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Cyprus ready to help Israel

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Cyprus is ready to assist in the situation that has developed in Israel, which it is closely monitoring, said President Nikos Christodoulides, giving instructions to increase checks at various entry points.

He told reporters Sunday: “We are closely monitoring the situation, and all internal procedures concerning the Republic of Cyprus in such cases have been activated.”

“We are in contact with the Israeli leadership and neighbouring states because what is happening there affects the wider region.

“At the same time, Cyprus has expressed its readiness to help, especially in the field of health, if any needs arise.

“We are all aware that new data constantly emerge regarding people who are seriously injured.

“Therefore, as the Republic of Cyprus, we have expressed our readiness, if deemed necessary by Israel, to assist in this specific sector”.

When asked if there are security concerns for Cyprus, he said: “Certainly, relevant checks have been increased, especially at specific points, such as airports, ports, marinas, in the Israeli diplomatic mission, and beyond.”

There is also a large Israeli community in Cyprus, and Israel is the island’s second-largest tourist market.

“Instructions have been given to enhance security in all these areas.

“We are monitoring it, evaluating it daily, and I hope that soon, despite the situation continuing, there will be developments that allow us to be optimistic that there will be an end to this situation,” said Christodoulides.

Rocket attacks

Fighting between Hamas and Israel raged into a third day Monday, with militants launching a fresh barrage of rocket attacks and Israeli forces still battling to expel Hamas gunmen from its soil as jets continued to bombard the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.

Israel on Sunday formally declared war on the Islamist militant group Hamas after its fighters launched an unprecedented surprise assault into Israeli territory that has so far killed over 700 people in Israel, escalating a long-running conflict and leaving a nation reeling in anguish.

Hamas militants claimed late Sunday to be holding more than 100 hostages in Gaza, including high-ranking Israeli army officers, according to Mousa Abu Marzouk, chief deputy of Hamas’s Political Bureau.

Shocked Israelis woke on the last day of the Jewish high holidays to the wail of sirens as Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired thousands of rockets from Gaza and armed militants broke down the hi-tech barriers surrounding the strip to enter Israel, shooting and taking hostages.

Militants in boats also tried to enter Israel by sea on Saturday.

It was a staggering and unprecedented offensive by Hamas and Islamic Jihad and a catastrophic intelligence failure by Israel – and both will have long-lasting repercussions and consequences.

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, declared that Israel was at war and that Palestinians would pay a heavy price.

Militants infiltrated Jewish communities near the border with Gaza, killing and seizing civilians and soldiers.

Unverified videos showed terrified Israelis covered in blood and with hands tied behind their backs, being taken by Palestinian gunmen.

Many people rushed to safe rooms in their homes as the carnage unfolded around them.