October 7, 2023: Israel says it is 'at war' after Hamas surprise attack

By Andrew Raine, Chris Lau, Joshua Berlinger, Aditi Sangal, Thom Poole and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 8:21 p.m. ET, November 9, 2023
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4:00 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

"Israel will win this war," Israeli defense minister says

From Lauren Iszo in Tel Aviv

Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks during a meeting with his Greek counterpart in Athens, Greece, on May 4, 2023.
Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks during a meeting with his Greek counterpart in Athens, Greece, on May 4, 2023. Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel "will win this war" against Hamas, hours after the group launched rockets and sent soldiers into Israeli territory early Saturday morning.

Gallant said:

“Hamas has made a grave mistake this morning and launched a war against the State of Israel. IDF troops are fighting against the enemy at every location. I call on all of Israel’s citizens to follow security instructions. The State of Israel will win this war."
4:21 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Israel launches operation "Swords of Iron" following Hamas attacks

From CNN's Hadas Gold in Jerusalem

The Israel Defense Forces have launched Operation "Swords of Iron" against Hamas following the militant group's surprise attack early Saturday morning according to an IDF spokesperson.

Hamas military commander Muhammad Al-Deif said earlier Saturday that the group was launching an operation dubbed “Al-Aqsa Storm" targeting “enemy positions, airports and military positions."

4:04 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

At least 100 injured across Israel in militant attacks 

From Amir Tal in Jerusalem and Alex Stambaugh in Hong Kong

People try to extinguish fire on cars following a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip in Ashkelon, southern Israel, on October 7, 2023.
People try to extinguish fire on cars following a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip in Ashkelon, southern Israel, on October 7, 2023. Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

At least 100 people have been injured across Israel in Saturday's militant attacks from Gaza, according to figures from two hospitals.

At least 80 people with varying degrees of injuries have been transferred to Soroka Medical Center, a major medical center in the southern Israeli city of Be'er Sheva the hospital said in a statement.

The Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, a city in central Israel, said it is treating at least 21 people injured on Saturday, including two in serious condition, four in moderate condition and 15 with mild injuries. 

Some of the injured suffered gunshot wounds. Others were wounded by shrapnel, the Kaplan Medical Center said. 

3:13 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Israel 'facing a very difficult moment', President Isaac Herzog says

From CNN's Hadas Gold

Israeli President Isaac Herzog delivers a joint press conference with Austria's President on September 5, 2023, at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog delivers a joint press conference with Austria's President on September 5, 2023, at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria. Georg Hochmuth/APA/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli President Isaac Herzog has said Israel "is facing a very difficult moment" but it can "overcome all those who wish us harm."

In a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, he wrote: “The State of Israel is facing a very difficult moment. I wish to offer strength to the commanders and soldiers of the IDF(Israel Defense Forces), and to all the security forces and rescue services. I send my encouragement and strength to all the residents of Israel who are under attack.

He called on everyone to follow instructions from the Home Front Command and to show mutual responsibility and resolve.

"We can overcome all those who wish us harm," he said.
2:56 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Israel's Security Cabinet to convene in a few hours

From CNN's Lauren Izso

Israel's Security Cabinet will convene on Saturday at Israel Defense Forces' headquarters in Tel Aviv, according to the prime minister's office.

The cabinet is due to meet at 1 p.m. local time, a little more than three hours from now.

A security assessment is currently being held, the prime minister's office said.

4:37 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

One dead, 15 injured in Hamas attack on Israel

From CNN's Richard Greene and Alex Stambaugh 

Members of Israeli security forces carry an injured person on a stretcher following a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip in Ashkelon, southern Israel, on October 7, 2023.
Members of Israeli security forces carry an injured person on a stretcher following a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip in Ashkelon, southern Israel, on October 7, 2023. Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

One woman has died and at least 15 people have been injured across southern and lowland regions of Israel in an attack by Hamas early Saturday, Israel’s Magen David Adom (MDA) rescue service said.

In an update, MDA said the woman who was killed was in her 60s, revising her age down from 70s, which CNN had earlier reported. 

Two people are in critical condition, six in moderate condition and seven have minor injuries, the rescue service said in a statement. 

The MDA said teams "persistently respond to areas of reported missile falls and live firing incidents," and urged people to heed instruction from authorities and to go to a protected area promptly when an alarm sounds. 

MDA spokesperson Zaki Heller also urged people to donate blood and said a special blood donation drive is being organized in Tel Aviv for Saturday morning "due to an urgent need."

2:52 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Airports in southern and central Israel closed

From CNN's Amir Tal

A number of airports in southern and central Israel have been closed temporarily, except for private and sports flights, according to Israel's airport authority. 

But Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv remains open and will operate in accordance with security and safety guidelines, the authority said.

4:40 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Fire in southern Israeli city of Ashkelon

From CNN's Chris Lau

Smoke billows from a residential building following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on October 7, 2023.
Smoke billows from a residential building following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on October 7, 2023. Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

Footage obtained from social media by CNN shows a fire broke out near several buildings at southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, with billows of black smoke rising form the site.

What appeared to be sounds of gunfire can be heard.

Residents look at the wreckage of destroyed vehicles in Ashkelon following a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel on October 7, 2023.
Residents look at the wreckage of destroyed vehicles in Ashkelon following a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel on October 7, 2023. Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

2:26 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Hamas military chief: 'If you have a gun, get it out'

From CNN’s Ibrahim Dahman in Gaza and Abeer Salman in Jerusalem

Muhammad Al-Deif, the Hamas military commander, called for a general uprising against Israel in a recorded message on Saturday.

“If you have a gun, get it out. This is the time to use it – get out with trucks, cars, axes. Today the best and most honorable history starts.”

He said the attack on Israel was a response to attacks on women, the desecration of the al-Aqsa mosque and the siege on Gaza.

And he called on Arab and Islamic people to come to “free al-Aqsa,” the mosque in Jerusalem.