Operation Iron Swords: Israel launches 'most lethal retaliation' against Hamas group in Gaza strip - WATCH
Israeli Army launched ‘Operation Iron Swords’ on Saturday against the Hamas group in the Gaza Strip, in response to attacks from the territory.
In response to a barrage of rocket attacks by the Palestinian armed group, Hamas, in southern Israel on Saturday morning, the Israeli Army launched 'Operation Iron Swords' in the Gaza strip hours after declaring a state of war. According to reports, Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu has issued an Official Declaration of War, marking a major offensive against Hamas in the southern regions of Israel and along the Gaza Strip. Additionally, Israel has activated more than 10,000 Reservists to bolster the country's defense forces.
The Israel Air Force launched an attack with dozens of fighter jets targeting the Palestinian militant outfit Hamas in the Gaza Strip in several locations. The Israeli armed forces operation comes after Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant stated, "Hamas has made a grave mistake this morning and launched a war against the State of Israel."
"IDF troops (Israeli army) are fighting against the enemy at every location," he said. "I call on all of Israel's citizens to follow security instructions. The State of Israel will win this war," he said in a video statement on X.
Yaakov Shabtai, the Chief of Israel's police, has reported the deployment of special police forces in 21 different locations. Additionally, he noted that the entire southern region of Israel has been placed under a lockdown.
Meanwhile, Ofir Libstein, the mayor of Israel's Sha'ar Hanegev region, died while fighting with the Palestinian Hamas group, Times of Israel reported, citing authorities. The mayor was killed when he went to defend a town during a "terrorist attack", the mayor's office said. Deputy Mayor Yossi Keren will take over Libstein's place as the mayor.
In the early hours, rockets streaked across the sky repeatedly, originating from various locations within the Palestinian territory starting at 6:30 am. This surge in hostilities comes after months of escalating violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with casualties in the occupied West Bank reaching levels not witnessed in years.
Air raid sirens sounded across both southern and central areas of Israel, prompting the Israeli army to advise the public to seek shelter near bomb shelters. The armed branch of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has claimed responsibility for the aerial assault, asserting that its militants have launched over 5,000 rockets. Hamas "will face the consequences and responsibility for these events", an army statement said.
As a result of the heightened conflict, commercial operations at airports in central and southern Israel were suspended due to rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. However, Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv remained operational with enhanced security measures in place.
Situated on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the Gaza Strip is a Palestinian exclave, bordering Egypt to the southwest and Israel to the east and north. Together with the West Bank, it comprises the State of Palestine, though both territories have been under Israeli military occupation since 1967. The Gaza Strip and the West Bank are geographically separated by Israeli territory.
Hamas, an Islamic militant group, governs the Gaza Strip since winning elections in 2006. Since then, the region has faced a comprehensive Israeli-led blockade, encompassing land, sea, and air, severely restricting the movement of people and goods. The Gaza Strip is notably densely populated, with approximately two million Palestinians residing in an area of just 365 square kilometers, making it one of the world's most densely populated regions.