Jerusalem/Gaza, Oct. 7 (EFE) – Heavy Israeli bombardment of Gaza, more than 3,000 rockets fired from the Strip into Israel, fighting against Palestinian militias that still control Israeli territory and dozens of Israeli hostages marked the war that broke out Saturday.
The day ends with at least 430 dead on both sides in a matter of twelve hours, 232 Palestinian and 200 Israeli.
Israel was caught off guard Saturday morning by a land, sea and air offensive by Palestinian militiamen from Gaza.
The Palestinians attacked the border area and were able to advance amid the confusion of the Israeli government and security apparatus, which lost control of key points and Israeli communities adjacent to Gaza.
The area has only been partially retaken and remains under extreme tension, so far an undetermined number of soldiers and civilians have died there.
There were also soldiers and at least 50 other people kidnapped by militiamen and held in Gaza, where the Islamist group Hamas and Islamic Jihad now say they will use them to demand the release of Palestinian prisoners.
Hamas, which has controlled Gaza for more than 16 years, hailed the offensive as a military success, saying it was ready to continue the struggle and was prepared to resist for a long time.
According to Palestinian sources in Gaza, Hamas rejected offers from Egypt, Qatar, the Arab League and Jordan to negotiate a cease-fire with Israel while maintaining a position of strength.
Palestinian militias fired at least 3,000 rockets into Israeli territory, hitting nearby Israeli areas as well as central Israel and cities such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
The attack was a major blow to the Israeli executive.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid offered to form a unity government with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who in turn urged Lapid and centrist deputy Beny Gantz to come together in a “broad emergency government”.
Netanyahu called a meeting of the security cabinet to assess Israel’s strategy in what promises to be a tough night.
Israeli retaliatory airstrikes on Gaza, along with fighting in the area, have already killed at least 232 Palestinians and wounded some 1,700.
Israel also attacked and demolished two towers in the Strip, and Israeli authorities cut off electricity to the enclave, in addition to the shutdown of the main power plant, which will reduce Gaza’s full daylight to only four hours.
In Gaza, people have taken refuge in their homes, and thousands have fled the northern part of the territory to shelter in schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in Gaza City.
In Israel, the death toll topped 200, with more than 1,100 injured.
Late Saturday afternoon, Israeli forces continued to battle militants in at least twenty locations in Israeli territory bordering Gaza, where Al-Qassam Brigades said it attacked 50 positions, including military bases and strategic locations such as the Erez border crossing or the Israeli prison in Ashkelon.
The army confirmed that militiamen took hostages in the Israeli communities of Ofakim or Beeri, where clashes were also fierce in places such as the city of Sderot, according to the press.
The army is mobilizing thousands of reservists who are entering the fighting, and the military’s main goal is to “eliminate all terrorists” who have crossed the barrier between Gaza and Israel and are still in Israeli territory.
The attack has had a harsh psychological impact on many Israelis, which was felt on the streets even 70 kilometers away from Gaza, in the city of Petah Tikva, near Tel Aviv, where the sound of ambulances and patrols dominated the day.
At the Beilinson Hospital in said city, those wounded by bullets and rockets were transported by helicopter and Israeli armored ambulances, Dr. Dagan Shwartz told EFE.
“We have many wounded, civilians, soldiers and police, most are being treated in hospitals in the south and others have been evacuated” to centers like Beilinson, the doctor said.
He added that the situation reminds him of the Yom Kippur War, whose 50th anniversary was marked on Friday, and in which Israel was attacked in a surprise offensive by Syria and Egypt. EFE