Israel has declared a state of war after Hamas, the militant group that runs the Gaza Strip, launched a massive surprise attack on Saturday morning, firing thousands of rockets and sending gunmen across the border fence into Israeli territory.
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said they were responding with air strikes and ground operations to defend Israeli civilians and deter further attacks. The IDF said they had killed several Hamas militants who had infiltrated into Israeli communities and were targeting civilians..
The escalation came amid rising tensions in Jerusalem, where Palestinian protesters have clashed with Israeli police over the planned evictions of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and restrictions on access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, one of the holiest sites in Islam.
Hamas said it had launched Operation Al-Aqsa Flood to defend Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque from Israeli aggression. The group said it had fired more than 5,000 rockets towards Israel, some of which reached as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas had made a grave mistake and vowed to win the war. He said Israel would not tolerate any attacks on its sovereignty and security. He also thanked the United States and other countries for their support and solidarity.
The international community has expressed alarm over the situation and called for an immediate end to the violence. The United Nations Security Council is expected to hold an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss the crisis.