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India issues advisory for its citizens as Israel declares war on Hamas, PM Modi reacts to violent attacks

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the nation is "at war" after Hamas launched a rocket attack and infiltrated the country in a surprising show of strength. Around 16 casualties have been confirmed in Israel so far.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee New Delhi Updated on: October 07, 2023 16:54 IST
Cars set ablaze after Hamas launched a barrage of rockets
Image Source : AP Cars set ablaze after Hamas launched a barrage of rockets targeting Israel.

After Israel declared war on Hamas following an intense rocket strike and infiltration offensive by the armed group in several parts of the country, India on Saturday issued a travel advisory for its citizens in light of the chaotic situation.

"In view of the current situation in Israel, all Indian nationals in Israel are requested to remain vigilant and observe safety protocols as advised by local authorities. Please exercise caution, avoid unnecessary movement and stay close to safety shelters," read the advisory.

The leader of Hamas' military wing Mohammed Deif earlier said that the armed group has launched a new military operation titled 'Operation Al-Aqsa Storm' against Israel. "We've decided to say enough is enough," he said in a rare statement. Around 5,000 rockets were launched by the group toward Israel.

At least 22 people have been confirmed killed by the Israeli rescue service, including the head of the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council Ofir Liebstein, along with 250 wounded in southern and central Israel this morning, as Palestinian militants entered Israel from Gaza. There were reports of many more casualties on both sides, but authorities did not immediately release details.

Our thoughts with Israel: PM Modi

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he was deeply shocked with the terrorist attacks in Israel and offered prayers for innocent victims and their families. "Deeply shocked by the news of terrorist attacks in Israel. Our thoughts and prayers are with the innocent victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with Israel at this difficult hour," he tweeted.

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) warned that the Hamas group will pay a "very heavy price" for the surprise attack. The Israeli military struck targets in Gaza in response to some 2,500 rockets that sent air raid sirens wailing constantly as far north as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Israel is at war: PM Benjamin Netanyahu

In his first public statement since the escalation of hostilities, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the nation is "at war" and will extract an unprecedented price from its enemy.

"We are at war, not in an operation or in rounds, but at war. This morning, Hamas launched a murderous surprise attack against the State of Israel and its citizens. We have been in this since the early morning hours," Netanyahu said in a televised address.

Around 200 Israelis have been injured in the rocket strike since the morning as 60 infiltrators have been located across 14 different locations, said Israel police. There are also unconfirmed reports of people being taken hostage and kidnapping of soldiers, including Israel commander Nimrod Aloni. Videos of Hamas fighters parading what appeared to be stolen Israeli military vehicles through the streets and at least one dead Israeli soldier within Gaza being dragged and trampled by an angry crowd of Palestinians shouting “God is Great" surfaced on social media.

"At the same time, I have ordered an extensive mobilization of reserves and that we return fire of a magnitude that the enemy has not known. The enemy will pay an unprecedented price. In the meantime, I call on the citizens of Israel to strictly adhere to the directives of the IDF and Home Front Command. We are at war, and we will win it," he said.

Earlier, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, in a statement on X, said, "The Hamas terrorist organization made a grave mistake this morning and launched a war against the State of Israel. IDF troops are fighting the enemy at every location. I call on all of Israel’s citizens to follow security instructions. The State of Israel will win this war."

The response of the international community has remained polarised - French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the attack against Israel and Saudi Arabia called for de-escalation of hostilities, while Iran supported the Hamas attack on Israel.

Israel's counteroffensive

In response to the Hamas attack, the IDF launched Operation 'Iron Swords'. Israel also began striking targets in Gaza in response to the surprise attack. 

The Israeli military has issued instructions to the residents of towns near the Gaza Strip to remain in their homes, and the rest of the public to remain near bomb shelters. IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari stated that Hamas members infiltrated from land, sea and air.

The rocket strike came after weeks of heightened tensions along Israel’s border with Gaza, and heavy fighting in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. In 2023, over 200 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank so far, while retaliatory attacks have claimed the lives of 30 Israeli people.

Israel has maintained a blockade over Gaza since Hamas, an Islamic militant group that opposes Israel, seized control of the territory in 2007. The bitter enemies have fought four wars since the establishment of the blockade. There have also been numerous rounds of smaller fighting between Israel and Hamas and other smaller militant groups based in Gaza.

(with agency inputs)

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