Hamas fighters breached Gaza's security barrier and attacked nearby Israeli towns

The Indian embassy in Israel has asked its citizens to remain vigilant and observe safety protocols as advised by local authorities

New Delhi: The death count has surged to almost 1,000 since the Hamas group launched a terror attack on Israel with a barrage of rockets and a large-scale ground assault. The war has killed over 600 on the Israeli side, while Gaza reported at least 370 deaths.

The conflict's bloodiest escalation in decades saw Hamas carry out a massive rocket barrage and ground, air and sea offensive, that reports said had killed 600 Israelis and wounded 1,000. Gaza officials said intense Israeli air strikes on the coastal enclave had brought the Palestinian death count to at least 400, with nearly 1,700 wounded.

Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah said it fired "large numbers of artillery shells and guided missiles" at Israeli positions in a contested border area. It said the assault was "in solidarity" with the attack launched by Hamas.

Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to avenge what he said was a "black day" for Israel. "The IDF (army) is about to use all its force to destroy Hamas's capabilities. We'll strike them to the bitter end and avenge with force this black day they brought on Israel and its people," he said.

He warned Palestinians living near Hamas sites in Gaza to leave as he vowed to turn its hideouts into "rubble" following its surprise attack. "I'm telling the people of Gaza: get out of there now, because we're about to act everywhere with all our force," he said.

Israeli officials said about 100 soldiers and civilians have been kidnapped by Hamas. "Terrorists rampaged and broke into homes, massacring civilians. Hundreds had invaded the country, hundreds are still fighting troops inside Israel," army spokesman Richard Hecht said.

Hamas fighters fired thousands of rockets and breached Gaza's security barrier, attacking nearby Israeli towns and military posts. They also opened fire on residents and passerby. The group labelled its attack "Operation Al-Aqsa Flood" and called on "resistance fighters in the West Bank" as well as in "Arab and Islamic nations" to join the battle. Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said the group was on the "verge of a great victory".

Hamas released images of several Israelis taken captive. Bodies were strewn on the streets of the Israeli town of Sderot near Gaza and inside cars, the windscreens shattered by hails of bullets.

In response to the deadly attacks, the Israel defense forces also declared a "readiness for war". The forces launched "Operation Swords of Iron", striking a number of targets in the Gaza Strip. "We have seen the face of evil. Hamas launched a criminal attack, without distinguishing between women, children and the elderly. It will realise very quickly that it made a grave mistake. We will change the face of reality in the Gaza Strip," Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant said in a video statement.

As the UN Security Council called an emergency meeting today, US President Joe Biden voiced "rock solid and unwavering" support for Israel and warned "against any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation".

The Indian embassy in Israel has asked its citizens to remain vigilant and observe safety protocols as advised by local authorities. "Please exercise caution, avoid unnecessary movement, and stay close to safety shelters," it said in an advisory.