Death Toll Passes 1,400 as Israel Declares War on Hamas and Cuts Power, Food, Water to Gaza
Israel declares war on Hamas after the Palestinian militant group launched unprecedented assault, killing hundreds and taking hostages.
More than 1,400 people have been killed after Hamas launched an unprecedented assault on Israel, shooting missiles and opening fire on citizens over the weekend.
Israel declared war on the Palestinian militant group. On Monday it ordered a "complete siege" of Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said “no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel” will be allowed in the crowded coastal territory already under a 16-year-blockade.
According to Israel's Army Radio, at least 900 were killed in Hamas attacks that began Saturday. Nine Americans were among the dead, officials said.
More than 500 Palestinians are believed dead after Israel responded by bombarding homes, mosques and businesses in Gaza, home to 2.3 million people crammed into a 25-mile strip along the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Horrific videos emerged Saturday on social media of Hamas rockets and gunmen attacking an Israeli music festival, where concertgoers had gathered to camp amid three stages to dance and celebrate the end of Sukkot, a Jewish festival.
Brutal footage showed young people running for their lives as Hamas gunmen in jeeps opened fire with machine guns. Panicked concertgoers abandoned their vehicles and fled, only to be mowed down as they ran.
Others were seen being dragged into Hamas vehicles and taken away as hostages. Israeli soldiers found 260 bodies at the site, which is a kibbutz in the Negev desert, not far from the Gaza border.
An estimated 150 Israelis have been taken hostage, including children, infants and grandmothers, officials said. Their fates were unclear.
Israeli forces continued to pummel Gaza into Monday night, local time, with continued bombing reported from the besieged enclave.
“Throughout the last 24 hours, Air Force planes have been carrying out extensive attacks along the length and breadth of the Gaza Strip, wreaking havoc on Hamas terrorists,” the Israeli Defense Forces said in statement Monday.
Israel struggled Monday to count the dead and hold funerals as confusion and chaos gripped the country. The Hamas assault is the deadliest and most sustained attack in the militant group's history.
It was seen as a massive failure of Israel's defense and intelligence services because Hamas was able to breach fences and walls with heavy military equipment and storm into the south of the country. Hamas also attacked Israel from the air, with gunmen firing from paragliders.
"We were surprised this morning. About failures, I prefer not to talk at this point right now. We're in war. We're fighting," Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces, told CNN on Saturday.
Former Israeli National Security Advisor Eyal Hulata told Reuters the assault had to have been planned for some time. "Obviously this is a very coordinated attack, and unfortunately they were able to surprise us tactically and cause devastating damage."
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