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As Israeli airstrikes hammer Hamas-ruled Gaza, death toll on each side surpasses 1,200

As the death toll in the Israel-Hamas war continues to climb, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior opposition figure Benny Gantz have created a war-time cabinet after years of bitter divisions, following Hamas’ massive, highly coordinated terror attack on Israel from the tiny Gaza Strip on Saturday.

Netanyahu said Wednesday that he, Gantz and other Israeli leaders “have put aside every other consideration because the fate of our country is at stake. We will work together, shoulder to shoulder, for the citizens of Israel and for the State of Israel.”

Gantz echoed Netanyahu’s remarks, saying, “Our standing here, shoulder to shoulder, is a clear message to our enemies, and more importantly, a message to all citizens of Israel – we are all together, we are all mobilizing.”

Hamas’ brutal attack has claimed more than 1,200 lives in Israel, including at least 22 Americans, and wounded some 2,800 people, according to Israel’s military, as fears of a wider Middle East conflict continued to rise. At least 1,200 people, including at least 326 children, have been killed in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip by Israel’s retaliatory strikes, the Gaza Ministry of Health says, adding that almost 5,800 have been wounded.

Israeli forces also tightened their longstanding blockade of Gaza, sealing it off and vowing that nothing will go in or out, including water, food, medicine, gas or electricity. 

The horrors of Hamas’ attack are still emerging. Israeli military and civilian officials confirmed reports to CBS News on Wednesday of “a massacre” on a kibbutz near the Gaza border, with an emergency response official saying he saw children among victims who were beheaded in the community.

Scores of hostages, including Americans, were taken into Gaza after Hamas launched its assault, which President Biden called “an act of sheer evil.” 

Mr. Biden said at a roundtable meeting of Jewish leaders on Wednesday that the U.S. was working with Israel to address the hostage crisis, but said he could not reveal details of any plans, “because if I told you, I wouldn’t be able to get them home.” 

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