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

BREAKING: Hamas has taken "hostages and prisoners of war," Israel Defense Forces spokesperson says

From CNN's Hadas Gold

Hamas has taken “hostages and prisoners of war,” the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Daniel Hagari, said.

“There are hostages and prisoners of war that Hamas took. There are also deaths among IDF soldiers. We don't have an exact number yet - we are at war,” he said.

12:55 p.m. ET, October 7, 2023

US President Biden has spoken with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu

From CNN’s Amir Tal and Kevin Liptak

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pictured near Salem military post in the occupied West Bank on July 4.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pictured near Salem military post in the occupied West Bank on July 4. Shir Torem/AFP/Getty Images

US President Joe Biden and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about the situation in Israel on Saturday.

In a statement, Biden condemned the attacks by Hamas and said the United States stands by Israel.

"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. 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. And my Administration’s support for Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering," he said in the statement.

Biden added that he and his team are monitoring the situation and will stay in touch with Netanyahu.

Earlier, Netanyahu's office released a statement saying Biden called the prime minister Saturday and voiced his support for Israel.

“The Prime Minister thanked the US President for his unreserved support and made it clear that a prolonged and powerful campaign would be required in which Israel would win,” the statement added.

In a separate statement, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Saturday that the US "unequivocally condemns the appalling attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israel, including civilians and civilian communities."

"We will remain in close contact with our Israeli partners," Blinken said.

10:43 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

US embassy in Israel issues "shelter in place" for personnel in response to ongoing violence 

From CNN's Andrew Millman

The US embassy complex in Jerusalem, Israel, on September 27.
The US embassy complex in Jerusalem, Israel, on September 27. Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

The US embassy in Jerusalem issued a “shelter in place” for embassy personnel due to the ongoing violence in Israel and Gaza. 

“The U.S. Embassy is closely monitoring the security situation as a result of rockets fired from Gaza across southern and central Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and the infiltration of Hamas militants,” the statement reads.

The embassy “is aware that there have been casualties as a result of these incidents” and cautions US citizens to “remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness,” it added.

US officials, from the White House to the State Department and the Senate Intelligence Committee, have been monitoring the attacks throughout the morning.

10:31 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

908 wounded have been taken to Israeli hospitals, Israeli health ministry says

From CNN's Hadas Gold

Israeli rescue teams wait next to ambulances parked just outside the southern city of Sderot, Israel, to evacuate the wounded on October 7.
Israeli rescue teams wait next to ambulances parked just outside the southern city of Sderot, Israel, to evacuate the wounded on October 7. Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

So far, 908 wounded people have been taken to Israeli hospitals, the Israeli health ministry said. Separately, at least 40 people have died in Israel, officials said earlier.

In Gaza, nearly 200 are dead and more than 1,600 are injured, Palestinian health ministry said.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared his country “at war” Saturday, after Palestinian militants in Gaza fired a deadly barrage of rockets and sent gunmen into Israeli territory in a major escalation of the long-running conflict between the two sides.

10:40 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Palestinian militants have launched a surprise attack on Israel. Here's what we know so far

From CNN staff

Smoke rises in the aftermath of rocket barrages that were launched from Gaza, in Ashkelon, Israel, on October 7.
Smoke rises in the aftermath of rocket barrages that were launched from Gaza, in Ashkelon, Israel, on October 7. Amir Cohen/Reuters

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared his country “at war” Saturday, after Palestinian militants in Gaza fired a deadly barrage of rockets and sent gunmen into Israeli territory in a major escalation of the long-running conflict between the two sides.

Israeli authorities say at least 40 people are dead and nearly 800 more wounded in Israel after the early morning surprise attack. Meanwhile, Palestinian authorities say nearly 200 people were killed after Israel launched air strikes. Fighting is still taking place on the ground.

If you're just catching up on the news, here are the key details:

  • Hamas claims responsibility: Hamas, the Palestinian militant movement that runs Gaza, has claimed responsibility for the incursion. Militants fired more than 2,000 rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel, according to the Israeli military, while Hamas fighters entered southern Israel by land, sea and air, using paragliders. Hamas says it captured several Israeli soldiers near the border, but Israel’s military has not officially confirmed the reports.
  • Israeli military's response: The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched strikes against a number of Hamas targets in Gaza and is calling up thousands of reservists, military leaders said. The IDF's forces were fighting on the ground Saturday in at least half a dozen locations, including several villages, two army bases and border crossings, a spokesperson said.
  • Deaths in Palestinian territories: At least 198 Palestinians were killed in Gaza on Saturday, with 1,610 injured, the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza said. The ministry did not provide a breakdown on where the deaths occurred, and if the deaths included Hamas militants or civilians in Gaza. 
  • What Netanyahu is saying: The Israeli prime minister has vowed that Hamas will “pay a price it has never known” for the attack. “Citizens of Israel, we are at war – not in an operation, not in rounds – at war,” he said in a video message.
  • Scenes on the ground: Residents of two Israeli communities told the country's Channel 12 television station that assailants from Gaza are trying to break into their homes. They have repeatedly pleaded on TV for assistance from the Israeli military. Meanwhile, photos provide some of our first looks on the ground, and the IDF has released video of what it says are aerial attacks on Hamas targets in Gaza.
  • Alarm across the world: US officials have watched the large-scale attack with concern. US President Joe Biden and Netanyahu are expected to speak soonLeaders across the world are, as has been the case during previous conflicts, calling for calm and restraint.
  • A significant date: The surprise attack came on the 50th anniversary of the 1973 War, in which Arab states blitzed Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.
  • Here is a map of where the fighting is taking place:

9:52 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

BREAKING: 198 Palestinians killed and 1,610 injured, Palestinian health ministry in Gaza says

From CNN’s Ibrahim Dahman, Kareem Khadder and Abeer Salman  

Bodies of Palestinians killed in airstrikes are taken to the morgue at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Gaza, on October 7.
Bodies of Palestinians killed in airstrikes are taken to the morgue at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Gaza, on October 7. Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

At least 198 Palestinians were killed in Gaza on Saturday, with 1,610 injured, the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza said. 

The ministry did not provide a breakdown on where the deaths occurred, and if the deaths included Hamas militants or civilians in Gaza. 

The deaths come after the Israel Defense Forces carried out strikes in response to a barrage of thousands of rockets from Hamas into Israel and an incursion by Hamas fighters that left at least 40 people dead in Israel and nearly 800 wounded.

10:05 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Hamas has "opened the gates of hell," Israeli military leader says

From CNN's Hadas Gold in Jerusalem

The Israel Defense Forces top official in charge of activities in the Palestinian territories, Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian, said that Hamas had "opened the gates of hell" with its surprise attack.

Here was Alian's message:

”I want to say one thing — Hamas has opened the gates of hell into the Gaza Strip. Hamas made the decision, and Hamas will bear the responsibility and pay for its deeds."

Alian's bellicose rhetoric echoed earlier comments from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said the country would "return fire of a magnitude that the enemy has not known." He added that "the enemy will pay an unprecedented price."

The IDF previously said that Hamas will "face the consequences and responsibility for these events.”

9:24 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

IDF spokesman says he hopes “there will be no more live terrorists in Israel” by end of the day

From CNN’s Zahid Mahmood in London 

Israeli soldiers work to secure residential areas following a mass-infiltration by Hamas gunmen in Sderot, southern Israel, on October 7.
Israeli soldiers work to secure residential areas following a mass-infiltration by Hamas gunmen in Sderot, southern Israel, on October 7. Ammar Awad/Reuters

Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesperson Richard Hecht told CNN on Saturday that he hopes by the end of the day Saturday, there will be no more live terrorists in Israel.

We are very much focused on saving forces, where there is ongoing fighting as we speak and handling these terrorists, hopefully by the end of the day there will be no more live terrorists inside Israel,” Hecht said in an interview with CNN.

To secure the area for civilians, special forces are fighting in various locations and firefighters and taking control and cleaning some areas, he added.

Additionally, "tens of thousands" of Israeli reservists have been called up to help since the offensive began early on Saturday, Hecht said.

When asked how Israel is securing infiltration routes, Hecht said, “We are fully deployed and focused on air coverage to see what is happening, we deployed forces to the infiltration points and again we are slowly securing the area and trying to take care of all these people that came in.”

The IDF is concerned about a possible attack coming from the northern countries of Lebanon or Syria, Hecht said. “We are ready in the north [in] case there is some Palestinian faction, in case they decide to come into it we will be ready, something we are looking at and we are ready for it.”

9:28 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

PM Netanyahu will speak soon with US President Biden, according to officials

From CNN staff

U.S. President Joe Biden in the Oval Office on October 5, in Washington, DC.
U.S. President Joe Biden in the Oval Office on October 5, in Washington, DC. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are expected to speak soon, multiple officials familiar with the matter say. 

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan has been in touch with his Israeli counterpart about the situation in Israel, a senior Biden administration official says. Officials at the National Security Council at all levels are reaching out to their counterparts as well.

Meanwhile, here's what how some other nations are reacting:

UAE: The foreign ministry in a statement stressed the need to “stop escalation” between Palestinians and Israelis and “preserve human lives.” 

“The UAE calls for the exercise of maximum restraint and an immediate ceasefire to avoid dangerous repercussions,” the statement published on state-run WAM said. 

Spain: Foreign minister José Manuel Albares said Spain strongly condemns “the very serious terrorist attacks from Gaza against Israel” and said he is “overwhelmed by this indiscriminate violence.” 

“All our solidarity with the victims. Spain is firmly committed to peace, security and stability in the region,” he said in a post on X, formerly known at Twitter.

Italy: "The Italian government is closely following the brutal attack taking place in Israel. It condemns in the strongest terms the ongoing terror and violence against innocent civilians and supports Israel's right to defend itself. Terror will never prevail," the Italian presidency said.