people gathering in a concert during night time
Photo by Ömer Faruk Yıldız on

Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a large-scale surprise attack against Israel Saturday, firing thousands of rockets from Gaza and sending ground units to kill or abduct people as Israel retaliated with air strikes.

At least 40 people were reported killed in Israel, while Gaza authorities reported a death toll of 198 in the bloodiest escalation in the Israel-Palestinian conflict since May 2021.

"We are at war," said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the military launched a series of strikes against targets of Iran-backed Hamas in the blockaded coastal enclave.

"The enemy will pay an unprecedented price," the veteran premier vowed after Hamas launched its first such combined air, ground and sea offensive, on a Jewish holiday and half a century after the outbreak of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

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