Netanyahu says Israel is at war after hundreds die in Hamas attacks

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Israel declared a “state of alert for war” on Saturday after Hamas launched its biggest attack on the country for years, firing a barrage of rockets and sending militants across the border from the Gaza Strip

Mohammed Deif, the leader of Hamas’s military wing, said the Palestinian militant group had fired more than 5,000 rockets at Israel and called on Palestinians and other Arab states to join the fighting.

Israel’s military said that militants had entered Israeli territory “in a number of different locations” and told people in the south and centre of the country to stay close to air raid shelters.

“[Hamas] will face the consequences and responsibility for these events,” it said in a statement. The spokesman for Israel’s military said that it was attacking targets in Gaza.

Israeli paramedics said that one woman had been killed by a direct rocket hit and that a further 15 people had been injured, including two seriously. There was no immediate information about casualties in Gaza.

The escalation follows weeks of tension on the border between Israel and Gaza, and is the most serious bout of violence between the two sides since an 11-day war in 2021.

Israeli-Palestinian tensions have also been rising for months in the West Bank, which Palestinians seek as the heart of a future state but which Israel has occupied since 1967. According to the latest UN data, Israeli forces have killed 179 Palestinians in the territory this year, while Palestinians have killed 26 Israelis.

The rocket fire from Gaza set off warning sirens across the south and centre of Israel, with interceptions heard as far north as Jerusalem, a city rarely targeted by missiles from Gaza.

The prime minister’s office said that Benjamin Netanyahu was on his way to the defence ministry to carry out a security assessment with the heads of the Israeli security establishment.

Israel’s defence ministry said that it had approved the call up of reservists, and the army said that residents in areas around Gaza should stay at home.