Large blasts shatter Gaza dawn as Israel retaliates

Explosions were heard early Sunday morning in Gaza as Israel launched retaliatory strikes against Hamas after the group launched a surprise attack the day before.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday Israel would take “mighty vengeance” for the biggest into Israel in decades.

The attack by Hamas fighters in which nearly 500 people were killed was the deadliest day of violence in Israel for 50 years.

Palestinian group Hamas took Israel by surprise on Saturday with the biggest attack for decades, a sudden assault by gunmen who crossed into Israeli villages.

At least 200 Israelis were reported killed and 1,100 wounded by gun battles raging in more than 20 locations inside Israel.

In Gaza, health officials reported 232 people killed and 1,610 wounded as Israel responded with massive air strikes deep inside the coastal enclave, vowing unprecedented retaliation.

The escalation comes against a backdrop of surging violence between Israel and Palestinian fighters in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where a Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule, opposed by Hamas that wants Israel destroyed.