The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.
In a missive to troops, the chief of the Israel Defense Forces says the military “will win” in the war against Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
“The IDF will win because it sticks to the mission, [because of] the strength of its spirit and togetherness,” IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi says.
“The IDF will win because our war is just. The IDF will win thanks to the resilience of the nation, which makes up [the military],” he says.
“It will win thanks to its abilities and because we have trained for this task,” Halevi adds.
More than 100 trucks full of humanitarian aid are currently at the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing, waiting to be allowed into Gaza, Al Arabiya reports.
The network says the trucks are slated to be allowed in at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.
However, there have been a number of reports in recent days about Rafah reopening that proved to be false.
Israel has bombed the crossing several times in order to prevent the entry of humanitarian aid from reaching Gazans in order to further squeeze the enclave’s Hamas rulers following their October 7 onslaught.
Israel has asked the United States for $10 billion in emergency military aid, The New York Times reports, citing three officials familiar with the request.
The aid package is currently being put together by Congress in coordination with the White House and will also include funds for Ukraine, Taiwan and the US-Mexico border, according to NYT.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said during a visit to Tel Aviv on Sunday that US lawmakers have discussed providing Israel with replacement ammunition for the Iron Dome missile defense system, precision-guided bombs, JDAM kits to turn standard bombs into precision munitions and 155-millimeter ammunition.
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield blasts Russia for failing to even mention Hamas in the UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in the ongoing Gaza war.
“By failing to condemn Hamas, Russia is giving cover to a terrorist group that brutalizes innocent civilians. It is outrageous, it is hypocritical, and it is indefensible,” Thomas-Greenfield says in her speech to the Security Council explaining the US decision to vote against the resolution.
“We agree that this council should take action, but we have to get it right. And we’ll work intensively with all members on the council to do so,” the US ambassador says.
“The vast majority of families in Gaza are suffering through no fault of their own. As I have said, Hamas set the humanitarian crisis in Gaza in motion. And we cannot allow this council to unfairly shift the blame to Israel and excuse Hamas for its decades of cruelty. Period,” Thomas-Greenfield states.
“You cannot claim to stand with the Palestinians and their legitimate aspirations if you do not stand squarely against Hamas. Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people’s rights to dignity and self-determination,” she adds.
US President Joe Biden held phone calls earlier this evening to discuss the ongoing Gaza war with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Iraqi President Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
In the calls with Sissi and Sudani, Biden discussed “ongoing efforts to alleviate the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza, in coordination with the UN, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Israel, and other regional partners, and the need to preserve stability in the Middle East more broadly,” the White House says.
No readout on the call with Scholz is immediately available.
The United States is not putting “any conditions” on the military systems that it’s providing to Israel in its war against Hamas in Gaza, White House National Security Council chairman John Kirby tells reporters during a phone briefing.
“They have a right to defend themselves. They have a right to go after this terrorist threat, and we’re going to continue to do everything we can to help them do that,” Kirby says.
US President Joe Biden will travel to Jordan after making a wartime solidarity visit to Israel on Wednesday, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby says.
While in Amman, he will meet with Jordan’s King Abdullah, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for sit-downs to discuss the humanitarian situation in Gaza, Kirby says.
Biden “will reiterate that Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and self-determination and discuss the humanitarian needs of civilians in Gaza,” the White House later adds in a statement.
The US and Israel have agreed to develop a plan to enable humanitarian aid from donor nations and multilateral organizations to reach civilians in Gaza, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announces during a press statement from the US embassy’s Tel Aviv branch office.
Blinken says the plan pushed by the US will include “the possibility of creating areas to help keep civilians out of harm’s way.”
“It is critical that aid begin flowing into Gaza as soon as possible,” Blinken says.
The secretary says that the US is aware that Hamas may try and seize or destroy such aid once it enters Gaza but asserts that the US will condemn such actions if they happen and work to prevent them in the future.
Blinken thanks Israel for agreeing to the plan and says US President Joe Biden looks forward to discussing it further when he arrives in Israel on Wednesday.
US President Joe Biden will visit Israel on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announces in a press statement after holding a roughly eight-hour meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet at the IDF’s Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv.
“He’s coming here at a critical moment for Israel, for the region and for the world,” Blinken says.
The secretary says Biden during the trip will reaffirm US solidarity with Israel and Washington’s commitment to Jerusalem’s security; he will condemn Hamas’s October 7 onslaught, which killed 1,400 people, including 30 Americans; he will assert Israel’s “obligation” to defend itself and prevent future attacks; he will hear from Israel what it needs to defend itself; he will warn any state or non-state actors against joining Hamas in fighting Israel; he will continue coordination with Israel to ensure the release of the 200 to 250 hostages in Gaza; he will hear from Israel on how it will conduct its military operations in a way that minimize civilian casualties and enable access in Gaza to humanitarian aid in a manner that doesn’t benefit Hamas.
A Russian-backed UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza has been voted down.
Five countries voted in favor, four voted against and six countries abstained.
Another resolution on the war, which was drafted by Brazil will be voted on tomorrow.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is slated to make a late-night statement from the US Embassy’s branch office in Tel Aviv after meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet for nearly eight hours at the IDF’s Kirya military headquarters nearby.
The US military has handpicked roughly 2,000 soldiers that it plans to deploy to support Israel in its war against Hamas, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing unnamed US officials.
The soldiers are not expected to serve in any combat roles, rather in advisory capacity or medical support missions, the report says. No infantry have been included on the list of soldiers compiled.
Israel launched strikes overnight on Hezbollah “terrorist” targets in Lebanon, the Israeli army says in a statement.
“The Israeli army is striking military targets of the terrorist organization Hezbollah on Lebanese territory,” it says.
Since the start of the war triggered by the unprecedented attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7, clashes on the Israel-Lebanon border have left around 10 people dead on the Lebanese side, mostly gunmen but also a Reuters journalist and two civilians.
On the Israeli side, six people have been killed.
The international community fears an escalation of the conflict between the Iran-backed Hezbollah and the Israeli army.
Israel began evacuating thousands of residents in 28 locations in the north of the country after these border clashes.
A group of Chicago-area rabbis attended the funeral of Wadea Al-Fayoume, the six-year-old Palestinian American who was killed in his Illinois home by his landlord in what police are investigating as a hate crime.
Al-Fayoume was killed yesterday and his mother was seriously injured by 71-year-old Joseph Czuba who witnesses said was screaming, “You Muslims have to die” when he barged into their apartment and began to attack them unprovoked.
Witnesses also heard him shout, “You are killing our kids in Israel. You Palestinians don’t deserve to live.”
In a Facebook post published after attending Wadea’s funeral, Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob Synagogue Rabbi Ari Hart writes, “We met with the Imam, heard from the father and stood with the boy’s community as they mourned this horrific loss. We witnessed the pain. We expressed our shock and condemnation of the attack. We wept.”
“I can’t say that it was simple to be there. These are not simple times. But the murder of a six-year-old because of his faith and his identity is not complicated. It is a heinous crime. And that’s why we went today,” he says.
“These days it really feels like the world has lost its way. But I can’t give up on trying, yearning, dreaming, even right now, of finding the way to shalom. The way to peace.”
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant just held another phone call with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on the ongoing Gaza war.
They have been in touch on a near-daily basis since the October 7 Hamas onslaught.
During their latest call, Gallant and Austin “continued discussions on Israel’s operations to restore security following Hamas brutal October 7 attack,” according to the US readout.
Austin “reiterated the US commitment to continue expediting security assistance and preventing conflict escalation.”
“Austin emphasized civilian safety and thanked [Gallant] for efforts to restore safe drinking water access in Gaza,” the US readout adds.
The IDF confirms reports that it killed former senior Hamas official Osama Mazini in an airstrike earlier this evening.
Mazini was the head of Hamas’s Shura Council and a Hamas education minister who was also tasked with handling the file of Gilad Shalit, an IDF soldier held captive by Hamas in Gaza for five years.
Iran Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian says, “We can expect a preemptive action by the resistance front in the coming hours.”
“Leaders of the resistance will not allow the Zionist regime to take any action in Gaza. … All options are open and we cannot be indifferent to the war crimes committed against the people of Gaza,” Amirabdollahian tells state TV, according to Reuters.
“The resistance front is capable of waging a long-term war with the enemy,” he says — not elaborating on the kind of action Israel should expect.
Blinken said to tell PM allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza critical for keeping global support for IDF op.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken pressed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza in order to maintain international support for Israel’s military operation aimed at dismantling Hamas, Axios reports, citing two Israeli officials.
The plea was made during a meeting Blinken held with Netanyahu and members of Israel’s war cabinet today at the IDF’s Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv.
“The Biden administration understands the need to dismantle Hamas and stresses that one of the ways to make sure there is enough time to do it is by avoiding a humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” a senior Israeli official tells Axios.
Israel has largely held off on allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza as it seeks to pressure Hamas to release the roughly 200 hostages being held in the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu is also concerned that some in his hardline coalition will oppose allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza and that it could spark public backlash in Israel, Axios reports.
Lack of water in the Gaza Strip under Israel blockade is driving people to drink from contaminated sources and could lead to the spread of diseases, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) warns.
“There continues to be no water for the vast majority of the population in Gaza,” UNRWA spokesperson Juliette Touma told reporters in New York in a video conference from Amman.
The World Health Organization earlier said that water, fuel and electricity would run out within 24 hours, warning that Israel had intensified the blockade on the enclave after the deadly attack by the Palestinian group Hamas on October 7.
“We’re talking about two million people in the Gaza Strip who do not have water and water is running out and water is life. Life is running out of Gaza,” said Touma.
“We are very concerned about the spread of waterborne diseases if water continues not to be available in Gaza because we do know that people are resorting to dirty water sources, including wells,” she says.
Touma says that the fear was being felt among UNRWA’s own workers in the Gaza Strip.
“We feel that the levels of desperation and frustration and exhaustion among our staff specifically increases by the hour,” she said.
In their phone call earlier this evening — their first since the outbreak of the Gaza war — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin that Israel “will not stop until it destroys the military and governmental capabilities of Hamas,” the premier’s office says.
Netanyahu also “made it clear that Israel was attacked by vile and cruel murderers and has gone to war determined and united,” his office adds.
US President Joe Biden expresses his solidarity with Americans worried about an uptick in violence on US soil as a result of the ongoing Israel-Gaza war.
“To those Americans worried about violence at home, as a result of the evil acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas in Israel — we see you. We hear you,” Biden says in a statement.
He notes that the FBI released its annual hate crimes statistics earlier today, which showed that antisemitic hate crimes rose 25 percent from 2021 to 2022, and that antisemitism accounted for over half of all reported religion-based hate crimes.
In addition, annual anti-LGBTQ hate crimes rose by 16%, and Muslim Americans and African Americans continue to be overrepresented among victims, the FBI data showed.
“The data is a reminder that hate never goes away, it only hides. Any hate crime is a stain on the soul of America,” Biden says.
The US president says he has tasked his administration, including US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick Garland “to prioritize the prevention and disruption of any emerging threats that could harm Jewish, Muslim, Arab American, or any other communities during this time.”
“My administration will continue to fight antisemitism and Islamophobia,” Biden declares.
The Israel Defense Forces says the family of Mia Schem, 21, who is seen in the Hamas hostage video, was notified last week that she is being held in the Gaza Strip.
The IDF says that in the video, Hamas “tries to present itself as a humanitarian organization, while in fact it is a murderous terror group, responsible for the murders and kidnappings of babies, women, children and the elderly.”
The IDF add that it is continuing to work “with all the intelligence and operational means” to return the more than 200 hostages.
Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi claims that Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara opposes his emergency regulations, which are designed to shut down the operations of the Al Jazeera news station in Israel.
The hard-right minister’s regulations, which have undergone several revisions, would give the communications minister the authority to instruct the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council to revoke a foreign media’s broadcast license; shut down its offices; and seize its equipment, if he believed that the outlet’s broadcasts were harming state security.
Such a decision would need the approval of the security cabinet.
Karhi claims that his regulations and shutting Al Jazeera down are supported by “all the security services,” and accuses Baharav-Miara of having a “warped worldview,” in a fierce attack against her on X.
“After massive efforts for a process that is clear to any thinking person needs to be carried out, what does Barahav-Miara say…? That there is a constitutional obstacle to passing the regulations that would close Al Jazeera,” writes Karhi.
The security cabinet is currently deliberating the regulations, and the communications minister calls on the body to approve them, despite the attorney general’s opposition.
The Kan public broadcaster reports that Baharav-Miara’s main objections are that, according to the current regulations, the authority would lie with the communications minister instead of with the defense minister, and the orders against a foreign media outlet would not need the approval of a district court.
The Attorney General’s Office, in response, describes Karhi’s characterization of her position as “false and misleading,” noting that she only received the legal positions of the different branches of the security services on the issue yesterday.
“The attorney general will present to the cabinet a version of the emergency regulations which empowers the defense minister to close the offices of — and prevent broadcasts in Israel of — foreign media outlets which harm state security,” says her office in a statement to the press.
US President Joe Biden’s administration has privately been pressing Israel in recent days to flesh out its strategy for the day after it completes its stated goal of toppling Hamas’s Gaza rule, in the ongoing war in the Strip, a US official and an Israeli official tell The Times of Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his inner circle have indicated to their American counterparts that Israel has not yet come up with such a strategy, and are more focused on the immediate goal of removing Hamas from power in Gaza, the US official says.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan told CNN yesterday: “We’re not thinking now what will happen the day after the war… We need to win this war, and that’s the only thing that we’re focused on.”
But the US official speaking with The Times of Israel cautions against this approach, saying that devoid a strategy for who will control the Strip, if and when Hamas is removed, the IDF is more likely to get bogged down in Gaza indefinitely, despite Israel insisting that it does not want to retake the enclave.
An Israeli official tells The Times of Israel that National Unity party chair Benny Gantz and fellow faction member Gadi Eisenkot demanded the creation of a Gaza exit strategy upon their entry into the government and that they have tasked a committee with drawing one up.
There are currently between 200 and 250 prisoners in Gaza, says the terror group’s military spokesman Abu Obeida, noting that there is no definitive count, due to “security and practical difficulties,” but affirming that 200 of them are in the hands of Hamas following the terror group’s massive onslaught on October 7.
In a televised statement, he says that about 50 others are held by other “resistance factions and in other places.”
Foreign hostages are “our guests,” Abu Obeida says, vowing to protect them and to release them whenever conditions “on the ground” allow for it.
Abu Obeida says the threat of an Israeli ground operation in Gaza “doesn’t scare us and we are ready for it.”
He also names an Israeli hostage allegedly killed in an Israeli bombing in the last few hours.
Khaled Mashaal, a prominent Hamas figure and the former political leader of the group, says in a separate interview that there are 6,000 Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, boasting that Hamas holds enough hostages — including high-ranking officials of the IDF’s Gaza Division — to free all of them.
He also says that Gazans will not leave the Strip, and that their displacement would harm Egyptian national security and would pose a danger for Jordan, implying that a mass exodus of Palestinians to a neighboring country could set a precedent for the West Bank.
He praises Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group for “taking steps” against Israel, noting however that Hamas needs more support.
The Hamas terror group has released the first clip showing one of the 200 or more Israeli hostages being held by terror groups in the Gaza Strip.
The short video shows a young woman, 21-year-old Mia Schem, being treated after she was wounded in her arm, and later speaking to the camera.
Schem was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists on October 7 while taking part in the desert rave in Kibbutz Re’im, where the gunmen also massacred over 260 festival-goers.
She tells the camera she was operated on for three hours and that “I’m being cared for, I’m getting medications. I’m only asking for me to be returned home as soon as possible, to my family, to my parents, to my siblings. Please get me out of here as soon as possible.”
Schem’s family reacts to the clip, saying: “We’re happy.”
Around 250 protesters gather outside the BBC’s main headquarters in London over the British broadcaster’s continued refusal to refer to Hamas as a terror group.
Demonstrators at the event, organized by Jewish groups, chant “Hamas, terrorists” and “Shame on you” at the broadcaster for making the editorial decision to refer to Hamas as “militants,” or a “militant group.”
Many wave Israeli flags and others hold posters carrying pictures of Israeli children kidnapped by Hamas terrorists during its unprecedented October 7 onslaught.
Organizers, the National Jewish Assembly, write on X (formerly Twitter) that “this is no time the BBC to call Hamas anything but terrorists.”
UK Defense Minister Grant Shapps also said last week that the BBC should follow the “law” and call Hamas a terrorist organization, with the government having proscribed it as such in 2021.
But veteran reporter John Simpson, the BBC’s world affairs editor, said that the corporation would be “taking sides” if it called Hamas terrorists.
The BBC has said in a statement today that it has given “careful consideration” to its coverage of conflict.
“Careful consideration has been given to all aspects of our coverage to ensure that we report on developments accurately and with due impartiality in line with the BBC editorial guidelines, which are publicly available. The BBC, along with many other UK and global news organizations, does use the word ‘terrorist,’ but attributes it. We have made clear to our audiences that Hamas is proscribed as a terrorist organization by the UK and other governments,” it adds.
Pro-Palestinian groups have also targeted the BBC, covering Broadcasting House headquarters in red paint last week and accusing it of having “blood on its hands.”
Rocket alarms sound in Tel Aviv and many other cities in central Israel, indicating a major barrage.
There are no immediate indications of impacts. There have been at least two interceptions, initial reports indicate.
Hamas takes responsibility for the salvo.
Multiple rocket interceptions by the Iron Dome over central Israel pic.twitter.com/PBWJY46Dks
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) October 16, 2023
The Sderot municipality reports two rocket impacts in the southern city in the latest barrage from the Gaza Strip.
The municipality says one of the rockets slammed into a home, but the family was not home.
There are no reports of injuries in the latest salvo.
JK Rowling retweets a post highlighting the plight of Noya Dan, a 12-year-old Israeli girl with autism held hostage by terrorists in Gaza who was a big Harry Potter fan.
“For obvious reasons, this picture has hit home with me,” the author says, adding that kidnapping children is “despicable and wholly unjustifiable,” and expressing hope for the release of all captives in Gaza.
Kidnapping children is despicable and wholly unjustifiable. For obvious reasons, this picture has hit home with me. May Noya and all hostages taken by Hamas be returned soon, safely, to their families. https://t.co/YIbf3egib4
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) October 16, 2023
Turkey’s top diplomat earlier today discussed the possibility of the release of hostages during a phone call with Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh, his office says.
During the phone call, Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan discussed “the latest developments in Palestine and the possibility of release of civilians” with the exiled Haniyeh, the foreign ministry says in a readout.
Rocket alarms blare in Sderot, Ashdod, and nearby communities.
There are no immediate reports of impacts or interceptions.
The Pentagon has sent “prepare to deploy” orders to about 2,000 US troops to be ready to respond to the Israel-Hamas war, two US officials say, on the condition of anonymity to discuss a decision that has not been announced yet.
The troops are set to cover a variety of support roles, such as additional medical support or explosive ordnance support, including providing additional security at gate crossings, one of the officials says.
They will not be sent to Israel but could be sent to countries in the region, one of the officials says.
IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says the military has been carrying out searches on both sides of the Gaza border in search of bodies and evidence that could lead to further information on missing Israelis and foreigners from Hamas’s murderous attack on October 7.
“Forces are scanning for missing people on both sides of the border, trying to complete the effort to find the missing. We are scanning every possible area,” Hagari says.
Hagari says the IDF’s top priority remains to kill Hamas terrorists, “especially those who took part in the horrible attack.”
He says ground forces are carrying out intense exercises in the assembly areas, ahead of Israel’s expected ground offensive in the Strip.
On Hezbollah, Hagari says the Lebanese terror group’s recent attacks on the northern border are aimed at “diverting our attention from the war in Gaza,” under Iranian directives.
He says the IDF can fight two fronts simultaneously, if need be.
Hagari adds that the IDF is “operating in full coordination with the United States,” which has sent two aircraft carriers to the Middle East.
The Wexner Foundation philanthropy group cuts its ties with Harvard University.
In a statement, it cites the “dismal failure of Harvard’s leadership to take a clear and unequivocal stand against the barbaric murders of innocent Israeli civilians by terrorists last Saturday.”
The Wexner Foundation announces that it is cutting ties with @Harvard over "the dismal failure of Harvard’s leadership to take a clear and unequivocal stand against the barbaric murders of innocent Israeli civilians by terrorists last Saturday." pic.twitter.com/qg1C2grn2j
— Judah Ari Gross (@JudahAriGross) October 16, 2023
The European Union will launch a humanitarian air corridor to Gaza through Egypt, with the first flights expected this week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announces.
“Palestinians in Gaza are in need of humanitarian help and aid. That is why… we are launching an EU humanitarian air bridge to Gaza through Egypt. The first two flights will start this week,” von der Leyen tells a press conference in the Albanian capital Tirana, where she is attending a regional Balkan summit.
Rocket sirens sound in Tel Aviv and some of its surrounding cities.
The Magen David Adom ambulance service says that so far, it has received no reports of impacts or casualties.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz confirms media reports and says he will travel to Israel and Egypt this week, in the wake of Hamas’s murderous rampage and Israel’s war against the Palestinian terror group.
“It is important to me to also express my solidarity with Israel very practically with my visit,” he tells reporters, while confirming a “later trip” to Egypt.
The Israel Defense Forces publishes new footage showing troops of the 77th Battalion of the 7th Armored Brigade opening fire at some of the first Hamas terrorists attempting to infiltrate into Israel on October 7.
The IDF says the Armored Corps battled terrorists on the border throughout the day of the initial onslaught and in the following days.
Hamas terrorists managed to disable at least one tank on the border on October 7, footage showed.
According to the IDF, at least 14 Armored Corps soldiers were killed during the attacks and the ensuing clashes with the terrorists.
IDF publishes new footage showing troops of the 77th Battalion of the 7th Armored Brigade opening fire at some of the first Hamas terrorists attempting to infiltrate into Israel on October 7. pic.twitter.com/XhhuNHALny
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) October 16, 2023
Colombia demands that Israel’s ambassador leave the South American country in the midst of a spat over President Gustavo Petro’s praise for the Hamas terror group in the midst of the Israel-Gaza war.
Foreign Minister Alvaro Leyva says the envoy should “at a minimum, apologize and leave,” after he criticized President Gustavo Petro’s comparison of Israeli attacks on Gaza with the Nazi persecution of the Jews.
Yesterday, Israel said it was halting security exports to Colombia in protest of the Colombian leader’s remarks.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant tells visiting United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken to expect a long but successful campaign against the Hamas terror group.
“Let me tell you, Mr. Secretary, this will be a long war. The price will be high, but we are going to win — for Israel, for the Jewish people, and for the values that both [our] countries believe in,” Gallant tells Blinken, during a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Netanyahu’s office.
Putin has been extremely critical of Israel in his statements since Hamas’s October 7 onslaught, even making implicit comparisons between Israel and the German army in World War II.
According to the Kremlin, Putin spoke earlier with Syrian President Bashar Assad, and is calling Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas today as well.
The Knesset advances a bill to delay Israel’s nationwide municipal elections by three months, from October 31 to January 30, 2024.
The wartime bill clears it first reading, and will require two more plenum votes before the end of the month to finalize.
The Knesset also advances a first reading of a bill to let National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir worsen the living conditions of terror convicts in Israeli prisons during hostilities. In line with an announcement from his office last week, Ben Gvir is seeking to rapidly increase prison capacity by housing some inmates on mattresses, instead of beds.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan told CNN last night that Israel is not currently thinking about who will govern Gaza once it achieves its goal of toppling Hamas’s rule.
“There are many, many questions regarding the future, [and] we will have time to discuss them… but for now, the only focus should be how to release the hostages, how to secure our future by obliterating Hamas capabilities,” Erdan told CNN. “It’s a very complicated goal to achieve, so we’re not thinking now what will happen the day after the war. First of all, we need to win this war, and that’s the only thing that we’re focused on.”
Erdan reiterates that Israel has no interest in retaking Gaza, but appears to leave the possibility open for that to take place. “Since we are fighting for our survival and the only way… is to obliterate Hamas, we will have to do whatever is needed to obliterate their capabilities,” he says.
Erdan says he “believes” those Israel is urging to evacuate from northern Gaza will be allowed to return to their homes.
“We are trying to temporarily call for their evacuation because it can be reversed. The loss of human life cannot, and Hamas is now threatening them because they always use them as human shields in order to try and recruit the international community to put pressure on Israel and tie our hands,” the Israeli envoy says.
“We even have recordings of Gaza residents who are speaking on the phone and telling other people that Hamas [won’t] allow them to leave their homes and that they’re threatening them to stay there,” he adds.
US President Joe Biden says he was “sickened” to learn of the murder of a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy in Illinois by a 71-year-old man who police said targeted the boy and his mother because of their Muslim faith, and as retaliation for Hamas’s onslaught in Israel.
Wadea Al-Fayoume was killed and his mother was seriously injured in the stabbing attack carried out by their landlord in their home.
“The child’s Palestinian Muslim family came to America seeking what we all seek — a refuge to live, learn, and pray in peace,” Biden says. “This horrific act of hate has no place in America, and stands against our fundamental values: freedom from fear for how we pray, what we believe, and who we are.”
“As Americans, we must come together and reject Islamophobia and all forms of bigotry and hatred. I have said repeatedly that I will not be silent in the face of hate. We must be unequivocal. There is no place in America for hate against anyone,” Biden adds in a statement. “We join everyone here at the White House in sending our condolences and prayers to the family, including for the mother’s recovery, and to the broader Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim American communities.
The head of the Shin Bet security agency says he is personally responsible for the lack of an early warning for Hamas’s murderous attack on southern Israel on October 7.
In a missive to members of the agency, Ronen Bar writes: “Despite a series of actions we carried out, unfortunately on Saturday we were unable to generate a sufficient warning that would allow the attack to be thwarted.”
“As the one who heads the organization, the responsibility for this is mine,” Bar says. “There will be time for investigations. Now we are fighting.”
Several hours before the attack on October 7, the defense establishment identified unusual movement in the Gaza Strip, leading to a late-night phone call between senior officials, but the signs were largely dismissed.
Still, according to Hebrew-language media reports, Bar went to the agency’s headquarters and ordered a small team deployed to the Gaza border, anticipating a small-scale attack.
At least 10 members of the Shin Bet were killed during the attacks on October 7, according to the agency.
“We are in a war, not a round [of fighting]. A round you win with a victory image and silence; a war ends with a decisive victory and a change of situation. There is no border limit, no time limit. Till the very end,” Bar adds.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says at least six British citizens were killed in Hamas’s massacre on October 7 and another 10 are missing.
He tells lawmakers in the House of Commons that some of the missing are feared dead.
Sunak says the people killed and missing in the attack come from more than 30 countries, as well as Israel.
He calls the attack “an existential strike at the very idea of Israel as a safe homeland for the Jewish people.”
Sunak also describes it as a “pogrom,” saying: “We should call it by its name: it was a pogrom.”
He says Britain supports “absolutely Israel’s right to defend itself, to go after Hamas, take back the hostages, deter further incursions and strengthen its security for the long term… in line with international humanitarian law.”
He said the UK has earmarked 10 million pounds ($12 million) to alleviate the “acute humanitarian crisis” in Gaza, and urges Israel and Egypt to open a border crossing to let in aid.
The Health Ministry blasts the UN’s health agency for its response to the Israel-Hamas war, which has included strongly worded criticism of Israel’s strikes on Gaza and its call for civilians in northern Gaza to flee south ahead of a ground operation.
“As Hamas rampaged through Israeli towns murdering infants, raping women and taking the sick and elderly hostage, including Holocaust survivors, the World Health Organization was largely focused on cessation of hostilities,” the Health Ministry says in a statement. “Israel’s efforts to save lives by evacuating civilians from the conflict zone in northern Gaza has been perversely twisted and maligned in service of Hamas’s efforts to continue their use of Gaza’s civilians as human shields.”
“The call for evacuation of civilians from the conflict zone is a measure to protect civilians despite Hamas’s efforts to endanger them,” it adds.
The Health Ministry announces in an update that more than 4,000 people have been wounded in Israel since the start of war on October 7.
The ministry says the total number of wounded since the beginning of the Hamas onslaught against southern Israel stands at 4,121.
Currently, there are 344 wounded still hospitalized, including 82 in serious condition, 178 in moderate condition and 81 in mild condition.
The Israel Defense Forces says it has struck and killed the regional head of Hamas’s intelligence in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis.
The IDF does not immediately provide further details on the strike, including the name of the senior Hamas member or where the strike took place.
The military also publishes a series of videos showing strikes in the Gaza Strip, including the one targeting the senior Hamas member, and on tunnels used by Hamas terrorists and a rocket-launching squad.
The IDF says it struck and killed the head of Hamas's general intelligence in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis. pic.twitter.com/c1nun5Dwds
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) October 16, 2023
This video published by the IDF shows a strike on a rocket launching squad in the Gaza Strip. pic.twitter.com/dNXMcYb7eU
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) October 16, 2023
The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on Wednesday morning for former treasury secretary Jack Lew, who is US President Joe Biden’s nominee to become the next US ambassador to Israel.
While Democrats are pushing for Lew’s confirmation to be fast-tracked, asserting that the US needs a high-level Biden confidant on the ground as the war against Hamas intensifies, some Republicans are planning to try and block the process.
GOP Sen. Tom Cotton told Fox News yesterday that “Jack Lew is an Iran sympathizer who has no business being our ambassador. It’s bad for the United States, it’s bad for Israel to have an Iran sympathizer as our ambassador to that country.”
Lew served as chief of staff to former president Barack Obama and was instrumental in the lobbying that secured the Iran nuclear deal in 2015.
The US dollar is now worth 4 shekels for the first time since 2015.
The shekel’s devaluation comes against the backdrop of the war with terror groups in Gaza and despite the Bank of Israel’s announcement that it will sell $30 billion out of its reserves to prevent the shekel’s devaluation.
The Israel Defense Forces say several military posts on the Lebanon border have come under gunfire, and a tank was hit by an anti-tank guided missile.
There are no injuries in all the incidents, according to the IDF.
The IDF says troops have responded with artillery fire against the sources of the fire.
Hezbollah claimed responsibility for a gunfire attack earlier.
The Israel Defense Forces names another eight soldiers killed during the war which began on October 7, mostly on the border with the Gaza Strip.
The names bring the toll of slain soldiers to 299.
Maj. (res.) Ofir Erez, 57, a local security officer, from Sufa.
Warrant Officer (res.) Amit Vax, 48, a local security officer, from Netiv Ha’asara. (His name has previously been published, but not the fact he was an IDF soldier)
First Sgt. (res.) Ofir Mordechai Yaron, 51, a local security officer, from Magen.
First Sgt. (res.) Boaz Abraham, 61, a local security officer, from Nir Yitzhak.
Master Sgt. (res.) Nadav Amikam, 39, a local security officer, from Kfar Aza.
Master Sgt. (res.) Ido Keslasi, 23, a Maglan soldier, from Harel.
Sgt. Shalev Dagan, 20, a Golani soldier, from Kiryat Yam.
Cpl. Liel Vainshtein, 19, a cook at the 282nd Artillery Regiment, from Netanya.
Rocket sirens sound in Ashkelon and in some Gaza-adjacent Israeli communities.
There are no immediate reports of impacts or interceptions.
France says Gaza residents must be allowed to leave, accusing the Hamas terror group of preventing them from doing so, and wants the blockade of Gaza eased to allow in humanitarian aid.
The message is delivered by French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna on a visit to Egypt, following talks yesterday with officials in Israel. “The blockade doesn’t respect humanitarian law,” she says. “Humanitarian aid must be permitted to enter Gaza, because it’s unacceptable to leave women, men, children who aren’t responsible for Hamas’s crimes suffering like this.”
Colonna also accuses Hamas of preventing people from leaving Gaza. “It’s unacceptable,” she says. The minister reiterates that France is worried that the Israel-Hamas war could spread to other parts of the region, warning “the situation is serious, even dangerous.”
“France appeals to all groups or states who could seek to profit from the situation to abstain from doing so,” she says. Colonna is scheduled to hold more talks later today with officials in Lebanon.
The World Health Organization warns there are only “24 hours of water, electricity and fuel left” in the Gaza Strip before “a real catastrophe” sets in.
WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean Ahmed Al-Mandhari says the Strip must be allowed to receive convoys of aid, currently stuck at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.
If assistance does not arrive, doctors will have to “prepare death certificates for their patients,” he claims, talking with AFP.
President Isaac Herzog says that Israel’s war against terror groups in the Gaza Strip is not morally “complex,” and is instead part of an international struggle to maintain free societies.
“Everyone talks about complexity, but this moment is not a complex moment. There is absolute good here and there is absolute evil here. There is light here and there is darkness here,” Herzog says.
Thanking the United States for its public support and military aid, Herzog adds: “We are not alone in this war. We are fighting the war as part of the family of nations – of all those who seek justice, peace and freedom – against an enemy that has proven that humanity and humanism are its enemy.”
Saying that there are “few moments in the history of a nation where there is so much at stake” as the present, Herzog adds that Israeli society has unified in the past 10 days, coming together despite religious and political differences.
“The brutal attack by our enemies was directed at the Jewish people, but did not distinguish among blood. There is hardly a home in Israel where the ripples of the painful tragedy we experienced have not reached,” he says.
“The depth of our shared grief proves: We are all one Israeli nation,” he says.
“We have a wonderful nation,” he adds, “a nation that knows it has no other choice, has no other land, and has no other country.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated US support for Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas terrorism during his meeting with President Isaac Herzog earlier today in Jerusalem, the State Department says.
Blinken reaffirms the US commitment to provide Israel with whatever military assistance it needs to protect itself, according to the US readout, which adds that the secretary also discussed international coordination efforts to ensure the safety of civilians in Gaza as well as efforts to secure the release of the hostages being held by terrorists in the Strip.
Iran threatens an “expansion of war fronts” if the war in Gaza doesn’t stop, its foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian says in an interview with Al Jazeera.
“Iran cannot stand idly by and watch this situation unfold,” the top diplomat adds, noting that every hour, the possibility of a new war front opening is increasing, in reference to increasing attacks on Israeli targets by the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.
Amirabdollahian makes his statements during a visit to Qatar, where he has met senior Qatari officials and the head of the political bureau of the Palestinian terror movement Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, according to a report in Iranian state media. Qatar has been accused by many of being a sponsor of Hamas and other terror groups in the region.
The regime’s official IRNA news agency also says Iran is negotiating with countries in the region to send “relief items” into Gaza, and to open a field hospital in Egypt near the Gaza border.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech in the Knesset calling on the world to unite to defeat Hamas and issuing a stark warning to Hezbollah and to Iran: “Don’t try us, you will be severely harmed.”
The Hezbollah terror group claims responsibility for attacking a number of Israeli military posts along the Lebanon border with light arms.
The Israel Defense Forces said earlier that no soldiers were hurt, and it was responding with artillery fire.
The Knesset has reopened its parliamentary session after taking a 40-minute break sparked by a rocket salvo at Jerusalem that sent attendees to bomb shelters.
Before the rocket barrage that sent the Knesset plenum to shelters, Opposition Leader Yair Lapid says that Israel will forge ahead in its campaign against Hamas, even if it is subject to international criticism.
“It will take time, it will require the use of a lot of force. If the world doesn’t like it, let it not. It was not the children of the world who were murdered, our children were murdered,” Lapid tells the Knesset as the winter session opens.
The opposition leader, who says he will support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wartime cabinet from the sidelines, pledges that Israel will “uproot Hamas” because “it’s impossible to live next to a terror group.”
Arguing for the need to change reality for Israelis, especially those living in the Gaza border area, Lapid says that “our goal is not to end the war and go back [to the way we were]; our goal is to win the war and be better than we were.”
By doing so, the opposition leader says that elected officials will restore public trust, eroded in the aftermath of Hamas’s crushing surprise attack against Israel on October 7.
“Our goal is to restore trust between this house,” the Knesset, “and the citizens of Israel,” Lapid says.
During their meeting earlier today, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken updated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about his shuttle diplomacy across the Middle East over the past four days aimed at building a coalition against Hamas, preventing malign actors from joining the war against Israel, ensuring access of humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza and securing the release of the hostages in Gaza, the State Department says in its readout after the meeting.
Blinken “underlined his firm support for Israel’s right to defend itself from Hamas’s terrorism and reaffirmed US determination to provide the Israeli government with what it needs to protect its citizens,” the State Department readout says.
Another rocket barrage is launched by Gazan terrorists toward the area of Tel Aviv, with at least one interception reported.
The Hamas terror group takes responsibility for the earlier barrage toward Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Hebrew media reports that in the earlier attack, one rocket fell in an open area north of Jerusalem, causing no casualties.
One person is moderately hurt by a rocket impact in the central city of Holon, medics say.
The Magen David Adom ambulance service says it is treating a 54-year-old who was hurt by shrapnel, and taking her to a nearby hospital.
The Israel Defense Forces says it is carrying out artillery strikes in southern Lebanon after troops came under fire on the border.
The IDF says no soldiers are hurt in the incident.
The strikes are targeting the source of the gunfire, the IDF adds.
There have been escalating skirmishes as the Hezbollah terror group and allied Palestinian factions have launched several attacks on the Lebanon border in recent days.
The Defense Ministry says some 100,000 Israelis may be internally displaced amid the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip and escalating skirmishes on the Lebanon border.
According to ministry officials, the numbers are broken down into two main categories: those who have been fully evacuated from their homes, and those who are eligible “to rest and refresh themselves” at state-subsidized guesthouses temporarily.
Some 15,000 Israelis living in 25 communities up to four kilometers from the Gaza Strip were evacuated last week, and another 27,000 Israelis living in 28 towns up to two kilometers from the Lebanon border are expected to be evacuated in the coming days.
The state will be responsible for these Israelis until the military allows them to return to what is now a closed military zone near the Gaza border and a restricted area near Lebanon.
Additionally, infrastructure in southern communities will need to be repaired before people can return.
Separately, some 35,000 residents of Sderot and 23,000 Israelis living in 29 towns between four and seven kilometers from Gaza are eligible to go and “rest and refresh themselves” for a week at state-subsidized guesthouses.
Ministry officials say not all of those living in those areas have taken the opportunity to leave at this stage.
The ministry is also looking at potentially providing the “rest and refresh” opportunity to some residents of the southern coastal city of Ashkelon, including those without adequate bomb shelters.
In his address to the Knesset, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel has started learning from the failures that led to Hamas’s deadly infiltration on October 7.
“The reasons for the disaster that occurred will be investigated… and we have started drawing conclusions,” he says.
Calling on the world to unite to defeat Hamas, Netanyahu issues a stark warning to Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group and to Iran: “Don’t try us, you will be severely harmed.”
Incoming rocket sirens are sounding in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, as terrorists in the Gaza Strip launch long-range rockets at Israel’s largest cities in possibly the largest barrage since the initial salvo on October 7.
Several loud explosions are heard over the areas, but there are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
The rockets are launched during the opening session of the Knesset, sending lawmakers and other attendants to bomb shelter and delaying the session.
Leaders in Qatar and Kuwait have received invitations for a summit in Cairo to be held on Saturday to “discuss developments and the future of the Palestinian cause and the peace process.”
State media in both countries announce the invitations a day after Cairo announced its intention to host “a regional and international summit on the future of the Palestinian cause,” during a visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that Israel’s ongoing war against terror groups in the Gaza Strip is an existential battle against the forces of darkness.
“Even with the passage of 75 years, the war of independence hasn’t ended,” the prime minister tells the Knesset at the opening session of its winter session.
“We will win, because our existence here is at stake,” he says, likening Hamas to Nazi Germany and calling the conflict “a war between forces of light and forces of darkness, between humanity and animalism.”
The premier reaffirms that “our goal is victory over Hamas, toppling it from its rule,” 10 days after the terror group stormed Israel and massacred over 1,300 people, injured close to 4,000, and kidnapped about 200 hostages to the Gaza Strip.
A ship evacuating US nationals from Israel leaves for Cyprus from the port of Haifa, as war rages between Israel and the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip.
With Israel now moving toward a ground operation in the Strip, the US embassy yesterday urged its “citizens and their immediate family members with a valid travel document” to depart from Haifa today.
The cruise ship is expected to reach the southern port city of Limassol tomorrow morning, Cypriot foreign ministry spokesperson Theodoros Gotsis tells local media.
Gotsis says that although the sea route was organized for American citizens by the US embassy in Nicosia in cooperation with Cypriot authorities, there could be other foreign nationals on board.
It is not immediately clear how many passengers boarded the ship at Haifa.
Energy Minister Israel Katz reposts UNRWA’s accusation that Hamas authorities have stolen fuel and medical supplies from its Gaza City premises that were meant for Palestinian refugees, arguing that this is a reason not to allow any humanitarian aid into the Strip until the terror group is eliminated.
— ישראל כ”ץ Israel Katz (@Israel_katz) October 16, 2023
Russian President Vladimir Putin will be speaking later today to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, an aide says.
Kremlin foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov is also quoted by Russian agencies as saying that Putin has already spoken to his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi earlier today.
The Israel Defense Forces releases footage showing the Navy’s most advanced warships carrying out their first-ever strikes in the Gaza Strip.
The clips show the INS “Magen” and INS “Oz” Sa’ar 6-class corvettes striking a Hamas weapons manufacturing site, a military post and an observation post belonging to the terror group’s naval forces.
Three of the Navy’s four Sa’ar 6-class corvettes were declared operational by the IDF in recent months.
IDF releases footage showing the Navy’s INS “Magen” and INS “Oz” Sa’ar 6-class corvettes carrying out their first-ever strikes in the Gaza Strip, attacking a Hamas weapons manufacturing site, a military post, and an observation post belonging to the terror group’s naval forces. pic.twitter.com/5inLVgMlYQ
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) October 16, 2023
UNRWA, the UN organization that treats Palestinian refugees and their descendants, says Hamas authorities in Gaza have apparently stolen fuel and medical supplies meant for refugees from its premises in Gaza City.
The agency says on X that the people claiming they were from the Hamas-run health ministry loaded the supplies on trucks, adding than any non-humanitarian use of the fuel is “strongly condemned.”
The agency deletes the posts shortly thereafter, without explanation.
UNRWA deleted this tweet thread, but UN sources and Israeli officials tell me the incident did happen pic.twitter.com/U130PAWZWp
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) October 16, 2023
Mansour Abbas, head of the Islamist Ra’am party, calls on the government to immediately enable humanitarian aid to civilians in the besieged Gaza Strip, while urging the Hamas terror group to release the some 200 hostages kidnapped from Israel on October 7.
“I called on Saturday [October 7] and I’ll continue to call on the groups in Gaza to release those held by them,” Abbas says, outside his Knesset faction meeting.
In addition, he recommends that the government “approve immediate humanitarian assistance” to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Many Arab citizens of Israel are deeply critical of Israel’s actions against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and tensions typically flare up during wartime.
Ten days into the war, Abbas says that “Arab citizens are exercising exemplary restraint” during Israel’s ongoing bombardment of terror groups in the Gaza Strip.
During Israel’s last major flare-up in the Gaza Strip, in May 2021, riots broke out across Arab-Jewish mixed cities, a new and deadly phenomenon that terrified the nation.
Abbas has walked a careful line in Hebrew media, denouncing both Hamas’s kidnapping of mainly civilian hostages from Israel and violence harming Palestinian citizens, without touching on the war’s stated goal: toppling the Hamas terror group’s rule over Gaza.
Instead, focusing on shared pain in the wake of the deadliest single terror attack ever suffered by Israel, Abbas shared that “only an hour ago I was shocked to learn that one of my friends lost his daughter at the Re’im party on Shabbat.” There were several Arab victims in Hamas’s onslaught, particularly from Bedouin communities.
US President Joe Biden has canceled plans for a trip today to Colorado, the White House says, fueling speculation that he will go to Israel in a show of support as it wages war against Hamas.
Biden will instead stay in Washington to attend national security meetings, the White House says in a short statement, as several US media outlets report he might travel to Israel this week.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited Biden yesterday.
The Lebanese army says search operations have led to the discovery of 20 rockets launchers near the Lebanon-Israel border.
The army says in a statement that four of the launchers discovered had rockets inside them and were ready to be fired at Israel.
The army says military experts are working on dismantling the launchers, which were discovered near the village of Qlaileh, south of the port city of Tyre.
Over the past days dozens of rockets have been fired from Lebanon into northern Israel as tension rises in the region over the war in Gaza — some by Palestinian terror groups and some by Hezbollah.
Police say they arrested a 42-year-old Petah Tikvah resident who assaulted people at a rally for hostages in Tel Aviv.
Reports say the man, apparently a right-wing activist, began taunting people at the rally, calling them “traitors” and telling one father “I hope your daughter dies.”
He was confronted by protesters and began to scuffle with them.
עכשיו במאהל המחאה של משפחות החטופים: עובר אורח שגידף ותקף את אביה של לירי אלבג אחת החטופות בעזה. כאילו חסרות לנו צרות pic.twitter.com/mXPvePI1sf
— נופר משה פרדו (@NOFARMOS) October 16, 2023
The IDF says it has identified at least 199 people taken hostage by Hamas in Gaza and informed their families.
Addressing the Likud party’s premature Saturday night statement that the Yisrael Beytenu party was joining the government, Avigdor Liberman says that he was not even contacted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s people.
Liberman also says his efforts to offer advice to Netanyahu’s aides have been rebuffed.
“Since Saturday evening, no one has spoken with me. I called the [prime minister’s] military secretary yesterday, I wanted to speak with him and at least share my wisdom… I still haven’t gotten a callback,” the former defense minister says.
“Everyone who called me, I spoke with him,” says Liberman of the stalled efforts to bring him into the national emergency government.
“I haven’t spoken with the prime minister in a long time,” he says.
Liberman said on Saturday that he would only join the government if given a spot on the war council, which comprises Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and Minister Benny Gantz, in addition to observers and staff. While remaining on the government’s sidelines, Liberman, a bitter Netanyahu rival, says that for the duration of the war, it’s important to be united.
Asked what Israel’s plan should be for a post-Hamas Gaza, Liberman says he is against Israel controlling the territory.
“First of all we need to get in and leave, there’s no reason to stay,” the right-wing hawk says.
Instead, he points to Arab and Muslim countries as possible custodians of the embattled coastal enclave.
“The Palestinian Authority was there and failed,” he says, when asked if it could be an option.
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman calls for making humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip contingent upon a Red Cross welfare check upon hostages taken by Hamas to the Gaza Strip on October 7.
Addressing himself to “everyone who speaks now about humanitarian aid,” he demands that it be “provisioned that they get don’t get one crumb, that one liter of water won’t be transferred until the Red Cross sees our abductees.”
The right-wing opposition party head says that “otherwise, it’s abandoning our hostages.”
Israel has already turned on the taps to southern Gaza, where it has urged civilians to flee, ahead of an expected Israeli ground invasion into Gaza’s north.
Explaining his rationale, Liberman says Hamas’s massacres in Israel’s southern Gaza border communities — from where many of the hostages were taken — was horrific.
“I am returning shocked from a visit at Kibbutz Kfar Aza. I thought that such atrocities could only be seen in movies about Nazis.”
“We aren’t talking about humans, we’re talking about Nazi monsters,” Liberman says.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemns some incidents at pro-Palestinian marches in Britain this weekend as “simply not acceptable” after police made several arrests.
“There is no place in our society for antisemitism and we will do everything we can to stamp it out. And where it happens, it will be met with the full force of the law,” Sunak says during a visit to a Jewish school in London.
London’s Metropolitan Police force said on Sunday evening that 15 people were arrested at Saturday’s pro-Palestinian protest in the center of the British capital.
Three men were subsequently charged with committing crimes, including a 68-year-old man suspected of making racist comments. The other two were charged with illegal knife possession and failing to remove a face covering.
“They’ve made several arrests but they’re also now reviewing footage of some of the things that many people would have seen that are just simply not acceptable, and where they can they will be able to make further arrests,” Sunak adds.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry says that Hamas potentially was ready to release the nearly 200 hostages it is holding if Israel stops its campaign of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. The terror group hasn’t acknowledged making such an offer.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani speaks at a news conference in Tehran. Iran is a main sponsor of Hamas in its fight against Israel.
Hamas officials “stated that they are ready to take necessary measures to release the citizens and civilians held by resistance groups, but their point was that such measures require preparations that are impossible under daily bombardment by the Zionists against various parts of Gaza,” according to Kanaani.
Hamas has said it will trade the captives for thousands of Palestinians held by Israel in the kind of lopsided exchange deals that have been reached in the past.
“We heard from the resistance that they have no problem to continue resisting,” Kanaani said, referring to Hamas. “They said the resistance holds the military capability to continue resisting in the field for a long time.”
The Israel Defense Forces says it carried out dozens of strikes in the Gaza Strip in the last few hours.
The targets have included Hamas headquarters, mortar launching positions, and a number of terrorists at a military compound, according to the IDF.
The IDF says it also struck the command center of Ali Qadhi, a commander in the Hamas commando forces, who was killed in an Israeli strike two days ago.
The IDF also releases footage of several overnight strikes in the Strip.
צה"ל ממשיך לתקוף ברצועת עזה.
בשעות האחרונות הושמדו עשרות מפקדות מבצעיות ועמדות שיגור של פצצות מרגמה. בנוסף, הושמדה מפקדתו הצבאית של עלי קאצ'י, אחד מהמפקדים בכוח הנח'בה של ארגון הטרור חמאס שחוסל לפני מספר ימים >> pic.twitter.com/zSJdvU7BLu
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) October 16, 2023
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked to make a solidarity visit in the wake of the Hamas onslaught on Israel but was told “the time is not right,” Hebrew-language media reports.
Zelensky issued a strong defense of Israel after the assault, saying that Israel had an unquestionable right to defend itself from attacks from Palestinian terrorists.
“Terror is always a crime, not just against one country or specific victims, but against humanity as a whole,” he said.
“The world must stand united… so that terror does not attempt to take or destroy life anywhere and at any moment,” Zelensky said.
Israel has repeatedly expressed support for Ukraine since Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February last year, but has stopped short of offering military aid, sparking diplomatic tensions between Kyiv and Jerusalem.
Israel has been hesitant to antagonize Moscow, which has a heavy military presence in Syria.
New footage shows Hamas’s onslaught on the southern Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7, as well as dozens of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip joining the terrorists and looting the community.
Videos published by the South First Responders group on Telegram show more than 10 pickup trucks carrying Hamas terrorists entering the community.
123/n – 10/16/2023 11:46
Description: This next clip (one of many in our possession) shows how ordinary Gazans, with armed men among them, entered the Kibbutz in a frenzie to conduct mass looting. pic.twitter.com/yzJ4omHZIK
— Luís Da Cruz (@morphiaz) October 16, 2023
Another clip shows dozens of Palestinians arriving, some by car and some on bicycles, and entering the kibbutz. Some of the Palestinians are seen armed.
125/n – 10/16/2023 12:06 pic.twitter.com/eSMd0HmIwy
— Luís Da Cruz (@morphiaz) October 16, 2023
In further clips, the Palestinians can be seen stealing agricultural equipment, motorbikes, and televisions.
127/n – 10/16/2023 12:07
Description: And in these videos you can see a television and a childrens bike being stolen on motorcycle. pic.twitter.com/pe33vTyJtp
— Luís Da Cruz (@morphiaz) October 16, 2023
More than 100 Israelis were murdered by the terrorists in the community.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group claims it has destroyed surveillance cameras on several Israeli army posts along the border with Lebanon.
Hezbollah released a video showing snipers destroying surveillance cameras placed on five points along the Lebanon-Israel border, including one outside the Israeli town of Metula.
Hezbollah’s aim appears to be to prevent the Israeli army from monitoring movements on the Lebanese side of the border.
The incidents occurred yesterday.
Hezbollah has targeted surveillance cameras & equipment all along the Palestine-Lebanon border.
The border is now completely blinded. Israel has no way of monitoring what happens next. pic.twitter.com/1ca5qiP4tf
— روني الدنماركي (@Aldanmarki) October 16, 2023
Opposition Chief Yair Lapid tours Moshav Netiv Ha’asara, one of the border communities overrun by Hamas terrorists in their murderous onslaught last week.
Lapid meets with officials from the community and military officers now stationed there. Most residents have been evacuated until the end of the war.
“Israel will never forget or forgive for the victims of Netiv Ha’asara. We will bring them to account,” he says of the killers.
ישראל לא תשכח ולא תסלח על קורבנות נתיב העשרה. החשבון הזה יסגר. pic.twitter.com/XaH0gmqm6f
— יאיר לפיד – Yair Lapid (@yairlapid) October 16, 2023
The Arab League chief calls for an immediate end to military operations in the Gaza Strip and for aid to be allowed into to the Palestinian enclave.
“We demand the immediate end of military operations and the opening of safe corridors to bring aid to the population,” Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit says during a meeting with Arab justice ministers in Baghdad.
More than 60 Israeli-based public intellectuals, peace activists and progressive thought leaders issue a statement expressing concerns over the “inadequate response from certain American and European progressives” regarding the targeting of Israeli civilians by Hamas.
The statement maintains that this reflects a “disturbing trend in the global left’s political culture.”
The statement also warns that “legitimizing or excusing these actions amounts to a betrayal of the fundamental principles of left-wing politics.”
Among the signatories are former Knesset members Taleb el-Sana (Arab Democratic Party), Ibtisam Mara’ana (Labor Party), Mossi Raz (Meretz), and Dov Khenin (Hadash); prominent social activists Ortal Ben Dayan, Alon-Lee Green, Josh Drill, Sally Abed; New Israel Fund executive director Mickey Gitzin, the authors David Grossman, Iris Lael, Yossi Sucary, and Avirama Golan; and academics Prof. Eva Illouz, Dr. Eli Cook, Prof. Danny Gutwein, Dr. Yofi Tirosh, Dr. Ofri Ilany, Dr. Meital Pinto, Dr. Yael Sternhell, Prof. Meir Yaish, Prof. Jonathan Pinto, Prof. Galia Sabar, and Prof. Dani Filc.
The letter comes after the Hamas terror group launched an unprecedented assault on Israeli border communities last week, killing more than 1,300 people, most of them civilians, and taking another 199 hostage.
The Hamas terror group says it launched rockets from the Gaza Strip at Tel Aviv a short while ago.
No sirens sounded in the central city, but a large blast was reported heard by residents.
According to Channel 13, one rocket possibly landed in the sea.
The World Health Organization says it has sent two shipments of medical supplies to Beirut in preparation for a potential escalation of the so-far sporadic clashes on the border between terror groups in Lebanon and Israeli forces.
The UN agency says in a statement that it “has expedited the delivery of critical medical supplies to Lebanon in order to be ready to respond to any potential health crisis.”
Two shipments containing “enough surgical and trauma medicines and supplies to meet the needs of 800 to 1,000 injured patients” arrived in Beirut from Dubai today, the statement says.
Lebanon’s health system has been overstretched since the country fell into a severe economic crisis four years ago. Many medical professionals have left the country and hospitals have faced supply and equipment shortages.
The WHO notes that clashes on the border initiated by the Hezbollah and Hamas terror groups have already resulted in civilian casualties.
European Union leaders will hold an emergency summit tomorrow as concerns grow that the war between Israel and Hamas could fuel inter-communal tensions in Europe and bring more refugees in search of sanctuary.
“This conflict has many consequences, including for us in the European Union,” EU Council President Charles Michel says in a video statement announcing that he had convened the virtual meeting. “The conflict could have major security consequences for our societies.”
Michel said that the war “has a potential to worsen tensions between communities and to feed extremism” in Europe, and that “there is a major risk of migration and movements of a large number of people to neighboring countries.”
Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut calls on her associates in the judicial authority, and the nation at large, not to give up hope for better times in the face of the conflict currently raging around Israel’s borders, in a letter she publishes this morning as she retires.
Hayut has served as Supreme Court president since 2017 and is stepping down having reached the age of 70, the mandatory age of retirement for judges.
“We are in one of the most difficult periods in the history of the country. We are burying our dead and bandaging our wounds, and praying for the speedy return of all the captives and the missing to their families,” writes Hayut.
In her letter of departure, the outgoing president cites a poem published in 2016 by Israeli poet Anadad Eldan, a member of Kibbutz Be’eri, called “On the walls of Be’eri” reflecting his feelings about the death of his daughter, which has taken on special poignancy in the wake of the October 7 Hamas assault and the atrocities the terror group committed at Be’eri in particular.
“There is an hour of billowing darkness, yet there is dawn and light,” the poem concludes.
“Surely this is an hour of billowing darkness, but as Anadad Eldan wrote there is dawn and light, and we must not give up hope for other days, better than these,” writes Hayut.
“Hope is the belief that together we can change things for the better,” she continues, citing the late Chief rabbi of the UK, Jonathan Sacks.
“Let us change things for the better. Let us protect our togetherness with all our strength.”
Some 5,000 laptops have begun to be distributed to students displaced from their homes by the Israel-Hamas war, the Education Ministry says.
The computers are for “children and teenagers whose families were forced to escape from their homes because of the security situation, so they have nothing at all,” the ministry says, adding that the return to distance learning in an emergency allows students to “return to a stable framework and a clear daily routine, and to provide emotional and mental support.”
Whole communities along the border with Gaza, including nearly all of Sderot’s 30,000 residents, along with communities immediately along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, are being evacuated to absorption centers, hotels and other locations.
On Sunday Israel’s school system began a distance learning program, similar to what was in place during the 2020-2021 COVID lockdowns.
The Education Ministry set up a system of color-coded areas, where some in-person classes would be allowed in certain locations depending on security conditions.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken returns to Israel on Monday for talks on the conflict with Hamas following a tour of six Arab countries, an AFP correspondent traveling with him says.
The top US diplomat, who was in Israel on Thursday on a solidarity visit, landed in Tel Aviv and was expected to again meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.
The Health Ministry announces that as of 10:30 a.m. today, 351 people injured since the devastating Hamas attack on Israel from Gaza on October 7 are still hospitalized.
Of them, 89 are in serious condition, 181 are in moderate condition, and 81 are in good condition.
A total of 3,968 injured individuals have been brought to hospitals around the country since October 7.
IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group will face a “deadly” response if it continues to carry out attacks against Israel.
“Hezbollah carried out a number of attacks yesterday in order to try to divert our operational efforts [away from the Gaza Strip], under the direction and backing of Iran, while endangering the state of Lebanon and its citizens,” Hagari says in a press conference.
“We have increased our forces on the northern border and respond aggressively to any activity against us,” he says.
“If Hezbollah dares to test us, the reaction will be deadly. The United States is giving us full backing,” Hagari says.
He says the evacuation of residents from communities up to two kilometers from the Lebanon border is aimed at preventing harm to civilians.
IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says the military has so far notified the families of 199 hostages that their loved ones are being held in the Gaza Strip.
Among the hostages that Hamas terrorists took to Gaza after the devastating assault last week are many elderly, children and women.
Hagari says the military has some information on the whereabouts of hostages being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
“We are making valiant efforts to try to understand where the hostages are in Gaza, and we have such information,” Hagari says in response to a question at a press conference.
“We will not carry out an attack that would endanger our people,” he adds.
The military’s top spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, says the Hamas terror group is continuing to prevent Palestinians from evacuating southward from the northern part of the Gaza Strip, after the IDF warned it would soon heavily bomb the area.
“Hamas prevents the residents of Gaza from moving to the south of the Strip. Hamas has proven its cruelty to the residents of Israel and now it is doing the same to the residents of Gaza City,” Hagari says in a press conference.
Rocket warning sirens are sounding in the central city of Modiin and in the surrounding area.
Residents report hearing explosions.
This appears to be the first time the city has been targeted by rockets from Gaza since the start of the war.
The Magen David Adom rescue service says there are no immediate reports of direct hits or injuries.
עדכון לאזעקה: הד פיצוץ נשמע בשמי מודיעין | עדכונים שוטפים https://t.co/o3ZVQgJyTs
— 0404 (@0404news) October 16, 2023
The Israel Defense Forces says troops have arrested 360 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including 210 affiliated with Hamas, since the war in the Gaza Strip began on October 7.
Last night alone, 20 Hamas members were arrested, the military says.
The IDF says troops also seized weapons and military equipment from one of the detainees in the village of Kafr Qallil overnight.
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 58 West Bank Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since October 7.
The top-level security cabinet will convene at 8 p.m. at the military headquarters in Tel Aviv, the Prime Minister’s Office announces.
The meeting comes as Israel prepares to launch a ground offensive on Gaza following the mass Hamas terror assault on Israel last week that killed more than 1,300 people, most of them civilians.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will travel to Israel tomorrow on a solidarity visit, the Reuters news agency reports, citing broadcaster ntv.
A government spokesperson did not immediately comment on the reported travel plans, Reuters says.
The Norwegian government says that as of yesterday evening, there are 170 of their nationals who want assistance from Norway to leave Gaza.
Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt says that “the situation in Gaza is unclear and is getting worse with every passing hour.”
Speaking of leaving Gaza via the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, Huitfeldt says, “We cannot guarantee that it will be possible for Norwegian citizens to cross (there). The border can be both opened and closed at short notice.”
Several dozen United States citizens and their spouses wait to board an evacuation ship at the port of Haifa.
The queue this morning follows a security alert issued Sunday by the US Embassy in Jerusalem for citizens seeking to leave the country. Due to flight cancelations in connection with the fighting between Israel and Hamas, US citizens and their first-degree relatives were invited to come to Haifa Port and board a vessel bound for Cyprus, where they would board flights to the United States.
“I have mixed feelings about leaving,” says Ariella Keshet, a therapist from the town of Katzrin in the Golan Heights.
“I think it would be wise to get out of the way if there’s fighting,” adds Keshet, who is traveling with four children and her husband.
One of her stepdaughters works as a waitress in Tel Aviv and lives in a building with no shelter. “There’s a range of reasons for leaving: Some practical, others safety-related,” she says.
Saleh Jabarin, an 84-year-old Arab Israeli man who lives in Ohio, has family events planned for November in the US, he says.
“I’m not scared, I don’t think Hezbollah will fire rockets on Haifa this time. But this is an opportunity to leave before they cancel all flights and it’s impossible.”
Multiple airlines have canceled flights to and from Israel following the deadly incursion by Hamas on October 7, which triggered a massive Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip.
El Al, however, is still flying, as is the Greece-based Bluebird Airways.
Several Likud ministers are vehemently opposing a reported US-brokered temporary truce to allow aid into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.
Energy Minister Israel Katz says he “bitterly opposes the opening of the blockade and the introduction of goods into Gaza on humanitarian grounds.”
“Our commitment is to the families of the murdered and kidnapped hostages — not to the Hamas murderers and those who helped them,” he says.
Culture Minister Miki Zohar also objects. “Those who massacre children, rape women and kidnap babies do not deserve any mercy.”
One person is lightly hurt by shrapnel in a recent rocket attack from the Gaza Strip at southern Israel, medics say.
The Magen David Adom ambulance service says a man in his 30s was hit by shrapnel in a community near the Gaza border and is being taken to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba.
Israel denies reports that it has agreed to halt fire in southern Gaza to allow the Rafah border crossing to open to let aid into the Strip.
“At the moment there is no ceasefire for humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip and the exit of foreigners,” says a terse statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyau’s office.
Earlier, the Reuters news agency, citing two Egyptian security officials, said Israel agreed to halt fire from 9 a.m. in a deal agreed on with Egypt and the US.
Police name another three officers killed during fighting with Hamas terrorists in southern Israel since October 7.
They are: First Sergeant Boris Danilov, Staff Sgt. Gadif Mologota, and Staff Sgt. Dor Mengadi, all members of the coordination of enforcement operations unit.
Police have named 54 officers killed in the fighting.
The Israel Defense Forces and Defense Ministry say they are planning to evacuate civilians who live in towns up to two kilometers from the Lebanese border amid repeated rocket and missile attacks by Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions in recent days.
The ministry’s National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) says the residents will be taken to state-funded guesthouses after the plan was approved by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.
The IDF says it has notified the heads of the local authorities in the area of the upcoming implementation of the plan.
According to the IDF and Defense Ministry, the 28 communities included in the plan are: Ghajar, Dishon, Kfar Yuval, Margaliot, Metula, Avivim, Dovev, Ma’ayan Baruch, Bar’am, Manara, Yiftah, Malkia, Misgav Am, Yir’on, Dafna, Arab al-Aramshe, Shlomi, Netu’a, Ya’ara, Shtula, Matat, Zar’it, Shomera, Betzet, Adamit, Rosh Hanikrah, Hanita and Kfar Giladi.
Israel will temporarily halt fire in southern Gaza from 9 a.m. to allow for the Rafah border crossing into Egypt to open, Reuters news agency reports.
The move is agreed on by the US, Egypt and Israel, the report says, citing two Egyptian security sources.
The crossing will likely be open briefly to allow aid to enter the Strip and to let foreign passport holders leave.
Egypt fears a mass exodus of Palestinian refugees into its territory.
After a nine-hour interlude, rocket sirens again sound in the south.
There are no immediate reports of direct hit or injuries.
France’s president calls for a “ruthless” government response to those with terrorist ideologies, days after a teacher was stabbed to death in what he has called an act of “Islamist terror.”
Emmanuel Macron wants his ministers “to embody a ruthless state towards all those who harbor hate and terrorist ideologies,” a senior aide tells reporters.
He has called on police to comb through their files of radicals who could be deported from France to make sure no one was overlooked and has told the interior minister to take a “special approach to young men between the ages of 16-25 from the Caucasus”, the aide said.
The IDF publishes footage of some of the airstrikes in carried out in the Gaza Strip against Hamas targets in the last 24 hours.
IDF publishes footage of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip over the past day. pic.twitter.com/OP5sLuMaWj
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) October 16, 2023
In an interview with CNN, Israel’s ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan responds to US President Joe Biden’s warning that occupying Gaza after destroying Hamas would be a “big mistake,” saying that Israel has “no interest” in ruling over 2 million Palestinians.
Erdan also thanks Biden for understanding Israel’s need to destroy the Gaza-based terror group.
“Thank you President Biden for recognizing what Israel has been saying since the barbaric Hamas massacre occurred: Israel’s goal is the total elimination of Hamas’ terror capabilities,” he tweets.
Thank you President Biden for recognizing what Israel has been saying since the barbaric Hamas massacre occurred: Israel’s goal is the total elimination of Hamas’ terror capabilities https://t.co/rqRGDh5Onl
— Ambassador Gilad Erdan גלעד ארדן (@giladerdan1) October 16, 2023
The Israel Defense Forces names another two 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 291.
They are: Lt. Amitay Zvi Granot, 24, a commander in the 7th Armored Brigade, from Tel Aviv, who was killed by anti-tank guided missile fire on the Lebanon border yesterday.
It also names Sgt. Daniel Rashed, 19, a Golani soldier, from Shefa-‘Amr.
The Israel Defense Forces says an officer was killed in one of the anti-tank guided missile attacks from Lebanon yesterday, against the Nurit post.
A civilian was killed in a separate missile attack against the town of Shtula.
Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The IDF says it has carried out airstrikes against Hezbollah sites in response to the attack.
The soldier’s death was gagged until the family could be notified, which is standard procedure.
Israeli airstrikes overnight constituted the heaviest sorties since fighting began last week, Reuters reports, citing Palestinians on the ground.
The report claims bombardments were most intense in Gaza City, where bombs struck areas near two hospitals.
Israel is thought to be readying for a ground invasion of the Strip.
The Rafah border crossing from Gaza into Egypt is set to open at 9 a.m. today, NBC News reports, citing Kamel Khatib, a representative for the Palestinian embassy.
The opening will allow foreign nationals to exit the beleaguered enclave while allowing in humanitarian goods.
Israel has in recent days agreed to ease its siege on the Strip imposed in the wake of the October 7 massacres. On Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the crossing would be opening, but did not say when.
The Muslim civil liberties organization says the fatal stabbing of a 6-year-old boy and his mother, who is expected to survive, is “our worst nightmare,” and part of a disturbing spike in hate calls and emails since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war. The group cites text messages exchanged among family members that showed the attacker had made disparaging remarks about Muslims.
“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,” a sheriff’s statement says after the Chicago-area killing.
The boy was identified as Wadea Al-Fayoume, a Palestinian-American boy who had recently turned 6.
US President Joe Biden says in a statement that “this horrific act of hate has no place in America, and stands against our fundamental values: freedom from fear for how we pray, what we believe, and who we are.”
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker calls the act “evil.”
“To take a six-year-old child’s life in the name of bigotry is nothing short of evil,” said Pritzker. “Wadea should be heading to school in the morning. Instead, his parents will wake up without their son. This wasn’t just a murder—it was a hate crime. And every single Illinoisan — including our Muslim, Jewish, and Palestinian neighbors — deserves to live free from the threat of such evil.”
Yousef Hannon, the boy’s uncle speaks out against hate at a news conference.
“We are not animals, we are humans. We want people to see us as humans, to feel us as humans, to deal with us as humans, because this is what we are,” says Hannon, a Palestinian-American who emigrated to the U.S. in 1999 to work, including as a public school teacher.
US President Joe Biden is considering a trip to Israel in the coming days but no travel has been finalized, a senior administration official says. It would be a powerful symbol of sympathy and support following the brutal attack by Hamas.
The official could not publicly discuss internal deliberations about the potential presidential travel and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited Biden for a solidarity visit Sunday, a Netanyahu aide told The Times of Israel earlier.
A trip would be a chance for Biden to personally affirm to the Israeli people the US is standing firm behind them. But it would come amid growing fears that a looming Israeli move into Gaza could spark a wider war with devastating humanitarian consequences.
Biden’s presence could be seen as a provocative move by Hamas’ chief sponsor, Iran, or potentially viewed as tone-deaf by Arab nations as civilian casualties mount in Gaza. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has already been traveling around the Mideast this past week trying to prevent the war with Hamas from igniting a broader regional conflict.
Israel’s Channel 12 news claims Israel has carried out strikes on at least 50 sites in Gaza overnight, destroying lookout posts, command centers and missile launchers.
Reports and footage showed heavy strikes in Gaza overnight, many of them coming in quick succession.
IDF spokesperson Jonathan Conricus says a strike on a convoy of Gazans fleeing to the southern part of the Strip Friday appears to have been a false flag operation carried out by Hamas.
“When you apply logic and think who would benefit from those very horrible images of children and civilians that were evacuating south and then they are apparently clearly dead, who stands to gain from that, only one organization: Hamas,” Conricus says during a Q and A session on X.
At least 70 people, most of them children, were killed in the strike, which occurred on a route that Israel said should be used for fleeing Gazans. Another 200 were injured.
Conricus says he expects the army will release proof of its claim in the coming hours or days.
“We can say clearly we did not try to strike anybody, any civilians in that area,” he says.
“I don’t think it is beneath Hamas even to kill Palestinian civilians if they think it will help them in the international arena, or to create support or to try to blame Israel,” he says, calling members of the group “subhumans.”
Hamas’s media office claimed cars carrying fleeing civilians were struck in three places as they headed south from Gaza City.
Israel has accused Hamas of attempting to keep Gazans from moving south in order to keep them as human shields or PR fodder.
The Canadian government has confirmed the death of a fifth citizen in Israel after a series of attacks by Hamas terrorists.
Separately, Canadians in the besieged Gaza Strip still have no way to get out.
Global Affairs Canada says three other Canadians who were in Israel when the attacks happened October 7 are still missing. Officials did not provide details of the fifth person who died or those who are missing, citing privacy considerations.
Julie Sunday, an assistant deputy minister with Global Affairs Canada, says the government is still working to get up to 300 Canadians and their relatives out of Gaza as Israel gears up for an expected ground invasion.
The Palestinian Authority’s Wafa mouthpiece has seemingly removed part of a statement in which PA President Mahmoud Abbas had criticized Hamas.
A report in Wafa initially said that Abbas told Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro that Hamas’s policies and actions “do not represent the Palestinian people,” and the Palestine Liberation Organization is the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
Hamas is no longer mentioned in the statement, which now says only that the PLO is “the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and not the policies of any other organization.”
US President Joe Biden reiterates that his administration is talking to Egypt about establishing a humanitarian corridor “to get these children and women out” of Gaza as Israel appears to ready for a ground operation.
“I’m confident that there’s going to be an ability for the innocents in Gaza to be able to have access to medicine and food and water,” he tells CBS’s 60 Minutes, doubling down on his belief that Israel would abide by the “rules of war.”
“Israel has one of the finest fighting forces in the country,” he says when asked if US troops could get involved. “I guarantee we’re going to provide them everything they need.”
Asked whether the US can offer such significant backing and support for both Israel and Ukraine, Biden insists that won’t be a problem.
“We’re the United States of America for God’s sake, the most powerful nation… We can take care of both of these and still maintain our overall international defense,” he says.
US President Joe Biden says Hamas must be destroyed but that there also must be a “path to a Palestinian state.”
Biden says during an interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes that Hamas “engaged in barbarism that is as consequential as the Holocaust.”
Asked if he thinks there should be a ceasefire, he answers that “Israel has to respond,” hinting that Jerusalem has US backing to forcefully attack the terror group.
“They have to go after Hamas,” he says. “Hamas is a bunch of cowards. They’re hiding behind the civilians.”
"Israel is going after a group of people who have engaged in barbarism that is as consequential as the Holocaust… Israel has to respond," says Mr. Biden.
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) October 15, 2023
He says an Israeli re-occupation of Gaza would be a “big mistake.”
“There needs to be a Palestinian authority, there needs to be a Palestinian state,” he says.
Biden acknowledges that Israel won’t be expected to immediately pursue a two-state solution after the October 7 Hamas onslaught but argues that Jerusalem “understands that significant portions of the Palestinian people do not share the views of Hamas and Hezbollah.”
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