Israel only first target, warns Hamas commander in resurfaced video

Israel is only the first target, warns Hamas commander in newly resurfaced video – after IDF promised to ‘obliterate’ terrorists following attacks that killed 900 Israelis: Chicago student, 18, among hostages threatened with death

  • Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar in December 2022 declared that his group was aiming beyond Israel, and was ‘not talking about liberating our land alone’
  • On Monday night, Israel was taking its revenge on Hamas for terrorist attacks this weekend which killed 900 Israelis, with strikes in Gaza
  • At least 11 Americans are among the dead, and several are believed to be among those captured, including a mother and daughter from Evanston, Illinois 
  • Israel Palestine conflict LIVE: More than 700 killed in Gaza as strip is bombed

A senior Hamas commander has warned that his terrorist group sees domination of Israel as only the beginning – as Israel took its revenge on Hamas for the death of 900 of its citizens in this weekend’s attacks.

The dead included 11 Americans, Joe Biden confirmed on Monday.

Deborah and Shlomi Matias were murdered by Hamas gunmen who stormed their home on Saturday: their 16-year-old son survived when his mother threw herself on top of him.

And 18-year-old from Chicago, Natalie Raanan, and her mother Judith, 59, are among the missing.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in the early hours of Tuesday that they have ‘more or less’ restored full control of their border fence with Gaza, after Hamas attackers broke through it on Saturday.

Mahmoud al-Zahar, a Hamas leader, in December declared that they envisaged controlling an area far beyond Israel

The night sky above Gaza is lit up on Monday night, in response to Saturday’s attacks

Multiple targets across the enclave were hit overnight on Monday

IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht said at a briefing: ‘Looking towards the south, we have more or less restored full control over the border fence. 

‘Hopefully in the next few hours it will be final.’

Hecht said Israeli forces have secured communities around the border and have nearly completed evacuations in the area.

Another IDF spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, said the military has stepped up its presence along the border with Lebanon, adding tens of thousands of additional troops.

As Israel bombed Gaza overnight on Monday, footage of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar re-emerged, with the 78-year-old co-founder of the group vowing that they envisaged controlling an area far beyond Israel.

‘When we speak about the army of Jerusalem and the Battle of the Promise of the Hereafter, we are not talking about liberating our land alone,’ he said in a December to MEMRI TV – a news channel from the Israeli-founded, DC-based Middle East Media Research Institute.

‘We believe in what our Prophet Muhammad said: ‘Allah drew the ends of the world near one another for my sake, and I have seen its eastern and western ends. The dominion of my nation would reach those ends that have been drawn near me.’

Al-Zahar said he believes ultimately the whole world will fall into line with their views.

‘The entire 510 million square kilometers of Planet Earth will come under [a system] where there is no injustice, no oppression, no Zionism, no treacherous Christianity and no killings and crimes like those being committed against the Palestinians, and against the Arabs in all the Arab countries, in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and other countries,’ he said.

On Monday evening, Israel was embarking on a powerful retaliation for the weekend’s bloodshed.

Bombs were falling on Gaza, and plans were reportedly being drawn up for a full-scale invasion of the enclave.

The Israeli Air Force claimed to have hit 200 Hamas and other militant group targets in Gaza with airstrikes overnight.

Writing on social media, the IAF said dozens of fighter jets launched strikes on the Rimal and Khan Yunis areas, destroying targets, including command and control centers; a weapons storage site they say was inside a mosque, and the home of an alleged Hamas commander.

Video showed the skies of Gaza being lit up on Monday night.

Initial reports suggested the explosions were an attack on Al-Badrasawi Tower in northern Gaza, which appeared to have been used as a weapons store.

Another video, shared by the former U.S. ambassador to Israel, David M. Friedman, showed long lines of parked cars from reservists who rushed to sign up to join the fight.

Long lines of cars are seen parked by Israeli reservists, signing up for duty

The footage was shared by the former U.S. ambassador to Israel

‘Every able-bodied soldier right, left and center is showing up for combat duty. Just look at this parking area for the reservists,’ he posted on X.

On Monday, Israel’s chief military spokesperson Daniel Hagari said 300,000 reservists were called up now that Israel is ‘going on the offensive.’

‘We have never drafted so many reservists on such a scale. We are going on the offensive.’

He confirmed that 73 members of the Israeli security forces have been killed so far.

While there remained much confusion about the numbers of missing and dead, and the fate of those who had vanished, some victims’ details were being shared.

Deborah Matias, an American citizen who lived in Israel, was shot and killed by Hamas gunmen while shielding her teenage son from their bullets, her father said.

Ilan Troen, a professor emeritus from Brandeis University in Massachusetts, told CNN: ‘We were on the phone with Deborah as she was killed.

‘We were on the phone the entire day with our grandson, Rotem, as he lay first under her body, and then found a place to escape under a blanket in a laundry.’

He said Rotem was shot in the stomach but was expected to survive.

Deborah and Shlomi Matias were murdered by Hamas gunmen who stormed their home on Saturday: their 16-year-old son survived when his mother threw herself on top of him

Rotem hid for more than 12 hours after he was shot, texting on his phone to communicate with people who were coaching him on how to breathe and how to manage ‘the blood that was coming out of his abdomen,’ Troen said.

He said Rotem’s phone was down to a 4 percent charge when he was rescued.

‘The brunt of the shot was borne by his mother,’ he said.

‘The terrorists who came, they had explosives and blew up the front door to their house and then blew out the front door to their so-called safe room.’

Deborah Matias was a musician, who attended the Rimon School of Music in the Tel Aviv area, where she met her husband.

‘Deborah was a child of light and life,’ Troen said.

‘She, rather than becoming a scientist or a physician, she said to me one day, ‘Dad, I have to do music, because it’s in my soul.’

Another confirmed victim was a high-flying American academic shot dead by Hamas terrorists who burst into his home and found him hiding in a closet.

US-born Dr. Hayim Katsman, 32, who received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 2021, was killed in his home in Israel alongside a female neighbor.

US-born Dr. Hayim Katsman was shot dead in his home in Israel by Hamas terrorists Saturday

His mother, Hannah Katsman (right), said she had been flooded with tributes to her son

Hamas terrorists burst into the home of Dr. Katsman and shot him and a female neighbor

Dr. Katsman received a Ph.D. from the University of Washington, but also appeared to be a keen musician and DJ, according to his social media profile

Dr. Katsman had a special interest in Israel-Palestine relations in his academic work

Dr. Katsman’s mother, Hannah, said she initially thought her son had been taken hostage, but later learned he had been killed.

‘I’ve been getting so many messages from people who worked with Hayim or who knew him, or who met him during their travels and how warm he was, how open,’ said Hannah Katsman, speaking to ABC News.

‘He was a very accepting person and a very loyal friend. He had a good sense of humor. He took things in stride.’

Dr. Katsman had been living on a kibbutz – a Jewish commune – in Israel conducting research, his mother said.

A statement released by the Association for Israel Studies described the murdered academic as ‘an emerging scholar in the field of Israel studies’, who was ‘deeply committed to community service’.

His volunteer activities included Co-Coordinator of the Israel/Palestine research group at the University of Washington, the statement added.

Friends and family of Natalie and Judith Raanan were desperately hoping for good news, after the pair vanished on Saturday.

They had traveled to Israel in September to visit family, from their home in Evanston, Illinois.

The mother and daughter were last in Nahal Oz, a kibbutz about 1.5 miles from the Gaza border.

Their kibbutz was attacked by militants.

Natalie Raanan, from Evanston, Illinois, traveled to Israel in September. She vanished on Saturday with her mother, Judith

Uri Raanan, Natalie’s father and Judith’s ex-husband, wrote on Facebook: ‘My daughter and her mother has been captured by the HAMAS.’

Rabbi Meir Hecht, co-director of community outreach for the Chabad of Evanston, said Judith Raanan has been a faithful congregant for a decade.

‘She’s an exceedingly warm, kind, giving, generous woman,’ Hecht told Chicago Sun-Times.

‘She was always involved in helping people and being there to show support whenever someone needed a shoulder to lean on. She’s a really kind woman.’

Politicians representing the pair – Democrat congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, whose district includes Evanston, and Illinois senator, Tammy Duckworth, have contacted the State Department to find out if the women were abducted and try to get them to safety.

Joe Biden will speak about the attacks on Tuesday.

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