1,200 dead as Hamas attack, Israel retaliation continues

The death toll from a large-scale, surprise attack on Israel by Palestinian militant group Hamas and retaliatory strikes from Israel rose to around 1,200 on Sunday, according to local reports.

Local Israeli broadcaster Channel 12 reported that 700 people have been killed in Israel since Hamas began its attack with thousands of rocket launches early Saturday morning. The Palestinian Health Ministry has said more than 490 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli air strikes on the heavily populated Gaza Strip enclave.

Hamas gunmen crossed from Gaza into Israel on Saturday, shooting civilians and security forces and taking Israeli hostages, according to media reports.

The Associated Press reported claims from Hamas and another jihadist group that more than 130 people have been taken hostage, including soldiers and civilians, and transported to Gaza where they could be used as bargaining chips in negotiating the release of thousands of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

Hamas’ attack has been labeled the most damaging to Israel in recent history.

By Nadeem Faisal Baiga