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Israeli Defense Minister Calls for ‘Complete Siege’ of Gaza Strip Two Days After Hamas' Surprise Attack

More than 700 Israelis have been killed and close to 500 people in the Gaza Strip are dead since Hamas launched attacks on Israel civilians Saturday

<p>Maja Hitij/Getty, MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty</p> Israel

Maja Hitij/Getty, MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty

Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant declared a "complete siege" of Gaza on Monday

Conflict is intensifying between Israel and Palestine as Israeli officials ordered a “complete siege” of the Gaza Strip.

On Monday, two days after Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a surprise attack in Israel, killing hundreds of civilians, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced the “total blockade.”

In a video statement shared on X, Gallant said Israel is “putting a complete siege on Gaza,” adding that the escalation meant “no electricity, no food, no water, no gas” for the Palestinian-controlled area along the Mediterranean Sea. Of Gaza’s resources, he said, “It’s all closed,” according to Al Jazeera.

<p>Maja Hitij/Getty, MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty</p>

Maja Hitij/Getty, MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty

Related: Joe Biden Offers Support to Israel as Prime Minister Says 'We Are at War' After Hamas Attack

The escalation comes after Hamas launched a series of surprise attacks throughout Israel on Saturday, culminating in the death of more than 700 Israelis, according to an update from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

As of 12:15 a.m. local time Monday, the IDF reported that 2,150 Israelis were injured and more than 3,200 rockets had been fired on Israel from Gaza. In retaliation, Israeli defense forces had struck 653 Hamas targets, per the report.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that 493 people in the Gaza Strip had died and more than 2,700 have been injured as Israel launched retaliatory attacks on what it called Hamas targets in Gaza.

Related: 'I Wish I Didn't See What Happened': The Children Killed in the Israel-Hamas Conflict

<p>hoto by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP) (Photo by </p> Palestinians search for survivors after an Israeli airstrike on the refugee camp of Jabalia in the Gaza Strip

hoto by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP) (Photo by

Palestinians search for survivors after an Israeli airstrike on the refugee camp of Jabalia in the Gaza Strip

Following the initial attacks on Saturday, which consisted of air strikes and the breaching of Israel’s border by foot by soldiers from Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the country is “at war,” according to CNN.

“Residents of Gaza: Leave now because we will operate forcefully everywhere,” Netanyahu said in a speech Saturday as he warned that Israel would attack targets believed to be associated with Hamas and turn them “into islands of ruins,” the outlet reported.

On Monday, he said the battle with Hamas "has only just begun" as he told leaders that "what Hamas will go through will be tough and terrible," per The New York Times.

<p>Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency via Getty</p> Israeli forces establish heavily-armed control points along the border following Hamas' attack

Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Israeli forces establish heavily-armed control points along the border following Hamas' attack

There are reportedly over 150 Israelis being held hostage in Gaza, according to the Times, and some of them include U.S. citizens that are currently “unaccounted for.”

As of Monday, nine Americans have been confirmed dead in Israel, according to a statement from the US National Security Council, the outlet reported.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the victims and to the families of all those affected, and wish those injured a speedy recovery," the statement said. "We continue to monitor the situation closely and remain in touch with our Israeli partners, particularly the local authorities.”

<p>Momen Faiz/NurPhoto via Getty </p> Palestinian militants fire missiles at Israel on October 7, 2023

Momen Faiz/NurPhoto via Getty

Palestinian militants fire missiles at Israel on October 7, 2023

The U.S. expressed its support for Israel on Saturday as President Joe Biden said in a statement that he “unequivocally condemns this appalling assault against Israel by Hamas terrorists from Gaza, and I made clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu that we stand ready to offer all appropriate means of support to the Government and people of Israel.”

He continued, “Terrorism is never justified. Israel has a right to defend itself and its people. The United States warns against any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation. My Administration’s support for Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering.”

Related: Israel and Palestinian Militant Group Reach Ceasefire After Weekend of Violence in Gaza

<p>EYAD AL-BABA/AFP via Getty </p> A Palestinian man carries a child rescued from the Tattari family home which was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City

EYAD AL-BABA/AFP via Getty

A Palestinian man carries a child rescued from the Tattari family home which was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City

Gaza has been under the control of Hamas since 2007, when it overthrew the prior governing body, known as the Palestinian National Authority.

Since Hamas gained control of Gaza, its two neighbors, Israel and Egypt, have exerted control over its borders. According to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Israel imposed a blockade on “land, air and sea” in the Gaza Strip after Hamas’ takeover, which the UN-Secretary General said “contravene[s],” or violates, international humanitarian law.

The "stifling" blockade had "already placed heavy restrictions on the entry and exit of goods and people" in Gaza, per the New York Times.

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Of Gaza’s 2.1 million million residents, approximately 1.7 million are Palestinian refugees, per the UNRWA. More than 123,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been displaced since the fighting escalated on Saturday, according to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

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