At least 800 people have been killed in Israel since Saturday when Palestinian militant group Hamas launched an attack in the central and southern parts of the country, Al-Jazeera reported. Around 500 Palestinians have been killed in retaliatory strikes by Israel.
Over 2,200 persons have been injured in Israel, while 2,751 Palestinians have sustained injuries. An Indian woman working as a caregiver in Israel is among those injured, according to PTI.
Hamas, which runs Gaza, launched a multi-pronged attack early Saturday by firing a barrage of rockets towards Israeli cities and sending in militants via paragliders and boats.
Israel retaliated with a wave of air strikes on housing blocks, tunnels, a mosque and homes of Hamas officials in Gaza as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of “mighty vengeance”.
“As an occupying power, Israel has no right or justification to target the defenceless civilian population in Gaza or elsewhere in Palestine,” said the Palestinian foreign ministry, reported Reuters. The ministry also denounced the “barbarous campaign of death and destruction”.
On Sunday, the Israeli government formally declared war and gave the green light for “significant military steps”.
Israel subsequently announced a “complete siege” on Gaza and launched hundreds of strikes on the region, The Guardian reported.
“I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip,” the country’s defence minister Yoav Gallant said. “There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly.”
Netanyahu’s office said in a statement that their aim will be the destruction of “military and governing capabilities” of Hamas to an extent that prevents the group from threatening Israelis “for many years”.
While the steps Israel will take have not been defined, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said: “The price the Gaza Strip will pay will be a very heavy one that will change reality for generations.”
The United Nations said on Sunday that over 17,500 Palestinian families, comprising nearly 1,23,538 people, have been internally displaced in Gaza due to fear for their safety and destruction of their homes.
“Out of the internally displaced persons, UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees] estimates 73,538 people are sheltering in 64 schools, some of which are designated emergency shelters,” the agency said in a statement.
It also said that Israeli authorities stopped supplying electricity to the Gaza Strip on Saturday. The Gaza Power Plant is currently the only source of power and could run out of fuel within days.
Indian woman injured in southern Israel
A woman from Kerala, Sheeja Anand, was injured in a missile strike on the city of Ashkelon in southern Israel, according to PTI.
The woman, who had been working as a caregiver in Israel, was reportedly on a video call with her husband Anand when the missile struck. Her sister said that on the call, Sheeja told her husband that she could hear missile strikes.
“In the middle of the conversation, the call got disconnected and thereafter, we could not reach her for several hours,” PTI quoted the sister as having told a TV channel. “Later in the evening some of her colleagues told us that she was injured in the attack and her phone fell somewhere.”
Sheeja’s family members said they later saw her on a hospital bed. They said that she was to be shifted to another hospital for a spinal surgery, according to PTI.
Foreign nationals killed
The United States has confirmed that several of its citizens have been killed and abducted in Israel. However, an exact number is yet to be ascertained.
A British national named Nathanel Young was among the Israeli soldiers killed in the attacks. The Israeli embassy in London stated that another man identified as Jake Marlowe had been missing. According to The Times of Israel, British photographer Danny Darlington and his German girlfriend Carolin Bohl have also not been located yet.
Further, 10 citizens from Nepal were among the casualties in Israel while four were being treated. They were students at the Sedot Negev Agriculture Training Center.
The Foreign Ministry of Thailand has stated that at least two of its citizens have been killed while eight were injured. At least eight Thai citizens were also taken hostage.