The Times of Israel liveblogged Saturday’s events as they happened.
Romania comes from behind to beat Israel 2-1 at a game played in Hungary in Group I, securing its place in Euro 2024.
Romania reaches only its second major tournament since 2008 by ending Israel’s chances of automatic qualification.
Despite being forced to play what should have been a home fixture in Hungary due to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, Israel went in front after just two minutes through Eran Zahavi.
But Romania hit back quickly to level through George Puscas and secured their place in the tournament thanks to a goal by Ianis Hagi.
Now Israel’s only chance to qualify for Euro 2024 is in the upcoming playoffs.
Writing in The Washington Post, columnist David Ignatius claims that Israel almost launched a preemptive strike against Hezbollah in Lebanon in the early days of the war but ultimately pulled back.
Ignatius says that during his recent time in Israel he “met with nearly a dozen top commanders” of the IDF, including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.
Without citing any specific sources, he writes that Israel was “so worried that Iran and its proxies would exploit their disorientation” in the initial days following Hamas’s October 7 assault that Netanyahu “came close to launching a preemptive strike against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed.”
Israel and Lebanon have been trading deadly cross-border fire for the past six weeks, but have yet to move to an all-out war. Six IDF soldiers and three civilians have been killed, as well as dozens in Lebanon, the vast majority Hezbollah operatives.
The coalition announces it will put forward legislation with the status of a Basic Law to recognize the unique contribution of the Druze community in Israel, as the IDF death toll among Druze in the Israel-Hamas war continues to rise.
Coalition chief Ofir Katz and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen announce the legislation, saying that it is aimed at anchoring the status of the Druze community under the law.
Druze were among some of the most vocal opponents of the 2018 nation-state law, which declared Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people. In recent weeks they have resumed calls to repeal it.
Asked about changing the controversial nation-state law at a press conference earlier this evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Druze community was central to the State of Israel and that it deserved to be recognized as such, but stopped short of endorsing repealing the law.
Air raid sirens sound in Sderot, Kibbutz Nirim, Mefalsim and other communities near the Gaza Strip which have been almost entirely evacuated.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen says Israel has “unprecedented support” for its ongoing war against Hamas and “there is no diplomatic hourglass.”
This comment, in a Channel 12 interview, contrasts with his remarks to diplomatic reporters on Monday, when he said Israel would likely see international pressure to halt or curb its Gaza operation rise significantly within the next few weeks, and that the “diplomatic window” for the IDF’s campaign in Gaza was “two or three weeks.”
In tonight’s interview, Cohen also says the failures that led to Hamas’s October 7 invasion will be investigated by a “state commission of inquiry” as soon as the war is over — the most serious forum for such an investigation.
Wrapping up his press conference, Prime Minister Netanyahu is asked about US support for the Palestinian Authority ultimately governing Gaza, as today restated by US President Biden.
Netanyahu says the PA in its current form “is not fit” to do so.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas is still refusing to condemn the October 7 massacres, while some of his ministers “are celebrating what happened,” he says.
Netanyahu says Israel and the US are agreed on destroying Hamas and returning the hostages. “And I believe that we will ultimately reach agreement on this too: that it is impossible to put in Gaza a civil government that supports terrorism, encourages terrorism, finances terrorism and educates for terrorism.”
US President Joe Biden threatens to issue visa bans against extremist settlers carrying out violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.
The threat is made in an op-ed by Biden in the Washington Post, which seeks to rally support for US policy regarding for the wars in Gaza and Ukraine.
While much of the article is a rehashing of positions that US has been voicing for weeks, the threat regarding visa bans appears to be new.
“I have been emphatic with Israel’s leaders that extremist violence against Palestinians in the West Bank must stop and that those committing the violence must be held accountable,” Biden writes. “The United States is prepared to take our own steps, including issuing visa bans against extremists attacking civilians in the West Bank.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu, at his ongoing press conference, is asked if he passed up a serious deal on Tuesday for a release of some 50 hostages, and if he’s insisting that all be released.
Netanyahu says “There was no deal on the table” and he can’t elaborate further.
“We want to get back all the hostages,” he says. “We’re doing the utmost to bring back the most possible, including in stages, and we are united on this.”
“We obviously want to bring [home] whole families together,” he adds later in the press conference.
Asked about Likud MKs privately saying he’ll “have to go home” after the war, Netanyahu says, “I hear different things.”
Asked about a survey showing most of the public wants new elections after the war, Netanyahu says he is “stunned” at the focus on politics “when our soldiers are fighting in Gaza, falling in battle; the families of the hostages are in a giant nightmare…. There’ll be time for politics.”
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also criticizes questions about Israel’s political future. He says he’s solely focused on the war, he says. “The results of this war” will shape Israel for decades, he says.
Minister Benny Gantz says the war cabinet is running the war effectively. He also says he hopes Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid will join the emergency coalition.
Gantz also praises contributions to the war effort from the ultra-Orthodox and Arab sectors.
On the hostages, Gantz says Israel has “decades if needed to destroy this thing” — an apparent reference to Hamas. “We don’t have decades to bring the people home… So, yes, from my point of view, it is a priority to get the hostages back. But that priority doesn’t override our obligation” to destroy Hamas, “however long it takes.”
“I want to bring back the elderly, and the children. Nobody here wants anything else. Nobody in Israel wants anything else,” says Gantz.
Several hundred people gather on Jerusalem’s Kaplan Street, near the Knesset, for a silent rally paying homage to those killed on October 7 and praying for the hostages.
The gathering — organized by Shomrim Al Habayit Hameshutaf (Safeguarding our Joint Home), which used to run protests against the government’s planned judicial overhaul — is quiet, without drums and bullhorns.
Eitan Zur, the brother of Amir Zur, a soldier in the Sayeret Matkal unit who was killed on October 7 at Kibbutz Kfar Aza, mourned his brother, a humorous, righteous person who attended the anti-judicial overhaul rallies whenever he had a weekend off.
Despite the pain and sorrow, says Zur, “we need to fix our reality,” he says. “The reality won’t change if we don’t find a new direction.”
Former Jerusalem deputy mayor Tamir Nir, a Reform rabbi, recites a prayer for the hostages.
Tzivya Guggenheim, a student at Shalem Center, says the Knesset and other government institutions near where the protest is taking place “have failed in their responsibilities.”
“We’re here to make sure this generation has what’s needed. I promise in the name of my generation that this country will be better.”
IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says troops are still operating in Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital complex, working to uncover the Hamas terror group’s underground infrastructure in the area.
He says there are four main tasks at hand: to obtain information on the Hamas-held hostages, to locate weapons and Hamas command rooms, to locate Hamas operatives in the area, and to uncover and destroy Hamas’s underground infrastructure, under the hospital.
“Even at this hour, special forces are operating at the shaft we uncovered at Shifa, and we will publish material soon,” he says.
Israel has accused Hamas of having its main command center under Shifa hospital.
Hagari says troops are operating at other hospitals in northern Gaza, where Hamas is believed to have infrastructure as well.
The Israel Defense Forces says fighter jets and tanks struck more Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon, in response to repeated attacks on northern Israel.
The sites included military compounds and observation posts belonging to the terror group.
The IDF says it also carried out a drone strike on a terror cell preparing to carry out an attack.
מטוסי קרב וטנקים של צה"ל השמידו לפני זמן קצר מספר מטרות של ארגון הטרור חיזבאללה בשטח לבנון, בין המטרות שנתקפו, עמדת טרור ומתחמים צבאיים. במקביל, כלי טיס מאוייש מרחוק תקף חוליית מחבלים מארגון הטרור>> pic.twitter.com/yUl3XJopnQ
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) November 18, 2023
US President Joe Biden for the first time calls on the international community to help manage the security of Gaza for an interim period after the war.
“The international community must commit resources to support the people of Gaza in the immediate aftermath of this crisis, including interim security measures,” Biden writes in a Washington Post op-ed.
While Biden envisions a “revitalized” Palestinian Authority eventually returning to govern the Gaza Strip, Washington has recognized that the PA is not currently in a state to do so and has been trying to rally Arab allies to help manage Gaza’s security in the interim.
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Israel will maintain overall security responsibility for Gaza for an unspecified period of time and will not hand it over to “international forces.” He has also all but rejected a return of the PA to Gaza.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi also rejected Biden’s proposal, telling the IISS Manama Dialogue 2023 that “no Arab troops” will be deployed in Gaza after the war, as Amman’s ties with Jerusalem deteriorate further.
For his part, Biden writes in the op-ed that the international community should “establish a reconstruction mechanism to sustainably meet Gaza’s long-term needs.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant say in answer to questions at a press conference that all members of Hamas, including those outside of the Gaza Strip, are “dead men walking.”
Gallant adds that there is “no difference between a terrorist with a Kalashnikov and a terrorist in a three-piece suit,” in what appears to be a reference to Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, who is believed to be based in Qatar.
Netanyahu says in response to a question that he meets often with reservists, after it is put to him that he does not.
Asked why he allowed fuel into Gaza after promising he wouldn’t, he says there is no way to run the war without doing so and ensuring other humanitarian needs. “If epidemics break out, we’ll lose control of everything.”
Minister Benny Gantz says in a primetime press conference that the IDF operation in Gaza “is widening, and it will end only when we can guarantee security and bring the boys and girls home.”
“It will take as long as it takes. We are determined in this fight,” he says.
Gantz says he met with families of the hostages earlier this evening, and says that “everything we are doing is aimed first and foremost at bringing our boys and girls home.”
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant says in a primetime press conference that the IDF is continuing to hit Hamas hard in the Strip and will also operate “soon” in the south of Gaza.
“We are in the second stage of the ground invasion, also operating in the east of the Strip,” he says. “Hamas has been hit hard, it’s losing tunnels, bunkers, posts,” and many of its senior commanders have been killed, Gallant adds.
“We are reaching all of the sites sensitive to Hamas and hitting them,” he says.
“With every passing day, there are fewer places for the Hamas terrorists to move around,” he says.
Those hiding out in the south of the Strip, where the IDF has yet to send in ground troops, “will feel this soon,” says Gallant.
The defense minister says he meets with families of hostages every week, and says there is no higher priority than to bring the hostages home.
“I think Hamas is playing with the emotions of the families and with the Israeli public,” he says, adding that the war cabinet is united in its determination to bring the hostages home.
He says: “What happened on October 7 is worse than any other phenomenon in the world in recent decades. That’s Hamas. And Hamas only understands force.” Hence the decision to go to war to destroy Hamas and get back the hostages is proving increasingly to be the right decision, he says.
Hamas is solely interested in survival now, he says.
Netanyahu says he’s rebuffing heavy international pressure to halt war in Gaza, defends allowing entry of fuel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says there is heavy international pressure against Israel’s war against Hamas.
He says Israel has “eliminated thousands of terrorists,” including senior commanders, and destroyed command posts and tunnels. “We move forward with full force,” he says.
While Israel has the support of the US and others for the ongoing war, “there is growing pressure against us, in the US and elsewhere,” he says.
In comments seemingly responding to anger within his coalition and parts of the electorate against Israel allowing fuel into the Strip despite having vowed not to, Netanyahu lists all the ways Israel has ignored demands from many quarters, including pressure not to launch its ground invasion, not to go into Gaza City, and then not to go into Shifa Hospital. Israel was undeterred, he says.
“They also pressed us to agree to a full ceasefire. We refused. And I made clear that we would only agree to a temporary ceasefire and only for the return of our hostages.”
He adds: “Together with my colleagues, I rebuff the pressure and make clear to the world: We will continue to fight until victory. Until we destroy Hamas. And until we bring our hostages home.”
“We are insisting on our essential security and diplomatic interests… in the face of heavy opposition. When our enemies and our friends recognize our firm stance, when they hear it in international media interviews, and in discussions with leaders, we attain the necessary room for maneuver to continue the operation. This cannot be taken for granted.”
Netanyahu says that he greatly “appreciates the support of the US” and says it is sending constant shipments of crucial weaponry and defense equipment, and notes the bipartisan support in the House and Senate.
He says Israel’s leadership is in daily contact with the White House, and “I give US media interviews almost every day to persuade the American public of the rightness of our path.”
He also hails this week’s unprecedentedly large pro-Israel rally in Washington, DC.
He says he speaks every day with other international leaders. All this and more, he says, ensures Israel continues to receive the military support it needs from the US, and thwarts international initiatives against Israel that would endanger the continuation of the fighting.
He notes that the IDF always follows “the laws of war. That’s how our army operates, the world’s most moral army.”
He says that humanitarian aid to Gaza is crucial to continue the war against Hamas, and says without it there would be less international support for Israel’s military campaign. “Even our best friends would be hard-pressed to maintain their support for us in the long-term and that would make it hard for us to complete the war,” he says.
“The IDF and the Shin Bet recommended that the cabinet accept the American request to allow two fuel tankers a day to enter the southern Gaza Strip,” he says, and the cabinet backed this unanimously.
“This is a minimal emergency quantity of fuel — fuel to operate water pumps and sewage pumps, without which there would be an eruption of epidemics that would harm residents of the Strip and IDF soldiers.”
He sets out three war missions that will be fulfilled: “Complete victory, to destroy Hamas. To return the hostages. And to ensure that after victory, Gaza will never again constitute a threat to Israeli citizens. I will not allow into Gaza any factor that supports terrorism, pays terrorists or their families, or educates their children to murder Jews and [to seek] the destruction of Israel,” he vows. “Without that revolution in the civilian governance of Gaza, it’s only a matter of time until Gaza returns to terror, and I won’t agree to that.”
An additional condition, he says: “The IDF will have complete freedom of action in Gaza against any threat. That is the only way to guarantee the demilitarization of Gaza.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says in a primetime press conference that his heart is with the families of the some 240 hostages held in Gaza.
“We are marching with you, I am marching with you, all of the people of Israel are marching with you,” he says, saying that he invited families of hostages to meet with the war cabinet this week.
Netanyahu says there are “a lot of incorrect reports” about imminent hostage deals to free some or all of those held, adding that “as of now there is no deal,” and saying that if one emerges the Israeli public will be updated.
Israeli officials are cited as saying that negotiations to free the hostages held in Gaza are currently stalled.
In comments picked up by all the main TV networks, implying a coordinated leak, an unnamed Israeli official claims that military pressure is pushing Hamas toward making a deal.
The reports also imply that Israel is unwilling to compromise on its demand to free all the children being held in Gaza as well as their mothers.
Reports of a deal for a significant number of hostages have been circulating for more than a week but no captives have been released in close to a month.
Thousands rally in Tel Aviv ahead of Netanyahu press conference, cabinet meeting, to call for hostage release
Families of hostages held in Gaza, and thousands of their supporters, have gathered in Tel Aviv’s Hostages Square for a rally focused in particular on the some 40 children believed held hostage in Gaza, among some 240 hostages in total.
To coincide with Monday’s World Children’s Day, most of the speakers are relatives of the children being held by Hamas and other terrorist groups since October 7.
Many of the families of the hostages headed straight to Tel Aviv after completing a five-day march to Jerusalem earlier this evening.
Representatives of the families have just met with war cabinet minister Benny Gantz and war cabinet observer Gadi Eisenkot, both of whom are former IDF chiefs of staff.
They are scheduled to meet on Monday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.
Eisenkot is quoted telling them that “the return of the hostages is the supreme priority [of the war], before the destruction of Hamas” — a stance that others helming the coalition have not expressed. He said a possible deal for the hostages was being discussed “day and night.”
Gantz reportedly told the families that “the entire cabinet is convinced that military pressure contributes to the [efforts for the] return of the hostages.”
Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir says this week he will bring for initial approval in the Knesset a bill mandating the death penalty for terrorists.
In a post on X, Ben Gvir writes that he will bring the bill, already prepared by his Otzma Yehudit party, to the Knesset National Security Committee on Monday.
“I expect all members of Knesset to support this important bill,” he writes.
The death penalty has only been imposed twice in the history of the Jewish state, the last time being the execution of Holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann in 1962.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell reflects on the future of Gaza during a conference in Bahrain, saying that “Hamas cannot be in control of Gaza anymore.”
The Palestinian Authority “told me they are ready and willing to take this responsibility” with the help of the international community, says Borrell.
He adds that Arab countries should also play a role in any future configuration, both political and economic, for Gaza.
Israel has rejected the idea that the PA would rule Gaza following the war, pointing to PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to condemn the October 7 Hamas assault on Israel and the body’s continued payments to imprisoned Palestinian terrorists.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant says that along the border with Lebanon the IDF is working to actively strike Hezbollah targets and return security in the north of the country.
Following an assessment with IDF officials in the north, Gallant says in a statement that the military is “carrying out a police of active defense, exacting a price against every threat, in the air and on the ground.”
He says the IDF is responding to missiles and rockets fired by Hezbollah and also striking the terror group’s infrastructure.
Gallant says the military is ready to respond to any attempt by Hezbollah to expand the war in the north, “our intelligence has eyes on things and we are ready to meet any challenge.”
“Our goal is to make residents of the north feel safe — this process will take a little more time but we will get there.”
US President Joe Biden’s main adviser on the Middle East says there will only be a “significant pause” in the Israel-Hamas war if hostages held by Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza are freed.
“The surge in humanitarian relief, the surge in fuel, the pause… will come when hostages are released,” Brett McGurk tells a security conference in Bahrain.
Release of a large number of hostages would result in “a significant pause… and a massive surge of humanitarian relief,” he says.
McGurk says Biden discussed the issue last night with the ruler of the Gulf nation of Qatar, which is leading mediation efforts towards a ceasefire and release of the captives.
There are believed to be some 240 hostages kidnapped from Israel and held captive in Gaza. Since October 7, four have been released and one was rescued by the IDF, while the military has recovered the bodies of two hostages in Gaza in the past few days.
Channel 12 releases further findings from a survey it carried out on November 15, showing considerable support for the renewal of Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip after the war. Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza to the pre-1967 lines in 2005, removing some 8,000 Jews from their homes in 21 settlements.
Asked what should happen with Gaza at the end of the war, 32% of respondents said “Israel should remain permanently and renew Jewish settlement”; 30% said the enclave should be “given over to international trusteeship”; 14% said Israel should “maintain a permanent military presence”; 10% percent said it should be “handed over for rule by the Palestinian Authority”; and 14% said they did not know.
The TV anchors said respondents were also asked to make a direct choice as to whether or not they favored a renewal of Jewish settlement in Gaza, and 44% said they were in favor, while 39% were against. This finding was not shown on screen, however.
Asked whether their political stance has changed in the wake of the war, 53% said it had not changed; 36% said they had become more right-wing; 6% said they had become more left-wing; and 5% said they didn’t know.
Asked what should happen in terms of Israel’s political leadership after the war, 58% said new elections should be held, 19% said the current coalition should remain in office, 13% said an alternative government headed by a Likud politician other than Benjamin Netanyahu should be formed, and 10% said they didn’t know.
Findings from the survey broadcast on Thursday suggested that were elections to be held today, Netanyahu would be heavily defeated, with Benny Gantz’s National Unity party soaring.
The survey was conducted among 502 respondents by pollster Mano Geva and Midgam, and had a 4.4% margin of error.
The Hamas-controlled Gaza health ministry claims that the death toll in the strip has reached 12,300 since hostilities started on October 7.
The Hamas government claims that more than 5,000 children are among the dead, alongside 3,300 women, with 30,000 more people wounded. Its health ministry has previously said it can no longer give exact tolls as intense fighting has prevented bodies from being recovered.
The figures released by the Hamas terror group cannot be independently verified and do not distinguish between civilians and terrorists, and also do not differentiate between those killed by Israeli airstrikes and those killed in failed Palestinian rocket launches. Hamas has been accused of inflating the figures and of designating gunmen in their late teens as children.
IDF announces the deaths of five soldiers killed during fighting in the Gaza Strip, bringing the death toll in the ground offensive against Hamas to 56.
Maj. Jamal Abbas, 23, a company commander in the Paratroopers Brigade’s 101st Battalion, from Peki’in
Cpt. Eden Provisor, 21, a platoon commander in the 401st Armored Brigade’s 52nd Battalion, from Alfei Menashe
Staff Sgt. Shlomo Gurtovnik, 21, a combat medic in the 401st Armored Brigade’s 46th Battalion, from Modiin
Staff Sgt. Adi Malik Harb, 19, of the Nahal Infantry Brigade’s reconnaissance unit, from Beit Jann
Staff Sgt. Shachar Fridman, 21, of the Paratroopers Brigade’s 101st Battalion, from Jerusalem
It also announces the death of Master Sgt. (res.) David (Dudi) Digmi, 43, a paramedic in the Gaza Division, from Rishon Lezion, who died on November 7. The IDF does not elaborate on the circumstances surrounding his death.
Additionally, the IDF says eight more soldiers were seriously wounded during fighting in the Gaza Strip in recent days.
It says four reservists of the 12th Brigade’s 6863rd Battalion were seriously wounded during fighting in northern Gaza on Thursday.
On Friday, an officer in the Bislamach Brigade’s 17th battalion was seriously wounded during fighting in northern, the IDF says.
The army says that in the battle in which Staff Sgt. Shlomo Gurtovnik was killed, another soldier of the 46th Battalion was seriously wounded; in the battle in which Cpt. Eden Provisor was killed, another soldier of the 52nd Battalion was seriously wounded; and in the battle in which Maj. Jamal Abbas and Staff Sgt. Shachar Fridman were killed, another soldier of the 101st Battalion was seriously wounded.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Minister Benny Gantz are slated to hold a press conference in Tel Aviv this evening.
They are later expected to hold a meeting of the security cabinet.
According to Hebrew media reports, Gallant and Gantz have agreed to meet with the families of hostages ahead of the cabinet meeting, although Netanyahu has yet to respond to their demand to meet.
Dozens of people gather in Tel Aviv for an anti-war protest calling for a ceasefire and diplomatic solution to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
The protest, organized by the mostly Arab Hadash party, was allowed by police after several similar gatherings were refused permits over the past few weeks.
Protesters carry signs in Hebrew, Arabic and English calling for an end to the war, with slogans reading “In Gaza and Sderot, children want to live”; “An eye for an eye and everyone is blind”; “No to occupation and siege, yes to peace” and others.
No Palestinian flags can be seen in photos online of the event.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz tells Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu there is an “urgent need” to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Scholz “underscored the urgent need to improve the humanitarian situation for residents in the Gaza Strip,” his office says in a statement after a call between the two leaders. “Humanitarian ceasefires could contribute to a significant improvement in care for the population.”
Thousands of people rally outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem following their multi-day march to the capital, demanding Israel do everything it can to bring the some 240 hostages home immediately.
“We’ve been walking for five days without stopping and my legs hurt and my shoulders and everything hurts, but nothing hurts like my heart does, which really really hurts” says Orin, the mother of Eden Zacharia, who is being held hostage in Gaza.
“Even if we need to walk to Gaza we will walk to Gaza. Wherever we need to go we will go, we won’t give up on our children.”
The Israel Defense Forces says air defenses intercepted a “suspicious aerial target” over Lebanese airspace a short while ago.
Meanwhile, a number of rockets were fired at army positions along the Lebanon border.
In response to the rocket attack, the IDF says tanks and aircraft struck several Hezbollah observation posts.
Separately, the IDF says that this morning a military drone made an emergency landing in an open area in northern Israel.
It says the aircraft was not hit by enemy fire, and the incident is being investigated.
Sirens sound in Tel Aviv, signaling incoming rockets.
There are no immediate reports of casualties or damage.
The Israel Defense Forces says it is expanding operations in the Gaza Strip, with offensives being carried out by the 36th Division in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City, and the 162nd Division in Jabaliya. Both the areas are regarded as Hamas strongholds.
In a statement, the IDF says the Southern Command “continues expanding its operational activities in additional neighborhoods” and is working to “target terrorists and strike Hamas infrastructure.”
It says the 36th Division is operating against Hamas’s Zeitoun battalion in the Gaza City neighborhood.
The military publishes footage showing troops of the Golani Infantry Brigade — subordinate to the 36th Division — fighting Hamas operatives who fired RPGs at them in Zeitoun.
פיקוד הדרום ממשיך בהרחבת הפעילות ההתקפית לשכונות נוספות במרחב רצועת עזה ופשט על מרחבי זייתון וג׳באליה במטרה לפגוע במחבלים ובתשתיות הטרור של חמאס.
כוחות אוגדה 36 פועלים להכרעת גדוד ׳זייתון׳ של החמאס, אחד הגדודים המרכזיים של ארגון הטרור שפועל בשכונת זייתון שבעיר עזה >> pic.twitter.com/ezGro9HBfH
— דובר צה״ל דניאל הגרי – Daniel Hagari (@IDFSpokesperson) November 18, 2023
“In parallel, additional troops are operating on the outskirts of Zeitoun, including Sheikh Ijlin and Rimal, clearing the areas from terrorists and striking terror infrastructure,” the IDF says.
The 162nd Divison is meanwhile operating on the outskirts of Jabaliya, the IDF says.
“The area houses the command and control center of [Hamas]’s northern Gaza brigade, and is where one of the most significant terror strongholds is located, in which four Hamas battalions are operating,” it says.
The IDF says that engineering forces, infantry and tanks, along with air support, have encountered several Hamas operatives who “intentionally operate from within civilian areas, and attempt to attack the troops using anti-tank missiles and explosive devices.”
“During the encounters, numerous terrorists were killed and the troops struck a large number of terror infrastructures, including underground infrastructure and significant targets of the terrorist organization,” the IDF says.
Another clip published by the military shows a strike on two Hamas operatives who the IDF says were attempting to booby-trap a building in the Gaza Strip.
IDF footage shows a strike on two Hamas operatives who were attempting to booby trap a building in the Gaza Strip. pic.twitter.com/m9UzmKSpmm
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) November 18, 2023
At the rally in Jerusalem, one relative of a hostage tells the crowd: “Fourty-three days after the pogrom, it seems the goal that is so important to us and the entire country is moving further away.”
She slams the premier for allowing fuel into Gaza and allowing humanitarian pauses, thereby “pushing us further away from the goal you yourself set.”
She adds: “The only victory photo you must seek is that of all hosages returning home to their families safe and sound as soon as possible.”
ברגעים אלו מתחילה עצרת משפחות החטופים מול הכנסת (רח׳ קפלן 3 ירושלים), הקוראות לשחרור כל החטופים עכשיו! שם נמצא גם מאהל משפחות הנרצחים 24/7, שנשארות שם עד להדחת ראש ממשלת הדמים נתניהו.
בואו לחזק אותם!
(קרדיט תמונה: שב״פ)
מי שלא נמצא בירושלים, מוזמן להגיע לאחד ממוקדי המחאה הנוספים… pic.twitter.com/mR6yFrXs6C
— Nava Rozolyo🤸🏻♀️🤭🥑🌎 (@rozolyo) November 18, 2023
The rally for the hostages help captive by the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza is now underway in Jerusalem, with thousands in attendance.
The Israel Defense Forces confirms striking several more Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon, saying it is in response to repeated attacks by the terror group on northern Israel.
The IDF says the sites include military compounds and observation posts belonging to the terror group.
IDF strikes several more Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon in response to the repeated attacks on northern Israel. The IDF says the sites include military compounds and observation posts. pic.twitter.com/M8lcvjVeIf
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) November 18, 2023
Separately, the IDF says fighter jets struck an “advanced” surface-to-air missile system in Lebanon which had fired at an Israeli drone overnight. The missile was intercepted by Israeli air defenses, and the military drone was apparently not damaged.
IDF fighter jets struck an "advanced" surface-to-air missile system in Lebanon which had fired at an Israeli drone overnight, the military says. The missile was intercepted by Israeli air defenses. pic.twitter.com/uHdGRcsYVX
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) November 18, 2023
A rocket hit a home in Sderot a short time ago, according to preliminary reports.
Some damage was apparently caused, but no one was hurt.
The thousands marching for Gaza hostages are now entering the capital, ahead of their rally outside Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.
The military says soldiers transferred over 6,000 liters of water and over 2,300 kg of food to Shifa Hospital.
“This activity was done in parallel with the IDF activities to locate and thwart terrorism in the hospital, the IDF says.
The first planeload of Palestinian children wounded in the Israel-Hamas war raging in the Gaza Strip has reached the United Arab Emirates, part of a pledged relief effort by the country to aid 1,000 children.
The group of 15 people, including children and their family members, made it across the Strip’s Rafah border crossing with Egypt yesterday. They then took a flight to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the Emirates.
Young children lay asleep on their moms’ laps as the plane finally landed at Abu Dhabi International Airport. Some of the seats of the plane were removed to make room for the most critically wounded children, who needed to lie on stretchers.
Rocket sirens have been activated in the Gaza periphery, including the city of Ashkelon, the first launches from Gaza in some 20 hours.
There is no immediate word on any impacts.
Hamas rocket fire has diminished considerably in recent weeks. It is believed to be stockpiling rockets for a long war, but also has difficulty in carrying out attacks amid the IDF’s ground operation.
The Israel Defense Forces releases footage of the elite Duvdevan unit operating in the Gaza Strip.
It says the forces have raided several sites used by Hamas, killing operatives in the process.
The IDF says Duvdevan forces found weapons and Hamas military equipment during a raid on a high school in Gaza.
The troops also raided the home of a Hamas field commander, finding weapons and Hamas instructional booklets, according to the IDF.
The IDF releases footage of the elite Duvdevan unit operating in the Gaza Strip. It says the forces have raided several sites used by Hamas, killing operatives in the process.
The IDF says Duvdevan forces found weapons and Hamas military equipment during a raid on a high school… pic.twitter.com/Yzk0KL3JeD
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) November 18, 2023
The IDF publishes footage showing airstrikes on sites belonging to the Hezbollah terror group in southern Lebanon this morning, in response to the repeated attacks on northern Israel.
כלי טיס של צה"ל תקפו מספר תשתיות טרור של ארגון הטרור חיזבאללה מוקדם יותר היום.
כמו כן, בהמשך להתרעות בצפון הארץ, זוהו מספר שיגורים משטח לבנון לעבר שטח ישראל.
כוחות צה"ל תוקפים בארטילריה את מקורות הירי. pic.twitter.com/fRZrpnS1lz
— דובר צה״ל דניאל הגרי – Daniel Hagari (@IDFSpokesperson) November 18, 2023
The IDF also confirms rockets were fired from Lebanon at the Kiryat Shmona area a short while ago.
There are no reports of injuries in the attack.
The IDF says it is shelling the source of the rocket fire with artillery.
Sirens sounded in northern Israel a short time ago, including in Kiryat Shmona and the Mount Hermon area.
There have been no reports of rocket strikes so far.
Lebanon’s government news agency says an Israeli drone fired two missiles at an aluminum plant outside the southern Lebanese market town of Nabatiyeh early this morning, causing a fire and widespread damage.
The Israeli military has not confirmed any strikes in Lebanon overnight.
A potential Israeli strike near the village of Toul, located far from the border, would be the first to hit the area since the Second Lebanon War in 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah.
The National News Agency said firefighters and ambulances rushed to the area, but it did not mention casualties. Journalists who tried to reach the factory were prevented by Hezbollah members.
The Israel Defense Forces says humanitarian pauses in the northern Gaza Strip will continue today to enable Palestinians to evacuate to the south.
The IDF’s Arabic-language Spokesman, Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee, says on X that the Salah a-Din road will be open for southbound movement until 4 p.m.
He urges residents of the Gaza City neighborhoods of Tel el-Hawa, Sabra, west Zeitoun, Shejaiya and Tuffah to take advantage of the corridor to reach the “humanitarian zone” in southern Gaza’s al-Mawasi area.
“We urge you to evacuate urgently because it is dangerous for you to remain there,” he says.
Additionally, Adraee says the IDF will make “tactical pauses in military activities” in the al-Shabura camp near Rafah in southern Gaza, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., for “humanitarian purposes.”
#عاجل يا سكان غزة، وخاصة سكان شمال القطاع:
🔴 الى سكان أحياء جباليا والدرج التفاح والشجاعية نحثكم على ضرورة اخلاء مناطق سكنكم بشكل فوري حفاظًا على سلامتكم وذلك عبر طريق صلاح الدين حتى الساعة الرابعة (16:00) مساء للوصول الى جنوب وادي غزة وللمنطقة الانسانية. نحثكم على الاخلاء بشكل… pic.twitter.com/hGwd75ADDf
— افيخاي ادرعي (@AvichayAdraee) November 18, 2023
Organizers say tens of thousands of activists are now marching for hostages on Route 1 toward the entrance to the capital, ahead of a rally outside the Prime Minister’s Office.
צעדת משפחות החטופים לירושלים: ״הולכים להחזיר אותם״
עשרות אלפים כעת צועדים על כביש 1.
קרדיט שב״פ sha_b_p@ pic.twitter.com/Pjs7ddvr62
— Haim Rubinstein (@haim_ru) November 18, 2023
The Israel Defense Forces says that within an hour of a rocket barrage from Gaza on central Israel on Friday, it struck and killed the cell behind the attack.
It says reservist troops of the Jerusalem Brigade’s reconnaissance battalion spotted the cell on the roof of a building, and called in an airstrike.
פחות משעה לאחר שיגור מטח הרקטות הכבד לעבר שטח ישראל מרצועת עזה אתמול, לוחמי מילואים מגדס״ר חטיבת ירושלים זיהו את המחבלים שביצעו את הירי מגג של בניין והכווינו כלי טיס של חיל האוויר לחיסולם>> pic.twitter.com/9NFqHl2sKj
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) November 18, 2023
The army says that over the past day, it carried out strikes against dozens of targets and Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip.
The sites included command centers, rocket launch sites and weapons production labs, it says.
The IDF says that over the past day it carried out strikes against dozens of targets and Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip.
The sites included command rooms, rocket launch sites, and weapons production labs, it says. pic.twitter.com/9ilmSULskA
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) November 18, 2023
The march calling to release hostages held by Hamas has reached Mevasseret Zion, on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
— Raz Shechnik (@RazShechnik) November 18, 2023
The marchers intend to reach the Prime Minister’s Office in the capital around 4:30 p.m.
Hamas has confirmed the death of official Ahmad Bahar following an Israeli strike in Gaza.
Bahar, 76, was a member of Hamas’s political bureau and previously served as vice president of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
The Israel Defense Forces denies it demanded that Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital evacuate within an hour, saying it only responded to requests by the medical center’s director who asked for a safe route out for those who wish to leave.
“This morning, the IDF acceded to the request of the director of Shifa Hospital to enable additional Gazans who were in the hospital, and would like to evacuate, to do so via the secure route,” the IDF says in a statement.
“At no point did the IDF order the evacuation of patients or medical teams and in fact proposed that any request for medical evacuation will be facilitated by the IDF,” it says.
“Medical personnel will remain in the hospital to support patients who are unable to evacuate,” the IDF adds.
The IDF also says that it provided additional food, water and humanitarian aid to Shifa overnight.
Jordan’s foreign minister offers blistering criticism of Israel’s war on Hamas, describing it as “blatant aggression” against Palestinian civilians that threatens to engulf the wider Middle East.
Ayman Safadi’s harsh assessment, alleging Israel is committing “war crimes” by besieging the Gaza Strip and cutting off food, medicine and fuel shipments, shows how strained relations have become between Israel and Jordan — which reached a peace deal in 1994.
“All of us have to speak loud and clear about the catastrophe that the Israeli war is bringing, not just on Gaza, but on the region in general,” Safadi tells the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Manama Dialogue summit in Bahrain. “This is not a time for mincing words. This is a time to state facts as they are.”
He adds: “This is not self-defense. This is a blatant aggression, the victims of which are innocent Palestinians.”
Israel launched the war on October 7 after Hamas carried out the worst attack on civilians in the nation’s history, killing some 1,200 and abducting some 240 more.
Some 25 rockets were fired from Lebanon at northern Israel a short while ago, setting off sirens in the northern communities of Sassa and Shtula, the military says.
The projectiles all landed in open areas, causing no injuries.
The IDF says it shelled the sources of the rocket fire with artillery, and now is carrying out airstrikes against Hezbollah sites.
It says it will provide further information on the airstrikes soon.
Rocket alert sirens sound in the northern border towns of Sassa and Shtula, warning of incoming fire from Lebanon.
There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
Hours earlier, sirens blared in a number of northern towns, including Safed, when a relatively rare overnight barrage was fired.
Israeli troops order the evacuation of Shifa Hospital “in the next hour” over loudspeakers, an AFP journalist at the scene reports.
Shifa Hospital — Gaza’s biggest — has become the focus of the Israel-Hamas war, now entering its seventh week after the devastating October 7 onslaught on southern Israel.
Israel says the Hamas terror organization operates a command center and labyrinth of tunnels underneath the hospital.
Israel has made repeated calls for the hospital to be evacuated to the south, however medical professionals say many of the patients cannot be moved.
There is no immediate comment from the Israel Defense Forces.
Yesterday, the IDF released new images showing a tunnel shaft found in the hospital complex.
Additionally, the military has said it recovered the bodies of two Israeli hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 from the area of Shifa Hospital.
The Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security service say in a joint statement that a number of terrorists killed in an overnight West Bank operation were planning “imminent” attacks on Israeli civilians and troops.
The statement says forces and aircraft struck a hideout in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus.
Those killed included Muhammad Zahad, described in the statement as a “senior terrorist” in Nablus who was involved in a number of shooting attacks, including an April Jerusalem attack in which two Israelis were injured.
The statement says Zahad formed and armed a terror cell of youths, which he deployed to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers.
The statement says forces also uncovered an explosives laboratory, and that devices had been planted along and under the streets of Balata to target Israeli troops.
During the operation, gunmen opened fire toward Israeli troops, the statement says.
There were no Israeli casualties.
Forty people are arrested and two police officers injured after a group of pro-Palestinian protesters force their way into a building on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, police say.
Video posted on social media shows protesters pushing past police into the Ruthven Administration Building, which houses offices for school President Santa Ono. An estimated 200 people then entered the building, university Deputy Police Chief Melissa Overton says.
Once inside, protesters chanted, called for the university to divest from Israel and waved Palestinian flags, as seen on the video. About 10 police agencies, including state police, assisted campus officers.
Around 7:30 p.m., officers began warning protesters to leave or be subject to arrest, Overton says, adding that those arrested were processed at the scene and then released.
No details are given on the injuries to the two officers.
Anti-Israel protesters are clashing with police at the University of Michigan as they break their way into the office of the school’s president
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) November 17, 2023
The Palestinian news agency Wafa reports that 26 people were killed overnight in an Israeli military strike on buildings in Khan Younis in southern Gaza.
Wafa said dozens are injured in the strikes.
The agency also says the area around the Indonesian Hospital in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza was hit, as were targets in the Jabaliya camp, also in northern Gaza.
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry claims that 12,000 people had been killed in Gaza since the start of the war on October 7, including at least 4,700 children and 3,000 women. The figures cannot be independently verified and do not distinguish between civilians and terrorists, and also do not differentiate between those killed by Israeli airstrikes or by failed Palestinian rocket launches.
International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva says the economies of Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and the West Bank were suffering due to the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza following the terror group’s shock October 7 assault on Israel.
Georgieva tells Reuters on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit that the conflict is also “devastating” Gaza and has “severe impacts” on the West Bank’s economy while also posing difficulties for neighboring countries amid a loss of tourism and higher energy costs.
She says the organization is “seriously considering” an increase to Egypt’s $3 billion loan program due to the economic difficulties posed by the war.
A top United Nations official renews calls for a “humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza to allow for aid to reach civilians amid the war between Israel and Hamas following the terror group’s surprise October 7 attack on Israel.
“Call it what you will, but the requirement, from a humanitarian point of view, is simple. Stop the fighting to allow civilians to move safely,” UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths says in an address to the UN General Assembly.
“We are not asking for the moon,” Griffiths says. “We are asking for the basic measures required to meet the essential needs of the civilian population and stem the course of this crisis.”
Griffiths also calls for the release of all hostages held in Gaza without condition.
The Palestinian telecommunications company Paltel says Friday that phone and internet services were partially working again across Gaza, after fuel was delivered to restart generators that power the networks.
NetBlocks, a group tracking internet outages, confirmed that “internet connectivity is being partially restored” in the Gaza Strip.
On Thursday, Paltel announced that all communication services, including landline connection, mobile network and Internet connection, dropped due to a lack of fuel.
The next day, Israel agreed to allow two tanker trucks of fuel, equaling 60,000 liters (15,850 gallons), into the Gaza Strip each day.
A US State Department official said 10,000 liters of the daily intake will be used to power the enclave’s communications network.
Before this week, Israel had completely prohibited fuel from entering Gaza, fearing that inbound fuel could be commandeered by Hamas.
The Palestinian Red Crescent says five people were killed in a strike on a building in the Balata refugee camp near the West Bank city of Nablus.
Palestinian reports say the attack was an Israeli drone strike at the Fatah headquarters in the camp.
Haaretz reports that four of those killed were affiliated with Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, citing “hospital testimonies.”
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades confirms one of the gunmen killed in the Balata airstrike is a commander belonging to the group. pic.twitter.com/xTa2eWNKKQ
— Joe Truzman (@JoeTruzman) November 17, 2023
Ynet reports that among the five killed was a terrorist who killed an Israeli man in a shooting attack on a West Bank road Thursday early this month, sparking a manhunt for the assailants and revenge attacks by settlers, amid spiking tensions in the territory. Elhanan Klein, 29, was killed as he was returning from army reserve duty to his home in the settlement of Einav in the northern West Bank on November 2. Medics found him dead in his car, which crashed and overturned on the side of Route 557 near the Palestinian town of Bayt Lid, northwest of Nablus.
Earlier Friday, the IDF said troops had killed seven Palestinian gunmen in two separate incidents throughout the West Bank.
The IDF says air defenses “successfully intercepted” a surface-to-air missile launched from Lebanese territory at a remotely manned military aircraft, prompting air raid sirens to go off in northern Israel.
The alerts were triggered by the interceptions, the military said in a brief announcement, adding that “no crossing into Israeli territory was detected.”
Elon Musk says X users who deploy the terms “decolonization”, “from the river to the sea” and other “similar euphemisms” that “necessarily imply genocide” will be suspended from the platform.
“Clear calls for extreme violence are against our terms of service and will result in suspension,” Musk tweets.
“Anyone calling for a genocide of any people will be suspended,” Musk replies to a user who asks, “So many influential accounts here support Hamas’ massacre. Will you suspend them?”
In his post Friday, he quote-tweeted a post from two days ago that said “Yes, ‘decolonization’ necessarily implies a Jewish genocide, thus it is unacceptable to any reasonable person.”
It came in response to a user for wrote that “‘decolonization’ is the woke version of jihad, and it should be viewed and treated that way.”
The tweets came two days after Musk faced backlash for endorsing an antisemitic post on X that accused Jewish people of driving hatred against white people.
“You have said the actual truth,” Musk responded from his personal account on X.
Musk has faced multiple accusations that hate rhetoric and antisemitism have grown significantly on X since he took over the company in 2022, as well as accusations of having using antisemitic tropes himself. Global antisemitism has spiked after war erupted between Israel and Hamas when the terror group carried out a devastating attack that killed some 1,200 people in Israel, and took some 240 hostage.
Elon made the comment Wednesday when a user posted a video that is part of a campaign against antisemitism, depicting a father reprimanding his son for making antisemitic remarks on the internet.
Another user responded, “Jewish communties [sic] have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.
“I’m deeply disinterested in giving the tiniest shit now about western Jewish populations coming to the disturbing realization that those hordes of minorities that support flooding their country don’t exactly like them too much.”
Musk responded that it was “the actual truth.”
In follow-up posts, Musk wrote that he doesn’t believe that “all Jewish communities” hate white people but said the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) “unjustly attacks the majority of the West, despite the majority of the West supporting the Jewish people and Israel. This is because they cannot, by their own tenets, criticize the minority groups who are their primary threat.”
“I am deeply offended by ADL’s messaging and any other groups who push de facto anti-white racism or anti-Asian racism or racism of any kind,” he wrote. “I’m sick of it. Stop now.”
Musk and the ADL have been at odds for about a year. Soon after Musk’s takeover of the platform in 2022, the ADL encouraged companies to pause their ad spending on the site in protest of Musk removing guardrails against hate speech, though the ADL resumed its own paid ads on the platform.
IBM, EU and Lionsgate said they would pause ads on X on Friday amid a surge of hate speech. In IBM’s case, the multinational said it stopped advertising on X after a report said its ads were appearing alongside material praising Nazis.
“We condemn this abhorrent promotion of Antisemitic and racist hate in the strongest terms, which runs against our core values as Americans,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said Friday in response to Musk’s tweet.
On Friday, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said on X after Musk’s post to suspend users who call for genocide: “This is an important and welcome move by [Musk]. I appreciate this leadership in fighting hate.”
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