Israeli forces still fighting Hamas in several spots in southern Israel on Monday
- On Monday, Israeli forces were still fighting Hamas in 'seven to eight' places in southern Israel
- Israeli media reports at least 700 people in Israel killed since Saturday's attacks; Palestinian officials say more than 400 people killed in Gaza.
- Hamas says its attacks are retaliation for Israel's escalated aggression in West Bank and Jerusalem.
- Global Affairs Canada looking into reports one Canadian has died, two Canadians are missing.
Israel's military battled to drive Hamas fighters out of southern towns and seal its borders Monday, as it pounded the Gaza Strip from the air and mustered for a campaign its prime minister said would destroy "the military and governing capabilities" of the militant group.
Civilians paid a high price on both sides. At least 700 people have reportedly been killed in Israel and more than 400 have been killed in Gaza in the deadliest raid into Israeli territory since Egypt and Syria's attacks in the Yom Kippur war 50 years ago. Palestinian militant groups claimed to be holding over 130 captives from the Israeli side.
More than two days after Hamas launched its incursion out of Gaza, Israeli forces were still battling militants holed up in several locations.
As Monday began, the military said it was fighting Hamas in "seven to eight" places in southern Israel.
Israeli military spokesperson Richard Hecht said it was taking longer than expected to repel the incursion because there were still multiple breaches in the border, which he said Hamas could be using to bring in more fighters and weapons.
"We thought this morning we'd be in a better place," Hecht said.
The Israeli Defense Forces said that 70 additional militants infiltrated Be'eri kibbutz, which the military has been unable to wrest from Hamas, overnight.
Meanwhile, Israel hit more than 1,000 targets in Gaza, its military said, including airstrikes that levelled much of the town of Beit Hanoun in the enclave's northeast corner.
Israeli Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told reporters Hamas was using the town as a staging ground for attacks. There was no immediate word on casualties, and most of the community's population of tens of thousands likely fled beforehand.
"We will continue to attack in this way, with this force, continuously, on all gathering (places) and routes" used by Hamas, Hagari said.
Home to some two million people, the Gaza Strip has been run by Hamas since it seized control of the territory in 2007. However an independent UN Human Rights commission last year found Israel has continued to occupy Gaza despite disengaging in 2005, by effectively controlling movement in and out of its borders and the supply of essentials like water and electricity. Gaza's economy has long been choked by a blockade imposed by Israel with Egypt's help — one that has been "widely condemned as a policy that may amount to collective punishment," according to the UN.
Over the past year, Israel's far-right government has ramped up settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, Israeli settler violence has displaced hundreds of Palestinians there, and tensions have flared around the Al-Aqsa mosque, a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site.
Israeli army calls up reservists
The declaration of war portended greater fighting ahead, and a major question was whether Israel would launch a ground assault into Gaza, a move that in the past has brought intensified casualties. An Israeli military spokesperson said that the army had called up around 100,000 reservists, and said in a statement that Israel would aim to end Hamas' rule of Gaza.
"Our task is to make sure that Hamas will no longer have any military capabilities to threaten Israel with this," said spokesperson Jonathan Conricus in a video tweeted by Israel's military.
"And in addition to that, we will make sure that Hamas is no longer able to govern the Gaza Strip."
Families of Israeli hostages plead for their return
Featured VideoDozens of Israelis are being held hostage, many taken from a desert concert near Gaza, and their families are fearing the worst while pleading for their return.
After breaking through Israeli barriers with explosives at daybreak Saturday, the Hamas gunmen shot civilians and snatched people in towns, along highways and at a techno music festival attended by thousands in the desert. The rescue service Zaka said it removed about 260 bodies from the festival, and that number was expected to rise. It was not clear how many of those bodies were already included in Israel's overall toll.
The Israeli military estimated 1,000 Hamas fighters took part in Saturday's initial incursion. The high figure underscored the extent of planning by the militant group ruling Gaza, which has said it launched the attack in response to mounting Palestinian suffering under Israel's occupation and blockade of Gaza.
Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad group claimed to have taken captive more than 130 people from inside Israel and brought them into Gaza, saying they would be traded for the release of thousands of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. The announcement, though unconfirmed, was the first sign of the scope of abductions.
The captives are known to include soldiers and civilians, including women, children and older adults, mostly Israelis but also some people of other nationalities. The Israeli military said only that the number of captives is "significant."
Mayyan Zin, a divorced mother of two, said she learned that her two daughters had been abducted when a relative sent her photos from a Telegram group showing them sitting on mattresses in captivity. She then found online videos of a chilling scene in her ex-husband's home in the town of Nahal Oz: Gunmen who had broken in speak to him, his leg bleeding, in the living room near the two terrified, weeping daughters, Dafna, 15, and Ella, 8.
Another video showed the father being taken across the border into Gaza. "Just bring my daughters home and to their family. All the people," Zin said.
Israelis assess losses and strike back after Hamas attack
Featured VideoThis video contains disturbing images | A day after Hamas's deadly attack, Israelis assessed the damage and their losses while the government declared war and launched its counter-offensive.
In Gaza, residents feared further escalation. As of late Sunday, Israeli airstrikes had destroyed 159 housing units across Gaza and severely damaged 1,210 others, the U.N. said.
The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said a school sheltering more than 225 people took a direct hit. It did not say where the fire came from.
Reports of Canadians missing, killed
Global Affairs Canada cited reports that one Canadian in the region has died and two other Canadians are missing.
"Canadian government officials in Israel are in contact with local authorities to confirm and gather additional information," Global Affairs said in a statement.
The agency said it has received over 400 inquiries about the fighting. It said 1,419 Canadians are registered with the voluntary Registration of Canadians Abroad in the state of Israel, and 492 Canadians are registered in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israel hits Gaza with deadly air strikes
In the Palestinian city of Rafah in southern Gaza, an Israeli airstrike early Monday killed 19 people, including women and children, said Talat Barhoum, a doctor at the local Al-Najjar Hospital. Barhoum said aircraft hit the home of the Abu Hilal family, and that one of those killed was Rafaat Abu Hilal, a leader of a local armed group. The strike caused damage to surrounding homes.
Over the weekend, another airstrike on a home in Rafah killed 19 members of the Abu Outa family, including women and children, when they were huddling on the ground floor in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, survivors said.
Several Israeli media outlets, citing rescue service officials, said at least 700 people have been killed in Israel, including 73 soldiers. The Gaza Health Ministry said 413 people, including 78 children and 41 women, were killed in the territory. Some 2,000 people have been wounded on each side. An Israeli official said security forces have killed 400 militants and captured dozens more.
How Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel unfolded
Featured VideoIsrael has declared war with Hamas after the Palestinian militant group launched a surprise attack that killed hundreds. The National breaks down how Hamas went seemingly undetected by Israeli intelligence for months and days leading up to the attack and what could happen next.
Over the weekend, the Israeli Security Cabinet declared war and approved "significant military steps" in response to the Hamas attack. The steps were not defined, but the declaration appears to give the military and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a wide mandate.
In a statement, Netanyahu's office said the aim will be the destruction of Hamas' "military and governing capabilities" to an extent that prevents it from threatening Israelis "for many years."
The declaration of war was largely symbolic, said Yohanan Plesner, the head of the Israel Democracy Institute, a think tank, but it "demonstrates that the government thinks we are entering a more lengthy, intense and significant period of war."
with files from Reuters and CBC News
Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca