Israel launches ‘extensive attack’ on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip: ‘Large scale


Israeli airstrikes pummelled targets all across the Gaza Strip overnight and into this morning as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to ‘crush and destroy’ Hamas with the support of a new war cabinet that includes a longtime opposition critic.

‘Every Hamas member is a dead man,’ the Israeli Prime Minister said menacingly in a televised address late last night, perhaps revealing the scale of the ground assault operation for which his Defence Forces are preparing as they encircle Gaza.

The Israeli military said overnight strikes targeted Hamas’ elite Nukhba forces, including command centers used by the fighters who attacked Israel on Saturday, and the home of a senior Hamas naval operative that it said was used to store unspecified weapons.

‘Right now we are focused on taking out their senior leadership,’ Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, an Israeli military spokesman, said. 

‘Not only the military leadership, but also the governmental leadership, all the way up to (top Hamas leader Yehiyeh) Sinwar. They were directly connected.’

The Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza said Israeli strikes demolished two multi-story houses on top of residents without warning, killing and wounding ‘a large number’ of people, mainly civilians. Hamas has threatened to kill Israeli hostages if Israel strikes Palestinian civilians without warning.

Meanwhile, ordinary Palestinians in Gaza spent the night in pitch darkness, surrounded by the ruins of pulverised neighbourhoods as international aid groups warned that deaths could accelerate as the territory runs out of supplies amid an Israeli blockade. 

Israel has halted the entry of food, water, fuel and medicine into the territory. On Tuesday, Gaza’s only power station ran out of fuel and shut down, leaving only lights powered by scattered private generators. Those will shut off as well if fuel is not allowed in.

The war, which was ignited by a bloody and wide-ranging Hamas attack into Israel, has already claimed at least 2,400 lives on both sides.

An Israeli army self-propelled howitzer fires rounds near the border with Gaza in southern Israel on October 11, 2023

An Israeli army self-propelled howitzer fires rounds near the border with Gaza in southern Israel on October 11, 2023

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023

Palestinians carry a casualty on rubble in the aftermath of Israeli strikes, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip October 11, 2023

Palestinians carry a casualty on rubble in the aftermath of Israeli strikes, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip October 11, 2023

 

Israel's armed forces released videos showing strikes on Hamas targets

Israel’s armed forces released videos showing strikes on Hamas targets

Rescuers retrieve bodies from house targeted by Israeli airstrike

Rescuers retrieve bodies from house targeted by Israeli airstrike

The war, which was ignited by a bloody and wide-ranging Hamas attack into Israel, has already claimed at least 2,400 lives on both sides.

The war, which was ignited by a bloody and wide-ranging Hamas attack into Israel, has already claimed at least 2,400 lives on both sides.

Smoke plumes billow during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on October 12, 2023

Smoke plumes billow during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on October 12, 2023

Rockets are fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. Israel has launched intense airstrikes in Gaza after the territory's militant rulers carried out an unprecedented attack on Israel Saturday, killing over 1000 people and taking captives. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed in the airstrikes

Rockets are fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. Israel has launched intense airstrikes in Gaza after the territory’s militant rulers carried out an unprecedented attack on Israel Saturday, killing over 1000 people and taking captives. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed in the airstrikes

Destruction from Israeli aerial bombardment is seen in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023

Destruction from Israeli aerial bombardment is seen in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023

Israeli tanks move near the Israeli Gaza border, Israel, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023

Israeli tanks move near the Israeli Gaza border, Israel, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023

A convoy of Israel Defense Forces soldiers drives along a road near the outskirts of Netivot and near an Artillery position on October 11, 2023 in Netivot, Israel

A convoy of Israel Defense Forces soldiers drives along a road near the outskirts of Netivot and near an Artillery position on October 11, 2023 in Netivot, Israel

Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Israel will 'crush and destroy' Hamas and that every member of the terrorist organisation is a 'dead man'

Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Israel will ‘crush and destroy’ Hamas and that every member of the terrorist organisation is a ‘dead man’

A senior Israeli Air Force officer, Brig. Gen. Omer Tishler, said on Wednesday the strikes were on an ‘unprecedented scale’.

He said Israel has focused its efforts on targeting Hamas officials, and stopping them from ever attacking Israel again.

Hamas violence has killed 1,200 Israelis – many of them at a music festival, or living in small farming and artistic communities near the Gaza Strip. Militants in Gaza are holding an estimated 150 people taken hostage from Israel – soldiers, men, women, children and older adults – and have fired thousands of rockets into Israel over the past five days.

Tishler, the Israel Air Force’s chief of staff, said: ‘There is an enemy here firing rockets, raiding a civilian population. We will never allow that again.’

Terror groups have fired more than 5,000 rockets at Israel since Saturday, the IDF said.

Tishler said the IAF was not targeting civilians in the Gaza Strip, but that the strikes were no longer ‘surgical.’

‘We do not act like the other side, we do not attack the civilian population. Behind every attack there is a target,’ he said.

‘We act precisely and professionally but not surgically. I’m not talking about single, tens, or hundreds [of strikes]. We are talking about thousands of munitions.’

The IDF has carried out strikes against at least 2,687 targets across the Gaza Strip since Saturday, according to military data from Wednesday morning obtained by The Times of Israel.

The Israeli government is under intense public pressure to topple Hamas after its militants stormed through a border fence Saturday and massacred hundreds of Israelis in their homes, on the streets and at an outdoor music festival.

Netanyahu alleged that the attackers engaged in atrocities, including binding boys and girls and shooting them in the head, burning people alive, raping women and beheading soldiers.

The prime minister’s allegations could not be independently confirmed, and authorities did not immediately offer further details. Rescue workers and witnesses have described horrifying scenes, including the slaughter of elderly people and finding bloody rooms crowded with massacred civilians.

Opposition leader Benny Gantz, a former defence minister and political opponent of Netanyahu, yesterday joined a new wartime cabinet at a time when the Israeli military appears increasingly likely to launch a ground offensive into Gaza. 

‘Our partnership is not political, it is a shared fate,’ said Gantz. ‘At this time we are all the soldiers of Israel.’

Netanyahu said the people of Israel and its leadership were united. ‘We have put aside all differences because the fate of our state is on the line,’ he said.

A man inspects the interior of a house damaged in Israeli artillery shelling in the town of Al-Dhayra, Lebanon, on Oct. 11, 2023

A man inspects the interior of a house damaged in Israeli artillery shelling in the town of Al-Dhayra, Lebanon, on Oct. 11, 2023

Israel Defense Forces reservists pose while lying on a tank near the border with Gaza on October 11, 2023 in Be'eri, Israel

Israel Defense Forces reservists pose while lying on a tank near the border with Gaza on October 11, 2023 in Be’eri, Israel

Rescuers retrieve bodies from house targeted by Israeli airstrike

Rescuers retrieve bodies from house targeted by Israeli airstrike

Israeli Iron Dome intercepts missiles launched from the Gaza strip on, 11 October 2023. More than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed and over 5,000 others injured, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health

Israeli Iron Dome intercepts missiles launched from the Gaza strip on, 11 October 2023. More than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed and over 5,000 others injured, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health

Smoke rises from an explosion caused by Israeli airstrikes on the border between Egypt and Rafah, Gaza Strip

Smoke rises from an explosion caused by Israeli airstrikes on the border between Egypt and Rafah, Gaza Strip

Israel Defense Forces soldiers walk through Kibbutz Be'eri where days earlier Hamas militants killed over a hundred civilians near the border with Gaza on October 11, 2023

Israel Defense Forces soldiers walk through Kibbutz Be’eri where days earlier Hamas militants killed over a hundred civilians near the border with Gaza on October 11, 2023

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023

Rockets are fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023

Rockets are fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023

A house is completely destroyed after being burned by Hamas militants during the attack at Kibbutz Be'eri, near the border with Gaza on October 11, 2023 in Be'eri, Israel

A house is completely destroyed after being burned by Hamas militants during the attack at Kibbutz Be’eri, near the border with Gaza on October 11, 2023 in Be’eri, Israel

An Israeli army flare illuminates the sky above the northern Gaza Strip on Friday

An Israeli army flare illuminates the sky above the northern Gaza Strip on Friday

An IDF soldier covers his ears on Wednesday as a shell is fired towards Gaza

An IDF soldier covers his ears on Wednesday as a shell is fired towards Gaza

Israel has mobilised 360,000 reservists, massed additional forces near Gaza and evacuated tens of thousands of residents from nearby communities.

The forces are preparing for an imminent ground operation as increasingly destructive airstrikes in Gaza have flattened entire city blocks and left unknown numbers of bodies beneath debris. 

A ground offensive in Gaza, whose 2.3 million residents are densely packed into a strip of land only 25 miles long, would likely result in a surge of casualties on both sides.

The UN said late Wednesday the number of people displaced by the airstrikes had soared 30 percent within 24 hours, to 339,000, two-thirds of them crowding into UN schools. Others sought shelter in the shrinking number of safe neighborhoods.

The Egyptian government rejected an American proposal to allow Palestinians fleeing Israel’s bombardment to leave Gaza, a senior Egyptian official said early Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the press. 

Egypt believes that Palestinians leaving Gaza would harm the Palestinian cause, and its state-run media reported that the Israeli offensive is part of a scheme to empty the enclave.

Convoys stood loaded with fuel and food Wednesday on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing, but were unable to enter Gaza, the official said. The only crossing point between Egypt and Gaza was shut down Tuesday following nearby Israeli airstrikes.

The official said Egypt was talking with Israel and the US on establishing safe corridors inside Gaza and delivering humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinians, and with Israel and other foreign governments to evacuate foreigners through the Rafah crossing point.

Meanwhile, US president Joe Biden dispatched his top diplomat to the Middle East to show Washington’s enduring support for Israel, seek to secure the release of captives, including Americans, and prevent a wider war from erupting.

U.S. President Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, makes remarks after speaking by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

U.S. President Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, makes remarks after speaking by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to reporters before boarding a plane, Wednesday Oct. 11, 2023

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to reporters before boarding a plane, Wednesday Oct. 11, 2023

A view of the rubble of buildings hit by an Israeli airstrike, in Jabalia, Gaza strip, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023

A view of the rubble of buildings hit by an Israeli airstrike, in Jabalia, Gaza strip, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023

Blinken will arrive on Thursday and will also visit Jordan, but will not visit the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where he ordinarily meets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Blinken and Abbas will meet on Friday, Hussein Al-Sheikh, secretary general of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said on social media platform X, without elaborating.

Speaking to a roundtable of Jewish community leaders in Washington, Biden said his deployment of military ships and aircraft closer to Israel should be seen as a signal to Iran, which backs Islamist groups Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

‘We made it clear to the Iranians: Be careful,’ Biden said.

Iran likely knew Hamas militants were planning ‘operations against Israel’ but initial U.S. intelligence reports showed that some Iranian leaders were surprised by the group’s unprecedented attack from Gaza, U.S. sources said on Wednesday.

Iran has said it was not involved in the Hamas attacks.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed the conflict on Wednesday, in the first telephone call between the two leaders since a China-brokered deal between Tehran and Riyadh to resume ties.

Raisi and the Saudi crown prince discussed the ‘need to end war crimes against Palestine,’ Iranian state media said.

The Saudi crown prince ‘affirmed that the Kingdom is making all possible efforts in communicating with all international and regional parties to stop the ongoing escalation,’ Saudi state news agency SPA said.



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