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As it happened: Israel to impose 'complete siege' on Gaza, overall death toll rises to over 1,400

The EU has strongly condemned the unprecedented attack by the Islamist militants that has sparked a barrage of strikes by Israel on Gaza.

LAST UPDATE | 9 Oct 2023

OVER 1,400 PEOPLE have already been killed in violence in Israel and Gaza in the worst violence seen in the region since 2014.

The death toll in Israel has surged to more than 800 after a surprise attack by Hamas, while about 150 “prisoners” were being held by the militant group, the Israel government said this evening.

The death toll in the Gaza Strip rose to 687 today, the health ministry in the Palestinian enclave said.

Following two days of retaliatory air strikes, Israeli Defence Minister has ordered a “complete siege” on the Gaza Strip.

Good afternoon.

The world’s attention has once again been drawn to the Middle-East after days of bloodshed in Israel and Gaza and there are fears of an escalation of the conflict. 

The indiscriminate attack on Israeli civilians by Hamas militants on Saturday has been met by a chorus of criticism worldwide. 

Israel’s response, in bombing the impoverished enclave of Gaza and pledging to reduce it to ‘rubble’ has also led to fears of a humanitarian catastrophe. 

The death toll from this round of violence since Saturday has been increasing, with the latest figure placed at over 1,200 people. 

The surprise attack on Israel by the Palestinian militant group Hamas has left about 700 Israelis dead.

In Gaza, the health ministry in the Palestinian enclave said that “560 people were killed and another 2,900 injured” in Israeli strikes.

It has been confirmed that a number of citizens of other nations are among the dead, with the confirming the deaths of nine US citizens. More are unaccounted for, amid fears they were taken captive.

Foreign or dual nationals have been reported killed, abducted or missing by countries including Brazil, Britain, Cambodia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Nepal, Panama, Paraguay, Thailand, Ukraine and the United States.

Israeli-Irish woman Kim Damti (22) remains unaccounted for following the attack by Hamas

EU suspends development aid payments to Palestinians

The EU has halted development aid payments to the Palestinians and is placing €691 million of support “under review” after the Hamas assault on Israel, an EU commissioner said Monday.

“All payments immediately suspended. All projects put under review. All new budget proposals, including for 2023 postponed until further notice. Comprehensive assessment of the whole portfolio,” European Union Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi posted on social media.

Speaking earlier on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Independent TD Cathal Berry had also called on the Irish government to suspend aid to the Palestinian Authority. 

At least eight French nationals were missing, dead or taken hostage after Hamas’s weekend attack on Israel but the foreign ministry confirmed the deaths of only two citizens in a statement.

“France regrets the tragic death of a second French national, who fell victim to Hamas’ terrorist attacks against Israel,” the ministry said.

There’s been shock and revulsion about the slaying of around 250 people who attended an outdoor music festival in an Israeli community near Gaza at the weekend.

The Supernova music festival was taking place on Saturday near Kibbutz Re’im, a remote area in southern Israel close to Gaza when the Hamas militants began their assault. 

The Supernova music festival took place on Saturday near Kibbutz Re’im, a remote area in southern Israel close to Gaza.

Thousands are estimated to have been in attendance when Hamas militants stormed Israel on motorbikes, pickup trucks, speed boats and motorised gliders, some of which were seen flying over the festival in a video widely shared online.

Festival-goers were seen fleeing for their lives across an open field towards cars as gunshots were heard.  While many were killed, at least 100 people were taken hostage, with a video of 25-year-old woman, Noa Argamani, reportedly crying for help from the back of a motorbike while being kidnapped spreading across social media.


“The European Commission’s decision to suspend all aid to Palestinians is a mistake in light of the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza where EU funding supports hospitals, schools and food security programmes,” O’Sullivan said in a statement.

As a neutral country with a recent history of conflict and reconciliation, Ireland has a particularly important role to play in ending the cycle of terror attacks and the systemic violence of the occupation. Ireland should engage with its international partners to deescalate the situation and prevent further loss of life.

Palestinian Islamist group Hamas is not open to negotiating a prisoner exchange with Israel during hostilities, a member of the militants’ political office has said. 

“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.

“Our mission now is to make every effort to prevent the occupation from continuing to commit massacres against our people in Gaza, which directly target civilian homes,” he added.

Israel has said it is working to free at least 100 people kidnapped as Hamas militants stormed the Gaza border on Saturday, shooting people in nearby communities and towns.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald TD said the targeting of civilians and the taking of hostages by Hamas “is to be condemned outright”.

Speaking to RTE’s News At One and referring to slaying of around 250 people who attended an outdoor music festival in an Israeli community near Gaza at the weekend, the Sinn Fein leader said to see young people out enjoying themselves and meeting “such a violent and traumatic death is just truly horrific”.

“I understand perfectly the sense of trauma that’s been expressed,” she added.

“What happened at the weekend in terms of targeting civilians and hostage taking is not on,” said McDonald, calling it a breach to international law that must be condemned.

Asked whether she had met with the Hamas leadership, she said: “I have been to the West Bank and I have met with everybody.”

After confirming that this included Hamas, she said “that’s the correct way to approach this. We should know in Ireland, if you are serious about achieving a ceasefire, which is necessary, a path to peace and respect for international law in a conflict situation, you meet and talk to everybody. That’s the only way you can find a pathway forward.”

israeli-prime-minister-benjamin-netanyahu-attends-the-weekly-cabinet-meeting-at-the-prime-ministers-office-in-jerusalem-wednesday-sept-27-2023-abir-sultanpool-photo-via-ap File photo - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has today vowed 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 visiting Jerusalem from the country’s south, where Hamas militants carried out the surprise attack on Saturday morning.

“This is only the beginning … we are all with you and we will defeat them with force, enormous force.”

Arab League foreign ministers will meet on Wednesday to discuss “Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip” following the surprise assault by Hamas on Israel, the regional bloc has announced.

The “extraordinary meeting” in Cairo will seek to find “avenues of political action at the Arab and international level”, Arab League deputy chief Hossam Zaki said in a statement.

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf has said his wife’s parents are currently “trapped” in Gaza. 

Yousaf’s wife Nadia El-Nakla is Palestinian and her parents, who live in Dundee, northeast Scotland, were visiting family in Gaza.

“They’ve been in Gaza and are currently trapped in Gaza, I’m afraid,” he told reporters.

Yousaf, who in March became the first Muslim leader of a government in western Europe, said the Israeli authorities had told his parents-in-law to leave but not guaranteed safe passage.

He said: 

I’m in a situation where, frankly, night by night, day by day, we don’t know whether or not my mother-in-law and father-in-law, who have nothing to do, as most Gazans don’t, with Hamas or with any terror attack … will make it through the night or not.”

He added: “We cannot sleep. We are constantly watching our phones.”

Yousaf condemned the Hamas attack and said his concerns would be mirrored by Scotland’s Jewish community and their worries for family.

“Innocent civilians” on both sides “are paying the price”, he added.

Irish citizens

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said it is in contact with a “small number of Irish citizens” currently in Gaza and is “providing consular assistance as appropriate”.

The official travel advice for Irish citizens in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank was updated over the weekend urging people to “avoid non-essential travel”.

Any Irish citizen seeking to leave the region is being urged to contact their airline.

In a statement this morning, a Foreign Affairs spokesperson said the department was “closely monitoring the situation in respect of Irish citizens in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)”. 

“Our Embassy in Tel Aviv and our Representative Office in Ramallah, with support from our HQ consular team, are in ongoing contact with a significant number of citizens and are providing support,” the spokesperson added.

“Anyone with concerns in relation to Irish citizens can contact the Department of Foreign Affairs on 01-4082000 or follow @dfatirl.

“We also urge all citizens in Israel and the oPt to follow closely the consular advice issued by our Embassy in Tel Aviv and our Representative Office in Ramallah on X (formerly Twitter).”

The statement added:

“We urge citizens to avoid all travel to Southern Israel, and exercise extreme caution in both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.

The statement notes that Ben Gurion, Israel’s main international airport is open.

“Citizens in Israel wishing to leave should keep in contact with their airline.

This is a developing situation, with the potential for escalation. Any citizen currently in Israel or the occupied Palestinian territory, should register with the Embassy.”

Kim Damti

It was confirmed yesterday afternoon that an Irish-Israeli citizen is among those missing in the wake of the Hamas attacks.

The Irish government yesterday it is in contact with the family of 22-year-old Kim Damti, with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar today saying officials were aware of the case.

He added: “We don’t have any definite detail beyond that, but certainly (we’re) aware of it and willing to offer any consular assistance we can to any Irish citizens or any dual Irish citizens that are caught up in these terrible attacks.”

Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin echoed those comments.

“We are aware of the case and the Department Foreign Affairs has been in touch… with the family. But we don’t intend to comment specifically on the case at this stage.”

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have condemned the abduction of Israeli civilians by Hamas during its assault on Israel, calling for diplomatic efforts to stop the fighting.

The Arab Muslim countries both established relations with Israel in 2020 as part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords.

Their statements came after at least 100 hostages were seized in Saturday’s assault which left more than 700 people dead in Israel and triggered reprisal air strikes which have killed over 560 in Gaza.

“The ministry stressed that attacks by Hamas against Israeli towns and villages near the Gaza Strip, including the firing of thousands of rockets at population centres, are a serious and grave escalation,” the UAE’s foreign ministry said in a statement last night.

“The ministry is appalled by reports that Israeli civilians have been abducted as hostages from their homes.”

The statement is notably less neutral than the UAE’s initial reaction on Saturday, which simply “expressed great concern regarding the escalation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians”.

“The UAE expressed its condolences to the families of the victims and urges all diplomatic efforts to prevent a wider regional confrontation,” the latest statement said, warning against “nihilistic destruction”.

Today, Bahrain’s foreign ministry followed suit, saying the “attacks launched by Hamas constitute a dangerous escalation”.

“Bahrain denounces … the kidnapping of civilians from their homes as hostages,” the statement said, calling for immediate efforts to stop the fighting.

Israeli flag on European Commission building

Minister Eamon Ryan and a number of Irish MEPs have said they do not agree with the projection of the Israeli flag on the European Commission building in Brussels over the weekend. 

Following Hamas’ Saturday attack, landmarks around Europe have been lit up with the blue and white flag of Israel in a show of solidarity.

Among them, the flag was projected on the facade of Downing Street in London; the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin; and the Berlaymont building in Brussels which is home to the headquarters of the European Commission. 

Speaking to reporters in Dublin this afternoon, Transport Minister and leader of the Green Party, Eamon Ryan said a “battle of flags and emblems isn’t exactly going to help”.

“I think it is a moment for slightly calm heads and trying to dial down a lot of the tensions, of any flags,” Ryan said.

Ryan said he “unreservedly condemns what has happened in Israel in recent days” and said Ireland remains very supportive of the Palestinian cause which he said has been “deeply harmed and damaged by the actions of Hamas”.

“We all know, the Irish government have been very strong in also calling out the lack of action from the Israeli government to address the rights and the right cause of the Palestinian people.

“But that can’t be a reason to be unequivocal in terms of what is an absolute and utter tragedy and a crime in the killing of those people,” Ryan said.

He added that the occupation of Palestine and the injustice that the Palestinian people have suffered “cannot be an excuse for terrorism” but said that Ireland’s position on seeking to recognise Palestinian statehood remains unchanged. 

“To condemn one does not undermine the case for the other,” he said.  

The Journal contacted Irish MEPs to get their view on the EU response to the violence that erupted in Israel at the weekend. 

Fianna Fáil MEP Barry Andrews was unequivocal in his view that the projection of the flag onto the Commission Building was inappropriate and said Ireland’s stance on Israel-Palestine was “clearly at odds” with President von der Leyen.

He added that doing so was “undoubtedly an overreach” by the Commission.

Andrews told The Journal: “I do not believe it was appropriate to display the Israeli flag on the European Commission building, not only because this is a highly divisive conflict, but especially because the European Commission has no authority as regards the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy.”

Independent MEP Clare Daly told The Journal that European Commission President Ursula von der has “gone far beyond the powers afforded to her”.

“There is no unanimous agreement across the 27 Member States on the unqualified, unconditional support for the Israeli government expressed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen over the weekend.

“In that sense, the President of the European Commission, who was appointed as the head of Europe’s civil service, is at odds with the Council, which is made up of democratically elected governments,” Daly said.

She added that she believes the lighting up of the European Commission building with the Israeli flag is not just inappropriate but “grotesque” and calls into question the credibility of the EU. 

She also pointed out that the same has never been done with the Palestinian flag following acts of Israeli violence. 

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group’s armed wing has claimed responsibility for a thwarted bid to infiltrate Israel from Lebanon today. 

“Al-Quds brigade claims responsibility for the afternoon operation on the south Lebanon border,” the group said in a statement.

The Israeli army had earlier said it “killed a number of armed suspects” who had crossed the border from Lebanon.

gaza-city-palestinian-territory-9-october-2023-dozens-of-palestinians-killed-and-wounded-during-the-israeli-airstrikes-on-jabalia-camp-in-gaza-city-palestinian-territory-on-october-9-2023-phot Israeli airstrikes on Jabalia camp, in Gaza city Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Israel earlier today imposed a total siege on the Gaza Strip and cut off the water supply as it kept bombing targets in the crowded Palestinian enclave in response to the Hamas surprise assault on Saturday. 

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.”

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.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Gaza civilians to get away from all Hamas sites, which he vowed to turn “to rubble”.

Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs has said it is untrue that the Irish state refused to support the categorisation of Hamas as a “terrorist organisation” in the EU’s initial statement on the war between Israel and Hamas. 

A source has told The Journal that in reality, Ireland had called for a statement that asked for a de-escalation of hostilities on both sides. 

European news site i24NEWS yesterday claimed that the EU wanted to issue a “harsher statement” on the war, but Luxembourg, Ireland and Denmark refused to call Hamas a terror organisation in the statement. 

The tweet by i24NEWS containing the claim has been viewed 1.4 million times. 

The Irish Foreign Minister released a statement today clarifying that it is “categorically false that Ireland refused to agree a reference to Hamas as a terrorist organisation in the EU statement in response to attacks in Israel.”

“Hamas is listed by the EU as a terrorist organisation, unanimously agreed by all [member states],” the statement added. 

An Israeli strike on a Lebanese watchtower killed a member of Hezbollah today, two Hezbollah officials have claimed.

A solidarity rally in support of Palestine is currently being held outside the Dáil. 

It’s being held by the Irish Anti War Movement, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and People Before Profit. 

US energy giant Chevron has suspended operations at a natural gas production platform off the coast of Israel, at the request of Israeli authorities.

“Chevron Mediterranean Limited was instructed by Israel’s Ministry of Energy to shut-in production at the Tamar Production Platform,” said a spokesperson.

The company added that it continues to supply customers in Israel and the region from the Leviathan Production Platform.

In 2021, Chevron was also told by the Israeli government to shut down Tamar during a wave of unrest.

“Our top priority is the safety of our personnel, the communities in which we operate, the environment and our facilities,” said Chevron.

In a separate statement, the Israeli energy ministry said: “Due to the situation, the security establishment ordered to temporarily stop the supply of natural gas from the Tamar reservoir.”

Gardaí have closed off Kildare Street to all traffic as crowds gather for a solidarity rally in support of Palestine currently being held outside the Dáil. 

President Michael D Higgins has issued a statement on the violence in Israel of Gaza, saying that “any attack on innocent civilians” is “deeply reprehensible”. 

He said he joins with the Irish Government “in their concern for all of the civilians at risk in Israel and Gaza”, adding that he joins them in calling for the ceasing of violence. 

The President also said he sends his “deepest condolences” to all the families of victims, including the family of Irish-Israeli citizen Kim Damti who remains unaccounted for following the Hamas attack on Saturday’s music festival.

president-of-ireland-michael-d-higgins-at-aras-an-uachtarain-the-official-residence-of-the-irish-president-in-dublin-on-august-26-2021-during-the-visit-of-the-french-president-photo-by-raphael-l President Michael D Higgins Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

UK response

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has said the UK will “continue to support Israel” after Tel Aviv announced a “complete siege” on the Gaza strip following Hamas’ attack.

Speaking after an emergency Cobra meeting chaired by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to discuss the situation in Israel, Cleverly said Hamas fighters were “shielding themselves among the Palestinian people”.

Ahead of today’s Cobra meeting, Downing Street had said it supported Tel Aviv responding with “proportionate action” to the Palestinian militants’ bloody weekend incursion.

Cleverly, asked by broadcasters in Westminster whether Israel’s siege on the Gaza strip met that definition, said: “Israel has a right to defend itself against attack.

“The UK completely supports Israel’s right to defend itself proportionately.

“The truth of the matter is that this was a terrorist attack, perpetrated by Hamas, who are embedded in Gaza, shielding themselves among the Palestinian people in Gaza.

“And we will continue to support Israel as it seeks to defend itself against this brutal terrorist attack initiated by Hamas.”

The Foreign Secretary said, in light of the surprise offensive orchestrated by Hamas, the UK was “reviewing” its support for Israel. 

More from the rally outside the Dáil this evening: 

Screenshot 2023-10-09 191741 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attending a joint press conference in Ankara on 25 July Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged Israel against “indiscriminately” attacking civilians in its war with Hamas militants in Gaza.

Erdogan told Israeli President Isaac Herzog by phone that “harming the people of Gaza collectively and indiscriminately would further increase the suffering and the spiral of violence in the region,” Erdogan’s office said.

Erdogan has fervently backed the Palestinian cause and supported a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He broke away from a weekly cabinet meeting to hold an urgent round of telephone diplomacy today aimed at easing the raging crisis.

Erdogan also spoke with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Prime Minister Najib Mikati.

“Erdogan stated that Turkey will continue to make efforts to end the conflicts,” his office said after the Abbas call.

NO FEE TAOISEACH ADDRESS THE NATION JB13 Tánaiste Micheál Martin Julien Behal / Julien Behal / /

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin has issued a statement on the Hamas attack on Israel. 

He said he is “horrified by scenes that we have witnessed over the past few days”. 

“I again unreservedly condemn the attack by Hamas on Israel,” Martin said. 

“The deliberate and systemic targeting of civilians can never be justified. The taking of hostages, including young children and the elderly is unconscionable. The must be released immediately”, he said. 

Martin said he yesterday wrote to Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen “to express our deep condolences”. 

The Tánaiste visited Israel, the occupied Palestinian territory and Jordan a number of weeks ago. 

“It is scarcely imaginable how the lives of so many people that I met during that visit will be irrevocably scarred by this violence,” he said. 

Martin said he is “working closely” with EU and international partners to “contribute to addressing this crisis”, including speaking with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Jordan Ayman Safadi. 

“These inhumane and senseless attacks have unleashed new horror upon innocent people in Israel and Gaza. Nothing could alleviate the heartbreak and outrage of those who have been affected by these events,” he said. 

“We now have a moral and political obligation to chart a way towards a future in which these events cannot be repeated. This requires us to put protection of civilians at the heart of our objectives and to strive towards an international effort that can deliver a just and sustainable peace.” 

Germany and France

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and France’s President Emmanuel Macron have vowed to stand by Israel’s side following Hamas’ massive weekend attack, as the conflict overshadowed key talks in Hamburg today.

The two-day meeting, which also gathers ministers under the German-French government consultation format, had been due to focus on digital innovations including artificial intelligence.

But the long-planned event gave Scholz and Macron a chance to huddle and coordinate a response after Hamas launched its huge assault on Saturday.

After touring an Airbus factory, Scholz said that “Germany and France stand firmly by Israel’s side.

“Terror will not win, hate will not triumph.”

Macron echoed his comments, saying Paris and Berlin stood with Israel “at this tragic moment.

“The fight against terrorism is a common cause.”

The leaders said they planned to hold talks later today with US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

“The United States, Britain, France and Germany are united,” Scholz said.

This “must not be allowed to become a conflagration in the region … no one should fuel terror further in this situation,” he said.

On his arrival in Hamburg, the French leader said that “even more than in the past”, Germany and France must be a “driving force for decisions” for Europe.

The Irish Government has criticised a European Commissioner’s decision to suspend development aid payments to Palestinians and said it believes there is “no legal basis” for the Commissioner’s “unilateral decision”.

European Union Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi posted on social media earlier that the EU is also placing €691 million of support “under review” after the Hamas assault on Israel.

“The scale of terror and brutality against Israel and its people is a turning point. There can be no business as usual,” Varhelyi posted.

“As the biggest donor of the Palestinians, the European Commission is putting its full development portfolio under review, worth a total of €691 million,” he added, in a message confirmed by a commission spokesman.

Varhelyi said the move meant “all payments immediately suspended. All projects put under review. All new budget proposals, including for 2023 postponed until further notice. Comprehensive assessment of the whole portfolio”.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement this evening that its “understanding is that there is no legal basis for a unilateral decision of this kind by an individual Commissioner”. 

“We do not support a suspension of aid. We are formally requesting the Commission to clarify the legal basis for this announcement,” the Department said. 

The Department added that “Ireland has a long-standing commitment tosupport humanitarian aid and development projects in the occupied Palestinian territory”. 

“Irish funding provides emergency humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable, while also supporting the Palestinian Authority to deliver basic public services,” it said. 

“Ireland has also consistently funded the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) which addresses the humanitarian and development needs of 5.7million Palestinian refugees,” the Department said.

It noted that currently up to 80% of the Palestinian population is “dependent on international assistance for basic human needs”. 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has condemned the Hamas attack against Israel but said he was “deeply distressed” by the country’s subsequent imposition of a total siege on the Gaza Strip.

“The humanitarian situation in Gaza was extremely dire before these hostilities,” Guterres told reporters. “Now it will only deteriorate exponentially.”

Hamas has threatened to kill hostages if the Israeli army carried out air strikes without prior warning targeting residents of the Gaza Strip.

“Every targeting of our people without warning will be met with the execution of one of the civilian hostages,” the Ezzedine al-Qassem Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said in a statement.

Irish soldiers taking part in a peacekeeping mission in Lebanon took shelter in a bunker today as fire was exchanged across the Blue Line. 

The Blue Line is a demarcation line between Lebanon and Israel. 

Troops of the 122nd Infantry Battalion in UNIFIL went into ‘Groundhog’ today at 1.25 pm, where they continue to “monitor the situation from protected positions”. 

This group involves 342 Irish Defence Forces personnel who are currently serving.

A Defence Forces spokesperson said that all Irish and Maltese soldiers “are accounted for and are safe”. 

A briefing sent out this evening on the current situation facing Irish troops abroad also stated that 13 Irish personnel serving as UN Observers in Israel, Lebanon and Syria are “maintaining a high level of vigilance and continue to monitor the situation”. 

A Defence Forces spokesperson added that all Irish personnel serving in these locations are currently safe, and complying with UN security precautions. 

Troops of the 68th Infantry Group currently serving in Syria are also maintaining a high degree of vigilance. 

All of their non-essential activities are currently suspended. This group includes 116 Irish personnel. 

The escalation of conflict in Israel and Gaza in recent days took almost everyone by surprise.

On Saturday morning, Hamas – an Islamist group that controls the blockaded Palestinian enclave – launched thousands of rockets into Israel as militants stormed nearby towns in what were the first incursions into its territory since Israeli independence in 1948.

Hundreds of civilians were killed or taken hostage, including many who were attending a music festival in the desert, and the events are already being dubbed Israel’s 9/11.

Fighting is ongoing, with over 1,000 now dead, many more injured and 120,000 people in Gaza displaced. Israel plans to lay siege to Gaza, pledging to reduce it to ‘rubble’ amid fears of a humanitarian catastrophe.

But although the situation is unprecedented in the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict, the conditions that led to this uptick in fighting have been decades in the making, intensified by domestic flare-ups and political failures.

At least 900 people have now been killed in Hamas attacks on Israel, Israeli state media have reported.

More than 100 bodies have been found in a rural community which appears to be the scene of a hostage standoff, Israeli rescue services said this evening.

The French foreign ministry confirmed that 14 citizens of France, including one 12-year-old girl, are currently missing after Hamas attacks.

“Based on the information we have, we consider it highly likely that some of them have been abducted”, the ministry said in a statement, adding that “this number is still subject to change”.

Elsewhere, three members of the Iran-backed group Hezbollah were killed in Israeli strikes on Lebanon Monday, the group said, as tensions surged after Palestinian militants tried to infiltrate into Israel from Lebanon.

Hezbollah issued three separate statements confirming the death of its members, all of them “martyred as a result of the Zionist aggression on south Lebanon Monday afternoon”, the group said.

A rally was held earlier in Dublin city, outside of the Dáil, in solidarity with Palestine and its citizens.

The Irish Anti War Movement (IAWM) announced an emergency rally yesterday, to be held outside the Dáil today.

The rally condemned the “Israeli occupation and oppression” of Palestine and was backed by People Before Profit and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).

Speaking to the crowd, which blocked off the junction between Molesworth Street and Kildare Street, a Palestinian living in Ireland, ‘Dr Ahmed’ said what is happening in Palestine is a “reaction” to years of oppression from Israel.

Dr Ahmed claimed that the Palestinian scenario is “more severe” than the war in Ukraine and believes it’s a “double standard” that the international community has supported Ukraine, and not Palestine.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Palestinians to “stop their harassment” of Israelis and for both sides to respect the rules of war, as fighting has raged in Gaza.

“We ask Israel to stop its bombardment of Palestinian territory and Palestinians to stop their harassment of Israeli civilian settlements,” Erdogan said in televised remarks, adding that “war also has its manners and morals”.

The European Union has reversed a Commissioner’s announcement to “immediately” suspend development aid for Palestinians in the wake of Hamas’ attack on Israel.

European Union Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi posted on social media earlier that the EU is also placing €691 million of support “under review” after the Hamas assault on Israel.

“The scale of terror and brutality against Israel and its people is a turning point. There can be no business as usual,” Varhelyi posted.

“As the biggest donor of the Palestinians, the European Commission is putting its full development portfolio under review, worth a total of €691 million,” he added, in a message confirmed by a commission spokesman.

Varhelyi said the move meant “all payments immediately suspended. All projects put under review. All new budget proposals, including for 2023 postponed until further notice. Comprehensive assessment of the whole portfolio”.

The Department of Foreign Affairs issued a statement this evening criticising the Commissioner’s decision.

It had said that its “understanding is that there is no legal basis for a unilateral decision of this kind by an individual Commissioner”. 

“We do not support a suspension of aid. We are formally requesting the Commission to clarify the legal basis for this announcement,” the Department said. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel has “only started” a fierce offensive in the Gaza Strip in response to Hamas’ unprecedented attack on his country.

Netanyahu delivered the pronouncement in a nationally televised address as Israel pressed ahead with a third day of heavy airstrikes in Gaza.

“We have only started striking Hamas,” he said.

What we will do to our enemies in the coming days will reverberate with them for generations.”

Death tolls

The death toll in Israel has surged to more than 800 after a surprise attack by Hamas, while about 150 “prisoners” were being held by the militant group, the Israel government said this evening.

More than 2,600 people were also injured in the assault, according to the latest figures posted by the Israeli government press office on its Facebook page.

The death toll in the Gaza Strip rose to 687 today, the health ministry in the Palestinian enclave said.

This brings the overall death toll from this round of violence since Saturday to over 1,400.

More from Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this evening:

Ryanair has said it has “regrettably been forced” to cancel flights to and from Tel Aviv airport between today and Wednesday “due to operational restrictions beyond Ryanair’s control”. 

“Affected passengers will be notified of their options to either change flight or to receive a full refund by email/SMS,” Ryanair has said. 

“Ryanair apologises for these unavoidable cancellations,” it said. 

Passengers due to travel to and from Tel Aviv between today and Wednesday are being asked to check the Ryanair app for the latest flight status updates. 

ryanair-boeing-737-800-approaches-runway-23r-at-manchester-airport Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

People gathered in solidarity with Palestine and its citizens outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin. 

Palestinian Protesters7851 Sasko Lazarov / Sasko Lazarov / /

Pictured are crowds gathered outside the Dáil and marching in Dublin city centre this evening in solidarity with Palestine and its citizens.

175Emergency Solidarity Rally Sasko Lazarov / Sasko Lazarov / /

172Emergency Solidarity Rally Sasko Lazarov / Sasko Lazarov / /

Thousands of people gathered in London today for vigils and protests over the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

The Israeli embassy in west London was boarded up as hundreds took part in a pro-Palestine demonstration.

a-protester-climbs-a-lamp-post-as-people-take-part-in-a-palestine-solidarity-campaign-demonstration-near-the-israeli-embassy-in-kensingston-london-as-the-death-toll-rises-amid-ongoing-violence-in-i A protester climbs a lamp post as people take part in a Palestine Solidarity Campaign demonstration near the Israeli Embassy, in Kensingston, London Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

people-take-part-in-a-palestine-solidarity-campaign-demonstration-near-the-israeli-embassy-in-kensingston-london-as-the-death-toll-rises-amid-ongoing-violence-in-israel-and-gaza-following-the-attac People take part in a Palestine Solidarity Campaign demonstration near the Israeli Embassy in London Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Meanwhile, thousands of people attended a Jewish community vigil in Westminster for Israel, arranged by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council.

london-england-uk-9th-oct-2023-members-of-jewish-community-in-london-hold-a-vigil-in-whitehall-in-the-wake-of-hamas-attacks-israel-credit-image-tayfun-salcizuma-press-wire-editorial-u Members of Jewish community in London hold a vigil in Whitehall Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

people-attending-a-vigil-outside-downing-street-central-london-for-victims-and-hostages-of-hamas-attacks-organised-by-the-board-of-deputies-of-british-jews-as-the-death-toll-rises-amid-ongoing-vio People attending a vigil outside Downing Street, central London Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

president-joe-biden-speaks-in-the-state-dining-room-of-the-white-house-saturday-oct-7-2023-in-washington-after-the-militant-hamas-rulers-of-the-gaza-strip-carried-out-an-unprecedented-multi-fro US President Joe Biden Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

US President Joe Biden has said Americans are likely being held hostage by Hamas after its surprise attack on Israel, adding that Washington is working with Israel on “hostage recovery efforts”.

At least 11 US citizens were among those killed in the “heart-wrenching” attacks, Biden said, adding that “the safety of American citizens – whether at home or abroad – is my top priority as president”.

“While we are still working to confirm, we believe it is likely that American citizens may be among those being held by Hamas,” Biden said in a statement after meeting with his national security team at the White House.

“I have directed my team to work with their Israeli counterparts on every aspect of the hostage crisis, including sharing intelligence and deploying experts from across the United States government to consult with and advise Israeli counterparts on hostage recovery efforts.”

“My heart goes out to every family impacted by the horrible events of the past few days,” he added.

The United States sent its largest aircraft carrier and five other warships near Israel in a show of support yesterday, while boosting fighter aircraft squadrons in the region.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has told Britain’s Jewish community that he “will stop at nothing to keep you safe” in an address at the Finchley United Synagogue in north London.

Sunak said: “I know that at moments like this, when the Jewish people are under attack in their homeland, Jewish people everywhere can feel less safe.

“We have already seen vile words on our streets and attempts to stir up community tensions.

“I say: Not here. Not in Britain. Not in our country. Not in this century.

“My first duty is to protect you. We will not tolerate this hate, we will not tolerate this antisemitism.

“And I promise you: I will stop at nothing to keep you safe.”

prime-minister-rishi-sunak-left-and-chief-rabbi-sir-ephraim-mirvis-attending-finchley-united-synagogue-in-central-london-for-victims-and-hostages-of-hamas-attacks-as-the-death-toll-rises-amid-ongo British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (left) and Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis attending Finchley United Synagogue in central London Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Sunak said: “I wanted to come here tonight to stand with you, to stand with you in this hour of grief as we mourn the victims of an utterly abhorrent act of terror, to stand with you in this hour of prayer, as we think of those held hostage and your friends and loved ones taking refuge in bomb shelters, or risking their lives on the frontline.

“And perhaps above all, I wanted to come here tonight to stand with you in solidarity in Israel’s hour of need.

“As the Prime Minister of this country, I’m unequivocal. The people who support Hamas are fully responsible for this appalling attack.

“They are not militants. They are not freedom fighters. They are terrorists.”

In his televised speech tonight, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared Hamas to the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, and said Israel planned to carry out a “massive” assault against Hamas with “unprecedented force”.

“Hamas terrorists bound, burned and executed children. They are savages. Hamas is ISIS,” Netanyahu said.

He also vowed to “strengthen other fronts in the north against Hezbollah”, as well as in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Netanyahu called on Israel’s opposition to form an “emergency” government of national unity “without any preconditions”. 

That’s all from us this evening, thanks for sticking with our coverage throughout the day.