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Israeli tanks and military vehicles near the border with Gaza. Alamy Stock Photo

Israel's Defence Minister orders 'complete siege' of Gaza, says 'we are fighting animals'

At least 1,200 people have been killed in violence since Saturday.

LAST UPDATE | 9 Oct 2023

[Note: You can follow latest developments on the war in our liveblog]

ISRAELI DEFENCE MINISTER Yoav Gallant has ordered a “complete siege” on the Gaza Strip as the military pounded the Palestinian enclave with air strikes.

“We are putting a complete siege on Gaza… No electricity, no food, no water, no gas — it’s all closed,” Gallant said in a video statement, referring to the crowded enclave home to 2.3 million people. 

“We are fighting animals and are acting accordingly,” Gallant said in Hebrew.

Israel relentlessly pounded the Gaza Strip overnight as fighting raged with Hamas around the Gaza Strip and the death toll from the war against the Palestinian militants surged to above 1,200.

Thick plumes of smoke billowed from the Palestinian enclave as the strikes continued in the early hours of the morning, an AFP correspondent reported. 

Anti-rocket sirens followed by the sound of blasts were heard in Jerusalem, as Israel’s army battled Hamas militants in southern towns for the third consecutive day.

It came two days after Hamas launched a barrage of rockets and sent a wave of fighters who gunned down civilians and took at least 100 hostages in an massive attack that took Israel by surprise.

On Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to turn parts of Gaza “into ruins” following the surprise attack by Hamas launched from Gaza.

The Hamas attack has so far killed more than 700 Israelis.

Hamas militants fired thousands of rockets and sent dozens of fighters into Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip in an unprecedented early morning attack during a major Jewish holiday on Saturday.

Tens of thousands of Israeli forces were deployed to battle holdout Hamas fighters where the bodies of civilians had been found strewn on roads and in town centres.

The number of Hamas fighters involved in the initial incursion underscored the extent of planning by the militant group ruling Gaza, which has said it launched the attack in response to mounting Palestinian suffering under Israel’s occupation and blockade of Gaza.

Israel’s army said today it had regained control of southern areas near the Gaza Strip amid gun battles with Hamas fighters.

“We are in control of the communities,” said military spokesman Daniel Hagari, cautioning that individual Palestinian “terrorists” may remain in the region where Israel was massing tens of thousands of troops and heavy armour.


The Israeli rescue service Zaka said its paramedics removed about 260 bodies from a music festival attended by thousands who were attacked.

The total figure is expected to be higher as other paramedic teams work in the area. 

Irish-Israeli woman Kim Damti (22) is among those who remains unaccounted for following the attack on the music festival. 

One festivalgoer described to the BBC how she hid under a tree in a nearby field as gunmen continued their attacks.

“The terrorists were coming from four or five places,” Gili Yoskovich said. “So we didn’t know whether to go here, so then I got into my car again and I drove a little bit more.

“Some people were shooting at me. I left the car and started to run, I saw a place with many pomelo trees and I went there.”


fire-and-smoke-rise-following-an-israeli-airstrike-in-gaza-city-sunday-oct-8-2023-the-militant-hamas-rulers-of-the-gaza-strip-carried-out-an-unprecedented-multi-front-attack-on-israel-at-daybre Fire and smoke rise in Gaza following an Israeli airstrike Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

The death toll in the Gaza Strip rose to 560 on Monday, the health ministry in the Palestinian enclave said, as Israel pounded Hamas targets for the third consecutive day.

The Hamas-controlled ministry said “570 people were killed and another 2,900 injured” in the fighting that began on Saturday after Hamas militants fired thousands of rockets in Israel in a surprise dawn assault.

Around 2,000 people have been wounded on each side.

An estimated 1,000 Hamas fighters took part in Saturday’s initial attacks from Gaza, according to the Israeli military

The Israeli strikes hit numerous multi-storey buildings, including the home of Rawhi Mushtaha, a member of the Hamas political bureau, the army said.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said a school sheltering more than 225 people took a direct hit.

The Associated Press reports that in one strike on a refugee camp 19 members of the same family were killed. 

The United Nations says the number of displaced people in Gaza has risen to more than 123,000 as a result of the fighting between Israel’s military and Hamas.

By late Sunday, retaliatory Israeli airstrikes in response to Hamas attacks had destroyed 159 housing units across Gaza and severely damaged 1,210 others, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Israel – which declared war on Hamas on Sunday – hit more than 800 targets in Gaza in response, their military said, including airstrikes that levelled much of the town of Beit Hanoun in the enclave’s northeast corner.

“Our task is to make sure that Hamas will no longer have any military capabilities to threaten Israel with this,” said spokesperson Jonathan Conricus in a video tweeted by Israel’s military.

“And in addition to that, we will make sure that Hamas is no longer able to govern the Gaza Strip.”


Meanwhile, Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad group claimed to have taken captive more than 130 people from inside Israel and brought them into Gaza, saying they would be traded to release thousands of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

The Israeli military said only that the number of captives is “significant.”

Israel has carried out major military campaigns over the past four decades in Lebanon and Gaza that it portrayed as wars, but without a formal declaration.

The Security Cabinet also approved “significant military steps.”

The steps were not defined, but the declaration appears to give the military and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a wide mandate.

In a statement, Netanyahu’s office said the aim will be the destruction of Hamas’ “military and governing capabilities” to an extent that prevents it from threatening Israelis “for many years.”

Department of Foreign Affairs

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”.  

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

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

EU foreign ministers are set to hold emergency talks tomorrow. 

Moscow and the Arab League will work to “stop the bloodshed” in Israel and Gaza, the Russian foreign minister said Monday as he met the group’s chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

© – AFP 2023 with reporting by Press Association