ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 150

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Oct. 15: Shocking helmet cam footage, kidnapping guide emerges

Herzog displays terrorists’ kidnapping guide * Netanyahu invites Biden * Senators visiting to show support, promise aid, have to sprint for bomb shelters

  • President Joe Biden speaks during the National Italian American Foundation's 48th anniversary gala on October 14, 2023, in Washington. (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
    President Joe Biden speaks during the National Italian American Foundation's 48th anniversary gala on October 14, 2023, in Washington. (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan on October 13, 2023. (State Department)
    US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan on October 13, 2023. (State Department)
  • President Isaac Herzog shows a terror manual on how to kidnap and torture people taken from the body of a Hamas terrorist, in an interview with CNN on October 15, 2023 (Screencapture)
    President Isaac Herzog shows a terror manual on how to kidnap and torture people taken from the body of a Hamas terrorist, in an interview with CNN on October 15, 2023 (Screencapture)
  • IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi speaks to troops in southern Israel on October 15, 2023. (IDF)
    IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi speaks to troops in southern Israel on October 15, 2023. (IDF)
  • From left, US senators Bill Cassidy, Mark Kelly, Chuck Schumer, Jacky Rosen, and Mitt Romney at a press conference in Tel Aviv, October 15, 2023 (screenshot)
    From left, US senators Bill Cassidy, Mark Kelly, Chuck Schumer, Jacky Rosen, and Mitt Romney at a press conference in Tel Aviv, October 15, 2023 (screenshot)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with family members of those believed to be held captive in Gaza by Hamas, at an IDF base in Ramle, October 15, 2023. (Courtesy)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with family members of those believed to be held captive in Gaza by Hamas, at an IDF base in Ramle, October 15, 2023. (Courtesy)
  • Israelis load their belongings onto a bus as they evacuate from the southern Israeli town of Sderot, Oct. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
    Israelis load their belongings onto a bus as they evacuate from the southern Israeli town of Sderot, Oct. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
  • Firefighters at the site of a direct hit by a rocket from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli city of Sderot on October 15, 2023 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
    Firefighters at the site of a direct hit by a rocket from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli city of Sderot on October 15, 2023 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the members of the national emergency government stand in silent tribute to the victims of Hamas's October 7, 2023, terror onslaught, October 15, 2023. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the members of the national emergency government stand in silent tribute to the victims of Hamas's October 7, 2023, terror onslaught, October 15, 2023. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
  • Israeli tanks are positioned in the north of Israel near the border with Lebanon on October 15, 2023. (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
    Israeli tanks are positioned in the north of Israel near the border with Lebanon on October 15, 2023. (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
  • Israeli soldiers pray at a staging area near the border with Lebanon, northern Israel, October 15, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)
    Israeli soldiers pray at a staging area near the border with Lebanon, northern Israel, October 15, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)
  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves as he arrives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 14, 2023. (Jacquelyn Martin/ AP)
    US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves as he arrives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 14, 2023. (Jacquelyn Martin/ AP)
  • An IAF F-15 takes off to conduct strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on October 15, 2023. (IDF)
    An IAF F-15 takes off to conduct strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on October 15, 2023. (IDF)
  • Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Oct. 15, 2023 (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
    Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Oct. 15, 2023 (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
  • An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires a shell from southern Israel towards the Gaza Strip, Oct. 15, 2023 (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)
    An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires a shell from southern Israel towards the Gaza Strip, Oct. 15, 2023 (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)
  • A truck transports a Palestinian family and their belongings to Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip October 15, 2023. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
    A truck transports a Palestinian family and their belongings to Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip October 15, 2023. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

The Times of Israel is liveblogged Sunday’s events as they unfolded.

Number of Americans killed since Hamas onslaught up to 30, another 13 missing

The US State Department says the number of Americans killed since Hamas launched a spree of murderous rampages across southern Israel has risen to 30, and 13 people are missing and feared kidnapped.

“At this time, we can confirm the deaths of 30 US citizens. We extend our deepest condolences to the victims and to the families of all those affected,” the State Department said in a statement released Sunday. The US is also aware of 13 missing citizens and has been in contact with their families.

Hamas terrorists stormed into Israel on October 7 and murdered more than 1,300 Israelis, the vast majority of them civilians. They also kidnapped at least 155 people — a number that includes babies and the elderly — and are holding them hostage in Gaza. Their whereabouts are not publicly known, but their families have been urgently pressing for their release.

“The U.S. government is working around the clock to determine their whereabouts and is working with the Israeli government on every aspect of the hostage crisis, including sharing intelligence and deploying experts from across the United States government to advise the Israeli government on hostage recovery efforts,” the statement says.

NYC Club advertises ‘Intifada Fundraver’ with video of Hamas assault

A club in New York City is hosting an “Intifada Fundraver” tonight and is promoting the event with a video featuring a clip of Palestinians bulldozing through the Gaza border fence during the October 7 Hamas terror onslaught.

The End NYC says 100% of the proceeds raised from the party will be donated to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund and the Medical Aid for Palestine NGOs.

IDF carries out fresh strikes on Hezbollah in Lebanon

The Israel Defense Forces says it has just struck Hezbollah “military infrastructure” in Lebanon.

A video released by the military shows two buildings being shelled, at least one from the sky. It says the attacks seen in the video were carried out Sunday and early Monday.

The strikes come in response to fire aimed at Israel from Lebanon over Sunday.

Six anti-tank guided missiles at an Israeli town and military positions on the Lebanon border on Sunday morning, killing at least one civilian.

Another nine rockets were also launched at the northern city of Nahariya and nearby towns, causing no damage or injuries.

Overnight airstrikes shake Gaza, reportedly near hospital

Fresh airstrikes can be heard echoing in the Gaza Strip, with fireballs lighting up the night sky.

The Palestinian Red Crescent says that five airstrikes were carried out near al-Quds Hospital, according to Gaza media. Israel had given the hospital a deadline of Saturday afternoon to evacuate, which the Red Crescent refused, saying the order was impossible.

Abbas says Hamas does not represent Palestinians

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan on October 13, 2023. (State Department)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan on October 13, 2023. (State Department)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmuod Abbas says the policies and actions of Hamas “do not represent the Palestinian people”, the news agency Wafa reports.

Speaking to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Abbas says the Palestine Liberation Organization is the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

Abbas also calls for the release of “prisoners and detainees” by both sides and reiterates his claim that the displacement of Gazans would constitute a “second Nakba.”

Maduro says he is dispatching humanitarian supplies to Gaza, Wafa says.

 

Pentagon chief reups warning to those ‘seeking to escalate war’

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has held another phone call on the ongoing war with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin, the Pentagon says.

Austin “reemphasized the ironclad US commitment to Israel’s defense, as well as his commitment to deter any state or non-state actor seeking to escalate this war,” according to a US readout.

Illinois man charged with killing Muslim boy, 6, in hate crime motivated by Israeli-Hamas war

Police charge a 71-year-old suburban Chicago man Sunday with a hate crime for fatally stabbing a Palestinian-American 6-year-old boy and seriously wounding a 32-year-old woman, alleging he singled out both victims because of their Islamic faith and as a response to the war between Israel and Hamas.

“Detectives were able to determine that both victims in this brutal attack were targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the on-going Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis,” the Will County Sheriff’s Office says in a statement posted to social media.

Officers found both victims late Saturday morning at a home in an unincorporated area of Plainfield Township, roughly 40 miles (65 kilometers) southwest of Chicago.

The boy, who was pronounced dead at the hospital, was stabbed 26 times with a large military-style knife, according to an autopsy Sunday, the sheriff’s office says. The woman had more than a dozen stab wounds on her body. She remained hospitalized Sunday, but was expected to survive.

The man suspected of the crime was found Saturday outside “sitting upright outside on the ground near the driveway of the residence” with a cut on his forehead, police says.

He was in custody Sunday and awaiting a court appearance. Police charged him with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of hate crimes and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Authorities did not release the names of the deceased, but the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations planned a Sunday news conference with a family member and identified the victims as as Wadea Al-Fayoume, a Palestinian-American boy who had recently turned 6, and his mother Hanaan Shahin.

UN’s Guterres calls on Hamas to immediately and unconditionally release all hostages

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the situation in Israel and Gaza during a news briefing at United Nations headquarters, Oct. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the situation in Israel and Gaza during a news briefing at United Nations headquarters, Oct. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls on Hamas to immediately and unconditionally release all hostages and on Israel to grant “rapid and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid” into the Gaza Strip.

“Each one of these two objectives is valid in themselves. They should not become bargaining chips and they must be implemented because it is the right thing to do,” he says.

“Gaza is running out of water, electricity and other essential supplies. The UN has stocks available of food, water, non-food items, medical supplies and fuel, located in Egypt, Jordan, the West Bank and Israel. These goods can be dispatched within hours. To ensure delivery, our selfless staff on the ground, along with NGO partners, need to be able to bring these supplies into and throughout Gaza safely, and without impediment to deliver to those in need,” Guterres adds in a statement.

FBI notes increased threats against both Jewish and Muslim communities since Hamas assault

Demonstrators ride a vehicle during a pro-Palestinian protest Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Demonstrators ride a vehicle during a pro-Palestinian protest Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

FBI officials say they’ve noticed an increase in threatening rhetoric targeting both the Jewish and Muslim communities in the week since the brutal Hamas attacks in Israel.

Director Chris Wray says on a call with reporters that the FBI is moving quickly to mitigate the threats and that the FBI does not discount the possibility that Hamas and other groups could exploit the conflict in the Middle East to call for or plot attacks in the United States.

A senior FBI official who spoke on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the bureau says the majority of the threats that the FBI has responded to were not judged to be credible. But the official said the FBI takes them all seriously nonetheless.

The official also said that agents have been encouraged to be “aggressive” and proactive in communicating over the last week with faith-based leaders. The official said the purpose of that outreach is not to make anyone feel targeted but rather to ask clerics and others to report to law enforcement anything that seems suspicious.

Besides responding to an escalating number of threats, Wray said the FBI was also working through its legal attache office in Tel Aviv to do what it can to locate and identify Americans who remain unaccounted for after last weekend’s attacks.

Blinken says efforts to relocate Palestinians from Gaza to Sinai a ‘non-starter’

Palestinians flee to the southern Gaza Strip after the Israeli army issued an evacuation warning to residents of  northern Gaza on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinians flee to the southern Gaza Strip after the Israeli army issued an evacuation warning to residents of northern Gaza on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the Biden administration does not support proposals to mass-relocate Palestinians outside of Gaza as Israel broadens its military campaign against Hamas in the Strip.

“I’ve heard directly from Palestinian Authority President [Mahmoud] Abbas and from virtually every other leader that I’ve talked to in the region, that that idea is a non-starter, and so we do not support it,” Blinken says during an interview with Al Arabiya from Cairo.

“We believe that people should be able to stay in Gaza, their home,” the secretary adds after being asked about proposals to relocate some of the Gaza residents to the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt.

“But we also want to make sure that they’re out of harm’s way and that they’re getting the assistance they need,” Blinken says.

Israel urged all Palestinians living in northern Gaza to move south for their safety ahead of an expected ground incursion. Egypt has not opened the crossing on its border with Gaza.

White House on possible Biden solidarity visit: ‘No new travel no announce’

After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office leaks that the premier invited US President Joe Biden to pay a solidarity visit to Israel following Hamas’s massive assault, White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson says, “We have no new travel to announce.”

DeSantis: US shouldn’t take in Gaza refugees because they’re ‘all antisemitic’

Republican Presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Saint Anselm College, Friday, Oct. 13, 2023, in Manchester, N.H. T (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
Republican Presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Saint Anselm College, Friday, Oct. 13, 2023, in Manchester, N.H. T (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis says the United States should not take in any Palestinian refugees if they flee the Gaza Strip because they “are all antisemitic” and he dismisses international entreaties for Israel to provide clean running water and utilities to the 2.3 million civilians in the territory.

DeSantis’ comments are a striking departure from the public stand taken by US officials, including some of his fellow Republicans, who draw distinctions between the Palestinian people and Hamas. The terror group has ruled has Gaza since 2007 and launched a terror onslaught against Israel last weekend, killing some 1,300 people, most of them civilians.

“You have Israelis being held hostage, as well as Americans being held hostage, but I don’t think they are under an obligation to be providing water and these utilities while those hostages are being held. Hamas should return those hostages before any discussions are had,” DeSantis tells CBS’s “Face The Nation.”

DeSantis defends his remarks during the TV interview, suggesting that Hamas’s rule of Gaza meant none should be accepted as refugees into the US.

“The US should not be absorbing any of those. I think the culture — so they elected Hamas, let’s just be clear about that. Not everyone’s a member of Hamas, most probably aren’t. But they did elect Hamas,” he said of people in Gaza.

Hamas took power in Gaza in 2007, overthrowing the Palestinian Authority in a bloody coup. No elections have been held since.

He described what he said is “a toxic culture” in Gaza. “I think if we were to import large numbers of those to the United States, I think it would increase antisemitism in this country, and I think it would increase anti-Americanism in this country,” DeSantis said.

IDF says it killed senior Hamas commander in southern Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces says it has struck and killed a senior Hamas commander in the Gaza Strip.

The IDF says Muataz Eid, the head of the terror group’s national security southern district, was killed in an airstrike following intelligence efforts by the Shin Bet security agency and Military Intelligence Directorate.

The military says it has struck more than 250 targets throughout the Gaza Strip today, mostly in its north.

The targets have included Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad military headquarters, observation posts and several rocket launching sites, according to the IDF.

Israel halts security exports to Colombia as president likens IDF to Nazis

Colombia's President Gustavo Petro speaks to supporters during a rally in Bogota, Colombia, June 7, 2023.  (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
Colombia's President Gustavo Petro speaks to supporters during a rally in Bogota, Colombia, June 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Israel announces that it is halting security exports to Colombia after President President Gustavo Petro likened the Israeli military to Nazis when asked to condemn the Hamas onslaught.

The Foreign Ministry summons Colombian ambassador Margarita Manjarez for a dressing down in the wake of Petro’s comments.

“At the meeting, it was made clear to the ambassador that her president’s statements were received in Israel with shock given Hamas’s barbaric terrorist attack, in which more than 1,300 Israelis were murdered and over 150 innocent civilians were kidnapped,” says spokesperson Lior Hayat.

Israel condemns the president’s statements, which constitute support for the horrific acts of Hamas terrorists, inflame antisemitism, harm representatives of the State of Israel, and threaten the safety of the Jewish community in Colombia. As the first measure taken in response, Israel decided to stop security exports to Colombia,” Hayat says.

Since the news of the attacks spread on Saturday, Gustavo Petro — a former member of the M19 armed guerilla movement and Colombia’s first left-wing president in decades — has tweeted and retweeted a steady stream of pro-Palestinian messages on his account on X.

Among his tweets, he said that Gaza is being “converted into a concentration camp.”

IDF carrying out fresh air strikes on Hezbollah

A shell from Israeli artillery explodes over al-Bustan, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Oct. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
A shell from Israeli artillery explodes over al-Bustan, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Oct. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

The Israel Defense Forces says it is carrying out new airstrikes against targets belonging to the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

The IDF says further details will be provided soon.

The strikes come after the terror group launched at least six anti-tank guided missiles at an Israeli town and a number of military posts on the Lebanon border earlier today.

There was also rocket fire claimed by Hamas from Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon.

Netanyahu invites Biden for solidarity visit to Israel this week

US President Joe Biden meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, September 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
US President Joe Biden meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, September 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invites US President Joe Biden to Israel on a solidarity visit, a Netanyahu aide tells The Times of Israel.

He would be the first head of state to visit since the October 7 Hamas assault that killed some 1,300 Israelis, most of them civilians.

Hebrew media reports say that Netanayhu’s office and the White House are examining the details and positively considering the invitation.

There is no immediate confirmation from Washington.

 

Large barrage of rockets fired at central, southern Israel

Rockets are fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023.  (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Rockets are fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

A large barrage of rockets is fired from the Gaza Strip toward central and southern Israel.

Sirens sound in the Gaza border communities as well as Ashkelon, Ashdod, Rehovot and Ramle.

Loud explosions are heard as Iron Dome intercepts many of the rockets.

The Magen David Adom rescue service says there are no immediate reports of direct hits or casualties.

 

Herzog tells CNN that terrorists had manuals how to torture and kidnap people

President Isaac Herzog shows a terror manual on how to kidnap and torture people taken from the body of a Hamas terrorist, in an interview with CNN on October 15, 2023 (Screencapture)
President Isaac Herzog shows a terror manual on how to kidnap and torture people taken from the body of a Hamas terrorist, in an interview with CNN on October 15, 2023 (Screencapture)

President Isaac Herzog tells CNN that marauding Hamas terrorists who infiltrated Israel last week in an unprecedented onslaught were carrying manuals with instructions on how to torture and kidnap those they found.

“This was found on the body of one of the terrorists, this is a booklet, okay, this booklet is an instruction guide, how to go into civilian areas, into a kibbutz, a city, a moshav, how to break in,” Herzog tells Wolf Blitzer.

“And first thing what do you do when you find the citizens, you torture them. This is the booklet, it says exactly how to torture them, how to abduct them, how to
kidnap them,” Herzog says holding up a copy of the pamphlet.

During the onslaught on Israeli border communities, the terrorists killed some 1,300 people, most of them civilians, and took at least 155 hostages.

Herzog notes that many of the hostages are elderly or children.

“Who are these hostages? Babies, pregnant women, elderly people with dementia, even with caretakers, families, innocent civilians, from 36 nations — people were killed or abducted from 36 nations,” he says.

He also recounts some of the horrors he saw while touring Kibbutz Be’eri, one of the hardest-hit places, this morning.

“I saw the most horrific scenes. I saw, I saw the scalp of the woman in a house I visited, a house totally destroyed, totally destroyed. And they just cut her head off,” he said.

FM Cohen slams Vatican over tepid response to slaughter of Jews and Israelis

Pope Francis arrives for a weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis arrives for a weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen has strong words for the Vatican, telling the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States Paul Gallagher that Israel “expects the Vatican to come out with a clear and unequivocal condemnation of the murderous terrorist actions of Hamas terrorists who harmed women, children and the elderly for the sole fact that they are Jews and Israelis.”

“It is unacceptable that you put out a statement expressing worry primarily for Gazan civilians while Israel is burying 1,300 who were murdered,” says Cohen, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Catholic officials have had a range of reactions to the October 7 massacre.

“I follow with apprehension and sorrow what is happening in Israel,” said Pope Francis the day after the attack. “I express my solidarity with the relatives of the victims, and I pray for all those who are experiencing hours of terror and anguish.”

But the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem put out a statement as the fighting was still raging last Saturday that “the operation launched from Gaza and the reaction of the Israeli Army are bringing us back to the worst period of our recent history. The too many casualties and tragedies, which both Palestinians and Israeli families have to deal with, will create more hatred and division, and will destroy more and more any perspective of stability.”

Gallagher had been looking into making the first bilateral visit to Israel by a Vatican foreign minister before the fighting broke out.

Netanyahu meeting top military and intelligence chiefs

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) speaks with Mossad chief David Barnea at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv on October 15, 2023 (Kobi gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) speaks with Mossad chief David Barnea at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv on October 15, 2023 (Kobi gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is holding a security consultation at military headquarters in Tel Aviv with cabinet ministers and the heads of the IDF, Mossad and Sin Bet, his office says.

Among those taking part are Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer, Minister Benny Gantz, Minister Gadi Eisenkot, MK Aryeh Deri, the heads of the NSC, Mossad, Shin Bet, Chiefs of Staff, and other senior intelligence officials.

Palestinians say toll in Gaza war hits 2,670

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says that 357 people were killed and some 1,000 injured in the past 24 hours, bringing the toll to 2,670 killed and 9,600 injured since the start of the war.

Israel says it has also killed some 1,500 Hamas terrorists inside Israel since the terror group launched its onslaught last week.

Smotrich: We failed, ‘I take responsibility for what was and what will be’

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich at a press conference in Jerusalem on August 9, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich at a press conference in Jerusalem on August 9, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Finance Minister Bezalel acknowledges that he failed, and the government failed, to stop the Hamas assault that killed some 1,300 people.

“I take responsibility for what was and what will be. We have to admit with pain and with a bowed head — we failed. The country’s leadership and the security system have failed in maintaining the security of our residents,” Smotrich tells a press conference.

Commenting on the brutal assault by the Hamas terror group over the weekend, Smotrich says that the “massacre was the most  horrifying we have known in Israel — such unimaginable cruelty that the world has not seen since the Holocaust.”

Smotrich says that he has instructed to change the order of priorities in terms of budget allocation in tight of the war.

“All the budgets that have not yet been paid and committed are being examined, including the coalition budgets, some of the funds have already been diverted,” says Smotrich. “I instructed to change the order of priorities.”

Romney: If Palestinians are killed in this war it’s Hamas’s fault

In the question-and-answer section of the Tel Aviv press conference with a bipartisan group of US senators, Utah’s Mitt Romney says that Palestinian civilians will be injured and killed as the war continues, but it is “because of Hamas, not because of Israel.”

“Hamas is holding their own population as human shields,” he says. “They’re using Palestinians to protect their own lives.”

Romney also blasts those in the US “with isolationist tendencies.”

The Republican senator says that a war is being waged against freedom by Hamas, Russia, Iran and China.

Schumer says the war is being fought so that “the threat of Hamas and its evilness is removed, and the hostages are returned.”

IDF says 155 families informed that loved ones taken hostage by Hamas

Families of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza protest outside the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, October 14, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)
Families of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza protest outside the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, October 14, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

The military’s top spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, says the military has so far notified the families of 155 hostages that their loved ones are being held in the Gaza Strip.

He says the army is doing “everything” it can to bring them home.

“To the families of the hostages, I know that for you every second is an eternity, we will do everything to bring your loved ones home,” Hagari says.

Hagari says more than 600,000 Palestinians from Gaza City have evacuated south despite attempts by Hamas to prevent people from leaving.

The IDF has warned it will heavily target the northern part of the Gaza Strip in the coming days.

“We act in accordance with international law to cause a minimum amount of harm to uninvolved citizens, I stress this to the world, this is the difference between us and our enemies,” Hagari says.

Turning to the north, Hagari says Hezbollah is “working to escalate the situation under Iranian guidance and planning.”

“We are focused on the goal of fighting Hamas and bringing security to our citizens,” Hagari adds.

Iran president tells Macron war will expand if Israel doesn’t end Gaza siege

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi speaks during an annual military parade in front of the shrine of the late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, Iran, September. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi speaks during an annual military parade in front of the shrine of the late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, Iran, September. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iran’s hardline president speaks with France’s leader, warning that war would expand if Israel’s siege of Gaza doesn’t stop, state-run media reported.

The official IRNA news agency said Ebrahim Raisi and Emmanuel Macron spoke over the phone. The Iranian president made no mention of the unprecedented Oct. 7 incursion by Gaza’s Hamas terror group into southern Israel that sparked the latest Hamas-Israel war. Iran has long been a supporter of Hamas.

“The situation will be complicated…if the crimes by the Zionist regime, including the killing of people and blockade of Gaza, are not stopped,” Raisi was quoted as saying, referring to Israel. IRNA did not provide further details.

Good news amid war, consumer prices drop in last month

Consumer prices in Israel in September surprise to the downside, the Central Bureau of Statistics says on Sunday, easing pressure on the Bank of Israel to hike interest rates later this month. Some rare good news for the country amidst a war.

The consumer price index (CPI), a measure of inflation that tracks the average cost of household goods, decelerates by 0.1% in September, compared with analysts’ expectations of an increase of between 0.1% and 0.2%, and after rising 0.5% in August.

The September print brings annual inflation over the past 12 months to 3.8%, declining from 4.1% in August, but is still above a government target range of between 1% to 3%.

That’s after Israel’s annual inflation rate dropped to 3.3% in July from 4.2% in June.

In September, notable declines were seen in the cost of transportation, which fell 1.5%, and food, culture and entertainment components decreased by 0.5%, each.

These were offset by price increases of fresh vegetables and fruit, which rose by 4.3%, educational services increased by 1.3%, and home rentals, furniture and home equipment, clothing and footwear, and health costs were up 0.5% each.

As footage released, Gallant praises Unit 414 observation team for early fire at Hamas onslaught

New footage published by the Israel Defense Forces shows the moment Unit 414 soldiers, monitoring surveillance cameras, open fire using remote weapon systems at Hamas terrorists approaching the Gaza border on October 7.

“Commander commander, we are at war,” a soldier is heard saying over the radio.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant meanwhile pays a visit today to the Combat Intelligence Collection Corps soldiers at the Zikim base.

“You went through things that soldiers in Israel have not gone through since the War of Independence,” Gallant tells the Unit 414 soldiers.

“You functioned in combat conditions, experienced heavy losses, and played an important part in the battles,” he adds.

60,000 internal Israeli refugees, as Sderot largely evacuated

The evacuation of Sderot — a city of some 30,000 on the Gaza border that was heavily attacked by Hamas terrorists on October 7 and has been under heavy rocket fire ever since — is almost completed.

Residents of communities less than 4 kilometers from the Gaza border have also been evacuated, and evacuations are ongoing in communities 4-7 kilometers from the Gaza border.

As of now, Channel 12 news reports, there are 60,000 Israeli internal refugees — Israelis, that is, who have been directed by the IDF to leave their homes. Many others, in northern Israel, have also headed toward the center of the country, although the IDF has not formally directed them to do so.

Visiting US senators vow to provide Israel all assistance: ‘You are not alone’

From left, US senators Bill Cassidy, Mark Kelly, Chuck Schumer, Jacky Rosen, and Mitt Romney at a press conference in Tel Aviv, October 15, 2023 (screenshot)
From left, US senators Bill Cassidy, Mark Kelly, Chuck Schumer, Jacky Rosen, and Mitt Romney at a press conference in Tel Aviv, October 15, 2023 (screenshot)

“Israel is a strong nation,” says Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in Tel Aviv, “and we say to Israel, You are not alone.”

“The United States stands beside you as an unrelenting partner,” he says at a press conference with a bipartisan group of senators.

He is joined by Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Mark Kelly (D-AZ).

Schumer says meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet were “good and productive.” The five senators also met with President Isaac Herzog and Opposition Leader Yair Lapid.

The senators cried as they met with families of those kidnapped, adds Schumer.

The group was forced to run to shelters twice because of Hamas rocket fire.

Schumer says Hamas herding kibbutz members into a room and shooting them all reminds him of the fate of his great-grandmother in the Holocaust, who was machine-gunned along with dozens of Jews from her Ukrainian town.

“If we don’t prevent the threat from Hamas from occurring, it will happen again,” he continues.

“We cannot let this evil continue to foul the earth.”

Schumer says that he and the bipartisan group will lead efforts in the Senate to make sure Israel has what it needs to fully defend itself.

The senior Senate Democrat repeats the Biden administration’s admonition that “democracies are stronger and more secure when we uphold the rule of law. We echoed that to the Prime Minister and every Israeli official we met.”

Schumer acknowledged that “it’s difficult, we know it’s difficult to minimize civilian casualties,” but it must be done.

According to Schumer, the Israelis stressed the importance of sending over precision-guided bombs, Iron Dome interceptors, 155-mm mortar shells, JDAM guidance kits, as well as intelligence support.

Schumer is instructing relevant committee heads to prepare an aid package that will be ready “within the next few weeks.”

“We’re not waiting for the House,” he says.

Schumer says he believes he will think about October 7 “every day for the rest of my life, just as I think about 9/11 every day for the rest of my life.”

Families say Netanyahu reassured them he is working to free hostages held by Hamas

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with family members of those believed to be held captive in Gaza by Hamas, at an IDF base in Ramle, October 15, 2023. (Courtesy)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with family members of those believed to be held captive in Gaza by Hamas, at an IDF base in Ramle, October 15, 2023. (Courtesy)

After meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this evening for the first time, family members of those believed to be held hostage in Gaza say they were reassured by the premier that he is working to free their loved ones.

In a statement following the meeting at an IDF Home Front Command base in Ramle, the forum of families says that “Netanyahu told the families that one of the goals of the war is the return of the captive and missing.”

On Saturday, National Security Council chief Tzachi Hanegbi said “Israel will not hold negotiations with an enemy that we have vowed to wipe from the face of the earth.”

In response, the families forum issued a statement slamming the government for “effectively saying that it is abandoning its citizens who have been kidnapped.”

Following the meeting today, the families say that they accept a “clarification” from Netanyahu that Hanegbi’s statement did not represent his opinion on the matter.

The families say they demanded all avenues be explored, including through contact with Hamas, leaders of Arab countries and other figures “in order to lead to their immediate release.”

Blinken confident Rafah crossing with Gaza to open to aid

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt “will be open” for aid into the blockaded strip.

“We’re putting in place with the United Nations, with Egypt, with Israel, with others, the mechanism by which to get the assistance and to get it to people who need it,” he tells reporters while departing from Cairo.

Smotrich to oversee civilian, economic issues during war

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich attends the first meeting of the committee for decentralization and increasing competition in the food and toiletry markets, September 3, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich attends the first meeting of the committee for decentralization and increasing competition in the food and toiletry markets, September 3, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The government has expanded its socio-economic powers, enabling it to manage the “entire civilian system for the war,” according to a statement from the Finance Ministry.

Based on a government decision, a committee is now authorized to discuss war-related civilian issues, including, but not limited to, the economic impact on private companies and the public sector, rehabilitating Gaza border communities, and ensuring continued functionality of civilian services.

Originally created in June to tackle Israel’s soaring cost of living and chaired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Ministerial Committee for Social and Economic Affairs will now fall under Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

In addition, ministers Gideon Sa’ar, Chili Tropper, Yoav Kisch, Uriel Buso and Yaakov Margi are added to the committee, and minister Yifat Shasha-Biton will be an observer.

The new powers are valid until the end of the war.

Air force takes top officers on flights over Gaza to see invasion routes

Senior ground forces officers were taken on flights by the Israeli Air Force in recent days over Gaza Strip territory in order to view from above the direction of the military’s expected maneuvers, The Times of Israel has learned.

The brigade and battalion commanders were shown from combat helicopters where the ground troops are expected to enter from during the looming ground offensive into the Gaza Strip.

The IDF said yesterday it was finalizing its preparations for a “coordinated attack from the air, sea and land.”

Attack Hamas ‘everywhere’: IDF chief says army will go into Gaza ‘to win’

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi speaks to troops in southern Israel on October 15, 2023. (IDF)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi speaks to troops in southern Israel on October 15, 2023. (IDF)

The chief of the Israel Defense Forces says the army will soon enter the Gaza Strip to decimate the Hamas terror group.

“Our responsibility now is to enter Gaza, to go to the places where Hamas is preparing, acting, planning, launching. Attack them everywhere, every commander, every operative, destroy infrastructure,” IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi tells troops in southern Israel earlier today.

“In one word, to win,” he adds.

“We’re going to do something big, important, To change the situation for a long, long time… This is a great mission, a great privilege. Do it with excellence.”

“The State of Israel, the residents of the south — they all place their trust in you.”

Likud minister to those who paid price of Hamas massacre: We ask your forgiveness; we weren’t ready

Culture and Sports Minister Miki Zohar at his office in Jerusalem, January 2, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Culture and Sports Minister Miki Zohar at his office in Jerusalem, January 2, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Miki Zohar, the Likud’s culture and sports minister, issues an apology on behalf of the government to the residents of the southern communities slaughtered by Hamas on Saturday and to those who paid the ultimate price.

“The preparations were not in place for an attack like this…. The government, the state, was not ready for an attack like this,” Zohar says on Army Radio.

“In the name of the government of Israel, and in the name of the whole State of Israel, we ask your forgiveness for what happened. Because the responsibility is on the government of Israel and the whole State of Israel.”

UN peacekeepers in Lebanon say base hit by rocket fire, no injuries

An armoured vehicle of the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is stationed near a border point in Lebanon's Khiyam plain, opposite the northern Israeli town of Metula (background) on October 11, 2023. (Photo by Joseph EID / AFP)
An armoured vehicle of the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is stationed near a border point in Lebanon's Khiyam plain, opposite the northern Israeli town of Metula (background) on October 11, 2023. (Photo by Joseph EID / AFP)

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon say their base was hit by rocket fire but there are no injuries.

“Our headquarters in Naqoura was hit with a rocket and we are working to verify from where. Our peacekeepers were not in shelters at the time. Fortunately, no one was hurt,” UNIFIL says.

Hamas said it fired 20 rockets toward Israel in that area. The IDF says nine rockets crossed into Israel, five were intercepted and four fell in open areas.

“We continue to actively engage with authorities on both sides of the Blue Line to de-escalate the situation, but regrettably despite our efforts military escalation continues. We urge all the parties involved to cease fire and allow us, as peacekeepers, to help find solutions,” UNIFIL says.

An upbeat TV report on a bar mitzvah boy, and his reservist dad, as rockets fall

Alerts about rocket attacks fill the screen as Barak Rivstein, currently in the reserves, speaks to Channel 12 news about the bar mitzvah of his son, Matan, October 15, 2023. (Channel 12 news screenshot; used in accordance with clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Alerts about rocket attacks fill the screen as Barak Rivstein, currently in the reserves, speaks to Channel 12 news about the bar mitzvah of his son, Matan, October 15, 2023. (Channel 12 news screenshot; used in accordance with clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Amid the relentless reports on the war and endless rocket attacks, Channel 12 news breaks away for a happier item: The bar mitzvah of Matan Rivstein.

The Rivstein family usually lives in Kibbutz Or HaNer, near the Gaza border town of Sderot, and has been evacuated to Tiberias.

Matan’s bar mitzvah was hurriedly rearranged yesterday at the Tiberias hotel where they are staying. “It was very emotional,” Matan says by phone, as the TV shows video clips of the celebration, adding that most of his friends made it.

Also present at the celebration was his father, Barak, who was given a break from his current military duty in the reserves, and who is also interviewed.

Barak Rivstein, currently in the reserves, speaks to Channel 12 news about the bar mitzvah of his son, Matan, October 15, 2023 (Channel 12 news screenshot; used in accordance with clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Underlining the surreality of the TV piece is that it was preceded by an item showing Hamas terrorists’ bodycam footage as they attacked another kibbutz, Sufa, and was followed by the latest news of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s meeting with families of the hostages.

What’s more, the item itself was truncated by alerts of another round of rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel, with the screen filling with the list of communities whose residents were being told to dash to saferooms.

EU nations stress ‘Israel’s right to defend itself’ within international law

Leaders of the 27 European Union member states stress “Israel’s right to defend itself in line with humanitarian and international law in the face of such violent and indiscriminate attacks” by Hamas, in a statement Sunday.

“We reiterate the importance of the provision of urgent humanitarian aid and stand ready to continue supporting those civilians most in need in Gaza… ensuring that such assistance is not abused by terrorist organizations,” the statement says, adding, “it is crucial to prevent regional escalation” of the conflict.

Large barrage of rockets fired at Tel Aviv region as US senators give press conference

A large barrage of rockets is fired at the Tel Aviv region as a visiting delegation of US senators is about to hold a press conference.

Sirens go off in Tel Aviv, Holon and Ramat Gan, as well as in Rishon Lezion and Beit Dagan further south.

The Magen David Adom rescue service says there are no immediate reports of injuries, but they continue to carry out searches.

The Tel Aviv press conference with a bipartisan group of senators, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) — scheduled for 7 p.m. local time — is delayed as the attendees are forced to run to bomb shelters.

“Senators, reporters and guests at event are currently sheltering,” says a Schumer aide.

New footage shows Hamas attack on Kibbutz Sufa during onslaught

New footage obtained from the GoPro cameras of Hamas terrorists shows how the gunmen went from home to home in Kibbutz Sufa on the morning of October 7, shooting at civilians.

Another clip, published by the South First Responders group on Telegram, shows how the terrorists shoot out the tire of an ambulance.

The terrorists are also seen entering homes and scanning for Israeli civilians to kill or take hostage.

The last video in the series of clips published by the group shows the terrorist being shot by an Israeli soldier or local security officer.

Ex-US envoy to Turkey Satterfield to lead American humanitarian efforts

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield at a meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, in Beirut, Lebanon, May 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield at a meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, in Beirut, Lebanon, May 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan says that President Joe Biden has appointed former US ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield as special envoy for Middle East humanitarian issues.

Satterfield’s portfolio will focus on “ensuring life-saving assistance can reach vulnerable people throughout the Middle East,” Sullivan says in a statement.

“Satterfield’s diplomatic experience and decades of work navigating some of the world’s most challenging conflicts will be instrumental in our continued effort to address humanitarian issues in the region… including our efforts to bring urgently needed humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, particularly in Gaza, in coordination with the UN, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and other regional stakeholders,” Sullivan adds

Meeting Blinken, Sissi claims Jews never persecuted in Egypt; slams Israeli collective punishment

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, meets with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi at Al-Ittihadiya Palace in Cairo, Sunday Oct. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, meets with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi at Al-Ittihadiya Palace in Cairo, Sunday Oct. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi uses his meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to falsely claim that Egypt never persecuted its now no longer existent Jewish minority.

“You said that you are a Jewish person,” Sissi says to Blinken in remarks in front of reporters. “I am an Egyptian person who grew up next to Jews in Egypt. They have never been subjected to any form of oppression or targeting and it has never happened in our region that Jews were targeted.”

Egypt’s Jewish community, which dates back millennia, numbered around 80,000 in the 1940s, but today stands at fewer than 20 people.

The departure of Egypt’s Jews was fueled by rising nationalist sentiment after Israel’s founding in 1948 and during the Arab-Israeli wars, harassment, and some direct expulsions by then-Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Sissi, whose country shares a narrow border with the Gaza Strip that has remained largely blocked over the past week, also said during the meeting that Israel’s “reaction went beyond the right to self-defense, turning into collective punishment for 2.3 million people in Gaza,” according to Egypt’s state-run media.

The US State Department issues a readout on the Blinken-Sissi meeting, which says the two “agreed on the importance of addressing the humanitarian situation in Gaza to ensure assistance can reach people who need it and help keep civilians out of harm’s way.

Blinken also stressed the US focus on preventing the conflict from spreading and facilitating the safe passage of American citizens and their family members from Gaza.

Guns, mines and RPGs: IDF shows weapons recovered from Hamas terrorists

Weapons, recovered from Hamas terrorists following their murderous October 7 assault on southern Israel, on display at an army base in southern Israel, October 15, 2023. The weapons include guns, RPGs, mines and various types of explosive devices. (Israel Defense Forces)
Weapons, recovered from Hamas terrorists following their murderous October 7 assault on southern Israel, on display at an army base in southern Israel, October 15, 2023. The weapons include guns, RPGs, mines and various types of explosive devices. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces shows off a large number of weapons recovered from Hamas terrorists following their murderous attack on southern Israel last weekend.

The weapons include guns, RPGs, mines and various types of explosive devices, which were used against Israeli civilians and military sites.

The weaponry is now being cataloged for further research, the IDF says.

The IDF says it also recovered various documents from the bodies of the terrorists, which detail plans to carry out atrocities against civilians and soldiers, including massacres and taking hostages.

 

Palestinians say water in Gaza not yet restored despite Israeli promise

Palestinians collect water from a water tap, amid drinking water shortages, in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Oct. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)
Palestinians collect water from a water tap, amid drinking water shortages, in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Oct. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip say water has not yet been restored despite an Israeli commitment to do so.

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN that Israeli officials told him they had turned the water back on in southern Gaza. Israel’s minister of energy and water, Israel Katz, said in a statement that water had been restored at a “specific point” in Gaza, but does not give further details.

Aid workers in Gaza say they had not yet seen evidence the water was back and a spokesperson for the Hamas-controlled government in Gaza said it was not flowing.

369 Israelis still hospitalized from Hamas assault, fighting

Israelis donate blood at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, October 10, 2023. (Ichilov Hospital)
Israelis donate blood at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, October 10, 2023. (Ichilov Hospital)

The Health Ministry updates that as of 5:30 p.m. today, 369 people injured since the shock Hamas attack on Israel from Gaza on October 7 are still hospitalized.

Of them, 90 are in serious condition, 191 are in moderate condition and 89 are in light condition.

A total of 3,842 injured have been brought to hospitals throughout the country since October 7.

Gallant says Israel has no interest in conflict with Hezbollah, but warns it against choosing war

Israel is not interested in having a war on its northern frontier with Lebanon, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant says, as tensions mount that the terror group could enter the fray to support Hamas.

“We have no interest in a war in the north, we don’t want to escalate the situation,” Gallant says in a video released by his office, as he visited troops in the country’s south.

“If Hezbollah chooses the path of war, it will pay a very heavy price… But if it restrains itself, we’ll respect the situation and keep things the way they are, despite shooting from both sides,” he says.

IDF releases names of 3 more fallen soldiers, bringing military toll to 289

The Israel Defense Forces names another three soldiers killed during the war which began October 7, mostly on the border with the Gaza Strip.

The names bring the toll of slain soldiers to 289. They are:

Maj. (res.) Ram Negbi, 57, a local security officer, from Ein Hashlosha.

Master Sgt. (res.) Yaron Victor Shahar, 51, a local security officer, from Nir Yitzhak.

Sgt. Ofir Shoshani, 20, a commander at the Mifrasit Base, from Kfar Aza.

Officials say Qatar pressing Hamas to release women, children and elderly hostages

Families of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza protest outside the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv, October 14, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)
Families of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza protest outside the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv, October 14, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

Qatar is working to coax Hamas to release the women, children and elderly hostages that the terror group is currently holding in Gaza after taking them captive during last week’s onslaught in southern Israel, a diplomatic official tells The Times of Israel.

Hamas — being represented in the talks by its leader abroad Ismail Haniyeh — initially told Qatar that it was prepared to return those hostages in exchange for Israel releasing 36 female and teenage Palestinian security prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, the diplomatic source says, adding that the offer was not entertained by Israel, which is primarily focused on advancing its military campaign to eradicate Hamas.

Despite the Israeli rejection, Qatar-brokered talks are ongoing, the diplomatic official says.

A second source familiar with the negotiations tells The Times of Israel that some in Hamas recognize that taking women, children and elderly people hostage has given Israel more international legitimacy to massively expand its military campaign against the terror group.

Smotrich announces initial financial aid to Gaza border residents

Israeli soldiers around the destruction caused by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, October 15, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers around the destruction caused by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, October 15, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Israel’s Tax Authority has opened applications for an estimated NIS 80 million of monetary assistance grants for residents of the Gaza border communities who were evacuated or chose to leave, since Hamas launched its mass assault on October 7.

Residents of communities within seven kilometers of the Gaza Strip border are eligible for grants, according to a cabinet decision.

The grants — NIS 1,000 per person and up to NIS 5,000 per family — are intended to assist evacuees with their initial expenses.

The grants are not considered compensation for property damage and will not count against future damage claims, a spokesperson for Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich explains.

“The State of Israel embraces the [Gaza border community] residents and is determined to provide them with any help they need. No citizen will be left alone or riddled with bureaucracy. All of them will be compensated up to the last shekel. This is the least the state can and should do for its citizens who have gone through the worst,” Smotrich adds, in a statement.

US hasn’t halted efforts at Israel-Saudi normalization, but it’s no longer immediate focus

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, meets with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Saturday Oct. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, pool)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, meets with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Saturday Oct. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, pool)

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan insists that no decision has been made to halt the Biden administration’s effort to broker a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, though the initiative has admittedly been dropped down Washington’s priority list.

“For the moment, the focus has to be on helping Israel defend itself against the brutal terrorism of Hamas. We will have opportunities as we go forward to look at diplomatic initiatives like normalization,” Sullivan tells ABC’s This Week.

“There’s not some kind of formal pause. We’re not pressing a button. The main effort and emphasis from a diplomatic perspective of the United States today is on the immediate situation,” he adds.

His comments come after multiple reports from Saudi Arabia that it had frozen the process.

A diplomatic official, speaking on condition of anonymity, denied that Saudi Arabia has made a formal decision to halt normalization talks, but acknowledges to The Times of Israel that they are not the focus of Riyadh at the moment.

Hezbollah claims gunfire on IDF border posts

The Hezbollah terror group claims responsibility for attacking a number of Israeli military posts along the Lebanon border with light arms.

The IDF said troops returned fire at the gunmen, and that combat helicopters were carrying out strikes in the area.

Visiting US senators rush to bomb shelter during Tel Aviv rocket attack

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says on social media that a bipartisan group of senators visiting Israel was rushed to a shelter in Tel Aviv to wait out a rocket attack from Hamas. Schumer posted a photo of himself and Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah in the shelter.

“It shows you what Israelis have to go through. We must provide Israel with the support required to defend itself,” Schumer said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Schumer, the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the United States, took the trip to show support for Israel ahead of an expected request from US President Joe Biden for Congress to approve wartime funding for Israel as well as Ukraine.

Schumer, a Democrat, has said he would also hold discussions with Israeli officials about what kind of support the country would need for both military and humanitarian operations.

Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Democratic Sens. Jacky Rosen of Nevada and Mark Kelly of Arizona were also on the trip.

Blinken return to focus on evacuating foreigners, Americans from Gaza — report

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken shakes hands with a Saudi official before boarding a plane to leave Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken shakes hands with a Saudi official before boarding a plane to leave Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

Channel 12 says that among the issues US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to discuss on his return to Israel are efforts to enable the estimated 1,000 foreign nationals in Gaza, including 300 Americans, to safely exit.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller tells reporters traveling with Blinken that the secretary was returning to Tel Aviv “for further consultations with Israeli officials.” Miller did not elaborate.

Blinken will return to Israel this week after completing a frantic six-country rush through Arab nations aimed at preventing the Israel-Hamas war from igniting a broader regional conflict.

IDF says combat helicopters hitting targets in Lebanon amid border clashes

The Israel Defense Forces says combat helicopters are striking “military infrastructure” in Lebanon, as clashes continue on the northern frontier.

At the same time, the IDF says ground troops are clashing with gunmen who opened fire at them on the Lebanon border.

The IDF does not immediately provide information on potential casualties.

Gunfire, clashes reported on northern border near Kiryat Shmona

Gunfire is reportedly heard on the Lebanon border, near the northern city of Kiryat Shmona.

Hebrew-language media say there may be clashes in the area between the Israeli army and infiltrators from Lebanon.

Meanwhile, local authorities order residents of the town of Metula to remain in shelters until further notice.

Many residents of Metula have evacuated south in recent days amid repeated attacks by Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions.

Bar says Air Force ‘aggressively’ hitting Hamas to lay groundwork for offensive

An IAF F-15 takes off to conduct strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on October 15, 2023. (IDF)
An IAF F-15 takes off to conduct strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on October 15, 2023. (IDF)

The chief of the Israeli Air Force says fighter jets and drones are “aggressively” striking the Gaza Strip to clear as many threats as possible before ground forces begin their expected offensive.

“We are preparing the arena for an as effective as possible operation. Removing as many threats as possible from the ground and air,” IAF chief Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar says in a call with reporters.

“We will do what is necessary, aggressively, so that if it is decided to maneuver, we will allow the best ground entry that will give the troops operational freedom of action,” Bar says.

“The Air Force will work shoulder to shoulder with the ground forces,” he adds.

Bar says the IAF is focused on fighting in the Gaza Strip, but it is “strongly and highly prepared for any development that may occur in the north as well.”

“The Air Force is deployed with all units in a state of war to respond with fire and attack as needed,” he says, after the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group and allied Palestinian factions have been launching attacks on the northern border.

On the continued fighting, Bar says: “We are hurt, but we fight. From the moment the incidents in the south began, the IDF and within it, the Air Force, has been working to remove any threat, both offensively and defensively.”

IAF F-16s taxi to conduct strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on October 15, 2023 (IDF)

“We are investigating every day, and improving every day. We will continue to act with all our strength until a decisive victory,” he says.

During Hamas’s onslaught on southern Israel last weekend, combat helicopters were among the first forces to arrive and fight the invading terrorists, as well as deploy special forces to communities and army bases that were under attack.

Bar says the combat helicopter pilots fought “with determination” as they brought “troops to the battlefield while coming under fire.”

“We are proud of them and the reservists who prove the strength of the IDF and the Air Force,” Bar adds.

IDF publishes footage of helicopter gunships hitting Hamas terrorists

The IDF published footage of helicopter gunships striking Hamas terrorists as they streamed across the breached border from Gaza on October 7.

The video shows missiles hitting cars, trucks, motorcycles and people on foot as pilots report hundreds of gunmen sweeping into Israel to attack nearby communities.

 

Hamas claims rocket fire from Lebanon at northern Israel

The Hamas terror group claims responsibility for rocket fire from Lebanon at northern Israel earlier.

In a statement, the terror group says its Lebanon branch targeted Nahariya with some 20 rockets “in response to the occupation’s crimes against our people in Gaza.”

The attack caused no injuries or damage.

The IDF says nine rockets crossed into Israel, five were intercepted and four fell in open areas.

Israeli official confirms that Israel has resumed water supply to Gaza

Palestinians collect water from a water tap, amid drinking water shortages, in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Sunday, Oct, 15, 2023.  (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)
Palestinians collect water from a water tap, amid drinking water shortages, in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Sunday, Oct, 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

A senior Israeli official confirms to The Times of Israel that Jerusalem has resumed water supply to the Gaza Strip after shutting it off following the Hamas terror onslaught last Saturday.

The decision is publicized by US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan who tells CNN that his Israeli counterparts had informed him of the move within the last hour.

A US lawmaker told The Times of Israel yesterday that a senior Israeli official had indicated to them that Jerusalem will allow food, water and medicine into Gaza after imposing a siege on the enclave, as it appears to be gearing up for a ground operation to destroy Hamas.

The US lawmaker clarified that Israel has not committed to letting in electricity and fuel supplies into Gaza, which they say are not covered by the same rules under laws of armed conflict.

Fatah disavows pro-Hamas statement made by prominent member

Fatah leader Abbas Zaki, April 1, 2010 (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Fatah leader Abbas Zaki, April 1, 2010 (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Fatah, the party ruling over the West Bank, distances itself from statements made Saturday by a member of its Central Committee to Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Mayadeen TV.

In an interview with the Lebanese channel, Fatah’s Abbas Zaki thanked the armed wings of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, responsible for the October 7 onslaught on Israel in which 1,300 were killed, saying that they “know how to obtain the lifting of the blockade [on Gaza] and the withdrawal of the occupation from the West Bank.”

The official Wafa news agency quotes an unnamed Fatah official as saying that “Abbas Zaki only represents himself, and does not express the position of the Fatah movement or the policy of the Palestine Liberation Organization.”

IDF says 9 rockets fired from Lebanon, shelling launch sites in response

The Israel Defense Forces says nine rockets were launched at Israel from Lebanon a short while ago, setting off alarms in Nahariya and nearby towns.

The IDF says five of the projectiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, as the remainder were not headed for populated areas.

There are no reports of injuries or damage in the attack.

The IDF says it is shelling the launch site in southern Lebanon with artillery.

US fears escalation of war, prospect of Iran becoming ‘directly engaged’

USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier refuels from the underway replenishment oiler USNS Laramie in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, Oct. 11, 2023.  (US Navy photo via AP)
USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier refuels from the underway replenishment oiler USNS Laramie in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, Oct. 11, 2023. (US Navy photo via AP)

The United States says it fears an escalation of the war between Israel and Hamas and the prospect of Iran getting directly involved.

Speaking on CBS, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan cites the possibility of a new battle front on the Israel-Lebanon border and adds, “We can’t rule out that Iran would choose to get directly engaged some way. We have to prepare for every possible contingency.”

Iran is a long-time backer of the terror group Hamas and of Hezbollah in Lebanon, providing them funding and weapons.

“That is a risk and that’s a risk that we have been mindful of since the start,” Sullivan says of the prospect of Iran getting involved in the war, which was triggered by the Hamas assault on southern Israel from Gaza last weekend that killed more than 1,300 people, most of them civilians.

“It’s why the president moved so rapidly and decisively to get an aircraft carrier into the eastern Mediterranean, to get aircraft into the Gulf, because he sent a very clear message to any state or any actor that would seek to exploit this situation,” Sullivan adds.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the deployment of the second aircraft carrier on Saturday “to deter hostile actions against Israel or any efforts toward widening this war following Hamas’s attack.”

In the eastern Mediterranean, the carrier USS Eisenhower and its accompanying ships will join the USS Gerald R. Ford, which was dispatched after the Hamas onslaught on October 7.

Netanyahu meeting with representatives of hostages

Families of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza protest outside the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv, October 14, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)
Families of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza protest outside the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv, October 14, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with representatives of the families who had loved ones captured by Gaza terror groups in the deadly assault on Israel last week.

The meeting in central Israel is Netanyahu’s first with the representatives, although he has spoken privately to several of the families.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad are believed to be holding between 150-200 people, including women children and the elderly. Many of the hostages also hold foreign citizenship.

Hezbollah says cross-border fire a ‘warning’ to Israel

A picture taken on October 15, 2023, shows smoke billowing near an Israeli military site close to the southern Lebanese border village of Aita al-Shaab, following shelling by Hezbollah. (Photo by AFP)
A picture taken on October 15, 2023, shows smoke billowing near an Israeli military site close to the southern Lebanese border village of Aita al-Shaab, following shelling by Hezbollah. (Photo by AFP)

A Hezbollah spokeswoman, Rana Sahili, says today’s increase in the intensity of the exchanges between Israel and the Lebanese terror group doesn’t indicate Hezbollah has decided to fully enter into the Hamas-Israel war.

The fighting on the border is “only skirmishes” and represents a “warning,” she says.

Rocket warning sirens sound in several communities on northern border

Incoming rocket sirens are sounding in the northern towns of Nahariya, Rosh HaNikra, Hanita, Shlomi and Betzet on the Lebanon border.

The alerts come amid at least five anti-tank guided missile attacks from Lebanon today.

There have also been numerous false alarms in northern Israel in recent days.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Video appears to show rockets being intercepted over northern Israel.

Calls mount for aide to Sara Netanyahu to be suspended over inflammatory posts

Sara Netanyahu arrives for a hearing at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on June 12, 2022 (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Sara Netanyahu arrives for a hearing at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on June 12, 2022 (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The Civil Service Commission demands Sara Netanyahu’s chief of staff Tzipi Navon be suspended due to inflammatory social media posts she has written in recent days, including accusing various elements in Israeli society of being “traitors” and “fifth columnists.”

In one Facebook post denouncing a group criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the October 7 Hamas massacre, Navon says that “traitors from the left are continuing to incite” against the premier.

In another post she says that Channel 12 and 13 News were trying to “divide and harm Jewish morale” during the current war with Gaza, and separately called Channel 12 “fifth columnists.”

In another post, Navon re-posted a picture of body bags, ostensibly of victims of the Hamas massacre, writing: “Well pedophile friend, Brothers in Arms, air force and army enlistment refusers, are you satisfied now???,” in reference to former prime minister Ehud Barak and the anti-judicial overhaul movement.

Sara Netanyahu’s chief of staff is a state-paid position in the civil service working as an employee in the prime minister’s residence, which is under the authority of the Prime Minister’s Office.

“These statements are severe and offensive which are not appropriate for a state employee, especially when it comes to an employee of the Prime Minister’s Office and even more so a female employee of the prime minister’s residence,” the disciplinary department of the Civil Service Commission writes to Yossi Shelley, the director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, and called for her to be suspended for violating the terms of employment for civil servants.

Gallant vows to find and kill every last Hamas terrorist

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks to media from an IDF base in southern Israel, October 15, 2023. (Shachar Yurman/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks to media from an IDF base in southern Israel, October 15, 2023. (Shachar Yurman/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant vows that the war against Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip will be “deadly” and permanently change the situation in southern Israel.

“The war here is the war of the sons of light against the sons of darkness,” Gallant says in a press conference from an army base near the border with the Gaza Strip, referring to a famous ancient military manual discovered among the Dead Sea scrolls.

Gallant says the Israeli military “will eliminate the Hamas organization” because it is a “culture that does not accept our existence here, human savages, beasts, who murdered our soldiers, our children, our citizens.”

“We will reach all the tunnels, we will reach all the Hamas operatives, and as long as we have not eliminated them, we will not have completed the mission,” Gallant says.

“It will be a powerful war, it will be a deadly war, it will be a precise war, and it will be a war that will change the situation forever,” he continues.

On the estimated 150-200 hostages being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Gallant says “we are making every effort to locate them even in this great complexity.”

IDF hits the source of another anti-tank missile fired from Lebanon

The Israel Defense Forces says it is striking the source of the latest anti-tank guided missile fire from Lebanon, the fifth today.

The IDF adds that another Hezbollah site was also hit in a separate strike, in response to an earlier missile attack.

Herzog visits Kibbutz Be’eri, site of deadly massacre, reopens factory

President Isaac Herzog tours a bloodstained home in Kibbutz Be'eri on October 15, 2023 (Haim Zach/GPO)
President Isaac Herzog tours a bloodstained home in Kibbutz Be'eri on October 15, 2023 (Haim Zach/GPO)

President Isaac Herzog visits Kibbutz Be’eri, one of the hardest-hit Israeli border communities in the murderous Hamas assault on Israel.

The president helps residents restart a printing press at the site as residents vow to rebuild their shattered lives.

He also tours the shattered and bloodstained buildings and homes where so many residents were murdered by terrorists.

“This land is soaked in blood. There was life here. This was a paradise that was turned into hell,” says Herzog. “From here, we say to the entire world: Nothing will break us.”

“We have a moral and national obligation to make Be’eri a paradise again,” he says.

The print shop, the oldest in Israel, will return to work tomorrow.

“Out of our grief, the tears, the terrible pain and the darkness in which this community finds itself, and all the surrounding communities, from here we say to the whole world: Nothing will break us.”

Missile fired from Lebanon toward northern Israel for at least the 5th time today

The Israel Defense Forces says another military post on the Lebanon border has come under fire by an anti-tank guided missile.

It marks at least the fifth missile launched from Lebanon at northern Israel today, in attacks claimed by the Hezbollah terror group.

The IDF does not immediately report injuries in the latest attack.

Earlier, an Israeli civilian construction worker was killed by a missile attack in the northern town of Shtula.

Blinken to head back to Israel amid Mideast Gaza crisis tour – report

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves as he arrives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 14, 2023. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves as he arrives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 14, 2023. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be back in Israel on Monday, according to the Axios news site.

Blinken was in Israel on Thursday, then headed to Arab states – Jordan, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar – over the past few days to discuss the war between Israel and Hamas, and the murderous terrorist attacks of October 7.

Rocket sirens in Gaza border towns

Rocket sirens sound in a number of communities in the Gaza border area.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Ministers stand in silence for fallen; Netanyahu tells them: ‘Hamas thought we would break; we will break Hamas’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the members of the national emergency government stand in silent tribute to the victims of Hamas's October 7, 2023, terror onslaught, October 15, 2023. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the members of the national emergency government stand in silent tribute to the victims of Hamas's October 7, 2023, terror onslaught, October 15, 2023. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu begins the weekly cabinet meeting with a moment of silence “in memory of our brothers and sisters who were murdered in cold blood, and our heroic warriors who fell in battle.”

The crowded room, with the government now featuring 38 ministers, stands in silent tribute to those who have been lost.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and the members of the national emergency government meet on October 15, 2023. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Netanyahu notes that it is the first meeting of the emergency war government, and that five members of the National Unity party are present — Benny Gantz, Gadi Eisenkot, Chili Tropper, Gideon Sa’ar and Yifat Shasha-Biton.

“Hamas thought we would break; we will break Hamas,” Netanyahu says.

“We are working around the clock as a team, with a united front,” he says. “Our unity conveys a clear message to the people, the enemy and to the world,” he says.

“I saw our wonderful warriors who are now on the front line. They know that the entire nation is behind them,” he says.

“They understand the magnitude of the task. They are ready to act at any moment, to exterminate the bloody monsters that rose up against us,” he says.

Former general: If Hamas is not destroyed in this operation, Israel has no right to exist

Former IDF Gaza division head Brig. Gen. Shmuel Zakai sets out what he believes the IDF is about to do, and should do, in Gaza.

Speaking on Channel 12 news, he says the horrors and failure of October 7 will be examined with a fine-tooth comb when the war is over. But those events must not undermine faith in the IDF — “the strongest army, with the world’s most advanced equipment.”

“National resilience is a vital condition,” he says.

Shmuel Zakai (GPO)

“The essence [of what the IDF must do] is to achieve a decisive victory that will resonate for the next century in the Middle East and clarify that no army or terror organization captures territory of the State of Israel and slaughters civilians.

“The State of Israel has no right to exist if at the end of this operation Hamas is not destroyed,” he says.

And he says no enemy has been defeated without a ground operation.

Lebanon-based Hezbollah is seeking to distract the IDF’s focus from Gaza and must not be allowed to do so, Zakai says.

The shock onslaught last Saturday “was a strategic event — they slaughtered citizens of the State of Israel.”

And thus, “all our efforts must be focused… on destroying the murderous, indiscriminate terror group — that hit children, women, the elderly, Holocaust survivors… We didn’t come here to establish a state for anyone to think they dared do so… Everyone who did this must be destroyed.”

IDF says another military post on Lebanon border under fire; border town residents told to shelter

The Israel Defense Forces says another military post on the Lebanon border has come under fire.

There are no immediate reports of injuries in the attack.

Hezbollah has launched at least four anti-tank guided missiles at northern Israel today, killing a civilian in one of the attacks.

The IDF says has been responding with strikes against Hezbollah sites in Lebanon.

Residents of the Lebanon border communities of Manara, Yiftah, Margaliot, and Ramot Naftali were ordered to remain in bomb shelters until further notice amid the new missile attack.

Iran warns ‘no one can guarantee’ control of situation if Israel invades Gaza

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian holds a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart in Tehran on September 13, 2023. (Atta Kenare/AFP)
Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian holds a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart in Tehran on September 13, 2023. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

TEHRAN — Iran warns that “no one can guarantee” control of the situation if Israel invades Gaza, ahead of an expected ground offensive by Israeli forces.

“If the attacks of the Zionist regime (Israel) against the defenseless citizens and people of Gaza continue, no one can guarantee the control of the situation and the non-expansion of the conflicts,” Iran’s foreign ministry quoted Foreign Minster Hossein Amir-Abdollahian as saying during his meeting with Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

Pope calls for guarantee of humanitarian corridors in Gaza

Pope Francis leaves at the end of his Sunday Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on October 15, 2023. (Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)
Pope Francis leaves at the end of his Sunday Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on October 15, 2023. (Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

Pope Francis calls for the guarantee of humanitarian corridors to allow the delivery of essentials to the Gaza Strip, which is under heavy Israeli retaliatory bombardment following a bloody attack by its terrorist rulers, Hamas.

“Humanitarian law must be respected, especially in Gaza, where it is urgent and necessary to guarantee humanitarian corridors and help the population,” says the Pope after his traditional Angelus prayer in Rome’s Saint Peter’s Square.

In the eight days since Hamas gunmen killed more than 1,300 Israelis in their surprise onslaught, and kidnapped 150-200 others, Israel has responded with a devastating bombing campaign that has claimed over 2,300 lives in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

“I strongly urge that children, the sick, the elderly, women and all civilians should not fall victim to the conflict,” he adds.

Israeli forces are readying for a ground operation in Gaza aimed at destroying Hamas.

US embassy issues urgent plea for citizens in northern Gaza to move south

A truck transports a Palestinian family and their belongings to Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip October 15, 2023. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
A truck transports a Palestinian family and their belongings to Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip October 15, 2023. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

The US embassy in Jerusalem issues an urgent plea for American citizens in the northern Gaza Strip to head south ahead of the expected ground operation by the Israel Defense Forces.

“Residents of Gaza City and northern Gaza have been urged by security authorities to move to southern Gaza now along Salah al-Din Street,” the directive reads. “US citizens who can do so safely are advised to move to southern Gaza, south of Gaza Valley towards Khan Younis now.”

“We are working on potential options for departure from Gaza for US citizens,” the announcement says.

All-clear is given to residents of Ofakim

An all-clear is given to residents of Ofakim, following a suspected infiltration, local authorities say.

Residents of Ofakim’s Shapira neighborhood told to shelter amid suspected infiltration

Residents of a neighborhood in the southern city of Ofakim have been ordered to shelter as forces carry out searches following a suspected infiltration.

The municipality tells residents of the Shapira neighborhood, in the southern part of the city, to remain in their bomb shelters and lock their homes until further notice.

Rocket alerts sound in Tel Aviv and surrounding areas

Incoming rocket sirens are sounding in Tel Aviv and nearby suburbs.

Recent hours have seen rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip on southern towns, with long-range rockets last being launched late last night.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Sderot works to evacuate remaining residents ahead of Gaza ground operation

Ayelet Shmuel, near a home hit last week by a Hamas rocket, in Sderot on October 15, 2023 (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)
Ayelet Shmuel, near a home hit last week by a Hamas rocket, in Sderot on October 15, 2023 (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)

Sderot Deputy Mayor Elad Kalimi tells The Times of Israel that the city has suffered 75 direct rocket hits since Hamas initially attacked Israel, kicking off a war that is now in its ninth day.

Sderot is in the process of being the first Israeli city to face government-supported evacuation.

Kalimi estimates that about two-thirds of the city’s 30,000 citizens have already evacuated, and the majority of the remaining citizens will clear out today.

He expects about 10% will remain in the city, either from choice or from hardship.

The government, bolstered by private donations, is funding hotels to shelter Sderot evacuees in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Eilat.

Ayelet Shmuel, who lives in nearby Ashkelon but works with traumatized citizens in Sderot, says that for ideological reasons, she and her family are not evacuating to relatively safer areas of the country.

Southern Ashkelon is also included in the government’s wider evacuation plan.

“There are a lot of people who feel like me, who say you’re not going to get me out of my home, enough is enough,” Shmuel says, walking by a bullet-riddled van in Sderot, a testament to Hamas’s murderous October 7 rampage throughout the city and communities in southern Israel.

“And plus, where are we going to go? I’m going to go to Tel Aviv? They’re going to go there as well,” she says, of the terror group.

Rocket sirens sound in Gaza border towns

Rocket alert sirens blare in a number of Gaza border towns.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Tel Aviv shares drop as fighting enters 2nd week

Tel Aviv shares drop as Israel enters the second week of fighting following the murderous assault on its border communities launched by Hamas terrorists, and with the Israel Defense Forces gearing up for a ground operation in the Gaza Strip.

The TA-35 stock index of blue-chip companies falls almost 3 percent, the benchmark TA-125 index falls 3.2% and the TA-90 index, which tracks the shares with the highest capitalization not included in the TA-35 index, sinks 4% in early afternoon trading.

The TA-Bank index of the five largest banks slips 3.3% and construction, building and gas stocks decline around 4%.

Since the devastating onset of the war with Hamas, in which 1,300 were killed in Israel, some 1,000 of them civilians, and 150-200 kidnapped by terrorists, the shekel has dropped 2.6% against the US dollar trading around 3.97 per dollar, the weakest level since February 2016. The foreign exchange market is closed on Sunday and will fully reopen on Monday.

In southern Israel, French FM speaks with families of those killed or taken by terrorists to Gaza

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen meet with Barzilai Medical Center Director Prof. Chezy Levy in Ashkelon ( Shlomi Amsalem/GPO)
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen meet with Barzilai Medical Center Director Prof. Chezy Levy in Ashkelon ( Shlomi Amsalem/GPO)

With French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna by his side in Ashkelon, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen says, “We need the time to win.”

“Our victory will ensure that the radical Islamist terrorism will not reach Paris, London, and New York,” he says in Hebrew in front of the cameras. “This is a global war against criminal terrorism. As President Biden said, Hamas is worse than ISIS, and they will pay a price.”

The two senior diplomats meet with the Shem and Meir families, whose daughters were snatched by Hamas and taken to Gaza.

They also speak with Sabine Tasa, a French citizen whose husband and son were killed in the Hamas attacks.

“Coming here, of course, is a way of showing France’s solidarity with the Israeli people who suffered a monstrous terrorist attack,” Colonna says. “ It is also a way of saying that France shares the pain of the Israeli people.”

“It shares Israel’s grief because it too knows the price of Islamist terrorism and because here it lost 17 French people, 17 French people lost their lives in the attacks carried out by Hamas, a terrorist organization.”

She announces that France is delivering medical equipment for a mobile emergency post.

Colonna arrived in Israel last night for a meeting with the families of missing French citizens.

“It is a priority for us to be at their side, to tell them, to show them and to assure them that France is doing everything, France is doing everything to give them back their loved ones,” she says alongside Cohen.

She is also meeting with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv, and religious leaders and representatives from humanitarian organizations in Jerusalem.

UN: Israeli warning to evacuate northern Gaza triggered ‘mass displacement’

People carrying foreign passports arrive at the Rafah gate with the hope of crossing into Egypt as Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip continues on October 14, 2023 (SAID KHATIB / AFP)
People carrying foreign passports arrive at the Rafah gate with the hope of crossing into Egypt as Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip continues on October 14, 2023 (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Israel’s warning to evacuate the northern Gaza Strip has triggered “mass displacement” toward the south of the Palestinian enclave, the United Nations says.

Israel has warned 1.1 million Palestinian civilians to leave northern Gaza and a steady stream of families in overloaded cars, trucks and donkey carts have since headed south.

“Mass displacement from the north to the south of the Gaza Strip has been ongoing since… Friday morning, after Israel ordered residents to evacuate the areas ahead of military operations,” the UN’s humanitarian agency OCHA says in an update.

“Humanitarian partners report that the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has risen significantly over the last 24 hours; however, the exact number is unknown,” it says.

Saudi crown prince working to ‘calm the situation,’ reiterates condemnation of attacks on civilians

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman chairs the Arab summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, May 19, 2023. (Saudi Press Agency via AP)
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman chairs the Arab summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, May 19, 2023. (Saudi Press Agency via AP)

After meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, a statement from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman highlights Riyadh’s diplomatic outreach “to calm the situation,” the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reports.

The news agency says those efforts involved calls to regional leaders, including Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

The prince also reiterates the Gulf kingdom’s condemnation of attacks on civilians and “vital interests that affect their daily lives,” while stressing the need for Palestinians to “obtain their legitimate rights and achieve just and lasting peace,” SPA says.

Blinken described the meeting in the Riyadh area as “very productive.”

Rocket sirens sound in Gaza border towns

Rocket alerts are sounding in a number of Gaza border towns, including Sderot, which is currently being evacuated ahead of a possible Gaza ground operation.

Explosions were heard from either impacts or interceptions by the missile defense system.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Earlier today, a rocket hit a house in Sderot and sparked a fire.

Rocket siren sounds in Gaza border town

A rocket alert siren sounds in the Gaza border town Re’im.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Thai death toll in Israel from Gaza war reaches 28

Four more Thai nationals have died in the conflict between Israel and Palestinian terror group Hamas, bringing the country’s death toll to 28, CNN reports.

About 30,000 Thais are working in Israel, mostly in the agriculture sector, according to the kingdom’s labor ministry. A number have been evacuated.

The Thai Foreign Ministry says 17 nationals are now believed to be held hostage by Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

Blinken has ‘very productive meeting’ with Saudi crown price amid Gaza war crisis regional tour

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves as he arrives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 14, 2023. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves as he arrives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 14, 2023. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken calls for pressure on Hamas during a meeting with the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, which has warming ties with Israel but has put normalization on hold.

The top US diplomat met for nearly an hour in the early morning with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the royal’s farm residence in the Riyadh area, a US official says.

“Very productive,” Blinken says when asked about the meeting after returning to his hotel.

Blinken “highlighted the United States’ unwavering focus on halting terrorist attacks by Hamas, securing the release of all hostages and preventing the conflict from spreading,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller says.

“The two affirmed their shared commitment to protecting civilians and to advancing stability across the Middle East and beyond,” Miller says.

Blinken has been touring the region after Hamas fighters infiltrated Israel from the Gaza Strip on October 7 in a massive onslaught and killed 1,300 people, mostly civilians, and took about 150-200 hostages.

Rocket sirens sound in Gaza border town

A rocket alert siren sounds in the Gaza border community Nahal Oz.

There are no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

IDF says troops arrested 330 Palestinians in West Bank since fighting began

The Israel Defense Forces says troops have arrested 330 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including 190 affiliated with Hamas, since fighting began last Saturday in southern Israel.

Last night alone 33 Hamas members were arrested, the military says.

There have been several clashes between IDF forces and Palestinians in the West Bank in recent days, and several attempted terror attacks, according to the army.

According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, at least 55 West Bank Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since October 7.

Hezbollah claims responsibility for 3rd anti-tank guided missile attack on Lebanon border

Hezbollah claims responsibility for another anti-tank guided missile attack on the Lebanon border, the third this morning.

The terror group claims it targeted an Israeli tank.

The Israel Defense Forces confirms troops were targeted in an ATGM attack on the border, adding that it is striking Hezbollah posts in response.

Earlier, one person was killed and three were wounded by an ATGM fired at the town of Shtula.

Rocket sparks fire in Sderot home

A rocket launched from the Gaza Strip has caused a fire in a home in the southern city of Sderot, the municipality says.

The city says it has no immediate information on casualties in the direct rocket strike.

IDF: Military will operate ‘anywhere in the Middle East’ and is ‘highly prepared in all arenas’

An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires a shell from southern Israel towards the Gaza Strip, Oct. 15, 2023 (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)
An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires a shell from southern Israel towards the Gaza Strip, Oct. 15, 2023 (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

The IDF’s top spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says the military will operate “anywhere in the Middle East” amid the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip and frequent clashes on the Lebanon border.

“We are always looking around us, in the entire Middle East,” Hagari says. “The IDF will operate anywhere in the Middle East to fulfill Israel’s security aims. We are highly prepared in all arenas.”

IDF strongly denies claim that Israel struck evacuating convoy in Gaza: Hamas spreading ‘manipulative fake information’

The Israeli military strongly denies claims by the Hamas terror group, reported by international media outlets, that Israel struck convoys of Palestinians evacuating from the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

“This is a false report,” the IDF’s top spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says in a press conference.

“The one making cynical use of their own citizens and taking them as human shields is Hamas,” Hagari says.

Hagari says Hamas is spreading “manipulative fake information into the world’s ears.”

Sirens sound in Gaza border communities

Rocket sirens sound in a number of Gaza border communities, including Sderot, which is currently being evacuated ahead of the ground operation in the Strip.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

IDF says troops killed Palestinian terrorist in Gaza border kibbutz

The Israel Defense Forces says troops killed a Palestinian terrorist in the southern kibbutz of Nir Am, close to the border with the Gaza Strip this morning.

According to the IDF, the gunman was identified in the community, and infantry forces and tanks were dispatched to the scene.

After an exchange of fire, the terrorist was killed, the IDF says.

Hezbollah claims responsibility for deadly missile attacks on north

First responders on the scene of a rocket attack in Shtula, northern Israel, October 15, 2023. (MDA)
First responders on the scene of a rocket attack in Shtula, northern Israel, October 15, 2023. (MDA)

The Hezbollah terror group claims responsibility for anti-tank guided missile attacks on the northern border this morning, saying they came in response to recent Israeli strikes in Lebanon.

Israel’s recent strikes came in response to previous attacks launched by Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions.

One civilian was killed in a missile attack on the northern town of Shtula, and the IDF says it is hitting targets in Lebanon in response.

IDF declares restricted area up to 4 kilometers from Lebanon border; civilians prohibited from entering

Israeli tanks are positioned in the north of Israel near the border with Lebanon on October 15, 2023. (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
Israeli tanks are positioned in the north of Israel near the border with Lebanon on October 15, 2023. (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)

The Israel Defense Forces says it is “isolating the area” of up to 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the Lebanon border, instructing civilians not to enter.

“The IDF stresses that entering the area is strictly prohibited and asks the public to be vigilant and not enter the area,” the IDF says.

Meanwhile, residents living in communities up to 2 kilometers from the Lebanon border are ordered to remain close to bomb shelters until further notice.

The moves come following repeated attacks from Lebanon by the Hezbollah terror group and allied Palestinian factions.

The IDF also warns the public that it is jamming GPS services in the area, which may affect navigation applications.

IDF to north Gazans: Evacuation corridor in place from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.

The Israel Defense Forces says in a message to residents of northern Gaza that an evacuation corridor is in place from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.

“The IDF will not carry out any operations along this route” during that period, the military says.

The military says residents should move to the south of the Strip ahead of an expected ground operation.

“Be assured, Hamas leaders have already ensured their safety and that of their families,” the IDF says.

IDF says deadly fire from Lebanon was anti-tank guided missile

The Israel Defense Forces says the deadly attack from Lebanon at the northern town of Shtula was an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM).

The IDF says it shelled the source of the fire with artillery.

Another ATGM was also fired at a military position on the northern border, the IDF says, adding that it is striking in Lebanon in response.

Rocket sirens in Gaza border area

Rockets are fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Oct. 15, 2023 (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Rockets are fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Oct. 15, 2023 (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Rocket alert sirens sound in a number of Gaza border communities.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

1 killed in fire from Lebanon at northern border town Shtula

One person is dead and another three others are wounded in a rocket or missile strike in the northern town of Shtula on the Lebanon border, medics say.

According to the Magen David Adom ambulance service, its medics have declared a man in his 40s dead at the scene.

MDA says it is taking three more men in their 40s, two in moderate condition and one in good condition, to Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya.

Herzog meets bipartisan US delegation led by Schumer

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (L) meets with President Isaac Herzog at the Kirya in Tel Aviv, October 15, 2023 (Haim Zach/GPO)
US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (L) meets with President Isaac Herzog at the Kirya in Tel Aviv, October 15, 2023 (Haim Zach/GPO)

President Isaac Herzog meets with a bipartisan delegation of United States senators led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

According to a statement released by the President’s Residence, the US lawmakers reaffirmed their “firm support” for Israel.

The meeting was held at the Kirya, the IDF military headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Sirens sound in Gaza border town

Rocket alert sirens sound in the Gaza border town of Nahal Oz.

The incoming fire comes after a lull of some 12 hours.

IDF says hitting Lebanon targets in response to fire on Israeli border town

The Israel Defense Forces says it is hitting targets in Lebanon in response to fire toward an Israeli border town.

According to reports, a number of people were injured when an anti-tank missile was fired at Shtula.

Fire from Lebanon at Shtula on northern border, injuries reported

There are initial reports of fire from Lebanon toward Shtula, a small town on the northern border.

Channel 12 news says an anti-tank missile was fired.

The IDF says it is investigating the incident.

There are unconfirmed reports of injuries.

US says will start to evacuate nationals from Israel by sea

The United States says it will begin to evacuate nationals and their immediate family members from Israel via sea to Cyprus on Monday.

All of the details can be found here.

The US is also operating flights for those who want to leave.

A number of countries have begun to evacuate their citizens from Israel in recent days ahead of the expected ground operation in Gaza and soaring tensions on the northern border.

Evacuation of Sderot set to begin ahead of Gaza ground operation

Security forces assist a journalist taking cover during an alert for a rocket attack in Sderot on October 12, 2023 (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)
Security forces assist a journalist taking cover during an alert for a rocket attack in Sderot on October 12, 2023 (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

The evacuation of residents from the Gaza border town of Sderot is set to begin in the coming hours.

The municipality emphasizes that evacuation is not mandatory, but that it recommends residents leave the area.

Residents are being moved to hotels in Eilat and Jerusalem, with the possibility of also going to Tel Aviv.

There are around 7,000 households in the town, according to the Ynet news site.

Last week authorities evacuated residents of the hard-hit Gaza-area communities devastated by Hamas gunmen.

The towns included Nahal Oz, Erez, Nir Am, Mefalsim, Kfar Aza, Gevim, Or Haner, Ibim, Netiv Ha’asara, Yad Mordechai, Karmia, Zikim, Kerem Shalom, Kissufim, Holit, Sufa, Nirim, Nir Oz, Ein Hashlosha, Nir Yitzhak, Be’eri, Magen, Re’im, Sa’ad and Alumim.

In the north, Metula has in recent days recommended that residents leave the town amid the tensions.

Additionally, thousands more living in areas that have come under heavy rocket fire are thought to be displaced, moving to stay in parts of the country that are quieter.

IDF: Hostages likely being held underground in Gaza, military will not target civilians

Supporters and family members of Israeli hostages look at images of the hostages plastered on a wall during a rally outside of the Kirya military base in central Tel Aviv on October 14, 2023. (Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP)
Supporters and family members of Israeli hostages look at images of the hostages plastered on a wall during a rally outside of the Kirya military base in central Tel Aviv on October 14, 2023. (Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP)

A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces says the top priority in the military operation is to rescue the hostages, who are “most likely” being held underground.

Noting the “elaborate network of tunnels” in the Gaza Strip, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus tells CNN the 150-200 people kidnapped by Hamas terrorists are “most likely held underground in various locations.”

“It is extremely difficult for any modern military to fight in such a dense urban area,” he says.

Conricus additionally says the IDF will not target civilians.

“But again, we must remember… we are going to fight a ruthless enemy that has no problems using everything available… civilians as human shields and using civilian infrastructure for military purposes,” he adds.

Hamas-run ministry says Gaza death toll reaches 2,329

The Hamas-run health ministry says some 2,329 Palestinians have been killed and another 9,042 have been wounded in Israeli retaliatory airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

The Israel Defense Forces has said it has killed some 1,500 Palestinian terrorists in Israeli territory after they breached the border fence and rampaged murderously in southern Israel, killing over 1,300 people, mostly civilians.

Blinken meets with Saudi crown prince during crisis tour amid Gaza war

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken boards his aircraft departing from Abu Dhabi on October 14, 2023 (Jacquelyn Martin / POOL / AFP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken boards his aircraft departing from Abu Dhabi on October 14, 2023 (Jacquelyn Martin / POOL / AFP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on a crisis tour of the Middle East, meets with the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, which has put on hold normalization efforts with Israel.

The top US diplomat began meeting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at his palace in Riyadh just after 7:30 a.m. (0430 GMT), a US official says.

Blinken has been touring the region since Hamas fighters infiltrated Israel on October 7 and killed 1,300 people and kidnapped 150-200 more, sparking a massive Israeli retaliatory campaign targeting the Islamist group in the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 2,200 people, according to the terror organization.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a session on ‘Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment’ as part of the G20 summit in New Delhi, India, on September 9, 2023. (EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP)

Before the violence, the Saudi crown prince, known by his initials MBS, had spoken of progress in US-led diplomacy to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Saudi Arabia has put the process on hold after the violence, with some suspecting that Hamas wanted to stop normalization for fear it would further weaken the Palestinian cause.

China: Israel’s actions in Gaza have gone ‘beyond the scope of self-defense’

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends the EU-China High-Level Strategic Dialogue at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing on October 13, 2023. (Pedro PARDO / AFP)
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends the EU-China High-Level Strategic Dialogue at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing on October 13, 2023. (Pedro PARDO / AFP)

Israel’s actions in Gaza have gone “beyond the scope of self-defense” and the Israeli government must “cease its collective punishment of the people of Gaza,” China’s foreign minister Wang Yi says.

Wang, who made the comments on a call to his Saudi Arabian counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Saturday, said “all parties should not take any action to escalate the situation and should return to the negotiating table as soon as possible,” according to a foreign ministry readout.

IDF says it killed Hamas commander who led murderous attacks on Nirim, Nir Oz

The Israel Defense Forces says it has killed another commander in Hamas’s commando forces, who led the murderous attacks on the southern communities of Nirim and Nir Oz last weekend.

The IDF says Billal al-Qedra, the commander of the so-called Nukhba unit’s southern Khan Younis battalion, was killed in an airstrike following intelligence efforts by the Shin Bet security agency and Military Intelligence Directorate.

“He was responsible for the murderous raid in Kibbutz Nirim and Nir Oz,” the IDF says.

Several more Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists were killed in airstrikes overnight in the Gaza Strip, the IDF says.

The IDF says it hit more than 100 targets overnight, including Hamas command centers, military compounds, dozens of rocket launchers, anti-tank missile launch posts and observation posts; and Islamic Jihad command centers.

Thousands march outside White House to chants of ‘Free Palestine’

Protesters gather in front of the White House during a Day of Action for Palestinians event on October 14, 2023 in Washington, DC (Photo by Nathan Howard / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)
Protesters gather in front of the White House during a Day of Action for Palestinians event on October 14, 2023 in Washington, DC (Photo by Nathan Howard / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters gather in the US capital, marching past the White House to chants of “Free Palestine” as the death toll continued to climb in the conflict between Israel and Gazan terrorists.

Across the country, Americans have held pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protests in the week since Hamas terrorists broke through the heavily fortified Gaza Strip-Israel border and killed more than 1,300 people, most of them civilians, as well as kidnapping a further 150-200.

Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip in response has killed more than 2,200 people, Hamas authorities say.

Signs carried by marchers included messages such as “End the occupation” and “Cease-fire now.”

On the other side of the country, more than 1,000 pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched in Los Angeles, local media reports.

IDF emphasizes again that north Gazans must evacuate ahead of ‘significant military operations’

Palestinians flee to the southern Gaza Strip after the Israeli army issued an evacuation warning to a population of over 1 million in northern Gaza and Gaza City to seek refuge in the south ahead of a possible Israeli ground operation, Oct. 13, 2023.  (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinians flee to the southern Gaza Strip after the Israeli army issued an evacuation warning to a population of over 1 million in northern Gaza and Gaza City to seek refuge in the south ahead of a possible Israeli ground operation, Oct. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces emphasizes again that residents of northern Gaza should heed the warning to evacuate to the southern part of the Strip, with Israel set to begin “significant military operations.”

“The important thing here to focus on is that we will commence significant military operations only once we see that civilians have left the area,” Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus tells CNN.

“It’s really important that people in Gaza know we’ve been very, very generous with the time. We have given ample warning, more than 25 hours… I cannot stress more than enough to say now is the time for Gazans to leave,” he says.

IDF names a further 7 soldiers killed in Gaza war; official military toll reaches 286

The Israel Defense Forces names another seven soldiers killed during the ongoing war with Palestinian terrorists since October 7, mostly on the border with the Gaza Strip.

The names bring the toll of slain soldiers to 286.

They are:

Maj. (res.) Uri Shimon Russo, 44, a local security officer, from Kfar Aza.
First Sgt. (res.) Abraham Gabriel Korin, 56, a local security officer, from Holit.
Master Sgt. (res.) Shachar Aviani, 56, a local security officer, from Kfar Aza.
Staff Sgt. (res.) Ofek Arazi, 28, a local security officer, from Nir Yitzhak.
Staff Sgt. (res.) Omer Nissim Bitan, 22, a soldier in the 5th Brigade, from Binyamina
Sgt. Eliasaf Ben Porat, 21, a cook in the 282nd Artillery Regiment, from Safed.
Cpl. Kamay Achiel, 18, a Snapir sailor in the 914th Patrol Squadron, from Rosh Haayin — killed as a result of an accidental blast in northern Israel due to malfunctioning ammunition.

IDF says sirens in north due to Iron Dome firing at ‘suspicious target’

The Israel Defense Forces says an incoming rocket alarm sounding in the northern community of Sde Eliezer was due to an Iron Dome missile being fired at a “suspicious target.”

The IDF says further details are under investigation.

Rocket sirens sound in Galilee town, after alert-free night across Israel

Rocket alarms sound in the Galilee town of Sde Eliezer in the north, sending residents to bomb shelters in the early morning.

The siren, the first in Israel in many hours, comes amid widespread fear that the Hezbollah terror group could join the fighting, and a day after mortars were fired from Lebanon and rockets were launched from Syria.

Chinese envoy to visit Middle East this coming week to push peace talks

Chinese envoy Zhai Jun will visit the Middle East this coming week to push for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict and push for peace talks, state broadcaster CCTV reports.

Zhai “will visit the Middle East next week to coordinate with various parties for a ceasefire, to protect civilians, ease the situation, and promote peace talks,” CCTV says in a video posted to its official social media account.

WHO: Order to evacuate north Gaza potentially a ‘death sentence’ for hospitalized

Palestinians are treated at a hospital in the city of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on October 12, 2023. (Said Khatib/AFP)
Palestinians are treated at a hospital in the city of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on October 12, 2023. (Said Khatib/AFP)

The World Health Organization says forcing thousands of hospital patients to evacuate to already overflowing hospitals in the southern Gaza Strip may be “a death sentence.”

Israel has warned Palestinians to evacuate northern Gaza ahead of an expected ground offensive against Hamas, one week after the deadliest attack in Israel’s history.

“WHO strongly condemns Israel’s repeated orders for the evacuation of 22 hospitals treating more than 2,000 inpatients in northern Gaza,” the UN health agency says in a statement.

“The forced evacuation of patients and health workers will further worsen the current humanitarian and public health catastrophe.”

Moving 2,000 patients to southern Gaza, “where health facilities are already running at maximum capacity and unable to absorb a dramatic rise in the number patients, could be tantamount to a death sentence,” the WHO said.

US confirms second aircraft carrier on way to ‘deter hostile action against Israel’

A fighter jet launches from the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Mediterranean, December 2012 (photo credit: CC BY-NC-ND US Department of Defense, Flickr)
A fighter jet launches from the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Mediterranean, December 2012 (photo credit: CC BY-NC-ND US Department of Defense, Flickr)

The Biden administration has confirmed that it is sending the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean to support Israel.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says the additional carrier is being sent “as part of our effort to deter hostile actions against Israel or any efforts toward widening this war following Hamas’s attack on Israel.”

The Eisenhower will join the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group, which is already sailing near Israel, to bolster the US presence there with a host of destroyers, fighter aircraft and cruisers.

The Eisenhower deployed from its homeport of Norfolk, Va., Friday. Having two carriers in the region can provide a host of options.

They can disperse and serve as primary command and control operations centers, to cover a wide swath of area. They can conduct information warfare. They can launch and recover E2-Hawkeye surveillance planes that provide early warnings on missile launches, conduct surveillance and manage the airspace.

Both ships carry F-18 fighter jets that could fly intercepts or strike targets. They also have significant capabilities for humanitarian work, including an onboard hospital with medics, surgeons and doctors, and they sail with helicopters that can be used to airlift critical supplies in or victims out.

Top Iranian diplomat meets with Hamas head Haniyeh in Qatar

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has met in Doha with Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh, according to Iran’s state-run media.

A short video shows the two embracing as Amirabdollahian exits a car. No details about the meeting are released.

Iran has denied helping plan or knowing ahead of time about Hamas’s onslaught into southern Israel a week ago, in which the terror group slaughtered some 1,300 Israelis, most of them civilians. It has cheered the massacre as a victory.

Amirabdollahian is in Doha after visiting Lebanon, Syria and Iraq in recent days. He met in Beirut last week with Hezbollah terror chief Hassan Nasrallah.

According to an Axios report Saturday, Amirabdollahian has warned Israel through the UN that Iran will intervene if Israel does not call off its looming ground incursion into Gaza.

Israel to send tens of thousands of troops to capture Gaza City, kill Sinwar — officials

Israel plans to send tens of thousands of troops to capture Gaza City and “destroy” the Hamas leadership that runs the enclave, the New York Times reports, citing Israeli military officers who outlined unclassified details.

The report says the offensive would be the largest since 2006’s Second Lebanon War and will see the IDF attempt to hold on to parts of Gaza, at least temporarily.

A Hamas official tells the newspaper its fighters will try to ambush Israeli soldiers by popping out of tunnels behind their advance to surprise the troops.

According to the Israeli officials, the IDF’s rules of engagement are being eased so soldiers will be able to shoot at suspects with fewer checks.

Troops will be particularly focused on killing Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht says.

“That man is in our sights,” Hecht says. “He’s a dead man walking, and we will get to that man.”

“In addition to infantry, the Israeli strike force will include tanks, sappers and commandos,” the officers said. “The ground troops will be given cover by war planes, helicopter gunships, aerial drones and artillery fired from land and sea.”

IDF Spokesman Daniel Hagari said at a Saturday night press conference, “We continue to urge the residents of Gaza City, go south… Hamas wants you as human shields… This is for your personal safety,” Hagari added. “We are going to attack very widely in Gaza City in the near future.”

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