- On day 17 of Israel’s War with Hamas, two more hostages have been released, leaving 220 more in Hamas captivity.
- French President Emmanuel Macron is in Israel in an additional show of the solidarity of western nations.
- Israeli media is reporting that behind closed doors, the U.S. is suggesting that Israel should not launch a ground invasion of Gaza now.
- Full details on these developments, and more, below.
THE HOME FRONT
Two more Israeli hostages, both elderly women, were released by Hamas yesterday, although the women’s family members remain under captivity in Gaza. According to authorities, the two, Nurit Cooper and Yocheved Lifshitz, are in good health. Lifshitz' husband Oded (83) and Cooper's husband Amiram are still in captivity. Oded is a retired journalist and human rights activist involved in bringing Gazans to health facilities in Israel. Israel thanked Egypt and others for facilitating the release. (See more on the hostage release here).
The Israeli Ministry of Health says that 278 people injured in the October 7 attacks and ensuing war remain in hospitals across the country. Of these, 40 are in serious condition, 164 are in moderate condition, and 74 are in good condition.
Funerals continue for many of the 1400 Israelis killed by Hamas:
- Watch this video account of the security officer from Kibbutz Nirim who repelled dozens of terrorists on October 7.
- Read this story of the wheelchair bound young woman Ruth Peretz who was killed by Hamas, along with her father.
- Israeli media is reporting that it is emerging from interviews with terrorists captured on October 7, that Hamas operatives were offered $10,000 for every hostage they captured. See more here
- During the fighting on Friday, IDF soldier Omer Balva was killed by a rocket fired by Hezbollah. Omer, an American-Israeli, was born in Maryland where he lived until he began his military service in Israel after graduating high school. Omer was in Maryland on October 7, but returned to Israel when his reserve unit was called up a few days later. See more here.
Yet again, there was no rocket fire from Gaza overnight, and overall sirens have remained low. However this afternoon, a very large barrage was fired at Tel Aviv and other towns in Israel’s center. Despite the overall slow-down, the IDF Spokesperson warned the Israeli public that “Complacency must not be shown in the home front. This is an attempt by the enemy to put us to sleep,” as he warned that Hamas still has significant rocket-launching capabilities.
For information on the latest overall numbers from the conflict, see here.
Areas around the Gaza Strip and also near the Lebanese border remain closed military zones, to which entry by civilians is prohibited.
In the North, Hezbollah continues to hit Israel, in ongoing attacks. Anti-tank missiles, mortars and rockets are frequently launched from Lebanon towards communities in Israel’s north. In response, the IDF strikes Hezbollah targets using aircraft, tank fire and artillery.
The IDF carried out strikes against more than 400 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in the past 24 hours, killing several field commanders and other terror operatives. The strikes focused on Hamas staging grounds across the Gaza Strip — including several in mosques — and against terror operatives preparing rocket fire on Israel. The IDF also struck the entrance of a Hamas tunnel on the Gaza coast, and command centers, overnight. Recent strikes have left several more Hamas terrorists leaders dead, including the deputy commanders of the Nuseirat, Shati, and Furqan battalions.
Read here about a squad of female IDF combat troops who eliminated nearly 100 Hamas terrorists.
Overnight, the IDF used multiple channels to distribute the following message to citizens of Gaza: “If your will is to live in peace and to have a better future for your children, do the humanitarian deed immediately and share verified and valuable information about hostages being held in your area. The Israeli military assures you that it will invest maximum effort in providing security for you and your home, and you will receive a financial reward. We guarantee you complete confidentiality. The Israel Defense Forces. The contact details are: Secure phone call: *8619. Whatsapp, Telegram, Signal: +972503957992.” See the original notice in Arabic here.
Watch here, video of an address the IDF Chief of the General Staff, LTG Herzi Halevi to the media.
French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Israel on a solidarity visit today, following numerous other western leaders. Macron met with Israel’s President Isaac Herzog, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others. In his comments, Macron said, “The first objective should be the release of all hostages without any distinction.” He later added a message for Israel saying, “I want to make sure you are not left alone in this war on terrorism, because I speak on behalf of a country which experienced terrorist attacks, and you were there. And I think this is our duty to fight against this terrorism, without any confusion, without enlarging the conflict…. What happened will never be forgotten -- and we will be here today, tomorrow and the day after for peace and stability. Because these people were killed just because they were Jewish and they wanted to live in peace.”
Meanwhile the Biden administration is reportedly concerned that Israel lacks achievable military goals for its operations in Gaza, leading US officials to believe that the IDF is not yet ready for a ground incursion. See more here. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said a ground invasion could be costly and take considerable time saying, “Urban combat is extremely difficult. It goes at a slow pace. This may be a bit more difficult because of the underground network of tunnels that Hamas has constructed over time and the fact that they have had a long time to prepare for a fight.”
According to US media, the US sent Lt. Gen. James Glynn, a three-star Marine, and other officers to Israel to help build the battle plans for the expected ground offensive. Glynn, who has helped lead special operations forces against ISIS and served in Fallujah, Iraq currently serves as the deputy commandant for manpower and reserve affairs of the Marine Corps. Earlier in the day, President Biden hinted that he could support a Gaza ceasefire if Hamas released all the hostages it is currently holding.
EFFORTS ON THE GROUND
Israelis of all stripes have come together to support soldiers and bolster morale in the country, many sharing inspiring tales.
Read this story about Israelis trying to reunite pets caught up in the attacks of October 7, with their families, or to find adopters.
Two sisters have transformed their Tel Aviv cooking studio into a supportive volunteer community for olim in response to the ongoing crisis. See more here.
Watch this video some Israeli troops made for their worried mothers back home. Meanwhile, Omer Meidan, a soldier from Modiin was wounded in the fighting. See these photos and video of his community in Modiin welcoming him as her returned home.