The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they happened.
Israel’s cabinet approves an agreement for the release of roughly 50 hostages who were abducted into the Gaza Strip during the Hanas terror group’s October 7 onslaught.
In exchange for the hostages’ return, Israel is agreeing to a several day ceasefire and to release some imprisoned Palestinian women and minors, along with allowing more fuel and humanitarian aid into Gaza.
Despite expressing opposition to the agreement, the far-right Religious Zionism party voted in favor, with only Otzma Yehudit ministers voting against, according to Hebrew media.
Several tense exchanges have reportedly occurred during the ongoing cabinet vote on a deal that will see Hamas release some 50 hostages — children, mothers, and women — in exchange for a ceasefire of 4-5 days and the release of 150-300 Palestinian prisoners.
According to leaks reported by Hebrew media, Minister Benny Gantz responds angrily to Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich for expressing concern Hamas will seek to extend the ceasefire. Smotrich and his far-right Religious Zionism party have come out against the agreement.
“Do you trust [Yahya] Sinwar more than us?” Gantz is quoted as saying, referring to the Hamas chief in Gaza who Israel has accused of helping mastermind the October 7 massacres.
In another exchange, Likud ministers Miki Zohar and Gila Gamliel confront National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir for holding a faction meeting of his ultranationalist Otzma Yehudit party before the cabinet convened, after announcing he and his faction would vote against the agreement. Gamliel reportedly stresses to Ben Gvir the importance of unity.
“But we are not united,” Ben Gvir says. “This is a decision with generational damage that will come back to hurt us badly.”
Ministers from the ultra-Orthodox Shas party have left the meeting after leaving a note saying they back the agreement.
תיעוד: ישיבת הממשלה הלילה בדרך לאישור עסקת החטופים pic.twitter.com/l1fcwPEMvk
— גלצ (@GLZRadio) November 21, 2023
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is planning to visit Israel early next week for talks with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials about the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, according to the Walla news site.
Citing two sources familiar with the matter, the report says Blinken is expected to arrive during a several day ceasefire slated to take effect this week as part of a deal that will see Hamas release some 50 children, mothers and other women seized in the terror group’s October 7 onslaught.
The IDF’s Home Front Command says the Iron Dome air defense system intercepted a “suspicious target,” setting off sirens in Kibbutz Hanita along the Lebanon border.
The military also says that a suspected drone infiltration in Rosh Hanikra, a nearby kibbutz, was a false alarm.
A former mayor of Johannesburg, South Africa posts online a picture of himself holding an assault rifle accompanied with the words “we stand with Hamas,” before quickly pulling it offline.
The since-deleted post by Thapelo Amad read: “We stand with Hamas, Hamas stands with us, together we Palestin [sic] and Palestin [sic] will be free. Without souls, without our blood, we will conquer Al AQSA,” screen captures of it show.
Al-Aqsa is the name of a mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. It is the third-holiest site in Islam.
Amad, whose brief mayorship lasted only three weeks until April, yanked the post following media interest in the message, which is unusually combative even in a country whose president, Cyril Ramaphosa, recently accused Israel of perpetrating a “genocide.”
Amad has not responded to a query by The Times of Israel on why he removed the post.
Lior Haiat, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, tells The Times of Israel: “This is a despicable show of support for a terror organization. It’s making me sick to my stomach. This is a pure antisemitism of the worst kind.”
Elon Musk, the embattled CEO of X (formerly Twitter), posts that the social media company will be “donating all revenue from advertising & subscriptions associated with the war in Gaza to hospitals in Israel and the Red Cross/Crescent in Gaza.”
In response to a user’s question on how X will ensure the money will not reach Palestinian terror group Hamas, he says: “We will track how funds are spent and go through Red Cross/Crescent. Better ideas are welcome. We should care about the innocent regardless of race, creed, religion or anything else.”
The post came as advertisers have been fleeing the site over concerns about their ads showing up next to pro-Nazi content — and hate speech on the site in general — while billionaire owner Musk has inflamed tensions with his own posts endorsing an antisemitic conspiracy theory.
X Corp will be donating all revenue from advertising & subscriptions associated with the war in Gaza to hospitals in Israel and the Red Cross/Crescent in Gaza
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 21, 2023
IBM, NBCUniversal and its parent company Comcast said last week that they stopped advertising on X after a Media Matters report said their ads were appearing alongside material praising Nazis. It was a fresh setback as the platform tries to win back big brands and their ad dollars, X’s main source of revenue.
X filed a lawsuit against Media Matters.
Advertisers have been skittish on X since Musk’s takeover more than a year ago.
Musk also sparked outcry this month with his own posts responding to a user who accused Jews of hating white people and professing indifference to antisemitism. “You have said the actual truth,” Musk tweeted in a reply last Wednesday.
Musk has faced accusations of tolerating antisemitic messages on the platform, and the content on X has gained increased scrutiny since the war between Israel and Hamas began on October 7 when the terror group carried out a devastating attack that killed over 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and took some 240 hostages.
Ministers at the cabinet meeting tonight on the developing hostage deal were informed that the first batch of hostages in Gaza may be released as early as Thursday this week, Channel 12 reports.
According to some of the reported details of the deal, some 50 Israeli hostages — women and children — will be released in exchange for 4-5 days of a temporary ceasefire, the release of between about 150 and 300 Palestinian prisoners, female and minor detainees, and the entry of fuel and other goods into Gaza.
The release is expected to take place in stages with about 12 hostages released per day.
The cabinet is meeting now to discuss and decide on the deal, and is expected to give the okay.
If, as expected, the deal is approved by the full cabinet tonight, Israel will subsequently publish the details of Palestinian prisoners to be freed, a government source said earlier.
The public will have 24 hours by law to petition against any of these planned prisoner releases.
Labor party leader MK Merav Michaeli says her opposition faction supports the developing hostage deal, currently being discussed by Israel’s cabinet.
She says that far-right opposition by Otzma Yehudit and Religious Zionism to the deal “exposes [these parties’] long-standing scam” to create a theological Jewish state.
Channel 12 reports that the Prime Minister’s Office has developed a set process through which the hostages will be released and transferred to Israel, amid a developing hostage deal currently being discussed in the cabinet.
First, Hamas is set to hand over the hostages to the Red Cross, after which they will be transferred to IDF representatives. The hostages will then undergo an initial medical check by authorities, and then be taken to one of five isolated medical centers across Israel to meet with their families.
In the fourth stage, medical and defense authorities will determine together whether at least some of the hostages can be debriefed.
In the final stage of the mechanism, the hostages will indeed undergo a debriefing with security officials.
Netanyahu says the war against Hamas in Gaza will continue until all of Israel’s goals are achieved, namely to eliminate the terror group that rules the Palestinian enclave, secure the release of all the hostages, and ensure that there’s no more threat from Gaza to Israel’s security.
The premier spoke ahead of a cabinet meeting tonight to discuss a deal that will see at least 50 hostages — children, mothers, and women — in exchange for a ceasefire of 4-5 days and the release of 150-300 Palestinian prisoners.
“We are at war, and the war will continue until all our goals are achieved,” he says.
The return of hostages is a top, “sacred priority and I am committed to it,” Netanyahu says.
“Before us is a difficult decision but the right one,” he adds. “We will not rest until everyone is returned. The war has stages and the return of the hostages will have stages.”
Defense Minister Gallant says ministers will have to weigh “important decisions” in the “next few hours and days.”
Gallant says Israel’s ground offensive in Gaza is a key factor in “dialing up the pressure” on Hamas to negotiate and release some of the 240 hostages taken from Israel on October 7.
“Without the pressure and the continued pressure [on Hamas], there will be no chance” to secure the release of the next groups of hostages, he says, vowing that once the 4-5 day ceasefire is over, Israel’s operations in Gaza will resume “in full force.”
War cabinet minister Benny Gantz says the proposed hostage deal “is the basis for continuing the necessary operational efforts [in Gaza], including in the southern arena and possibly in other arenas.”
“I will say honestly – this [hostage deal] is a difficult outline, it is painful, but it is also right,” says Gantz.
The Israel Defense Forces releases footage of the latest strikes on Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon, in response to repeated rocket, missile and drone attacks on northern Israel.
It says the sites include a command center and other infrastructure belonging to the Iran-backed terror group.
The Israel Defense Forces says it intercepted one of its own unmanned aerial vehicles over the Lower Galilee, after it was identified as having a technical malfunction.
“The launch [of the interceptor missile] was carried out in a controlled manner and there is no fear of a security incident,” the IDF says.
The incident set off sirens in Bu’eine Nujeidat, a local council west of Tiberias.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear during cabinet discussions on the proposed hostage deal tonight that part of the brewing agreement will include access by the Red Cross to the abductees who will remain as hostages in Gaza, including supplying them with medicine, his office says.
A lawmaker from the Arab Islamist Ra’am party requests that the government include in the developing hostage deal six Bedouin citizens who were abducted on October 7 by Hamas.
The deal being considered is currently for children, their mothers, and about a dozen women only.
One of the six Bedouin citizens is a minor.
An incoming rocket siren is sounding in the Arab local council of Bu’eine Nujeidat in the lower Galilee, west of Tiberias.
The cause of the alarm is not immediately clear.
Channel 12 reports that the developing hostage deal will see the release of 30 children, eight mothers and 12 women held by Hamas in Gaza.
Hamas is claiming it cannot immediately locate some 10 additional children taken from Israel during the shock October 7 attacks.
Hamas has said it has 210 of the about 240 hostages abducted last month, which includes about 40 children. Islamic Jihad is said to be holding many of the remaining hostages.
Israel believes Hamas may prove able to locate and release up to 30 more Israeli women and children.
Earlier, a government source said the hostage deal will include a second stage by which Hamas will act to locate women and children held by other terror factions in Gaza ahead of their possible release.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen warns the UN Security Council that a regional war is likely if resolution 1701, which calls for the disarmament of the Hezbollah terror group, is not fully implemented.
“For the good of regional stability and to avoid further escalation, the next session of the UN Security Council must adopt a totally different approach in order to end the dangerous violations by Hezbollah and other terrorist groups on the border,” Cohen writes to the Security Council, Channel 12 News reports.
Hezbollah, Hamas and other terror groups in southern Lebanon have routinely fired rockets at Israeli cities and attacked IDF forces on the Israel-Lebanon border ever since Hamas’s October 7 atrocities, resulting in a number of Israeli fatalities.
The IDF has attacked Hezbollah operatives and positions as a result, killing dozens of their fighters.
UN Security Council resolution 1701 brought to an end the Second Lebanon War in 2006, and called for the disarmament of all non-state armed forces in Lebanon, as well as for the region between the Israel-Lebanon border and the Litani River to be freed of all armed forces other than the Lebanese army and the UN’s peacekeeping mission UNIFIL.
These clauses of the resolution were never implemented, and Hezbollah has become a heavily armed terror militia. It claims to have tens of thousands of fighters and possesses a reported arsenal of some 150,000 rockets and missiles of different types.
The war cabinet and the security cabinet have completed their discussions of the hostage release deal, and the full 38-minister cabinet is now meeting.
No vote was held in the earlier meetings, with Netanyahu asking ministers in those sessions to wait for the full cabinet meeting for a detailed debate and the vote, Channel 12 reports.
The report also says that United Torah Judaism ministers were told by their spiritual leaders to vote for the deal.
The White House says Russia’s mercenary Wagner Group was preparing to bolster the air defenses of Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group or the regime in Tehran, as part of an “unprecedented defense cooperation” between the two US adversaries.
“Our information… indicates that Wagner, at the direction of the Russian government, was preparing to provide an air defense capability to either Hezbollah or Iran,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby tells reporters.
White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby reiterates the Biden administration’s opposition to Israel expanding its military incursion into southern Gaza unless it demonstrates how it’ll protect the Palestinian civilians it ordered to evacuate to that region from the north.
Kirby says during a press briefing that Israel must have “a clearly articulated plan for how they’re going to protect the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people that have now been added to the population because they were asked to leave by the Israelis. There’s an obligation there for [Israel] to factor that into their planning.”
Biden officials have been making this point publicly since Sunday after privately urging Israel to limit strikes in southern Gaza for weeks, a US official told The Times of Israel.
While the army has indeed urged Gazans to evacuate the northern Strip, it says it will continue operating against Hamas in all parts of the enclave.
The IDF also notes that it still takes measures to warn civilians before carrying out airstrikes, while Hamas continues to use Gazans as human shields.
IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari implies that the hostage deal taking shape, which will include a temporary ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, will not impact the military’s main goal of eliminating the Hamas terror group.
“The goal of returning the hostages is significant. Even if it results in the reduction of some of the other things, we will know how to restore our operational achievements,” Hagari says in response to a question.
Speaking on the reports of the deal, Hagari says the military will first update the families of the hostages, and then the public.
“I recommend only listening to reports from official sources. We will update the truth to the public when we have the facts,” he says.
Pro-Israel Democrat Ritchie Torres tweets that he is “rooting” for far-right minister Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir to resign.
Both ministers have announced that their parties will not vote for a deal that would secure the release of roughly 50 hostages in exchange for a four-day ceasefire and the release of hundreds of Palestinian women and minors jailed by Israel.
Religious Zionism MK Ohad Tal has said that his far-right party headed by Smotrich is considering bolting the coalition if the deal is approved. Ben Gvir has not yet commented on whether he would do the same.
While Torres is one of the most pro-Israel members of Congress, he has not shied away from criticizing the far-right elements of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, branding Ben Gvir a “despicable disgusting dangerous demagogue” in September.
The majority-Arab Hadash-Ta’al opposition party says that the proposed hostage deal in exchange for a short ceasefire and the release of Palestinian prisoners “must be the beginning of the process of ending the war.”
Hadash-Ta’al has railed against Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas following the October 7 atrocities and its civilian casualty count, and its evening statement reads that the deal should be part of “stopping the cycle of killing, and starting a political process with Palestinian leadership.”
White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby says the US has “begun a review” of whether it should re-designate the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen as a terror organization following the group’s hijacking of an Israeli-tied ship in the Red Sea and the series of missile attacks it has launched at Israel since the outbreak of the war in Gaza.
Kirby says the review was launched following “recent targeting of civilians by the Houthis” and “piracy of a ship in international waters.”
“The Houthis ought to release that ship immediately as well as the crew, and unconditionally,” Kirby says.
US President Joe Biden removed the Houthis terror designation shortly after entering the White House amid pressure from rights groups who said it was inhibiting efforts to supply aid to civilians in Yemen.
Kirby adds during a briefing that the US has identified an uptick in cooperation between Iran and Russia against Israel and Ukraine.
“Our information further indicates that [the] Wagner [Group], at the direction of the Russian government, was preparing to provide an air defense capability to either Hezbollah or Iran,” Kirby says.
Kirby adds that Iran is also considering providing Russia with ballistic missiles for use against Ukraine.
The IDF says it has breached a blast door at the end of a Hamas tunnel discovered by forces last week underneath Gaza’s Shifa Hospital.
It publishes two images, one showing the open door and the other further inside the tunnel.
Earlier this week, the IDF released footage showing the inside of the tunnel shaft and part of the tunnel. After around 55 meters, the tunnel ended with a blast door, likely protecting Hamas assets below ground.
The IDF has said for weeks that a major network of tunnels and bunkers exists under Shifa.
The tunnel shaft had been located on the hospital grounds under a canopy, where IDF troops had also found a Hamas pickup truck with weapons in it, similar to those used by the terror group in the October 7 attacks.
Along with Shifa, Israel accuses Hamas of using other hospitals in the Strip for terror purposes.
The government will have a majority in the 38-person cabinet to approve a hostage deal, despite opposition from far-right parties Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit, who together hold six cabinet votes.
The war cabinet supports the deal, and will presumably rally 19 votes held by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and five belonging to war cabinet minister Benny Gantz’s National Unity party.
The ultra-Orthodox Shas party will also put its six votes toward the emerging hostage deal, says a party spokesperson.
Shas leader Aryeh Deri consulted with the ultra-Orthodox party’s religious advisers, who “instructed” him to put the party’s six cabinet seats behind the deal to “release hostages who are in grave danger,” according to a statement.
Deri was removed from the cabinet earlier this year, but sits as an observer on the war cabinet.
United Torah Judaism, which holds two seats, has yet to publicly express its stances. But according to reports in the Hebrew media, it is set to back the deal.
The Biden administration’s envoy for the humanitarian situation in Gaza says that Israel has responded to a US request to create a “deconfliction mechanism” to better ensure that humanitarian workers are protected amid ongoing IDF strikes in Gaza.
“We realized and we impressed upon Israel that more had to be done. There needed to be a single coordinated, functional deconfliction mechanism. It happens in other areas of conflict and it needs to happen now,” David Satterfield says in a webinar hosted by the Al-Monitor news site.
“Israel has taken those steps and I believe that the deconfliction mechanism is very shortly going to go into action. It is tragic that there had to be deaths before this was done, but the important thing is that Israel does recognize the need and is active,” Satterfield says.
While aid organizations have been increasingly calling on Israel to reopen its Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza to allow for a larger flow of aid into the Strip, Satterfield says Egypt’s Rafah crossing is sufficient on its own for the supply of aid into the Hamas-run enclave.
Rafah was designed to serve as a crossing for pedestrians and small vehicle traffic, but Satterfield says it can still handle the volume of assistance needed for Gaza.
Israel shut its Kerem Shalom crossing following the shock October 7 Hamas onslaught, saying it would not directly facilitate aid into Gaza as long as terror groups inside continue to hold onto some 240 hostages taken from Israel that Saturday.
Satterfield says “the Israeli government has made very clear that it is not prepared to see that change,” indicating that the US is not pressuring Jerusalem to change its policy on the matter.
The US envoy adds that the emerging hostage deal, which would include a four-day ceasefire represents a “critical opportunity” to surge more aid into Gaza.
The IDF says it launched interceptor missiles at a number of “suspicious aerial targets” — apparently drones — that entered Israeli airspace from Lebanon, setting off sirens in the Western Galilee.
It says the incident is over, without elaborating further.
Earlier, the IDF says it struck an anti-tank missile launch position in southern Lebanon.
The IDF says that it is now striking further Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon.
The incidents come amid repeated attacks from southern Lebanon by Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions on northern Israel.
בהמשך להתרעה על חדירה של כלי טיס עוינים בצפון הארץ לפני זמן קצר, שוגרו מיירטים לעבר מספר מטרות אוויריות חשודות שחצו משטח לבנון לעבר שטח הגליל המערבי, האירוע הסתיים.
כוחות צה"ל תקפו מוקדם יותר היום משגר נ"ט במרחב גבול לבנון.
כמו כן, צה"ל תוקף כעת מטרות של ארגון הטרור חיזבאללה. pic.twitter.com/BItErmrGeJ
— דובר צה״ל דניאל הגרי – Daniel Hagari (@IDFSpokesperson) November 21, 2023
BAGHDAD — A strike hit a base housing US troops in Iraq early Tuesday, causing “minor injuries to US personnel and damage to infrastructure,” a US military official in the country says.
The official said US forces “responded in self-defense against those who carried out the strike” on al-Asad military base in western Iraq. A second defense official confirmed that a US gunship was used in a retaliatory strike Tuesday after militants hit the base.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Also early Tuesday, a drone strike on a highway west of Baghdad targeted two pickup trucks linked to the Kataeb Hezbollah militia, killing one militia member and injuring at least three others, two militia officials said.
The militia officials, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the strike hit a convoy traveling from Anbar to Baghdad. Later on Tuesday, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a coalition of Iran-backed militias, issued a statement announcing the death of one of its members in Iraq in what it said was a US airstrike.
It was not immediately clear if the strike that killed the Kataeb Hezbollah member was the same one launched in retaliation to the attack on the al-Assad base.
The two incidents come as Iranian-backed militants have launched dozens of attacks on bases and facilities housing US personnel in Iraq and Syria since October 17.
While most of the more than five dozen attacks have been ineffective, at least 60 US personnel have reported minor injuries. The militant groups have said that the strikes are in retaliation for US support of Israel in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war following Hamas’s October 7 atrocities.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.
The Religious Zionism party headed by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich says it cannot agree to the deal for the return of 50 hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza which will be proposed to the cabinet this evening.
In a statement to the press, the party, a member of the governing coalition, describes the deal as “bad for Israel’s security, bad for the hostages, and bad for the soldiers of the IDF.”
The party says it wants to see all the hostages brought home, but that the hostage deal will “abandon” some of the captives for an unknown period of time, raise the price for their future release, and give Hamas the opportunity to reorganize and withstand the IDF’s campaign for longer.
It also argues that IDF forces would be exposed to Hamas attacks during the proposed pauses in combat during which the hostages would be released, without the ability to fully respond.
“The only way to return all the hostages is by continuing the unceasing military pressure on Hamas until total victory,” says Religious Zionism in its statement.
“Religious Zionism will stand strong for the continuing of the war until the total destruction of Hamas, the return of all the hostages, and the elimination of the threat posed by Gaza to Israeli citizens,” it concludes.
The government’s far-right Otzma Yehudit party says it “will oppose” the burgeoning hostage deal, pushing instead for the Israel Defense Forces to continue its military pressure on Hamas.
“Hamas’s agreement to the deal indicates that the IDF is carrying out an effective strike, it is necessary to continue striking the enemy and bring it to a deal under conditions dictated by Israel and not under the very problematic conditions that endanger IDF forces and [makes] distinguishment among the abductees,” a statement from the party reads.
Before details of the proposed four-day ceasefire and a Palestinian prisoner release for 50 living hostages were disclosed, party leader Itamar Ben Gvir said earlier today that a hostage deal could bring “a disaster upon us.”
The national security minister’s party adds that the deal, which also requires a six-hour daily intelligence drone blackout, “would endanger the ground forces fighting in Gaza and undermine the war effort.”
In addition to giving preference for civilian children and their mothers over other hostages, the deal, Otzma Yehudit says, “will significantly reduce the chances of returning the remaining abductees held by Hamas, including our soldiers.”
The party instead says it wants a deal that will free all of the some 240 hostages held in Gaza.
The cabinet is meeting tonight to discuss the approval of the proposed deal.
South Africa’s parliament passes a resolution that urges the government to shutter the embassy of Israel, which the resolution calls an “apartheid state.”
A majority of 248 members of the National Assembly vote in favor of the non-binding resolution titled “Closure of the Israel Embassy in South Africa and suspension of all diplomatic relations with Israel” by lawmaker Julius Malema of the EFF opposition party.
The ruling African National Congress voted in favor of the resolution. But 91 lawmakers from opposition parties voted against it.
That government is not legally obligated to act on the motion.
The vote follows a significant deterioration in Israel’s bilateral relationship with South Africa, whose president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has called Israel’s actions in Gaza a “genocide.”
Pretoria is hosting a virtual meeting of BRICS — a group of major emerging economies that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — aimed at drawing up a common response to the Israel-Hamas war.
Hamas terrorists on October 7 murdered some 1,200 people in Israel amid brutal atrocities and abducted 240 others, among other war crimes.
Israel moved in on Gaza with the stated goal of toppling Hamas’s terror regime there. According to Hamas health authorities, the death toll in Gaza has topped 13,300. These figures cannot be independently verified, and do not distinguish between civilians and active members of the Hamas terror group. The figure also does not distinguish between those killed in Israeli strikes and those killed by hundreds of errant rockets launched by Palestinian terrorists that landed inside Gaza.
The South African Parliament calls “upon the government to close the Israeli Embassy in South Africa until a ceasefire is agreed to by Israel and that Israel commit to binding United Nations facilitated negotiations whose outcome must be just, sustainable and lasting peace,” reads the motion.
It also says Palestinians have suffered “apartheid” by Israel.
Pretoria has recalled all its diplomats from Israel.
On Monday, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it had also recalled its ambassador to Pretoria for consultations.
AFP contributed to this report.
US President Joe Biden says “we are now very close” to reaching a deal to release some of the roughly 240 hostages being held by Hamas and other terror factions in Gaza.
“We are now very close, very close. We could bring some of these hostages home very soon,” Biden says in remarks to reporters at the White House.
“But I don’t want to get into the details of things because nothing is done until it’s done,” he adds. “Things are looking good at the moment.”
NEW: Pres. Biden says "we are now very close" on a deal to release the hostages being held by Hamas.
— ABC News (@ABC) November 21, 2023
Incoming rocket sirens are sounding in central Israel, following rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.
The alerts are activated in Be’er Yaakov, Ness Ziona, Rishon LeZion, Rehovot, and other smaller communities.
Interceptor missiles are seen over the area.
The Hamas terror group claims responsibility for the attack.
The Israel Defense Forces has no plans to allow Palestinians to move back to northern Gaza when the military expands its ground offensive into the southern part of the Strip.
The Times of Israel has learned that the IDF instead plans to direct the civilian population to areas away from the expected ground offensive in southern Gaza, in order to reduce civilian casualties.
The population may move around in southern Gaza, but not northward, according to information seen by The Times of Israel.
So far, the IDF has declared the small al-Mawasi area on the southern coast of Gaza as a “safe zone” amid the ground offensive in the north and airstrikes across the Strip.
The IDF believes the humanitarian situation in Gaza is reasonable given the circumstances, and wishes to avoid a major crisis that would harm Israel’s legitimacy to continue its operations in the Strip.
A suspected drone infiltration alarm is sounding in several communities in the Western Galilee.
The alerts are activated in Shlomi, Rosh HaNikra, Metzuba, Betzet, Lehman and the Achziv Miluot Industrial Zone.
At the same time, incoming rocket sirens sound in Shlomi and Betzet.
The IDF is investigating the cause of the alarms.
Source: Gaza war will resume once releases completed; Palestinian prisoners convicted of murder won’t be freed
An Israeli government source says Israel has insisted on certain conditions in the developing hostage deal with Hamas, including that no Palestinian prisoners convicted of murder will be released in the agreement.
Immediately after the phases of the hostage releases are completed, the source says, Israel’s military campaign against Hamas in Gaza will resume.
According to the developing deal, Hamas will release at least 50 Israeli hostages, mainly women and children, in exchange for a ceasefire of four days, the release of between 150 and 300 Palestinian prisoners, and the entry of fuel and other goods into Gaza.
Some 12-13 hostages will be released per day as the ceasefire takes effect, the source says, adding that Israel will release women and minor prisoners, with each returning to the city or town where they lived prior to imprisonment, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Israel will receive a list of the names of those to be released a day before their release.
The source says the deal will also include a second stage to the agreement by which Hamas will act to locate women and children held by other terror factions in Gaza ahead of their possible release.
Israel believes Hamas may prove able to locate and release up to 30 further Israeli women and children.
The halt in the fighting could be extended for additional days in exchange for 10 further releases per extra day, the source says.
The source says the deal has nothing to do with hostages who are not Israelis, and that other governments may be working on separate deals.
If, as expected ,the deal is approved by the full cabinet tonight, Israel will subsequently publish the details of Palestinian prisoners to be freed, the source says; the public will have 24 hours by law to petition against any of these planned prisoner releases.
According to the source, Israel’s security establishment is in favor of the imminent agreement.
The source also says fuel that will enter Gaza as part of the deal will only be brought in during the ceasefire.
While there will be six hours a day when the IDF will not use drones to gather intelligence on activity in the Strip, the IDF and Shin Bet will maintain the ability to continue gathering intelligence even during the pause in fighting, the source says.
Furthermore, Israel will not allow Gazans who evacuated southward to return to the northern part of the enclave where the IDF is operating.
Hamas has said it has 210 of the about 240 hostages taken from Israel during the October 7 atrocities. Islamic Jihad is said to be holding many of the remaining hostages.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi says military pressure on Hamas is creating “better conditions” for the release of hostages held by the terror group in the Gaza Strip, and that such pressure will continue.
During a visit to the Gaza Strip today, Halevi tells troops they are doing a “great job, it really is very impressive.” But he adds that “the road is still long.”
“We are determined to follow this road and really bring maximal achievements. Also to dismantle Hamas — militarily and governmentally — also to bring security around the region, to the communities in the [area surrounding Gaza], and also to return the hostages,” Halevi says.
“All these things work together… the maneuver also creates better conditions for the return of the hostages. It deals blows to Hamas, it creates pressure, and we will continue this pressure,” he adds.
STRASBOURG, France — The EU gives the green light to continuing development aid to Palestinians after a review found no funds had gone to Hamas, but says tighter controls could be imposed going forward.
Brussels launched the assessment of its assistance following the surprise attack by Hamas against Israel on October 7 in which thousands of invading terrorists killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, amid brutal atrocities, and took some 240 hostages.
The 27-nation bloc is the biggest international aid provider supporting Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, with nearly 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) earmarked for assistance from 2021 to 2024.
“The review found no indications of EU money having directly or indirectly benefited the terrorist organization Hamas,” European Commission vice president Valdis Dombrovskis says.
“The review found that the control system in place has worked, and as a result payment to Palestinian beneficiaries and UNRWA (United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees) will continue without payment delays.”
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, says it cleared contracts worth a total of 216 million euros ($236 million) that include financial support for the Palestinian Authority and paying salaries of public servants.
But Brussels announces it now may apply tougher safeguards on its projects, including increased screening for any possible antisemitism.
“The commission has identified some additional measures, such as the inclusion of relevant anti-incitement contractual clauses in all new contracts and ensure the monitoring of their strict application at all times,” a statement says.
A senior EU official says Brussels was probing allegations of possible incitement to hatred and glorification of terrorism in the case of two of its 119 aid contracts, worth some 8 million euros.
Further projects worth 75 million euros — mainly to do with building infrastructure to supply drinking water to Gaza — were now not possible due to Israel’s war with Hamas, the official says.
Likud party minister Miri Regev throws her weight behind amending a controversial law that establishes Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, in comments made while meeting with senior Druze community members.
“The Druze and the Jews are fighting together for our home,” Regev says in a meeting with Druze spiritual leader Muwafaq Tarif and community elders.
“The Nation State Law must be amended to express the community’s deep connection to the State of Israel – the state of the Jewish people,” the transportation minister says.
Nodding to the six fallen Druze soldiers since October 7, Regev says that Israel should show its “gratitude” to a community she calls “brothers.”
Druze men are unique among Israel’s Arab community for participating in mandatory military service.
“Members of the community contribute to the defense of the homeland at a higher rate than their share of the population,” she says. “The steps we take are a little of the gratitude we have.”
Hebrew University of Jerusalem students who have been called up for IDF reserve duty will receive an “extensive aid package,” the university announces.
“This package encompasses a financial grant starting at a minimum of NIS 2,000, alongside a comprehensive array of personal, academic, financial, and emotional support valued at thousands of shekels,” the announcement says.
The university also aims to facilitate the “seamless reintegration of reserve service individuals into academic life” through a “tailored academic assistance program” which can include tutoring, psychological support, exemptions from dormitory rent, and more.
Most of Israel’s institutes of higher education have announced similar aid packages. Official estimates are that some 30% of all university students are currently serving in the massive call-up of IDF reserve soldiers, along with thousands of staff and faculty members. Hebrew University has about 4,000 students in the reserves, out of a student body of 24,000.
The start of the academic year, originally slated to begin on October 15, is now scheduled for December 24.
However, if a significant number of reservists aren’t released by then, it is likely the start will be delayed further.
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The deal taking shape for the release of hostages held by Hamas and other terrorists in Gaza will see at least 50 Israeli abductees freed in the coming days, Channel 12 reports.
The current agreement set to be finalized today, according to reports in Israel, is focused on Israeli hostages, mainly women and children, with talks on releasing foreign hostages not currently on the table.
Hamas and other terror factions in Gaza abducted some 240 people from Israel during the October 7 atrocities, including some 40 children, plus elderly people and dozens of Thai and Nepali nationals.
AFP reports that two sources with knowledge of the tentative deal have said that between 50 and 100 civilian hostages from Israel would be released in the deal, but no military personnel.
The transfer would span several days, with 10 hostages and 30 Palestinians prisoners to be released each day.
According to the same sources, the deal includes a “complete ceasefire” on the ground for four to five days.
Channel 12 says the burgeoning hostage deal will include the release of some 150 to 300 Palestinian prisoners in Israel, among them female and minor prisoners.
The deal will also provide for between 100 and 300 trucks of food and medical aid, as well as fuel, to enter Gaza, the sources tell AFP.
Channel 12 says the hostage releases could begin on Thursday or Friday. The report says the ceasefire could be extended to allow the release of more hostages following the initial 50 or so.
China’s Xi Jinping calls for an “immediate” ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and the release of “civilian detainees,” Beijing’s state media says, as the Chinese leader addresses a virtual summit of fellow BRICS leaders.
“All parties in the conflicts should immediately cease fire and hostilities, stop all violence and attacks targeting civilians, and release civilian detainees to avoid more loss of lives and suffering,” Xi says, according to the Xinhua news agency.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant says Israel will need to make “difficult decisions” with regard to the hostages held by the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip.
“We are moving step by step toward the total defeat of Hamas and getting closer to bringing the hostages home,” says Gallant following an assessment with military officials at the Gaza Division base in southern Israel.
“I think we will all have to make difficult, important decisions in the coming days,” he says. “There is not a moment throughout this campaign — 45 days — that I don’t think about the hostages,” Gallant adds.
The cabinet will convene tonight to discuss the hostage deal taking shape via mediator Qatar.
The IDF confirms a number of rockets were fired from Lebanon at Kiryat Shmona in the Upper Galilee and Ya’ara and Hanita in the Western Galilee.
There are no injuries in the attacks.
The IDF says it is responding with artillery and tank shelling against southern Lebanon.
Meanwhile, the Hezbollah terror group claims to have targeted the northern community of Manara with two anti-tank missiles in response to the deaths of two journalists and other civilians in apparent IDF strikes earlier.
It also claims four other rocket and missile attacks throughout the day.
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid receives a security briefing from the prime minister’s military secretary, says Lapid’s office.
The meeting comes hours before the war cabinet, the broader security cabinet and the entire cabinet are each slated to discuss developments related to a hostage deal, expected to include a multi-day ceasefire and the release of at least 150 — and up to 300 according to AFP — Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, including female prisoners and minors.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir will convene his far-right Otzma Yehudit party in order to determine its stance toward a potential hostage deal, the party says in an announcement.
Ben Gvir is one of the more hawkish members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and earlier today said that he feared that Israel is heading toward a deal that “would bring disaster upon us.”
BEIRUT — An Israeli drone strike in southern Lebanon has killed four members of the Palestinian terror group Hamas, a Palestinian official and a Lebanese security official say.
The strike today occurred in the village of Chaatiyeh near the Mediterranean coast, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to reveal military information.
Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency confirms that four people were killed in a vehicle but did not give any further details.
The Palestinian official said the four were members of the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing. The Lebanese security official says the four were members of Hamas, without saying if they were from the military wing.
The Israeli military does not comment on the strike.
According to unconfirmed reports circulating on social media, among the Hamas members killed today was Khalil Kharaz, the deputy commander of Hamas’s Lebanon wing.
An escalation in Lebanon: initial unconfirmed reports suggest Khalil Kharaz, the deputy commander of #Hamas’ Al Qassam Brigades #Lebanon wing, has been assassinated. #Israel pic.twitter.com/5yMxMPzlvz
— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) November 21, 2023
Hamas has a large presence in Lebanon, which is home to tens of thousands of Palestinians, many of them living in the country’s 12 refugee camps.
Since Hamas’s shock Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel that killed about 1,200 people, Hamas has claimed responsibility for firing rockets from Lebanon into northern Israel — along with many more fired by Lebanon terror group Hezbollah — as well as one cross-border infiltration.
On October 14, Hamas said three of its fighters were killed along the border and their bodies remain in Israel.
War cabinet Minister Benny Gantz says the return of the hostages abducted by Hamas and other terror factions on October 7 is a key factor that will help Israel “win the war.”
“We are in extremely sensitive days for Israeli society,” he says during a military tour in northern Israel.
“The return of the hostages is a moral order and also an integral part of the resilience that allows us to win the war. It is important to say that especially these days — Israeli society as a whole… right and left – is praying and wishing for the safe return of the [hostages].
“We are making every effort to return them as quickly as possible. Along with this, we will continue to fight and stand guard until we bring about a change in the security reality in the south — and it will take as long as it takes,” he says.
Sirens are sounding in Kiryat Shmona and nearby areas in northern Israel.
According to a Channel 12 report, Israeli air defenses intercepted a missile from Lebanon.
Two projectiles landed in open fields in the north, the report says. There are no reports of injuries or damage.
Qatar says it is “very optimistic” on finalizing a deal to release dozens of hostages from Israel held by terrorists in Gaza since October 7.
Dr. Majed Al Ansari, the spokesperson for the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, says in a post on X: “We are working towards an agreement taking place and we are now at the closest point we ever have been in reaching and an agreement. We are very optimistic, we are very hopeful, but we are also very keen for this mediation to succeed in reaching a humanitarian truce.”
Dr. @majedalansari, Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, during the weekly media briefing:
We are working towards an agreement taking place and we are now at the closest point we ever have been in reaching and an agreement. We are very optimistic, we are very… pic.twitter.com/Kdz4b47bwQ
— Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Qatar (@MofaQatar_EN) November 21, 2023
He says he cannot comment further on the details of the agreement and is waiting for a finalized deal.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to convene the cabinet this evening to approve the deal, according to multiple reports.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir pulls the head of Israel’s gun licensing authority from a Knesset oversight committee meeting, causing an uproar among lawmakers demanding answers about Israel’s expedited wartime gun licensing procedures.
Yisrael Avisar, who heads the National Security Ministry’s Firearm Licensing Department, abruptly curtails his remarks and leaves the committee, saying that Ben Gvir demanded he stop speaking.
Avisar does so shortly after State Control Committee chairman Mickey Levy temporarily removes one of Ben Gvir’s advisers from the meeting, after several warnings that the legislative aide was being disruptive.
״קיבלתי הנחיה מלשכת השר לא להשתתף בדיון״- מסביר נציג המשרד לביטחון לאומי לחברי הועדה לענייני ביקורת המדינה.
בדיון בנושא נשיאת נשק אישי, היועץ הפוליטי של בן גביר התחצף ליו"ר הוועדה, מיקי לוי, אמר לו שהוא בפאניקה והוצא מהדיון.
בן גביר דרש מאנשי המשרד לצאת.
המשרד לענייני בן גביר. pic.twitter.com/Qk1QQQQk7H
— Michal Peylan • מיכל פעילן (@michalpeylan) November 21, 2023
Levy’s demand that Avisar finish his remarks is rejected, and Levy calls the incident an example of “shame and contempt” for the Knesset.
“A minister who is unable to face Knesset oversight and prevents his representatives from appearing will have to do so by force of law, with the next subpoena that we issue for them,” Levy threatens.
Women’s groups have been concerned about guns making their way into the hands of unreported domestic abusers, and domestic violence support organization Naamat said on Tuesday that several women have expressed concern about their partners obtaining a firearm through wartime ease of access.
Women’s organizations told the committee that “there are those who don’t have time to wait — it’s about their lives,” according to a readout from the committee spokesperson.
The full Israeli cabinet is set to convene at 8 p.m. today “in light of the developments regarding the release of our hostages,” the Prime Minister’s Office says.
Multiple outlets are reporting that ministers are meeting to give final approval for a hostage release deal with Hamas. Such a deal is widely expected to be approved.
Prior to that 8 p.m. meeting, the war cabinet will meet at 6 p.m. and the security cabinet will meet at 7 p.m. to okay the deal as well.
Meeting with reserves troops in southern Israel earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “we are advancing” toward a deal. “I don’t think I should say too much, even now, but I hope we have good news soon.”
Earlier, Channel 12 news cited a senior Israeli official as saying “we are very close to a deal.”
Noting that there were still technical issues to be resolved, the official said there was an agreement that at least 50 people will be freed, while dozens more could be released in exchange for extending a planned ceasefire beyond the initial few days.
Those set to be released, in phases over 4-5 days, are expected to be some 40 children, as well as their mothers and other women, the report said.
In exchange, Israel would reportedly free some 150-300 Palestinians, among them women and minors. There would reportedly be a ceasefire in the war as the releases go ahead. According to some reports, Israel would also stop using drones to monitor parts or all of Gaza for several hours a day during the ceasefire.
In line with a 2014 amendment to the Government Law, the full cabinet is required to approve the early release of security prisoners. Early release is possible only under tight national security or foreign relations conditions, including the release of Israeli citizens or residents held hostage, as is the case now, or as part of a foreign policy agreement.
Health Minister Uriel Busso and Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov send a letter to the World Health Organization protesting terror activity by Hamas at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
The letter specifically mentions that the IDF Spokesperson’s Department published closed-circuit video clips from Shifa showing terror activity — including the holding of hostages — in the above-ground areas of the hospital. The letter reminds the WHO that such activity is unethical and contravenes all rules of war.
“On November 2, Dr. Michael Ryan, director of WHO health emergencies program, said he knew what was going on ‘above ground’ at Shifa and was aware that the use of medical facilities for military purposes is forbidden according to international law. At the same time, he claimed he doubted that any terror activities were happening at Shifa,” the letter says.
Based on evidence from the closed-circuit video, the Health Ministry accuses Ryan of providing an incorrect and misleading description of the situation at Shifa to the international community.
“It is clear now that WHO has ignored the use of medical facilities as human shields and of Hamas’s refusal to allow civilians to evacuate from them… WHO’s failure to address these issues amounts to its contribution to the continuation of a conflict that is causing much suffering to so many,” the letter says.
The Health Ministry also refers in the letter to terrorists Israel says are hiding underneath Shifa, other hospitals, and schools in Gaza contrary to international law.
“WHO must demand an immediate halt to the use of human shields and health facilities for terror purposes. It must also demand the evacuation of all civilian populations to safe zones and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages,” the ministry’s letter says.
Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera reports a significant increase in women in their 50s coming to the emergency room with heart attack symptoms. In most cases, the symptoms are caused by the stress these women are experience because of having sons or daughters serving in the military during the war.
“This is the first time we have more women than men in our cardiac intensive care unit,” Prof. Ariel Rogin, head of the hospital’s cardiac division, told Doctors Only, an online publication for the Israeli medical community.
In some cases, the women are undergoing actual heart attacks or have some sort of arterial blockage. However, many are suffering from Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, which is also known as “broken heart syndrome.” This occurs when severe psychological stress raises adrenaline levels and causes the functioning of the heart muscle to slow down temporarily.
Anyone experiencing chest pain or pressure, difficulty breathing, excessive sweating, dizziness, or fainting following exposure to stressful events or news should be taken immediately for medical evaluation at a hospital emergency room.
Family members of 12 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 and currently being held in Gaza will meet with Pope Francis in the Vatican on Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry announces.
In total, 20 family members will meet with the pope, and then will meet with senior figures in the Italian government and conduct media interviews with the Italian press.
Some 240 hostages are being held by Hamas, which has refused to allow visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross, or any other humanitarian visits.
Former prime minister Ehud Barak has caused controversy after telling CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that Israel helped build some of the underground spaces beneath Gaza’s Shifa Hospital.
During an interview, Barak said bunkers being used by Hamas for terror activity were originally “built by Israeli constructors.”
A surprised Amanpour responded: “When you said it was built by Israeli engineers did you misspeak?”
Barak answered: “No no, you know, some decades ago we were running the place… so we helped them… we helped them to build these bunkers in order to enable more space for the operation of the hospital.”
Amanpour said the comment “has sort of thrown me a little bit.”
Amanpour: "When you say [the bunker under al-Shifa] was built by Israeli engineers, did you misspeak?
Ehud Barak: "No, decades ago, we were running the place… we helped them to build these bunkers."
Amanpour: "Ok. That's sort of thrown me a little bit."pic.twitter.com/CTYfMij2V0
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) November 21, 2023
The clip has been widely disseminated online, with critics of Israel citing it as ostensible proof that Israel has been lying about Hamas building tunnels under Shifa and using the medical compound to shield itself from attack.
Israeli officials have said that while Hamas originally appropriated basement areas in the hospital — which was built by Israel when it still ruled Gaza — the terror group has since then dug several further floors and added tunnels to make the site a hub in its vast underground labyrinth.
Barak’s comments did not contradict Israel’s main argument — that Hamas has been misusing the spaces under the hospital for terror purposes.
The IDF releases footage of the elite Maglan unit operating in the Gaza Strip, using Spike missiles and the Iron Sting guided mortar.
According to the IDF, the unit has located and struck some 70 Hamas targets during the ground offensive, including observation posts, missile launch sites, and terror cells.
It says the Maglan troops, along with other forces of the Commando Brigade, found weaponry in the home of a Hamas member in Gaza’s Shati camp, and raided a school next to which two tunnel shafts were found.
The IDF releases footage of the elite Maglan unit operating in the Gaza Strip, using Spike missiles and the Iron Sting guided mortar.
According to the IDF, the unit has located and struck some 70 Hamas targets during the ground offensive, including observation posts, missile… pic.twitter.com/TKVWZAej1A
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) November 21, 2023
Germany’s interior minister urges Muslim groups in the country to explicitly condemn the deadly October 7 attacks by Hamas and to voice solidarity with Israel.
The nation is home to about 5.5 million Muslims, making up the second-biggest religious group.
“I expect the Muslim organizations to clearly position themselves and uphold their responsibilities in society,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser says in an interview with German broadcaster ARD.
The groups need to “clearly condemn” the attack by Hamas and not just with a “yes, but,” she says.
“It must be very clear. We stand by Israel’s side,” adds Faeser.
Some Muslim groups have indeed “lived up to their responsibilities,” she says. “Some have not.”
The voices “defending our values” must get louder, says the minister.
Avi Shoshan leaves his position as spokesperson for Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Medical Center following controversy over the October 24 press conference held there in which freed hostage Yocheved Lifshitz criticized Israeli failures and spoke well of her captors. The event was considered a propaganda win for Hamas.
Lifshitz, 85, was taken hostage by terrorists from her home in Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7 as Hamas brutally attacked Israeli communities near Gaza. Lifshitz’s husband Oded was also seized and is still in captivity.
Lifshitz and another hostage, Nurit Cooper, 79, were freed and returned to Israel on October 23, for what Hamas cited as humanitarian reasons.
The October 24 press conference in the hospital lobby appeared to be hastily put together and disorganized. Some criticized the government for failing to oversee the event, and the hospital was blamed by others for arranging it.
Shoshan, who served as Ichilov’s spokesperson for 13 years, was called to a pre-dismissal hearing as per Israeli labor law. He announced on social media today that he is no longer employed by the hospital.
Actress Susan Sarandon is facing criticism for saying at a recent pro-Palestinian rally that US Jews fearing for their safety amid a spike in antisemitism “are getting a taste of what it feels like to be a Muslim in this country.”
Sarandon has been intensely critical of Israel throughout the war, repeatedly posting accusations of genocide, atrocities and war crimes by Israel; sharing misinformation denying elements of Hamas’s massacres in Israeli communities; and characterizing Hamas as a “resistance organization” and not a terror group.
Author Asra Nomani, an Indian American author of Muslim heritage, writes on X: “Let me give you ‘a taste’ of what it ‘feels like’ to be a Muslim in America: My dad didn’t have to become a second-class indentured servant to one of the many tyrants of Muslim countries…My mom?… Being Muslim in America meant she got to live FREE with the wind in her hair…You think the Muslim dictatorship of Qatar allows a pathway to citizenship for Muslim slaves, servants or Palestinian Muslims? Hell no…”
“Please don’t minimize the experience of Jewish Americans by sanitizing the hell that it is for Muslims living in Muslim countries and vilifying America for the life — and freedoms — she offers Muslims like my family.”
Hi there @SusanSarandon, this is my mom, my dad and me on the rail trail in Morgantown, West by God Virginia. Let me tell you what it means to be Muslim in America.
First, your backstory: At an anti-Israel protest in NYC, you just said, "There are a lot of people that are… pic.twitter.com/zAyUjpTxkY
— Asra Nomani (@AsraNomani) November 20, 2023
Negotiations to free hostages seized in Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel are at their “closest point” to a deal and have reached the “final stage,” mediator Qatar says.
“We are at the closest point we ever had been in reaching an agreement,” foreign ministry spokesperson Majed Al-Ansari says, adding negotiations have reached a “critical and final stage.”
Polish authorities say that they have arrested and pressed charges against a 38-year-old Polish woman with Islamic extremist sympathies who planted an explosive device on a street in central Warsaw earlier this month. There were no injuries.
Police say in a statement that the woman placed the device in Warsaw on the night of Nov. 10-11 and then took a train back to her home in western Poland. Nobody was hurt, but the device had the potential to hurt many people, police say.
“The makeshift explosive device filled with gas containers and nails could have caused a serious threat to the health and lives of many people,” the statement says. It adds that she was charged with “causing danger and bringing danger to the life and health of many people, as well as preparation for causing such danger.”
Police describe the suspect as a Polish woman interested in Middle Eastern affairs, but don’t give any more details about her. They release photos showing police fingerprinting and handcuffing her, and also showed some of the objects they said they found in her home. Among them was an image of Osama bin Laden.
A woman has been charged in Poland on suspicion of carrying out a bombing on a public street in Warsaw on Nov. 10. One person was injured by shrapnel. The explosive device was filled with nails and broken glass. Investigators say they found another bomb at her home, along with… pic.twitter.com/R3V99n0XVG
— Andy Ngô ????️???? (@MrAndyNgo) November 20, 2023
An Israeli strike in south Lebanon killed two journalists and another civilian today, official media in Lebanon claims, while Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen television says two of its staff were killed.
The state-run National News Agency reports “the death of three citizens — two journalists and another civilian — in enemy bombing” of the Tair Harfa area. Al-Mayadeen says its “correspondent Farah Omar and cameraman Rabih Maamari were killed by an Israeli attack.”
The IDF has said it struck Hezbollah targets, including missile launching squads and other military sites. It has not commented on the Lebanese claims so far.
German authorities raid the homes of 17 people in the state of Bavaria accused of spreading antisemitic hate speech and threats targeting Jews online.
According to the Bavarian criminal police, the suspects are 15 men and two women, aged between 18 and 62, German news agency dpa reports. Police questioned the suspects and confiscated evidence from their homes, including cellphones and laptops, the agency says.
The suspects are said to have celebrated the attack by Hamas on Israel on Oct. 7, and are accused of spreading hate speech against Jewish people on social media, using symbols of banned terrorist organizations, dpa reports.
One suspect allegedly sent a sticker in a WhatsApp school class chat showing a clown with the words “Gas the Jews.” Another person allegedly posted on his account that “the Jewish sons” deserved nothing more than to be “exterminated,” dpa reports.
Another suspect is accused of posting a picture of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler shortly after the Oct. 7 attacks with the caption “I could kill all the Jews, but I left some alive to show you why I killed them.” Next to it, he posted a Palestinian flag, the caption “Free Palestine” and an emoji with a victory sign.
Sirens have been activated at Kibbutz Bar’am in northern Israel.
Ynet reports that several mortar shells fell in the area, with no casualties.
The mother of two children held in Gaza stands vigil outside IDF Headquarters in Tel Aviv.
Hadas Calderon’s children Erez, 12, and Sahar, 16, were kidnapped to the Strip along with her ex-husband Ofer on October 7.
“We must not miss this chance for a deal,” Calderon says, amid reports of a potential agreement that could see some of the hostages released.
“I call on all the mothers to come to the entrance to the Kirya, and to stand alongside me,” she says, using the name of the headquarters base.
“We must bring them home.”
The IDF says it struck three Hezbollah anti-tank missile squads in southern Lebanon, and fighter jets hit sites belonging to the terror group in response to repeated attacks on northern Israel.
Several mortars were fired earlier from Lebanon at an army post on the border, causing no injuries, according to the IDF.
It says it is responding with artillery shelling at the sources of the fire in southern Lebanon.
כלי טיס של צה"ל זיהו ותקפו לפני זמן קצר שלוש חוליות נ"ט במרחב גבול לבנון.
בנוסף, מטוסי קרב של צה"ל תקפו מספר מטרות טרור של ארגון הטרור חיזבאללה, ביניהן תשתיות צבאיות ותשתיות להכוונת טרור.
לפני זמן קצר מחבלים ירו פצצת מרגמה לעבר מוצב צה"ל במרחב גבול לבנון. אין נפגעים >> pic.twitter.com/NSTR3GKimM
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) November 21, 2023
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir issues a statement warning against the reported hostage deal taking shape.
“I’m very concerned because there is talk of some deal… we are being kept out [of the details], and we’re not being told the truth,” he says. “The rumors are that Israel is again going to make a major mistake in similar vein to the  Shalit deal.”
He says he is concerned by “a deal that might bring disaster,” citing the possible release of Palestinian prisoners, as well as allowing fuel into the Strip.
The head of Metula in the north, near the Lebanon border, has decried the new state of affairs in the vicinity of his town, with communities emptied due to the threat from Hezbollah.
“In effect, Israel has formed a security zone 5 kilometers south of the border,” Mayor David Azoulay says according to Walla news, referencing the former “security zone” Israel once held in south Lebanon.
“I call on Israel to form a [security] zone of 4-5 kilometers north of the border,” he says.
“We are told that [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah won’t start a war, but we’re already at war.”
NBC news says it has cut ties with a Palestinian reporter who worked for the network after she was arrested by Israeli authorities on suspicion of inciting to terrorism.
East Jerusalem resident Marwat Al-Azza is accused of celebrating on social media the kidnapping of Israelis on October 7.
In one post she allegedly wrote about an elderly woman taken to Gaza: “It’s killing me, it’s a black comedy, the old woman looks happy, a bit of action before she dies.”
On another: “Sirens all the time, the Jews are hiding and the Arabs are out drinking coffee on their balconies.”
NBC said in a statement: “The investigation of Ms. Azza is unrelated to NBC News. It is based on her personal Facebook posts that predate her time with us as a freelancer. We were not aware of those posts before we engaged Ms. Azza four weeks ago. She will not be contributing to our coverage going forward.”
Channel 12 news cites a senior Israeli official saying “we are very close to a deal” for the release of some hostages in Gaza.
Noting that there are still technical issues to resolve, the official says there is an agreement that at least 50 people will be freed, while dozens more could be released in exchange for extending a ceasefire beyond the initial few days.
Those set to be released are expected to be children, their mothers and other women, the report says.
The IDF says its 162nd Division has completed the encirclement of northern Gaza’s Jabaliya, and is ready to deepen the fighting.
It says the 215th Artillery Regiment and the Air Force carried out heavy strikes in Jabaliya to “prepare the ground for battle.”
On the outskirts of Jabaliya, three tunnel entrances, with Hamas operatives inside, were struck, the IDF says.
The army says troops of the 401st Armored Brigade and Nahal Infantry Brigade battled Hamas operatives on Jabaliya’s outskirts, with air support. The forces also found and destroyed rocket launchers in the area.
Troops of the 551st Reserve Brigade and other special forces operated in the northern part of Jabaliya, working to open up a route for the division to maneuver, the IDF says. It says troops killed several Hamas gunmen, seized weapons, and destroyed tunnels.
בין המטרות נתקפו שלושה פירים תת-קרקעיים בפאתי ג׳באליה בהם נמצאו מחבלים.
כוחות צוותי הקרב החטיבתיים של 401 ושל נח"ל ניהלו קרבות מול מחבלים בפאתי ג'באליה, באמצעות טנקים, ובסיוע אש של כלי טיס מאויישים מרחוק. בנוסף, הלוחמים איתרו והשמידו משגרי רקטות במרחב >> pic.twitter.com/SDuaKaEt1f
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) November 21, 2023
Three anti-tank guided missiles were fired from Lebanon at the Metula area in northern Israel, a short while ago.
No injuries were caused in the attack, apparently carried out by Hezbollah, which has claimed hundreds of missile, rocket, and drone attacks on the north in recent weeks.
The IDF says it is responding with artillery.
Regarding a suspected drone infiltration siren that sounded in northern Israel earlier, the IDF says the incident is over, without elaborating.
An Israeli organization calling itself The Civil Front has sparked controversy on social media by producing a song in which children fete the “destruction” in Gaza and say “nothing will be left there” in a year’s time.
A clip of the song ostensibly features children evacuated from communities near the Gaza Strip, and has come under criticism both within Israel and abroad for its lyrics as well as the fact that they are sung by kids.
The video is an homage to classic Israeli song “HaReut” (“Fellowship”), written by poet Haim Gouri about the events of the 1948 Independence War. A mainstay of remembrance days, the original is a gentle ode to those lost in the horrors of war.
The new version, meanwhile, takes a far more militant tone, featuring such sentences as “The IDF crosses the border to eliminate the bearers of the swastika,” “We’ll wipe them all out,” and “We’ll show the world how we destroy our enemies.”
Israeli children sing “We will annihilate everyone in Gaza”. Song & video created by Israeli public relations firm Rosenbaum Communications. English subtiles added by The Electronic Intifada. This is seriously sick propaganda pic.twitter.com/m89r61hqev
— Tranquilizer (@Tranquilizero) November 20, 2023
The song was shared by pro-Palestinian activists on social media, under comments such as “Israeli children sing genocidal song about Gaza” and “Is this how they raise their children?”
In Israel, some users hailed the new version as “moving” and inducing “goosebumps,” but much of the reaction was strongly negative.
“Nauseating. Are you able to do anything besides desecrate the original, sully it with Kahanism and cause Israel public relations damage?” one person commented. Others called the clip “insane” and “the epitome of bad taste.”
Gouri himself, a lifelong left-wing activist who died in 2018, would almost certainly have been unhappy with the new lyrics.
One Twitter user commented: “I truly hope the heirs… will sue you and you’ll be forced to take this thing down.”
The IDF says it targeted overnight a Hamas rocket launcher that fired at central Israel yesterday.
The army says the launcher was positioned adjacent to a residential building, and after the strike, women and children sheltering there fled the area.
A Hamas rocket launcher which fired at central Israel yesterday was struck overnight. The IDF says the launcher was positioned adjacent to a residential building. pic.twitter.com/S4gmXJZUmM
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) November 21, 2023
The IDF says it carried out airstrikes against another 250 Hamas targets over the past day, including operatives, rocket launchers, and infrastructure.
כחלק מפעילות צה"ל ברצועת עזה, כלי טיס של צה"ל תקפו כ-250 מטרות של ארגון הטרור חמאס ביממה האחרונה. בין המטרות עשרות מחבלים, משגרי טילים ותשתיות טרור שונות>> pic.twitter.com/KgqKglCD8X
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) November 21, 2023
Meanwhile amid the ground operation, reservists of the Harel Brigade found a cache of weapons at the home of a member of Hamas’s Nukhba forces, and the 14th Brigade found an anti-tank missile hidden under an infant’s bed, in the northern Gaza Strip, the IDF says.
The Israel Defense Forces announces the deaths of two more soldiers killed fighting in the northern Gaza Strip, bringing the death toll in the ground operation against Hamas to 68.
Cpt. (res.) Arnon Moshe Avraham Benvenisti Vaspi, 26, from Yesud HaMa’ala, an officer in the Givati Brigade’s Reconnaissance Battallion.
Staff Sgt. Ilya Senkin, 20, from Nof Hagalil, a soldier in the Givati Brigade’s Rotem Battalion.
The military says that two reservists and another three soldiers were also seriously wounded in the fighting.
Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas politburo, claims that Israel and the Palestinian terror group are nearing an agreement on a “truce” amid the war in Gaza.
In a statement posted to Telegram, the Doha-based Haniyeh says Hamas gave its response to Qatar and other mediators, without elaborating.
A top intelligence official twice warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this year that domestic tensions over his government’s judicial overhaul plans were encouraging Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas to potentially take military action against Israel, according to the Haaretz daily.
The newspaper says Brig. Gen. Amit Saar, the head of the IDF’s Military Intelligence Research Department, first appealed to Netanyahu on March 19, a week before the Knesset was due to approve an overhaul bill and the premier fired Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for calling to pause the judicial shakeup (he was later reinstated).
The second letter was reportedly sent July 16, a week before the Knesset approved the so-called reasonableness bill, which curtailed the judiciary’s review powers.
“All the players in the [security] system note that Israel is in a serious, unprecedented crisis, which threatens its cohesion and weakens it. For our main enemies — Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas — this weakness is an expression of a linear process ending with Israel’s collapse, and the current situation is an opportunity to accelerate and deepen its troubles,” Saar was quoted as writing in the first letter.
Saar also reportedly warned that the political divisions in Israel were leading the country “to try to refrain from a security escalation, and allowing the risks against it to grow.”
Rocket warning sirens sound in Netiv Ha’asara, a moshav near the Gaza Strip.
The community was evacuated after being targeted by Palestinian terrorists in the devastating October 7 onslaught, though anyone there is instructed to take shelter.
BRUSSELS — EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says the establishment of a Palestinian state would be the best way of ensuring Israel’s security.
Borrell held a video meeting Monday with foreign ministers from the EU’s 27 countries after touring the Middle East for talks on Israel’s war with Hamas.
The EU’s top diplomat says that he has drawn “a fundamental political conclusion” from his discussions across the region.
“I think that the best guarantee for Israel’s security is the creation of a Palestinian state,” Borrell says in a written summary of the EU meeting.
Borrell has insisted Israel should not occupy Gaza after the current conflict ends and that control of the territory should be handed over to the Palestinian Authority.
“Despite the huge challenges, we have to advance our reflections on the stabilization of Gaza and the future Palestinian state,” he says.
In the short-term, Borrell says, after visiting a string of Arab states, that there is a “sense of urgency” over the desperate humanitarian situation in Gaza.
“The UN Security Council resolution calling for immediate humanitarian pauses is a big step forward, but we must ensure its rapid implementation,” the EU official says.
Another major fear is the possibility of the conflict further enflaming volatile situation in the West Bank and dragging in other actors in the Middle East.
“In light of increased extremists and settlers’ violence against Palestinians there is a real risk that the situation could escalate,” Borrell says.
“Reports of a ship hijacked by the Houthis are another worrying signal of a risk of the regional spill over.”
After meeting with the families of Israelis being held hostage in Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stresses his commitment to securing their release, calling it “a sacred and supreme mission.”
“We will not let up until they are returned, and this is the responsibility of me and the war cabinet,” he says in a statement.
“I listened to the pain of the families. We spoke heart to heart. I shared with them as much as I could about the diplomatic, intelligence and operational efforts we are leading around the clock,” the premier continues, adding that he thinks about the hostages “all the time.”
“We will not stop fighting until we bring our hostages home, destroy Hamas and ensure there will no longer be a threat from Gaza.”
Roughly 300 UN diplomats attend a screening at UN headquarters in New York of footage showing terrorists’ atrocities during the October 7 massacre in which they killed 1,200 people in southern Israel.
The screening of the footage, compiled by the IDF and featuring uncensored, difficult-to-watch videos, many taken from Hamas terrorists’ bodycams, was organized by the Israeli Mission to the United Nations.
בשעה הקרובה יוקרן כאן באו״ם סרט הזוועות של הטבח שביצע חמאס. השגריר גלעד ארדן הזמין להקרנה גם את מזכ״ל האו״ם שלא הגיע. (בשל אילוצי לו״ז כך נמסר לי מטעמו). להקרנה הגיעו שגרירים , חברי המשלחות וגם מובילי דעת קהל. מי שנואם לפני ההקרנה עכשיו הוא מסעב חסן יוסף, ומשתף את סיפורו pic.twitter.com/pCqzwUmxKF
— יונה לייבזון yuna leibzon (@YunaLeibzon) November 20, 2023
Several family members of the hostages in Gaza left their meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the war cabinet in the middle, fuming over what they say have been the mixed messages they have been receiving from the government regarding the goals of the war in Gaza.
Udi Goren, whose cousin is Gaza hostage Tal Haimi, tells Channel 12, “A few days ago, we met with [war cabinet ministers Benny] Gantz and [Gadi] Eisenkot. We heard from them in an unmistakable way that the overarching goal of the war is the return of the hostages.”
However, he says that Netanyahu told the hostages’ families tonight that the goal of destroying Hamas is on equal footing with that of returning the hostages, which infuriated those present, who feel that their loved ones are being allowed to remain in Gaza for more time, as a result.
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