Russia and Iran want a prolonged war in the Middle East as Israeli death toll rises to 2,500

Flames and smoke billow during Israeli strikes in Gaza on October 9.(Reuters: Mohammed Salem)

The Israeli military says it launched attacks on more than 200 locations in the Gaza Strip overnight, including the Rimal neighborhood in Gaza City as well as Khan Younis city.

The military said the locations hit included a weapons storage site inside a mosque as well as an apartment used by Hamas’s anti-tank guided missile forces.

Israel Defense and Security Forum Head of Research Or Yissachar say Hamas is perhaps beginning to regret its “very audacious, one bridge too far action”.

“But we’re also seeing the Iranian fingerprints all over this,” he told Sky News Australia. Mr Yissachar said Israel is shocked, but it’s “preparing for war” following the surprise attacks by Hamas.

Israeli warplanes are pounding the Gaza Strip as the death toll from both sides rises above 1,500 people. Israel has responded to the attacks by Hamas with a “complete siege” on Gaza as it vows to respond with a force “like never before”.

Air raid sirens blared in Israel’s largest city, Tel Aviv, again Monday morning as Palestinian militants fired more missiles at the Jewish state and the death toll on both sides soared to over 1,500, with at least 11 Americans among the dead. Explosions rang out as Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system brought down some of the rockets, but there was no immediate word on how many might have slipped through. 

The latest salvo of rockets, claimed by Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades military unit, came after Israel said it had struck hundreds of Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip overnight and as four Israeli combat divisions were deployed to the country’s south. Some 100,000 Israeli reservists were called up to fight as battles with Hamas militants continued. 

An Israeli embassy spokesperson said Monday the death toll has risen to at least 1,500 Israelis. Most were civilians. Another 2,500 were reported wounded, an IDF spokesperson told CBS News on Monday.

More than 250 of the dead were people who had been attending a music festival near the border with Gaza when gunmen attacked.

Israel says it has regained ‘full control’ of Gaza fence

The Israeli military says it has regained “full control” of the Gaza fence that was breached by the Hamas gunmen who infiltrated into southern Israel on Saturday.

Daniel Hagari, spokesman for the Israeli military, said no Hamas fighter has crossed the fence over the past 24 hours, but did not discount the possibility that some of the gunmen were still within the Israeli-controlled areas.

Hagari added that the military is now planting mines in the parts where the barrier was toppled to prevent further infiltrations.

Israel to inform 150 families their loved ones are hostages

The Israeli military is planning to send out officers to inform more than 100 families that their relatives are being held captive by Hamas in Gaza, according to The Times of Israel.

The newspaper cited Israeli army radio in its report.

The Israeli ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, has told CNN that the number of hostages held by Hamas is estimated to be between 100 and 150 people.

Russia and Iran want a prolonged war in the Middle East

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Monday that it was in Russia’s interests to stoke war in the Middle East to weaken global unity.

According to sources, Russia and Iran plan to deliver large weapons and drone shipments to Hamas and Hezbollah to broaden the Israel-Hamas conflict in Lebanon and Syria as well. Putin wants to divert attention from Ukraine and aid Hamas and Hezbollah to continue fighting with Israel.

Russia will achieve three things:

  • Reduce the provision of resources to Ukraine.
  • Prevent the normalization of Israeli-Saudi relations.
  • In order not to fight directly with NATO, Putin is fomenting conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Serbia and Kosovo, in West Africa, and now in Israel.

“Based on available information — very clear information — it is in Russia’s interests to inflame a war in the Middle East to create a new source of pain and suffering that would weaken global unity, create divisions, and help Russia in undermining freedom in Europe,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address.

It comes as Ukrainian forces have made small gains over the weekend along multiple points of the frontline as “heavy rain” threatens to slow down Kyiv’s counteroffensive.

Geolocated images showed Ukrainian infantry roughly 300 meters north of Novoprokopivka, south of Robotyne, which is the deepest they have been seen inside Russian-occupied territory as part of that attack.

This line has emerged as Ukraine’s main axis of the counteroffensive in the past month, though progress slowed after the liberation of Robotyne at the end of August.

The Ukrainian General Staff also claimed on Sunday that Ukrainian forces had achieved “partial success” near Bakhmut, though that remains unconfirmed.

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