APTOPIX Israel Palestinians

A view of the rubble of buildings hit by an Israeli airstrike, in Jabalia, Gaza strip on Wednesday. Israel has launched intense airstrikes in Gaza after the territory’s militant rulers carried out an unprecedented attack on Israel Saturday, killing hundreds of people and taking captives. Hatem Moussa/Associated Press

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel will “crush and destroy” Hamas in response to the militant group’s bloody weekend attack.

Netanyahu made the pledge during a late-night televised address as Israeli warplanes continued to pound Gaza on the war’s fifth day.

During his address, Netanyahu said that Hamas beheaded soldiers and raped women in their attack on Israel, and shot boys and girls in the head. The prime minister’s allegations could not be independently confirmed, and authorities did not immediately offer further details.

In the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, Palestinian suffering mounted as the enclave’s only power plant ran out of fuel Wednesday. Israel’s bombardment demolished neighborhoods and sent thousands scrambling for shelter. U.S. officials said they are working with Israel and Egypt to secure safe passage for civilians trapped in Gaza.

The war, which has claimed at least 2,300 lives on both sides, is expected to escalate: Netanyahu joined with a top political rival Wednesday to create a war-time Cabinet overseeing the fight to avenge Hamas’ attack.

Here are some key takeaways from the war:



As the Israeli military retaliates for the Hamas attack, Palestinians say civilians are paying the price in strikes on Gaza, a small coastal strip of land packed with 2.3 million residents.

The U.N. says 260,000 people have fled their homes, most crowding into U.N. schools. Others sought the shrinking number of safe neighborhoods. Gaza is only 25 miles long, wedged among Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea.

After nightfall, Palestinians were plunged into pitch blackness in large parts of Gaza City and elsewhere after the power station shut down.

The Gaza Strip’s biggest hospital, Al-Shifa, has only enough fuel to keep power on for three days, said Matthias Kannes, a Gaza-based official for Doctors Without Borders. The group said the two hospitals it runs in Gaza were running out of surgical equipment, antibiotics, fuel and other supplies.

More than 260,000 people in Gaza have fled their homes, the U.N. said. Most of them have crowded into schools run by the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees. Israel has cut off supplies of food, fuel, electricity and medicine into Gaza, and the sole remaining access from Egypt was shut down Tuesday after airstrikes hit near the border crossing.


At least 1,100 people have been killed in Gaza, according to authorities there. Israel says hundreds of the dead inside Gaza are Hamas members.


In one kibbutz near Gaza, Israeli troops were still removing the bodies of dead Hamas militants who stormed the community and killed more than 100 residents, then battled soldiers for nearly three days.

Major General Itai Veruv told visiting journalists that the military found evidence of Hamas militants cutting throats of bound captives, lining up children and killing them and packing 15 teenage girls in a room before throwing a grenade inside.

An Israeli-American teenager in a kibbutz survived a siege on his home by Hamas attackers over the weekend after his parents shielded him from the gunfire but were killed themselves.

The Israeli military said more than 1,200 people, including 189 soldiers, have been killed in Israel, a staggering toll unseen since the 1973 war with Egypt and Syria that lasted weeks.



Four previous rounds of Israel-Hamas fighting between 2008 and 2021 all ended inconclusively, with Hamas battered but still in control.

This time, Israel’s government is under intense pressure from the public to topple Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007. That would likely require reoccupying Gaza, at least temporarily. Even then, Hamas has a long history of operating as an underground insurgency in areas controlled by Israel. A ground offensive would also likely result in a surge of casualties for fighters on both sides.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a leading opposition figure on Wednesday created a war-time Cabinet.

The risk of the war spreading was evident Wednesday after the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah fired anti-tank missiles at an Israeli military position and claimed to have killed and wounded troops.

The Israeli military confirmed the attack but did not comment on possible casualties. The military shelled the area in southern Lebanon where the attack was launched.



U.S. President Biden on Wednesday called the attack by Hamas the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust as the number of U.S. citizens killed in the fighting ticked up to at least 22.

“This attack was a campaign of pure cruelty – not just hate, but pure cruelty – against the Jewish people,” Biden told Jewish leaders gathered at the White House.

Signs of U.S. support for Israel were seen across the administration, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveling there for meetings, Biden denouncing antisemitism in America and the U.S. military moving a second aircraft carrier toward the Mediterranean Sea as part of efforts to prevent the war from spilling over into a more dangerous regional conflict.

On Tuesday, Biden warned other countries and armed groups against entering the war.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly arrived in Israel on Wednesday to express “unwavering solidarity” with the country following the attacks by Hamas, while Britain’s King Charles III condemned the “barbaric acts of terrorism in Israel,” a palace official said Wednesday.


The German government held a minute of silence Wednesday for the Israeli victims of the Hamas terror attacks in parliament. The president of parliament, Baerbel Bas, pledged that Germany will stand unequivocally on the side of Israel and support the country’s right to defend itself and protect its people.

Arab foreign ministers called for an immediate cease-fire Wednesday in the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in Gaza.

Al-Azhar al-Sharif, the Sunni world’s foremost seat of religious learning, on Wednesday called for an international investigation into allegations of war crimes by Israel against civilian Palestinians in Gaza.

Turkey is holding negotiations for the release of civilian hostages held by Hamas, a Turkish official said Wednesday.


The number of U.S. citizens confirmed to have been killed in the Israel-Hamas war has risen to at least 22, the State Department said Wednesday. That’s an increase from 14 the day before.


The State Department said at least 17 more Americans remain unaccounted for in a war that has already claimed more than 2,300 lives on both sides.

A “handful” of U.S. citizens are among the estimated 150 hostages captured by Hamas militants during their shocking weekend assault on Israel, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday.

Two Brazilian citizens were killed as the result of the Hamas attack on Israel, according to that country’s foreign ministry, which also said that three people with dual Brazilian-Israeli citizenship were missing after they disappeared at a music festival outside of Kibbutz Re’im.

The Austrian government has confirmed that one of three Austrian-Israeli citizens who had been missing after Hamas’ attack on Israel, has been found dead.

Spain’s Foreign Ministry said one of two Spaniards affected by the Hamas attacks in Israel had died.



Hamas, which seeks Israel’s destruction, says it is defending Palestinians’ right to freedom and self-determination.

But the devastation following Hamas’ surprise attack on Saturday has sharpened questions about its strategy and objectives. Hamas officials have said they planned for all possibilities, including a punishing Israeli escalation.

Desperation has grown among Palestinians, many of whom see nothing to lose under unending Israeli control and increasing settlements in the West Bank, a 16-year-long blockade in Gaza and what they see as the world’s apathy.

In addition to citing long-simmering tensions, Hamas officials cite a long-running dispute over the sensitive Al-Aqsa Mosque that is sacred to both Muslims and Jews. Competing claims over the site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, have spilled into violence before, including a bloody 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in 2021.

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians escalated with recent violent Palestinian protests. In negotiations with Qatar, Egypt and the United Nations, Hamas has pushed for Israeli concessions that could loosen the blockade on the Gaza Strip and help halt a worsening financial crisis.

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