Saturday said to be the bloodiest day in Israel’s history

Jerusalem: Israel formally declared a state of war on Sunday as the death toll from an unprecedented Hamas attack a day earlier rose above 700 and was expected to rise further, with the fate of over a hundred people abducted and taken to the Gaza Strip still unclear, as per media reports.

Officials estimated on Sunday that over 700 people were killed in the massive assault launched by Hamas terrorists in Israeli communities near Gaza and by the thousands of rockets fired into Israel, making it the bloodiest day in the nation’s history, according to reports, Times of Israel reported.

A spokesperson for ZAKA, a volunteer group that handles human remains after terror attacks and other disasters, told Hebrew media that the death toll rose sharply, as Israeli teams managed to clear Hamas gunmen out of communities along the border and recover victims, Times of Israel reported.

Israeli jets carried out “intense” airstrikes on targets in Gaza on Sunday afternoon, shortly after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced that the security cabinet had voted Saturday evening to put the country officially at war, meaning it can carry out “significant military activities”, it said.

Battles were ongoing on Sunday in at least three communities near the Gaza border overrun by Hamas gunmen a day earlier, and rocket fire continued to dog Israeli communities, as Israel girded for what was expected to be a prolonged campaign against the Gaza-based terror group.

In an assault of shocking breadth, Hamas gunmen rolled into as many as 22 locations in southern Israel on Saturday morning, including towns and smaller communities as far as 24 km from the Gaza border. In some places, they roamed for hours, gunning down civilians and soldiers as Israel’s military scrambled to muster a response. At the same time, thousands of rockets were fired at towns in the south and centre of the country, Times of Israel reported.

The scenes of chaos and suffering and the prolonged failure to gain control of the situation have shocked and outraged the nation, and sparked demands for answers on the many failures of intelligence, deployment, and policy that had enabled such a national catastrophe, with hundreds of terrorists flooding civilian communities in armed convoys.

Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer told CNN in an interview Sunday that the death toll was “well north of 600 people”, adding: “There will probably be more hundreds, several hundred more.”

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