The Palestinian militants have taken a “high” number of captives, the country’s envoy to Moscow says
Russian nationals may have been among those captured by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Israeli Ambassador to Russia Alexander Ben Zvi has claimed.
The diplomat made the remarks to TASS news agency on Sunday, explaining that the militants had taken a “large” number of hostages during the incursion from Gaza into southern Israel.
“The number of hostages is high. But we don’t have exact data yet. Many people mention a number of around 100. Everyone is assessing the situation now,” the envoy said. A number of Russian nationals may have ended up in Palestinian captivity, Ben Zvi suggested, adding that there was no concrete data on the matter as of yet.
At least 350 Israelis were killed during the raid, the ambassador said, while some 1,800 others were injured. The figures are expected to grow even further. The unofficial tally provided by ZAKA, a volunteer group that handles human remains after terrorist attacks in Israel, was significantly larger, with more than 600 Israelis confirmed killed in the ongoing escalation.
Asked about the looming Israeli ground operation against Hamas and a potential incursion into Gaza, Ben Zvi revealed that no final decision had yet been made and government consultations are still ongoing.
“The decision will be made in a matter of days. But we are at war, Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] made this very clear yesterday. But the decision about such an operation is not made at once,” Ben Zvi stated.
The latest escalation between Israel and Hamas began early on Saturday, when the militant group launched a surprise attack in the south of the country. The militants broke through the border at several locations, overrunning Israeli military installations and seizing control of multiple settlements. In disturbing footage shared online, the militants were seen killing and taking prisoner Israeli military personnel and civilians, taking hostages back to Gaza.
Israel retaliated with multiple airstrikes on the Palestinian exclave while redeploying additional troops in the south of the country. The country’s military claims to have killed more than 400 Hamas fighters in the past 30 hours. The retaliatory strikes left more than 300 civilians dead and some 2,200 wounded in Gaza, according to local health authorities.
Israel also announced a call-up of reservists to bolster the military’s ranks. It officially entered a state of war on Sunday, when the government invoked Article 40 of the country’s Basic Law.
October 08, 2023 at 08:56PM