A surprise attack unfolded as numerous armed Palestinian militant group Hamas members infiltrated southern Israel from the Gaza Strip. Videos circulating on social media appeared to depict Palestinian militants firing at pedestrians on the streets of the Israeli town of Sderot. Tragically, the assault resulted in the death of an Israeli woman due to intense Palestinian rocket fire originating from Gaza.
Israel’s defense minister strongly condemned the actions of Hamas, characterizing them as a “grave mistake” and the initiation of a war against his nation. Yoav Gallant, the defense minister, stated that Israeli troops were engaged in combat across various locations and expressed confidence that Israel would ultimately prevail in this conflict.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced that they had transitioned to a state of war readiness, with numerous fighter jets conducting airstrikes on Hamas targets within Gaza.
The rocket attacks from Gaza, under Hamas’s control, commenced shortly after dawn on Saturday, concluding the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. As sirens wailed throughout Israel, the IDF reported that “terrorists” had infiltrated Israeli territory at multiple locations. Civilians in southern and central areas were instructed to remain close to shelters, with specific emphasis on staying inside shelters in the vicinity of Gaza.
Online footage showed a group of heavily armed Palestinian militants clad in black uniforms driving through Sderot in a pickup truck. In one video, these militants appeared to engage in a firefight with Israeli forces on the town’s streets, located just 1.6 kilometers (approximately 1 mile) from Gaza.
Unverified reports within Palestinian media suggested that militants had captured several Israelis, and there was circulating footage depicting Palestinians in Gaza operating Israeli military vehicles.
Throughout Saturday morning, rocket barrages persisted, with Israeli media reporting that over 2,200 projectiles had been launched towards Israel. An initial report from Israel’s Magen David Adom ambulance service indicated one fatality and 16 others wounded, two of them in critical condition. However, a hospital in the southern city of Ashkelon later stated that it was treating 68 casualties, while another hospital in Beer Sheva reported 80 additional injuries.
In a broadcast on Hamas media, a senior Hamas military commander, Mohammed Deif, announced the initiation of the operation and called on Palestinians worldwide to join the fight, characterizing it as the day of the most significant battle to end the last occupation on Earth.