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Hamas threatens to execute Israeli hostages 'without warning' in response to airstrikes

Hamas claims to have captured over 130 Israeli civilians and soldiers in its unprecedented incursion on Saturday. Over 1,400 people have died on both sides - including 900 deaths in Israel from Hamas's surprise attack.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Jerusalem Updated on: October 10, 2023 6:20 IST
Hamas launched a major rocket attack in a major escalation
Image Source : AP Hamas launched a major rocket attack in a major escalation in its conflict with Israel.

Hamas' military wing has threatened to execute one Israeli hostage "without prior warning" every time Israel targets any civilian in their homes in the Gaza Strip. Abu Obeida, the spokesperson of the Qassam Brigades, said that Israel has launched intense strikes that have destroyed civilian homes.

“We have decided to put an end to this and as of now and we declare that any targeting of our people in their homes without prior warning will be regrettably faced with the execution of one the hostages of civilians we are holding,” he said in an audio statement on Monday.

On the other hand, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen demanded the Hamas group to not harm any of the hostages, and said that they are committed in bringing them back in the "spirit of mutual responsibility".

"I want to assure you that we will defeat the devil because we have no other choice. There are many Israelis and others from different nationalities who have been held hostage. We are committed to bringing them back in the spirit of mutual responsibility. We demand the Hamas not to harm any of the hostages...," he said.

Hamas and other militants in Gaza have said that they are holding over 130 soldiers and civilians who were abducted when around 1,000 Hamas militants infiltrated Israel. The situation has worsened as over 900 people have been killed in Hamas' devastating attack on Israel, as per Israeli media. 

Israel formally declared a state of war and launched retaliatory airstrikes and struck over 2,400 targets in Gaza to prevent more infiltrations, levelling down numerous buildings. Nearly 500 people have been killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza, while thousands of people have been injured on both sides.

'We have only just begun': Israeli PM Netanyahu

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a strongly-worded statement in which he said that Hamas will go through more "tough and terrible things" as the Jewish country steps up its retaliation.

"I ask you to stand firm because we are going to change the Middle East. I know you have been through terrible and difficult things. What Hamas will go through will be difficult and terrible … we have only just begun," he told authorities. He further praised the soldiers for their steadfastness and says the coming fight would take time.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military said it had largely gained control in its southern towns where it had been battling Hamas gunmen. Tanks and drones were deployed to guard breaches in the border fence with Gaza to prevent new infiltrations. Thousands of Israelis were evacuated from more than a dozen towns near Gaza, and the military summoned 300,000 reserve forces.

Additionally, the European Union Commission has decided to suspend all payments immediately” to the Palestinians because of what he called the “scale of terror and brutality” during the attacks of Hamas against Israel. The EU is the largest donor to the Palestinians, spending about $728 million in aid, BBC reported.

The leaders of Germany, France, the US and the United Kingdom will also discuss the conflict on Monday, announced German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. 

What is Israel doing now?

The Israeli military claimed to have launched the largest-ever airstrike against Hamas in Gaza, targeting 2,400 Hamas targets on Monday. At least 73 Israei soldiers have been killed as of now.

Israeli warplanes carried out an intense bombardment of Rimal, a residential and commercial district of central Gaza City, after issuing warnings for residents to evacuate. Amid continuous explosions, the building housing the headquarters of the Palestinian Telecommunications Company was destroyed.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has ordered a 'complete siege' on Gaza, saying that authorities will cut off access to electricity, food and fuel in the area. In recent years Israel has provided limited electricity and allowed the import of food, fuel and some consumer goods, while heavily restricting travel in and out.

Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said incidents of clashes between troops and Palestinian terrorists on Monday have been “isolated”, according to The Times of Israel. “It is possible there are still terrorists in the area,” Hagari said, but said that there was no ongoing fighting in any of the towns.

The unprecedented attack on such a scale shook Israel as its robust intelligence agencies and defence system Iron Dome failed to anticipate the Hamas offensive, raising questions on Israel's capabilities to defend itself.

On the other end, Hamas said that it is ready for a long battle to end an Israeli occupation it says is no longer tolerable. Many Palestinians were frustrated over unending Israeli control and the establishment of new settlements in the West Bank and other occupied areas.

(with agency inputs)

ALSO READ | Hamas attacks on Israel killed nine American nationals, says US State Department

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