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Israel officially declares war for first time since 1973

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Israel has formally entered a state of war, as declared by the country's government. The decision, reported by Israel's state radio station Kan, came after the country's security cabinet voted in favor of invoking Clause 40 Aleph (40א), marking an official declaration of war.

The Voice of Israel Telegram channel noted that from now on, the Israel Defence Force (IDF) can act independently at its own discretion, reporting to the country's authorities on the actions taken. Clause 40 Aleph was last enacted 50 years ago, during the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu previously said that Israel was at war following the Hamas incursion into southern Israel on October 7.

The high-level security cabinet decision provides legal standing to the declaration, aligning with Israel's Basic Law: The Government, which in its Clause 40 says that the country cannot go to war without a government decision.

Meanwhile, the Israeli death toll since the surprise Hamas attack began on October 7 has surpassed 400, according to a report by The Times of Israel. According to the Health Ministry, 2,048 people have been injured, 330 of them seriously. 20 people are in critical condition.

The Times of Israel also reported that the commander of the elite IDF Multidimensional unit “Refaim” (“Ghost”), Colonel Roi Levy, was killed yesterday as his forces battled with Hamas militants in the southern community of Re’im near Gaza.

Another senior IDF commander, Colonen Yonatan Steinberg of the Nahal Infantry Brigade, was reported killed on Saturday during clashes with Hamas in the Kerem Shalom area near the border with the Gaza Strip. Levy and Steinberg “are among most senior officers to be killed in combat in recent memory,” according to The Times of Israel.

The IDF has now confirmed the deaths of 44 soldiers, while Israel’s Police has listed 30 officers that were killed since the start of the attack.

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