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‘We Are At War,’ Israeli PM Netanyahu Declares After Gaza Militants Infiltrate

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Gaza terrorists invaded several Israeli cities and military bases early on Saturday and launched more than 2,000 rockets from Gaza at central and southern Israel, inflicting numerous injuries on Israeli soldiers, according to the Israeli military.

According to Israel’s National Rescue Service, roughly 40 Israelis died in the attack.

Gaza Health Ministry said that 198 Palestinians were killed. According to Ashraf Al-Qidra, a spokesman for the health ministry, the bulk of those slain were militants. The Health Ministry added that 1,610 Palestinians had at least minor injuries.

The Israeli military has announced strikes on the neighboring Gaza Strip, proclaimed a “state of war alert,” and called up reservists.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared in a video message in front of Israel’s military headquarters, “We are at war.”

Mohammed Deif, a key Hamas militant commander, urged for a battle in the region in a statement. He referred to Jewish religious ultranationalists who visited the holy site, also known in Judaism as the Temple Mount, this week during a Jewish holiday and said that their visit was in retaliation for Israeli “desecration” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

According to Israeli military spokesman Richard Hecht, Palestinian terrorists in the encircled Gaza Strip began an all-out assault on Israel at 6:30 a.m. local time, infiltrating on paragliders, over the Mediterranean Sea, and on land.

Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants have been engaged in hours-long fighting inside at least five southern Israeli settlements near Gaza, including the town of Sderot and the kibbutz communities of Nahal Oz, Beeri, Magen, and Kfar Aza, as well as two Israeli military bases nearby, according to Hecht.

According to a council spokeswoman, the leader of a southern Israeli regional council was fatally shot by Palestinian insurgents in Kfar Aza, and one woman was apparently killed by rocket fire in southern Israel. Unconfirmed sources also claim that Israelis have been held hostage within Gaza.

Israeli media are reporting on incidents where militants from Gaza are riding trucks into Israel and engaging in firefights with local populations. Israeli public broadcaster received eyewitness accounts that Palestinian militants prowled outside Israeli homes and opened fire during an outdoor nature event, sending Israelis fleeing into the surrounding fields and sheltering in bushes. Residents of southern Israel are required to stay in their houses, according to Israeli authorities.

Palestinian militants launched a flurry of missiles into Israel at the same time from Gaza. Early on Saturday morning, air raid sirens and deafening booms could be heard in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and throughout central and southern Israel.

The big weekly rallies in Israel that were planned to protest the far-right government’s efforts to curtail the judiciary’s authority were canceled, according to the organizers. Reservists were urged to serve if they were called up by a protesting group of reservist soldiers who have been at the forefront of a massive movement of reservists refusing to go to military training.

In a statement, the U.S. diplomatic in Jerusalem noted that it was “aware that there have been casualties as a result of these incidents” and that the diplomatic staff was taking cover.

The violence on Saturday occurred on the Jewish Sabbath, the Simchat Torah holiday, and one day after the important Yom Kippur War, which broke out in 1973 when Arab nations unexpectedly and fatally attacked Israel.

The violence follows tense encounters between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers along the Gaza-Israel border, as well as deadly Israeli military operations and clashes with Palestinians in the West Bank that is under Israeli occupation.

In the past 15 years, Israel and Gaza’s militants have engaged in numerous battles, and since the jihadist group Hamas seized power in Gaza in 2007, Israel and Egypt have enacted a siege on the impoverished enclave.

Egyptian mediators reportedly tried to mediate a deal in recent weeks that would stop hostilities between Israel and Gaza, financially secure Gaza’s government employees, and permit more Palestinians to work in Israel. The most recent violence may jeopardize efforts to broker a diplomatic agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel to establish formal diplomatic ties.

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