NEWS

Israel strikes back at Hamas as fears of wider conflict grow



Israel says it is at war as its soldiers battle Hamas fighters in the streets of southern Israel and launch airstrikes on Gaza, the day after an unprecedented surprise Hamas attack.

At least 600 people have reportedly been killed in Israel — a staggering toll on a scale the country has not experienced in decades — and more than 300 have been killed in Gaza as Israeli airstrikes pound the territory.

Follow our live updates.

THREE BRITISH MEN DEAD OR MISSING, THEIR FAMILIES SAY

Three British men were said to either be dead or missing after the Hamas attack on Israel.

Nathanel Young, 20, was killed while serving in the Israel Defense Forces, his sister, Gaby Shalev, said on Facebook. His death was later confirmed by the Israeli Embassy in London.

British photographer Danny Darlington, who lived in Berlin, and his German girlfriend, Carolin Bohl, had not been heard from after hiding out in a bunker at kibbutz Nir Oz, according to Sam Pasquesi, who is Bohl’s brother-in-law.

Pasquesi said his family learned later Sunday from a man working at the kibbutz that the bodies of the two had been identified.

Jake Marlow, 26, had been providing security at a music festival near kibbutz Re’im when he called his mother, Lisa, before dawn to say rockets were flying overhead.

He texted her an hour later but that was the last she heard from him, she told Jewish News. The Israeli Embassy in London did not know if Marlowe “is taken hostage or dead or in a hospital,” a spokesperson said.

The U.K. Foreign Office did not immediately return messages seeking comment on the three.

SOME EUROPEANS ALSO BELIEVED DEAD OR CAPTIVE

A French woman in Israel has died “in the context of the terrorist attacks,” France’s foreign ministry said Sunday, without providing details. French teams in Israel and Paris are trying to clarify the situations of several citizens who have not been located, the statement said.

Germany’s Foreign Ministry says it has to assume that German citizens are among those kidnapped by Hamas on Saturday. It didn’t say how many people that might be, but said they are all believed also to be Israeli citizens.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said two Ukrainian women had been killed. Both had lived in Israel for a long time, he said without elaborating on the circumstances of their death.

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry said two Belarusians were injured during the shelling of the city of Ashkelon, and one of them was in serious condition.

PALESTINIAN AMERICANS PLAN RALLIES IN UNITED STATES

In Atlanta and Chicago, Palestinian Americans planned to rally Sunday afternoon outside of Israeli consulates to call for an end to U.S. aid to Israel and for the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. Hatem Abudayyeh, the national chair of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network and a spokesperson for the Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine, told The Associated Press that Palestinians “have been living under an apartheid regime.”

“In recent years, we have seen the unified Palestinian resistance grow stronger,” said Abudayyeh, who has family in the region. “It really should be no surprise that this is happening.”

Rallies were also planned Sunday in Anaheim, California, Chicago, Dallas, New York, San Francisco and in Washington, at the White House.

– Alex Sanz reported from Atlanta

ISRAEL CONFIRMS AMERICANS ARE AMONG HAMAS CAPTIVES

Israel’s minister for strategic affairs, Ron Dermer, said American citizens are among those who were taken captive but gave no details about them, nor about Americans who might have been killed.

“Unfortunately I can’t. We have a lot of dual citizens in Israel. I suspect there are several, but we’re still trying to sort through all of all this information after this horrific surprise attack and we’ll make sure to put that information out so that the loved ones of these people who were killed and who are held hostage, they know as quickly as possible,” Dermer told CNN’s ‘’State of the Union.’’

GERMANY TO REVIEW AID FOR PALESTINIAN AREAS

Germany’s development minister says her country will review its aid for the Palestinian areas following the attack by Hamas on Israel.

The development ministry says Germany does not finance the Palestinian Authority directly, but a total of 250 million euros ($265 million) is currently pledged in German aid – half of that for bilateral projects via Germany’s overseas aid agency and development bank, and the other half for the U.N. agency for the Palestinians, UNRWA.

Development Minister Svenja Schulze said in a statement Sunday that Germany already took great care that its aid for Palestinians “serves peace and not the terrorists.”

“But these attacks on Israel are a terrible watershed, so we will review our whole commitment to the Palestinian areas,” she added.

Schulze noted that Israel also has an interest in Palestinians being able to live in long-term stability, and said Germany will also coordinate with its international partners.

U.S. IS LOOKING AT POSSIBLY SENDING MORE ASSISTANCE TO ISRAEL, BLINKEN SAYS

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. is looking at additional requests for assistance that the Israelis have made, and there could be developments on that front later Sunday.

He told CNNS President Joe Biden’s “direction was to make sure that we’re providing Israel everything it needs in this moment to deal with the attacks from Hamas.’’

Blinken, who gave interviews to multiple U.S. television news shows Sunday, also talked about how the Hamas attack could have been motivated in part to derailed an emerging diplomatic deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

“It’s no surprise that those who are opposed to the talks, those who are opposed to Israel normalizing relations with its neighbors and the countries beyond the region are Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. And so it’s entirely possible that one of the motivations for this attack was to try to derail these efforts to advance normalization,” Blinken said.

He said Washington had seen reports that Americans were missing or had been killed and “we’re working overtime to verify that.”

GERMAN LEADER WARNS OF DANGER OF REGIONAL ESCALATION

German Chancellor OIaf Scholz is stressing the need to avoid a wider “conflagration” in the Middle East after Hamas attacked Israel.

Scholz said he spoke Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and assured him that Israel’s security is a cornerstone of German policy. He pledged that “we will act accordingly.” He said he plans to speak to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and will support Egypt in efforts to mediate and de-escalate.

Scholz said he also will talk by phone with the leader of the U.S., France and the U.K. to evaluate the situation.

He added: “It is clear that we condemn the actions of Hamas in the strongest terms, but above all we are doing everything so that this attack doesn’t turn into a conflagration with incalculable consequences for the whole region — and we warn everyone in this situation against fueling terrorism.”

The Israeli flag was raised Sunday at the chancellery, the German parliament’s Reichstag building and the German president’s office. Germany has increased protection for Jewish and Israeli facilities.

ISRAELI SECURITY CABINET DECLARES THE COUNTRY IS AT WAR

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office says his Security Cabinet has declared the country at war following a deadly Hamas assault in southern Israel.

The decision, announced on Sunday, formally authorizes “the taking of significant military steps,” it said it a statement.

“The war that was forced on the State of Israel in a murderous terrorist assault from the Gaza Strip began at 06:00 yesterday,” it said.

It gave no further details. But Netanyahu had previous declared the country at war, and the military has promised a harsh response in Gaza.

Israeli media say at least 600 people have been killed in the surprise cross-border incursion by Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip.

IRANIAN OFFICIAL PRAISES HAMAS’ ACTIONS

Ali Shamkhani, the political adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, said in a post on X that the Hamas attack was “a decisive, unique and effective” operation that was a legitimate defense against the Israeli government.

“The Palestinian resistance is a mature and independent movement whose power comes from widespread public support,” he added.

JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA CONDEMN HAMAS ATTACK

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Sunday condemned Hamas and other Palestinian militants over their incursion into Israel, urging all parties to use restraint.

“Japan strongly condemns the attacks which severely harmed innocent civilians,” Kishida said in his message posted on X, formerly known as Twitte.

Kishida also condemned the militants over the reported abduction of a number of people, urging their immediate release.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry also said it strongly condemns “the indiscriminate attacks on Israel from Gaza.” and calls for an immediate halt of these attacks.

The Japanese government said it was working to ensure the safety of its citizens in Israel and Gaza, while the South Korean foreign ministry urged its nationals to leave.

PALESTINIANS SEEK REFUGE IN UN SCHOOLS

The U.N. agency for Palestinian Refugees, UNRWA, said over 20,000 people were sheltering in 44 of its schools around Gaza by Saturday evening.

“The number (of displaced) is rapidly increasing, “ said Inas Hamdan, acting public information officer in Gaza.

The agency said three of its schools suffered “collateral” damage from Israeli airstrikes. The agency also said its operations of nine water wells around the Gaza Strip were stopped early Saturday. Operations in three wells resumed Sunday, said Hamdan. The agency’s food distribution centers, which provide for over 540,000 of Gaza residents, have been closed since Saturday.

In an UNRWA school in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood northwest of Gaza city center, residents described overnight Israeli strikes that hit the school’s courtyard causing panic and light injuries among those sheltering there.

At another school serving as a shelter in central Gaza city, people were piling blankets and food stuff in the three-story building. New arrivals brought in mattresses, packing their children into small and crowded classrooms.

“We didn’t know where to go,” said Umm Mohammad, or mother of Mohammad, a resident of a district on the eastern borders of Gaza. She described waking up in the middle of the night to screams, strikes and calls for evacuation. “We arrived at the schools miraculously because there was no transport.”

MEDIA REPORTS: ISRAELI DEATH TOLL STANDS AT 600

The death toll in Israel following a surprise attack by the militant group Hamas stands at 600, according to several Israeli media outlets.

The Kan public broadcaster and Channel 12, as well as the Haaretz and Times of Israel newspapers, reported the toll Sunday.

There has been no official confirmation of the number of deaths on the Israeli side since the fighting erupted early Saturday.

Palestinian officials say more than 300 people have been killed in Gaza, without differentiating between fighters and civilians.

Hamas gunmen used explosives to break through the border fence enclosing Gaza on Saturday, then crossed with motorcycles, pickup trucks, paragliders and speed boats on the coast.

LEADERS OF EGYPT, JORDAN DISCUSS CRISIS

The leaders of Israel’s neighbors, Egypt and Jordan, discussed the ongoing fighting between Israel and the Palestinians.

According to a statement by the Egyptian president, President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi received a phone call from King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Both leaders agreed on working to avoid further deterioration of the situation, the statement said.

Both Egypt and Jordan are close allies with the U.S. and are the first Arab nations to establish diplomatic ties with Israel.

The latest round of violence began with an unprecedented surprise attack in which Hamas militants raced into Israel, killing hundreds of people and taking captives back to Gaza.

Israel responded by rushing troops to the border area and launching airstrikes across the blockaded territory. Palestinian officials say more than 300 Gazans have been killed.

EXPLOSIONS AND AIRSTRIKES IN RAFAH

In the southern Gaza town of Rafah on Sunday, residents heard a loud explosion, apparently from an Israeli airstrike that hit a target close to the borders with Egypt. It was not immediately clear what was targeted. Residents said a house in the area had been evacuated.

Israel carried out dozens of airstrikes in Rafah overnight. One of the strikes hit three homes in one of the most crowded refugee camps, Shaboura, killing 19 members of the same family, according to a family member who posted their names on his social media. Surviving family members and neighbors filled al-Farouk mosque, holding funeral prayers as the bodies of those killed wrapped in white shrouds lined the floor. The crowd then marched to the nearby cemetery for burial, some carrying the bodies.

Also on Sunday, loudspeakers from mosques and moving cars in Rafah blared with condolences and praise for fighters from Hamas, believed to be natives of Rafah, who were killed during the assault on Israel.

THE POPE CALLS FOR THE VIOLENCE TO STOP

Pope Francis on Sunday expressed “apprehension and pain at what is happening in Israel, where violence is again exploding even faster, causing hundreds of deaths and injuries.”

Speaking to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square, the pope offered prayers for the victims and their families “and for all those who are experiencing hours of terror and anguish.”

The pontiff called on the attacks by both sides to stop. “Terrorism and war don’t bring solutions, only death. War is a defeat. Every war is a defeat.”

ISLAMIC BLOC CONDEMNS ‘ISRAELI MILITARY AGGRESSION’

The world’s largest bloc of Muslim countries has condemned what it refers to as “Israeli military aggression” amid ongoing fighting between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation said Sunday that it is “greatly concerned about the developments on the ground and the dangerous Israeli escalation in the occupied Palestinian territory.”

The 57-member bloc went on to condemn “the Israeli military aggression that led to the fall of hundreds of martyrs and wounded among the Palestinian people.”

The latest round of violence began with an unprecedented surprise attack in which Hamas militants raced into Israel, killing hundreds of people and taking captives back to Gaza.

Israel responded by rushing troops to the border area and launching airstrikes across the blockaded territory. Palestinian officials say more than 300 Gazans have been killed.

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