In a state of shock after the deadliest attack on its territory since the establishment of the state, Israel officially declared war on Hamas on Sunday, following the unprecedented attack the previous day by the Palestinian Islamist movement based in the Gaza Strip, with the total toll of number of victims has now exceeded a thousand dead in less than 48 hours.

Seeking to regain the upper hand after this large-scale offensive – by land, air and sea – on Saturday, the Jewish holiday, Israeli forces yesterday continued to pursue Hamas members in southern Israel and launch airstrikes against targets in the Strip. Gaza, where other buildings were also destroyed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that this war will be “long”.

According to the latest official death tolls released yesterday, more than 600 people were killed in Israel, while another 2,000 were injured, 200 of whom were “in critical condition.”

“The enemy is still in the field”, on the territory of Israel, “we are strengthening our forces above all near the Gaza Strip and are carrying out clearing operations”, declared last night a representative of the Israeli army, announcing that “terrorists” will be pursued “everywhere”, “wherever they are”.

Reclaim “full” control

In the Gaza Strip, an enclave under Hamas control since 2007, at least 413 Palestinians – including 78 children and 41 women – were killed and another 2,300 wounded, authorities said.

The Israeli army deployed tens of thousands of troops to regain full control of desert-covered areas near the Gaza Strip, rescue Israeli hostages or prisoners and evacuate all residents of the area as of Monday morning. Hamas is holding “more than 100” prisoners, the government’s press service said on Sunday.

“Civilians and soldiers are in the hands of the enemy, we are in a time of war,” said Israeli army chief Herchi Halevi.

Ten Nepali nationals were killed in the Hamas attack, as well as nationals of other countries, including a French woman.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog called for “unity” to “the people, the parliament and the government” in the face of the “state of emergency”.

Prime Minister Netanyahu warned that “the war will be long and difficult.”

A 37-year-old Israeli woman said she was horrified to see members of her family who had been kidnapped in a video shot in Gaza, particularly her cousin and her children, aged between nine months and three years. “This is the only confirmation we have,” Yifat Chailer told AFP by phone, her voice cracking.

“September 11th”

Israel was also attacked on its northern border with Lebanon. The Lebanese Hezbollah movement, an ally of Hamas and Iran, opened fire with mortars on a disputed border sector, prompting the Israeli military to launch a drone strike against a Hezbollah position in southern Lebanon.

While in Egypt, two Israeli tourists were killed when a police officer fired on them in Alexandria, according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian militant group, said they had captured “numerous soldiers” from Israel.

“What happened is unprecedented in Israel,” Mr. Netanyahu acknowledged.

“Israel was taken aback by this unprecedented attack,” said Jonathan Panikoff, director of the Scowcroft Initiative on Middle East Security. in the U.S.) and many Israelis cannot understand how this was possible.”

A retired Israeli claimed that the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, which remains a national trauma in Israel, was “little” compared to the Hamas attack last Saturday, in which he saw a “very serious failure” of Israeli intelligence and security services.

The Hamas attack was launched 50 years and a day after that war, which caught Israel by surprise and claimed 2,600 lives on the Israeli side in three weeks of hostilities.

On the other hand, the Israeli counterattack “makes us fear destruction and the end of civil society in the Gaza Strip,” said Sadi al-Ashi, a 29-year-old resident of the tiny Palestinian coastal enclave.

“Legal Defense”

The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, announced that it launched this operation and fired more than 5,000 rockets at Israel to “put an end to the crimes of the occupying forces.” Israel has occupied the West Bank, Palestinian territory, and East Jerusalem since 1967, while imposing a strict blockade on the Gaza Strip since 2007.

Israel has suspended electricity, food and goods deliveries to the Palestinian territories.

The Israeli Minister of Education announced the closure of schools until tomorrow Tuesday at least.

The Hamas attack was condemned by Western leaders. Yesterday, Sunday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz ruled that Israel has a “right to defend itself” in the face of the “barbaric” attacks by Hamas.

The US yesterday began sending emergency military aid to Israel, particularly ammunition, while the USS Gerald Ford aircraft carrier strike force is sailing towards Israel in the Mediterranean.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak assured his Israeli counterpart of the UK’s “unending” support for Israel, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Israel and Hamas to “support peace” and not target civilians.

For its part, “Iran supports the legitimate defense of the Palestinian nation,” Iranian President Ebrahim Raishi said yesterday on Sunday.

At the UN Security Council, which held an emergency meeting yesterday to discuss the situation, Hamas was condemned, but there was no unanimity.

In terms of markets, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s main TA-35 index fell 6.47% on Sunday, recording its worst session since March 2020, according to financial news agency Bloomberg.