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
66 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
1:59 p.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Rockets from Gaza militants make direct hits in Israel, including in Tel Aviv, authorities say

From CNN's Lauren Izso in Tel Aviv

Rockets are fired towards Israel from the northern Gaza Strip, as seen from Ashkelon, southern Israel, on October 7.
Rockets are fired towards Israel from the northern Gaza Strip, as seen from Ashkelon, southern Israel, on October 7. Amir Cohen/Reuters

A new round of rockets fired by Gaza militants have made direct hits on multiple locations inside Israel, including in Tel Aviv, according to Israel’s Magen David Adom (MDA) rescue service.

"Following the red alert sirens in the last few minutes, Magen David Adom teams are conducting searches in the areas where rocket hits have been reported," the organiation said Saturday evening. It listed Tel Aviv, Rishon Letzion and Bat Yam as the affected areas.

The majority of the emergency calls centered on the Bat Yam area, MDA said.

Rescue teams are also "searching further areas with reports of injured victims, including Yavne, Givatayim, Bat Yam, Beit Dagan, Tel Aviv and Rishon Letzion," according to MDA.

Remember: The Izzedine al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, has said it fired an additional 150 rockets toward Tel Aviv on Saturday evening. The group said this was in "response to the bombing of the residential tower in the center of Gaza City," in a post on Telegram.

1:48 p.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Armed wing of Hamas claims to capture "dozens" of Israelis

From CNN's Ibrahim Dahman and Kareem Khadder

The Izzedine al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, claimed to capture "dozens" of Israelis during the Hamas surprise attack on Saturday.

"We bring good news to our (Palestinian) prisoners and our people that the al Qassam Brigades have dozens of captured (Israeli) officers and soldiers in their hands," Abu Obaida, a spokesperson for the militant wing, said in a post on Telegram.

"They have been secured in safe places and resistance tunnels," Obaida added.

The Israel Defense Forces said earlier today that Hamas has taken hostages and prisoners of war since it launched its surprise attack Saturday morning. Videos geolocated and authenticated by CNN appears to show Hamas taking Israelis captive in and near Gaza, including Israeli soldiers.

1:39 p.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Armed wing of Hamas claims to fire 150 more rockets toward Tel Aviv

From CNN's Ibrahim Dahman in Gaza

A salvo of rockets is fired from Gaza City toward Israel on October 7.
A salvo of rockets is fired from Gaza City toward Israel on October 7. Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

The Izzedine al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, says it has fired an additional 150 rockets toward Tel Aviv on Saturday evening.

The group said this was in "response to the bombing of the residential tower in the center of Gaza City," in a post on Telegram.

What happened: A grouping of high-rises in Gaza were hit by an explosion and two towers were seen collapsing just before 7 p.m. local time (12 p.m. ET).

CNN video shows the Palestine Tower — a high-rise building with two annexes, which hosts media offices and residential apartments — hit and subsequently collapse. It was not immediately clear if there were casualties.

“Now that the occupation has bombed the Palestine Tower in the middle of Gaza City, Tel Aviv must stand on one leg and wait for our earth-shattering response,” Abu Obaida, spokesperson of the AlQassam Brigades, had said on Telegram 

2:17 p.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Sirens and loud explosions heard over Tel Aviv

From CNN's Lauren Izso in Tel Aviv

Rockets fired from Gaza City, are intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome defence missile system on October 7.
Rockets fired from Gaza City, are intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome defence missile system on October 7. Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

Sirens and more than a dozen loud booms are being heard across Tel Aviv, according to CNN journalists on the ground Saturday.

It was not immediately clear if the loud explosions were interceptions by Israel's anti-rocket systems or the sound of militant rockets landing in the country.

A CNN team that just got off the plane at Ben Gurion Airport took cover after hearing sirens.

"You can hear the intercept missiles banging in the air," CNN's Nic Robertson explained, with the sound of an explosion in the background shortly after.

Several other travelers were seen on the ground taking cover and crying. 

1:26 p.m. ET, October 7, 2023

"This is a Pearl Harbor type of moment for Israel," former Israeli military spokesperson says

From CNN’s Josh Berlinger and Amir Tal

Smoke billows over the Israeli side of the border following a series of early morning rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip into Israel on October 7.
Smoke billows over the Israeli side of the border following a series of early morning rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip into Israel on October 7. Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

The massive surprise attack on Israel by Hamas on Saturday is a “Pearl Harbor type of moment” for the country, former Israel Defense Forces international spokesperson Jonathan Conricus told CNN.

"The entire system failed. It's not just one component. It's the entire defense architecture that evidently failed to provide the necessary defense for Israeli civilians," he said of the early morning attack. "This is a Pearl Harbor type of moment for Israel, where there was reality up until today, and then there will be reality after today."

The attack, in which Hamas militants entered Israel and infiltrated military bases, towns and farms and took hostages, is unprecedented in Israeli history since town-by-town fighting in the 1948 war of independence.

12:47 p.m. ET, October 7, 2023

How did Israel and Palestinians get here?

From CNN's Hadas Gold, Richard Allen Greene, Amir Tal, Ibrahim Dahman, Abeer Salman, Kareem Khaddar and Nadeen Ebrahim

A Palestinian man passes Israeli soldiers patrolling in a street in Gaza on December 20, 1987.
A Palestinian man passes Israeli soldiers patrolling in a street in Gaza on December 20, 1987. Esaias Baitel/AFP/Getty Images

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have existed since before the nation’s founding in 1948. Thousands of people on both sides have been killed and many more injured in the long-simmering conflict between the two sides over the past few decades.

Violence has been particularly heightened this year. The number of Palestinians – militants and civilians – killed in the occupied West Bank by Israeli forces is at its highest in nearly two decades. The same is true of Israelis and foreigners – most of them civilians – killed in Palestinian attacks.

Israel and the militant group Hamas have been involved in armed conflict dating back as early as the 1987 First Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, against Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Israel captured Gaza from Egypt in a 1967 war, then withdrew in 2005. The small territory — home to some 2 million Palestinians — fell under Hamas’ control in 2007 after a brief civil war with Fatah, a rival Palestinian faction which is the backbone of the Palestinian Authority.

After Hamas seized control of Gaza, Israel and Egypt imposed a strict siege on the territory, which is ongoing. Israel also maintains an air and naval blockade on Gaza.

Before Saturday’s operation, the last war between Hamas and Israel was in 2021, which lasted for 11 days and killed at least 250 people in Gaza and 13 in Israel.

Saturday’s assault occurred on the 50th anniversary of the 1973 war, when Israel’s Arab neighbors launched a surprise attack on Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, on October 6, 1973.

5:35 p.m. ET, October 7, 2023

US airlines cancel and divert Israel-bound flights

From CNN's Pete Muntean

US airlines are diverting and canceling flights bound for Israel’s main international airport as fighting rages between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants.

United Airlines Flight 954 left San Francisco International Airport Friday night and diverted over Greenland about seven hours into the more than 13-hour-long journey, according to data from flight tracking site FlightAware. The flight is due to land back in San Francisco around 2 p.m. ET.

FlightAware shows that United has canceled a flight on the same original schedule for Saturday.

“The safety of our customers and crews is our top priority,” the airline said in a statement. “We are closely monitoring the situation and we are adjusting flight schedules as required.”

Delta Air Lines and American Airlines have canceled Saturday and Sunday Israel-bound flights scheduled to depart from New York’s JFK, according to FlightAware.

Elsewhere, German airline Lufthansa has also drastically reduced flights to Tel Aviv.

"There will still be one flight from Tel Aviv to Frankfurt this Saturday. All other Lufthansa flights to and from Tel Aviv have been cancelled for today's Saturday," the airline said in a statement.

Air France said it would suspend flights into Tel Aviv until further notice as well, citing safety concerns.

In all, FlightAware shows 14% of flights bound for Tel Aviv from around the world have been cancelled.

CNN's Stephanie Halasz and Jonny Hallam contributed reporting to this post.

12:25 p.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Videos show Hamas seizing Israelis

From CNN’s Allegra Goodwin, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Denis Lapin, Paul P. Murphy and Abeer Salman

The Israel Defense Forces say Hamas has taken hostages and prisoners of war since it launched its surprise attack Saturday morning.

In videos geolocated and authenticated by CNN, Hamas appears to have taken Israelis captive in and near Gaza, including Israeli soldiers.

In one of the videos, geolocated by CNN to the neighborhood of Shejaiya in Gaza, a barefoot woman is pulled from the trunk of a Jeep by a gunman and then forced into the backseat of the car. Her face is bleeding, and her wrists appear to be cable-tied behind her back. The jeep also appears to have an Israel Defense Forces license plate, suggesting it may have been stolen and brought into Gaza.   

Another video, which appears to show Hamas militants taking multiple Israelis captive, was geolocated by CNN to Be'eri in southern Israel, which is a village close to Gaza. 

In another set of videos geolocated and authenticated, Hamas appears to be seizing Israeli soldiers.

The first video shows Hamas militants yank two clearly terrified and stunned soldiers out of a disabled tank. It's unclear from the video how the tank was disabled, but Hamas has been utilizing drones to drop bombs onto Israeli tanks.

The militants are then seen kicking one of the soldiers on the ground in a short snippet of video. In the next clip, the soldier is seen lying motionless on the ground.

The second soldier is led away by Hamas militants.

A third soldier — whose face was very bloody — is seen lying on the ground motionless near the tank track. CNN does not know the current whereabouts or status of the three soldiers.

Another video, taken afterward, shows a number of different armed men around the tank. The three soldiers seen in the first video are nowhere to be seen.

The armed men in the second video are seen pulling a fourth Israeli soldier from the tank.

The soldier is motionless as he's dragged down the side of the tank and onto the ground. The armed men then begin to stomp on the man's body.

The video is heavily edited — Hamas has blurred the faces of their militants — and it was posted to Hamas' official social media accounts. CNN has geolocated the video and can report that it was taken along the eastern Gaza border near the border wall.

12:09 p.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Senior Hamas member says the militant group is ready for "worst-case scenario"

From CNN's Ibrahim Dahman and Abeer Salman

In this file image Saleh Al-Arouri makes a speech in Cairo, Egypt, on October 12, 2017.
In this file image Saleh Al-Arouri makes a speech in Cairo, Egypt, on October 12, 2017. Ahmed Gamil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Senior Hamas member Saleh al-Arouri said the militant group, which runs Gaza, is ready "for all options, including a war and an escalation on all levels."

"We are ready for the worst-case scenario, including a ground invasion, which will be the best for us to decide the ending of this battle," al-Arouri told Al Jazeera Arabic Saturday.

Al-Arouri claimed there are ongoing "intensive international and regional efforts" to end the crisis, "but now nothing will be more important than the battle."

Meanwhile, the Izzedine al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, on Saturday claimed they are still fighting in 25 locations.

The group also said in a statement that there are ongoing clashes at the Re'im military base near Gaza's northern border crossing with Israel.