Day Twenty-Two Of Swords Of Iron
Hamas, Iran, and protesters in New York and London demand a ceasefire in Israel's New War of Independence.
A rocket launched from Gaza caused damage in the coastal city of Ashdod. Emergency services treated several people for acute anxiety. The missile struck a street, damaging cars and homes. Rocket sirens wailed in Ashdod, Ashkelon, and other southern towns.
Clashes break out between Jewish townspeople, Arab students at college dormitories in the coast city of Netanya in central Israel. Jewish residents allege that Arab students disrupted a prayer service at a Chabad synagogue earlier in the day, hurling eggs at worshipers and playing music loudly. Several hundred Jewish protesters have gathered outside the Netanya Academic College’s dorms, many of them chanting, “Death to Arabs.” Netanya Mayor Miriam Feirberg issued a statement saying he had asked college administrators to clear the dormitories and identify those responsible for allegedly harassing Jewish worshippers today.
Yahya Sinwar, Hamas's Gaza governor, said that Hamas is ready for an “immediate” prisoner swap with Israel. “We are ready to conduct an immediate prisoner exchange deal that includes the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in exchange for all prisoners held by the Palestinian resistance,” Sinwar stated.
IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the IDF is increassing its ground operations in Gaza. “The IDF is gradually expanding its ground operations in Gaza and the scope of its forces,” Hagari said. He said the “military pressure” on Hamas is aimed at releasing the hostages the terror group is holding. Hagari says the military has notified the families of 230 hostages that their loved ones are currently being held in the Gaza Strip. He says the number is not final as the military finds new information.
The number does not include four released hostages — mother and daughter Judith and Natalie Ra’anan and elderly women Yocheved Lifshitz and Nurit Cooper.
Israeli PM Israel's goal of destroying Hamas will not change and that expanding IDF ground operations in Gaza will not get in the way of bringing back the hostages. “Widening the ground offensive does not clash in any way with our ability to return the hostages,” he says, saying the war has two goals: the “supreme goal” to destroy Hamas’s capabilities, and the imperative to return the hostages. “I’m sure we’ll succeed in both.”
When asked about IDF intelligence and Shin Bet chiefs supposedly writing recently to warn of the potential for a major Hamas attack, he says “that’s not accurate.” He denied claims that he wanted to strengthen Hamas,recalling that he has managed several wars against the terrorist organizaiton: “In retrospect, it wasn’t enough. Now we’ll finish the work.”
Regarding Iran's potential involvement in the October 7 attacks, Netanyahu says “Iran supports Hamas… provides over 90 percent of Hamas’s budget. It finances, it organizes, it directs, it guides. I cannot tell you for certain that in this specific operation, at this particular moment, they were involved in the micro-planning.”
He said there is no Hamas or Hezbollah without Iran: “That’s the axis of evil, against the free world and the moderates in the Arab world.” Israel must defeat Hamas for its own sake and the sake of Western civilization.
Regarding Israel's economy, Netanyahu is in favor of closing some government ministries and increasing government spending. “The only economy that interests me now is the economy of munitions,” he says.The economy can handle the war, he said, and pledged to invest massively in reconstruction in the Gaza border area that was devastated in the October 7 Hamas assault.
He responded affirmatively when asked whether contacts with Hamas on a possible deal will continue even as the war expands. Regarding a potential swap of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons in exchange for hostages, he said, “We are discussing the issue,” and said cannot share the intelligence and considerations the cabinet is debating, and that discussing the terms of a deal “will not help to realize” one.
War cabinet member Benny Gantz, a former IDF chief of staff and defense minister, said that Israel is undertaking “every effort” to return the hostages. He said that leadership understands the scale of the war effort and is determined to return the captives.
Regarding leaders of other countries, Gantz says “there is no diplomatic time limit, only an operational clock.” Calling on the war to put pressure on Hamas, he said, “We will do what is right for us,” and “This is total evil against total justice. And justice will win.” Gantz said Israel will fight “where it must, and when it must.” “We will end up not only stronger, but also more united.”
The war will be a multi-stage effort with significant sacrifices, Gantz said, and that it will take a long time to win on the battlefield and to rehabilitate the southern region of Israel
“Over the last day, we advanced to a new stage” in the war, he says. “The strength of the fire shook the ground in Gaza, and it’s different from anything Hamas has experienced since its creation. IDF forces are maneuvering in the relevant places, and are striking Hamas arrays right now, above ground and underground,” Gantz said, and added: “Hamas is suffering shocks it has never suffered.”
Israeli defense minister said that the IDF is receiving all the intelligence and supportive fire need, and that the operation is precise, lethal and extremely powerful. He has “has full faith” in the IDF chief of staff, the heads of Shin Bet and Mossad, and the soldiers in the field. He said that while Israel does not want an expansion of the war, it is ready if it does.
Regarding hostages, “It is not a secondary mission.” But he said, “Let’s not delude ourselves, our enemies are not looking for humanitarian solutions.”
Gallant says the harder Israel hits Hamas, the greater the chances Hamas will agree to release hostages. “It will not be a short war. It will be a long war,” he says. “It is us or them,” Gallant says.
The IDF reissued a warning to civilians of Gaza to temporarily relocate south. "Moving back to northern Gaza will be possible once the intense hostilities end,” an IDF spokesperson said in a video message. “Your window to act is closing, move south for your own safety,” he said. “This is not a mere precaution, this is an urgent plea.”
“We have to win against Hamas because it’s our existence, but it’s affecting all of the western civilization,” said Israeli PM Netanyahu to the people of Israel. He added that “Iran is the axis of evil” and claimed that Iran was involved in Hamas’s attacks on Octo. 7. Hamas has thanked Iran for its assistance. This week, there were reports that Iran provided training and weapons to Hamas, which is aligned with the Islamic Republic.
“We’re not going to change the goal of destroying Hamas,” the Netanyahu said in reply to a question about the “tension between destroying Hamas and bringing back the abductees”. “There’s no tension,” he added. “We have two goals. One is to destroy the operational and military abilities of Hamas, and the second one is to bring back the abductees.”
A holy mission
“There was a terrible failure. It’s going to be investigated. We’re going to turn each stone,” Netanyahu said when asked whether he is responsible for the failures that accompanied the Oct. 7 attack on Israel. “The ground operation that we expanded … is going to help us in this holy mission,” he added.
"The operational stages are going to take a long time,” said Benny Gantz, Israel’s former defense minister. “Our unity is our strength, during the war and after. The people of Israel are ready … Nobody can win against us … With the help of God, we are going to fight, we are going to win.” Referring to Hamas, Gantz said: “They are war criminals that are sacrificing the citizens, residents of Gaza. Hamas brought them disaster.” He said, "Even though they pretend they represent them, the picture is clear – it’s pure evil against pure justice and justice should prevail."
“The ground maneuver, alongside the other stages, could progress the return of the abductees home,” he said. “I personally met abductees’ families and they can approach me anytime, I promise,” he added.
Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant said: “As long as the military pressure and fire is going to be increased, as we hit the enemy harder, there’s a better chance … that the enemy will agree to solutions to return the loved ones,”and added, "It’s not going to be a short war. It’s going to be a long war. We should have patience."
Regarding those held by Hamas in Gaza, Gallant said, "We are making … effort in order to return the abductees to us, to our country. It’s a very complicated effort.” Gallant said, "It’s dealing with reality that we didn’t know [about] in the past. We are ready to do anything … This is not a secondary mission. This is a national priority."
Gallant told the press, "“I have faith in the … fighters and commanders, the forces, the Mossad and its people and all the defense systems. Together, we’re going to achieve … victory.” He said, “At this time, we are readying all the fronts – the north, center and south.”
A long war
“The war inside Gaza is going to be long,” Israeli PM Netanyahu said at a press conference. “This is our second independence war. We’re going to save our country. We’re going to fight in the air, ground, and we are going to fight and win. …This is the mission of my life … in your name and the name of everybody.”
“We call the civil population, please go to the safe area on the streets,” Netanyahu said while warning Gazans to leave the northern region of the Gaza Strip as Israel expands its ground presence. Directing himself to Israel's allies: “If Israel is not going to win today, they are going to be next in the axis of evil … That’s the beginning of the war.”
Netanyahu said that Israel is “ready to make sure that the murderers are going to pay the price for the massacre”, referring to the Hamas attacks of Oct. 7. Israel is “going to abolish this evil in order to further all humanity,” he said. “This is the second stage of the war,” he said. “Our calls are very clear – to destroy the military and government ability of Hamas and return the victims home,.”
The United Arab Emirates asked the UN security council today to meet “as soon as possible” following Israel’s communication blackout across Gaza and its expanded ground operation. Cellphone and internet has been cut in the enclave. The council may meet tomorrow, and the UAE has asked for UN aid chief Martin Griffiths and UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini to give a briefing to UN.
Hamas demands release of prisoners
Hamas’s armed wing announced that its readiness to exchange hostages it holds for prisoners held in Israel. “The price to pay for the large number of enemy hostages in our hands is to empty the [Israeli] prisons of all Palestinian prisoners,” Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obeida said in a statement broadcast by the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa television channel, AFP reported. “If the enemy wants to close this file of detainees in one go, we are ready for it. If it wants to do it step-by-step, we are ready for that too,” he added. Israeli has reported that Hamas is holding 229 hostages in Gaza.
The IDF and the Shin Bet domestic security agency released footage of the interrogation of what they described as two captured members of the Hamas terrorist group who it says participated in the October 7 massacre in southern Israel. One of the terrorists confirmed that the group uses the basement of Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City to hide. “In Shifa there is a basement floor. A big place where they hide,” said one of the men, a member of an elite Hamas unit.
On Oct. 27, the IDF distributed a graphic showing a complex underground system beneath that hospital. IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari accused Hamas on Oct. 27 of having its main base of operations under the hospital, the largest in the Gaza Strip. “Hamas has turned hospitals into command and control centres and hideouts for Hamas terrorists and commanders,” Hagari told a news conference. He showed photographs, diagrams and audio recordings he said showed how Hamas was using the hospital system and Al Shifa Hospital in particular to hide a variety of command posts and entry points into the extensive tunnel network under Gaza.
Hamas' human shields
“Hamas terrorists operate inside and under Shifa hospital and other hospitals in Gaza,” he said. Hamas official Ezzat El-Reshiq, a member of the movement’s political bureau, said on Telegram: “There is no basis in truth to what was reported by the enemy army spokesman,” accusing Israel of spreading lies as “a prelude to committing a new massacre against our people.”
According to The Guardian, it is not possible to verify the IDF claims about underground command centers, there is evidence that Hamas has taken cover in civilian structures, including hospitals. According to the newspaper, armed men were visible in some Gaza hospitals during the 2014 conflict, while Hamas officials including leaders and security officers were present in Al Shifa at various times. At the same time, the Al Shifa hospital has operated as civilian healthcare facility then and now.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen ordered the return of Israeli diplomats from Turkey following Turkish president Tayyip Erdoğan’s comments at a pro-Palestinian rally in which he called Israel an “occupier”. Cohen tweeted on Saturday: “Given the grave statements coming from Turkey, I have ordered the return of diplomatic representatives there in order to conduct a reevaluation of the relations between Israel and Turkey."
Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, the chief executive of the humanitarian non-governmental organization Mercy Corps said in a statement about Israel’s blockade of communications in Gaza:
"The last 24 hours of intense and escalating bombardments in Gaza will drastically increase the already horrific civilian death toll from this conflict. We have now lost touch with all of our nearly 70 team members in Gaza amid a communications blackout.
"We have no way of verifying their safety or assessing the rapidly deteriorating situation. We fear for our team and for the 2 million civilians who are trapped in Gaza with nowhere safe to go and completely cut off from the outside world …
"There is no internet. There is no mobile service. From limited information emerging from Gaza, the blackout means that people can’t call for ambulances, and the limited but critical humanitarian assistance that was still operating will be severely hampered.
"We urge a ceasefire now to end the devastating loss of life and protect civilians. We urge an immediate end to the siege and the urgent restoration of telecommunications, electricity and water services …
"We fear the further escalation of violence will result in untold tragedy that will be a stain on the global conscience."
United Nations: History will judge us
‘This is the moment of truth. History will judge us all,’ UN chief António Guterres said. Regarding the bombing and communications blockade in Gaza, Guterres said that the ongoing situation “must be reversed” and demanded a ceasefire. He expressed concern about the welfare of UN personnel in Gaza, and claimed to be surprised by Israel's escalation.
Guterres said he is encouraged by a supposed international consensus for a humanitarian pause in the strip, where thousands of people have already been killed since Oct. 7.
EU foreign policy chiefJosep Borrell said that “far too many civilians, including children, have been killed” and “this is against international humanitarian law”.
"A pause of hostilities is urgently needed to enable humanitarian access. … We condemn all attacks against civilians, including continuing indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israel, and we ask [for] the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages."
Residents of the Jordan Valley, near Israel's border with Jordan -- Ashdot Ya'akov Ihud and Mauchad, Masada, Sha'ar Golan, Afikim, and Beit Zera --- were asked today to shelter in place, lock doors and windowns, and prepare their weapons.
Israeli PM Netanyahu gave a speech to the Israeli people concerning the IDF incursion into Gaza: "Yesterday evening, additional ground forces entered #Gaza, and the second phase of this war began, the goal of which is to destroy the military and governmental capabilities of Hamas and return the kidnapped Israelis. Our forces are committed to exterminating this unseen evil from our world for the sake of our existence and for the benefit of all humanity. There are situations in which a nation faces a test of being or ceasing. We are now facing one such, this is our War of Independence, and I have no doubt that we will win it no matter what."
Hundreds of people were arrested when police broke up a large demonstration of mostly Jewish New Yorkers, according to The Guardian, who had taken over the main hall of Grand Central station. They crowd demanded an end to Israeli bombardment of Gaza, and want a ceasefire.
In London, tens of thousands marched to demand a call by the British government for a ceasefire. The marchers were organized by Palestine Solidarity Campaign. The march headed to Parliament after passing by 10 Downing Street.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey spoke before a huge pro-Palestinian rally in Istanbul, claiming Israel is an occupying force, while reiterating that Hamas is not a terrorist organization. : “I reiterate that Hamas is not a terrorist organisation. Israel was very offended by this. … Israel is an occupier, Erdoğan speaks clearly because Turkey does not owe you anything,” he said. Subsequently, Israel announced that it is withdrawing its diplomatic representatives in Turkey.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, more civilians may die as a result of Israel's ground incursion in Gaza. Volker Türk said today: “Given the manner in which military operations have been conducted until now, in the context of the 56-year-old occupation, I am raising alarm about the possibly catastrophic consequences of large-scale ground operations in Gaza and the potential for thousands more civilians to die.”
Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant said that the IDF was continuing its ground operations that began overnight: “We attacked above the ground and underground, we attacked terror operatives of all ranks, everywhere,” he said in a video.
Israel's defense spokesman released an “urgent message for the residents of Gaza” calling on civilians to temporarily relocate south. “Moving back to northern Gaza will be possible once the intense hostilities end,” the IDF spokesman said.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Israel's bombing campaign may cause a catastrophe that may endure “for many decades, if not centuries.”
Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi warned against any expansion of the conflict, “regardless of where it comes from”. According to Reuters, he said the region could become “a ticking timebomb that impacts us all”.
The IDF said that it had intercepted a surface-to-air missile fired from Lebanon at one of its drones. The IDF struck the launch site in response. “The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] thwarted a surface-to-air missile that was fired from Lebanon towards an IDF UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle]. In response, the IDF is striking the origin of the missile’s fire,” it said.
The Israeli Air Force struck 150 “underground targets” in northern Gaza overnight, according to the IDF. Agence France-Presse reported that the IDF says that the sites included “terror tunnels, underground combat spaces and additional underground infrastructure”. Hamas is believed to have stored fuel, food, water, weapons, and ammunition in the tunnels.