June 13, 2024

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel formed an emergency government on Wednesday, adding two opposition lawmakers — both former army chiefs — to his cabinet. The new wartime cabinet, including the prime minister, Yoav Gallant, the defense minister, and Benny Gantz, a senior opposition lawmaker and former defense minister, pledged to crush Hamas.

“Every Hamas member is a dead man,” Mr. Netanyahu said, in an evening address with Mr. Gallant and Mr. Gantz. “Hamas is ISIS, and we will crush and eliminate it just as the world crushed and eliminated ISIS.”

Mr. Gantz added, “Israel is in one of its darkest hours ever.”

As the leaders presented a united front, Mr. Netanyahu also listed some of the atrocities he said Hamas terrorists had committed: Boys and girls had been found shot in the head, people had been burned alive, women had been raped and killed, and soldiers had been beheaded.

Analysts said the infusion of military expertise would give the government greater legitimacy to make tough wartime decisions, including whether to invade Gaza, or even southern Lebanon.

The arrangement came as the devastation of the Hamas incursion over the weekend was becoming clear: bodies in the streets, people shot dead at a bus stop, bullet holes in residential walls. Israel said the death toll in the attack had risen to 1,200, with an estimated 150 people believed to be held hostage in Gaza.

There was heightening fear that the conflict could widen: Fire has been exchanged along Israel’s northern border with both Lebanon and Syria in recent days, and Israeli forces said they launched retaliatory strikes into Lebanon on Wednesday, hitting targets belonging to Hezbollah, an armed Iran-backed Lebanese group allied with Hamas.

Israel has also intensified its retaliation against Hamas, launching more missiles on Wednesday at the Gaza Strip, the sealed-off coastal territory controlled by the militant group, where fears of a humanitarian disaster were growing. New airstrikes hit rescue crews trying to reach people buried under the rubble of earlier attacks. The authorities in Gaza, which is under blockade by Israel and Egypt, said that its sole power plant had run out of fuel, forcing hospitals to rely on backup generators with limited fuel supplies.

At least 1,127 Palestinians have been killed and more than 5,300 have been injured, according to Gazan health officials, who said most of the casualties are noncombatants, including children.

Here’s what else to know:

  • President Biden held an emotional meeting with Jewish leaders in Washington, calling the attack “the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust.”

  • The first shipment of new U.S. weapons arrived in Israel, and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken was traveling there. He was expected to meet with senior Israeli officials on Thursday to discuss military needs and hostage negotiations.

  • The number of U.S. citizens killed during the attacks has risen to 22, a State Department spokesman said on Wednesday, with 17 unaccounted for. A White House official said only a very few of the missing Americans were being held hostage. American citizens are among the hostages.

  • A New York Times analysis of Hamas propaganda and satellite images shows how the assailants were able to execute such a sophisticated operation on Saturday. They appear to have destroyed communications towers close to the Gaza border that are key to Israel’s defense. Israel has said little about what appears to be a spectacular failure of its security and intelligence operations.

Nicholas Casey, Hiba Yazbek and Katie Rogers contributed reporting.

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