17 British nationals among the victims of Hamas attack on Israel

The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has claimed the lives of at least 17 British nationals, according to a BBC report. The victims include children and dual citizens who were living or visiting Israel when the Palestinian militant group launched a massive rocket barrage on Saturday.

Hamas attack on Israel

Hamas attack targets Israeli cities and towns

Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, said it fired more than 1,000 rockets at Israel in response to Israeli air strikes on Gaza that killed several of its commanders and civilians. The rockets targeted major Israeli cities such as Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba, as well as smaller towns and villages near the border with Gaza.

The Israeli military said it intercepted most of the rockets with its Iron Dome missile defense system, but some of them managed to evade the shield and hit populated areas. The rockets caused widespread damage to buildings, cars and infrastructure, and also triggered sirens and panic among the residents.

British nationals caught in the crossfire

Among the casualties of the Hamas attack were 17 British nationals who were either killed or missing in Israel, according to a BBC report that cited an official source. The report did not provide the names or details of the victims, but said they included children and dual citizens.

The British Foreign Office said it was providing consular assistance to the families of those affected by the violence, and urged all British nationals in Israel to follow the advice of the local authorities and stay indoors. It also advised against all travel to Israel, Gaza and the West Bank due to the security situation.

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the Hamas attack as “unacceptable and outrageous” and called for an immediate end to the hostilities. He also expressed his solidarity with Israel and its right to defend itself from the rocket fire.

Israel retaliates with fierce air strikes on Gaza

In response to the Hamas attack, Israel launched a massive air campaign on Gaza, targeting what it said were Hamas military sites, weapons factories, tunnels and leaders. The Israeli military said it had struck more than 500 targets in Gaza since Saturday, killing dozens of militants and destroying hundreds of rocket launchers.

However, the air strikes also caused civilian casualties and damage in the densely populated coastal enclave, where about two million Palestinians live under a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt. According to Gaza health officials, more than 900 people have been killed and thousands injured in the Israeli bombardment, including many women and children.

The United Nations said it was deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza, where electricity, water and medical supplies were running low. It also warned of a possible outbreak of Covid-19 among the displaced people who sought shelter in schools and mosques.

International efforts to broker a ceasefire

The international community has been trying to mediate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, but so far without success. The United States, which is Israel’s closest ally, has sent its envoy Hady Amr to the region to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials and urge them to de-escalate the situation.

The US President Joe Biden said he supported Israel’s right to self-defense, but also called for a “proportional” response to the Hamas attack. He said he hoped that the violence would end “sooner rather than later” and that both sides would work towards a lasting peace.

Other countries such as Egypt, Qatar, Turkey and Russia have also been involved in diplomatic efforts to end the conflict, which is the worst since 2014. The UN Security Council has held several emergency meetings on the crisis, but has not issued a joint statement due to disagreements among its members.

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