The IOC have expressed sympathy after Hamas' surprise attack on Israel last Saturday prompted a major escalation of the long-running conflict in the area ©Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board has expressed sympathies to the victims of the war between Israel and Hamas on the first day of its meeting here, but was non-committal on the attendance of member-elect Yael Arad.

Palestinian terrorists led by Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on Saturday (October 7), with the Israeli Government declaring war the following day.

The Hamas attacks are reported to have killed at least 1,300 people, and more than 1,400 have died in Gaza since Israeli retaliatory strikes were launched.

Israel has also imposed a total blockade on the Gaza strip, denying it access food, fuel, electricity and water.

The violence marked a major escalation in the long-standing conflict between Gaza and Israel.

IOC spokesperson Mark Adams confirmed the war had been referenced at the start of the Executive Board meeting today.

"At the start of the IOC Executive Board, the IOC EB members expressed their very strong feelings about these tragic events in the recent days, and expressed their deepest sympathy with the innocent victims of this terrible violence," he said.

The IOC Executive Board expressed
The IOC Executive Board expressed "very strong feelings" about the war between Israel and Hamas ©Getty Images

Adams added he was unaware of any contacts between the IOC and Israel or Palestine, and could not fully confirm Arad would attend the Session where she is set to be elected as a member on the second day on Monday (October 16).

"In terms of contacts, I am not aware myself of that so I am unable to answer," Adams added.

"As for Yael, I imagine the situation is changing hour-by-hour, day-by-day, so I wouldn't want to give you a definitive answer on that."

Israel has taken part in every summer edition of the Olympics since Helsinki 1952, apart from Moscow 1980 when it joined the United States-boycott in protest at the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan, and Arad was its first-ever medallist with a women's under-61 kilograms silver at Barcelona 1992.

She was elected as Olympic Committee of Israel President in 2021.

Arad was among eight officials nominated for election as an IOC member at the Session in Mumbai.

She did attend the European Olympic Committees General Assembly in Istanbul last weekend.

Arad is required to take an oath at the IOC Session to be formally admitted as a member, although this could be postponed until the next gathering due to take place before the Olympics in Paris next year.

Olympic Committee of Israel President Yael Arad is due to be elected as an IOC member at the Session in Mumbai, but there was no
Olympic Committee of Israel President Yael Arad is due to be elected as an IOC member at the Session in Mumbai, but there was no "definitive answer" on her attendance ©Getty Images

Several sport events have been postponed in Israel since the escalation of the violence, while Palestine's men's team has pulled out of a football tournament.

Western nations have condemned Hamas' actions as terrorism, but others around the world have blamed Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian Olympic Committee has been recognised by the IOC since 1993.