The militant Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip have carried out an unprecedented, multi-front attack on Israel, firing thousands of rockets as dozens of Hamas fighters infiltrated the heavily fortified border in several locations and catching the country off-guard on a major holiday.
Israel’s national rescue service says the death toll has risen to 70 in the Hamas militant group’s incursion in southern Israel. The Magen David Adom service says hundreds of people are also wounded in serious condition. The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza says at least 198 people have been killed and at least 1,610 wounded in the territory in Israel’s retaliation.
Heads of state and world organizations have already begun issuing statements in light of the deadly conflict.
President Joe Biden on Saturday spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the "horrific and ongoing attacks" and expressed his condolences for the victims.
"The United States unequivocally condemns this appalling assault against Israel by Hamas terrorists from Gaza, and I made clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu that we stand ready to offer all appropriate means of support to the Government and people of Israel," Biden said in a statement. "Terrorism is never justified. Israel has a right to defend itself and its people. The United States warns against any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation. My Administration’s support for Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering."
"[First lady] Jill [Biden] and I are keeping in our prayers all of the families who have been hurt by this violence," the president continued. "We are heartbroken by the lives that have been tragically cut short and hope for a swift recovery for all those who have been wounded. My team and I are tracking this situation closely, and I will remain in close touch with Prime Minister Netanyahu."
Biden's comments were echoed by his top diplomat, Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
"The United States unequivocally condemns the appalling attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israel, including civilians and civilian communities," Blinken said. "There is never any justification for terrorism. We stand in solidarity with the government and people of Israel, and extend our condolences for the Israeli lives lost in these attacks. We will remain in close contact with our Israeli partners. The United States supports Israel’s right to defend itself."
“We stand firmly with the Government and people of Israel and extend our condolences for the Israeli lives lost in these attacks,” said Adrienne Watson, spokeswoman for the National Security Council.
“The U.S. unequivocally condemns the unprovoked attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians. There is never any justification for terrorism.”
Watson said Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, has spoken with his Israeli counterpart, Tzachi Hanegbi. The U.S. and Israel are remaining in close touch, Watson said.
Other U.S. leaders and 2024 candidates for the White House offered their condolences for the victims and their steadfast support for Israel.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a statement, not only condemned the attacks by Hamas, but also laid the blame at the feet of Iran.
"The terrorists responsible for this ongoing war against Israel were trained and equipped by Iran, the same terror state providing lethal drones to Russia to attack Ukraine," said the Kentucky Republican. "There must be consequences for those who conduct or support such terror."
"Failure to support friends under attack – in Kyiv or Tel Aviv – will only embolden the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism and fellow authoritarians who watch closely for a weakening of American leadership and Western solidarity," he added.
"Our strongest ally in the Middle East is under attack," said Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the recently deposed House speaker. "Make no mistake: Israeli civilians are being slaughtered by Hamas terrorists. We condemn these attacks, stand with our dear ally, Israel, and support its right to defend itself in this war."
"These Hamas attacks are a disgrace and Israel has every right to defend itself with overwhelming force," former President Donald Trump said in a statement released by his reelection campaign.
"Hamas has declared war on Israel on the Jewish holiday of Shemini Atzeret and the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War," said former U.N. ambassador and 2024 candidate Nikki Haley. "Make no mistake: Hamas is a bloodthirsty terrorist organization backed by Iran and determined to kill as many innocent lives as possible. The reports out of Israel are horrific with a stunning number of dead and wounded and should be universally condemned."
“Israel has every right to defend its citizens from terror. We must always stand with Israel and against this Iranian regime," she added.
"Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel today is an assault on Western Civilization," said South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, another 2024 hopeful. "Israel must defend its people and the nation, and the United States must do everything we can to assist our ally Israel."
The U.N. human rights chief says he is “shocked and appalled” by the firing of large numbers of rockets at Israel and the death of at least 22 people in the country.
Volker Türk called for an immediate end to the violence, appealing to all sides and “key countries in the region” to de-escalate and avoid further bloodshed.
Türk said in a statement released in Geneva he is also “deeply concerned at reports that Israeli civilians have been taken hostage.”
Türk said that “this attack is having a horrific impact on Israeli civilians” and that civilians must never be the target of attacks.
He added: “I note also that Israeli forces have responded with airstrikes into the densely populated Gaza Strip, reportedly killing at least five people. I call on them to take all precautions to avoid civilian casualties there.”
European leaders are condemning the Hamas attack and voicing solidarity with Israel.
The head of the European Union’s executive commission, Ursula von der Leyen, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Saturday that the attack “is terrorism in its most despicable form.” She said that “Israel has the right to defend itself against such heinous attacks.”
German Chancellor OIaf Scholz said that the militants’ rocket fire and the escalating violence “shock us deeply.” He added that “Germany condemns these attacks by Hamas and stands beside Israel.”
French President Emmanuel Macron wrote that he “firmly” condemns the “terrorist attacks” against Israel and expressed “my full solidarity with the victims, their families and their loved ones.”
Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said Italy’s government condemns the attacks on Israel “with utmost firmness.”
“At risk are the life of people, the security of the region and the resumption of any kind of political process,’’ Tajani said in a post on X platform.