Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Hamas is the “enemy of civilisation” and will be “crushed”.
Speaking alongside US secretary of state Antony Blinken in Israel, Mr Netanyahu thanked Washington for its support since Hamas’s co-ordinated multi-pronged assault at the weekend – adding the militant group should be treated “exactly as ISIS was treated”.
Mr Netanyahu said “no country should harbour” Hamas militants – and those that do should be sanctioned – as he condemned the “murder of children in front of their parents”, the “burning of people alive” and “beheadings”.
Reiterating the US’s support for Israel, Mr Blinken told Mr Netanyahu he stood before him “not only as US Secretary of State, but also as a Jew”.
“The message that I bring to Israel is this – you may be strong enough on your own to defend yourselves, but as long as America exists you will never, ever have to,” he said.
Warning against any “adversary” thinking of “taking advantage of the current crisis” to attack Israel, he added: “The United States has Israel’s back.”
While Israeli civilians are kept hostage by Hamas and Israel continues to bombard Gaza, Mr Blinken said it is “so important” to take every possible precaution to avoid harming innocent people.
During his visit to the Middle East, Mr Blinken will try to help secure the release of those hostages – with Israel claiming they have identified 97 captives – and hold talks about a humanitarian corridor in Gaza.
Some of the hostages are American.
It comes as Israel continues to block goods from entering the Gaza Strip, warning it will not break its siege until all hostages taken by Hamas are freed.
The Red Cross has pleaded for fuel to be allowed in to prevent hospitals from “turning into morgues” in the area which is home to 2.3 million people.
In other key developments:
17 British nationals, including children, killed or missing, Sky News understands
Missing Irish-Israeli woman confirmed dead
Met Police appeals for people to send them footage of attacks in Israel
22 Americans have been killed, US state department says
Netanyahu and opposition agree to form emergency government
UK foreign secretary runs for cover during Israel visit
At least 1,300 Israelis dead and more than 2,700 injured, IDF says
At least 1,100 Palestinians dead and 5,184 injured in Israeli strikes, Gaza Health Ministry says
UK royals issue statements in solidarity with Israel
In a sign of the conflict’s potential to spread further across the Middle East, Syria’s pro-government media reported Israeli airstrikes targeted airports in the country on Thursday.
Al-Watan Daily and Dama Post did not give further details other than both airports – in the capital Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo – were out of service with runways damaged.
In the fight with Hamas, the Israelis say they are destroying the group’s ability to govern following Saturday’s surprise attack.
Washington backs Israel’s bid to wipe out Hamas – but urges caution for Gaza civilians
The US support for Israel since the weekend’s terror attacks has been unwavering.
President Biden has ordered a carrier strike group to the region and surged military aid to Israel for the war.
Hostage rescue specialists are working with the Israelis to gather intelligence on where the kidnapped might be.
Now the Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived on a tour of the region to work diplomatic channels in the hope an escalation can be averted.
His first stop: Tel Aviv.
Beyond reiterating unwavering support, and another warning for regional actors to stay out of the fight, two things he said caught my eye.
He said that no country can or would tolerate the slaughter of its citizens, or simply return to the conditions that allowed it to take place.
This sounded to me like US support for Israel’s goal to wipe out Hamas, even if that means a long and bloody campaign from the air, sea and land.
But, he said, “how Israel does this, matters. It’s so important to take every possible precaution to avoid harming civilians.”
As Israel carries out what it says it’s an unprecedented bombing campaign over Gaza, Washington will be deeply aware of how this is affecting civilians in Gaza.
That message of caution will be regularly reiterated behind the scenes.
Israel has warned Egypt against allowing aid through this Rafiah crossing, but international pressure is growing for some kind of humanitarian corridor as the electricity runs out and the situation grows ever more dire.
Bodies of civilians killed in Hamas’s attacks show signs of torture “unlike anything seen before”, Israeli President Isaac Herzog said.
While many anticipate the bombardment of Gaza will precede a ground offensive, IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) spokesperson Lt Col Richard Hecht said no decision has been made on a ground operation yet.
“Anyone who will come near the fence will be shot – anyone,” he said on Thursday morning, adding Hamas is still trying to come into Israel through the sea. “No one’s coming in, no one’s coming out.”
Meanwhile, the UN has said about 340,000 people have been displaced in Gaza, where a Sky News team spoke to a mother who found her home had been “bombed entirely”.
“There’s nothing left,” she said. “There’s nothing visible in the house. It’s been bombed entirely… where shall I go?”
In Gaza’s Al Shati refugee camp, residents were sifting through rubble with their bare hands to search for survivors.
Rescue workers say they lack fuel and equipment to dig victims out of collapsed buildings.