Fighting between Hamas and Israel raged into a third day Monday with militants launching a fresh barrage of rocket attacks and Israeli forces still battling to expel Hamas gunmen from its soil as jets continued to bombard the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, CNN
Israel on Sunday formally declared war on the Islamist militant group Hamas after its fighters launched an unprecedented surprise assault this weekend into Israeli territory that has so far killed over 700 people in Israel, escalating a long-running conflict and leaving a nation reeling in anguish.
Hamas militants claimed late Sunday to be holding more than 100 hostages in Gaza, including high-ranking Israeli army officers, according to Mousa Abu Marzouk, chief deputy of Hamas’s Political Bureau.
Videos on social media showed militants capturing multiple civilians, including children, as Israeli families across the nation made anxious pleas for the safe return of their loved ones.
In addition to Israeli captives, there are also other nationalities believed to have been taken hostage, including American, Mexican, Brazilian and Thai nationals – further complicating Israel’s response to the Hamas attack.
And the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed early Monday local time that Israel is not in full control of its territory along the border with Gaza.
“We are still hunting down the last terrorist inside Israeli territory,” IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told CNN.
“Our troops are going door to door and house to house, looking for, and in many cases, engaging with last terrorists inside Israel.”
For now airstrikes have been the primary retaliation measure within Gaza itself with Israeli jets repeatedly pounding the heavily populated 140 square mile coastal strip, turning multiple buildings to rubble.
More than 430 Palestinians, including dozens of children, have been killed and nearly 2,300 wounded, according to authorities in Gaza.
The IDF says it has been hitting Hamas, destroying around 800 targets and killing “hundreds” of fighters, wounding thousands and capturing scores of others, spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said on Sunday.