Dozens Killed in Surprise Hamas Attacks on Israel; Netanyahu Says country "at war"

Smoke increases after Israeli airstrikes on the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Oct. 10, 2023. | Credit: Anas-Mohammed/Shutterstock

Israel is “at war,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday after a series of surprise rocket attacks and incursions from Hamas killed dozens and saw the country being invaded on a major holiday.

The attacks, which were carried out on the observance of Simchat Torah, arose early on Saturday morning and had reportedly killed upwards of 100 and wounded hundreds more by Saturday afternoon.

Netanyahu said on Twitter on Saturday that “since this morning, the State of Israel has been at war” and that the country’s “first objective is to clear out the hostile forces that infiltrated our territory and restore the security and quiet to the communities that have been attacked.”

“The second objective, at the same time, is to exact an immense price from the enemy, within the Gaza Strip as well,” he continued. “The third objective is to reinforce other fronts so that nobody should mistakenly join this war.”

“We are at war,” the prime minister added. “In war, one needs to be level-headed. I call on all citizens of Israel to unite in order to achieve our highest goal — victory in the war.”


Dozens of videos flooded social media on Saturday appearing to show scenes of the missile attacks and the resulting chaos in Israel.

A dispatch from Israeli Defense Forces said that by early afternoon “dozens of IDF fighter jets struck Hamas terror targets in the Gaza Strip,” targeting “17 military compounds and four operational command centers” belonging to Hamas.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement that he was “closely monitoring developments” of the conflict.

“Our commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself remains unwavering, and I extend my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this abhorrent attack on civilians,” Austin said.

“Over the coming days the Department of Defense will work to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself and protect civilians from indiscriminate violence and terrorism,” he added.

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U.S. President Joe Biden, meanwhile, said in a statement on Saturday that he had spoken with Netanyahu and that the United States “unequivocally condemns this appalling assault against Israel by Hamas terrorists from Gaza.”

“[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 his 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,” he added.

In a statement posted to Twitter, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said that Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa was “call[ing] on all believers to offer Sunday Mass on Oct. 8, 2023, for the intentions of cease-fire and an end to the ongoing war in the Holy Land, asking the Lord to prevent further bloodshed, shattering of lives, and burial of hopes.”

“Let us all pray with one heart and one soul with Pope Francis,” the patriarchate wrote, imploring: “Lord, come to our aid! Grant us peace, teach us peace; guide our steps in the way of peace. Open our eyes and our hearts and give us the courage to say: ‘Never again war!’”


In a longer statement, the patriarchate “call[ed] on the international community, the religious leaders in the region and in the world, to make every effort in helping to de-escalate the situation, restore calm and work to guarantee the fundamental rights of people in the region.”

“The continuing bloodshed and declarations of war remind us once again of the urgent need to find a lasting and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in this land, which is called to be a land of justice, peace, and reconciliation among peoples,” the statement said.

This is a developing story.

Daniel Payne is a senior editor at Catholic News Agency. He previously worked at the College Fix and Just the News. He lives in Virginia with his family.