By Jack Phillips
The Israeli Security Cabinet has invoked Article 40 Aleph and declared war—against the terrorist group Hamas—for the first time since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, according to a statement from the government.
The move was confirmed by the Prime Minister of Israel’s Office on Oct. 8, according to a statement posted on social media.
“Last night, the Security Cabinet approved the war situation and, to this end, the taking of significant military steps, as per Article 40 of Basic Law: The Government,” the statement reads.
The move comes about a day after Hamas launched a quick assault on Israel near the Gaza area while reportedly firing thousands of rockets in the bloodiest day in decades. Reports have indicated that at least 600 people have died, and officials have said that Hamas terrorists kidnapped a number of Israeli civilians.
In response, Israeli air strikes hit housing blocks, tunnels, a mosque, and homes of Hamas officials in Gaza, killing more than 300 people, including 20 children, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed “mighty vengeance for this wicked day.”
“Hamas wants to murder us all. This is an enemy that murders children and mothers in their homes, in their beds, an enemy that abducts the elderly, children and young women, that slaughters and massacres our citizens, including children, who simply went out to enjoy the holiday,” Mr. Netanyahu said in a public message on X on Oct. 8.
“What happened today is unprecedented in Israel—and I will see to it that it does not happen again. The entire government is behind this decision. The IDF will immediately use all its strength to destroy Hamas’s capabilities. We will destroy them, and we will forcefully avenge this dark day that they have forced on the State of Israel and its citizens.”
In southern Israel, Hamas gunmen were still fighting Israeli security forces 24 hours after a surprise, multi-pronged assault of rocket barrages and gunmen who attacked army bases and towns, killing at least 600 people, according to Israeli TV, and abducting dozens more.
“My two little girls, they’re only babies. They’re not even five years old and three years old,” said Yoni Asher, who had seen video footage of gunmen seizing his wife and two small daughters, with her phone location now appearing in Gaza.
Regarding the captured citizens, “these are the faces of just a few of the Israelis kidnapped and held by Hamas in Gaza,” Aviva Klompas, a former speechwriter for the Israeli mission to the United Nations, said in an Oct. 8 statement.
“They took mothers with babies in their arms. It is an evil savagery that has no words. Hamas is believed to be holding over 100 Israelis … children, teens, entire families, and even the elderly. Every human rights organization. Every leader in a position of authority. Every government that stands for freedom. Every person of conscience must demand Hamas release our civilians,” the official said.
An Egyptian official told the Associated Press over the weekend that “it’s clear that they have a big number … several dozens” of Israeli hostages. The official noted that Palestinian leaders said they don’t have a “full picture” of the number of people who are being held captive, AP reported.
The deputy chief of the Hamas political bureau, Saleh al-Arouri, told Qatar-backed Al-Jazeera that the terror group planned for a protracted fight.
“We are prepared for all options, including all-out war,” Mr. al-Arour told the outlet. “We are ready to do whatever is necessary for the dignity and freedom of our people.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Oct. 8 that more aid could be granted to Israel soon.
“We’re looking at specific additional requests that the Israelis have made. I think you’re likely to hear more about that later today,” Mr. Blinken told CNN, noting that U.S. President Joe Biden’s direction was “to make sure that we’re providing Israel everything it needs in this moment to deal with the attacks from Hamas.” The White House condemned the attacks from Hamas a day prior.
Reuters contributed to this report.