At least 100 Israeli civilians and soldiers have been taken hostage during the terror attack by Hamas group, the Israeli embassy in the US said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
Over 300 Israelis have been “murdered” and more than 5,000 rockets have been fired by the Hamas group, the embassy said.
A majority of the kidnapping and hostage-taking happened in the first hour of the surprise terror attack by the Hamas group, whose fighters infiltrated into Israel in large numbers via powered paragliders and bulldozers to raze border fences.
Many graphic visuals on social media show injured Israeli soldiers and civilians, with their hands tied, being taken by force in Hamas vehicles. In one video, Hamas group is seen kicking and hitting the corpse of a woman on the back of a truck.
The conflict’s bloodiest escalation in decades saw Hamas carry out a massive rocket barrage and ground, air and sea offensive on Saturday.
Gaza officials said intense Israeli air strikes on the coastal enclave had brought the Palestinian death toll to at least 256, with nearly 1,788 wounded.
Israeli TV stations carried telephone calls from terrified residents of towns and kibbutzes speaking even as gunmen were trying to break into their shelters on Saturday, news agency Reuters reported.
A woman identified as Ella, barricaded in a bomb shelter for hours in Be’eri kibbutz, where there were reports of Israelis held hostage by Hamas, spoke live with N12 News.
“We can hear a lot of gunfire, we were told that terrorists are in the dining hall, we can hear a lot of shooting,” she said. “I’ve lost contact with my family. I know my father has been kidnapped … no one is telling us what’s going on. I don’t know if my mother is alive.”
Adding to the shock, Palestinian groups circulated footage on social media showing what they said were captured Israeli soldiers and civilians being driven into Gaza and hostages being held by more armed men inside Israel.
With inputs from Reuters