UPDATE, Sunday, 6:29 a.m. PT: The death toll in Israel from the Hamas attacks has reached 600, according to local media reports, and several hundred others were reported dead in Gaza.
Major networks all have correspondents dispatched in the region, as Israel formally declared war against Hamas on Sunday. The images include destruction in central Tel Aviv, where “this just doesn’t happen,” reported correspondent James Longman.
Fox News‘ Trey Yingst, in Sderot, reported “blood stained sidewalks, cars in the middle of the road with blinkers still flashing. Bullet holes in the windshields,” he wrote on X/Twitter. On social media, there have been images posted of Israeli civilians being taken by Hamas to be held hostage. CNN‘s Jake Tapper interviewed a woman who said she was on the phone with her 16-year-old and 12-year-old children when they were taken by Hamas. “Even war has rules. They just don’t have any morals,” the woman told Tapper.
On ABC News’ This Week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “This is a massive terrorist attack that is gunning down Israeli civilians in their towns, in their homes, and as we have seen so graphically, literally dragging people across the border with Gaza, including a Holocaust survivor in a wheelchair, women and children.”
PREVIOUSLY, Saturday, 12:29 p.m. PT: “Israel has a right to defend itself,” said President Joe Biden in an address to the nation and the world Saturday as the Jewish state is under a full-scale attack from Hamas. “Full stop”.
“Today, the people of Israel are under attack, orchestrated by a terrorist organization, Hamas,” Biden declared from the White House, with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken by his side. “In this moment of tragedy, I want to say to them, to the world and to terrorists everywhere: The U.S. stands with Israel. We will not ever fail to have their back.”
As they usually do during international crisis, all the cable news networks carried POTUS’ remarks live.
“Let me say this as clearly as I can: this is not a moment for any party hostile to Israel to exploit these attacks to seek advantage,” Biden declared as the Jewish state’s military forces began their retaliation and celebrations broke out in Tehran and elsewhere over the huge attacks by the Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist group. “The world is watching.”
On the West Coast, only NBC cut to live coverage of Joe Biden’s blunt 2-minute remarks from the White House. During Biden’s speech, ABC stuck with college football with Oklahoma vs Texas, as did Fox with the Maryland at Ohio State match-up. CBS remained on its pregame Drive to Atlanta show before the Alabama at Texas A&M game.
Biden and Blinken took no questions after the speech. In a symbolism missed by almost no one, the multi-pronged Hamas attack today comes on the Jewish sabbath, a holy holiday, and the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War.
NBC had cut to a live report on the Hamas attack at around 6 am ET with NBC News Now’s Joe Fryer anchoring with NBC News correspondent Laura Jarrett and reports from NBC News foreign correspondents Raf Sanchez and Richard Engel, among others. The network then went with another live special from 8 am to 8:30 am PT with Kristen Welker anchoring. Raf Sanchez joined from Israel that report, plus Kelly O’Donnell from the White House and Andrea Mitchell by phone.
Christiane Amanpour and later Dana Bash were leading CNN’s coverage from early Saturday before, during and after Biden’s short stern comments. Hadas Gold was live from Jerusalem since the story broke in the midnight hour this morning, while Nic Robertson also has been on the ground in Jerusalem.
Fox News’ Trey Yingst, who has reported against the backdrop of rocket fire coming off the Gaza Strip, also has been on the ground in Israel, since the start of the attacks, with Neil Cavuto anchoring a special edition of Cavuto Live and chief political anchor Bret Baier contributing to coverage along with Jennifer Griffin from the Pentagon and Lucas Tomlinson from the White House.
ABC News’ James Longman will be reporting from Israel starting on Sunday morning, joining three producers/reporters from the network’s bureau there who have been covering the attack.
CBS News foreign correspondents Imtiaz Tyab and Holly Williams are on the ground in Israel, and Haley Ott has been reporting from there.
All the broadcast networks have also been covering the attacks on their streaming platforms, as well as CNN’s newly launched service on Max.
CNN is planning more coverage with an Israel at War special with with Jake Tapper this evening. Warner Bros Discovery’s recently launched CNN Max platform on the media giant’s MAX streamer also announced comprehensive coverage in what is the first international news test of its online presence and capacity.
Up and comer NewsNation will be offering a special three-hour report on the attacks on Israel starting at 4 pm PT. Chief Washington anchor Leland Vittert and NewsNation’s Prime Natasha Zouves will co-anchor.
Networks also scrambled to alter their lineups for their Sunday morning shows, with Blinken added to the lineup of guests on Meet the Press with Kristen Welker and CNN’s State of the Union.
Over 200 Israelis have been killed so far since the coordinated attack began this morning, according to official government reports. As women, children and old people are being pulled off the streets of some towns near the Gaza border by Hamas operatives and taken hostage, outlets are reporting. The clearly long planned attack on the Jewish state also is seeing soldiers being pulled out of tanks, along with dozens of civilians being held as prisoners of war Israel, widely shown footage reveals.
On Fox News, Yingst said earlier on the cable newser from southern Israel: “Right now, Israeli soldiers have been sent to the Gaza border as reinforcement. You can see here they are ready for what could be days of fighting ahead. And this is active gunfire right now taking place in 22 different communities along the Gaza border. We are told by the Israeli military that they have a number of fatalities and a number of prisoners of war within their ranks. You can hear, it’s a tense moment here. There are soldiers- pan, pan here for me, if you will. You can see a soldier here with a wound on his back. I do need to warn our viewers, you might see a few images that are graphic. But soldiers are going in, soldiers are coming out. We have seen this all day. Again, the goal here, Neil, is to secure the border and to secure all of these areas the Hamas militants infiltrated earlier today. They have not yet been able to do that, and Israel says the death toll has reached more than 100 people at this point including civilians and soldiers. And the big concern, those that have been taken hostage in southern Israel. Israeli Special Units trying to free them at this moment. And inside Gaza, many prisoners of war as this conflict develops here in the hours across Israel.”
Former director of National Intelligence and frequent pundit James Clapper said on CNN Saturday that he was “surprised” by Hamas actions and repeated Dana Bash’s comment that the government of Benjamin Netanyahu was caught fatally “flatfooted.” In the context, questions were being raised all over news coverage as well in national capitols of how and why intelligence services in Jerusalem and Washington DC did not detect the large and deadly attack was coming.
At the same time Donald Trump and various Republican contenders for their party’s presidential nomination tried to put blame for Hamas’ actions on the Biden administration. Those comments received little attention except social media and right-wing outlets. Just before Biden spoke, Fox News had Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn on live offering benign bipartisanship and her outrage on the attack coming on the 50th anniversary of the surprise Yom Kippur War.
Earlier Saturday, between President Biden’s calls to world leaders like the King of Jordan, the White House released a statement from the Oval Office. “This morning, I spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu about the horrific and ongoing attacks in Israel,” Biden said in the statement. “The United States unequivocally condemns this appalling assault against Israel by Hamas terrorists from Gaza, and I made clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu that we stand ready to offer all appropriate means of support to the Government and people of Israel. Terrorism is never justified.”
Around the same time as the White House put out the Biden statement, Vice-President Kamala Harris also offered her support for Israel in an online post: