Israeli military officials say the strikes aimed at destroying Hamas terrorists are unprecedented and ‘no longer surgical’ but will not directly attack the civilian population.
The death toll from Palestinian terror group Hamas’s shock attack on Israel has surpassed 1300, with over 3000 injured and the fate of an estimated 150 people abducted and taken to the Gaza Strip unknown.
Funeral after funeral was held across Israel on Tuesday as the country reeled from the mass infiltration and massacre last Saturday. Some of the dead are still to be identified because bodies were burned beyond recognition and buildings were so damaged it was not clear if they contained bodies. Some families still do not know if missing relatives are among those abducted or already killed.
Security forces were still battling terrorists in southern Israel as late as Wednesday and, although all areas in Israel are now back under control, it is not known if terrorists remain at large inside Israel.
Israel launched strikes against thousands of targets in Gaza, aimed at rooting out Hamas terrorists but also causing a massive humanitarian crisis. The Palestinian Health Ministry said 1100 people had died as a result of Israeli strikes and more than 5000 have been injured. Gaza has shut down its only power plant, so the Strip is now without fuel, which affects drinking water; hospitals are limiting admissions to urgent cases; and 20,000 people have been displaced.
Egypt has rejected US efforts to establish a humanitarian corridor to allow Gazan civilians to escape the fighting.
Israel Air Force’s chief of staff, Brigadier General Omer Tishler said the Air Force was not targeting civilians but that the strikes were no longer “surgical.”
“We do not act like the other side. We do not attack the civilian population. Behind every attack there is a target,” he said. “We act precisely and professionally but not surgically. I’m not talking about single, tens, or hundreds [of strikes]. We are talking about thousands of munitions.”
IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi told reservist officers at the Southern Command base in Beersheba that the military was focusing efforts on targeting Hamas officials but that the presence of ‘restrictions’ (code for civilians) could not prevent Israel taking out terrorists.
“In any area that we know there are Hamas members, Hamas leaders, even if there are restrictions, we strike … accurately and with great power,” Halevi said.
In other events in the developing Israel-Gaza war:
- Rocket attacks from Gaza continued, including a heavy barrage on Tel Aviv and ongoing attacks on the central plain, southern cities and the Gaza border.
- Hezbollah launched several missiles at northern Israel, fuelling fear that Israel may find itself facing a second front on its northern border
- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Unity party leader Benny Gantz agreed to form an emergency wartime government. Opposition Leader Yair Lapid will not participate because his demand that Netanyahu sideline far-right ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir has not been met.
- US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul told reporters that Egypt had warned Israel three days before Hamas’s assault that an event like this could happen. “We’re not quite sure how we missed it. We’re not quite sure how Israel missed it,” he said.
International effects of the Hamas massacre and resultant war include:
- Dozens of international airlines suspended flights and at least 27 countries, including Australia, announced plans to evacuate citizens from Israel
- Synagogues around the world increased security out of fear that Hamas attacks could spread to the Diaspora
- US President Joe Biden said Israel had a right, “indeed a duty” to respond to the Hamas attacks and described the savagery of the massacre as “even worse than Isis”. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Tel Aviv and pledged, “As long as US exists, Israel won’t have to defend itself alone”
- Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei cheered Hamas’s “epic” attacks on Israel, but denied Iran was involved
- Displays of solidarity with Israel around the world included a massive rally in New York and blue and white lights on monuments around the world, including, most poetically, the Arch of Titus, the Roman monument which celebrated the victory of ancient Rome over ancient Israel.
IAF hits Gaza on ‘unprecedented scale’; Strip’s power plant shuts down (Times of Israel)
European countries increase synagogue security as Jews brace for antisemitism after Hamas attack (JTA)
Arch of Titus, Roman landmark celebrating ancient destruction of Jerusalem, lit up in in tribute to Israel (JTA)
Photo: A mourner at the funeral of May Naim, 24, one of the 260 young people killed at a music festival during the Hamas attack last week. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)