US says Hamas attack is comparable to ten 9/11s

Hundreds of children and women are reported to have been killed in Gaza following days of Israeli airstrikes – as the US said Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel was “equivalent to ten 9/11s”.

At least 500 children and 276 women are among the estimated 1,537 Palestinians who have died with more than 6,000 wounded, the Gaza health ministry has said.

The total figure is 120 more deaths than the ministry reported this afternoon.

The number of fatalities in Gaza is expected to rise further as Israel’s siege of the territory has left Palestinians with dwindling supplies of food, water, electricity and medicine.

Israel has said it is targeting Hamas after the militant group carried out a wave of attacks in Israel at the weekend as gunmen stormed the border and killed hundreds in their homes as well as 260 others at a music festival.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has been speaking on a visit to Israel this evening where he said the government had showed him photographs and videos of the victims of attacks by Hamas.

He said the images included a baby riddled with bullets, soldiers beheaded, and young people burned alive in their cars or hideaways.

Mr Blinken added: “If you look at [the incursion] in proportion to the size of Israel’s population, this is the equivalent of ten 9/11s.

“That’s how big and how devastating the attack has been.”

Israel says a total of 1,300 of its people have died since Saturday’s raid as its troops continue to mass along the barbed wire fence ahead of a possible ground offensive on Gaza, with 300,000 reservists called up.

Key developments:
• UK navy to send ships and begin surveillance flights over Israel
• Two UK Jewish schools close for safety reasons
• British-Israelis issue plea as families held hostage in Gaza
• Blinken tells Netanyahu the US will always be by Israel’s side
• Israel reportedly strikes airports in Syria
• Israel says no food or water will be supplied to Gaza until hostages are freed
• UN warns of ‘dire situation’ in Gaza Strip
• Palestinians accuse Israel of killing civilians
• Israeli PM says Hamas beheaded soldiers and raped women
• Israeli military admits it failed to protect its citizens in Hamas attack

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