Day Twenty-One Of Swords Of Iron
The IDF is launching its ground offensive in Gaza.
”Nearly 100 Israeli warplanes are bombing Gaza now,” reported Al Jazeera reporter, Wael Dahdouh
The IDF ground offensive in Gaza is slated for tonight, accordign to Israeli officials. IDF spokesman Rear Adm Daniel Hagari told reporters today that Israeli infantry and armor are “expanding their operations tonight” and are “acting with great force… to achieve the objectives of war,” Gaza is now largely without power and internet access. Hamas continues to fire rockets while Gazans have no ability to communicate with the outside. Urging Gazans to head south toward the enclave's border with Egypt, Hagari said, "The IDF is operating in all dimensions to accomplish the goals of the war,” he said as he urged Palestinians to move to the southern part of the Gaza Strip “where it is much safer.”
Israeli hospitals have been told to prepare to potentially treat freed captives; no concrete information about a possible release has been issued. Those hospitals are: Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, and Schneider Medical Center in Petah Tikva.
Iran’s foreign minister warned that Lebanese and Palestinian terror groups have their “finger on the trigger” should Israel unleash its predicted ground invasion. “What I gathered from what I heard from them and the plans that they have — they have their finger on the trigger,” FM Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said. He is attending a General Assembly session of the UN in New York City and warned that Hamas’s violence would be “much more powerful and deeper than what you’ve witnessed. Therefore I believe that if this situation continues and women and children and civilians are still killed in Gaza and the West Bank, anything will be possible.” He added that the terrorists will decide upon their actions on their own with input from Iran, saying, “We don’t really want this conflict to spread out.”
The IAF conducted significant airstrikes in Gaza, especially in its north. Plumes of smoke and fireballs could be seen rising about Gaza City.
The IAF scrambled jets after being advised of an “aerial threat” over the Red Sea this morning. The IAF intercepted the “hostile targets” which did not enter Israeli airspace. The interception happened near Nuweiba: an Egyptian town on the Red Sea near the Israeli town of Eilat. An earlier missile strike at the Egyptian Red Sea town of Taba was traced to Yemen, according to the IDF. This week, the US Navy intercepted several missiles fired from Yemen that were heading to Israel.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged the UN Security Council to “consider” humanitarian pauses in order to allow the uninhibited entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza and to allow civilians to reach safe zones away from the fighting, Democrat Reps. Ro Khanna, Jamie Raskin, Susan Wild, Dan Goldman, Jerry Nadler, Jan Schakowsky and Sen. Bernie Sanders have echoed the call. These do not include leftist Democrats calling for a permanent ceasefire. The Biden administration has argued that a ceasefire would be tantamount to a victory for Hamas.
Israel's Shaytelet 13 navy commandos carried out an overnight raid in the southern Gaza Strip from the sea, according to the IDF. They destroyed Hamas infrastructure and a compound used by the terror group’s naval commando forces. Other Navy units participated; the Shayetet 13 commandos left the area and returned to Israel after the operation. Hamas claims to have repeled the sea-borne attack.
Hamas says 7,326 people have been killed in Gaza since the war started on October 7. The group claims that the dead include 3,038 children killed. However, President Biden cast shade on the death toll, which includes terrorists who died on Oct. 7 and since, as well as those Hamas claimed were the victims of a misfired Palestinian Islamic Jihad missile that fell on the Baptist Hospital in Gaza.
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees says Hamas’s death toll figures have proved to be “credible” previously. “In the past, the five, six cycles of conflict in the Gaza Strip, these figures were considered as credible and no one ever really challenged these figures,” UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini told reporters in Jerusalem earlier.
Tel Aviv police chief Peretz Omer said a Hamas missile strike in Tel Aviv damaged both a top floor apartment and an apartment below. He said the large crowds of onlookers should stay away.
Schools are open in Tel Aviv where there are shelters, even where rocket sirens are a regular occurrence.
Israeli police and the National Cyber Directorate are advising people not to answer WhatsApp calls from unknown numbers coming from abroad. They may be attempts at hacking. At least one such call has come to a Times of Israel phone number from a Toledo, Ohio, area code.
The Magen David Adom emergency service reported no injuries from the second barrage of Hamas missiles toward Tel Aviv and areas south and east, aside from a number of people hurt while running to bomb shelters. Two rockets fell in open areas near Ashdod, without causing damage or injuries. The Hamas’s al-Qassam Brigades claims responsibility for the second barrage to target the Tel Aviv area in under half an hour, after also claiming the first. “The al-Qassam Brigades has renewed bombing Tel Aviv in response to Zionist massacres against civilians,” it says. Four Israelis were moderately hurt by the first barrage in Tel Aviv. Iron Dome defenses deflected at least eight other missiles.
The IDF released a recording of a call between Hamas terrorists during their Oct. 7 attack. In the call, a man can be heard yelling orders at others, including telling them to “kill anyone you catch.” The caller boasted as he shot someone at an Israeli town. "The bastards live happily while we are humiliated. I’m going to tear them apart one by one,” he shouted. He also asked that his family be told about his exploits. Previously, another recording of a call released by the IDF featured another Hamas terrorist bragging to his family that he had killed 10 Jews.
UN accuses Israel of war crimes
“We are concerned that war crimes are being committed. We are concerned about the collective punishment of Gazans in response to the atrocious attacks by Hamas, which also amounted to war crimes,” said UN Human Rights Office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani in Geneva.The UN has launched an inquiry into possible war crimes since October 7, including Hamas’s assault on southern Israel, in addition to Israel’s response, which has included airstrikes on Gaza to topple Hamas.
The US is seeking to sever funding for Hamas, including a second round of sanctions against people and organizations linked to the group. The new sanctions highlight Iran’s role in providing financial, logistical and operational support to Hamas, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said in a statement. They include a Hamas representative in Iran and members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard. Among those targeted are Khaled Qaddoumi, a liaison between Hamas and the Iranian government; and Ali Morshed Shirazi and Mostafa Mohammad Khani, officials in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force who are accused of training and assisting Hamas terrorists.
The US also sanctioned a number of organizations, including the Iranian Bonyad Shahid, also known as the Martyrs Foundation. The group is affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad and funnels millions of dollars through the Gaza-based Al-Ansar Charity Association for the families of militants.
Rocket sirens wailed in Kissufim and Kerem Shalom abutting Gaza, ending a 10-hour break in which no launches were detected. No immediate reports of injuries or damage.
10 aid trucks entered Gaza today through the Rafah crossing, according to the New York Times. So far, 84 trucks with food, medicine and water have entered the enclave since Israel began allowing aid in nearly a week ago, according to NYT.
UNRWA chief says food running low in Gaza
UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini criticizes the international community, saying it “seems to have turned its back on Gaza.” He said the agency was very short on fuel in Gaza and needs about 160,000 liters (42,200 gallons) of fuel a day to supply hospitals and bakeries. The agency had previously warned on it would run out of fuel by Oct. 25. UNRWA staffers in Gaza are saying their operations are crumbling and “for the first time ever, they report that now people are hungry,” Lazzarini says. “Civil order is collapsing.” Lazzarini adds that 57 employees of the agency in Gaza have been killed since the war started on Oct. 7. “To equate Gaza with Hamas is very dangerous and misleading,” he says. “We cannot turn a blind eye to this human tragedy.”
The IDF killed Madhat Mubasher, the commander of Hamas’s West Khan Younis Battalion in an overnight airstrike in Gaza. The IDF says Mubasher “took part in sniper attacks and was responsible for large explosive devices [used] against IDF forces and Israeli towns.”
Over the past day, the IDF conducted 250+ air strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza. These included: tunnels, command centers, rocket launching positions, and dozens of operatives, the IDF says.
An Israeli Skylark 3 drone crashed in Gaza this morning, “as a result of a technical error.” According to IDF, there is no fear of sensitive information leaking from the device.
The Washington Post used triangulated videos and other data to conclude that the Oct. 17 Baptist (Al-Ahli) Hospital blast in Gaza was not caused by the IDF, thus confirming Israel’s contention that it was not caused by an Israeli airstrike. Israel and the US have concluded that the explosion was caused by a missile misfired Palestinian Jihad terrorists. WP’s used videos recorded in Bat Yam and Netivot found that the missiles were fired from within Gaza somewhere southwest of the hospital.
The New York Times, however, also found a video appearing to show a missile exploding mid-air moments before the blast, and cited as evidence by the IDF, likely shows an unrelated Iron Dome interceptor missile.
Egypt hit by drone attack
A drone hit the Egyptian Red Sea resort town of Taba overnight, striking a medical facility and a hospital administration building. Taba borders the Israeli town of Eilat, which was also recently targeted by rockets from Gaza. A second projectile struck Nuweiba, 50 kilometres away and probably out of Hamas’s range. Israel indicated that the drone was probably launched from Yemen. Six people were wounded. Egypt has reserved the right to respond to the attack. Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said, “In the last few hours, an aerial threat was detected in the Red Sea area. Fighter jets were scrambled to the threat area and the issue is under investigation.” “To our understanding, the impact that occurred in Egypt originates from this threat. Israel will work together with Egypt and the US and tighten the defense against threats from the Red Sea area,” he adds.
The IDF raised number of people kidnapped October 7 to at least 233. IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says the military has notified the families of 229 hostages that their loved ones are being held in Gaza. The number is not final as the military continues to investigate new information.
PThe Israel Defense Forces confirms it killed Ayser Mohammad Al-Amer, a field commander in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Jenin wing, during clashes in the Jenin refugee camp overnight. A column of 100+ IDF armored vehicles entered the Jenin camp. The army also confirms that it clashed with Palestinian gunmen in the Jenin refugee camp and the city of Qalqilya; Palestinians earlier reported four killed, including Al-Amer, in the two locations. Palestinians shot at IDF troops and hurled explosive devices; IDF returned fire. No Israeli casualties were reported.
Troops detained 17 members of the Hamas terror group, as well as 19 other wanted Palestinians, in overnight arrest raids across the West Bank, the IDF said. Since the war started, IDF has arrested 1,030+ wanted Palestinians in the West Bank, including some 670 affiliated with Hamas, according to the military. 12 Palestinians were killed, according to Palestinian news agency reports.
IDF arrests Hamas terrorists in West Bank
There have been repeated clashes between the IDF and Palestinians in the West Bank in the past two weeks, and several attempted terror attacks, the IDF says. 110 West Bank Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, and in some cases settlers, since October 7, according to the Palestinian Authority.
Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox issued a demolition order against a home owned by Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri, in the town of ‘Arura, near Ramallah. Arouri is thought to live in Turkey.
Qatari Ambassador to the US Meshal bin Hamad al Thani spoke with Avichai Brodetz: an Israeli man whose wife and three children are being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza. Brodetz thanked the diplomat for Qatar’s efforts to free the hostages, and asked al Thani to keep up the intensive contact to free his family and the 30-odd other children kidnapped by terrorists on October 7.
Hamas claims it needs time to find hostages, according to Abu Hamid: a member of the Hamas delegation visiting Russia. He told the semi-official Kommersant news outlet that Hamas is willing to release civilians, but “needs time to find them.” Abu Hamid claimed various groups are holding hostages, and demanded a ceasefire for Hamas to conduct a search, find the hostages, and then release them.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad field commander Ayser Mohammad Al-Amer was killed by the IDF. Also, Abdullah Basam Abu Al-Haija, as was Jawad Al-Turki, after troops pulled out of the city. In Qalqilya, Qassam Abdel Hafez, who had spent time in Israeli prison, was reportedly shot to death. According to WAFA, four people were also shot and injured during a raid in Nablus.
Overnight, IDF sent armored vehicles and infantry into Gaza for the second time in as many nights, engaging Hamas terrorists and sites. IDF raided the Shuja’iyya neighborhood in eastern Gaza City, while IAF drones and helicopters providing air cover. Artillery and airstrikes were made on Hamas. IDF left the area after several hours; no injuries were reported.
South Korea/US prepare for North Korean surprise attack
South Korea drilled with US for ‘Hamas-style surprise attack’ from North, conducting live-fire exercises this week to respond to potential “Hamas-style surprise artillery attacks” by North Korea, South Korea’s military said Friday.
The total number of Israeli soldiers, officers, and reservists rose to 310.
US strikes hit two Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps weapons depots near Boukamal, Syria. Precision strikes by the US struck ammunition depots. Two F-16 fighter jets carried out the sortie on sites near the town of Boukamal near the Iraqi border, which is a main conduit for weapons transfers between Iran and Syria or Lebanon, via Iraq.
US bombs Syria
Last week, missiles struck a US base in Iraq. One American contractor died from a heart attack while sheltering during one of those strikes and 21 US soldiers suffered were lightly injured before returning to duty shortly thereafter, the Pentagon said. According to Defense Secretary Austin, President Biden “directed today’s action to make clear that the United States will not tolerate such attacks and will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests.” Austin said the US “does not seek conflict and has no intention nor desire to engage in further hostilities, but these Iranian-backed attacks against US forces are unacceptable and must stop.”
“Iran wants to hide its hand and deny its role in these attacks against our forces. We will not let them. If attacks by Iran’s proxies against US forces continue, we will not hesitate to take further necessary measures to protect our people,” Austin said. “These narrowly tailored strikes in self-defense were intended solely to protect and defend US personnel in Iraq and Syria. They are separate and distinct from the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, and do not constitute a shift in our approach to the Israel-Hamas conflict,” Austin said. “We continue to urge all state and non-state entities not to take action that would escalate into a broader regional conflict,” he says.
The Israeli government is expected to allow police to use live ammunition against protesters blocking roads or entrances to town during a “multi-front war.” Police would only need approval from a senior officer before opening fire under the loosened rules. Israeli Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara agreed to fast-track legislation, which had been pushed by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir earlier this year.
Interior Minister Moshe Arbel wrote to Givatayim mayor Ran Kunik urging him to reverse a decision to cease all construction work in the town in order to prevent Arab construction workers from entering. “There is a strict prohibition to harming a person’s livelihood on the basis of origin, nationality or religion. Such decisions crush the fabric of common life in the country… and play into the hands of the enemy,” Arbel writes.