More than 1,100 dead after Hamas attack and Israel’s retaliation
Israeli troops were still fighting to expel Palestinian militants from Israeli territory yesterday, a day after a surge of armed militants crossed the Gaza border as part of the broadest invasion of Israel in 50 years. Israel responded to the land, sea and air assault launched by Palestinian militants on Saturday with heavy strikes on Gazan cities.
The Israeli military reported fighting in seven border communities and an army base, and tanks were seen crossing farmland in parts of southern Israel, heading south toward Gaza. Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, continued to fire rockets into Israel.
The estimated death toll hovered yesterday was more than 1,100. An Israeli defense official said that an early assessment showed that about 600 Israelis were killed on Saturday. The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said that at least 413 Palestinians had been killed since the start of the assault, including 78 children.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a “long and difficult war” ahead, saying that Israeli forces were moving into an “offensive phase, which will continue with neither limitations nor respite until the objectives are achieved.” The Biden administration condemned Hamas and promised military assistance to Israel.
Hamas has taken Israeli soldiers and civilians into captivity, which could complicate any retaliatory operations. Netanyahu warned Palestinians on Saturday to clear out of any place in the Gaza Strip where fighters might be hiding or operating, promising to turn those sites “into rubble.”
But residents said there was nowhere to run or hide. Militants live and operate among civilians in Gaza, which has a population of two million.
Region’s response: Two of Israel’s neighbors, Egypt and Jordan, joined calls to de-escalate the conflict. But in Lebanon, Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group that fought a war with Israel in 2006, said yesterday that it had fired artillery shells and guided missiles at three Israeli posts in the Shebaa Farms area, land it considers to be occupied Lebanese territory.
Israel’s next moves: Netanyahu issued a call-up of reservists, and the Israeli military said it was evacuating residents of 24 villages in the area of the border, which could indicate that Israel is preparing for a broader operation inside Gaza.
Major quakes struck Afghanistan
The death toll from two major earthquakes in northwestern Afghanistan reached 813 yesterday and is expected to rise, according to the local authorities, making the dual shocks one of the deadliest natural disasters to hit the country in decades.
The two earthquakes, both 6.3 magnitude, hit Herat Province, along the country’s border with Iran, on Saturday. Aid workers who arrived yesterday in the remote, badly hit areas found that in some cases, entire families had been killed.
Context: The earthquakes were the latest natural disaster to rattle Afghanistan, which has endured enormous floods, mudslides and earthquakes in recent years.
Ukrainian ports were hit for the second day in a row
The Russian military carried out overnight missile strikes on the southern region of Odesa, Ukrainian officials said on Saturday, injuring four people and damaging port infrastructure. It was the second attack on the area in two days, as Moscow continues to target ports and grain facilities in a broader effort to strangle the Ukrainian economy. A day before, Russian drones hit a grain silo near the port city of Izmail, also in the Odesa region.
Background: Ukraine has been among the world’s biggest exporters of grain. After Russia’s blockade of the Black Sea this summer, Ukraine’s wheat exports plummeted, but the country has since devised alternative routes, trying to protect a crucial source of income during the war.
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