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Israel on war footing, Hamas threatens to kill captives

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Lebanese armed group Hezbollah fired a salvo of rockets onto northern Israel on Monday in response to at least three of its members being killed in Israeli shelling on Lebanon.

In Israel’s south, scene of the Hamas attack, Israel’s chief military spokesman said troops had re-established control of communities inside Israel that had been overrun, but isolated clashes continued as some gunmen remained active.

The shocking images of the bodies of hundreds of Israelis sprawled across the streets of towns, gunned down at an outdoor dance party and abducted from their homes were like nothing seen before in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The announcement that 300,000 reservists had been activated in just two days added to speculation that Israel could be contemplating a ground assault of Gaza, a territory it abandoned nearly two decades ago.

“We have never drafted so many reservists on such a scale,” chief military spokesperson Rear-Admiral Daniel Hagari said. “We are going on the offensive.”

Palestinians reported receiving calls and mobile phone audio messages from Israeli security officers telling them to leave areas mainly in the northern and eastern territories of Gaza, and warning that the army would operate there.

Hamas, which calls for Israel’s destruction, says its attack was justified by the plight of Gaza under a 16-year-old blockade and the deadliest Israeli crackdown for years in the occupied West Bank.

“A TOTAL MASSACRE”

Mainstream Palestinian groups who deplored the attacks said the violence was nonetheless predictable, with a peace process frozen for nearly a decade and far-right Israeli leaders talking of annexing Palestinian land once and for all.

Israel and Western countries said nothing justified the intentional mass killing of civilians.

The attackers gunned down scores of young Israelis at the desert dance party – media reported 260 killed there. A day later dozens of survivors were still emerging from hiding. The site was littered with wrecked and abandoned cars.

“It was just a massacre, a total massacre,” said Arik Nani, who had been celebrating his 26th birthday and escaped by hiding for hours in a field.

In Gaza, footage obtained by Reuters showed dozens of people climbing over collapsed buildings in search of survivors, the air still dusty from impact. Sirens rang out as emergency teams put out cars that had caught fire.

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