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
32 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
6:05 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Israeli police are responding to threats in "large" numbers, 21 active fronts identified

From CNN's Richard Greene in Jerusalem, Lauren Iszo in Tel Aviv and Alex Stambaugh in Hong Kong

Israeli rescue teams tend to an elderly man seated on a chair in the entrance of a building that received a direct hit in Ashkelon during a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip in southern Israel, on October 7, 2023.
Israeli rescue teams tend to an elderly man seated on a chair in the entrance of a building that received a direct hit in Ashkelon during a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip in southern Israel, on October 7, 2023. Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

There are "large" numbers of Israel Police and Border Police responding to multiple locations and threats, police spokesman Dean Elsdunne said on Saturday.

Elsdunne said bomb squad technicians have been deployed to clear missile debris and shrapnel sites.

Elsdunne added that Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai is holding a "special situational assessment" at the national police headquarters in Jerusalem, which Israel Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir is attending.

21 fronts: In a separate briefing, Shabtai said, “We are currently in a state of war, a complex attack in the area around Gaza, and the towns in southern Israel. Right now there are 21 active fronts in the south.”

Members of the Israeli frorces take cover on the side of a street in Ashkelon, Israel, on October 7, 2023.
Members of the Israeli frorces take cover on the side of a street in Ashkelon, Israel, on October 7, 2023. Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

5:59 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Video appears to show Palestinian gunmen dragging an Israeli soldier from a tank

From CNN’s Stephanie Halasz, Hadas Gold and Alex Stambaugh

Videos of the violence Saturday morning across Israel have begun to circulate online, giving the world a glimpse of the chaos on the ground.

Clips geolocated by CNN show militants firing on civilians in the southern Israel city of Sderot.

A video published by Reuters appears to show Palestinian gunmen dragging what looks like an Israeli soldier out of a tank. It is not known what condition the soldier is in, but the tank seems to be parked at a fence separating Gaza from Israel.

The tank is a Merkova, a battle tank used by the Israel Defense Forces.

5:48 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Sirens have been blaring for the last five hours in Israel

From CNN's Richard Greene in Jerusalem

The Hamas attack on Israel has been underway for about five hours, with sirens continuing to ring as far north as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

The sirens started ringing out early Saturday morning after rockets were fired from Gaza. They could still be heard as of of 12:30 p.m. local time.

5:46 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Hezbollah praises Saturday morning attacks by Hamas

From Mia Alberti in Beirut, Lebanon

Lebanese militant group Hezbollah praised the Saturday morning attack by militant group Hamas against Israel in a a statement posted on Hezbollah-backed Al Manar TV.

Hezbollah is in direct contact with Hamas leadership, according to the statement.

Hezbollah is a Shiite Lebanese militant and political group that has fought in several conflicts with Israel. The group has strong ties to Iran as well.

5:51 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

BREAKING NEWS: At least 22 dead in Saturday morning's assault

From CNN's Amir Tal in Jerusalem 

An aerial view shows vehicles on fire as rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel, on October 7, 2023.
An aerial view shows vehicles on fire as rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel, on October 7, 2023. Ilan Rosenberg/Reuters

At least 22 people have been killed in the surprise attack launched by militant group Hamas on Saturday morning, according to Israel’s Magen David Adom rescue service. 

MDA said more than 250 casualties have been reported, including the 22 people who died.

MDA did not say how many of those killed or wounded were civilians.

Israeli fire brigade teams douse the blaze in a parking lot outside a residential building following a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, on October 7, 2023.
Israeli fire brigade teams douse the blaze in a parking lot outside a residential building following a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, on October 7, 2023. Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

9:32 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Read Netanyahu's full address

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers an address to the nation on October 7.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers an address to the nation on October 7.

Here is what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in his first public comments since Hamas' surprise attack early Saturday morning.

"Citizens of Israel,
We are at war, not in an operation or in rounds, but at war. This morning, Hamas launched a murderous surprise attack against the State of Israel and its citizens. We have been in this since the early morning hours. 
I convened the heads of the security establishment and ordered – first of all – to clear out the communities that have been infiltrated by terrorists. This currently is being carried out. 
At the same time, I have ordered an extensive mobilization of reserves and that we return fire of a magnitude that the enemy has not known. The enemy will pay an unprecedented price.
In the meantime, I call on the citizens of Israel to strictly adhere to the directives of the IDF and Home Front Command. We are at war and we will win it."
5:08 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

BREAKING NEWS: Israeli Prime Minister says country is at war

From CNN’s Amir Tal in Jerusalem

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media following talks at the Chancellery on March 16, 2023, in Berlin, Germany.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media following talks at the Chancellery on March 16, 2023, in Berlin, Germany. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country is "at war" following the surprise attack from Hamas early Saturday morning.

“Citizens of Israel, we are at war -- not in an operation, not in rounds -- at war,” Netanyahu said in a video message.

 

Smoke is seen in the Rehovot area as rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip, in Israel, on October 7, 2023.
Smoke is seen in the Rehovot area as rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip, in Israel, on October 7, 2023. Ilan Rosenberg/Reuters

4:50 a.m. ET, October 7, 2023

The Israeli military says it is striking a "number of targets" in Gaza

From CNN's Hadas Gold in Jerusalem and Lauren Iszo in Tel Aviv

Residents in the Gaza Strip flee their homes to move away from the border with Israel after barrages of rockets were fired from the coastal enclave into Israel on October 7, 2023.
Residents in the Gaza Strip flee their homes to move away from the border with Israel after barrages of rockets were fired from the coastal enclave into Israel on October 7, 2023. Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

The Israel Defense Forces said that dozens of its fighter jets are striking "a number of" targets" in Gaza that belong to Hamas

It did not provide further details.

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

Hamas militants entered Israel by land, sea and air using paragliders

From CNN's Richard Greene and Hadas Gold in Jerusalem and Lauren Iszo in Tel Aviv

Militants from Hamas entered Israel from Gaza by land, by sea and by air using paragliders, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman DF spokesperson Lt Col Richard Hecht said at a briefing on Saturday.

Hecht said fighting on the ground is taking place in the following places:

  • Erez Crossing
  • Nahal Oz
  • Magen
  • Kibbutz Beeri
  • Rehim Army Base
  • Ziikim Army base
  • Kfar Azz

Hecht declined to answer repeated questions from journalists about whether the IDF had advance intelligence that the attack was coming.

He added that the military would be calling up thousands of reservists.

Is Israel at war: When asked whether the IDF considers itself to be at war, Hecht said: "This is a state of readiness for war."