Hamas threatened to kill and publicly broadcast the execution of an Israeli hostage in response to any unannounced targeting of Gaza civilians in their homes, NBC News reported.
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Abu Obeida, spokesman for Al-Qassam Brigades — the military wing of Hamas — said in an audio statement released Monday that “every targeting of our people who are safe in their homes without warning, we will regretfully meet with the execution of our enemy’s civilian hostages,” the news network noted.
Obedia said Hamas would broadcast the executions “in audio and video” and that they would be a “warning,” NBC News added. He added that the group had been acting in accordance with Islam by keeping the Israeli captives safe, Reuters reported.
Hamas official Izzat Reshiq said in a statement that “the Zionist enemy’s military targeting and bombing of homes inhabited by women and children, mosques and schools in Gaza amount to war crimes and terrorism,” the news service also noted.
More from NBC News:
More than 1,000 people died after Hamas militants broke through the border fence that separates Israel from the blockaded Gaza Strip and began killing and kidnapping Israelis. At least 700 people were killed in Israel, according to the military, and more than 570 people in Gaza and the West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
Around 100 people have been kidnapped.
Israel Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said a “full siege” of the Gaza Strip was being launched in the wake of the unprecedented surprise attack by Hamas.
“No power, no food, no gas, everything is closed,” said Gallant, a former Israel Defense Forces commander now serving in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, according to the news network. “We are fighting human animals, and we act accordingly.”
Reuters added that the Israeli military said it had called up an “unprecedented” 300,000 reservists.
“We have never drafted so many reservists on such a scale,” chief military spokesperson Rear-Admiral Daniel Hagari said, according to the news service. “We are going on the offensive.”
More from Reuters:
As night fell, the Israeli air strikes became more aggressive and witnesses said several Hamas security headquarters and ministries were hit. The strikes also destroyed some roads and houses.
Israel also bombed the headquarters of the private Palestinian Telecommunication Co., which could impact land phone, internet and mobile phone services.
As it rained, explosions and lightning lit the skies as thunder mixed with the sound of the bombings.
In a further signal of Israel’s rapid shift to a war footing, a cabinet member from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party said it could set up a national unity government joined by opposition leaders within hours.
Netanyahu told mayors of southern towns hit by Saturday’s surprise assault that Israel’s response would “change the Middle East.”
Hamas attackers gunned down a reported 260 young Israelis at a desert dance party, the news service said. Others appeared to have been abducted from Saturday’s event, NBC News said in a separate story.
“It was just a massacre, a total massacre,” Arik Nani, who had been celebrating his 26th birthday and escaped by hiding for hours in a field, told Reuters.
Erica Carlin is an independent journalist, opinion writer and contributor to several news and opinion sources. She is based in Georgia.