Joan Mas Autonell
Jerusalem, 8 Oct (EFE).- Israel and Gaza’s Palestinian militia entered their second day in war on Sunday, with intense fighting, while missile and bomb attacks continued, leaving more than 1,100 dead on both sides in this unparalleled conflict.
In Israel, more than 700 people were killed in the land, sea and air assault by the Islamist group Hamas that took the country by surprise on Saturday.
It represents a national tragedy for a state that has never suffered so many deaths in one day since its founding in 1948, despite the ongoing armed conflict it has experienced.
“There is one undeniable fact here – the State of Israel will win this time as well,” said Israeli President Isaac Herzog. “We have no other choice,” he added.
The number of wounded has reached 2,245, 365 of them seriously injured.
Israel is reeling emotionally from a Gaza offensive that no one saw coming, shaking its government and defense establishment and strengthening Hamas after humiliating Israel’s military might.
“This weekend, Hamas started a war against Israel with the worst massacre of innocent civilians in Israel’s history. Hamas was more barbaric and more brutal than ISIS,” Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a statement.
Hagari added: “Let me be crystal clear: Israel will respond with determination and force” and accused Hamas of hiding among Gaza’s civilians.
“The days ahead will be long and difficult… We have paid a heavy price, but we will restore security to the people of Israel,” Hagari stressed.
On Sunday afternoon, the Israeli army evacuated Israeli residents from a dozen communities and claimed to have killed more than 400 Palestinian militiamen.
One of the most serious blows to Israel, however, is the more than 100 people taken hostage in Gaza, whom Hamas wants to exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, which could be a precondition for Israeli military action.
There are also an unspecified number of people who are missing in the chaos, whose families have no idea of their whereabouts and who are still unsure whether they are dead or have been kidnapped.
Meanwhile, Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has left at least 413 dead and more than 2,300 injured.
About fifty warplanes struck some 120 posts in the Gaza town of Beit Hanun on Sunday afternoon, including points from which militants have fired rockets, the army said.
Palestinian factions have fired more than 3,200 projectiles since Saturday, and Israeli forces have attacked some 800 outposts in the Gaza Strip, while sirens continue to sound and Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have taken refuge in their homes.
More than 20,000 people have been displaced and sheltered in Gaza schools, and Israeli attacks have destroyed six towers and at least seven residential buildings.
According to the major general in the Riv reserve, Israel now has two challenges: to rescue the hostages in Gaza and to act against Hamas, for which he suggested a massive retaliation as the only way out.
The general added that if Israel does not respond forcefully, it is an open invitation for other groups such as Hezbollah to attack, which could raise tensions in the occupied West Bank – where seven Palestinians have already been killed in clashes with Israeli troops since Saturday.
It could also provoke attacks by the Shiite militia on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.