- Palestinian group Hamas behind attack on Israel.
- One Israeli woman killed “due to a direct hit”.
- Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to meet security officials soon.
In a massive surprise attack on Saturday, the Palestinian group Hamas launched 5,000 rockets into Israel from Gaza, followed by gunmen infiltrating areas in the southern region of the country, declaring the launch of “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood”.
Mohammad Deif, a senior Hamas military commander, announced the start of the operation in a broadcast on Hamas media, calling on Palestinians everywhere to fight, Reuters reported.
“This is the day of the greatest battle to end the last occupation on earth,” he said, adding that 5,000 rockets had been launched.
According to the Magen David Adom emergency services, one Israeli woman was killed “due to a direct hit” as ambulance crews were deployed in areas around the Gaza Strip and sirens sounded across Israel, including Jerusalem.
Additionally, 15 others were hurt, two of them seriously, medics said, according to AFP.
Israeli media reported that gunmen had opened fire on passersby in the town of Sderot, in southern Israel, and footage circulating on social media appeared to show clashes in city streets.
“A number of terrorists have infiltrated into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip,” the military said in a statement, adding that residents in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip had been told to stay in their homes.
“The Israeli Defence Forces will defend Israeli civilians and the Hamas terrorist organisation will pay heavy price for its actions,” it said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said he would meet top security officials in the coming hours.
In Gaza, the roar of launches was heard and residents reported armed clashes along the separation fence with Israel, near the southern town of Khan Younis.
Israel’s ambulance service said teams had been dispatched to areas in southern Israel near Gaza and residents were warned to stay inside.