So far, at least twenty-two Israelis have been killed and more than five hundred wounded in the attack by the militants of the Islamist Palestinian organization Hamas, according to the announcement of the Israeli ambulance service and hospitals early Saturday afternoon. The militants, who attacked by surprise, took an unknown number of Israeli hostages to the Gaza Strip controlled by Hamas. In the ground attack, the militants attacked more than ten Israeli settlements that are close to the zone. In seven of them, they were inside at noon local time.
Parallel to the land attack, Hamas militants fired more than 2,500 rockets at Israel from the zone on Saturday. Israel ordered full mobilization, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared: “Israel is at war”. The army has launched an operation under the code name Iron Swords, and in the meantime it is mobilizing tens of thousands of reservists, including soldiers from all commando units. The Szoroka Hospital in Beér Seva informed that more than two hundred and eighty wounded people have been admitted so far, sixty of whom are in serious or critical condition. The ambulance service called on the population to donate blood in order to ensure the survival of more than five hundred wounded people treated in hospitals. In compliance with this, hundreds of people stand in line in front of blood donation centers in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem.
Among the dead there is Ofir Libstein, head of the municipality of Saár Hanegev, who lost his life in a firefight with Hamas terrorists. According to the report of the public service TV, there are many casualties from the fighting, but their exact number is not yet known. The number of wounded and dead is expected to increase, because rescuers have not yet been able to enter several settlements occupied by Hamas militants. Fighting continued even in the early afternoon in the Israeli settlements under their control. In the village of Ofakim, they are setting fire and holding hostages in an apartment.
The Israeli newspaper Haáretz reported that chaotic conditions prevail in Rahat, the largest Bedouin settlement in the Negev desert, which is hit by almost continuous rocket attacks, but less than ten shelters are available to the approximately seventy-five thousand residents.