Hamas surprises Israel with its largest-ever attack amid reports of soldiers being killed and kidnapped

The Al-Qassam Brigades launch Operation Al-Aqsa Tempest by firing thousands of rockets at Israeli towns, reaching Jerusalem, and infiltrating settlements in the Gaza Strip in unprecedented attacks. Israel declares a state of emergency in preparation for a long war


Hamas and several Palestinian factions initiated a wide-scale military operation against Israel early Saturday. calling it “Operation Al-Aqsa Tempest.” They launched a large number of rockets from Gaza. and militants infiltrated settlements near .the Gaza Strip. resulting in reports of soldiers being killed .and kidnapped. Israel has responded with a strong warning .and declared a state of high alert .and general mobilization.

The Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, announced the start of “Operation Al-Aqsa Tempest” .and claimed to have launched over five thousand rockets from Gaza into Israel on Saturday. The Islamic Jihad Movement also joined the operation. with the leadership stating their intent to .end Israeli occupation crimes. They declared. “We announce the start of Operation Al-Aqsa Tempest. and we declare that the first strike targeting enemy sites. and fortifications exceeded 5,000 rockets and shells.” as reported by the Al-Aqsa TV website.

Journalists reported that dozens of rockets were unexpectedly launched from Gaza towards Israel early Saturday. triggering alarm sirens in Israeli territory.

Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’s political bureau. stated on Saturday that “the Palestinian resistance is engaged in an epic battle with the title of Al-Aqsa and holy sites.” He attributed the central cause of. the ongoing events to .”the criminal Israeli aggression on Al-Aqsa Mosque. which peaked in recent days.” He also pointed out the actions. of “thousands of criminal settler extremists desecrating Al-Aqsa Mosque. and praying inside it. in preparation for imposing Israeli sovereignty,. a step we had information about. intending to impose sovereignty over the mosque.” Haniyeh emphasized that they. cannot remain silent in the face of such desecration. and aggression.

He further stated, “We are waging a battle of honor. resistance. and dignity to defend the sanctuary and Al-Aqsa. under the title of Al-Aqsa Tempest. This tempest started in Gaza .and will extend. to the West Bank and beyond. wherever our people and nation are present.”

Explosions were heard in various areas of Gaza. apparently resulting from the launch of various rockets.

The shelling began from multiple locations in Gaza. before 6:30 a.m. (03:30 GMT). and continued for approximately half an hour.

Witnesses reported seeing dozens of rockets launched from various locations in Gaza towards Israeli areas. In Israel. the army announced that. warning sirens sounded in several southern areas. and the police urged citizens to stay near bomb shelters. Massive explosions were reported with the interception of rockets in the skies over Jerusalem. and Ben Gurion International .Airport’s vicinity was also targeted.

In response to the attacks. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated on Saturday in a video posted on social media. “We are in a state of war .and not in a military operation.” He added. “Hamas has launched a deadly surprise attack against. the state of Israel and its citizens. I ordered first. and foremost to cleanse. the civilian areas of (terrorists). who infiltrated and ordered a large-scale operation: widespread reserve mobilization. The enemy will pay an unprecedented price.”

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant approved .a wide-scale call-up of reservists following the attack in preparation for a long war.

The official Israeli broadcasting authority reported that an Israeli was killed. and at least two were injured in residential areas in the Gaza Strip. Magen David Adom. Israel‘s emergency medical service. confirmed one Israeli killed .and 15 others injured. while “Times of Israel” reported. at least six Israelis killed and 100 others injured.

The Israeli army said in a statement. “In the past hour. rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel. We urge the public in southern .and central parts of the country to stay near protected areas .and obey internal command orders.” They also stated. “Hamas has initiated. a dual operation involving missile strikes. and the infiltration of saboteurs into Israeli territory,” adding. “Hamas will pay a heavy price.” The public is required to follow .the instructions of the home front .and stay inside fortified areas. and residents of the Gaza Strip are required to stay inside their homes.

On the other hand. the Israeli Broadcasting Authority stated. “There is currently an exchange of gunfire between infiltrators .and Israeli army soldiers. and security forces have instructed the residents of. the city of Sderot to stay in their homes near fortified rooms.” They noted that Hamas fighters had taken .control of a police station in the city. and videos circulating on social media showed .militants infiltrating an Israeli community.

The Israeli army radio confirmed the death of Ofer Libstein. the head of the municipal council of Sh’ar Hanegev. during an exchange of gunfire with Palestinian fighters. Media affiliated with Hamas. also reported fires in buildings. and Israeli army tanks. as well as the death and capture of several Israeli soldiers.

Palestinian militants in Gaza shared photos .and videos on social media showing elements of Palestinian factions .and civilians taking over Israeli vehicles. Some images .and videos showed Israeli vehicles being .driven into Palestinian residential neighborhoods.

Palestinian journalist .and activist Hassan Aslih posted a video showing an Israeli tank on fire, stating that .”everyone inside it was .captured by members of Al-Qassam.”

The Lebanese Hezbollah group announced on Saturday that it was closely. monitoring developments on the ground in Palestine. considering Hamas‘ military operation against Israel as a “decisive response .to Israel’s ongoing aggression against holy sites .and human dignity.”

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