Stay Updated on Developing Stories

October 7, 2023: Israel says it is 'at war' after Hamas surprise attack

What we covered

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel is "at war" after Gaza militants launched a surprise attack Saturday morning, firing thousands of rockets and entering Israel by land, sea and air using paragliders.
  • At least 300 people have died and thousands of others are wounded in Israel, officials said. Fighting continued through the day, and a fresh round of rocket attacks hit Tel Aviv and other areas on Saturday evening.
  • In Gaza, at least 232 Palestinians have died and more than 1,600 are wounded, the Palestinian health ministry said. Israel launched air strikes on the territory while its forces clashed on the ground with Hamas fighters.
  • Hamas claims it has captured dozens of Israelis, including soldiers, and videos authenticated by CNN show some of the dramatic seizures. Israel's military has acknowledged hostages were taken.
12:05 a.m. ET, October 8, 2023

Our coverage of the Hamas militant attacks on Israel has moved here.
12:08 a.m. ET, October 8, 2023

Militants in Gaza cheer as motionless hostage is paraded around, video shows

An unconscious woman taken hostage by Gaza militants attacking an Israeli music festival was seen being paraded around the coastal enclave in new video authenticated and geolocated by CNN.

CNN has confirmed the identity of the woman as Shani Louk, a German-Israeli dual national. CNN has reached out to her family for comment but has not yet received a response.

Her cousin confirmed to The Washington Post that Louk attended the Nova Festival, an all night dance party celebrating the Israeli harvest festival Sukkot near Re'im, Israel.

Louk is seen motionless in the video. 

One gunman, carrying a rocket propelled grenade, has his leg draped over her waist; the other holds a clump of her dreadlocks. "Allahu Akbar," they cheer – "God is Great," in Arabic.

Some of the crowd gathered around the truck, just outside of the Al-Shalfoh bakery and grocery store, join in the cheers. One man spits on Louk's head as the car drives off.

CNN does not know Louk's whereabouts, or condition, at this time. CNN is not airing the video because it is graphic and disturbing.

“We recognized her by the tattoos, and she has long dreadlocks,” Louk's cousin told The Washington Post.

“We have some kind of hope,” she continued. “Hamas is responsible for her and the others.”

A German foreign ministry source told CNN that, “The Federal Foreign Office and the German embassy in Tel Aviv are in close contact with the Israeli authorities in order to clarify whether and to what extent German citizens are affected.”

In video obtained by German news outlet Bild, Louk's mother Ricarda spoke directly about the abduction.

"This morning my daughter, Shani Nicole Louk, a German citizen, was kidnapped with a group of tourists in southern Israel by Palestinian Hamas," she said. "We were sent a video in which I could clearly see our daughter unconscious in the car with the Palestinians and them driving around the Gaza Strip. I ask you to send us any help or any news. Thank you very much."

11:11 p.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Israeli security forces secure control of Sderot police station

Israel’s southern district police forces and soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Sunday secured control of Sderot police station, according to a southern district police spokesperson.

“Starting in the morning, the southern district police forces and IDF soldiers are working to neutralize terrorists who infiltrated the Sderot station,” the police spokesperson said. “A short time ago, full control was achieved.”

About 10 armed “terrorists” were “neutralized,” after the forces were ordered to carry out live fire “by all means” on the station where “the terrorists were entrenched,” the spokesperson said.

“Our police officers and soldiers acted throughout the last day with great courage and determination. We are in a difficult time but now we raise our heads and continue to act with determination,” the police spokesperson said.

“The instruction to the public is to stay at home, there is no permission to go out,” the police spokesperson added. “We will continue to provide ongoing security and respond to incidents quickly.”

11:02 p.m. ET, October 7, 2023

FAA urges "extreme caution" in Israeli airspace

US aviation officials have issued a special bulletin to pilots and airlines operating near Tel Aviv, urging “extreme caution.”

“Potentially hazardous situation – Israeli Airspace,” reads the Federal Aviation Administration’s notice to pilots, known officially as a NOTAM.

“Due to the ongoing conflict situation between Israel and Gaza, operators are advised to exercise extreme caution when operating within the Tel-Aviv flight information region.”

“Flight crews should remain in contact with air traffic control at all times,” the notice says, underscoring the possibility of “airspace closures.”

The FAA notice follows an earlier alert from the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel telling pilots and airlines to use caution, expect delays, and “calculate fuel accordingly.”

10:50 p.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Israel is "embarking on a long and difficult war," Israeli Prime Minister says

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem on September 27, 2023. Abir Sultan/Pool/AP

Israel's political-security cabinet convened late on Saturday to determine the country's response to the surprise attack by Hamas.

The cabinet made a "series of operational decisions aimed at bringing about the destruction of the military and governmental capabilities of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority," according to a statement from the office of Israel's Prime Minister. 

"We are embarking on a long and difficult war. The war was forced upon us by a murderous attack by Hamas," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

"The first phase ends at these hours by the destruction of the majority of the enemy forces that penetrated our territory. At the same time, we started the offensive formation, and it will continue without reservation and without respite until the objectives are achieved," Netanyahu said. 

Israel aims to "negate [Hamas's] ability and desire to threaten and harm the citizens of Israel for many years to come," according to the statement.

"We will restore security to the citizens of Israel and we will win," Netanyahu added. "Among the decisions made by the cabinet are the stopping of the supply of electricity, fuel and goods."

9:47 p.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Pakistan leader says peace in the Middle East "lies in a two-state solution" after attack on Israel

The leaders of India and Pakistan on Saturday expressed their condolences to victims and their families after Gaza militants launched a surprise attack on Israel.

Pakistan’s Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said Saturday on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he was “heartbroken by the escalating violence in the Middle East, which underscores the urgent need to address the Palestine Question.”

“We urge restraint,” Kakar said, adding “enduring peace in the Middle East lies in a two-state solution.”

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Saturday on X that he was “deeply shocked by the news of terrorist attacks in Israel.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the innocent victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with Israel at this difficult hour,” Modi wrote.  

The Indian Embassy in Israel also posted an advisory on X Saturday, asking Indian citizens to “remain vigilant and observe safety protocols as advised by local authorities.”

10:13 p.m. ET, October 7, 2023

IDF says it plans to lock down border and hopes to restore "order" by break of dawn

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have planned an aggressive response against Hamas to come, according to a spokesperson.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an IDF spokesman, told CNN's Jake Tapper “many hundreds”, possibly as many as 1,000 Hamas fighters were involved in Saturday’s surprise attacks.

As of 4:15 a.m. local time Sunday morning, Conricus said: "We are still fighting, clearing the last houses and locations and communities and bases.”

“Hopefully, at the break of dawn we will be able to declare that we have finally restored sovereignty and order in Israel. But that has not yet been achieved. And that will be our number one priority," Conricus said.

“Then we will lock down the border and make sure that there are no other terrorists coming in," he added. "And then we shall start to focus on hitting Hamas like we have never hit Hamas before.”

9:59 p.m. ET, October 7, 2023

Israeli man tells CNN he saw his wife and daughters being being kidnapped by militants in viral video

Yoni Asher speaks to CNN's Erin Burnett. CNN

Israelis are sharing photos of friends and family who they say have apparently been kidnapped by Hamas militants and are urging the public to help spread the word in the hope of getting them back safely.

Yoni Asher, a resident of Sharon region, told CNN's Erin Burnett he recognized his wife from a viral video that shows a group of people loaded on the back of a truck flanked by Hamas militants. Chants of "Allahu Akbar," (God is Great), are heard throughout the video.

The footage shows a woman in the back of the truck as a militant puts a scarf on her head. Asher told CNN that the woman is his wife and he's sharing the video to raise awareness of their situation. CNN has not been able to independently verify the video.

Asher said his wife and young daughters were visiting his mother-in-law in Nir Oz, a kibbutz near the Gaza border. He said he suspected they may have been abducted. He tracked his wife’s phone and learned that it was located in Gaza. Later that day, he saw the viral clip. 

"I don't even know what the situation is regarding the hostages, and the situation is not looking good," he said.

Asher added that his wife and mother-in-law have German citizenship and asked the German government for help. 

A German foreign ministry source told CNN, "the Federal Foreign Office and the German embassy in Tel Aviv are in close contact with the Israeli authorities in order to clarify whether and to what extent German citizens are affected.” 

Some context: Israel Defense Forces International Spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Saturday that the number of civilians captured by Hamas is “unfortunately, a significant number.”

An Israel Police spokesperson told CNN that family members who wish to report their loved ones as missing should come to the nearest police station when it's safe to leave their homes. The police suggested relatives bring photos and personal items from which DNA samples can be extracted to help with identification.

8:38 p.m. ET, October 7, 2023

“Our commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself remains unwavering," US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin attends a press conference in Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany, on September 19. Sean Gallup/Getty Images/FILE

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin convened another call with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commander of US Central Command, a US defense official tells CNN.

The purpose of the subsequent call was to ensure the Defense Department was in the best position to help Israel with its defense headed into the evening, the official said.

The second call comes after Austin spoke with Gen. Charles Q. Brown and Gen. Erik Kurilla about the situation on the ground in Israel.  

In a statement Saturday morning, Austin underscored US support for Israel and Israel’s right to defend itself amid an unprecedented cross-border attack from Gaza.

“Our commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself remains unwavering, and I extend my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this abhorrent attack on civilians,” said Austin.