Fresh rocket strikes pounded Israeli communities throughout Monday, causing casualties, as southern towns tallied their dead, the Israel Defense Forces launched counterstrikes against the Hamas terror group in Gaza, and Hamas threatened to start executing hostages it had captured from Israel.
Rocket sirens wailed in over a dozen Israeli communities, including the cities of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Sderot, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Rishon Lezion, and Beersheba. Southern border towns were also relentlessly targeted.
The violence came a day after Israel formally declared a state of war, as the death toll from the massive Hamas attack rose above 900, according to Hebrew media reports, and was expected to rise further, with the fate of over a hundred people abducted and taken into the Gaza Strip still unclear.
The Magen David Adom (MDA) ambulance service said medics treated a man in his 20s who was seriously wounded by shrapnel as a result of a rocket impact in the Arab town of Abu Ghosh, west of Jerusalem.
Footage showed smoke rising from the community of Beitar Illit, south of Jerusalem, where MDA said it treated four people wounded by the rocket attacks, including a 10-year-old boy in serious condition, and three men in light condition.
Another two people were treated in an undisclosed area near Jerusalem — a woman in her 60s in critical condition, and a man with light injuries, MDA said.
A 50-year-old man was moderately hurt by shrapnel in Sderot.
The IDF’s Home Front Command released instructions telling Israelis to make sure they are stocked up on food and water for at least 72 hours, with war on the horizon.
“The campaign may be long and it is important that each family ensure it has water, food, medicine, and necessary equipment for emergency situations,” it said in a statement, recommending that people review where their nearest bomb shelter is and ensure they have a clear path to it.
The army was quick to point out that the instructions are not new and are always in place.
Meanwhile, Hamas threatened to begin executing hostages in response to Israeli strikes in Gaza carried out without warnings, the spokesperson for Hamas’s Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades said, according to Gaza’s Shehab news outlet.
“From this hour, any targeting of our people in the safety of their homes, without warning, will be met with the execution of civilian hostages, which will be broadcast with video and audio,” said the spokesperson, who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Obeida.
A defense official reportedly told Knesset members in a briefing earlier in the day that Israel was not routinely dropping dummy bombs on roofs of buildings set to be targeted, meant to warn civilians to flee, as it has often done in previous rounds of conflict.
The Eshkol Regional Council released a list identifying 47 people killed across 16 of its towns and kibbutzim.
The list included 10 people in the tiny kibbutz of Holit, home to around 200 people. In the 300-person kibbutz of Kissufim, eight deaths have been recorded, including three members of the Zak family.
In a statement, the council said that these were people whose families have been notified and whose names have been cleared for publication. More names are expected to be released in the coming days.
Approximately 15,000 people live in Eshkol.
Police named another two officers killed during fighting with Hamas terrorists in southern Israel.
They were identified as Master Sergeant Uriel Avraham, a member of the Negev Yasam patrol unit, and Master Sergeant Eliyahu Michael Harush, a patrolman at the Sderot station.
Police have so far named 37 officers killed in the fighting.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said he had ordered a “complete siege” of the Gaza Strip.
“There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed,” Gallant said following an assessment at the IDF Southern Command in Beersheba.
“We are fighting savages and we are acting accordingly,” he added.
Gallant also said that the war Israel was fighting against the Hamas terror group is “a war for our future.”
“Exacting a heavy price from the enemy is a necessary condition for our existence in the region,” said Gallant in remarks provided by his office. Gallant made the comments during a visit to the Israeli Air Force’s underground command center at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv.
Gallant’s office said the defense minister has instructed the military to “significantly increase the intensity of attacks in the Gaza Strip” and “eliminate all of the Hamas targets.”
Energy Minister Israel Katz announced that he had instructed authorities to cut off water to the Gaza Strip.
“I instructed that the water supply from Israel to Gaza be cut off immediately,” Katz said in a statement, adding that the flow of power and fuel was halted two days ago.
The IDF said it launched massive airstrikes during the day, including many targeting a coastal neighborhood of Gaza City, targeting dozens of sites.
It called the area, dubbed al-Furqan after a mosque in the area, a “nest of terror” used by Hamas to launch attacks against Israel.
Dozens of fighter jets participated in the strikes, the IDF said.
Clashes between Palestinian terrorists and Israeli forces were reported near Kibbutz Karmia, close to the northern border with the Gaza Strip, the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council said.
Local authorities said Israeli troops apparently came under fire, prompting reinforcements to be called in.
Alongside the invasion, carried out by terrorists in convoys of pickup trucks and motorbikes as well as speedboats and motorized gliders, Gazan terrorists fired thousands of rockets at Israel, hitting homes in Tel Aviv and elsewhere.
The 900 dead included at least 73 soldiers, including top officers.
The number of wounded has also continued to tick upward. The Health Ministry said that as of Monday afternoon, 2,616 people had been treated at hospitals, including 25 people in critical condition and hundreds more also fighting for their lives.
The death toll in the Gaza Strip has risen to 687, including 140 children, the health ministry in the Palestinian enclave said.
Another 2,900 people were injured since Saturday’s surprise dawn attack.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told local politicians from southern Israel that Israel will transform the region as it retaliates for the devastating onslaught.
“I know you’ve been through tough, terrible things. What Hamas will go through will be tough and terrible — we’re already in the midst of the battle and we’ve only just begun,” Netanyahu said, according to a statement from his office.
He praised them for their steadfastness and said the coming fight will take time.
“The nation will turn over every stone to help you all. I ask that you stand strong because we are going to change the Middle East,” he said.
Tensions also soared on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, with mortar fire setting off sirens in Israeli communities, Hezbollah issuing a threat, terrorists infiltrating, the IDF launching counterstrikes, and residents told to take cover.