In one of the largest attacks on Israel by militant group Hamas in decades, there are reports of Americans among the "scores" of hostages being held in Gaza, according to an Israeli official. The exact number of American hostages has not been confirmed. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that officials are working to verify reports of American deaths following the attack.
The death toll continues to rise on both sides, with over 1,000 deaths reported, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources. Israel has also reported over 1,600 injuries, while Palestinians have reported over 2,300 injuries. Israel has approved a formal declaration of war, allowing the country to take "significant military steps," according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office. In response, the U.S. has announced that it is sending additional munitions and the Ford carrier strike group to Israel.
The attack by Hamas on Israel involved militants crossing the Gaza Strip border into Southern Israel while firing rockets towards Israeli cities. Gunmen reportedly killed Israelis in cities near the Gaza border and captured soldiers and civilians, including a Holocaust survivor. Israeli forces have conducted airstrikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, and the conflict has escalated further with Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, attacking Israeli positions in the disputed Golan Heights.
Violence between Palestinians and Israeli forces has been escalating in recent months, with raids and attacks resulting in casualties on both sides. The situation has led to a tight Israeli and Egyptian blockade around the densely populated and impoverished Gaza Strip, which has been under Hamas control since 2007.
The U.S. government is working to provide Israel with the support it needs to deal with the attacks from Hamas, according to Blinken. President Joe Biden has directed officials to ensure that Israel receives the necessary assistance.
As the conflict continues, the international community will be closely watching for developments and the potential for further escalation. The focus remains on the safety and well-being of all those affected by the violence.