NEW YORK (WABC) — Top Israeli officials vowed to punish the Gaza Strip following an unprecedented and deadly incursion into Israel by Hamas.
Israel formally declared war on Sunday and gave the green light for “significant military steps” to retaliate against Hamas for Saturday’s surprise attack. The hostilities so far have killed around 700 people in Israel and 493 people in Gaza, according to authorities on each side.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday ordered a “complete siege” of Gaza, saying authorities would cut electricity and block the entry of food and fuel.
Israel’s military scoured the country’s south for remaining militants and pounded Gaza from the air. Rockets launched from Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas, set off air raid sirens in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
“I ask you to stand firm because we are going to change the Middle East,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told authorities from southern Israel. “I know you have been through terrible and difficult things. What Hamas will go through will be difficult and terrible … We have only just begun.”
Hamas wing warns that Israeli strikes will bring hostage deaths
The armed wing of the Palestinian militant group Hamas has warned that it will kill an Israeli hostage every time Israel’s military bombs civilian targets in the Gaza Strip without warning.
Abu Obeida, the spokesman of the Qassam Brigades, said in an audio released Monday night that the threat was a response to intense air strikes by Israel on civilian areas.
“We have decided to put an end to this and as of now, we declare that any targeting of our people in their homes without prior warning will be regrettably faced with the execution of one the hostages of civilians we are holding,” he said.
In a video statement Monday, Israel’s foreign minister warned Hamas against harming any of the hostages who were taken from Israel and being held in Gaza. Eli Cohen said Israel was committed to bringing the hostages home “in the spirit of mutual responsibility.”
“We demand Hamas not to harm any of the hostages, Cohen said. “This war crime will not be forgiven,” he added.
France reports uptick in Antisemitic acts
French police have arrested 10 people in connection with antisemitic acts that were reported since the latest fighting between Israel and Hamas militants began.
The 20 reported incidents included threats to synagogues or people frequenting Jewish stores, the interior minister said Monday.
Prosecutors have also opened 44 investigations into antisemitic hate speech online or posts glorifying terrorism in connection with the violence, according to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin’s office.
While France’s sees sporadic acts targeting Jews or Muslims, Darmanin said the number of antisemitic incidents since Saturday was dramatic.
France has the world’s largest Jewish population after Israel and the U.S.
Two French citizens are confirmed dead in Israel following the outbreak of violence. At least eight others are missing or believed held hostage, according to a lawmaker who represents French people abroad.
European Union suspends payments to Palestinians
European Union Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said Monday that the bloc is suspending “all payments immediately” to the Palestinians because of what he called he called the “scale of terror and brutality” during the attacks of Hamas against Israel.
The surprise announcement by Varhelyi came just hours after EU officials stressed that no EU money had been going to Hamas and that contacts had been frozen for 16 years. The EU considers Hamas a terror group.
9 Americans among the dead in Israel: state department
The U.S. State Department said Monday that at least nine American citizens have been killed in the weekend Hamas attacks on Israel, raising the toll from four.
The State Department says an undetermined number of American citizens remain missing and unaccounted for. It is not clear whether the missing had been taken hostage, were killed or are in hiding.
The State Department is in touch with families “and providing all appropriate consular assistance,” spokesman Matthew Miller said.
Major airlines cancel flights to and from Israel
Major airlines have suspended flights in and out of Israel after the nation declared war following a massive attack by Hamas.
Israel hit more than 1,000 targets in Gaza and Palestinian militants continued firing barrages of rockets, setting off air raid sirens in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Video posted online appeared to show a plume of smoke near a terminal at Ben Gurion International Airport.
Scores of arriving and departing flights at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport were canceled or delayed, according to the airport’s online flight board.
N.J. Burkett reflects on his experience covering conflict in Israel
N.J. Burkett has reported in Israel during times of high conflict for many years. He reflects on the Israeli people and what is going on abroad.
New Yorkers, officials return from Israel shocked but safe
For one New York family, surviving the Hamas-Israeli conflict meant waiting hours inside a bomb shelter, hearing the blasts go off around them, and then driving through the now war-torn land to try to catch a flight to safety. In the end, they all made it. The Kantor family landed at Kennedy Airport on Sunday afternoon.
Senator Cory Booker was in Israel during the invasion but is among those who safely got out. Congressman Dan Goldman was also in Israel.
Israeli, Palestinian supporters both gather for rallies in NYC
Israeli and Palestinian supporters both gathered for rallies in Times Square before marching East to the United Nations – but not without directing their anger at each other.
NYC teen studying abroad in Israel describes hiding in bomb shelter
Shia Kramer Coyne has been bunkering down with roommates in Tel Aviv – anxiously waiting to be ushered back into a bomb shelter.
The 18-year-old has been in Israel since August doing non-profit youth work through the study-abroad program Aardvark Israel.
Her experience turned from enlightening to frightening when a Hamas rocket barrage hit four cities – including Tel Aviv – where she has been staying. The surprise attack came early Sunday during a major Jewish holiday.
Survivors recount horror of attack at Israeli music festival
An open-air electronic music festival will go down in Israeli history as the site of the country’s worst civilian massacre after paramedics recovered at least 260 bodies from a field near the border with Gaza.
The Tribe of Nova festival brought together thousands of young people to dance and revel in the swirl of bass-heavy beats. Dozens of Hamas militants who had blown through Israel’s heavily fortified separation fence and crossed into the country from Gaza opened fire on the Israelis.
“We were hiding and running, hiding and running, in an open field, the worst place you could possibly be in that situation,” said Arik Nani from Tel Aviv, who had gone to the party to celebrate his 26th birthday. “For a country where everyone in these circles knows everyone, this is a trauma like I could never imagine.”
US to send carrier strike group to Eastern Mediterranean in support of Israel
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Sunday he has ordered the Ford carrier strike group to sail to the Eastern Mediterranean to be ready to assist Israel after the attack by Hamas that has left more than 1,000 dead on both sides. Americans were reported to be among those killed and missing.
The USS Gerald R. Ford, the Navy’s newest and most advanced aircraft carrier, and its approximately 5,000 sailors and deck of warplanes will be accompanied by cruisers and destroyers in a show of force that is meant to be ready to respond to anything, from possibly interdicting additional weapons from reaching Hamas and conducting surveillance.
The large deployment, which also includes a host of ships and warplanes, underscores the concern that the United States has in trying to deter the conflict from growing. But the Israeli government formally declared war Sunday and gave the green light for “significant military steps” to retaliate against Hamas.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News
https://abc7ny.com/israel-war-gaza-hamas/13882288/ Israel Gaza war: Defense minister orders ‘complete siege’ on strip | Live updates