Israel taking ‘significant military steps’ in response to Hamas attack: Key developments

NEW DELHI: Even as the death toll in Israel continued to rise past 800 on Monday, hundreds of Israeli families remained in a state of anguish, desperately looking for loved ones who have been missing since Hamas‘s unprecedented attack.
Israel formally declared war on Sunday and gave the green light for “significant military steps” to retaliate against Hamas for Saturday’s surprise attack.More than 1,200 people have been killed and thousands wounded on both sides.

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Here are the latest developments:
Israel imposes total siege on Gaza after Hamas surprise attack
Israel today ordered a “complete siege” on the Gaza Strip Monday and cut off the water supply as it kept bombing targets in the crowded Palestinian enclave in response to the Hamas surprise assault it has likened to the 9/11 attacks.
Defence minister Yoav Gallant said Israel would impose a “complete siege” on the long blockaded enclave and stressed what this meant for its 2.3 million people: “No electricity, no food, no water, no gas — it’s all closed.”

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Palestinians in the impoverished coastal territory braced for what many feared will be a massive Israeli ground attack aiming to defeat Hamas and liberate the hostages.
Israel planning major ground assault to finish Hamas, calls up 3 lakh reservists
Israel said it had called up 300,000 army reservists for its “Swords of Iron” campaign, and truck convoys were moving tanks to the south, where its forces had dislodged the last holdout Hamas fighters from embattled towns.
“We are in control of the communities,” said military spokesman Daniel Hagari, cautioning that some “terrorists” may remain after about 1,000 militants had swarmed into the region on the Jewish Sabbath.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Gaza civilians to get away from all Hamas sites, which he vowed to turn “to rubble”.
Netanyahu vows to ‘change Middle East’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Monday to “change the Middle East” in Israel’s war with Palestinian militant group Hamas, as the army pounded the Gaza Strip with air strikes.
“What Hamas will experience will be difficult and terrible… we are going to change the Middle East,” Netanyahu told officials in the country’s south where Hamas militants carried out a surprise attack on Saturday morning.

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Qatar in talks with Hamas, Israel to swap Israeli hostages for Palestinians in Israeli jails
Qatari mediators have held urgent calls to try to negotiate freedom for Israeli women and children seized by the militant group and held in Gaza in exchange for the release of 36 Palestinian women and children from Israel’s prisons, a source briefed on the talks told Reuters.
Qatar’s foreign ministry confirmed to Reuters its involvement in mediation talks with Hamas and Israeli officials, including over a possible prisoner swap.
“We are in constant contact with all sides at the moment. Our priorities are to end the bloodshed, release the prisoners and make sure the conflict is contained with no regional spillover,” Reuters quoted foreign ministry spokesperson Majed Al-Ansari as saying.
‘Currently no chance’ of prisoner swap with Israel: Hamas official
Palestinian Islamist group Hamas is not open to negotiating a prisoner exchange with Israel during hostilities, a member of the militants’ political office in Doha said Monday.
“The military operation is still continuing… therefore there is currently no chance for negotiation on the issue of prisoners or anything else,” Hossam Badran, a Hamas official, told AFP from Doha.
EU Commission suspends ‘all payments immediately’ to the Palestinians
European Union Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said Monday the bloc is suspending “all payments immediately” to the Palestinians because of what he called the “scale of terror and brutality” during the attacks on Israel by Hamas.
The surprise announcement by Varhelyi came just hours after EU officials stressed that no EU money whatsoever was going to Hamas in the first place and that contacts had been frozen for 16 years. The EU considers Hamas a terror group.
(With agency inputs)

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