Israel-Gaza conflict: Israel asserted that Hamas will pay heavy price for its actions.
Over 232 have died in Gaza, Palestine said, while 300 were killed in Israel as 5,000 rockets were fired by militant group Hamas in a surprise attack. Israel declared war against Hamas, vowing to avenge the fierce attack, and launched airstrikes.
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Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country is at war and Hamas will pay an unprecedented price. "Citizens of Israel, we are at war. This is not an operation, not an escalation - this is war. And we will win. Hamas will pay an unprecedented price," he said in a video message.
Over 5,000 rockets pierced the sky towards Israel as loud sirens blared across the country on a festive holiday morning. The country's defence forces also alleged infiltration by Hamas militants, whom they consider terrorists. Paragliders were used in the attack and cars passing by were fired at on the roads, showed visuals from Israel. (LIVE BLOG)
Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Hamas made a "grave mistake" in launching a war against Israel. "Hamas has made a grave mistake this morning and launched a war against the State of Israel. IDF troops (Israeli army) are fighting against the enemy at every location," Gallant said in a statement.
The Indian embassy in Israel has asked its citizens to remain vigilant and observe safety protocols as advised by local authorities. "Please exercise caution, avoid unnecessary movement, and stay close to safety shelters," it said in an advisory. India has also set up a helpline and an email address for citizens to reach out.
"The Israel Defense Forces declares a state of readiness for war. There has been widespread rocket fire into Israeli territory from Gaza, and terrorists have infiltrated Israeli territory through various entry points," the country's military said, vowing to defend the country.
The armed wing of Hamas declared it launched "Operation Al-Aqsa Flood" and fired over 5,000 rockets in the "first strike of 20 minutes". "We have decided to put an end to all of this, with the help of God, so that the enemy understands that the time of recklessness without accountability is over," Hamas militant leader Mohamed Deif said in a recorded message.
Sirens blared through Jerusalem and across Israel as multiple points of impact were reported across southern and central parts of the country. The government asked civilians to stay near shelters and those near the Gaza Strip to stay home.
Haunting visuals of people fleeing their homes in the Gazan border areas have surfaced online. Hundreds of men and women were seen moving away from the border with Israel, carrying blankets and food items.
Israel and Palestinian militants have fought several wars since Hamas took power in Gaza in 2007. The latest comes as tensions heightened after Israel closed its borders to Gazan workers. As many as 247 Palestinians, 32 Israelis, and two foreigners have been killed in the conflict this year so far. These include both fighters and civilians.
The violence erupted a day after Hamas said that the "people had to draw a line to end the occupation" and added that Israel continued to commit crimes across Palestinian land, and especially on the holy site of Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem.
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