New York City:
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will hold a closed-door session on the Middle East situation at 3 pm (US local time) on Sunday, according to the website of the UN.
A major upheaval took place in the Middle East on Saturday when the Hamas terror group launched a “surprise attack”, firing a barrage of rockets into southern and central Israel.
According to the latest developments, more than 200 people have been killed, at least 1,100 injured and several Israelis held as hostages in Gaza, the Times of Israel reported citing officials.
At about 6:30 am (local time), a barrage of rocket fire began from Gaza into Israel, hitting several cities including Tel Aviv, Rehovot, Gedera and Ashkelon.
This was followed by several Hamas terrorists entering Israel from the Gaza Strip and taking over Israeli towns.
Hamas military commander Muhammad Al-Deif called the operation “Al-Aqsa Storm” and said that the assault on Israel was a response to attacks on women, the desecration of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and the ongoing siege of Gaza, CNN reported.
Some graphic videos showed bodies strewn in the streets of the southern city of Sderot after the attack by Palestinian militants. Cars were riddled with bullets and lit on fire, according to The Washington Post.
In a major development, the Israeli Mayor, and head of the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, Ofir Liebstein, was also killed in the deadly rocket fire.
In response to the deadly attacks, the Israel Defense Forces also declared a “readiness for war”.
Israel launched “Operation Swords of Iron”, striking a number of targets in the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s response to the Hamas incursion will “exact a huge price” from the Palestinian group.
This was followed by the Israeli air force launching airstrikes across the Gaza Strip, hitting 17 military compounds and four operational command centres belonging to Hamas.
In the first reaction to the attacks, Netanyahu said that Israel “is at war” and that they will win it.
“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. I convened the heads of the security establishment and ordered, first of all, to clear out the communities that have been infiltrated by terrorists. This currently is being carried out,” Netanyahu said in a video statement yesterday.
This was followed by another strongly worded response to the Hamas rocket attack by Netanyahu, who stressed that the country’s focus is on restoring security and to exact an “immense price from the enemy”.
Addressing the Security Cabinet meeting in Israel, Netanyahu called on the citizens to unite for “victory” in the war.
“Since this morning, the State of Israel has been at war. Our first objective is to clear out the hostile forces that infiltrated our territory and restore security and quiet to the communities that have been attacked. The second objective, at the same time, is to exact an immense price from the enemy, within the Gaza Strip as well. The third objective is to reinforce other fronts so that nobody should mistakenly join this war,” Netanyahu said at the meeting.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)