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Hundreds dead in Israel-Gaza war as Hezbollah launches attacks

A ball of fire and smoke rise above a building in Gaza City on October 7, 2023 during Israeli air strikes
— Jerusalem (AFP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday warned of a "long and difficult" war, as fighting with Hamas left hundreds dead on both sides after a surprise attack on Israel by the Palestinian militant group.

The conflict's bloodiest escalation in decades saw Hamas carry out a massive rocket barrage and ground, air and sea offensive Saturday that Israel's army said had killed more than 200 Israelis and wounded 1,000, while soldiers and civilians were taken hostage.

Gaza officials said intense Israeli air strikes on the coastal enclave had brought the Palestinian death toll to at least 256, with nearly 1,788 wounded.

As fighting raged Sunday, Lebanon's powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah movement said it had fired "large numbers of artillery shells and guided missiles" at Israeli positions in a contested border areas "in solidarity" with Hamas.

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