On Day 5 of Israel’s war with Hamas the casualty rate has yet again risen significantly. Additional hostile acts by Hezbollah are stoking fears of a two-front war.
In a massive display of unity with Israel, Jewish Federations have organized (or are planning) more than 115 solidarity gatherings in communities across North America.
The Home Front
The IDF reaffirmed that it has regained control of all cities in the country’s south and successfully prevented multiple terrorist infiltrations of the border fence with Gaza in the last two days. In addition, a Hamas diver trying to enter Israel via the sea was killed. In the last 24 hours, there have been seven live engagements between troops and Hamas terrorists inside Israel, and IDF forces have neutralized 18 gunmen. The military continues to warn that some terrorists may remain inside Israel from earlier incursions.
IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari clarified that, in the IDF’s opinion, Hamas, in its initial attack on Saturday, “intended to occupy the area, not raid and return to Gaza.”
As more bodies are discovered from Saturday’s attack, the official death toll has risen above 1,200, and funerals are being held around the clock (see here). The IDF Rabbinate and other officials are struggling with the sheer quantity of bodies, significantly slowing both the identification process and the go-ahead for funerals (see details here). To accommodate the large number of military casualties, a new section has been opened at the national military cemetery on Mt. Herzl. Last night hundreds of volunteers showed up on site, following an urgent call to begin the somber task of digging fresh graves (see photo here).
At least 360,000 soldiers have been called up, thus boosting security in all areas of the country in preparation for a potential ground invasion of Gaza. See here for video footage of the IDF Chief of Staff Hertzi Halevi visiting troops who are readying for battle.
The IDF has already carried out strikes against more than 2,650 targets across the Gaza Strip since fighting began. Some 1,300 of those targets are multi-story buildings containing Hamas assets, including war rooms where the terror group manages the fighting against Israel. Overnight, the military hit the home of relatives of Mohammad Deif, the Hamas military commander, in Khan Younis, killing the commander’s brother and other family members. See footage here of overnight air attacks and here for the Israeli Navy’s attacks.
According to Hamas sources, some 900 Palestinians – most of them Hamas militants – have been killed in Israeli strikes, in addition to the 1,500 terrorists killed during the initial invasion into Israel on Saturday. According to the UN, 260,000 Gazans have been internally displaced due to the fighting.
In a live address, US President Joe Biden pledged his country’s unwavering support for Israel, saying, “There are moments in this life, when pure unadulterated evil is unleashed on this world…This is what they mean by human tragedy, an atrocity at an unprecedented scale. It brings to mind the worse rampages of ISIS… Sadly, for the Jewish people it’s not new. This attack has brought to the surface painful memories, scars left by a millennium of antisemitism and genocide of the Jewish people…. In this moment, we must be crystal clear, we stand with Israel.”
Also yesterday, the leaders of the world’s leading democracies, US, Germany, Britain, France, and Italy issued a joint statement condemning the attacks on Israel by Hamas and expressed their “steadfast and united support” for Israel. “Over the coming days, we will remain united and coordinated, together as allies, and as common friends of Israel, to ensure Israel is able to defend itself, and to ultimately set the conditions for a peaceful and integrated Middle East region,” said the statement by US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.