UPDATE - Gaza Health Ministry says at least 232 Palestinians killed in Israeli airstrikes
Over 1,600 others also injured in ongoing escalation, according to latest update
UPDATES DEATH TOLL, CHANGES HEADLINE
By Ahmed Asmar
ANKARA (AA) - Israeli airstrikes on Gaza Strip launched after a Hamas offensive has killed at least 232 Palestinians, the territory's Health Ministry said on Saturday.
In an update on its Facebook account, the ministry said 1,697 Palestinians were also wounded.
The ministry added that its medical teams were working at full capacity "to save dozens of serious and critical cases in operating rooms and intensive care units."
Israel initiated Operation Swords of Iron in Gaza in retaliation to Operation Al-Aqsa Flood by Hamas forces into Israel earlier in the day.
Israeli army is "initiating a large-scale operation to defend Israeli civilians against the combined attack launched against Israel by Hamas this morning," it said in a statement.
Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh described the attack "heroic epic in response to Israel’s aggression against Al Aqsa” Mosque and settler violence. Hundreds of Israeli settlers forced their way into the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex during the recent Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
The Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, said it targeted enemy sites, airports, and military installations with rockets.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country is in a state of war, and his army's priority is to "clear out the hostile forces."
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