Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has ordered “a complete siege” of the Gaza Strip – home to more than two million Palestinians – saying authorities would cut electricity and block food, water and fuel from entering.
His announcement on Monday Oct. 9 came after war erupted between Israel and the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, on Saturday Oct. 7 when Hamas fired thousands of rockets and invaded southern Israel in a surprise attack.
“We’re putting a complete seige on Gaza,” Gallant said. “No electricity, no water, no food, no gas – it’s all closed.”
“We’re fighting human animals and are acting accordingly,” he added.
Founded in 1987, Hamas is a Islamist militant group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, separate from the Palestinian government, according to the New York Times.
But unlike the Palestinian Liberation Organization – the internationally recognized representative of the Palestinian people – Hamas does not recognize Israel as a state and seeks to establish a Palestinian state.
Hamas has been been attacking Israel through suicide bombings and rocket attacks for years to reach its goal.
Experts say Hamas carried out the unprecedented attack in order to liberate Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, Vox reported.
Hamas military leaders said other reasons included Israel’s 16-year occupation of the West Bank, Israeli raids inside West Bank cities over the past year, and recent Israeli police raids on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
The attack from Hamas is one of the largest assaults in Israel in decades and caught Israel off guard.
Hamas fighters have killed about 700 Israelis and are holding another 150 people hostage as of Sunday, according to the New York Times.
In response, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war on Hamas and mobilized Israeli military forces. Israel launched massive airstrikes into Gaza, destroying residential buildings.
Gaza officials said that at least 413 people, including 78 children and 41 women, have been killed, according to AP.
123,000 Palestinians have already been displaced by Israel’s air strikes, according to the UN.