Shocking moment missile strike on Palestinian tower is captured on live TV broadcast of conflict with Israel – leaving distressed reporter screaming
- Israel have launched air raids in retaliation to a surprise attack from Hamas
- READ MORE: Who are Hamas? Everything you need to know about militants
This is the terrifying moment a missile struck a Palestinian tower behind a Gaza Strip correspondent as she reported live coverage of the bloody conflict between Hamas militants and Israel.
Palestinian Islamist group Hamas today took Israel by surprise with the biggest attack in decades as gunmen killed at least 200 people and snatched hostages – including Israeli grandmothers and bruised young women – off the streets.
Israel responded by declaring war with Hamas and launched airstrikes in Gaza in retaliation, killing around 198 people as leaders vowed to to inflict an ‘unprecedented price’.
One of those air strikes was fired into the populated city while Al Jazeera journalist Youmna El Sayed was reporting live coverage of a brutal first day of war.
While informing viewers about the ‘barrages of rockets’ being launched into Gaza, El Sayed – who was wearing a helmet – screamed as she was forced to take cover as a huge fireball erupted behind her. She then turns around to see smoke billowing from what is believed to be a residential building which was destroyed by a missile.
This is the terrifying moment a missile strike hit a Palestinian tower as Al Jazeera journalist Youmna El Sayed was reporting live coverage of a brutal first day of war
After hearing the explosion behind her, she screamed and was visibly distressed by the Israeli raid
Smoke could be seen billowing from the tower, believed to be residential, as Israel launched air raids in retaliation
A ball of fire and smoke rise from an explosion on a Palestinian apartment tower following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City. Israel has declared war following a surprise attack from Hamas militants
Concerned for her colleague’s welfare, the news presenter calmly tells her: ‘Please take cover. If you are in a position to do so safely you can explain to us what is happening. If you are not in a position to do so safely then please get to safety.’
Fighting back tears, she replies: ‘No it’s OK. This is a missile attack on a Palestine tower, right in the middle of Gaza City.’
READ MORE: Who are Hamas? Everything you need to know about the Palestinian terror movement that has launched war on Israel
While she struggles to process the explosion behind her, the presenter interrupts, telling her: ‘Take a moment to breathe, you and your team…. We are hours into this war between Gaza and Israel.
‘We have just witnessed live what an Israeli raid looks like on a populated area of Gaza city – what we believe is a residential building.’
The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated places in the world, with around two million people packed into 140 square miles. But it depends on Israel for water, electricity, telecommunications, and other utilities, and imports are carefully controlled by the occupying country.
The Israeli Minister of Energy and Infrastructure has ordered the immediate suspension of power to the Gaza Strip. ‘I have signed an order instructing Israel’s electric company to stop the electricity supply to Gaza,’ Katz said in a statement.
Gaza’s power authority says 80 percent of Gaza electricity supplies have been shut following Israel’s announcement.
It comes after Hamas, the de facto governing authority of the Gaza Strip, launched an attack in and around Israeli territory this morning, sparking a major retaliation from Israel.
Hamas claimed to have fired 5,000 rockets into Israel from the occupied Gaza Strip, setting off air raid sirens in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem
Footage appeared to show hostages being taken by Hamas militants into Gaza earlier today
Israeli civilians were purportedly taken off the street and driven back into Gaza
One captured woman was sat in the front seat of a golf cart accompanied with three male Hamas members as they made their way into the Gaza Strip
Another image showed a woman, who is being held hostage, holding a gun and putting her hands up in a peace sign alongside a member of Hamas in a balaclava
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was ‘at war’ and vowed that Hamas, which rules Gaza, would ‘pay an unprecedented price’.
In one of the most serious escalations in the Israel-Palestinian conflict in years, Israeli forces are expected to launch a ground operation in Gaza after the military mobilised tens of thousands of reservists.
Hamas fighters crossed the perimiter fence just after dawn, some paragliding into Israeli territory. At the same time, barrages of rockets were launched from Gaza – some reaching as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Hamas, which has called for Arab and Islamic nations to join its attack, were still fighting gunbattles inside several Israeli communities hours after the incursion began.
Israel’s national rescue service said at least 200 people were killed and 1,100 wounded, making it the deadliest attack in Israel in years.
An unknown number of Israeli soldiers and civilians were also seized and taken into Gaza, an enormously sensitive issue for Israel.
Palestinians transport a captured Israeli civilian, center, from Kibbutz Kfar Azza into the Gaza Strip on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023
Shocking footage shared on social media appears to show Palestinian fighters parading the naked body of an Israeli woman on the back of a pick-up truck
At least 198 people in the Gaza Strip have been killed in Israel’s retaliation and at least 1,610 wounded, the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza said.
Airstrikes in the evening flattened a 14-storey residential tower that also holds Hamas offices in central Gaza City.
Israeli fired a warning just before, and the number of casualties was not immediately known.
Soon after, Hamas fired a barrage of rockets into central Israel, hitting four cities, including Tel Aviv and a nearby suburb, where two people were seriously injured.
The strength, sophistication and timing of the attack shocked Israelis.
Hamas fighters used explosives to break through the border fence enclosing the long-blockaded Mediterranean territory, then crossed with motorcycles, pickup trucks, paragliders and speed boats on the coast.
Bodies of dead Israeli civilians and Hamas militants were seen on the streets of Israeli towns.
Smoke and flames billow after Israeli forces struck a high-rise tower in Gaza City, October 7
Journalists take cover behind cars as Israeli soldiers take position during clashes with Palestinian fighters near the Gevim Kibbutz
Smoke and flames billow after Israeli forces struck a high-rise tower in Gaza City
Horrifying new footage emerging this afternoon showed women being marched into vehicles full of male fighters, bloodied and bruised, often with their hands bound behind their backs as Hamas gunman snatched civilians off the streets of Isarael.
Earlier pictures showed Israeli pensioners captured in Israel and taken into the Gaza Strip on golf carts. Other clips showed entire families forced into trucks and being driven off by militants.
Thomas Helm, Jerusalem Correspondent at The National spoke to MailOnline from Jerusalem today. He said the hostage situation set a dangerous tone for how the conflict – which was launched on a Jewish holiday – could develop.
‘There are reports that [the Palestinians] have taken an Israeli General hostage, entire families have been taken, point blank killings… wars have been started where one Israeli hostage was taken and now it seems like there could be about 60.
‘So it couldn’t be worse. Every Israeli I have spoken to, their voices have been quivering.’
The militants have claimed to have taken dozens of soldiers captive, but this does not include the number of civilians who have reportedly been detained.
Iran have been accused of encouraging the latest round of fighting by sources in government, the Times reports.
A Whitehall source told the paper: ‘The Revolutionary Guards have their fingerprints all over this multifaceted attack. Hamas is just another tool in Iran’s campaign against the West.’
Videos shared online appear to show Iranians celebrating news of the conflict, with state television airing a clip of Parliament members chanting: ‘Palestine will be victorious, Israel will be destroyed.’
The Hamas assault threatened to spiral into a greater conflict, mirroring previous conflicts between Israel and the Hamas militants ruling Gaza that brought widespread death and destruction in Gaza and days of rocket fire on Israeli towns.
The shadowy leader of Hamas’ military wing, Mohammed Deif, said the assault was in response to the 16-year blockade of Gaza, Israeli raids inside West Bank cities over the past year, violence at Al Aqsa – the disputed Jerusalem holy site sacred to Jews as the Temple Mount – increasing attacks by settlers on Palestinians and the growth of settlements.
‘Enough is enough,’ Mr Deif, who does not appear in public, said in the recorded message.
Dozens of rockets are fired by Palestinians towards Israel on Saturday night
A rescue worker from the Magen David Adom disaster relief service looks on as cars burn at the site of a rocket attack in Ashkelon, southern Israel
Palestinian militants brandish weapons as they pass through Israeli territory on trucks
He said the morning attack was only the start of what he called Operation Al-Aqsa Storm, and called on Palestinians from east Jerusalem to northern Israel to join the fight.
‘Today the people are regaining their revolution.’
At a meeting of top security officials Saturday, Mr Netanyahu said the first priority was to ‘cleanse’ southern Israel of infiltrators, followed by a greater retaliation in Gaza.
The serious incursion on Simchat Torah, a normally joyous day when Jews complete the annual cycle of reading the Torah scroll, revived painful memories of the 1973 Mideast war practically 50 years to the day, in which Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, aiming to take back Israeli-occupied territories.
Comparisons with one of the most traumatic moments in Israeli history sharpened criticism of Mr Netanyahu and his far-right allies, who had campaigned on more aggressive action against threats from Gaza.
Political commentators lambasted the government over its failure to anticipate what appeared to be a Hamas attack unseen in its level of planning and co-ordination.
Israeli forces have mounted strikes against targets in Gaza City following attacks today
A tower block in Gaza City is hit by an Israeli airstrike after Palestinian militants struck Israel
A man runs in the road as fires burn in Ashkelon, Israel, following rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip initiated by Islamic militant group Hamas
A rocket is launched from the coastal Gaza strip towards Israel by militants of the Ezz Al-Din Al Qassam militia, the military wing of Hamas movement, in Gaza City, 7 October 2023
Asked by reporters how Hamas had managed to catch the army off guard, Lt Col Richard Hecht, an Israeli army spokesman, replied: ‘That’s a good question.’
The Israeli military hit targets in Gaza in response for some 2,500 rockets that sent air raid sirens wailing constantly as far north as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, some 50 miles away.
It said its forces were engaged in gunfights with Hamas militants who had infiltrated Israel in at least seven locations.
The abduction of Israeli civilians and soldiers raised a particularly thorny issue for Israel. Their number was not immediately known.
Videos released by Hamas appeared to show at least three Israelis captured alive, and AP photos showed at least three civilians taken in Gaza, including the two women.
Israeli television showed images of a young man stripped down to his pants being led on foot in a chokehold and reported that elderly women with dementia as well as workers from Thailand and the Philippines were among the captives.
The Israeli military confirmed that a number of Israelis had been taken captive.
A spokesman for Hamas’ military wing, Abu Obeida, said the group was holding dozens of Israeli soldiers captive in ‘safe places’ and tunnels in the Gaza Strip.
If true, the claim could set the stage for complicated negotiations on a swap with Israel, which is holding thousands of Palestinians in its prisons.
A top Hamas official, Saleh Arouri, told Al-Jazeera TV that his group is holding ‘a large number’ of Israeli prisoners, including senior officers, adding that they will be used in a prisoner exchange to free Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails.
Neither side said how many. Israel has a history of making heavily lopsided exchanges in order to bring captive Israelis home.
The infiltration of fighters into southern Israel marked a major escalation by Hamas, forcing Israelis in the region to hunker down in safe rooms.
In the town of Sderot, the bodies of at least six people gunned down at a bus shelter were laid out on stretchers on the street.
The bags they had been carrying sat by the road and unmatched shoes were scattered on the pavement.
Elsewhere, an Israeli woman knelt in the street and embraced a dead family member whose body was stretched out next to a pink motorcycle that lay on its side.
The rider’s hand with a glove and a foot in a racing boot extended out from under the sheet.
In the kibbutz of Nahal Oz, just 2.5 miles from the Gaza Strip, terrified residents who were huddled indoors said they could hear constant gunfire echoing off the buildings as firefights continued.
‘With rockets we somehow feel safer, knowing that we have the iron dome (missile defence system) and our safe rooms. But knowing that terrorists are walking around communities is a different kind of fear,’ said Mirjam Reijnen, 42, a volunteer firefighter and mother of three in Nahal Oz.
In a televised address, Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant warned that Hamas had made ‘a grave mistake’ and promised that ‘the state of Israel will win this war’.
Western nations condemned the incursion and reiterated their support for Israel, while others called for restraint on both sides.
‘The US unequivocally condemns the unprovoked attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians,’ said Adrienne Watson, spokeswoman for the US National Security Council.
‘We stand firmly with the government and people of Israel and extend our condolences for the Israeli lives lost in these attacks.’
Ms Watson said Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, has spoken to Israeli counterpart, Tzachi Hanegbi.
Saudi Arabia, which has been in talks with the US about normalising relations with Israel, released a statement calling on both sides to exercise restraint.
An Iranian man holds a Palestinian flag during a gathering in support of Palestinians, in Tehran, Iran,
People look at the damage from a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in Tel Aviv, Israel on Saturday
A man stands in front of a damaged shop in Tel Aviv, after it was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip
The Israel-Palestine conflict: recent events in a decades-long dispute
The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas launched its biggest assault on Israel in years early on Saturday, firing a barrage of rockets from Gaza and sending fighters across the border.
Israel said it was on a war footing and began its own strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza, with Israeli media reporting gun battles between bands of Palestinian fighters and security forces in southern Israel.
The following timeline, which begins with Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, details the major flare-ups in the conflict between Israel and Palestinian groups in the crowded coastal enclave, which is home to 2.3 million people.
August 2005: Israeli forces unilaterally withdraw from Gaza 38 years after capturing it from Egypt in the Middle East war, abandoning settlements and leaving the enclave under the control of the Palestinian Authority.
Jan. 25, 2006: The Islamist group Hamas wins a majority of seats in a Palestinian legislative election. Israel and the U.S. cut off aid to Palestinians because Hamas refuses to renounce violence and recognise Israel.
June 25, 2006: Hamas militants capture Israeli army conscript Gilad Shalit in a cross-border raid from Gaza, prompting Israeli air strikes and incursions. Shalit is finally freed more than five years later in a prisoner exchange.
June 14, 2007: Hamas takes over Gaza in a brief civil war, ousting Fatah forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in the West Bank.
Dec. 27, 2008: Israel launches a 22-day military offensive in Gaza after Palestinians fire rockets at the southern Israeli town of Sderot. About 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis are reported killed before a ceasefire is agreed.
Nov. 14, 2012: Israel kills Hamas’s military chief of staff, Ahmad Jabari. Eight days of Palestinian militant rocket fire and Israeli air strikes follow.
July-August 2014: The kidnap and killing of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas leads to a seven-week war in which more than 2,100 Palestinians are reported killed in Gaza and 73 Israelis are reported dead, 67 of them military.
March 2018: Palestinian protests begin at Gaza’s fenced border with Israel. Israeli troops open fire to keep protestors back. More than 170 Palestinians are reported killed in several months of protests, which also prompt fighting between Hamas and Israeli forces.
May 2021: After weeks of tension during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, hundreds of Palestinians are wounded in clashes with Israeli security forces at the Al Aqsa compound in Jerusalem, Islam’s third holiest site.
After demanding Israel withdraw security forces from the compound, Hamas unleashes a barrage of rockets from Gaza into Israel. Israel hits back with air strikes on Gaza. Fighting goes on for 11 days, killing at least 250 people in Gaza and 13 in Israel.
Aug 2022: At least 44 people, including 15 children, are killed in three days of violence that begin when Israeli air strikes hit a senior Islamic Jihad commander.
Israel says the strikes were a pre-emptive operation against an imminent attack by the Iranian-backed militant movement, targeting commanders and arms depots. In response, Islamic Jihad fires more than 1,000 rockets towards Israel. Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system prevents any serious damage or casualties.
Jan 2023: Islamic Jihad in Gaza fires two rockets towards Israel after Israeli troops raid a refugee camp and kill seven Palestinian gunmen and two civilians. The rockets set off alarms in Israeli communities near the border but cause no casualties. Israel responds with air strikes on Gaza.
Oct 2023: Hamas launches the biggest attack on Israel in years from the Gaza Strip, with a surprise assault combining gunmen crossing the border with a heavy barrage of rockets. Islamic Jihad says its fighters have joined the attack.
Israel’s military said it was on a war footing, adding it had carried out strikes targeting Hamas in Gaza and had called up reservists.
The kingdom said it had repeatedly warned about ‘the dangers of the situation exploding as a result of the continued occupation (and) the Palestinian people being deprived of their legitimate rights’.
The attack comes at a time of historic division within Israel over Mr Netanyahu’s proposal to overhaul the judiciary.
Mass protests over the plan have sent hundreds of thousands of Israeli demonstrators into the streets and prompted hundreds of military reservists to avoid volunteer duty, turmoil that has raised fears over the military’s battlefield readiness and raised concerns about its deterrence over its enemies.
It also comes at a time of mounting tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, who have felt increasing despair with the peace process effectively dead for years and no resolution to Israel’s occupation.
Over the past year Israel’s far-right government has ramped up settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, Israeli settler violence has displaced hundreds of Palestinians there, and tensions have flared around a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site.
Saturday’s wide-ranging assault threatened to undermine Mr Netanyahu’s reputation as a security expert who would do anything to protect Israel.
It also raised questions about the cohesion of a security apparatus crucial to the stability of a country locked in low-intensity conflicts on multiple fronts and facing threats from Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group.
Hezbollah congratulated Hamas on Friday, praising the attack as a response to ‘Israeli crimes’ and saying the militants had ‘divine backing’.
The group said its command in Lebanon was in contact with Hamas about the operation.
Israel has maintained a blockade over Gaza since Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007. The bitter enemies have fought four wars since then.
The blockade, which restricts the movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza, has devastated the territory’s economy.
Israel says the blockade is needed to keep militant groups from building up their arsenals. The Palestinians say the closure amounts to collective punishment.
Nearly 200 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli military raids in the West Bank, which has seen heavy fighting. Israel says the raids are aimed at militants, but stone-throwing protesters and people uninvolved in the violence have also been killed.
Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets have killed over 30 people.
The tensions have also spread to Gaza, where Hamas-linked activists held violent demonstrations along the Israeli border in recent weeks.
Those demonstrations were halted in late September after international mediation.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was ‘shocked’ by the attacks, writing on X, formerly Twitter: ‘Israel has an absolute right to defend itself. We’re in contact with Israeli authorities, and British nationals in Israel should follow travel advice.’
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly also condemned the attack, as did Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer, who said there is ‘no justification for this act of terror’.
President Joe Biden described the assault as ‘horrific’ and said that he had spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to underline that the United States stood ‘ready to offer all appropriate means of support.’
As the attacks threatened to trigger a wider conflict, Biden warned ‘against any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation’ after the Iran-backed Palestinian militant group Hamas launched air, sea and land strikes on Israel.
Biden stressed that Israel – which the United States has supplied with billions of dollars of arms – has ‘a right to defend itself and its people.’
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reaffirmed Washington’s ‘unwavering’ commitment, saying ‘over the coming days the Department of Defense will work to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself and protect civilians.’
Since its foundation, Israel has received lavish US military aid – more than $125 billion, according to a US State Department report from 2021.
This has helped it build ‘one of the world’s most capable, effective militaries,’ the report said.
The United Nations Security Council is due to meet tomorrow after Brazil announced it would convene an emergency session due to the conflict.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has condemned the attack and urged ‘all diplomatic efforts to avoid a wider conflagration, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.
‘The secretary-general is deeply concerned for the civilian population and urges maximum restraint,’ he added.
‘Civilians must be respected and protected in accordance with international humanitarian law at all times.’
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