update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

US condemns ‘sickening’ Hamas attack

"The United States stands with Israel," said acting Ambassador Stephanie Hallett.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Stephanie Hallett, head of the U.S. embassy in Israel, during a press conference in Jerusalem, Sept. 28, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Stephanie Hallett, head of the U.S. embassy in Israel, during a press conference in Jerusalem, Sept. 28, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

The United States on Saturday condemned the multi-pronged offensive launched by Hamas in the Gaza Strip that killed more than 100 Israelis.

“Sickened by the images coming out of southern Israel of dead and wounded civilians at the hands of terrorists from Gaza. The United States stands with Israel,” said acting U.S. Ambassador in Jerusalem Stephanie Hallett.

“I condemn the indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians. I am in contact with Israeli officials, and fully support Israel’s right to defend itself from such terrorist acts,” she added.

The U.S. embassy said in a statement that it was “closely monitoring the security situation as a result of rockets fired from Gaza across southern and central Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and the infiltration of Hamas militants.

 ”The U.S. embassy is aware that there have been casualties as a result of these incidents. U.S. citizens are reminded to remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness as security incidents, including mortar and rocket fire, often take place without warning,” it continued. 

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the Pentagon would work “to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself and protect civilians from indiscriminate violence and terrorism.

“Our commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself remains unwavering, and I extend my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this abhorrent attack on civilians,” said Austin.

Hamas fired more than 3,000 rockets at the country’s south and center, and dispatched dozens of terrorists into communities located near the Gaza border.

More than 1,000 Israelis were evacuated to hospitals across the country, almost half of them to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva and many to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.

People were asked to donate blood across Israel. Because of the overwhelming response, only those with type O universal donor blood were asked to come.

As of 11:30 a.m., Hamas terrorists were in full control of at least three Israeli communities.

There were unconfirmed reports of massacres in several places.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen “unequivocally” condemned the Hamas attack, calling it “terrorism in its most contemptible form.

“Israel has the right to defend itself against such heinous attacks” she added.

E.U. foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell called for the immediate release of Israelis kidnapped and possibly taken to Gaza.

“News of civilians taken as hostages in their homes or to Gaza [is] appalling. This is against international law. Hostages must be released immediately,” said Borrell.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a security meeting at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv attended by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and other senior officials.

“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.

The Israel Defense Forces was ordered to a “state of war readiness” and Gallant authorized the call-up of reserve troops.

He also announced 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.”

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