Israel declares ‘state of war’ as militants storm border and blast Gaza

Israel has declared a “state of war” after thousands of rocket strikes were launched from the Gaza strip by Palestinian militants.

At least six people have died and a further 200 are injured. 

Local police report that at least 60 militants from the Hamas group have crossed the border into the country, in an attack which appears to have taken Israel by surprise, with fighting breaking out in the streets.

Horrific pictures show missiles raining down, with cars on fire and tanks rolling in.

Violence has been escalating over the past 10 days, boiling over overnight before the missile fire this morning (Saturday, October 7). Residents have been ordered to remain indoors.

The elusive leader of Hamas’ military wing, Mohammed Deif, announced the beginning of what he called “Operation Al-Aqsa Storm”. 

In a recorded message, he said, “enough is enough”, urging Palestinians to join the fight. Deif boasted that Hamas had fired more than 5,000 rockets into Israel.

Salah Arouri, an exiled Hamas leader, said the operation was a response “to the crimes of the occupation”. Fighters were defending the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and the thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, he claimed.

For all the latest updates, follow the live blog below.

Dozens of aircraft attacking Hamas

“Dozens of Israeli aircraft are attacking a number of Hamas targets in Gaza Strip,” announced the Israeli military spokesperson.

Head of Shaar Hanegev dead

The head of the Shaar Hanegev regional council, Ofir Liebstein, was killed during the Hamas attack in Israel, as reported by The Times of Israel, citing local authorities. “Ofir was killed while he was going to defend a city from the terrorist attack,” confirmed the council, which is now led by his deputy, Yossi Keren.

‘We’re at war’, says Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has shared a brief video message on social media, stating that Israel is engaged in a war and expressing confidence in victory. “The enemy will pay a price like never before,” Netanyahu added.

Israeli emergency services ask for urgent help

The Israeli National Emergency Service has urgently requested blood donations at three hospitals in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa.

At least 35 Israeli kidnapped

The Hamas militant group declared that it had abducted a minimum of 35 Israelis, taking them into the Gaza Strip after its forces infiltrated Israel.

‘Israel will win’, says Gallant

Israel’s defence minister announced that the Hamas militant group has started a war against Israel and pledged that “Israel will win.”

Following a security cabinet meeting at the Israeli military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant warned that Hamas “made a grave mistake” in launching barrages of rockets into southern and central Israel in its surprise morning attack.

In one of the most serious escalations in years between Israel and the militant group that rules Gaza, Hamas gunmen crossed the border fence at several places and infiltrated Israeli communities.

“The state of Israel will win this war,” Gallant said.

Good morning

Welcome to our live blog. We will be bringing you all the latest updates from Israel today as Palestinian militants cross the border and fire rocket strikes over Gaza.

More to follow.

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