The Commander-in-Chief of the al Qassam Brigades, the armed arm of the Hamas movement, Muhammad al Deif, announced the start of a military operation against Israel called, “al Aqsa Flood,” in response to what he described as “Zionist crimes against the sanctities and detainees”ز
Hamas Commander explained in a statement broadcast by Palestinian al Aqsa TV on Saturday morning that the operation that was carried out today came in response to the ongoing incursions into West Bank cities and because of the continued siege of Gaza, noting that the first rounds of that battle began with the firing of more than 5,000 rockets and shells targeted military sites and concentrations.
The Israeli police took a combat stance to confront a surprise attack launched by Hamas fighters.
Armed men opened fire on civilians in the city of Sderot, and three rockets fired by the al Qassam Brigades from the Gaza Strip fell on various areas in the occupied West Bank.
Local sources said that the rockets fell in the areas of Hebron, Beit Jala and Qatana.
The Israeli forces closed the Karama crossing leading to Jordan to travelers, and also closed a large number of checkpoints separating the cities of the West Bank.
The armed Lions’ Den group called on what it calls “lone wolves” and “Palestinian militants” to take immediate action, and called on all shop and home owners scattered near Israeli checkpoints and settlements to withdraw recording devices and turn off cameras immediately.
The Lions’ Den group also called on the Palestinians to go out in huge and massive marches in all squares, in solidarity with the Qassam Brigades’ announcement of launching a military operation against Israel on Saturday morning.
The youth movement in the city of Ramallah called for gathering and marching in support of the “Palestinian resistance” in the city center on Saturday afternoon.
The Palestinian territories also witnessed large celebrations and the distribution of sweets in joy over the storming of Palestinian militants into Israeli cities.
Dozens of rockets originating from the Gaza Strip targeted several areas in Israel on Saturday morning, as sirens sounded in several areas of southern Israel, and were heard in the suburbs of Tel Aviv, dozens of kilometers to the north.
The Israeli Magen David Adom Rescue Agency reported casualties as a result of a missile falling on a building in central Israel.
Footage shows Israeli firefighters trying to put out the fires in the city of Ashkelon, with thick plumes of smoke rising from charred vehicles.
The Israeli Home Front declared a comprehensive state of emergency around eighty kilometers of the Gaza Strip, ahead of an emergency session that the Israeli Mini-Ministerial Council for Political and Security Affairs intends to hold this afternoon to follow up on security developments.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant agreed to call up reserve soldiers on a large scale to perform tasks required in a variety of units, according to the needs of the Israeli army, according to what was stated by the Office of the Ministry of Defense.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the gunmen tried to take control of a police station in the town of Sderot, where armed clashes broke out in the area this morning.
On the Israeli side, the Israeli army called the military operation against the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip, called “Iron Swords,” according to what the Israeli army spokesman announced.
Inspector General of the Israeli Police, Yaakov Shabtai, said that Israel is in a state of war, noting that there are 21 active hotspots of clashes in the south.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant said, in an assessment of the situation on Saturday morning, that Hamas “committed a grave mistake this morning with its attack on Israel,” stressing that Israeli army soldiers are fighting at all infiltration points against what he described as the enemy, and stressing that Israel will win this war.
The Mini Ministerial Council for Political and Security Affairs is expected to meet at 1:00 PM in the afternoon local time, according to the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, and the government will meet in a special session at 05:00 PM local time.
So far, official figures indicate that about 80 Israelis have been wounded, while the Israeli media has suggested that the number of casualties is higher than what was officially announced.
Hamas launched a barrage of rockets inside Israel at dawn on Saturday, where explosions were heard from several locations, after which sirens sounded in the streets of Eshkelon, Tel Aviv, and other areas inside Israel.