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Day 2 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Sunday, Oct. 8

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Last Updated: 4 months 2 weeks ago

In the second day of our live coverage, the death toll in the ongoing Israel-Gaza war reached 700 Israelis and 413 Palestinians.

Rina Bassist, Ezgi Akin, Beatrice Farhat, Elizabeth Hagedorn, Adam Lucente, Jack Dutton, Jared Szuba and Al-Monitor’s contributors on the ground in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel contributed to this blog.

Click here for our most recent updates.

Live updates (all times EDT):

Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023

GAZA, TEL AVIV, WASHINGTON, BEIRUT — At least 700 Israelis and 413 Palestinians are reported dead as the fighting between Israel and Hamas continued into its second day on Sunday. 

On Saturday, militants from the group entered southern Israeli towns, took more than 100 hostages and fired more than 3,000 rockets toward the Jewish state. Thousands more on both sides were wounded.

With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowing “might vengeance” against Hamas and Gaza militants, Israel carried out 800 airstrikes since Saturday’s attack.

But with dozens of Israelis captured and believed to be in Gaza, the plans for a ground invasion are increasingly complicated. The leader of the Islamic Jihad movement said that his group is looking for a prisoner swap.

The United States has thrown its support behind the Israeli government, and the Pentagon has dispatched the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group, which includes the guided missile cruiser USS Normandy and four guided-missile destroyers, to the Eastern Mediterranean.

The United States government is working to verify reports that “several Americans” were killed in the attack

Israel is reportedly seeking to confine the war in the Gaza Strip as tens of thousands of residents have moved to UNRWA shelters. But with shots fired on its northern border by Hezbollah, the risks of a multifront war have increased. 

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that Iran green-lighted the Hamas operation following a Beirut meeting on Monday. The developments and Israel’s declaration of war mark the most serious escalation between Israel and Hamas since May 2021.

Al-Monitor’s Rina Bassist, Adam Lucente, Elizabeth Hagedorn, Jack Dutton, Beatrice Farhat, Jared Szuba, Ben Caspit and Al-Monitor’s contributors on the ground in Gaza contributed to this blog.

Click here for our most recent updates.

Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023

Live updates (all times EDT):

11:59 pm: 11 Thai nationals kidnapped by Hamas

The Foreign Ministry of Thailand said that 12 Thai nationals were killed and eight injured in the Hamas attack on Saturday. Eleven Thai nationals have been taken to Gaza, said the ministry. According to Bangkok, there are approximately 30,000 Thai nationals living and working in Israel, 5,000 of them are in the vicinity of the Gaza border.

11:57 pm: Israel’s Ben-Gvir says ready for an emergency government 

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said he agrees for National Unity party leader Benny Gantz and Israel Beitenu party leader Avigdor Liberman to join a Netanyahu-led emergency government. "As long as the basis for entering the government is a decision on the goal set for the IDF – to completely defeat and crush the military and governing powers of Hamas, then (my) Jewish Power party will welcome a broad emergency government," he said. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to meet with Gantz Monday morning to discuss his entry into the government. 

7:30 pm: Israel amasses 100,00 troops on Gaza's border 

The IDF announced on Monday morning local time that it has mobilized 100,000 soldiers in preparation for a ground offensive to neutralize Hamas’ capabilities in the Gaza Strip. 

"We have amassed around 100,000 reserve troops who are currently in southern Israel preparing to execute the task the Israeli government has designated the IDF to do,” Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said in a video statement.“ 

“Our objective is that at the end of this war, Hamas will no longer have any military capability to threaten Israeli civilians with,” Conricus added. Another goal is "to make sure that Hamas is not able to govern the Gaza Strip." The militant group took control of Gaza in 2007.            
Calling it a "dire" situation and the "worst day in Israeli history", Conricus said Israeli forces are still fighting Hamas elements inside Israel. He also confirmed a "very large" number of Israelis [soldiers and civilians] are being held in Gaza, and said the number may be revealed in the coming days.

4:45 pm: Death toll crosses 1,000 in 2 days of Israel-Hamas conflict

At least 700 people have died in Israel and over 2,000 have been injured in the two days since the Hamas attack, Israeli officials said. In Gaza, at least 413 Palestinians have been killed, including 78 children, and 2,300 are injured, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

4:40 pm: WSJ reports Iran helped plan Hamas attack against Israel

Iranian security officials helped plan Hamas’ surprise attack against Israel, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday. Those officials “gave the green light for the assault at a meeting in Beirut last Monday,” senior members of Hamas and Hezbollah told the paper.

In a statement to Al-Monitor, however, the Iranian mission to the United Nations in New York, said Iran does not greenlight such decisions.

“The decisions made by the Palestinian resistance are fiercely autonomous and unwaveringly aligned with the legitimate interests of the Palestinian people. We emphatically stand in unflinching support of Palestine; however, we are not involved in Palestine's response, as it is taken solely by Palestine itself,” the statement said.

4:30 pm: Islamic Jihad leader says group holding 30 hostages in Gaza

The Islamic Jihad group, based in Gaza, is holding at least 30 hostages in Gaza, all captured during the assault against Israel on Saturday. “The Islamic Jihad movement currently has more than 30 prisoners, and they will not return to their homes until our prisoners are liberated,” Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nakhalah said in a speech late Sunday local time.

3:50 pm: Israel seeks to focus on Gaza front, prevent others

The Israeli government seeks to focus on Gaza and to prevent battles from breaking out on other fronts, namely on the border with Lebanon or the West Bank. A report by Israel’s public broadcaster KAN revealed that this was the main conclusion reached during the Security Cabinet meeting earlier this evening. That being said, Israel is preparing for the possibility of an escalation in Lebanon following Hezbollah’s attack on Shebaa Farms on Sunday.

3:00 pm: Israel recovers 260 bodies from musical festival site, with more coming, says volunteer group

More than 260 bodies have been pulled out in recent hours from the musical festival site near Re’im Kibbutz in the south of Israel, said the Zaka Search and Rescue group. The volunteer organization, which specializes in recovering remains, said they are still working at the site and are expected to find more bodies scattered around the area. Zaka was authorized to reach the site only after the Israel Police and the IDF cleared the area. 

According to Israel’s public broadcaster KAN, it is likely that Hamas knew ahead of time about the party and that it was set to take place in the open. More than 3,000 youngsters had arrived for the festival, which traditionally takes place during the last weekend of the Tabernacle feast holiday.

2:48 pm: Palestine’s ambassador to UN accuses international community of inaction in face of Israeli violations

Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, said the Palestinian Authority has repeatedly warned of the Israeli actions against the Palestinian people and was met by international inaction, calling for an immediate cease-fire.

“This is a time to tell Israel it needs to change course, that there is a path to peace where neither Palestinians nor Israelis are killed. It is time for an immediate end to the violence and the bloodshed,” Mansour said.

2:10 pm: Islamic Jihad leader says Israel ‘broken’ in war

Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nakhalah expressed confidence in the war against Israel in a speech broadcast by Al Jazeera Arabic. He said that Israel “was broken and sought help in the first hours from its ally America, the head of evil in the world.” The Beirut-based leader also accused Israel of destroying homes and killing civilians in Gaza, and vowed to continue the war with Israel. “We will fight and continue to fight,” he said.

Nakhalah added that there are dozens of Israeli civilians and soldiers being held in Gaza. Iranian state media reported earlier on Sunday that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi held a call with Nakhalah to discuss the situation on the ground.

1:58 pm: Ben-Gvir announces easing of firearms licensing for Israelis

Against the backdrop of the Hamas war, Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir directed the Firearms Licensing Division in his ministry to simplify the process for obtaining a permit to carry a weapon. A statement issued by his office said Ben-Gvir instructed the division to launch what he called an “emergency operation” in order to “enable as many citizens as possible to arm themselves.” 

The program will enable Israelis to get the permit within a week on the condition that they meet the required criteria, including clean criminal checks and health records.

1:46 pm: 70,000 Gazans taken to UNRWA shelters

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said nearly 74,000 people in the Gaza Strip were displaced in 64 UNRWA shelters due to the heavy Israeli bombardment in the enclave. 

In a press release, the UN agency said that one of its schools sheltering more than 225 people was directly hit by Israeli strikes. UNRWA stressed the need to protect civilians at all times and expressed its support for an immediate cease-fire and the end of violence.

1:19 pm: US sends aircraft carrier strike group to deter further attacks

The Pentagon on Saturday dispatched the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group, which includes the guided missile cruiser USS Normandy and four guided-missile destroyers, to the Eastern Mediterranean in order to ward off potential further attacks following Hamas’ assault into Israel. 

The Pentagon also augmented the US Air Force F-35, F-15, F-16 and A-10 fighter aircraft squadrons already based in the region to deter Iran and its proxies. 

“In addition, the United States government will be rapidly providing the Israel Defense Forces with additional equipment and resources, including munitions. The first security assistance will begin moving today and arriving in the coming days,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement.

1:14 pm: Palestinian President Abbas holds call with Qatar, Egypt, Jordan

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke to Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim ibn Hamad Al Thani. The two discussed working toward an “end to the Israeli aggression” and delivering aid to the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Authority’s WAFA news agency reported.

Qatar said in a statement on Saturday that it holds Israel “solely responsible” for the current conflict.

Earlier on Sunday, Abbas discussed the situation in Gaza with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II, according to WAFA.

Jordan, Egypt and Qatar have mediated between Israel and Hamas in the past, and Cairo hosted Palestinian reconciliation talks in July.

12:38 pm: Israel army chief announces readiness on all fronts

IDF Chief of Staff Hezri Halevi warned that fighting against Hamas would be long and difficult but added that Israel is prepared for a multifront war.

“Long and complicated days of fighting are ahead of us. We will keep our readiness at all the fronts. We will continue attacking all over Gaza, and especially in the locations from which attacks are launched against us,” Halevi said.

12:23 pm: Israel’s Gantz ready to consider joining ‘war cabinet’

Leader of the National Unity party Benny Gantz said he is willing to discuss with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the possibility of joining an emergency government.

“Already yesterday, I told the prime minister I am ready to join the campaign and discuss the joining of the National Unity party and of other opposition parties to the government, with the intention of establishing a war cabinet that will manage the Gaza battlefield and any other battlefield,” he said.

12:05 pm: Hamas ‘still on the ground’ in Israel

IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari told reporters that “the enemy is still on the ground” in Israel, adding that the military is sending reinforcements to areas near the Gaza Strip, Agence France-Presse reported.

11:28 am: Israel strikes 800 Hamas targets in Gaza

Israel struck 800 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, a government-run account on X, formerly known as Twitter, reported.

11:14 am: Netanyahu, Biden speak again

In a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Joe Biden emphasized his “unconditional support of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

The two leaders also spoke on Saturday, when Biden told reporters that he would personally remain in touch with Netanyahu as the crisis unfolds. During a speech on Saturday, Netanyahu thanked Biden for his “clear and unequivocal support.” 

11:08 am: Islamic Jihad leader says Israel in ‘state of shock’

Islamic Jihad Deputy Secretary-General Muhammad al-Hindi expressed confidence in the Palestinian military assault against Israel, saying that the Jewish state is in a “state of shock” and has “lost control of its positions after suffering unprecedented losses,” the Hamas-affiliated media outlet Safa reported.

Islamic Jihad participated in Hamas’ incursion into Israel on Saturday, according to The Associated Press.

Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Saturday that the current conflict will spread from Gaza to Jerusalem, the West Bank and within Israel.

10:27 am: Germany to 'review' aid to Palestinians

German Development Minister Svenja Schulze said in a statement that Berlin will review its assistance to the Palestinian territories in light of Hamas’ attack on Israel.

“We will review our whole commitment to the Palestinian areas,” said Schulze in a statement, calling the assault “terrible.”

Germany does not provide aid directly to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, but it does give assistance to Palestinians via its aid agency and development bank, as well as the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

10:18 am: Netanyahu appoints hostage coordinator 

Netanyahu named Gal Hirsch as the country’s chief negotiator for hostages, a position that was vacant for a year. 

The appointment of Hirsch, a former army general and Likud party member, came as an Israeli agency confirmed that more than 100 people had been kidnapped by Hamas and transferred to Gaza. Speaking to the Times of Israel, Israeli officials denied reports that Israel had asked Egypt to negotiate for the hostages’ release.

Prior to Saturday, Hamas was holding two Israeli nationals — Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed — who entered Gaza voluntarily in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Both men suffer from mental health issues. Hamas has also held the bodies of two Israeli soldiers since 2014. 

10:02 am: Iran’s Raisi calls Hamas, Islamic Jihad leaders 

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi held separate phone calls with Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh and Ziyad al-Nakhalah, secretary-general of Islamic Jihad, Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Iran provides substantial financial and military support to both Palestinian militant groups. On Sunday, Israeli President Isaac Herzog tied Iran to the Hamas assault, describing the Gaza-based group as “supported and directed by their proxy commanders in Iran.”

9:39 am: Netanyahu speaks with leaders of UK, Germany, Ukraine, Italy 

Netanyahu held separate phone calls with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

“All the leaders expressed unconditional support for Israel’s right to defend itself as much as needed,’’ read a statement issued by Netanyahu’s office.

9:21 am: Gaza death toll increases to 370

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip said 370 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes since Saturday and another 2,200 have been wounded.

9:14 am: US works to verify reports of dead Americans in Israel 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN that the State Department is aware of reports that US citizens have been killed and are missing as a result of the bloodshed in Israel and is working to confirm their status. Read the full story here.

“We have reports that several Americans were killed. We’re working overtime to verify that,” Blinken told the outlet. “At the same time, there are reports of missing Americans and there again, we’re working to verify those reports."

8:56 am: Israel confirms more than 100 kidnapped

Israel’s Government Press Office said that more than 100 people have been kidnapped by Hamas. Earlier Israeli press reports estimated that dozens of people were being held hostage by the group.

Hamas has previously used captive Israelis as bargaining chips to secure the release of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

8:46 am: Lebanon says Israel bombs near Shebaa Farms

Lebanon’s official National News Agency reported “renewed” Israeli bombing near Shebaa Farms and Kfar Chouba in southern Lebanon near the Israeli border. Lebanese militant group Hezbollah earlier said it struck Israeli targets in Shebaa Farms, a 15-square-mile area that Lebanon considers occupied by Israel.

The National News Agency reported shortly after that an Israeli drone fired a missile at an unspecified target in Khraibeh, north of Shebaa Farms.

8:45 am: Israeli jets strike Hamas targets in Gaza

Dozens of Israeli fighter jets are now attacking targets in the Gaza Strip. The IDF spokesperson’s office said the Israeli air force is targeting Hamas positions near the Gazan city of Beit Hanoun that are used by the militant group to launch attacks against Israel.

Home Front Command, the IDF branch responsible for civil defense, ordered the closure of schools on Monday and Tuesday. Across most of Israel, workplaces that do not have a shelter room must also remain closed through at least Tuesday.

8:31 am: Israeli death toll reaches 600: local media

Some 600 Israelis have died since the fighting erupted between Israel and Hamas on Saturday morning, according to Israel’s public broadcaster KAN and Channel 12 as well as the Haaretz and Times of Israel newspapers. Israeli officials have not confirmed the new death toll. 

Palestinian officials say at least 300 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip, which has come under heavy bombardment after armed Hamas assailants broke through the border fence into Israel’s south yesterday.

8:00 am: International flights canceled

Since Saturday morning, several international companies have been canceling flights to and from Israel. 

  • German Lufthansa said yesterday it was canceling all its flights to and from Israel "given the current security situation in Tel Aviv." 

  • French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne confirmed Sunday afternoon that Air France flights to and from Israel were suspended, reported Reuters. 

  • Other European companies such as Brussels Airlines and low-cost EasyJet and Wizz canceled flights scheduled for Saturday and Sunday but did not announce a suspension of all flights to Israel. 

  • A CBS report said United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines all announced that they have temporarily suspended flights to and from Israel.

Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport, located near Tel Aviv, continues to function, the Israel Aviation Authority told Al-Monitor.

7:34 am: Israel at war

Israel’s Security Cabinet confirmed Saturday night that Israel is at a state of war, authorizing "significant military operations," Netanyahu's office confirmed Sunday afternoon. The statement said the decision was made in accordance with Clause 40 of Israel's Basic Law: The Government. "The war that was forced upon the State of Israel via a deadly terror attack from the Gaza Strip started (officially) from Oct. 7, 2023, at 6:00," read the statement.

7:00 am: Israel death toll rises

Israel’s public broadcaster KAN says the number of Israelis killed since Saturday morning by Gaza rockets and Hamas militants reached 400, with over 1,900 people wounded. 

The report says that fighting continues in six different communities near the Gaza border. Ynet reported that among the people kidnapped by Hamas are several foreign nationals.

Israeli Ambassador in London Tzipi Hotovely confirmed to Sky News that a British national was among those kidnapped by Hamas and taken to Gaza. 

The Foreign Ministry of Thailand said earlier in the day that 11 of its nationals were taken hostage during the fighting in the south of Israel and presumably brought to Gaza.

6:03 am: Abbas orders Palestinian authorities to provide Gaza assistance

Israeli N12News reports that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered the Palestinian government and relevant authorities to act immediately to assist in Gaza. 

Many Palestinian shops in the West Bank are closed today as part of a general strike announced Saturday in support of Hamas.

5:52 am: Israel confirms two citizens shot dead in Egypt

Two Israeli citizens have been shot and killed in Alexandria, Egypt, Israel’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed.

A statement read, "This morning, during a visit of a group of tourists in Alexandria in Egypt, a local person opened fire at them. Murdering two Israeli nationals and their local Egyptian guide. One person was moderately injured."

The ministry said it is working with the Egyptian authorities to bring the Israeli citizens back home quickly. Al Jazeera reported that the shooter was a local police officer.

5:26 am: Al-Qassam spokesperson rallies Palestinians to join battle

Al-Qassam Brigades’ spokesperson Abu Obeida released a new audio recording on the latest developments in Gaza. He said in the clip, released on the military wing of Hamas' website, that more fighters are "infiltrating" Israel and are “heroically” battling Israeli forces on several fronts.

“We are continuing the battle of Al-Aqsa Flood, and we call on our people in all the arenas of the homeland and our nation to join this battle that will be immortalized in history and praised by generations, with God's help,” he added.

5:07 am: PA calls for emergency Arab League meeting

The Palestinian Authority has called for an emergency meeting of the Arab League to discuss the ongoing Hamas-Israel escalation.

Palestine’s permanent representative to the Arab League Mohannad Aklouk said a memorandum was submitted to the pan-Arab body requesting an urgent meeting to mobilize Arab and international efforts to find ways to end the Israeli escalation in Gaza and protect the Palestinian people. The meeting would also discuss efforts to achieve peace and security in the region, according to Aklouk.

5:14 am: China 'deeply concerned' at violence, calls for establishment of Palestinian state

China’s Foreign Ministry has issued a statement on the conflict, saying it is “deeply concerned” over the “escalation of tensions and violence” between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

“The recurrence of the conflict shows once again that the protracted standstill of the peace process cannot go on,” the statement said. “The fundamental way out of the conflict lies in implementing the two-state solution and establishing an independent State of Palestine.”

The ministry said China would continue to work with the international community to find a peaceful resolution and urged the other countries to act with greater urgency to facilitate peace talks between the two sides. 

4:12 am: Rocket fire from Gaza on Israel continues

Two Israelis have been injured in Sderot by rocket fire and six buildings in the southern city were directly hit. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also holding a situation assessment together with the heads of the security agencies at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Israeli authorities are recommending that residents living near the northern border with Lebanon leave the area, but officials have stopped short of a direct order for evacuation for the moment.

3:52 am: 100 rockets rain down on Israeli city of Sderot 

Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, said it launched 100 rockets at the city of Sderot in southern Israel. In a statement posted on its Telegram channel, the brigades said that the attack on Sderot came in response to the Israeli targeting of civilian homes in the Gaza Strip.

3:25 am: Gaza Health Ministry updates death toll 

The Hamas-run Palestinian Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip said 313 people have been killed since Israel began its airstrikes in the enclave on Saturday and 1,990 others have been injured.

2:50 am: Gaza envelope area declared closed military zone

IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari says fighting is ongoing in the Kfar Aza kibbutz. Israeli troops are scanning several other communities to verify no more Palestinian assailants are there. The Gaza envelope area has been declared a closed military zone. Hagari said that IDF has struck 500 Hamas targets in Gaza so far.

1:21 am: Hezbollah, Israel exchange fire in southern Lebanon

Lebanese Hezbollah, a powerful Iran-backed armed group, said it struck three Israeli military positions in Shebaa Farms, an area in southern Lebanon that is regarded by the Lebanese government as occupied by Israel. In a statement released by the movement’s media office, Hezbollah said one of its units launched a large number of rockets and shells against three targets in what it described as an operation to liberate the occupied Lebanese lands and support the Palestinian resistance and people. The Israeli army immediately responded with artillery fire targeting the area from where the attack originated. The army added that a drone strike hit a Hezbollah post in Shebaa Farms.

00:30 am: Mortar bombs fired from Lebanon

Mortars were fired from Lebanon to the Mount Dov area, according to Israel's Army Radio. The IDF responded by attacking the launch site with artillery fire. Residents in the north of Israel are ordered to remain in proximity to shelters in case of more fire from Lebanon.

Click here for our most recent updates.

For our previous live coverage, see:

Day 1 of Hamas-Israel war blog: Saturday, Oct. 7