Israel strikes Gaza as troops group on border after 'massacre' of village

ITV News' James Mates and Chloe Keedy report on the humanitarian crisis faced by people living in the Gaza Strip as fighting enters its fourth day

  • Gaza residents brace as tens of thousands of Israeli reservists have massed near the border, as Israel's defence minister vows 'Gaza will never return to what it was'.

  • Israel Defence Forces (IDF) told ITV News Hamas massacred babies, women and the elderly in an Israeli village.

  • A fleet of US warships, jets and airstrike equipment have arrived in the Eastern Mediterranean within range to support Israel, President Joe Biden has confirmed.

  • The death toll from the four-day conflict has surpassed 1,900 on both sides, with at least 900 Palestinians and at least 1,000 Israelis having been killed since Saturday. Thousands more have been injured.

  • More than 10 Britons are feared dead or missing in Israel, ITV News understands.

  • The UN has pleaded for humanitarian corridors to be established out of Gaza, as food, electricity and water has been cut off, with damage to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities for more than 400,000 people.

Israeli air strikes on Gaza continued overnight as the threat of a ground invasion remained imminent with tens of thousands of Israeli reservists massing on the border.

The UN called for humanitarian corridors to protect civilians who, with all exits closed and with the might of Israel's army massing just a few miles away, are trapped.

Israel says it takes pains to avoid civilian casualties as it targets Hamas sites in Gaza, which is heavily built up and has scant open space. It has strongly advised people to leave as it warned of a "complete siege" of the densely populated area.

Food, water, and fuel are cut off by Israel and hospitals overwhelmed and a desperate shortage of medicines.

Despite Hamas' hundreds of rockets fired over Tel Aviv and Ashkelon on Tuesday, Israel regained military control over its border with Gaza and overnight.

Israel’s defence minister, Yoav Gallant, said he has “released all restraints” on the Israel Defence Forces' troops in their fight against Hamas - who he described as the "Isis of Gaza" - as he vowed "Gaza will never return to what it was".

Rear Admiral Danel Hagari, of the Israel Defence Forces, said: "We've created an iron wall of tanks, helicopters, air craft. Our policy is that anyone who approaches the fence will be killed."

It comes after Israeli soldiers showed ITV News and western media the discovery of a "massacre" at the hands of Hamas militants of civilians including women, children, babies and the elderly in a small village in southern Israel.

Israeli Defence Forces showed western media the aftermath of the 'massacre' of the village of Kfar Aza. Credit: AP

Kfa Azar, a small community close to the Gaza border, was held for 48 hours by Hamas. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said civilians were slaughtered in their homes by the Palestinian militants - many as they slept. The number of those killed is still being counted.

On Tuesday evening, President Biden called the Hamas attack an "act of sheer evil" as he confirmed the US has enhanced "military force posture in the region".

Hamas "firmly" rejected Mr Biden's remarks on Israel calling it an "inflammatory statement" that aims to “escalate the tension by the barbaric Zionist regime against the Palestinian people,” according to a written statement published Tuesday, reports CNN. 

A US fleet of warships, jets and airstrike equipment - including the largest and most sophisticated aircraft carrier in the world, the US Ford air strike carrier - has arrived in the Eastern Mediterranean ready to support Israel and warn off global involvement, Mr Biden said.

The movement of the military carrier is not intended for Hamas, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed, but instead "to send a clear message of deterrence to other states or non-state actors that might seek to widen this war.”

But Mr Biden told a Tuesday press conference his administration was "surging" additional military assistance to Israel to make sure it "does not run out of these critical assets to defend its cities and its citizens".

Almost 2,000 people have died on both sides. At least 900 Palestinians and at least 1,000 Israelis have been killed since Saturday.

Palestinians run amid the rubble to safety following Israeli airstrikes that razed swaths of a neighborhood in Gaza City. Credit: AP

It comes after Hamas fired hundreds of rockets from Gaza on the major Israeli port city of Ashkelon on Tuesday after Hamas issued a deadline warning residents to evacuate.

A spokesperson for the Palestinian militant group said it fired hundreds of rockets "in response to the displacement of civilians in Gaza," in a statement on Telegram.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said on Telegram they are continuing to attack the Gaza Strip, claiming it is "striking targets."

The IDF said on Tuesday they had killed two senior Hamas leaders, Zakaria Abu Muammar and Joad Abu Shmalah, in a strike overnight.

Israeli forces claim Muammar was the head of the group's international relations office, while Shmalah was the economy minister. The alleged deaths are yet to be confirmed by Hamas.

International allies have declared support for both Israel's forces and Hamas following the eruption of violence.

What happens next? ITV News' International Affairs Editor Rageh Omar explains

Rockets have reportedly been fired from south Lebanon toward Israel, according to Al Manar, a Lebanese outlet owned by Hezbollah.

The Israel Defence Forces responded with artillery fire, it said, after “launches” were “identified from Lebanese territory toward Israeli territory.” Air strikes have been directed at Gaza port, which has been deemed a 'terror target' by the IDF, CNN reports.

It comes after Israel's military earlier said it had "restored full control" of the border with the Gaza Strip after Palestinian militants launched a surprise attack on Saturday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that retaliation against Hamas would "reverberate for generations", while 360,000 military reservists have been called up in response to the attacks, raising the possibility of a ground invasion of Gaza.

ITV News' Rachel Younger explains the origins of the violence between Israel and Hamas

More than 150 soldiers and civilians have been taken hostage by Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza, Israel's military has said.

Hamas has pledged to kill hostages if Israeli strikes targeted civilians in Gaza without warning.

On Tuesday, Israeli military spokesman Richard Hecht said no Hamas fighters have crossed into Israel since Monday night, although infiltrations could still be possible.

He said the military struck hundreds of Hamas targets overnight in Gaza's City Rimal neighbourhood - which is home to many of Hamas' ministries and government buildings - and that residents were being notified over social media before the strikes to evacuate.

Why did Hamas strike now? And where could the conflict go next? From Tel Aviv, our Senior International Correspondent John Irvine tells Julie Etchingham what you need to know...

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) advised Palestinians to try to leave through the Rafah crossing - the sole border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, but then changed the advice and announced the crossing had been closed.

More than 187,500 people have been displaced in Gaza since the beginning of the conflict, according to a report from the United Nations (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Gaza has a population of 2.3 million people.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said it is hosting more than 137,000 people in schools across the territory.

Fire and smoke rise following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City. Credit: Fatima Shbair/AP

In a televised address on Monday, Mr Netanyahu said his military offensive has "only started".

"We have only started striking Hamas," he said. "What we will do to our enemies in the coming days will reverberate with them for generations."

On Monday, Israeli Minister Yoav Gallant ordered a "complete siege" on Gaza, saying authorities would cut electricity and block the entry of food and fuel.

The Secretary-General of the UN has insisted that humanitarian aid must be allowed to reach those left "trapped and helpless" in Gaza.

In a statement shared on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Antonio Guterres said: "I appeal to the international community to mobilize immediate humanitarian support for this effort."

More than 10 British citizens are feared dead or missing after Hamas fighters attacked southern Israel, ITV News understands.

As the total death toll approached the 2,000 mark since the attacks on Saturday morning, concerns have been raised for the UK nationals caught up in the violence.

Three British men - Nathanel Young, 20, Bernard Cowan, 57, and Dan Darlington - have been confirmed dead by their families.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said he would not be providing an exact figure due to how "fast moving" the situation appears to be.

He told ITV's Good Morning Britain that the UK government was "standing ready" to support any British citizens who need to leave Israel, but said there are no current plans for a British evacuation effort.