The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they unfolded.
US senators who attended a classified briefing with top defense, intelligence and other administration officials say they were briefed that Israel was not responsible for the hospital blast in Gaza on Tuesday.
“The intelligence community assesses that Israel is not to blame for the explosion of the hospital in Gaza,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. said as he left. “They believe it was an errant rocket from terrorists in Gaza.”
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut said the intelligence is “definitive” that it was not an Israeli operation.
In a joint statement earlier in the day, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the panel, said they had reviewed intelligence and “feel confident that the explosion was the result of a failed rocket launch by militant terrorists and not the result of an Israeli airstrike.”
Israel presented further evidence Wednesday morning that a deadly explosion in the parking lot of the al Ahli Baptist Hospital the previous evening was caused by a misfired rocket launched by Palestinian terrorists.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will land in Israel at 9 a.m. on Thursday morning for meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog, Sunak’s office says.
Sunak will condemn Hamas’s “horrific act of terror” and express condolences for the “terrible loss of life in Israel and Gaza in the last two weeks as a result of Hamas’ brutal terrorist attacks,” according to the statement released ahead of his trip.
“Sunak will also stress that any civilian death is a tragedy and tell fellow leaders that, as an international community, we must not let Hamas’ barbaric terrorism and disregard for human life become a catalyst for further escalation of conflict in the region.”
Sunaks calls the “attack” on a Gaza City hospital on Tuesday night “a watershed moment for leaders in the region and across the world to come together to avoid further dangerous escalation of conflict.”
The explosion Tuesday evening at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza sparked an uproar with terror group Hamas falsely blaming Israeli airstrikes. Israel has presented evidence that the deadly blast in the parking lot of the facility was caused by a misfired rocket launched by Palestinian terrorists.
On his visit to Israel, Sunak will push for humanitarian corridor into Gaza to open as soon as possible.
He’ll also visit “a number of other regional capitals,” Downing Street says, without providing details.
While Sunak is in Israel, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly will be in Egypt, Turkey and Qatar. Defense Secretary Grant Shapps met his US counterpart Lloyd Austin in Washington on Wednesday “to coordinate our response to the crisis,” according to the statement.
US President Joe Biden will address the American public tomorrow night at 8 p.m. on Washington’s response to the Hamas terror attacks and Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine, the White House says.
It will be the third such speech Biden has given on the Israel-Hamas war since the terror group launched an unprecedented shock onslaught on Israel on October 7, killing some 1,300 people, a majority of them civilians, and taking at least 199 captives of all ages.
US President Joe Biden doubles down on his insistence that Israel was not behind yesterday’s Gaza hospital blast and that it was caused by an errant rocket fired by a Gaza terror group.
“I don’t say things like that unless I have faith in the source from which I’ve gotten it,” Biden tells reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Joint Base Andrews after his wartime visit to Israel.
US President Joe Biden tells reporters aboard Air Force One on his way back from Israel that during his call with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, the latter agreed to open up the Rafah Crossing between Egypt and Gaza and to let “up to” 20 trucks of humanitarian assistance in.
“He agreed to… let up to 20 trucks through to begin with,” Biden says from Air Force One while returning from a visit to Israel, where he was showing solidarity after the October 7 Hamas shock massacre of mostly civilians.
Biden clarifies that people will not be able to evacuate Gaza through Rafah, apparently in order to assuage fears in Cairo that Egypt will be asked to take in refugees from Gaza.
The shipment would likely not cross until Friday as the road around the crossing needed repairs, Biden says. The US president says the UN would distribute the aid on the other side, and that a second tranche was possible depending on “how it goes.”
But he warns: “If Hamas confiscates it, doesn’t let it get through … then it’s going to end.”
Biden had been due to meet Sissi on Wednesday at a four-way summit in Jordan, but it was canceled after a deadly blast at a Gaza hospital that caused anger across the Arab world. The explosion was blamed on Israel which provided evidence it was not behind the explosion.
“The bottom line is that he [Sissi] deserves some real credit because he was very accommodating,” the US president adds.
The UN earlier today said that roughly 100 trucks of aid per day will be needed to rehabilitate Gaza following the Israeli counter-attacks.
Rafah has largely been closed since the war began on October 7.
US President Joe Biden calls Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi from Air Force One on the way home from Israel, in order to discuss efforts to deliver humanitarian assistance to Gaza.
Israel has given an initial okay to allow aid to come into Gaza from the Sinai Peninsula, but Egypt’s crossing into Gaza remains closed due to repeated IDF bombings in the area.
“The two leaders agreed to work together closely on encouraging an urgent and robust international response to the UN’s humanitarian appeal,” a White House readout says.
“They agreed on the need to preserve stability in the Middle East, prevent escalation of the conflict, and set the circumstances for a durable, permanent peace in the region,” the readout continues.
A pair of senior diplomats representing Arab countries that have ties with Israel tell The Times of Israel that their governments were horrified by the scenes that came out of southern Israel after the Hamas onslaught.
The comments are made on condition of anonymity, as the vast majority of the Arab world has refrained from condemning the Hamas assault, instead preferring to censure the targeting of civilians more broadly. Only the United Arab Emirates issued a specific condemnation of Hamas.
While the two diplomats insisted that there is wall-to-wall disapproval among Israel’s Arab allies and beyond of the crimes committed by Hamas on October 7 — one of them saying his government was “horrified” — the attacks prove the failure of Israel’s long-maintained strategy of “ignoring the Palestinian issue.”
One of the diplomats points to Netanyahu speech last month at the UN General Assembly, where he asserted that peace between Israel and the Arab world can precede peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
“Nothing excuses these acts by Hamas, but you cannot ignore what has been happening in Gaza for all of these years,” the diplomat says.
Moreover, the two diplomats say that Israel’s crushing response in Gaza to the Hamas attacks has led to the dissipation of goodwill that Jerusalem had briefly obtained from some of its Arab allies.
The diplomats say their governments were particularly incensed by calls from some Israeli figures for Egypt to take in refugees from Gaza, explaining that this could set a precedent for mass-transfers of Palestinian populations from the West Bank into Jordan, which Amman opposes in the strongest of terms.
“Egypt and Jordan view such proposals as existential threats,” says one of the diplomats.
The diplomats add that while some in Israel interpreted the Abraham Accords to mean that Arab countries that normalize with Jerusalem no longer care about the Palestinian cause, the latest Gaza war should serve as a reminder that sympathies and allegiances in the region remain with the Palestinians.
Gaza, reeling under Israel’s massive response to Hamas’s October 7 bloody border onslaught, needs huge amounts of humanitarian aid, around 100 trucks per day, UN officials say.
“We need to start with a serious number of trucks going in and we need to build up to 100 trucks a day,” the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths tells CNN Europe.
“That used to be the case of the aid program going into Gaza,” he added, even before the past two weeks of heightened unrest following the Hamas attack which killed some 1,400 people in Israel and the Israeli riposte which has left some 3,500 dead in Gaza.
“We’ve been in incredibly detailed negotiations with the parties to make an understanding and an agreement on exactly what an aid program would look like going into southern Gaza,” says Griffiths.
“So number one, we need to be able to have the assurance that we can go in at scale every day, deliberately, repetitively and reliably,” says Griffiths, speaking hours after US President Joe Biden said he had received Israeli assurances that aid would come in through the Rafah border crossing on the Gaza–Egypt border at the southern end of the Gaza Strip.
“Secondly, we have to be able to do so to reach people safely. International humanitarian law is there for a reason. It requires people to make their own choices about where to be safely, and it requires us and indeed, all of us to ensure that safety, and the humanitarian community to provide aid to people in the places they choose to be safe.”
He says he hoped that within the next couple of days the “essential program of aid” could start, said Griffiths, noting the UN, including its Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) development agency, has some 14,000 staff in the strip to aid with distribution.
Griffiths stresses the aid would go to the civilian population and not to Hamas, which controls Gaza, home to 2.4 million people.
The Israel Defense Forces publishes a video showing the military carrying out a drone strike against a terror cell launching mortars at northern Israel earlier today.
No injuries or damage were reported in the mortar attacks.
חיסול חוליית המחבלים ששיגרה פצצות מרגמה במרחב תורמוס שבגבול לבנון, מוקדם יותר היום: pic.twitter.com/jgWX65MEQh
— דובר צה״ל דניאל הגרי – Daniel Hagari (@IDFSpokesperson) October 18, 2023
The Biden administration has privately been urging Israel not to launch a military campaign against Hezbollah, as Washington works to keep the current war from spreading beyond Gaza, two officials familiar with the matter tell The Times of Israel.
The US recognizes that Israel must respond to the increased targeting of its northern border by Hezbollah since the October 7 Hamas onslaught, the officials clarify.
But the repeated attacks by the Lebanese terror group and the fact that Israel failed to anticipate the assault by Hamas from Gaza have led to the intensification of discussions about whether Israel must be the one to initiate a battle against Hezbollah in order to maintain the upper hand.
Such talk has been a cause of concern for the US, which has been privately and publicly warning Hezbollah and Iran not to open a war on Israel’s northern front, the officials say.
The US has cautioned Israel to be careful in its military responses to Hezbollah fire, explaining that an IDF mistake in Lebanon could spark a much larger war, the officials add.
Biden officials have indicated to Israel in recent days that if Hezbollah initiates a war against Israel, the US military will join the IDF in fighting the terror group, the officials say.
The Pentagon has already dispatched a pair of aircraft carrier strike groups to the eastern Mediterranean near Israeli in order to deter Israeli and American adversaries in the region.
Hezbollah has fired dozens of anti-tank guided missiles, rockets, and mortars at Israeli military positions and Israeli towns since the October 7 Hamas onslaught, while also sending gunmen to infiltrate into Israel. Several drones have also been intercepted over northern Israel.
At least five Israeli soldiers, 13 Hezbollah terrorists and five Palestinians from other terror groups have been killed in these exchanges. One Israeli civilian was killed in a Hezbollah attack Sunday, and two Lebanese civilians and a journalist were also reported killed by Israeli shelling.
The Hezbollah terror group announces the deaths of two members, who were killed while “performing jihad.”
Hezbollah does not elaborate on where Ali Muhammad Marmar and Taha Abbas Abbas were killed, but it is believed they were killed in an Israeli strike during skirmishes earlier today on the Lebanon border.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with his war cabinet at the IDF’s Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, following US President Joe Biden’s visit, the premier’s office says.
Rocket sirens are sounding across central Israel for the third time this evening, since US President Joe Biden took off from Ben Gurion Airport after concluding his wartime visit.
Terror groups in Gaza appeared to have been careful not to fire at Tel Aviv while Biden was on the ground.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz vows to fight antisemitism on German soil after attackers hurled two Molotov cocktails at a Jewish synagogue.
Police in the German capital say they are probing the attack, which took place in the city’s Mitte district in the early hours of this morning. There are no reports of injuries or damage.
Germany has seen a sharp increase in antisemitic incidents, in the wake of the Hamas terror group’s massacre of some 1,400 people in southern Israel and the ensuing war between Israel and the group.
“Two unidentified people came on foot and threw two burning bottles filled with liquid in the direction of the synagogue on Brunnenstrasse,” a commercial and residential street, police say in a statement.
“The bottles landed on the pavement and broke, extinguishing the fire.”
As the masked assailants ran away, round-the-clock security forces stationed outside noticed a “small fire” where the attackers had been standing and were able to put it out, “preventing further consequences.”
— Exberliner Magazine (@exberlinermag) October 18, 2023
The building, which also houses a daycare center and a school, belongs to Kahal Adass Jisroel, which calls itself as “a growing Jewish community in the heart of Berlin.”
On social media, it confirms that “people and the building, fortunately, were unharmed.”
Without addressing the incident specifically, Scholz posts a message on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, condemning anti-Jewish hatred.
“Attacks against Jewish institutions, violent riots on our streets — this is inhumane, disgusting and cannot be tolerated,” he says.
“Antisemitism has no place in Germany. My thanks go to the security forces, especially in this situation.”
Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai said the police force would have “zero tolerance” for pro-Hamas demonstrations within Israel, suggesting that those expressing solidarity with Gaza should go to the Strip instead.
“Whoever wants to be a citizen of Israel, ahalan wasahlan,” Shabtai says in a video posted on Tuesday to the Israel Police’s Arabic TikTok channel, using common Arabic slang meaning, “Welcome.”
“Anyone who wants to identify with Gaza is welcome — I’ll put them on buses that will send them there. I’ll help them get there,” Shabtai added.
The families of the hostages in Gaza are fuming at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the premier announced that the war cabinet approved allowing humanitarian aid to enter Gaza from Egypt following pressure from Egypt.
The organized campaign of hostage families says no humanitarian aid should be allowed to enter Gaza as long as terror groups in Gaza continue to hold between 200 and 250 hostages.
A series of videos published earlier this week, obtained from the GoPro cameras of Hamas gunmen, shows how the terror group broke through Israel’s sophisticated Gaza border barriers.
137/n – 10/16/2023 17:43
Description: In these next videos we see the force arrive to the area and detonate multiple barriers meant to protect the Kibbutz residents. The terrorists blow a hole through the wall to reach civilian areas. pic.twitter.com/9oealhERU7
— Luís Da Cruz (@morphiaz) October 16, 2023
The clips, released by the South First Responders group on Telegram on Monday, show Hamas terrorists arriving at Israel’s security barrier, some on motorcycles, before they blow a hole in the fence.
After breaking through the first fence, the terrorists continue through Israel’s buffer zone until they reach an already damaged section of the second fence.
After breaching the second fence and entering Israel, the next clip shows how the terrorists blow a hole in a wall surrounding Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, on the border with the southern part of the Gaza Strip, and enter the community.
Footage of Hamas terrorists on Kibbutz Kerem Shalom on the Simchat Torah massacre
The terrorists went through the houses and fired randomly into them. It was Saturday morning and so people were still sleeping at this time and didn't know that the attack of the murderers was… pic.twitter.com/W9HTuh8Yfw
— Debashish (@nickjr001) October 18, 2023
In further clips, the terrorists can be seen opening fire randomly at homes, and engaging in battles with the local security team.
140/n – 10/16/2023 17:57
Description: In the final clip, we see the terrorist holding the GoPro flee incoming fire from the Community Guards until he is killed. Israeli media reports say this battle at Kerem Shalom lasted for over six hours, where these community guards held off… pic.twitter.com/pgJqGfzYte
— Luís Da Cruz (@morphiaz) October 16, 2023
Police in Haifa have dispersed a rally in support of Palestinians in Gaza that law enforcement says was not authorized and violated public order.
Earlier in the day, police in the northern coastal city announced that it would not allow pro-Palestinian demonstrations that were being planned on social media, after far-right groups said they would intervene to halt them.
During tonight’s unauthorized rally, six protesters were arrested, including three women, and one person was wounded, according to the Arab48 news website.
The police also reportedly dispersed a protest in the Arab Israeli city of Taybeh.
– تصوير: إيناس مريح – "عرب 48"
— موقع عرب 48 (@arab48website) October 18, 2023
US President Joe Biden told Israel’s war cabinet during their meeting earlier today that he understands that the IDF’s battle to defeat Hamas will take time, the Axios news site reports, citing a senior Israeli official.
Minister Benny Gantz told Biden, “It could take years,” according to the Israeli official.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told Biden that US support will be critical for Israel, as the war drags on.
Biden responded that it will be easier for the US to support Israel if it allows humanitarian aid to reach Gaza.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says in a statement that the US has imposed additional sanctions on “individuals and entities related to Iran’s missile, conventional arms, and UAV activities, including such activities involving Russia, the People’s Republic of China, Venezuela, and elsewhere.”
The announcement comes after the US announced sanctions against 10 senior Hamas officials.
IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says the military has a “big challenge” when it comes to international legitimacy to act in the Gaza Strip, following false claims by the Hamas terror group that an Israeli airstrike killed hundreds at a hospital.
He also says that the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit has drafted hundreds of reservists to help with the public diplomacy efforts during the war.
“We presented the truth to the whole world, and following the reliable and accurate reporting, the US president adopted our position,” Hagari says, referring to an earlier briefing to international media outlets, refuting Hamas’s claims.
“The IDF operates in accordance with international law, and is committed to reliability and accuracy in reporting,” he says.
“We have a big challenge with legitimacy, against an enemy that has no value for the truth,” Hagari adds.
Hagari says the battle for legitimacy is “difficult, challenging, and often frustrating,” but that it is a “national responsibility.”
“The US adoption of the Israeli narrative makes it culpable in the Gaza massacres,” says Hamas in a statement, calling the US a “direct partner with the [Israeli] occupation leaders.”
“Washington is blindly biased toward the Israeli occupation,” the terror group stresses, referring to US President Joe Biden’s assertion that yesterday’s Gaza hospital blast appeared to have been caused by an Islamic Jihad rocket, and not by an IDF airstrike, as Hamas claims.
ZAKA emergency volunteers have uncovered the burnt body of a boy roughly 5 years old in the attic of a home on the southern border. The building was apparently set on fire by Hamas terrorists during their October 7 onslaught.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the “massive, unprecedented” military aid package that Israel secured from US President Joe Biden during his wartime visit to Tel Aviv earlier today will help Israel win the war against Hamas.
In a video statement from the IDF’s Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu says he showed Biden proof that the Palestinian terror group Islamic Jihad was responsible for the Gaza hospital blast, before the US president arrived in Israel.
Netanyahu notes that Biden’s visit to Israel was the first by a US president during a war.
The premier says Israel and the US “are working together to secure the release of the hostages by all means possible.”
Until that happens, he told Biden that Israel is demanding the Red Cross must be allowed to visit the hostages. And, he said, Israel will not allow food and medical aid to enter Gaza from Israeli territory until the hostages are released.
Netanyahu says that in today’s meetings with Biden, “we agreed on actions and deeds that ensure the continuation of our just war. We agreed on cooperation that will change the balance on all fronts, and help us to achieve the war aims.”
Following calls for mass demonstration throughout Morocco in support of Palestinians in Gaza, including in the capital Rabat, Israel’s Ambassador to Morocco David Govrin has been repatriated to Israel, together with the embassy’s staff, Kan reports.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant just got off of another phone call with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
The two have spoken almost daily since the October 7 Hamas onslaught.
Gallant updated Austin on its military operations in response to the terror attacks.
Austin “called for Lebanese Hezbollah to cease its attacks from southern Lebanon into Israel, and underscored the importance of humanitarian aid deliveries to civilians in Gaza,” a US readout says.
Austin also updated Gallant on “upcoming deliveries of security assistance to Israel and reiterated the US commitment to the safe return of hostages held by Hamas,” the US readout says.
A man has been moderately wounded in the rocket attack from Lebanon earlier this evening.
He has been evacuated to Haifa’s Rambam Hospital via helicopter and is currently receiving treatment for non-life-threatening injuries.
Rocket sirens wail in Tel Aviv and other central Israeli towns.
There are no immediate reports of impact or injuries.
The chief of the Israel Defense Forces says the ongoing war against the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip will not be short, especially if the Hezbollah terror group further joins in the fighting.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi also accuses Hamas of “fighting like animals,” following the October 7 massacres in southern Israel.
“We operate according to the rules. We are all angry, but we use our heads. We fight with determination and remain human, unlike the other side, who fight like animals,” Halevi says to troops at the Israel Air Force’s Tel Nof airbase.
“It won’t be short, and we may even need to expand [the fighting], if another enemy joins. But we will know how to expand,” he says, referring to repeated attacks by Hezbollah on the northern border in recent days.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen tells Army Radio, “At the end of this war, not only will Hamas no longer be in Gaza, but the territory of Gaza will also decrease.”
The line is an indication of the speculation from some analysts that the IDF will try and create a buffer zone inside Gaza to better protect Israel’s southern border towns so that they are not exposed to the kind of onslaught that Hamas carried out on October 7.
The United States has vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling for a “humanitarian pause” in the raging Israel-Hamas war because the text did not include respect for Israel’s right to defend itself.
“The United States is disappointed this resolution made no mention of Israel’s right of self-defense,” says US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield. “Like every nation in the world, Israel has the inherent right of self-defense, as reflected in Article 51 of the UN Charter.
“Following previous terrorist attacks by groups such as al-Qaida and ISIS, this council reaffirmed that right. This text should have done the same,” she adds.
Twelve out of 15 council members voted in favor of the resolution put forward by Brazil and negotiated over several days, while Russia and the United Kingdom abstained.
The United States was the only vote against, but as one of the body’s five permanent members, its vote counts as a veto.
The resolution said the council “firmly condemns all violence and hostilities against civilians and all acts of terrorism.”
It said the body “unequivocally rejects and condemns the heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas… and the taking of hostages.” The Russian resolution voted down yesterday did not even mention Hamas.
Today’s text also “urges all parties to fully comply with their obligations under international law.”
The US Treasury Department announces sanctions “on ten key Hamas terrorist group members, operatives, and financial facilitators in Gaza and elsewhere.”
“These individuals have supported Hamas and other terrorist organizations, enabling Hamas to conduct its brutal terrorism and carry out acts like the vicious attack on Israel,” the State Department says.
“Today’s actions are directed at Hamas terrorists and their support network, not Palestinians,” the State Department clarifies.
The Israel Defense Forces says nine rockets were launched from Lebanon at the Kiryat Shmona area in northern Israel less than an hour ago.
Four were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, the IDF says.
At least one rocket landed in an open area inside Kiryat Shmona, causing no injuries or damage.
Separately, the IDF says it carried out a drone strike against a terror cell launching mortars from Lebanon at the Tel Turmus area in northern Israel, close to Mount Dov.
The IDF also says more anti-tank guided missiles were fired from Lebanon, targeting the northern towns of Metula, Malkia, and Manara.
The army says it is responding with artillery shelling at the launch sites.
Thousands protest in Cairo after Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi urges Egyptians to take to the streets in solidarity with the Palestinians during the Israel-Hamas war.
Sissi blamed Israel for the Gaza hospital blast, despite growing evidence that an errant rocket fired by a terror group was responsible.
The stance is somewhat uncharacteristic for Sissi, who has been more aligned with Israel in recent years than other Arab leaders. However, there is a presidential election coming up in Egypt and the increasingly authoritarian Sissi ostensibly recognizes that a more pro-Palestinian stance will help him in the polls.
The Health Ministry asks Israelis with a valid gun license to volunteer to serve as security guards at hospitals and healthcare facilities.
Some guards have been called to reserve military service and are not on the job. Should the war escalate, medical centers will need to rely on volunteers to secure medical centers dealing with high patient loads and overcrowding.
To apply click here.
Rocket sirens are sounding in the central towns of Hod Hasharon, Ganei Am, Yarkona, Adanim and Petah Tikva minutes after US President Joe Biden left the country after his wartime visit.
The Magen David Adom ambulance service says it does not have any reports of injuries or damage as a result of the barrage.
US President Joe Biden is wheels up from Ben Gurion Airport after completing his half-day wartime visit in Tel Aviv in solidarity with Israel.
Following thousands of inquiries about the donation of medical supplies to Israel’s healthcare system, the Health Ministry announces that as of today, no additional supplies are needed.
However, in preparation for possible shortages or supply gaps due to the war, the ministry has set up a system whereby those interested in donating can register and indicate what they can contribute. The ministry will review the information and be in contact if and when relevant.
Click here for the Hebrew link.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich meets with former finance ministers MK Avigdor Liberman, Moshe Kahlon, and Yuval Steinitz.
Smotrich’s spokesperson says he is consulting with the former officeholders on how to manage the state budget during wartime, adding that each of the former ministers oversaw state finances during an armed conflict.
Health Ministry says 330 people injured in Hamas onslaught still hospitalized; 58 in serious condition
The Health Ministry announces in an update that as of 5 p.m., 330 people injured since the devastating Hamas attack on Israel from Gaza on October 7 are still hospitalized.
Of those, 58 are in serious condition, 167 are in moderate condition and 105 are in good condition.
A total of 4,562 injured individuals have been brought to hospitals around the country since October 7.
White House: Overhead imagery, intercepts and open source info show Israel not behind Gaza hospital blast
“While we continue to collect information, our current assessment, based on analysis of overhead imagery, intercepts and open source information, is that Israel is not responsible for the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday,” White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson says in a statement.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announces that in light of the “overwhelming and vital” support from the United States and in light of US President Joe Biden’s demand for basic humanitarian aid to be able to reach Gaza, Israel’s war cabinet has decided the following:
1. Israel will not allow any humanitarian aid to be delivered from its territory to the Gaza Strip until the hostages being held by terror groups are returned.
2. Israel demands that the International Red Cross be able to visit the hostages and will work to mobilize international support for this demand.
3. Israel will not thwart humanitarian supplies from reaching Gaza from Egypt as long as it is only food, water and medicine for the civilian population located in the southern Gaza Strip. Any supplies that reach Hamas will be blocked by Israel.
The decisions still need to be approved by the full cabinet.
The Israel Defense Forces says one of its tanks have shelled two anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) launch positions in southern Lebanon, where the military identified an attempt to carry out an attack.
A third ATGM launch site was struck following an attack on the northern town of Metula.
At the same time, the IDF says projectiles were launched from Lebanon at the contested Mount Dov area.
The incidents come shortly before sirens sounded in Kiryat Shmona and several nearby towns.
“The vast majority of Palestinians are not Hamas,” US President Joe Biden says, repeating a warning he has sounded before.
He says Hamas uses civilians as human shields.
“I was outraged and saddened by the enormous loss of life yesterday at the hospital in Gaza,” Biden says.
“Based on the information we’ve seen to date, it appears the result of an errant rocket fired by a terrorist group in Gaza.”
The people of Gaza need food, medicine, and water, Biden insists.
Biden says he asked Israel’s war cabinet to allow aid to reach civilians. “Israel agreed that humanitarian assistance can begin to move from Egypt to Gaza.”
If Hamas diverts or steals the assistance, he says, it will show Hamas has no regard for Gazans. “As a practical matter, it will stop the international community from being able to provide this aid.”
Biden announces $100 million in new assistance for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
“You are a Jewish state, and you are also a democracy,” says Biden, stressing that Israel doesn’t live by the law of terrorists.
“You can’t give up on what makes you who you are. If you give that up, you’ve let the terrorists win,” says Biden.
Biden says the attacks have made him even more determined in his efforts to push for a two-state solution and for expanding the Abraham Accords.
“We must keep working for Israel’s greater integration with its neighbors. These attacks only strengthen my commitment, determination and my will to get that done.”
He concludes: “Israel will be safe, secure, a Jewish and democratic state, today, tomorrow, forever. May God protect all those who work for peace. God save those who are still in harm’s way.”
Incoming rocket sirens are sounding in several communities in northern Israel, close to the border with Lebanon.
The sirens are sounding in Kiryat Shmona and several nearby towns.
There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
US President Joe Biden says the October 7 Hamas onslaught in which over 1,300 people were killed is equivalent in scale to fifteen 9/11 attacks.
However, he warns Israel against making the same mistakes that the US made after 9/11 when many Americans were consumed with rage over what had happened.
“Justice must be done,” he says. “But I caution this: While you feel that rage, don’t be consumed by it. After 9/11, we were enraged in the United States. While we sought justice and got justice, we also made mistakes. I’m the first US president to visit Israel in time of war. I’ve made wartime decisions. I know that choices are never clear or easy for leadership. There’s always cost. But it requires being deliberate, it requires asking very hard questions. It requires clarity about the objectives and an honest assessment about whether the path you’re on will achieve those objectives.”
Biden, who lost his wife and daughter in a car crash, talks about the small personal memories that those who have lost loved ones will recall for the rest of lives. “They will never be truly gone,” he says. “There’s something that is never fully lost, your love for them and their love for you.
He lauds the heroism of Israelis – civilians who fought terrorists, medics who treated victims, reservists who left everything to save lives during the Hamas onslaught.
“The State of Israel was born to be a safe place for the Jewish people of the world. That’s why it was born,” he says. “While it may not feel that way today, Israel must again be a safe place for the Jewish people.”
“You are not alone,” says US President Joe Biden in his remarks at the end of his half-day visit to Israel.
“Rape, beheadings, bodies burned alive. Hamas committed atrocities that recall the worst ravages of ISIS, unleashing pure, unadulterated evil upon the world” he says. “There’s no rationalizing it. No excusing it.”
Biden recalls the Holocaust and says the October 7 onslaught brought up the scars of that genocide.
“The world watched then. It knew. And the world did nothing. We will not stand by and do nothing again. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.” he pledges.
Biden assures families of missing and hostages that they are not alone.
“For me as the American president, there’s no higher priority than the release and safe return of all these hostages.”
The Israel Defense Forces says several more anti-tank guided missiles have been fired from Lebanon at northern Israel.
The IDF says the latest missiles were launched at Kibbutz Manara and the Rosh Hanikra area.
There are no immediate reports of injuries in the attacks.
The military says it is responding with artillery shelling against the source of the fire, and striking Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon.
US President Joe Biden will deliver remarks to the press before departing Israel.
IDF releases drone footage showing that parking lot took most of blast damage, hospital fully standing
The IDF releases drone footage of the Gaza City hospital this morning that shows very limited damage to the hospital itself and no crater in the parking lot that was hit. The lack of a crater indicates that the source of the blast was not an IDF strike.
IDF releases drone footage of the Gaza hospital from this morning, showing damage to parking lot where it says a misfiring Islamic Jihad rocket fell causing last night's mass casualties, but that lack of damage to hospital itself & no crater indicate it wasn't an IDF strike pic.twitter.com/V3wgGGgZ7o
— Jeremy Sharon (@jeremysharon) October 18, 2023
The Lebanese Hezbollah terror group claims responsibility for attacking a number of Israeli military posts on the northern border.
In a statement, Hezbollah says it attacked three sites with anti-tank guided missiles and gunfire.
The IDF says it has been responding to the attack with artillery fire. It did not report any casualties among IDF troops.
A few hundred protesters outside the US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, are dispersed with tear gas by security forces during a pro-Palestinian rally.
A video by the Hezbollah-linked Mayadeen News shows protesters waving Palestinian and Iranian flags.
"إصرار المتظاهرين أمام السفارة الأميركية في عوكر على إيصال الصوت نصرة لـ #فلسطين رغم محاولات تفرقتهم بالقنابل المسيّلة للدموع".
— الميادين لبنان (@mayadeenlebanon) October 18, 2023
Jordanian security forces are working to disperse a crowd of thousands of protesters trying to storm the Israeli embassy in Amman, Jordan, in protest of the war in Gaza.
Israel reportedly evacuated the embassy several days ago.
Demonstrators had already attempted to break into the embassy last night and were dispersed by the Jordanian police.
Mass rallies took place in the West Bank, Jordan and Lebanon last night in the wake of a hospital blast in Gaza that Hamas claims resulted from an Israeli airstrike. Israel says a misfired Gazan rocket caused the blast.
???????????????????? ????????: In #Amman, the capital of #Jordan, a crowd surrounded the #Israeli embassy and is preparing to storm the building.#Gaza #hospital #Palestine #Israel pic.twitter.com/KzoBOglymW
— Globe Eye News (@GlobeEyeNews) October 18, 2023
In an apparent response to a shouted question about the basis for his endorsement of Israel’s version of last night’s deadly hospital blast in Gaza City, US President Joe Biden says, “The data I was shown by my Defense Department.”
Biden, speaking after he met with Israeli first responders to Hamas’s October 7 terror onslaught in southern Israel, appeared to be making clear that the US has independent evidence that Israel was not to blame for the hospital blast.
Making public statements with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier, Biden had said, “Based on what I’ve seen, it appears it was done by the other team, and not you.”
At the same time, he added, “There’s a lot of people out there who are not sure. So we’ve gotta overcome a lot of things.”
Israel has presented a range of evidence showing a faulty Islamic Jihad missile hit the hospital parking lot, including a recording of Hamas officials acknowledging the fact, contradicting Hamas claims that an Israeli air strike was to blame.
Biden asked by reporters on what he is basing his assessment that the Gaza hospital blast was a failed rocket launch:
"Data I was shown by my Defense Department," he answers. pic.twitter.com/U0I8gIedjP
— Amy Spiro (@AmySpiro) October 18, 2023
The Israel Defense Forces says a military post on the Lebanon border has also been attacked by an anti-tank guided missile launched from Lebanon.
The IDF does not immediately report casualties in the attack.
It says troops are responding with artillery fire at the sources of the missile fire in southern Lebanon.
US President Joe Biden, along with charge d’affaires Stephanie Hallett and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, meet first responders and doctors, including United Hatzalah founder Eli Beer, who treated victims of the Hamas onslaught.
Paramedics tell him about treating victims of the attacks in the field.
Biden responds by quoting an old poem that states, “too long a sacrifice makes a stone of the heart,” though he appears to replace sacrifice with the word “suffering” to more aptly apply to the current moment.
The US president notes that “none of your hearts have turned to stone” and expresses his admiration for how the medical professionals expressed pride in having treated victims regardless of whether they were Jewish or Muslim.
Biden says he is “convinced” that the more people know of these stories about the conduct of the medical professionals, “the more they’ll embrace Israel.”
Biden repeats the story that Golda Meir told him that Israel’s secret weapon is that the Jews have nowhere else to go. He also stresses that “you don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist.”
Hallett tells Biden that the assembled Israelis are representative of the unity in the country.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on the phone with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas earlier today and expressed his condolences over the deadly blast near a Gaza City hospital, which Israel has blamed on a failed Islamic Jihad rocket.
Blinken “expressed continuing US support for the Palestinian people, stressing that Hamas terrorists do not represent Palestinians or their legitimate aspirations for self-determination and equal measures of dignity, freedom, security, and justice,” according to the State Department readout.
Blinken “emphasized that the United States unequivocally condemns all terrorism and stressed the United States’ firm commitment to upholding the law of war, to include important protections for civilians.”
Blinken and Abbas also “discussed continuing US efforts to coordinate the provision of urgent, life-saving humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza, in tandem with partners, and efforts to prevent the conflict from spreading,” the State Department says.
The Israel Defense Forces says a number of its military posts on the Lebanon border were attacked with gunfire.
The IDF adds that it is responding with artillery shelling toward the sources of the fire in southern Lebanon.
The attacks come following a string of missile, rocket, and shooting attacks on Israeli towns and military posts on the northern border in recent days, most of them claimed by the Hezbollah terror group.
The IDF does not immediately report any casualties.
President Isaac Herzog begins his meeting with US President Joe Biden in Tel Aviv, after the American leader finishes his meeting with Israel’s war cabinet.
Herzog was forced to wait for about an hour, as the prior meetings ran overtime.
A spokesperson for the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza claims that 471 people were killed in an explosion and fire at al-Ahli hospital in central Gaza, with another 28 people in critical condition.
The spokesperson continues to blame Israel for the blast, despite evidence presented by Israel showing that it was caused by an errant Islamic Jihad rocket.
Pictures from the scene show cars in a parking lot badly torched and damage from shrapnel in surrounding buildings, but little rubble, with structures appearing to remain intact.
The ministry says 3,478 people have been killed since Israel began bombing the Strip on October 7, in reaction to a Hamas onslaught in which some 1,400 Israelis were massacred.
He claims hospitals in the Strip are on the verge of collapse.
The meeting between US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s war cabinet in Tel Aviv has ended, says Netanyahu’s spokesman.
The Magen David Adom rescue service says there have been no reports of injuries or rocket impacts following a barrage toward Beersheba and other areas closer to the Gaza Strip.
Rocket sirens have sounded again in Kissufim, which has been among the few targets of heavy Gazan shelling today as other places have seen relative quiet.
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki is accusing Israel of “intentionally” bombing the al-Ahli hospital in Gaza and says the Strip’s residents are being subjected to genocide.
Malki, who spoke in Saudi Arabia during a meeting of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, says the Israeli military had attacked the same hospital two days earlier and warned doctors there.
Israel has presented evidence showing that an errant Gazan rocket hit the hospital, causing a fire in a parking lot.
Malki adds that he thinks the international community is allowing Israel to kill under the “slogan of self-defense.”
Malki claims that Israeli bombing has killed 1,300 children in the Gaza Strip in past 11 days.
The Anglican bishop of Jerusalem also says that the hospital received at least three Israeli military orders to evacuate, saying staff members refused to heed them.
Bishop Hosam Naoum says the army delivered the warnings by phone beginning Sunday. He claims Israeli shelling hit two floors of the hospital that day.
Naoum refuses to assign blame for the Tuesday blast, and urges the public to focus on the wider destruction and deaths unfolding in Gaza.
“As people of the cloth, we are not military experts,” he says. “We just want to let people see what is happening on the ground and hope that people will come to the conclusion that we’ve had enough of this war.”
Sirens are sounding in Beersheba and communities closer to Gaza, as terrorists appear to step up rocket fire after mostly keeping a leash on launches for the last several hours.
El Al will run reduced cost evacuation flights for Israelis leaving Turkey, in light of the Israeli government’s Tuesday night travel advisory.
Israelis will only need to pay for airport taxes, and El Al’s portion of the ticket – flown under its Sun D’Or brand – will be free, according to a statement from Transportation Minister Miri Regev.
The evacuation flight schedule has yet to be published.
Iran’s top diplomat has called on Muslim nations to expel their Israeli ambassadors and launch an oil embargo on Israel after an explosion at a hospital in the Gaza Strip.
The comments by Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian mark the first time an oil embargo has been discussed as Israel wages war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip after the terror group slaughtered some 1,300 Israelis, most of them civilians, on October 7.
“We expect the Islamic countries that have diplomatic relations with the Zionist regime to cut off their relations immediately and expel the Israeli ambassador from their country,” Amirabdollahian said in a clip aired by state television in Iran. “Secondly, the export of oil to the country of Israel and any project that exists between any Islamic state and Israel must be stopped immediately.”
There was no immediate acknowledgment of the call by Israel, nor any other nation.
The Israel Defense Forces says it has seen an uptick in failed rocket launches from the Gaza Strip by the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups.
The military publishes a graph claiming that yesterday, 12.71% of rockets launched from Gaza fell short in the Strip.
It also attaches a map showing the approximate impact locations of the failed rockets.
The IDF has said some 450 rockets have failed and fallen short in Gaza since the fighting began on October 7. Thousands more have made it across the border into Israel.
The military also accuses Hamas and Islamic Jihad of launching their rockets from urban areas, including “hospitals, UN schools, mosques, restaurants, diplomatic buildings, and hotels.”
מגמת עלייה בשיגורים הכושלים מרצועת עזה; ארגון הטרור חמאס ממשיך להציב את אזרחי רצועת עזה כמגן אנושי ולהשתמש במתחמים אזרחים רגישים לשימושים צבאיים:
מתחילת הלחימה, ארגון הטרור חמאס משגר מטחי רקטות על בסיס קבוע ומשתמש במתחמים אזרחים רגישים לשימושים צבאיים >> pic.twitter.com/rmDmVlB064
— דובר צה״ל דניאל הגרי – Daniel Hagari (@IDFSpokesperson) October 18, 2023
“The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations fire rockets indiscriminately at Israeli civilians, these rockets have also been causing harm to civilians in the Gaza Strip,” the IDF says.
Noting the apparent increase in failed rockets yesterday, the IDF says “Hamas is continuing to use the residents of the Gaza Strip as human shields, and does not hesitate to risk the lives of Gazan civilians to shield their attacks.”
In a short statement before meeting Israel’s war cabinet, Biden stresses that the US “will continue to have your back.”
Biden praises the cabinet for “standing strong, standing united.”
He recalls that Israel’s founders said that the nation would be based on “freedom, justice, and peace.”
“The United States stands with you in defense of that freedom, in pursuit of that justice, and in support of that peace, today, tomorrow, and always, we promise you,” Biden says.
The two try to ignore shouted questions as the press is hustled away.
“They don’t give up,” says Netanyahu, who has generally refused to speak to the Israeli press since taking office almost a year ago.
“Nothing changes, same in Washington,” Biden replies.
Before Biden’s meeting with Israel’s war cabinet, Netanyahu puts the focus on Hamas war crimes.
“While Israel seeks to minimize civilian casualties, Hamas seeks to maximize civilian casualties,” he says in a public statement ahead of the meeting. “Hamas wants to kill as many Israelis as possible, and has no regard whatsoever for Palestinian lives.”
“Every day, they perpetrate a double war crime – targeting our civilians, while hiding behind their civilians, embedding them in the civilian population, and using them as human shields.”
“Hamas is responsible and should be held accountable for all civilian casualties,” he continues. “We saw the cost of this terrible war crime yesterday, when a rocket fired by a Palestinian terrorist misfired and landed on a Palestinian hospital. The entire world was rightly outraged, but the outrage should be directed not at Israel, but at the terrorists.”
Netanyahu pledges that Israel would continue to work to keep civilians out of harm’s way, and will work with the US to do so.
“The road to victory will be long and hard,” concludes Netanyahu. “But united in purpose, and with a deep sense of justice… Israel will prevail,” he says, noting the spirit and will of the country and its soldiers.
Sirens are sounding in Sderot and surrounding communities.
This is the fourth rocket attack since US President Joe Biden touched down in Israel.
There are no reports of injuries.
The meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden, along with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, has ended, Channel 12 news reports.
The four will now take part in an expanded meeting with members of Israel’s war cabinet, and a smattering of other politicians and aides.
For the expanded meeting, Netanyahu will be joined by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, war cabinet minister Benny Gantz, Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, war cabinet observer Gadi Eisenkot, MK Aryeh Deri, National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi, Netanyahu Chief of Staff Tzachi Braverman, Military Secretary Avi Gil, and Ambassador to the US Michael Herzog.
Biden will be joined by Blinken, Sullivan, Middle East envoy Brett McGurk, and chargés d’affaires Stephanie Hallett.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has strongly condemned a firebomb assault on a synagogue in Berlin, saying “we will never accept when attacks are carried out against Jewish institutions.”
Speaking to reporters during a trip to Egypt, Scholz says that Germany would not accept violent and antisemitic protests and that the protection of Jewish institutions would be further increased.
“It outrages me personally what some of them are shouting and doing, and I am convinced that Germany’s citizens are of the same opinion as me,” says Scholz, who was in Israel yesterday.
“We stand united for the protection also of Jews” in Germany, the chancellor adds.
Police said they were investigating “an attempted serious arson” in which two people approached the synagogue on foot at 3:45 a.m. and threw two Molotov cocktails, which burst on the sidewalk next to the building. The two people, their faces covered, ran away.
A couple of hours later, when police were already investigating the incident, a 30-year-old man approached the synagogue on a scooter, threw it aside and tried running toward the building. When police officers detained him, he resisted and shouted anti-Israeli slogans.
“We are all shocked by this terrorist attack,” Germany’s leading Jewish group, the Central Council of Jews says in a statement. “Above all, the families from the neighborhood around the synagogue are shocked and unsettled. Words become deeds. Hamas’s ideology of extermination against everything Jewish is also having an effect in Germany.”
State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman says that there are serious deficiencies in the preparedness of northern towns and communities in the event of a war with Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group.
A lack of adequate bomb shelters and severe strains on volunteer civilian security teams were the comptroller’s two main criticisms.
Englman makes his comments after conducting a tour of border communities in northern Israel close to the Lebanese border on Tuesday, including the city of Ma’alot-Tarshiha, just seven kilometers from Lebanon.
He says some bomb shelters are extremely poorly maintained and says there is a lack of adequate bomb shelters in old residential buildings in the area.
“There is no light, the toilets are in a very bad state, and there is a flood [on the floor],” says Englman of one shelter he visited.
“These conditions do not provide for the required protection at this time for residents of the confrontation line and the northern border,” he adds, noting that many of the residents in the region are elderly and poor.
Englman also points out that the armed volunteer civilian security teams that provide emergency security protection for small communities cannot currently do their day jobs, as they are too busy with repeated attacks by Hezbollah and Palestinian terror factions from Lebanon against Israel over the last two weeks.
The State Comptroller’s Office is now trying to have these volunteers formally drafted into the IDF reserves in order to allow them to keep serving in the security teams and receive a salary from the army.
Local mayors also claimed that government ministries have not been in touch with them sufficiently, Englman says.
Channel 12 news publishes footage it says was captured on one of its cameras in Netiv Ha’asara aimed at the Gaza Strip, showing a rocket barrage emanating from next to the al-Ahli Hospital when it was bombed.
With international media largely running with the Gazan claim that the hospital was bombed by Israel, and not by a failed Islamic Jihad rocket launch, the channel records segments with the video in Arabic and English for consumption outside of Israel.
شارك الحقيقة! حماس تقصف المستشفى في غزة pic.twitter.com/uO625GfSdH
— רו????י Roi (@Roi_) October 18, 2023
“This is proof of Israel’s claims that it was actually missiles from the Gaza Strip shot in the direction of the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City,” says anchor Yonit Levy in English.
— רו????י Roi (@Roi_) October 18, 2023
The meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden has continued for over an hour, more than twice as long as expected, Netanyahu’s spokesman says.
Spokespeople regularly put out messages that one-on-one meetings between leaders run long as a sign of the positive rapport between the two.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, war cabinet minister and past IDF head Benny Gantz, and war cabinet observer Gadi Eisenkot, also a past IDF head, enter the area in the Tel Aviv hotel where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden are meeting.
The war cabinet is scheduled to host Biden once he finishes meeting with Netanyahu, who is also part of the war cabinet managing Israel’s Gaza campaign.
Biden and Netanyahu are still finishing up their one-on-one meeting after making public statements.
Biden is expected to have “tough questions” for Israel, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters aboard Air Force One earlier.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly blasts those in the media who quickly blamed Israel for the Gaza hospital blast, tweeting that “too many jumped to conclusions around the tragic loss of life at Al Ahli hospital.”
“Getting this wrong would put even more lives at risk,” continues Cleverly, who was in Israel days after the October 7 massacre. “Wait for the facts, report them clearly and accurately.”
“Cool heads must prevail,” he adds.
Last night, too many jumped to conclusions around the tragic loss of life at Al Ahli hospital.
Getting this wrong would put even more lives at risk.
Wait for the facts, report them clearly and accurately.
Cool heads must prevail.
— James Cleverly???????? (@JamesCleverly) October 18, 2023
Cleverly earlier condemned the bombing, without assigning blame.
A Jewish community school in Rome is being evacuated as a precautionary measure following a bomb threat, Italy’s ANSA news agency reports.
Police are searching the area and checking to see if it is a false alarm, moving students to a safe location in the meantime.
Rockets alarms are sounding in Sderot and surrounding communities, as well as Kissufim.
A number of homes in Sderot took direct hits yesterday. Most in the city have left, but around 3,000 people still remain.
There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
The Hamas terror group names three members killed in an Israeli drone strike while attempting to infiltrate into northern Israel from Lebanon, close to the border town of Margaliot, on October 14.
In a statement, Hamas says Suhaib Kayed, Ahmad Othman, and Yahya Abdel Razek died in a “heroic operation” near Margaliot.
كتائب القسام تنشر صور منفذي العملية البطولية قرب مغتصبة "مرغليوت" شمال فلسطين المحتلة بتاريخ 14-10-2023م:
الشهيد القسامي المجاهد صهيب كايد من وادي الزينة.
الشهيد القسامي المجاهد/ أحمد عثمان من مخيم عين الحلوة.
الشهيد القسامي المجاهد/ يحيى عبد الرازق من مخيم عين الحلوة. pic.twitter.com/UlA9y2ZgA7
— Newpress | نيو برس (@NewpressPs) October 18, 2023
The Israel Defense Forces at the time said it had identified a group of terrorists, apparently affiliated with a Palestinian group and not the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, trying to cross the border fence before they were struck and killed.
Rocket sirens are sounding again near Kissufim, on the Gaza border.
This is the second rocket attack since US President Joe Biden arrived in Israel an hour and a half ago, and the third today overall.
In sharp contrast to previous days, the rocket attacks have so far been isolated to places within a few kilometers of the Gaza border, where most civilians have evacuated after the October 7 Hamas massacres there.
A general strike has been announced throughout the West Bank to protest Israel’s offensive against Hamas, following an explosion at a Gaza hospital Tuesday night in which hundreds were killed according to Hamas health authorities.
Hamas has blamed the Gaza hospital blast on an Israeli airstrike, but the IDF has provided evidence showing that the explosion was caused by a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket. It also claims the death toll was inflated by Hamas.
The general strike was initiated by “national and Islamist forces” in the northern West Bank, but has been adopted across the rest of the territory, according to Palestinian Authority mouthpiece Wafa.
The northern West Bank cities of Jenin, Nablus and Tulkarem are Hamas and Islamic Jihad strongholds, where the PA has progressively lost control in recent years.
The strike shutters shops, banks and universities.
On Tuesday evening, hundreds of protesters took to the streets throughout the West Bank, clashing with PA security forces and calling for the ouster of PA President Mahmoud Abbas due to his perceived inaction in the face of ostensible Israeli attacks against Palestinians.
In Tel Aviv, US President Joe Biden says the explosion at al-Ahli hospital in Gaza appears to have been caused by Gazan terror groups and not Israel.
“I am deeply saddened and outraged by the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday. And based on what I’ve seen, it appears it was done by the other team, and not you,” he says, publicly endorsing Israel’s version of events.
But he adds, “there are a lot of people out there who are not sure.”
Biden begins his remarks by telling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “I wanted to be here today for a simple reason: I want the people of Israel and the people of the world to know where the United States stands…. I wanted to personally come and make that clear.”
Biden stresses that the terrorist group Hamas “slaughtered” over 1,300 people, “and that’s not hyperbole, just slaughtered… including 31 Americans. They have taken scores of people hostage, including children. You said, Imagine what those children hiding from Hamas were thinking. It’s beyond my comprehension to imagine what they were thinking.”
“They have committed evils and atrocities that make ISIS look somewhat more rational,” he notes.
“Americans are grieving with you, they really are. Americans are worried… because they know this is not an easy field to navigate what you have to do.”
He adds: “Israel, as they respond to these attacks, it seems to me that you have to continue to ensure that you have what you need to defend yourselves. And we’re going to make sure that occurs.”
Biden notes: “Hamas does not represent all the Palestinian people and has brought them only suffering.”
Biden now says: “I am deeply saddened and outraged by the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday. And based on what I’ve seen, it appears it was done by the other team, and not you,” he says, publicly endorsing Israel’s version of events.
But he adds, “there’s a lot of people out there who are not sure. So we’ve gotta overcome a lot of things.”
This also means “encouraging life-saving capacity to help the Palestinians who are innocent, caught in the middle of this.”
“The world is looking,” Biden continues. “Israel has a value set like the United States does and other democracies, and they’re looking to see what we’re going to do.”
He tells Netanyahu he is “very happy to be back in Israel with you.”
“I am looking forward to having a thorough discussion about where everyone goes from here,” says Biden.
He concludes with a message to Israelis saying “their courage, their commitment, their bravery is stunning. I’m proud to be here.”
The pair refuses to take any questions.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells US President Joe Biden that Hamas’s crimes included rape, burning, kidnapping, and targeting small children, and says the death toll is 1,400 and maybe higher.
“Hamas murdered children in front of their parents, and parents in front of their children. They burned people alive. They raped and murdered women. They beheaded soldiers. They searched for the secret hiding places where parents hid their children. And just imagine, Mr. President, the fear and panic of those little children as the monsters discovered, found out, their hiding places.
“Hamas kidnapped women and children, elderly, Holocaust survivors. I know you share our outrage on this. And I know you share our determination to bring these people back.
“On October 7,” he says, “Hamas murdered 1,400 Israelis, maybe more. This is in a country of fewer than 10 million people. This would be equivalent to over 50,000 Americans murdered in a single day. That’s 20 9/11s. That is why October 7 is another day that will live in infamy,” says Netanyahu.
“Just as the civilized world united to defeat the Nazis, and united to defeat ISIS, the civilized world must unite to defeat Hamas,” adds Netanyahu, stressing that Israel is united and will defeat Hamas “and remove this terrible threat from our lives. The forces of civilization will prevail — for our sake, for your sake, for peace and security in our region and in the world.”
He says that “for the people of Israel, there’s only one thing better than having a true friend like you standing with Israel, and that is having you standing in Israel.”
Netanyahu notes that Biden is the first-ever US president to visit Israel in a time of war, calling it “deeply, deeply moving.”
“It speaks to the depth of your personal commitment to Israel. It speaks to the depth of your personal commitment to the future of the Jewish people and the one and only Jewish state.”
Netanyahu closes by thanking Biden for standing with Israel “today, tomorrow, and always.”
Netanyahu does not mention the humanitarian situation in Gaza or last night’s deadly explosion in a Gaza City hospital, which Hamas has blamed on Israel but the IDF has provided proof was caused by a misfired Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket.
“I want to thank you for coming here today and for the unequivocal support you have given Israel during these trying times, a support that reflects the overwhelming will of the American people,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells US President Joe Biden as they made joint statements, reading from prepared notes.
“We have seen your support every day in the breadth and depth of cooperation that we have had since the beginning of this war.”
Netanyahu calls the cooperation “truly unprecedented.”
Netanyahu lauds Biden for providing Israel “with the tools we need to defend ourselves,” and for “the clear message you’ve sent our enemies not to test our resolve.”
He also points at the two US aircraft carriers Biden sent to the region “to back up those words with action.”
“But above all, Mr. President, the world sees that support, and the moral clarity that you have demonstrated from the moment Israel was attacked.”
Netanyahu says Biden has “rightly drawn a clear line between the forces of civilization and the forces of barbarism.”
A Berlin synagogue has been attacked with Molotov cocktails, police in Germany say. It comes as antisemitic incidents in the German capital have been rising following the violent escalation in the Middle East.
The Kahal Adass Jisroel community says its synagogue in the city’s Mitte neighborhood was attacked early Wednesday with two incendiary devices. The complex in the center of Berlin houses a synagogue, a kindergarten and a community center.
Police also say there were riots overnight between Muslim immigrants and police in the city’s Neukoelln and Kreuzberg neighborhoods and at Berlin’s landmark Brandenburg Gate in which several officers were injured.
German police have increased security for Jewish institutions in Berlin and elsewhere following Hamas’s attacks on Israel.
No humanitarian aid or people are passing through the Rafah border crossing as of Wednesday morning, an Egyptian official says on condition of anonymity.
During an interview with CNN on Tuesday evening, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Rafah was not open due the damage inflicted by numerous Israeli airstrikes on the access roads linking the Egyptian and the Gaza sides of the crossing.
“The Rafah crossing over the last days has been bombed four times,” Shoukry said. “Among them, once when we were trying to repair some of the damage. Four Egyptian workers were injured.”
Hamas’s border authorities do not immediately respond to AP’s request for comment.
The US has accepted Israel’s explanation regarding an explosion and fire at al-Ahli hospital in Gaza, which the IDF says was caused by an errant Islamic Jihad rocket fired from Gaza at Israel, and not an Israeli airstrike, Ynet reports, citing unnamed US and Israeli sources.
President Isaac Herzog’s office says he told US counterpart Joe Biden upon arrival: “Welcome Mr. President. God bless you for protecting the nation of Israel.”
Rocket sirens are sounding at Kissufim, right next to the Gaza border.
There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
The attack comes as US President Joe Biden makes his way from Ben Gurion airport to Tel Aviv.
Wearing a black suit and blue and white tie, US President Joe Biden steps out of his plane, where he is greeted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog, Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Herzog, and US chargés d’affaires Stephanie Hallett.
Netanyahu and Biden hug, as do Herzog and Biden.
The group smiles during the extended conversation outside the plane, and the mood seems relatively light and positive.
The reception has none of the usual pomp and circumstance around a US presidential visit.
Russia says a blast at a Gaza hospital compound that Hamas health officials claim killed hundreds of people was a “crime” and is demanding Israel produce evidence that it was not responsible.
“Regarding our assessment, we certainly qualify such an act as a crime, as an act of dehumanization,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova says on Sputnik radio.
Israel “must not just comment in media outlets or on social media, it must produce the evidence,” she says.
Air Force One has landed at Ben Gurion airport.
There are no apparent issues from Gazan rockets, which have largely held off since last night.
US President Joe Biden is expected to land in the coming minutes, according to Channel 12 news.
While here, he will meet American families of hostages held by Hamas.
His team has also asked to meet with Rachel Ederi, the Ofakim woman who distracted the five terrorists holding her and her husband hostage by feeding them and talking to them for 19 hours until a SWAT team could move in.
Roads are closed around Ben Gurion Airport ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit.
Route 1, the main artery between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, is blocked from Lod to the La Guardia interchange on the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv.
Route 4 is shut down at the Ganot interchange, where it connects with Route 1.
Many roads in the southern part of the city will also be closed by police during the visit.
Police are asking travelers to the airport to take the train to Terminal 3 today.
Biden had been set to arrive at 10 a.m., but the landing has been delayed till around 11, according to reports.
Rocket sirens have sounded in Nahal Oz near the Gaza border, ending some 12 hours without a launch from the Palestinian enclave.
There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
The IDF has released a recording of what it says was an intercepted phone call between two Hamas operatives who discuss the failed Islamic Jihad rocket that landed on the Gaza hospital.
IDF releases a recording of an intercepted phone call between two Hamas operatives who discuss the failed Islamic Jihad rocket that landed on the Gaza hospital. pic.twitter.com/ozoXclXLxD
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) October 18, 2023
IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari further accuses media outlets of running with Hamas’s toll, though the terror group could not have tallied the death toll of some 500 so soon after the explosion.
“Many media outlets immediately reported the unverified claims by Hamas, the lies by Hamas,” he says
“I want to make something clear: It is impossible to know what happened as quickly as Hamas claimed it knew,” he says.
US President Joe Biden is set to land in Israel in the next hour.
Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog are expected to be on hand at Ben Gurion airport to greet Biden, before meetings with him in Tel Aviv.
Security is extremely tight, as Gazan terrorists have repeatedly targeted the airport with rockets, and officials have released little information about his schedule for the approximately five-hour visit here.
You can watch a livestream of the landing here.
IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari accuses the Hamas terror group of purposely misleading international media outlets by claiming a failed rocket launched by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad was an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip that killed hundreds.
Hagari, in a briefing in English to international media, reads out a translated transcript of an intercepted call between two Hamas officials, in which they talk about the failed Islamic Jihad rocket that hit the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital, following a barrage launched from a cemetery in Gaza.
“According to our intelligence, Hamas checked the reports, understood it was an Islamic Jihad rocket that had misfired, and decided to launch a global media campaign to hide what really happened,” Hagari says.
“They went as far as to inflate the number of casualties,” he says.
Hagari says Hamas “understood with absolute certainty that it was a rocket misfired by Islamic Jihad that damaged the hospital.”
He claims that the rockets were fired from a cemetery behind the hospital.
Showing a picture of the hospital’s scorched parking lot, Hagari says the damage to the hospital’s parking lot was caused by the rocket impact and due to the large amount of rocket fuel that was still in the projectile as it fell short.
تغطية صحفية: صورة للمستشفى المعمداني بعد قصف الاحتلال له ليلة أمس بمجزرة راح ضحيتها المئات من العائلات. pic.twitter.com/XhYKa9Sk7m
— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) October 18, 2023
He says that had it been an Israeli airstrike, “we would have seen craters and structural damage to the building, both of which were not identified in this incident.”
Shifa Hospital, where victims of the al-Ahli Hospital blast were taken, will run out of fuel on Wednesday unless more supplies enter the Gaza Strip, the hospital’s general director says.
The hospital, Gaza’s largest, is stretched far beyond its capacity following the al-Ahli explosion, Mohammed Abu Selmia says, adding that health workers were still treating severely wounded patients.
“They are all in a terrible situation,” he tells The Associated Press. “A young woman whose limbs were amputated, a child whose intestines came out, many others have had limb amputations, bleeding in the brain, bleeding in the liver and spleen.”
He said earlier that doctors were performing operations on the floor without anesthesia and that a shortage of essential medical supplies was an urgent issue.
If the hospital runs out of fuel, it could be forced into a total shutdown of services, he says, adding that doctors would “remain with the sick and wounded.”
Gaza’s Hamas-run interior ministry says 37 people were killed following overnight Israeli airstrikes in the al-Qasasib and Halima al-Saadia areas of Jabalia, in northern Gaza.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid calls acerbically for Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich to use NIS 9 billion ($2.2 billion) of discretionary coalition funds in the state budget to help southern Israel and the war effort after the devastating Hamas attacks of October 7.
“You have NIS 9 billion of coalition funds earmarked for political bribes — let’s together pass a law immediately that will transfer the money to dealing with the war, the residents of Sderot, Be’eri and Kfar Aza, protection for Ashkelon, citizens in [financial] ruin,” he writes on X.
Smotrich is due to chair an emergency meeting on funding the war and related expenses today.
Jordan says it canceled a planned summit with US President Joe Biden, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II because it “would not be able to stop the war for now,” accusing Israel of carrying out “massacres.”
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al-Safadi says in a statement that “following consultations with our Palestinian and Egyptian brothers, and after a discussion with the United States, we decided not to hold this summit. We aim from this summit, if it is held, to produce one solution that has no other, which is to stop the war, respect the humanity of the Palestinians, and deliver the aid they deserve.”
He also cites a blast at a Gaza City hospital that killed hundreds of people, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
“Refraining from holding the summit also due to the ongoing Israeli massacres against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, the most recent of which was the Baptist Hospital massacre, which came as a shock to everyone and cannot be tolerated,” he says.
Hamas, the terror group that rules the Strip, blamed an Israeli airstrike, while the Israeli military says the blast was caused by a rocket misfired by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group.
The UN Security Council has scheduled a vote today on a resolution that initially condemned “the heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas” on Israel as well as all violence against civilians, while calling for “humanitarian pauses” to deliver desperately needed aid to millions in Gaza.
Negotiations on the wording of the draft resolution sponsored by Brazil continued throughout Tuesday, and the final version to be voted on has not been released.
The vote follows the council’s rejection Monday evening of a Russian-drafted resolution that condemned violence and terrorism against civilians and called for a “humanitarian cease-fire” but made no mention of Hamas.
Russia has proposed two amendments to the Brazil resolution that will be voted on first. One calls for a “humanitarian cease-fire.” The other would condemn indiscriminate attacks on civilians and assaults on “civilian objects” in Gaza like hospitals and schools.
Brazil holds the Security Council presidency this month and its UN mission said the vote would be followed by an emergency meeting to discuss Tuesday’s huge explosion and fire at a Gaza City hospital packed with patients, relatives and Palestinians seeking shelter. The Hamas-run health ministry said at least 500 died.
Russia, the United Arab Emirates and China called for the emergency session, at which UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo and UN Mideast envoy Tor Wennesland were to brief council members.
Israel and the Palestinians accused each other of being responsible for the hospital carnage. Hamas said it was from an Israeli airstrike. Israel blamed a misfired rocket by the Palestinian terror group Islamic Jihad. Islamic Jihad denied any involvement.
The Israel Defense Forces says it has killed two more Hamas commanders in Gaza, among dozens of other targets struck in the Strip over the past day.
According to the IDF, Muhammad Awdallah, the head of the anti-tank guided missile array in Hamas’s Gaza City Brigade, and Akram Hijazi, a Hamas naval forces commander, were targeted following intelligence efforts by the Shin Bet security agency and Military Intelligence Directorate.
The military publishes footage of the recent strikes.
כחלק ממטס תקיפה, תקפו מטוסי קרב של צה"ל ביממה האחרונה ברצועת עזה, בין היתר מפקדות מבצעיות, מספר שטחי כינוס של כוחות הארגון, עמדות שיגור רקטות ונ"ט, וכן תשתיות טרור שמתחת לחלקן היו מנהרות הברחה של ארגון הטרור חמאס >> pic.twitter.com/tQr7KGinQA
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) October 18, 2023
The IDF says it also struck Hamas command centers, staging grounds, anti-tank guided missile and rocket launch sites, as well as military infrastructure, some of which contained tunnels.
The Israel Defense Forces publishes drone footage that it says proves a deadly blast at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in the Gaza Strip was not caused by its ordnance, which it says would have left a crater and not a burning parking lot and shrapnel-pocked roofs.
The video shows images of the hospital’s parking lot, where the blast struck, causing hundreds of casualties according to Hamas health officials.
The images show that a large fire was caused in the area as a result of the blast, but there is no crater. Israeli strikes generally leave large holes in the ground, the army says.
IDF publishes drone footage showing before and after the failed Islamic Jihad rocket slammed into the parking lot of the Ahli hospital in Gaza. pic.twitter.com/X4W9Jo18D1
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) October 18, 2023
The drone footage also points to shrapnel that landed on the roof of the nearby buildings, which remain largely intact.
Israel has denied accusations that one of its airstrikes caused the blast and has instead blamed it on a failed rocket launched by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group.
Other footage, including an Al Jazeera livestream, have appeared to further back Israel’s claim that a failed Gazan rocket caused the blast.
Four Israeli soldiers were lightly hurt in an anti-tank guided missile attack from Lebanon early this morning, the IDF says.
The military permits publication of the casualties after their families are notified.
Hezbollah earlier claimed responsibility for the attack, marking at least the seventh missile attack in 24 hours.
The Israel Defense Forces announced the creation of a humanitarian zone in southern Gaza where international aid will be provided, after days of negotiations with Egypt, the US and others to create a safe zone for fleeing Gazans.
The IDF says Palestinians should go to a humanitarian zone in the Al-Mawasi area, close to Khan Younis, where “international humanitarian aid will be provided as needed.”
It also renews its calls on Palestinians in the northern part of the Gaza Strip to evacuate south, as the military has warned it will soon heavily target the area.
The military publishes a map of the zone.
The IDF calls on #GazaCity residents to evacuate south for their protection.
— COGAT (@cogatonline) October 18, 2023
On Tuesday, Israel bombarded areas of Khan Younis and Rafah, cities where Palestinians who had fled the north in the wake of the IDF’s warning had congregated, garnering anger.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says attacks by Hamas do not justify the “collective punishment” of the Palestinian people, appearing to sharpen his criticism of Israel.
The Hamas attacks on October 7 “cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people,” Guterres tells delegates at a forum of China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative in Beijing.
Some 1,300 people, most of them civilians, were killed when over a thousand Hamas gunmen rampaged through southern Israel last week. At least 199 more were kidnapped and taken to Gaza. Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas and says it is trying to keep Palestinian civilians out of harm’s way, but has also kept most humanitarian aid from reaching the Strip.
Guteress earlier condemned the bombing of a hospital in which hundreds were killed, without assigning blame. Palestinians have blamed an Israeli strike, while Israel says evidence shows the blast was caused by a failed Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket launch.
The State Department has raised the travel advisory for Lebanon, urging people not to travel to the country “due to the unpredictable security situation related to rocket, missile, and artillery exchanges between Israel and Hizbullah or other armed militant factions.”
The advisory is hiked to Level 4, “Do not travel” — the highest level — from Level 3, “Reconsider travel.”
The advisory issued on Tuesday also urges people to reconsider travel to Lebanon “due to terrorism, civil unrest, armed conflict, crime, kidnapping” and the US Embassy in Beirut’s limited capacity to provide support to US citizens.
The State Department authorizes the voluntary, temporary departure of family members of US government personnel and some non-emergency personnel from the US Embassy in Beirut due to the unpredictable security situation in Lebanon.
The Israel Defense Forces names another two local security officers, killed during the war which began October 7.
The names bring the toll of slain soldiers, officers and reservists — many of whom are local security officers — to 304.
Maj. (res.) Oren Stern, 49, a local security officer, from Netiv Ha’asara.
First Sgt. (res.) Hagay Avni, 50, a local security officer, from Be’eri.
The Israel Defense Forces says another anti-tank guided missile was fired from Lebanon toward forces near Shtula, a moshav in northern Israel close to the border.
The attack marks at least the seventh missile fired over the past 24 hours at towns and military posts on the northern border, apparently by the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group.
The military does not immediately provide information on casualties.
The IDF says it is responding with artillery shelling at the source of the missile fire in southern Lebanon.
US President Joe Biden plans to ask Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu some “tough questions as a friend of Israel” regarding Jerusalem’s strategy in the Gaza war, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby tells reporters aboard Air Force One with the president en route to Tel Aviv.
He is slated to land at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv at 10 a.m. for meetings with Israeli officials.
Biden’s visit will be building off of a passionate speech last week in which he expressed his horror over the brutal Hamas assault, winning over Israelis across the political spectrum.
But this trip faltered before it began following an explosion on Tuesday evening at a Gaza hospital that Hamas has blamed on Israeli airstrikes.
Israel said it was not involved and said a rocket misfired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad led to the blast that killed hundreds.
Biden’s Jordan leg of the trip where he was supposed to meet in a four-way summit with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordanian King Abdullah II and Egypt’s president was called off following the explosion, and widespread condemnation in the Arab world.
In Israel, Kirby says Biden will meet with the families of people killed in Hamas’s brutal massacre in Israel on October 7, and of people who were abducted by the terror group. The shock Hamas onslaught killed some 1,300 people, mostly civilians, and some 200 people of all ages were taken captive.
Kirby says that in discussions with Israeli leaders, Biden will also discuss humanitarian aid to Gaza, which Washington has been pushing.
Israel has largely held off on allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza, as it seeks to pressure Hamas to release hostages.
Washington has also been pressing Israel to flesh out its strategy for the day after it completes its stated war goal of toppling Hamas.
In a briefing with reporters, IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said radar detected outgoing rocket fire at the same moment the blast at the Gaza hospital occurred on Tuesday, and intercepted communications between terror groups indicating that Islamic Jihad fired the rockets.
The army determined there were no air force, ground or naval attacks in the area at the time of the blast at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital.
Hagari also shared aerial footage collected by a military drone that showed a blast that he said was inconsistent with Israeli weaponry. He said the explosion occurred in the building’s parking lot.
Since the war began, the military said in a statement that roughly 450 rockets fired at Israel by terror groups had landed in Gaza, “endangering and harming the lives of Gazan residents.”
Islamic Jihad dismissed the claims, accusing Israel of “trying hard to evade responsibility for the brutal massacre it committed.”
Several videos appear to show the moment the rocket fell short and exploded inside the Palestinian territory on Tuesday.
Surveillance camera footage from Netiv Haasara shows a large barrage of rockets being launched from northern Gaza, followed by a massive blast in the Strip, apparently caused by a failed projectile. pic.twitter.com/PdNCbks02r
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) October 17, 2023
One video, taken from Kibbutz Netiv Haasara, appeared to match footage taken by Al Jazeera, which also showed a rocket misfire land inside Gaza.
Full recording from @ajmubasher feed.
You can see outgoing rocket fire some distance away. The rocket is intercepted in the air, and breaks apart into shrapnel.
After this 2 explosions are seen: one smaller one, perhaps on the rocket launcher, and a big one on the hospital. pic.twitter.com/upR4Dnrvsq
— Yousuf (@yousuf_tw) October 17, 2023
Another video, published by Palestinian media outlets, showed the blast at the Ahli Arab Hospital.
تغطية اخبارية| لحظة قصف الاحتلال لمستشفى المعمداني في غزة، ما أدى لاستشهاد المئات. pic.twitter.com/4IRmWIAvpd
— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) October 17, 2023
UN Secretary-General António Guterres says he is “horrified by the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in a strike on a hospital in Gaza today, which I strongly condemn.”
He does not assign blame for the explosion which is said to have killed hundreds. The Hamas terror group, which sparked this war with its October 7 murderous rampage — killing over 1,000 civilians at southern Israeli communities and at a music festival — has blamed Israeli airstrikes.
Israel said it was not operating in the area at that time and that the blast was caused by a misfired rocket launched by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terror group that operates in Gaza.
Both Islamic Jihad and Hamas are sponsored by Iran.
Guterres says on X (Twitter): “My heart is with the families of the victims. Hospitals and medical personnel are protected under international humanitarian law.”
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