Israel is at war, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday, hours after Hamas began a massive missile attack and dispatched dozens of terrorists to infiltrate Israeli communities in the south.
“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,” Netanyahu said in a video address from the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv.
“I convened the heads of the security establishment and ordered—first of all—to clear out the communities that have been infiltrated by terrorists. This currently is being carried out.
“At the same time, I have ordered an extensive mobilization of reserves and that we return fire of a magnitude that the enemy has not known. The enemy will pay an unprecedented price,” the prime minister continued.
“In the meantime, I call on the citizens of Israel to strictly adhere to the directives of the IDF and Home Front Command. We are at war and we will win it.”
Hamas killed more than 250 Israelis on Saturday as the terrorist organization fired more than 3,000 rockets at the country’s south and center, and sent dozens of terrorists into communities located along the Gaza border.
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.
Hamas said it had abducted soldiers and civilians and taken them back into the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu convened a security meeting at the military headquarters attended by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and other high-ranking officials.
The Israel Defense Forces was ordered to a “state of war readiness” and Gallant authorized a “special security situation” within 80 kilometers of the Gaza Strip, enabling the IDF to close relevant sites and impose safety restrictions on the population.
The IDF later announced the launch of an operation named “Iron Swords.”