Hamas Attacks Israel
Hundreds of people are dead and thousands more injured in Israel and the Gaza Strip after the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a surprise raid into Israel over the weekend. Reports suggest at least 700 Israelis have been killed, many of whom were civilians, while more than 400 Palestinians have died. Almost 5,000 people have been injured across both sides. The attack came one day after the 50th anniversary of the fourth Arab-Israeli war.
Fighting began early Saturday (see photos), with Hamas launching thousands of rockets at cities across Israel, demolishing parts of a border fence, and infiltrating nine towns in southern Israel. Hamas fighters reportedly targeted both military sites and civilians, including opening fire on a late-night dance party near the Israeli-Gaza border that left at least 260 dead.
Officials said as many as 130 Israeli civilians and soldiers had been taken hostage by militants, with some taken back to Gaza. Israel contacted Egypt to assist in their return; their status is currently unknown as of this writing.
The Gaza Strip is a nearly 140 square mile area, home to roughly 2 million people, whose borders are controlled largely by Israel—tightly restricting the flow of goods and people in and out of the country. Hamas, both a militant group and political party with the stated goal of destroying Israel, has run Gaza internally since 2007.
By yesterday afternoon, the US had deployed a carrier strike group to the Mediterranean in support of Israel. Events continue to unfold; see updates here.