Opposition leader Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid Party, issued a call for a national unity government in the wake of the massive offensive by Hamas on Saturday in order “to conduct the difficult, complex and protracted campaign before us.”
Lapid made his announcement after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at 5:15 p.m. to receive a security briefing.
“The State of Israel is at war. It will not be an easy war, and it will not be a short war,” Lapid said. “It has strategic consequences the likes of which we have not seen for many, many years. There is a great risk that it will turn into a multi-front war.”
The opposition leader said that establishing an emergency unity government will send a message to Israel’s enemies and the world that Israel stands united behind the Israel Defense Forces and the security establishment.
Lapid also took aim at members of Netanyahu’s current coalition.
“Netanyahu knows that with the extreme and dysfunctional composition of the current Cabinet, it is impossible to wage war. The State of Israel needs to be led by a professional, experienced and responsible political echelon,” he said.
“I have no doubt that former Defense Minister Benny Gantz [the head of the National Unity political alliance] will also join such a government,” Lapid said.
At 11:30 a.m., Netanyahu issued an address from the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv.
“We are at war—not in an operation or in rounds [of violence], but at war. This morning, Hamas launched a murderous surprise attack against the State of Israel and its citizens. We have been in this since the early morning hours,” he said.
Hamas killed more than 250 Israelis in the attack that began early Saturday morning—on Shabbat and the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah—which included firing more than 3,000 rockets and sending dozens of Palestinian terrorists to infiltrate the Jewish state.
More than 1,500 Israelis were evacuated to hospitals across the country, the largest number to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva and many to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.