli tourists 

An Egyptian policeman opened fire on Israeli tourists Sunday in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, killing at least two Israelis and one Egyptian, local media reported.

Extra News television channel, which has close ties to Egyptian security agencies, quoted an unidentified security official as saying that another person was injured in the attack which took place in the Pompey’s Pillar tourist site in Alexandria. The suspected assailant was detained, it reported.

Israel’s Zaka rescue service reported two people killed in Alexandria.

China calls for the creation of a Palestinian state 

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the country is “deeply concerned over the current escalation of tensions and violence between Palestine and Israel.”

“The recurrence of the conflict shows once again that the protracted standstill of the peace process cannot go on,” the statement said. “The fundamental way out of the conflict lies in implementing the two-state solution and establishing an independent State of Palestine.”

The Chinese foreign ministry said China would continue to work with the international community to find a way to bring about peace, and urged the community to act with greater urgency and help “facilitate early resumption of peace talks between Palestine and Israel.”

Egypt intervenes over Israeli hostages 

An Egyptian official says Israel has sought help from Cairo to ensure the safety of abducted Israelis, and Egypt’s intelligence chief had contacted Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militant group to seek information.

According to the official, Palestinian leaders claimed that they don’t yet have a “full picture” of hostages, but said those who were brought to Gaza were taken to “secure locations” across the territory.

“It’s clear that they have a big number — several dozens,” said the official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to brief media.

Egyptian intelligence also spoke with both sides about a potential cease-fire, he added, but Israel was not open to a truce “at this stage.”

— By Sam Magdy in Cairo.

Israeli official says hundreds of Hamas militants have been killed 

An Israeli military official says “hundreds of terrorists” have been killed and dozens captured in fighting with Hamas militants in Gaza and southern Israel.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari spoke to reporters on Sunday, more than 24 hours after the Palestinian militant group launched an unprecedented assault into Israel, killing hundreds of people, firing thousands of rockets and taking captives back into blockaded Gaza.

Israel is battling militants in the south and launching airstrikes across Gaza that have leveled buildings.

UN peacekeepers call for restraint after rockets fired from Lebanon 

A U.N. peacekeeping force deployed along Lebanon’s southern border called for “everyone to exercise restraint” and make use of the force's “liaison and coordination mechanisms to de-escalate” and prevent a fast deterioration of the security situation. It said it had detected several rockets fired from southeast Lebanon toward “Israeli-occupied territory,” followed by artillery fire from Israel toward Lebanon.

The statement came shortly after Hezbollah said it fired at Israeli positions in the disputed Chebaa Farms along the border with Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The force known as UNIFIL said it is in contact with authorities on both sides of the border at all levels “to contain the situation and avoid a more serious escalation.”

Hezbollah attacks Israeli positions in Golan Heights 

Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group fired dozens of rockets and shells on Sunday at three Israeli positions in a disputed area along the country’s border with Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Hezbollah said in a statement that the attack using “large numbers of rockets and shells” was in solidarity with the “Palestinian resistance.” It said the Israeli positions were directly hit.

Israel’s military fired back at the Lebanese areas, but there was no immediate word on casualties.

At least 26 Israeli soldiers die in Hamas attack in country's south 

At least 26 Israeli soldiers have been killed in an attack by the Hamas militant group on the country’s south, Israel’s military said Sunday.

The figure is part of a death toll of more than 250 people in the deadliest attack against Israelis in decades.

Israeli military says two hostage situations ‘resolved’

An Israeli military spokesperson said Sunday morning that two hostage situations had been “resolved,” but did not say whether all the hostages had been rescued alive.

Hamas militants had taken hostages during their surprise attack on Saturday as Israel’s military scrambled to muster a response. Gun battles continued well after nightfall, and militants held hostages in standoffs in two towns. Militants occupied a police station in a third town, where Israeli forces struggled until Sunday morning to finally reclaim the building.

On Sunday, Israel was fighting Hamas incursions in eight places, the Israeli military said.

Militants fire more rockets from Gaza 

Before daybreak on Sunday, militants fired more rockets from Gaza, hitting a hospital in the Israeli coastal town of Ashkelon. The hospital sustained damage, said senior hospital official Tal Bergman.

Video provided by Barzilai Medical Center showed a large hole punched into a wall and chunks of debris scattered on the ground of what appeared to be an empty room and a hallway. There was no report of casualties.

Israeli airstrikes in Gaza had intensified after nightfall, flattening residential buildings in giant explosions, including a 14-story tower that held dozens of apartments as well as Hamas offices in central Gaza City. Israeli forces fired a warning just before.

Around 3 a.m., a loudspeaker atop a mosque in Gaza City blared a stark warning to residents of nearby apartment buildings: Evacuate immediately. Just minutes later, an Israeli airstrike reduced one nearby five-story building to ashes.

After one Israeli strike, a Hamas rocket barrage hit four cities, including Tel Aviv and a nearby suburb. Throughout the day, Hamas fired more than 3,500 rockets, the Israeli military said.

Netanyahu says Israel will cut off supplies to Gaza 

Israel will stop supplying electricity, fuel and goods to Gaza, according to a statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office Saturday night. Much of Gaza was already thrown into darkness by nightfall after electrical supplies from Israel, which supplies almost all of the territories' power, were cut off earlier in the day.

Netanyahu also said the “first phase” of the counter operation had ended, and that Israel had fought off the majority of Hamas militants.

He vowed to continue the offensive “without reservation and without respite."

The announcement came after a surprise attack by Hamas militants into Israel on Saturday morning.

Airlines suspend flights to Israel

Airlines canceled more than 80 flights to and from Tel Aviv by Saturday evening — roughly 14% of all flights scheduled — because of the unprecedented attack in Israel by the militant group Hamas, according to FlightAware.

Delta Air Lines and American Airlines canceled flights Saturday night and Sunday night from New York’s JFK Airport to Tel Aviv, although a Delta return flight was able to depart Tel Aviv Saturday night. United Airlines also canceled a Saturday flight from San Francisco. An earlier United flight turned around over Greenland and returned to San Francisco.

German carrier Lufthansa canceled several flights between Frankfurt and Tel Aviv.

israeli death toll rises to at least 250

 

Israeli media, citing rescue service officials, said at least 250 people were killed and 1,500 wounded, making Saturday’s surprise early morning attack by Hamas the deadliest attack in Israel in decades. At least 232 people in the Gaza Strip have been killed and at least 1,700 wounded in Israeli strikes, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

Hamas fighters took an unknown number of civilians and soldiers captive into Gaza, a deeply sensitive issue for Israel, in harrowing scenes posted on social media videos.

Among those killed in Israel was Lt. Col. Jonathan Steinberg, a senior officer who commanded the military’s Nahal Brigade, a prominent infantry unit.

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