Israel at war

IDF says Gaza border finally sealed, bodies of 1,500 terrorists found inside Israel

Breaches in barrier being mined; military continues to notify relatives of those taken to Gaza; airstrikes target hundreds of sites in Strip, including Gaza City power base Rimal

Israeli soldiers patrol on a road near the Gaza border, October 9, 2023 (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers patrol on a road near the Gaza border, October 9, 2023 (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces said it had finally regained control over its suddenly porous border with the Gaza Strip Tuesday morning, some 72 hours after Hamas terrorists blew through sections of the barrier and launched an invasion that saw over 1,000 Israelis slaughtered or kidnapped.

As Israel continued to grapple with the emerging enormity of Saturday’s massacres and the military was formally notifying hostages’ families that their loved ones were being held in Gaza, air force planes bombarded wide swaths of the Strip. Meanwhile, some 300,000 reservists girded for a possible ground invasion, sweeps to locate terrorists feared still hiding inside Israel continued and tensions on the northern border threatened to snowball into a second front.

The IDF said it had managed to seal the border, mining areas around breaches as a stopgap against further incursions.

The death toll in Israel from the surprise attack and subsequent battles rose above 900, according to reports. Over 500 people remained hospitalized, many with life-threatening injuries; over 2,700 have been injured since Saturday.

“In the last day, not a single terrorist entered via the fence,” said the Israel Defense Forces’ top spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.

Despite earlier indications, Hagari said that the military had not identified any tunnels crossing from Gaza into Israeli territory.

The IDF estimates that there are a small number of terrorists still hiding in Israeli territory. Overnight, Israeli security forces killed at least one Palestinian terrorist near Kibbutz Sa’ad. Troops also exchanged fire with terrorists in Kissufim and Monday night saw police kill another terror suspect near Mishmar Hanegev, some 24 kilometers (15 miles) inside Israel.

Lt. Col. Richard Hecht said the bodies of 1,500 terrorists had been located around southern Israel. Hundreds more have been killed in Israeli strikes in Gaza, according to Hamas health officials.

The Israeli toll includes at least 123 soldiers, the military said, adding 38 new names to its tally Tuesday as it works to inform families of the deaths.

The ZAKA rescue group said 100 bodies had been recovered from Kibbutz Be’eri alone. Another 260 people were slain at an outdoor music festival, the organization said.

In addition to the devastating death toll, some 130 people are thought to have been abducted from Israel and taken into Gaza by the terrorists who infiltrated on Saturday. The captives include women, children and the elderly.

Social media was filled Saturday with horrifying videos of men, women and children being carried, dragged and driven into the Strip, many of them appearing to have been abused. There were also videos published of dead Israelis taken, including soldiers, the bodies of some of whom were paraded in the streets.

Officers were fanning to inform Israeli families that their relatives are being held in Gaza by Hamas, according to Army Radio. On Tuesday morning, Hagari said 50 families had already been informed after saying the army had managed to gather information about all Israelis being held the night before.

The mother of Israeli Col. Roi Levy cries during her son’s funeral at the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem on Oct. 9, 2023 (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)

The families of many of those who were taken had said that they felt abandoned by Israeli authorities after officials were slow to respond to pleas for help or information.

Amid a threat from Hamas that it would begin executing hostages in response to Israeli strikes in Gaza carried out without warnings, the IDF said Tuesday it struck more than 200 targets in the Gaza Strip overnight, including a weapons storage site in a mosque, an apartment used by Hamas’s anti-tank guided missile forces, and a high-rise tower used by the terror group, among other military installations.

Hecht said the military struck hundreds of Hamas targets overnight in Gaza’s City Rimal neighborhood, which is home to many Hamas ministries and government buildings. He said residents were being notified over social media to evacuate before the strikes but did not elaborate further.

Families of civilians abducted by the terrorist organization Hamas hold a press conference in Kfar Maccabiah, Ramat Gan, October 8, 2023 (Miriam Alster/Flash9)

He advised any Palestinians able to leave the Gaza Strip for Egypt to do so.

“Rafah crossing is still open. Anyone who can get out I would advise them to get out,” Hecht said.

After hours of nonstop strikes overnight, Rimal residents left their homes at daybreak to find some buildings torn in half by strikes, while others were reduced to mounds of concrete and rebar. Cars were flattened and trees burned out in moonscapes that had been residential streets.

The Gaza health ministry run by Hamas said 687 Palestinians have been killed and another 3,800 have been wounded in the Gaza Strip since the start of fighting on Saturday.

More than 187,500 people have been displaced in Gaza since the beginning of the conflict, according to a report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, is hosting more than 137,000 people in schools across the territory. The report says airstrikes have razed 790 housing units and severely damaged 5,330 in the territory of 2.3 million people.

Both Israel and Gazans have described the Israeli attacks as unprecedented in intensity.

After days of near-constant barrages on Israel, Gazan rocket fire had largely halted since Monday night, though sporadic fire from Gaza toward border communities resumed briefly overnight and again Tuesday morning, triggering sirens. There were no reports of any injuries.

With the US already delivering critically needed munitions and military equipment to Israel, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi held a first phone call with his US counterpart, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr, who entered the role earlier this month.

The Israeli military said the US general “stated that he stands by the IDF and that we will receive all the aid we need.”

Zaka personnel remove bodies of dead Israeli civilians near the Gaza border, October 9, 2023 (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, confirmed Monday evening that the first batch of military aid in the wake of the violent assault by Hamas terrorists is “making its way” to Israel.

And a US official warned Hezbollah to stay out of the fighting, hours after the Iran-backed terror group exchanged mortar fire with Israel and an attempted infiltration from Lebanon.

The delivery came as US President Joe Biden prepared to give formal remarks on the attacks from the White House on Tuesday afternoon, after he confirmed that at least 11 Americans were among those killed in the Hamas attack. More have been taken captive, Washington believes.

Thailand said Tuesday that 18 of its nationals were among those killed in the devastating onslaught by the terror group.

A report in Axios claimed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had told Biden that Israel had no choice but to order a ground invasion of Gaza, which would likely mean a drawn-out engagement.

The military said 300,000 reservists have been called up, though not all will necessarily take part in the fight, with troops also being sent to protect Israel’s other borders, as well as West Bank settlements and towns inside Israel.

A senior government source said Monday that the war is expected to continue for many days, perhaps many weeks, and possibly longer than that.

Shortly afterward, the Home Front command advised Israelis to stock up on water, food, and other supplies for at least three days, leading to panic-buying and empty supermarket shelves across the country.

Israeli security forces at the scene where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit a shelter in the southern city of Sderot, October 9, 2023 (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

The IDF later tried to assure Israelis that the advice was standard and had not been intended to warn Israelis that they were about to be under an emergency situation.

Netanyahu on Monday outlined Israel’s battle plan against Hamas terror, likened the group to the Islamic State group, and warned of more “difficult days ahead” for the battered and bleeding nation.

“This war was imposed upon us by a despicable enemy — by savages who celebrate the murder of women, children, and the elderly,” he said. “The atrocities carried out by Hamas have not been seen since the atrocities of ISIS. Children bound and executed with the rest of their families, young girls and boys shot in the back, executed, and other atrocities that I will not describe here.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a televised address on October 7, 2023. (screen capture/ GPO)

He also called on opposition parties to join an emergency cabinet.

“The divisions among us are ended. We are all united. And when we are united, we win,” he said.

According to reports, Netanyahu’s Likud and Benny Gantz’s National Unity party were nearing an agreement for a unity government, with an announcement expected later Tuesday.

Most Popular
read more: