ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 139

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Oct. 19: IDF threatens Hezbollah; US says in talks with Israel for Gaza ‘safe zones’

US warship shoots down missiles from Yemen thought to be heading for Israel * Security cabinet meets * Rocket barrages hit Israel from both Gaza and Lebanon

  • Smoke rises after a shelling in Bustan, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
    Smoke rises after a shelling in Bustan, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
  • Rockets are fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Mohammed Dahman)
    Rockets are fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Mohammed Dahman)
  • President Isaac Herzog (R) meets with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on October 19, 2023 (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
    President Isaac Herzog (R) meets with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on October 19, 2023 (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
  • Israeli soldiers listen to Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, during his visit to a staging area near the border with the Gaza Strip in southern Israel, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
    Israeli soldiers listen to Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, during his visit to a staging area near the border with the Gaza Strip in southern Israel, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
  • Palestinians inspect the damage of a destroyed building following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Abed Khaled)
    Palestinians inspect the damage of a destroyed building following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Abed Khaled)
  • Demonstrators march with signs in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza during a rally in Algiers on October 19, 2023. (AFP)
    Demonstrators march with signs in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza during a rally in Algiers on October 19, 2023. (AFP)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in Jerusalem on October 19, 2023 (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in Jerusalem on October 19, 2023 (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
  • Suspected North Korean-made F-7 rocket-propelled grenades, many with a distinctive red stripe on their warhead, are seen at an Israeli military base in southern Israel, October 15, 2023. Hamas terrorists likely used North Korean-manufactured rocket-propelled grenades during their unprecedented assault on Israel that killed over 1,400 people and saw scores taken hostage, despite Pyongyang denying its weapons arm the terror group. (Alon Bernstein/AP)
    Suspected North Korean-made F-7 rocket-propelled grenades, many with a distinctive red stripe on their warhead, are seen at an Israeli military base in southern Israel, October 15, 2023. Hamas terrorists likely used North Korean-manufactured rocket-propelled grenades during their unprecedented assault on Israel that killed over 1,400 people and saw scores taken hostage, despite Pyongyang denying its weapons arm the terror group. (Alon Bernstein/AP)
  • Israeli army vehicles seen during a military raid in the West Bank city of Tulkarm on October 19, 2023. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)
    Israeli army vehicles seen during a military raid in the West Bank city of Tulkarm on October 19, 2023. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)
  • Israeli soldiers patrol near the border with Lebanon, northern Israel, October 19, 2023. (David Cohen/Flash90)
    Israeli soldiers patrol near the border with Lebanon, northern Israel, October 19, 2023. (David Cohen/Flash90)

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

After 6 hours, security cabinet wraps up meeting on war against Hamas

After six hours, a meeting of the high-level security cabinet comes to an end as Israel plans its next moves in the war against the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group.

European Council president says Egypt needs backing to handle fleeing Gazans

WASHINGTON — European Council President Charles Michel says he will visit Egypt on Saturday and call for support for a country that may have to take in tens of thousands of Palestinians fleeing war-torn Gaza.

“Egypt needs support, so let’s support Egypt,” says Michel, who is in Washington to attend a summit with US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Friday.

He adds that he will meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi during his weekend visit.

In addition, Michel will attend at Sissi’s invitation a “conference on the current developments in the Middle East, Palestine and the Peace Process,” says his spokesperson, Ecaterina Casinge.

Accompanying Michel to Egypt will be Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Casinge says.

German FM announces 50 million euros in aid for Gazan civilians

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock speaks at the German Bundestag in Berlin on October 11, 2023. (Tobias Schwarz/AFP)
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock speaks at the German Bundestag in Berlin on October 11, 2023. (Tobias Schwarz/AFP)

BERLIN — German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock announces 50 million euros in aid for civilians in the Gaza Strip, on the first stage of a mini-tour of the Middle East.

Germany is also preparing to send medical teams into the Gaza Strip, she adds, according to a statement from her ministry.

The aim of her tour, she says, is to express “unwavering solidarity” and to help ensure Palestinian access to aid.

She announces the aid package in Jordan, the first stage of her tour of the region, which will also take in Lebanon and Israel.

“Our message is clear,” she says at a news conference in Amman with Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, according to her ministry.

“We don’t abandon the innocent Palestinian mothers, fathers and children.”

Before her departure, Baerbock insisted on Israel’s “right to defend itself against Hamas terror” and accused the terror group of using the civilian population of the Gaza Strip as “human shields” in its conflict with Israel.

Hamas terrorists broke through Israel’s heavily fortified Gaza border on October 7, killing more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians, and taking at least 199 people hostage, according to Israel.

Israel has responded to the attacks with relentless airstrikes on Gaza that the Hamas-controlled health ministry claims have killed more than 3,470 people, mainly civilians.

Moody’s says Israel’s credit rating is ‘under review’ for possible downgrade due to war

Illustrative: View of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, November 29, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Illustrative: View of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, November 29, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Moody’s international credit rating agency announces that it is reviewing Israel for a possible downgrade of its A1 credit rating.

Moody’s says the review has been “triggered by the unexpected and violent conflict between Israel and Hamas.”

It notes that while Israel has “proven resilient” in past conflicts, the current level of violence “raises the possibility of longer lasting and material credit impact.”

IDF says it is continuing to strike Hezbollah sites in Lebanon

Smoke rises after a shelling in Bustan, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Smoke rises after a shelling in Bustan, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

The Israel Defense Forces says it has carried out airstrikes against a number of Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon in response to earlier missile and rocket attacks on northern Israel today.

Separately, the IDF says a combat helicopter struck a terror cell preparing to launch an anti-tank guided missile from Lebanon at Israel.

The military publishes footage of the strikes.

Earlier, rockets launched by Hamas from Lebanon wounded three people in Kiryat Shmona, and missiles fired by Hezbollah targeted a number of military positions, causing no injuries.

Hamas claims several dead in strike on church in Gaza

This picture taken from Sderot shows smoke billowing over the northern Gaza Strip on October 19, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP)
This picture taken from Sderot shows smoke billowing over the northern Gaza Strip on October 19, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP)

The Hamas-controlled interior ministry says several displaced people who had taken shelter at a church compound in the Gaza Strip have been killed and injured in an Israeli strike.

There was no immediate comment from the IDF, which tells AFP it is looking into the potential strike.

The strike left a “large number of martyrs and injured” at the compound of a Greek Orthodox church, the ministry says.

Witnesses tell AFP the strike appears to have been aimed at a target close to the place of worship where many Gaza residents have taken refuge.

IDF says it killed member of Hamas naval commando unit

The Iron Dome air defense system fires to intercept a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
The Iron Dome air defense system fires to intercept a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The Israel Defense Forces says it has killed a member of Hamas’s naval commando unit in a strike in the Gaza Strip this evening.

The military says fighter jets and Navy vessels carried out strikes against a Hamas command center in Gaza, killing Mamdouh Shalabiya.

According to the IDF, Shalabiya “worked to carry out attacks from the sea.”

The IDF says it also hit a number of other targets belonging to Hamas this evening.

The military publishes footage of the strikes.

UNIFIL says Lebanon requested help in rescuing 7 ‘stranded’ people along Israel border

Israeli soldiers patrol near the border with Lebanon, northern Israel, October 19, 2023. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers patrol near the border with Lebanon, northern Israel, October 19, 2023. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon says Lebanese troops requested assistance to bring back seven individuals stranded along the border with Israel. One person was killed in the operation.

The UN force known as UNIFIL said the seven became stranded during an exchange of fire.

UNIFIL says it urged the Israeli military to suspend fire to facilitate the rescue operation, and Israel complied, allowing Lebanese troops to recover the seven.

UNIFIL says that “tragically, one person lost his life during this incident and the others were successfully rescued.”

According to several local television stations in Lebanon, among the group were several Iranian journalists, but UNIFIL did not confirm this.

Pentagon says missiles from Yemen were ‘potentially’ aimed at Israel, ‘posed threat’

Iranian surface-to-air missiles seized by the US Navy from a shipment heading to Houthi rebels in Yemen, February 9, 2020. (US Department of Justice)
Iranian surface-to-air missiles seized by the US Navy from a shipment heading to Houthi rebels in Yemen, February 9, 2020. (US Department of Justice)

Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, Pentagon press secretary, tells reporters that the USS Carney, a Navy destroyer in the northern Red Sea, intercepted three land attack cruise missiles and several drones that were launched by Houthi forces in Yemen. He says they were shot down over the water.

“We cannot say for certain what these missiles and drones were targeting, but they were launched from Yemen heading north along the Red Sea, potentially towards targets in Israel,” Ryder says in a Pentagon briefing.

Ryder says the missiles were shot down because they “posed a potential threat” based on their flight profile, adding that the US is prepared to do whatever is needed “to protect our partners and our interests in this important region.” He says the US is still assessing what the target was.

State Department official quits over US military backing for Israel in Gaza war

US President Joe Biden walks to the podium to deliver remarks on the war between Israel and Hamas, Oct. 18, 2023, in Tel Aviv. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Joe Biden walks to the podium to deliver remarks on the war between Israel and Hamas, Oct. 18, 2023, in Tel Aviv. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A US official who worked on global arms transfers for the State Department has resigned due to opposition to the Biden administration’s decision to supply the IDF with additional military support in its war against Hamas.

“I am leaving today because I believe that in our current course with regards to the continued — indeed, expanded and expedited — provision of lethal arms to Israel — I have reached the end of that bargain,” reads a LinkedIn post from Josh Paul, who served as director of congressional and public affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

“Let me be clear: Hamas’ attack on Israel was not just a monstrosity; it was a monstrosity of monstrosities,” Paul continues. “But I believe to the core of my soul that the response Israel is taking, and with it the American support both for that response and for the status quo of the occupation, will only lead to more and deeper suffering for both the Israeli and the Palestinian people — and is not in the long term American interest.”

Asked to comment on the resignation during a press briefing, State Department spokesperson Matt Miller says his office recognizes that employees have their own personal beliefs and encourages staff to voice those opinions, including when they are at odds with US policy.

However, Miller also says that the US backs Israel’s right to self-defense and will continue providing Israel with the means in order to enable Jerusalem to do that.

“We think they have not only a right but an obligation to defend themselves against these terrorist attacks, and I think any country would do that,” he says while clarifying that counter attacks by Israel should be conducted in a way that limits civilian casualties.

Air raid sirens sound across central Israel, including Tel Aviv

Air raid sirens sound across central Israel, including Rishon Lezion, Tel Aviv, Bat Yam and Holon, after a barrage of rockets is fired from Gaza.

Israel’s entry into Visa Waiver Program takes effect today

Passengers look at a departure board at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, as flights are canceled and delayed because of a massive surprise attack by Hamas, on October 7, 2023. (Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP)
Passengers look at a departure board at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, as flights are canceled and delayed because of a massive surprise attack by Hamas, on October 7, 2023. (Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP)

As of today, Israelis are eligible to travel to the US without a visa, the Israeli Embassy in Washington announces.

The US admitted Israel into its Visa Waiver Program on September 27 but said up to two months would be needed to have measures in place for Israelis to be able to begin taking advantage of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization.

American authorities managed to finish their preparations well ahead of time, allowing the announcement to be made today.

Moving forward, Israeli citizens with a biometric passport will be able to travel to the US by applying for an ESTA application up to 72 hours before their trip. They will be able to visit the US for up to 90 days on business or tourist trips.

US warship shoots down missiles from Yemen thought to be heading for Israel

The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan travels through the Red Sea, August 8, 2023. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Riley Gasdia/US Navy, via AP)
The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan travels through the Red Sea, August 8, 2023. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Riley Gasdia/US Navy, via AP)

A US Navy warship takes out three missiles that had been fired from Yemen and were heading north, US officials say.

The officials say the USS Carney, a Navy destroyer, was in the Red Sea and intercepted the three missiles. It wasn’t immediately certain if they were aimed at Israel, though Hebrew media reports suggested that Israeli defense officials believe that they were.

One of the officials says the US does not believe the missiles were aimed at the ship.

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have expressed support for the Palestinians and threatened Israel.

Senate passes symbolic resolution backing Israel 97-0

The Senate side of the Capitol is seen in Washington, early Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, as lawmakers rush to complete passage of a bill to fund the government. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
The Senate side of the Capitol is seen in Washington, early Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, as lawmakers rush to complete passage of a bill to fund the government. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

The US Senate has passed by a vote of 97 to 0 a symbolic resolution reaffirming American support for Israel amid the ongoing Gaza war.

Republican Tim Scott and Democrats Dick Durbin and Laphonza Butler were not in the Capitol for the vote.

The resolution “reaffirms Israel’s right to self-defense and is committed to helping Israel safeguard its people from future aggression.” It also expresses support for restocking Israel’s weapons supply and urges additional sanctions against Iran over its support for terror proxies.

A similarly symbolic resolution has been introduced in the House, with 392 members signing on as co-sponsors. It is expected to also be passed in the coming days.

In Riyadh, UK PM Sunak asks crown prince to prevent ‘escalation’ in region

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) meets with Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in the capital Riyadh, October 19, 2023. (Bandar Al-Jaloud/Saudi Royal Palace/AFP)
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) meets with Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in the capital Riyadh, October 19, 2023. (Bandar Al-Jaloud/Saudi Royal Palace/AFP)

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meets Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler and encourages him to use his influence to stop the Israel-Hamas war from spreading.

Sunak’s office says the UK leader and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman agreed on the need to get humanitarian aid into Gaza and “underscored the need to avoid any further escalation in the region.”

The UK says Sunak “encouraged the Crown Prince to use Saudi’s leadership in the region to support stability, both now and in the long term.”

Earlier this morning, Sunak was in Israel, and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog.

Thousands join raucous pro-Palestinian rally in central Paris

A man holds a Palestinian flag during a demonstration in Paris, on October 19, 2023. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP)
A man holds a Palestinian flag during a demonstration in Paris, on October 19, 2023. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP)

Thousands gather for a pro-Palestinian protest in the heart of Paris, after authorities lift a ban put in place immediately after the Hamas assault on Israel.

The rally started off peacefully, but later saw clashes with police, who used pepper spray to disperse the crowd, according to AFP journalists at the scene.

Last week, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin had called on regional authorities to ban all pro-Palestinian demonstrations, highlighting a spike in antisemitic incidents in the wake of the war between Israel and Gaza.

But a Paris court said that bans imposed by regional prefects were “a serious and clearly illegal threat to the freedom to protest.”

Israel Police break up pro-Palestinian rally in Umm al-Fahm, arrest 12

Israel Police says it broke up a pro-Palestinian rally being held in the Arab city of Umm al-Fahm.

Police say that 12 people were arrested on suspicion of disrupting public order, and that protesters shouted anti-Israel slogans.

The police have said it will have “zero tolerance” for rallies supporting Hamas within Israel, and Police chief Kobi Shabtai said on the force’s Arabic-language TikTok earlier this week that “anyone who wants to identify with Gaza is welcome — I’ll put them on buses that will send them there.”

Governor of California plans trip to Israel tomorrow

California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks at a news conference in Sacramento, California, on March 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks at a news conference in Sacramento, California, on March 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom says he plans to make a one-day trip to Israel to meet some of those affected by the war.

The Democratic governor will arrive in Israel tomorrow and will depart the same day. The announcement by Newsom’s office did not specify where the governor would go.

His office says California will send medical supplies to the region, including to the Gaza Strip.

California is home to the largest population of Arab Americans in the United States, according to the Arab American Institute. It also has the second largest populations of Jews in the US, according to the American Jewish Population Project at Brandeis University.

US says it is in talks with Israel, UN, Egypt to establish ‘safe zones’ in Gaza

Palastinans at a temporary tent camp set up for Gazans evacuated from their homes, on the grounds of a UNRWA facility in Khan Younis, Gaza, October 19, 2023. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Palastinans at a temporary tent camp set up for Gazans evacuated from their homes, on the grounds of a UNRWA facility in Khan Younis, Gaza, October 19, 2023. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The United States is in talks with Israel, the UN and Egypt about establishing safe zones inside Gaza “where innocent civilians can be safe from harm’s way,” US State Department spokesperson Matt Miller says during a press briefing.

This is one of newly appointed US ambassador for Mideast humanitarian issues David Satterfield’s main objectives, in addition to securing the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza from Egypt.

Miller notes that such safe zones are critical, as the US recognizes that regional leaders are strongly opposed to evacuating Palestinians out of Gaza.

The State Department spokesperson says the US is still working to secure the evacuation of American citizens who want to leave Gaza, but does not have any updates regarding that effort.

US State Department slams media for taking Hamas claims on hospital blast ‘at face value’

People inspect the damage at Ahli hospital in central Gaza on October 18, 2023, following a deadly blast which ripped through it a day earlier. (Dawood Nemer/AFP)
People inspect the damage at Ahli hospital in central Gaza on October 18, 2023, following a deadly blast which ripped through it a day earlier. (Dawood Nemer/AFP)

US State Department spokesperson Matt Miller knocks media organizations after many of them initially reported the Hamas-run health ministry claim that the IDF was responsible for the Tuesday Gaza City hospital blast at “face value.”

“I don’t want to play media critic here, but I will say that I do think that this event was a reminder that everyone, and this includes government officials and everyone who watches this conflict, [that] it would be wise for all of us to take a beat and pause and collect all the information before choosing to decide what we believe and what we don’t,” Miller says during a press briefing.

“I saw a number of reports… that took Hamas’s word at face value — the word of a terrorist organization,” Miller says.

A reporter responds to Miller that much of the media’s skepticism of US and Israeli claims stems from assertions that were made after 9/11 “that took us to war in Iraq on a lie, which was defended on a very high level, including behind [Miller’s] podium.”

Miller retorts that while Israel has presented significant evidence to the public backing its claim that the Gaza hospital blast was caused by an errant Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket, Hamas has failed to do the same even as it continues to blame Israel for the incident in which it says hundreds were killed.

European intelligence source tells AFP: A maximum of 50 killed in Gaza hospital

People search through debris outside the site of the Ahli Arab hospital in central Gaza on October 18, 2023 in the aftermath of a blast there. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)
People search through debris outside the site of the Ahli Arab hospital in central Gaza on October 18, 2023 in the aftermath of a blast there. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

A senior European intelligence source tells AFP that he believes a maximum of 50 people were killed in the blast at the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza on Tuesday.

Israel has denied it was responsible for the explosion, providing evidence that it was caused by a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket aimed at Israel, which has been accepted by the UK, US and many others as credible.

Israel has also cast heavy doubt on Hamas’s claims that 500 people were killed in the blast. The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry later said at least 471 people had been killed.

IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus also disputed the Hamas-run ministry’s figures, asking, “Where are all the bodies?”

CNN cited a US assessment that estimates 100-300 people were killed in the blast.

AFP correspondents saw dozens of bodies at the scene, with medics and civilians recovering bodies wrapped in white cloth, blankets or black plastic bags. Images of the hospital after the strike published by the Maxar satellite monitoring group show the hospital buildings mainly appeared to be intact.

2 coalition MKs demand NIS 14 billion in political earmarks be diverted to war effort

Lawmakers attend a plenum session in the Knesset in Jerusalem, October 16, 2023. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Lawmakers attend a plenum session in the Knesset in Jerusalem, October 16, 2023. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Two senior coalition MKs ask government party leaders to transfer the NIS 13.7 billion in funds earmarked for political promises to the war effort.

In a letter today, Likud MK Yuli Edelstein and National Unity MK Zeev Elkin urge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his political partners to redirect the so-called coalition funds, writing that “there is no doubt in our hearts that the coalition heads will understand the present need and discover national responsibility.”

Coalition funds, a politically discretionary portion of the state budget, are awarded as part of political promises for parties to join a coalition.

Netanyahu’s government came under fire for directing a large portion of the monies to ultra-Orthodox priorities, including several religious school systems that do not adhere to Education Ministry curricular guidelines.

Air raid sirens sound in Ashkelon, Sderot

Air raid sirens sound in Ashkelon, Sderot and other areas following a barrage of rockets from Gaza toward Israel.

IDF says Hezbollah will ‘bear the consequences’ for rocket fire from Lebanon

Smoke rises following an Israeli artillery strike in al-Bustan, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Oct. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Smoke rises following an Israeli artillery strike in al-Bustan, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Oct. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group will bear responsibility for attacks carried out on northern Israel, including those claimed by Palestinian groups.

He says the recent rocket fire on northern Israel, claimed by Hamas, was carried out with Hezbollah’s approval, “just like all the attacks carried out by Palestinians from Lebanon since the beginning of the fighting.”

“Hezbollah will bear the consequences for all the actions,” he says.

Border Police officer killed during West Bank clashes earlier today

Master Sgt. Maxim Razinkov (Israel Police)
Master Sgt. Maxim Razinkov (Israel Police)

Police say a Border Police officer was killed during clashes with Palestinian gunmen in the Nur Shams refugee camp, close to the West Bank city of Tulkarem earlier today.

Master Sgt. Maxim Razinkov was fatally wounded by an improvised explosive device during an arrest raid. Another nine officers were lightly wounded.

Police say a total of 58 officers have died fighting Palestinian terrorists since Hamas launched its surprise onslaught on southern Israel on October 7.

MTV cancels Europe Music Awards due to ‘devastating events’ in Israel, Gaza

MTV cancels its Europe Music Awards ceremony, due to be held in Paris on November 5, citing the “devastating events” taking place in Israel and Gaza.

“As we watch the devastating events in Israel and Gaza continue to unfold, this does not feel like a moment for a global celebration,” the organizers say in a statement. “With thousands of lives already lost, it is a moment of mourning.”

Organizers Paramount Global say they are acting out of “an abundance of caution for the thousands of employees, crew members, artists, fans, and partners who travel from all corners of the world to bring the show to life.”

CNN: US believes death toll in Gaza hospital blast is 100-300; Israel not to blame

Palestinians check the site of an explosion at al-Ahli hospital, in Gaza City, Oct. 18, 2023. (AP/Abed Khaled)
Palestinians check the site of an explosion at al-Ahli hospital, in Gaza City, Oct. 18, 2023. (AP/Abed Khaled)

The US intelligence community believes that anywhere from 100-300 people were killed in the blast earlier this week at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza, according to a document viewed by CNN.

CNN says that the document asserts that there was “only light structural damage at the hospital” and that Israel was not responsible for the explosion.

Hamas has claimed that 471 people were killed, after earlier claiming it was 500.

Hamas and much of the Arab world has blamed Israel for the explosion at the hospital, but Israeli and US intelligence, now accepted by most media outlets, has shown that it was most likely caused by a failed rocket launch from Gaza.

Air raid sirens sound in central Israeli cities

Air raid sirens sound in Holon, Bat Yam, Rishon Lezion and other cities in central Israel following a rocket barrage fired from Gaza.

Security cabinet meets as IDF ground incursion of Gaza looms

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a security cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv, October 7, 2023. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a security cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv, October 7, 2023. (Haim Zach/GPO)

With the country, and much of the world, awaiting an indication of what Israel plans to do in the next stage of its war against Hamas — especially now that US President Joe Biden has come and gone — the security cabinet is meeting.

This is the forum that would need to approve a ground incursion, though it should be noted that it has convened many times throughout the war already.

UN says it will inspect aid entering Gaza as part of Israel-Egypt deal

A convoy of trucks carrying aid supplies for Gaza from Egypt waits on the main Ismailia desert road, about 300 kms east of the Egyptian border with the Gaza Strip, on the way to the Rafah crossing on October 16, 2023. (Khaled Desouki/AFP)
A convoy of trucks carrying aid supplies for Gaza from Egypt waits on the main Ismailia desert road, about 300 kms east of the Egyptian border with the Gaza Strip, on the way to the Rafah crossing on October 16, 2023. (Khaled Desouki/AFP)

A UN flag will be raised at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza to protect against Israeli airstrikes under a UN-brokered deal between Israel and Egypt to allow aid into the Palestinian territory.

An Egyptian official and a European diplomat say that observers from the UN will also inspect trucks carrying aid before crossing into Gaza.

They say the UN will oversee the aid, along with the Egyptians and Palestinian Red Crescent societies, to ensure it is given to civilians and not used by Palestinian terrorists.

The Egyptian official says they are still negotiating with Israel over allowing fuel into Gaza, where a shortage has forced the closure of multiple hospitals.

Turkey says Israel pulls out its diplomats due to security concerns amid war

Members of Turkish Police Special Forces secure the area near the Interior Ministry following a bomb attack in Ankara, on October 1, 2023. (Adem Altan/AFP)
Members of Turkish Police Special Forces secure the area near the Interior Ministry following a bomb attack in Ankara, on October 1, 2023. (Adem Altan/AFP)

Israel has withdrawn all of its diplomats from Turkey over concerns for their security, according to two Turkish officials.

The move follows a spate of protests outside Israeli diplomatic missions in Turkey, and after some protesters tried to storm the ambassador’s residence in Ankara and a building housing the consulate in Istanbul.

The officials say that diplomats including ambassador Irit Lillian have already left Turkey. They insist the diplomats had left over safety concerns and that their withdrawal was not political.

According to Hebrew media reports, Israeli diplomats in Jordan, Morocco and Bahrain have also left over similar concerns.

Israel issued an alert earlier this week calling on its citizens to leave Turkey amid concerns over reprisal attacks.

UN chief calls for ‘sustained’ humanitarian access to Gaza

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (L) and Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry hold a press conference in Cairo on October 19, 2023. (Khaled Desouki/AFP)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (L) and Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry hold a press conference in Cairo on October 19, 2023. (Khaled Desouki/AFP)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urges “rapid, unimpeded humanitarian access” to the Gaza Strip.

“We need food, water, medicine and fuel now. We need it at scale and we need it to be sustained, it is not one small operation that is required,” Guterres says in Cairo, as calls mount for aid to reach the territory’s 2.4 million people.

“In plain terms, that means humanitarians need to be able to get aid in and they need to be able to distribute it safely.”

US sources have said that the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza is slated to open tomorrow to allow in waiting convoys of aid.

US military base in southern Syria attacked by drones

A military base in southern Syria where US troops have maintained a presence to train forces as part of a broad campaign against the Islamic State group was attacked by drones today, two US officials tell The Associated Press.

One drone was shot down, and another caused minor injuries, says one of the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter before an official announcement about the incident.

The attacks follow similar drone strikes over the past few days against US and coalition bases in Iraq amid simmering anger in the region after an explosion at a Gaza hospital — which was blamed on Israel despite it most likely being caused by a failed Islamic Jihad rocket launch — allegedly killed hundreds of people.

State Dept. warns Americans around the world of potential for violence linked to Gaza war

Demonstrators march with signs in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza during a rally in Algiers on October 19, 2023. (AFP)
Demonstrators march with signs in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza during a rally in Algiers on October 19, 2023. (AFP)

The State Department is warning US citizens of the potential for terrorist attacks and violent demonstrations around the world as the Israel-Hamas war intensifies and threats against American interests become more acute.

In a “Worldwide Caution” issued today, the department advised Americans to “exercise increased caution due to the potential for violence and increased tensions” in all countries.

“Due to increased tensions in various locations around the world, the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations or violent actions against US citizens and interests, the Department of State advises US citizens overseas to exercise increased caution,” it says.

The brief notice says Americans should be particularly alert in areas frequented by foreign tourists.

IDF says hostages in Gaza include around 30 children, 10-20 elderly people

People walk near posters featuring Israelis being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza, outside the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, October 18, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
People walk near posters featuring Israelis being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza, outside the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, October 18, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

According to fresh data from the Israel Defense Forces, among the 203 hostages that the military believes with high confidence are being held by terrorists in the Gaza Strip, some 30 are children and youths, and another 10-20 are elderly.

Additionally, there are 100-200 more missing people whose fates are currently unknown, according to the data.

The army believes the majority of the hostages held in Gaza are alive, though several bodies were taken by Hamas terrorists.

The IDF says it is still finding bodies in the Gaza border area, as troops have conducted limited raids into the Hamas-run territory.

Most of those bodies recovered in the border area belong to terrorists, but some slain victims have been found.

Government approves NIS 1 billion to rehabilitate Gaza border towns

A soldier walks through Kfar Aza, October 16, 2023. (Lazar Berman/The Times of Israel)
A soldier walks through Kfar Aza, October 16, 2023. (Lazar Berman/The Times of Israel)

The government will allocate NIS 1 billion to a new, dedicated agency to rehabilitate Israel’s southern Gaza border communities, according to a joint announcement by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Finance Ministry.

The so-called Tekuma (Revival) Administration will be headed by Brig. Gen. (Res) Moshe Edry, who will report directly to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Its initial period of activity will be five years, and it will be eligible for additional funding.

The agency will focus on areas ravaged by Hamas’s October 7 terror attack, including Sderot and its environs, and communities within the Eshkol, Hof Ashkelon, Sdot Negev and Sha’ar HaNegev regional councils.

Among its priorities, the Tekuma Administration will work to strengthen community life, physically rebuild destroyed areas, improve trust in the government, jumpstart economic and agricultural activity, and serve as a “unified central response” for battered southern communities.

The agency was approved today by the Ministerial Committee on Social and Economic Affairs.

Israel, US, Egypt form trilateral committee to monitor entry of aid into Gaza

Palestinians wait to cross into Egypt at the Rafah border crossing in the Gaza Strip, on Oct. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair, File)
Palestinians wait to cross into Egypt at the Rafah border crossing in the Gaza Strip, on Oct. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair, File)

A trilateral committee of Israel, the United States and Egypt has been formed to facilitate and monitor the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza through Cairo’s Rafah crossing, a UN official tells The Times of Israel.

Up to 20 trucks of aid are slated to enter Gaza tomorrow for the first time since the start of the war, US President Joe Biden said yesterday, adding that the number would hopefully increase in the future.

New York governor tours Kfar Aza, calling it ‘hell on earth’

New York Governor Kathy Hochul (center) tours Kibbutz Kfar Aza along with Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (left) on October 19, 2023. (Asaf Efrati/Foreign Ministry)
New York Governor Kathy Hochul (center) tours Kibbutz Kfar Aza along with Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (left) on October 19, 2023. (Asaf Efrati/Foreign Ministry)

New York Governor Kathy Hochul tours the destruction in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, the site of some of the worst Hamas atrocities in its murderous rampage on October 7.

Hochul describes the sites she has seen in the kibbutz as “hell on earth… for them to have to endure the horrors of what this terrorist group has brought upon these innocent people is something that we must never forget.”

“This day can never be forgotten, because this will go down in history as the slaughter of innocents… an intentional attack on the most innocent, the most frail, the most wonderful people,” she adds.

Smotrich puts forth emergency aid package for economy amid ongoing war

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich attends a press conference at the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem on October 19, 2023. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich attends a press conference at the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem on October 19, 2023. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich presents an emergency aid package for the economy, which he says is more generous than during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Together with the Tax Authority we have been working together in recent days on formulating a comprehensive plan to assist the economy to ensure business continuity and support the Israeli public,” Smotrich says. “We are now presenting a plan that has many components and is much bigger and broader than it was even during the COVID period.”

Smotrich says businesses throughout the country who have been hurt during the war will receive compensation.

“The Israeli economy is strong and can support the military and civilian war efforts as needed,” he says. “We have money and we will use it now for everything that is needed with a generous hand.”

Smotrich announces that in the coming days, he will bring to the Knesset a bill to increase the budget framework to create “maximum flexibility for ourselves.”

Netanyahu tells soldiers near Gaza border: ‘We’re going to win’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Golani soldiers near the border with Gaza on October 19, 2023. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Golani soldiers near the border with Gaza on October 19, 2023. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells a group of Golani soldiers near the Gaza border that Israel is on its way to a major victory.

“We are going to win with all our might,” Netanyahu says to the group of soldiers. “All of Israel is behind you, and we are going to heavily strike our enemies so that we can achieve victory.”

Experts say 300,000 Israelis internally displaced since start of conflict

Israelis load their belongings onto a bus as they evacuate from the southern Israeli town of Sderot, Oct. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Israelis load their belongings onto a bus as they evacuate from the southern Israeli town of Sderot, Oct. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Around 300,000 Israelis are believed to have been internally displaced since the start of the war with Hamas in Gaza, according to Israel Democracy Institute researchers.

Most of those, says IDI — basing its calculations on data from the Central Bureau of Statistics — are from southern Israel in the Gaza border towns where Hamas carried out its murderous rampage.

Around 30,000 come from the northern border, where many have been evacuated or left voluntarily due to repeated rocket fire from Lebanon and Syria.

Egyptian state TV says Rafah crossing to Gaza to open tomorrow

Members of a humanitarian aid convoy for the Gaza Strip wave Egyptian and Palestinian flags at Rafah crossing port, Egypt, Oct. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Omar Aziz)
Members of a humanitarian aid convoy for the Gaza Strip wave Egyptian and Palestinian flags at Rafah crossing port, Egypt, Oct. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Omar Aziz)

The Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip “will open tomorrow,” state-linked television Al Qahera News reports.

Hundreds of trucks full of supplies are still waiting on the Egyptian side of the border, after US President Joe Biden struck a deal with Egypt and Israel to allow relief into Gaza via Egypt.

World Jewish Congress head meets pope to issue plea for Gaza hostages

Pope Francis during an audience with Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, in the Vatican on October 19, 2023. (Handout/Vatican Media/AFP)
Pope Francis during an audience with Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, in the Vatican on October 19, 2023. (Handout/Vatican Media/AFP)

The head of the World Jewish Congress meets with Pope Francis in the Vatican, asking the leader of the Catholic Church to help secure the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip.

The audience between Ronald Lauder and Francis comes as Israel revises up to 203 the number of Israeli and foreign hostages believed held by Hamas, amid the escalating war in Gaza.

“We ask Your Holiness to use your power, to use your strength, to get these hostages released,” the WJC quotes Lauder as telling the 86-year-old pontiff, in a statement. “You may be the only person who has the moral authority to do this.”

Gallant says IDF ground offensive in Gaza will be coming ‘soon’

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks to troops near the Gaza border, October 19, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks to troops near the Gaza border, October 19, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant tells troops on the border with the Gaza Strip that the order to enter the Hamas-run territory will come soon.

“You now see Gaza from afar, soon you will see it from the inside,” Gallant tells troops of the Givati Brigade.

“The order will come,” he adds.

IDF Southern Command chief says coming ground offensive will be ‘long and intense’

Head of the IDF Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, speaks to troops near the Gaza border, October 19, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
Head of the IDF Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, speaks to troops near the Gaza border, October 19, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The head of the IDF Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, says the expected ground offensive in the Gaza Strip will be “long and intense.”

“This war was forced on us, with a cruel enemy that harmed us greatly. But we stopped them… we are striking them heavily,” Finkelman says to troops near the Gaza border today.

“Now, the maneuver is going to move the fighting to their territory. We are going to beat them in their territory,” he says. “It’s going to be difficult, long and intense.”

Medics say three injured in Kiryat Shmona after rocket from Lebanon

Medics responding to a rocket impact in the northern town of Kiryat Shmona, following a barrage launched from Lebanon, say that three people are being treated and transferred to the hospital.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service says that the three are being treated for blast injuries and were not hit by shrapnel. They include a 75-year-old man with head wounds, and a 30-year-old man and 5-year-old girl with light injuries.

Police say 742 bodies of civilians have been identified so far as work continues

The bodies of Israelis killed in a Hamas-led slaughter are gathered for identification at a military base in Ramle, Oct. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Ohad Zweigenberg)
The bodies of Israelis killed in a Hamas-led slaughter are gathered for identification at a military base in Ramle, Oct. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Ohad Zweigenberg)

The Israel Police says in a statement that so far the bodies of 742 civilians have been identified from the October 7 Hamas massacre in southern Israel.

Of those, 645 have been transferred to families for burial.

Police say that workers and volunteers have been working 24/7 since the start of the war in order to identify the slew of bodies collected following the murderous rampage in which some 1,400 Israelis are believed to have been killed. Some of the bodies have been badly burned or destroyed, making identification extremely challenging.

Separately, 306 soldiers, officers and reservists have also been identified.

Hamas claims responsibility for rocket fire from Lebanon

A fragment of a rocket fired from Lebanon at the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona close to the border with Lebanon on October 18, 2023. (Jalaa Marey / AFP)
A fragment of a rocket fired from Lebanon at the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona close to the border with Lebanon on October 18, 2023. (Jalaa Marey / AFP)

The Hamas terror group claims responsibility for launching rockets from Lebanon at northern Israel.

In a statement, the Gaza Strip-based group says its Lebanon branch fired some 30 rockets at Nahariya and Shlomi earlier.

Air raid sirens sound in both southern and northern Israel amid rocket barrages

Rockets are fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Mohammed Dahman)
Rockets are fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Mohammed Dahman)

Air raid sirens sound in both southern and northern Israel amid rocket barrages from Gaza and Lebanon.

IDF says 20 rockets were fired in recent barrage from Lebanon

Israeli soldiers patrol near the border with Lebanon, northern Israel, October 19, 2023. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers patrol near the border with Lebanon, northern Israel, October 19, 2023. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces says some 20 rockets were fired from Lebanon at northern Israel, setting off alarms in Nahariya and nearby communities.

The IDF adds that troops are responding with artillery fire against the source of the rocket fire.

Hamas-run health ministry claims Gaza war toll rises to 3,785

This picture taken from Sderot shows smoke billowing over the northern Gaza Strip on October 19, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP)
This picture taken from Sderot shows smoke billowing over the northern Gaza Strip on October 19, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP)

At least 3,785 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip since Israel began its airstrikes on the coastal enclave, the Hamas-controlled health ministry says.

Some 1,524 children and 1,000 women are among those killed in the relentless Israeli airstrikes, the ministry says, claiming that another 12,493 people have been injured.

Israel and other international bodies have cast doubt on Hamas’s claims about the toll of those killed and wounded.

US, UK call on their citizens to leave Lebanon while flights ‘remain available’

Smoke rises following an Israeli artillery strike in al-Bustan, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Oct. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Smoke rises following an Israeli artillery strike in al-Bustan, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Oct. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

The US and British embassies in Beirut advise their citizens to leave Lebanon while flights “remain available” as border tensions between Israel and Hezbollah intensify.

Both countries had already warned citizens against travel to Lebanon.

“We recommend that US citizens in Lebanon make appropriate arrangements to leave the country; commercial options currently remain available,” a US embassy statement says.

A similar warning is issued by the British embassy which says: “If you are currently in Lebanon, we encourage you to leave now while commercial options remain available.”

“British nationals should exercise caution and avoid areas where demonstrations may be held,” it adds.

Two nurses suspended after expressing support for terror, says Health Ministry

The Health Ministry says that two nurses have been suspended after expressing “racist” comments including incitement.

The ministry says it condemns any expression of support “for the horrendous acts of murder that took the lives of hundreds of Israelis” and it will have “zero tolerance” for any such acts.

Police say 10 officers wounded in explosion during IDF raid in Tulkarem

Israeli army vehicles seen during a military raid in the West Bank city of Tulkarm on October 19, 2023. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)
Israeli army vehicles seen during a military raid in the West Bank city of Tulkarm on October 19, 2023. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Police say 10 officers were wounded, including one in serious condition, as a result of a bomb blast in the Nur Shams refugee camp, close to the West Bank city of Tulkarem, earlier today.

In a statement, police say the Border Police officers were operating in the camp to detain wanted Palestinians when they came under fire and IEDs were hurled at them. In one incident earlier this morning, an IED exploded near the forces, seriously wounding one officer. Another nine officers are lightly hurt, police say.

The Israel Defense Forces published a video showing a drone strike against a group of Palestinian gunmen in Nur Shams earlier today. In a joint statement, the IDF and police say forces operated in the camp since late last night, arresting at least 10 wanted Palestinians.

Police say that officers battled Palestinian gunmen in the area, and demolished several explosive devices that were intended to have been used against the forces.

According to the IDF, the drone strike was carried out after the armed cell was identified near the forces.

The Palestinian Authority health ministry says five Palestinians were killed in the strike and overnight clashes.

Further rocket sirens sound in northern towns near Lebanon

A fragment of a rocket fired from Lebanon at the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona close to the border with Lebanon on October 18, 2023. (Jalaa Marey / AFP)
A fragment of a rocket fired from Lebanon at the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona close to the border with Lebanon on October 18, 2023. (Jalaa Marey / AFP)

Incoming rocket sirens are sounding in the northern city of Nahariya and several nearby communities on the Lebanon border.

The alerts come following an earlier rocket attack from Lebanon, and repeated missile attacks by Hezbollah against Israeli military sites and Israeli towns in northern Israel.

New footage depicts start of Hamas assault on music festival near Gaza

Hundreds flee gunmen at a music festival near Kibbutz Re'im, October 7, 2023. (Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Hundreds flee gunmen at a music festival near Kibbutz Re'im, October 7, 2023. (Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

New footage shows Hamas terrorists opening fire at the Nova festival near the southern community of Re’im, during the October 7 attacks.

The video, published by the South First Responders group on Telegram, shows dozens of Hamas terrorists opening fire toward the fleeing partygoers.

At least 260 people were killed in the attack on the outdoor party.

IDF confirms 6 rockets fired from Lebanon; responds with shelling

Israeli soldiers patrol near the border with Lebanon, northern Israel, October 19, 2023. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers patrol near the border with Lebanon, northern Israel, October 19, 2023. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces says six rockets were launched from Lebanon at northern Israel, setting off sirens in several towns.

The IDF says one projectile was intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, while another five landed in open areas, causing no damage.

Separately, another anti-tank guided missile was fired from Lebanon, and gunfire was heard near Zar’it, the IDF says.

It adds that it is responding with artillery shelling at the sources of the rocket, missile, and gunfire attacks.

Rocket sirens sound in Beersheba, surrounding areas

Air raid sirens sound in Beersheba and surrounding areas as a barrage of rockets is fired from Gaza.

The sirens come not long after rockets were fired toward Sderot, Ashdod and Ashkelon.

Sderot says 2 rockets fell in city, no injuries reported

Damage to a car in Sderot from a rocket attack on October 19, 2023. (Sderot municipality)
Damage to a car in Sderot from a rocket attack on October 19, 2023. (Sderot municipality)

The municipality of Sderot says that two rockets fell in the city in the recent barrage from Gaza, causing damage but no injuries.

The vast majority of residents of the Gaza border city have left since the October 7 massacre.

Egyptian president meets with king of Jordan in Cairo

Jordan's King Abdullah II, right, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi listen to their national anthems during a welcome ceremony for the latter at the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, on March 28, 2017, ahead of talks on the eve of the Arab League summit. (AFP/Khalil Mazraawi)
Jordan's King Abdullah II, right, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi listen to their national anthems during a welcome ceremony for the latter at the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, on March 28, 2017, ahead of talks on the eve of the Arab League summit. (AFP/Khalil Mazraawi)

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi meets with King Abdullah II of Jordan for a closed-door discussion about the conflict between Israel and Hamas, and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in besieged Gaza.

Egypt’s presidential office says the two leaders condemn Israel’s policy of “collective punishment” against Palestinians in Gaza and its efforts to displace “Palestinians from their lands to Egypt or Jordan.”

Few further details were given.

UEFA says no matches will be played in Israel ‘until further notice’

Benfica's Brazilian midfielder David Neres (L) is marked by Maccabi Haifa's Israeli defender Sean Goldberg during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Israel's Maccabi Haifa and Portugal's Benfica at the Sammy Ofer stadium in the city of Haifa on November 2, 2022. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
Benfica's Brazilian midfielder David Neres (L) is marked by Maccabi Haifa's Israeli defender Sean Goldberg during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Israel's Maccabi Haifa and Portugal's Benfica at the Sammy Ofer stadium in the city of Haifa on November 2, 2022. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

No soccer matches organized by UEFA will be played in Israel “until further notice” due to the “current safety and security situation” in the country, European soccer’s governing body said in a statement on Thursday.

“After a thorough evaluation of the current safety and security situation in the whole territory of Israel, the UEFA executive committee decided that no UEFA competition matches shall be played in Israel until further notice,” read the statement.

US shipment of new armored vehicles for IDF arrives in Israel

A plane with armored vehicles for the IDF arrives at Ben Gurion Airport, October 19, 2023. (Defense Ministry)
A plane with armored vehicles for the IDF arrives at Ben Gurion Airport, October 19, 2023. (Defense Ministry)

The Defense Ministry says an American plane has landed at Ben Gurion Airport with a shipment of armored vehicles for the Israeli military, to replace those damaged amid the fighting that began on October 7.

The ministry says the delivery is part of a larger NIS 400 million procurement to bolster the Israel Defense Forces’ fleet of vehicles.

It says further shipments will also contain armored ambulances, trucks, and mechanical engineering equipment.

Air raid sirens sound in northern Israel at the same time as Gaza rocket fire

Incoming rocket sirens are sounding in towns in northern Israel, close to the border with Lebanon, as well as in southern Israel, close to the border with the Gaza Strip.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage in what could be a coordinated attack from Gaza and Lebanon.

Rocket sirens sound in Sderot, Ashdod, Ashkelon

Air raid sirens sound in Sderot, Ashdod and Ashkelon following a barrage of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel.

German FM returns to Israel for second solidarity visit since outbreak of war

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock attends a press conference at Lancaster House, in London, January 5, 2023. (Kin Cheung/AP)
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock attends a press conference at Lancaster House, in London, January 5, 2023. (Kin Cheung/AP)

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock embarks on her second trip to Israel since the deadly Hamas onslaught of October 7, to express “unwavering solidarity” and help ensure Palestinian access to aid.

The trip, due to last until Saturday according to her ministry, will also take in Jordan and Lebanon, where German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius was making a surprise visit today.

Before her departure, Baerbock insists on Israel’s “right to defend itself against Hamas terror” and accuses the terror group of using the civilian population of the Gaza Strip as “human shields.”

Hamas says no aid shipments have entered Gaza so far

Humanitarian aid convoy for the Gaza Strip is parked at the Rafah crossing port, Egypt, Oct. 17, 2023.  (AP Photo/Omar Aziz)
Humanitarian aid convoy for the Gaza Strip is parked at the Rafah crossing port, Egypt, Oct. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Omar Aziz)

Hamas’s spokesman for the Rafah crossing, Wael Abu Omar, says that no aid or road repairing equipment has entered Gaza from Egypt as of this afternoon.

Egypt and Israel reached a deal yesterday to allow aid to enter the Palestinian territory through the Rafah crossing.

Later that day, US President Joe Biden said that aid could begin rolling into the region by Friday, but that the roads near the crossing would first need hours of repairs. The crossing has been hit by four Israeli airstrikes since Oct. 7, Egyptian authorities say.

European Parliament issues call for a ‘humanitarian pause’ in Gaza

Palestinians inspect the damage of a destroyed building following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Abed Khaled)
Palestinians inspect the damage of a destroyed building following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Abed Khaled)

The European Parliament calls for a “humanitarian pause” in Gaza to make sure aid can reach the needy and stresses that Israel’s right to defend itself can only be done within the strictures of international law.

In the nonbinding resolution adopted by a 500-21 vote, with 24 abstentions, European lawmakers also call for the immediate release of all hostages kidnapped by Hamas.

The call for a “humanitarian pause” stops short of demanding a ceasefire.

Drone strike hits Palestinan gunmen in West Bank clash

Israeli army vehicles seen during a military raid in the West Bank city of Tulkarm on October 19, 2023. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)
Israeli army vehicles seen during a military raid in the West Bank city of Tulkarm on October 19, 2023. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

An Israel Defense Forces drone has struck a cell of armed Palestinians in the Nur Shams refugee camp, close to the West Bank city of Tulkarem, amid heavy clashes in the area, The Times of Israel has learned.

The Palestinian Authority health ministry reports that three Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the camp this afternoon, while a fourth was shot dead in clashes late last night.

IDF troops and police officers continue to operate in the camp in order to detain wanted Palestinians. Earlier, police said officers were clashing with gunmen in the area.

Gallant takes responsibility for failure to stop terror onslaught on southern Israel

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks to media near the Gaza border, October 19, 2023. (Elad Malka/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks to media near the Gaza border, October 19, 2023. (Elad Malka/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant says he is taking responsibility for Hamas’s onslaught on southern Israel on October 7.

“I am responsible for the defense establishment. I was responsible for it in the last two weeks, even in the difficult incidents, and I am responsible for bringing it to victory in the battle,” Gallant says to the press at a military assembly ground near the Gaza border.

“We will be precise and deadly and we will continue until we complete the mission,” Gallant says.

Guardian fires cartoonist Steve Bell over Netanyahu cartoon panned as antisemitic

The Guardian newspaper has fired longtime editorial cartoonist Steve Bell and refused to run a caricature of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that critics say drew on antisemitic imagery.

“The decision has been made not to renew Steve Bell’s contract,” the Guardian says.

“Steve Bell’s cartoons have been an important part of the Guardian over the past 40 years — we thank him and wish him all the best,” publisher Guardian News and Media says in a statement sent to The Associated Press.

Bell has contributed to The Guardian since 1983. Several of his hundreds of cartoons over the years have been accused of including anti-Jewish stereotypes. The latest cartoon, posted by Bell on social media, shows Netanyahu holding a scalpel and preparing to cut a Gaza-shaped incision in his abdomen, with the caption “Residents of Gaza, get out now.”

It is labeled “after David Levine” and recalls a Vietnam War-era cartoon depicting US President Lyndon B. Johnson pointing at a Vietnam-shaped scar. American illustrator Levine drew inspiration from a photo of Johnson showing reporters his scar from gall-bladder surgery.

Bell says he had been accused of evoking the “pound of flesh” demanded by the Jewish character Shylock in Shakespeare’s play “The Merchant of Venice.”

He told industry newspaper the Press Gazette that “The Merchant of Venice” had “nothing to do with the cartoon.”

“I don’t promote harmful antisemitic stereotypes. … Never have I done such a thing, I would not dream of doing such a thing,” the publication quoted him as saying.

Palestinians say Gaza toll rises to 3,785

Palestinians inspect the damage of a destroyed building following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Abed Khaled)
Palestinians inspect the damage of a destroyed building following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Abed Khaled)

The death toll in Gaza since Israel declared war has risen to 3,785, including 1,524 children, 1,000 women and 120 older people, the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza says.

In addition, 12,493 others have been wounded, including 3,983 children and 3,300 women, it says.

Israel says hundreds of the dead were killed by terrorist rockets falling short, including one that caused a deadly explosion at a Gaza hospital’s parking lot.

Israel also says it has killed some 1,500 terrorists inside Israel.

Tax authority sends grants to 20,000 households

The Tax Authority has released NIS 45 million ($11 million) in emergency assistance grants to help 20,000 families and singles who were evacuated from Gaza border communities.

Residents of agricultural communities within seven kilometers of the Gaza Strip were evacuated by the state shortly after Hamas’s October 7 terror attack.

The grants were awarded at NIS 1,000 a person and up to NIS 5,000 per family.

High Court postpones hearing on Judicial Selection Committee due to war

Justice Minister Yariv Levin seen during a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on September 10, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Justice Minister Yariv Levin seen during a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on September 10, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The High Court of Justice decides to postpone a critical hearing scheduled for Sunday on petitions against Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s refusal to convene the Judicial Selection Committee.

High Court Justice Yael Wilner notes that legal representatives for Levin and the government have been called up for IDF reserve duty due to the current war with Gaza, and decides that the hearing will be held on November 12 instead.

An extension is also granted for submissions to the court by all sides and they must now be filed by November 5.

The Movement for Quality Government in Israel, one of the petitioners against Levin, opposed the postponement, saying Levin’s refusal to convene the committee has already created a situation in which the country currently has an acting Supreme Court president, and noted that there are dozens of open positions on court benches around the country.

Levin has refused to convene the committee owing to his stated desire to change its composition through legislation in order to grant the government greater control over the panel which appoints judges to all Israel’s courts.

That legislation was part of the government’s judicial overhaul agenda, but that program was suspended when Benny Gantz’s National Unity party joined the coalition to form an emergency wartime government.

Rockets launched at Tel Aviv area

Rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip at the Tel Aviv area.

Warning sirens sound in Ramat Gan, Kiryat Ono, Or Yehuda, Tel Aviv, Bnei Brak and Givat Shmuel.

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

 

Iran-backed groups said to target US bases with drones in Syria

Syrian opposition activists say a drone attack has been conducted on an oil facility in eastern Syria housing American troops and a US base in a nearby area.

There was no immediate word on casualties and the US military didn’t immediately respond to requests for confirmation.

Omar Abu Layla, a Europe-based activist who heads the Deir Ezzor 24 media outlet, says that three drones with explosives struck the Conoco gas field in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour that borders Iraq.

Rami Abdurrahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, confirms that five explosions were heard at the Conoco gas field.

The  Observatory also reported that three drones attacked the US base of Tanf in eastern Syria near where the borders of Syria, Jordan and Iraq meet. It said two drones were shot down before reaching their targets while the third hit the base, causing some material damage.

The Observatory and Abu Layla say the attack appears to be the work of Iran-based fighters who are deployed in eastern Syria and western Iraq.

Sunak: We are proud to stand with Israel, we want you to win

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (left) gives a statement to the media alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, October 19, 2023. (GPO/Screenshot)
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (left) gives a statement to the media alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, October 19, 2023. (GPO/Screenshot)

British Prime Minster Rishi Sunak responds to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that “we absolutely support Israel to defend itself in line with international law, to go after Hamas, to take back hostages, to deter further incursions, and to strengthen your security for the long term.”

He does not mention toppling Hamas, which Israeli leaders have said is a key war aim.

“I know you are taking every precaution to avoid harming civilians, in direct contrast to the terrorists of Hamas, which seek to put civilians in harm’s way,’ he continues.

“We also recognize that the Palestinian people are victims of Hamas too,” says Sunak, adding that he welcomes Israel’s decision to allow humanitarian routes into Gaza.

“I am proud to stand here with you in Israel’s darkest hour as your friend. We will stand with you in solidarity, we will stand with your people, and we also want you to win,” Sunak concludes.

Clalit HMO opens new clinics in Tel Aviv for Gaza border community evacuees

A woman receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a Clalit health care center in Jerusalem, on October 3, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A woman receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a Clalit health care center in Jerusalem, on October 3, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Clalit, Israel’s largest health maintenance organization, announces that it has opened new medical clinics in Tel Aviv to serve the thousands of citizens displaced from their communities near Gaza and from the south in general.

The clinics are located in the Leonardo Beach Hotel and the Dan Panorama Hotel.

The clinics are staffed around the clock by family doctors, pediatricians, nurses, and mental health professionals. Medications for chronic conditions are also being made available to the evacuees.

Dr. Roni Vered, head of Clalit in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, reports that hundreds of the evacuees staying in hotels in the city have already been treated in these clinics.

It is of the utmost importance that we provide these services in this time of emergency,” he says.

Meeting Sunak, Netanyahu calls on world to stand with Israel in ‘its darkest hour’

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (left) gives a statement to the media alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, October 19, 2023. (GPO/Screenshot)
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (left) gives a statement to the media alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, October 19, 2023. (GPO/Screenshot)

“Hamas are the new Nazis, they’re the new ISIS,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says in his public statements alongside his British counterpart Rishi Sunak in Jerusalem, “and we have to fight them together just as the world, the civilized world united to fight the Nazis and united to fight Hamas [sic], it must now stand with Israel as we fight and defeat Hamas.”

Netanyahu calls it “the battle of the entire civilized world. It’s the battle of Israel, it’s the battle of modern Arab countries, it’s the battle of Western civilization, the battle of the free world, the battle for the future. ”

He argues that there is an “axis of evil” of Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas, who want to bring the Middle East back “to an age of bondage and war and slavery and annihilation.”

He insists that one of the reasons Hamas attacked Israel was to stop the spread of the forces of modernity and peace, which were on the cusp of expanding.

“Eighty years ago, Mr. Prime Minister, the civilized world stood with you in your darkest hour,” says Netanyahu. “This is our darkest hour. It’s the world’s darkest hour. We need to stand together.”

He says it will be “a long war,” and that Israel needs the UK’s “continuous support” through the ups and downs of the conflict.

Magen David Adom steps up blood donation drive ahead of protracted conflict

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

Magen David Adom reports that since the start of the war on October 7, it has collected over 31,000 units of blood from volunteer donors.

However, more blood is needed as Israel prepares for what could be a protracted conflict.“Every unit is precious,” said nurse Milana Mazal Mazor at the blood donation station at Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv.

Those interested in giving blood must make an appointment at an MDA blood donation site. Information on the locations and times is updated daily on the MDA website.

Hospitals also have blood banks and are running blood drives. The hospitals also require donors to make appointments.

Check hospital websites for more information.

In general, people aged 18-60 who have not donated blood in the last three months are eligible. Specific information on the criteria for eligibility is available on the MDA website.

Egypt’s Sissi meets top US general for talks

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi meets with French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna (not pictured) in Cairo on September 14, 2023. (Khaled DESOUKI/AFP)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi meets with French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna (not pictured) in Cairo on September 14, 2023. (Khaled DESOUKI/AFP)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi met with Gen. Michael Kurilla, head of the US Central Command, in Cairo to discuss efforts to “intensify cooperation” between the two countries and to “restore stability” in the region, the president’s office says.

Within hours of the Oct. 7 assault by Hamas, the US began moving warships and aircraft to the eastern Mediterranean to provide Israel with support. Israel has conducted widespread airstrikes on Gaza since.

Egypt has long acted as a key broker between Israel and Hamas. Yesterday, Egypt and Israel reached a deal that would allow aid to enter the Palestinian territory via Egypt.

Also today, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with his UK counterpart James Cleverly in Cairo, where they talked about ways to de-escalate the conflict and address the dire humanitarian conditions in Gaza.

WATCH: Netanyahu and Sunak speak to the press

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and visiting UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak address the press after their meeting in Jerusalem.

 

Police clashing with gunmen in West Bank camp

Police say officers are clashing with Palestinian gunmen in the Nur Shams refugee camp near the West Bank city of Tulkarem, amid an arrest raid.

Palestinian media outlets report that local terror groups are shooting at the Israeli forces and setting off explosive devices in the area.

Senior Palestinian security officer said killed in Gaza strike

Palestinian media outlets report that a senior official has been killed in an Israeli airstrike.

The reports say Jihad Muheisen, the head of the Palestinian National Security Forces in the Gaza Strip, was killed in a strike on the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City.

The Israel Defense Forces has not yet commented on Muheisen’s reported death.

Blinken: US missions can lower flags if host countries declare mourning for Gaza hospital victims

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks in Tel Aviv, October 17, 2023. (AP Photo/ Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks in Tel Aviv, October 17, 2023. (AP Photo/ Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken sends a cable to all American diplomatic and consular posts around the world, The Times of Israel has learned, authorizing them to lower flags to half-staff  “to observe national periods of mourning following an official proclamation by the host government with respect to the loss of innocent lives at the Al Ahli hospital blast on October 18.”

Diplomats are instructed to consider whether failing to do so “would expose the US Mission to added security risk and/or isolate the US Mission vis-à-vis like-minded embassies.”

If the host government’s call for mourning expresses regret over Hamas deaths, support for terrorism, or condemns Israel, US missions may still lower the flag but must put out a statement that it is only being done to mourn the loss of innocent lives.

Blinken says guidance on what to tell local press will be forthcoming.

There was no guidance to all missions about lowering flags after the October 7 massacre. Israel too did not lower flags or declare a mourning period.

Members of the Jewish Americans in Diplomacy organization have asked the State Department to explain the policy, but have yet to receive a response, an official with knowledge of the situation but not authorized to speak publicly tells The Times of Israel.

Many US government agencies, including the USDA, USAID, and HHS sent out messages to employees about the Hamas attacks and antisemitic incidents in its wake, but the only communication to State Department employees was a message announcing a therapy group around the Israel-Hamas war, says the official.

“The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict- Protect your Mental Health” is designed to “address the personal, emotional, and mental health impact of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis,” says the message.

Asked about this report later Thursday, US State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said, “What we said in respect to the lowering of flags is that embassies could make decisions consistent with long-standing State Department policy… to decide to lower their flag when a state of mourning has been declared in that country.”

We of course, mourn the loss of innocent civilians who died in that explosion at the hospital just as we mourn the loss of 1,300 Israeli civilians in the deadly terrorist attacks by Hamas.”

“With respect to the question about [lowering] the flag at our embassy in Israel, there was not a national day of mourning them that was declared, which is one of the things that goes into the policy,” he adds.

Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

Rockets fired at Ashkelon after 15 hour lull

Rockets are fired at the southern city of Ashkelon, ending a 15-hour lull.

The Hamas terror group claims the barrage.

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

The IDF says that Hamas has slowed its rate of rocket fire as it looks to conserve stocks for a long war.

IDF: 524 Palestinians arrested in West Bank since start of war

Palestinian demonstrators hold Hamas flags and chant slogans during a protest against Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, in the West Bank city of Nablus, Wednesday, Oct 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinian demonstrators hold Hamas flags and chant slogans during a protest against Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, in the West Bank city of Nablus, Wednesday, Oct 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

The Israel Defense Forces says troops have arrested 524 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including more than 330 affiliated with Hamas, since the war in the Gaza Strip began on October 7.

Over the past day, 63 Hamas members were arrested, the military says.

The IDF also confirms troops demolished the home of a Hamas terrorist who killed a soldier in the West Bank in July during an overnight operation in the village of Qibya.

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

According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, at least 69 West Bank Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers since October 7.

Netanyahu begins meeting with Sunak

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in Jerusalem on October 19, 2023 (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in Jerusalem on October 19, 2023 (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu begins his meeting with British premier Rishi Sunak in Jerusalem.

The two embrace, then walk together to begin their one-on-one meeting.

Perhaps taking a page out of Ukraine’s wartime playbook, today Netanyahu and his aides are not wearing suits, but are instead dressed in black button-down shirts.

The two leaders will invite their aides in for a broader meeting after their private discussions.

Hosting Sunak, Herzog slams BBC ‘distortion of facts’; UK PM: Hamas should be called terrorists

President Isaac Herzog (R) meets with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on October 19, 2023 (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
President Isaac Herzog (R) meets with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on October 19, 2023 (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

President Isaac Herzog blasts the BBC in his meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, saying “he wants to raise the issue of objective or unobjective reporting about this tragedy,” as Sunaks smiles and nods his head.

“We feel that the way the BBC characterizes Hamas is a distortion of the facts. We are dealing with one of the worst terror organizations in the world, and I know that in modern democracies such as yours and ours, you cannot intervene per se, but because the BBC has a certain linkage and it is known as Britain as such all over the world, there has to be an outcry so that there will be a correction, and Hamas will be defined as a terror organization. ”

“What else do they need to see to understand that this is an atrocious terror organization?” Herzog asks.

The BBC refuses to term Hamas “terrorists.”

Sunak responds that “we should call it what it is – an act of terrorism perpetrated by an evil terrorist organization Hamas.”

“You don’t just have a right to do that, you have a duty to do that,” continues Sunak, referring to Israel restoring security to the country.

The British premier also brings up the “need for humanitarian access,” arguing that Palestinians “are victims of what Hamas has done.”

IDF shells targets in Lebanon after missiles fired at border community

The Israel Defense Forces says it is responding with artillery shelling after two anti-tank guided missiles were fired from Lebanon at the northern community of Manara.

The IDF says there are no injuries in the latest missile attack, apparently carried out by Hezbollah.

The artillery shelling is targeting the launch site of the missiles, the IDF says.

IDF says anti-tank missile fired at kibbutz on Lebanese border

A fragment of a rocket fired from Lebanon at the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona close to the border with Lebanon on October 18, 2023. (Jalaa Marey / AFP)
A fragment of a rocket fired from Lebanon at the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona close to the border with Lebanon on October 18, 2023. (Jalaa Marey / AFP)

The Israel Defense Forces says an anti-tank guided missile was fired from Lebanon at Kibbutz Manara on the northern border.

There are no immediate reports of injuries.

The Hezbollah terror group has fired dozens of missiles and rockets at northern Israel since fighting erupted in the Gaza Strip on October 7.

Scholz demands release of hostages held in Gaza

From left: Adi Zalesky, Asaf Gorelik, Liron Lavi, Ricarda Louk, Adi Louk, Roni Romann and Gili Rimann, relatives of people held hostage by Hamas, pose for a group photo after they listen to the speech German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the parliament Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
From left: Adi Zalesky, Asaf Gorelik, Liron Lavi, Ricarda Louk, Adi Louk, Roni Romann and Gili Rimann, relatives of people held hostage by Hamas, pose for a group photo after they listen to the speech German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the parliament Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz demands, in a speech watched by relatives of some of the hostages held by Hamas, that the terror group free the captives.

In a speech to the German parliament, Scholz underlines Germany’s staunch support for Israel and renewed a warning that it “would be a serious mistake” for Hezbollah, Iran or other proxies to enter the war.

Scholz traveled to Israel and Egypt this week. He says today: “One important task we all have is to free the hostages, the kidnapped. They must be released without preconditions.”

German officials say a “low two-digit number” of German-Israeli dual citizens are believed to be held in Gaza.

China slams ‘illegal’ US sanctions on firms linked to Iran’s missile, drone programs

An Iranian long-range Ghadr missile with "Death to Israel" written in Hebrew down the side is displayed at a defense exhibition in city of Isfahan, central Iran, on February 8, 2023. (Morteza Salehi/Tasnim News/AFP)
An Iranian long-range Ghadr missile with "Death to Israel" written in Hebrew down the side is displayed at a defense exhibition in city of Isfahan, central Iran, on February 8, 2023. (Morteza Salehi/Tasnim News/AFP)

Beijing condemns “illegal” US sanctions, a day after Washington unveiled new measures targeting individuals and entities, including those based in China and Hong Kong, that allegedly support Iran’s missile and drone programs.

US authorities have unveiled new sanctions on actors in Iran, Hong Kong, China and Venezuela, accusing them of “enabling Iran’s destabilizing ballistic missile and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) programs.”

Asked to respond to the measures, foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning says China was “always firmly opposed to illegal unilateral sanctions imposed by the US.”

“We will firmly safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and citizens,” she says.

The US Treasury Department said yesterday that it was sanctioning 11 individuals, eight entities and one vessel.

The people targeted have “materially supported” Iran in the production and proliferation of missiles and drones,” the Treasury added.

“Iran’s reckless choice to continue its proliferation of destructive UAVs and other weapons prolongs numerous conflicts in regions around the world,” said Brian Nelson, Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, in a statement.

IDF ex-Gaza chief: US expects IDF to destroy Hamas; we must; it’ll take 6-8 months

Maj.-Gen. (res) Gadi Shamni (Channel 12 screenshot; used in accordance with clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Maj.-Gen. (res) Gadi Shamni (Channel 12 screenshot; used in accordance with clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Maj. Gen. (res.) Gadi Shamni, a former commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division and former military attaché in the United States, tells Channel 12 in the wake of US President Joe Biden’s visit that “the United States is expecting us to destroy Hamas.”

What’s more, says Shamni, even if there weren’t an American green light, Israel must not end this war until “Hamas is utterly beaten… and Gaza demilitarized.” By the end, all the hostages must be returned, and Israel must determine the conditions for Gaza’s reconstruction, possibly with a return of Palestinian Authority rule there, he says.

He says Hamas recognizes that Israel has a leadership problem, without effective “hands on the wheel,” and castigates Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for having “nurtured” Hamas, including by “inviting billions” in funding to flow into the Strip.

Shamni says the military task is “complex” but the IDF can do it — “it has the fighters, the weaponry, the fighting spirit and the determination.”

The mission will last 6-8 months, he predicts. “Conquering Gaza, taking control of Gaza… will take a few weeks.” Then Israel will have to kill and capture Hamas’s armed forces. “Thousands will have to be jailed in the Negev to serve as bargaining chips” for the over 200 captives Hamas holds hostage.

“If Israel were to free [Palestinian security prisoners] as Hamas wants, that would be defeat for Israel. It would merely invite further attacks.”

“So there is no choice. People who talk of other options, to do it all from the air” are mistaken, he says. Airstrikes are important, but ultimately the ground forces have to go in.

He says Hamas “can absorb a lot” of punishing military strikes, and that the terror groups feel “like they have a bonanza” with so many hostages. “They think that they can bend us to their will.” The IDF should be careful in areas where it thinks hostages are being held, but overall, “the IDF must move forward with full force.”

Shamni says the IDF is capable of acting simultaneously on the northern front against Hezbollah if needed, and controlling the West Bank. Ultimately, he adds, Hezbollah must be pushed back from its positions at the northern border. “That too we will have to solve by force,” he says, since diplomacy won’t push Hezbollah back.

“The reality there is worse” than it was before the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war, he says, and “people won’t go back to live” in the northern border area near Lebanon unless or until Hezbollah is pushed back.

Smotrich meets labor union chief to plan for war economy

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (R) meets with Histadrut chair Arnon Bar David on October 19, 2023 (courtesy)
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (R) meets with Histadrut chair Arnon Bar David on October 19, 2023 (courtesy)

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is meeting with the head of Israel’s largest labor union, Histadrut chair Arnon Bar David, to discuss plans for the wartime economy, according to Smotrich’s office.

In addition to the costs of the war and damages caused by fighting, the country has some 350,000 reservists called up.

It is also financing tens of thousands of people evacuated from their homes near the Gaza and Lebanon borders.

Lapid says best option would be to return Gaza to PA after defeat of Hamas

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid speaks to media in Tel Aviv on October 19, 2023 (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid speaks to media in Tel Aviv on October 19, 2023 (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid says the best solution for a post-Hamas Gaza Strip would be to return the coastal enclave to Palestinian Authority control.

“I think in the end the best thing is that the Palestinian Authority goes back into Gaza,” he says in response to a Times of Israel question at a media briefing in Tel Aviv.

“It’s not ideal, and if you ask me what the exit strategy should be, it should be helping the international community help [the Palestinian Authority take control,]” he adds.

Lapid says that: “This is the way things were before; the Palestinian Authority still has about 20,000 people working for them in Gaza, and a lot of the facilities and civil organizations there are run by them remotely.”

Hamas ousted the PA from Gaza in 2007 in a violent coup.

Promising that “we will not rest until Hamas is gone, and [then there will be] a governmental vacuum there,” he clarifies that “we have a fight with Hamas, not with the people of Gaza.”

Sunak begins meeting with Herzog

President Isaac Herzog (R) meets with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on October 19, 2023 (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
President Isaac Herzog (R) meets with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on October 19, 2023 (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

President Isaac Herzog begins his meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

Sunak will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and family members of those kidnapped by Hamas later in the day.

Lapid slams foreign media for accepting Hamas lies

Opposition leader Yair Lapid speaks to media in Tel Aviv on October 19, 2023 (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)
Opposition leader Yair Lapid speaks to media in Tel Aviv on October 19, 2023 (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid slams the international community and media for perceived bias regarding Israel’s ongoing war with Hamas.

In particular, Lapid attacks the media for being quick to adopt the terror organization’s narrative that Israel was responsible for a deadly blast near a Gaza hospital and casting doubt on Israeli and American government findings that the explosion was caused by a failed Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket launch.

“Do you think an organization that has no problem butchering babies, butchering pregnant women and abducting a 14-year-old autistic girl with her 80-year-old grandmother, has any problem lying?” the opposition leader asks in a special briefing to the international press in Tel Aviv.

“Of all the distortions of the press coverage of these past days the worst one is the balance,” he adds, saying that the story of a democratic country and a terror group should not be presented “equally.”

“Hamas lies as a policy,” he says.

IDF says it’s possible Hamas infiltrators still in Israel, one captured last night

Israeli soldiers takes position on a main road near the Israel-Gaza border in southern Israel, October 10, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers takes position on a main road near the Israel-Gaza border in southern Israel, October 10, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says the military cannot yet rule out the possibility that there are still Palestinian terrorists in Israeli territory from the October 7 infiltration.

“We haven’t finished scanning the [Gaza border area] yet,” he says.

Hagari says that last night, troops found and captured an “exhausted terrorist” who was trying to head back to Gaza.

There have been no new infiltrations into Israel in recent days, according to the IDF.

Hagari says the IDF is meanwhile continuing to prepare for “the next stages” of the war against Hamas, which is expected to include a major ground offensive.

IDF believes at least 203 people being held hostage in Gaza

Families and supporters of Israelis held hostage in Gaza call for their release during a demonstration in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023. (AP/Petros Giannakouris)
Families and supporters of Israelis held hostage in Gaza call for their release during a demonstration in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023. (AP/Petros Giannakouris)

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says the military has so far notified the families of 203 hostages that their loved ones are being held in the Gaza Strip.

He says the number is not final, as the IDF is constantly investigating new information on Israelis who have been missing since the October 7 onslaught.

He says that in some of the cases, the families were notified that the military suspects with high confidence that they are being held by Hamas.

But in other cases, he says the military has moderate-to-low confidence that they are hostages.

Hagari says the IDF has also ruled out some cases, and updated the families that their loved ones are not being held hostage.

The military has been scanning the Gaza border area for bodies of missing Israelis, locating some, and many bodies are still waiting to be identified.

China ‘deeply disappointed’ by US veto of UN resolution on Israel-Hamas war

China says it is “deeply disappointed” by the United States’ decision to veto a UN Security Council resolution calling for a “humanitarian pause” in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

“China is deeply disappointed in the United States’ obstruction of the Security Council’s adoption of a draft resolution on the Palestinian issue,” foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said, calling on the Security Council to “play its role in reaching a ceasefire and stopping the war.”

The US vetoed the resolution, which did not recognize Israel’s right to defend itself.

Bodies said found of autistic girl Noya Dan, 12, and grandmother; were thought to be hostages

The bodies of Noya Dan, a 12-year-old Israeli girl with autism, and her grandmother Carmela, 80 — who were initially believed to have been held hostage by Hamas in Gaza — have been found, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

J.K. Rowling had retweeted a post highlighting the plight of Dan, who was a big Harry Potter fan.

309 still hospitalized from Hamas attacks, 80 in serious condition

The Health Ministry announces that as of 8 a.m., 309 people injured since the devastating Hamas attack on Israel from Gaza on October 7 are still hospitalized.

Of them, 80 are in serious condition, 159 are in moderate condition, and 70 are in good condition.

A total of 4,629 injured individuals have been treated at hospitals around the country since October 7.

‘I want you to know that the UK and I stand with you’: Sunak arrives in Israel

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks to press as he arrives at Ben Gurion International Airport, outside of Tel Aviv, on October 19, 2023 (Yonatan Sindal/FLASH90)
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks to press as he arrives at Ben Gurion International Airport, outside of Tel Aviv, on October 19, 2023 (Yonatan Sindal/FLASH90)

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrives in Israel for a solidarity visit.

“I want you to know that the UK and I stand with you,” Sunak says after landing in Tel Aviv as he condemns the “unspeakable, horrific acts of terrorism.”

Sunak says he will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog.

Sunak is also expected to visit a number of other regional capitals.

Russia says it sent 27 tons of humanitarian aid to Egypt for Gaza

Russia sends 27 tons of humanitarian aid for civilians in the Gaza Strip to be transported from Egypt, Moscow’s emergency situations ministry says.

“A special plane has taken off from the airport at Ramenskoye near Moscow for El-Arish in Egypt. The Russian humanitarian aid will be handed over to the Egyptian Red Crescent to be sent to the Gaza Strip,” deputy minister Ilya Denisov says in a statement.

Denisov says the aid comprised “wheat, sugar, rice (and) pasta.”

Jamila al-Shanti, 1st woman in Hamas political bureau, said killed in Israeli strike

Hamas-affiliated media in Gaza report that Jamila al-Shanti, the widow of Hamas co-founder Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi and the first woman elected to the terror group’s political bureau, was killed in an Israeli airstrike.

The reports give no details on the location of the strike, saying only that it occurred at dawn.

Al-Shanti in 2021 became the first woman elected to the Hamas political bureau, its highest decision-making body.

Rantisi was killed in 2004 by an Israeli airstrike during the Second Intifada.

IDF said to demolish West Bank home of Hamas terrorist who killed soldier

An undated photo of Staff Sgt. Shilo Yosef Amir, killed in a shooting attack near Kedumim on July 6, 2023. (IDF)
An undated photo of Staff Sgt. Shilo Yosef Amir, killed in a shooting attack near Kedumim on July 6, 2023. (IDF)

Palestinian media outlets report that the Israeli military has demolished the home of a Hamas terrorist who killed Israeli soldier Staff Sgt. Shilo Yosef Amir in the West Bank in July.

Footage shows an excavator destroying the home of Ahmed Yassin Ghaidan in the West Bank village of Qibya.

In August, the Israel Defense Forces said it had notified Ghaidan’s family that their home was slated for demolition.

As a matter of policy, Israel regularly demolishes the homes of Palestinians accused of carrying out deadly terror attacks.

Ghaidan opened fire and killed Amir near the settlement of Kedumim on July 6, before being shot dead by other security forces.

The IDF does not immediately comment on the demolition.

IDF names three more fallen soldiers

The Israel Defense Forces names another two local security officers and a reservist soldier, killed during the war that began October 7.

The names bring the toll of slain soldiers, officers and reservists — many of whom are local security officers — to 306.

They are:
Master Sgt. (res.) Arie Kraunik, 54, a local security officer, from Be’eri.
Master Sgt. (res.) Itay Yehoshua, 36, a member of the General Staff Security Unit
Master Sgt. (res.) Ran Poslushni, 48, a local security officer, from Nahal Oz.

IDF says it killed head of military wing of Gaza’s Popular Resistance Committees

The IDF says that overnight it killed the head of the military wing of Gaza’s Popular Resistance Committees terror group.

The military says that warplanes carried out an airstrike on the southern Gaza city of Rafah following information received from the Shin Bet, killing Rafat Abu Hilal.

The Popular Resistance Committees is the third largest terror faction in the Strip after Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Separately, the IDF says it targeted several members of Hamas’s so-called Nukhba commando forces, who led the October 7 onslaught.

The military says more than ten Nukhba members were killed in the strikes.

In addition, the IDF says it destroyed hundreds of Hamas sites in the last 24 hours, including anti-tank missile launch sites, tunnel shafts, intelligence infrastructure, and various command centers.

Evidence shows Hamas likely used some North Korean weapons in assault on Israel

Suspected North Korean-made F-7 rocket-propelled grenades, many with a distinctive red stripe on their warhead, are seen at an Israeli military base in southern Israel, October 15, 2023. Hamas terrorists likely used North Korean-manufactured rocket-propelled grenades during their unprecedented assault on Israel that killed over 1,400 people and saw scores taken hostage, despite Pyongyang denying its weapons arm the terror group. (Alon Bernstein/AP)
Suspected North Korean-made F-7 rocket-propelled grenades, many with a distinctive red stripe on their warhead, are seen at an Israeli military base in southern Israel, October 15, 2023. Hamas terrorists likely used North Korean-manufactured rocket-propelled grenades during their unprecedented assault on Israel that killed over 1,400 people and saw scores taken hostage, despite Pyongyang denying its weapons arm the terror group. (Alon Bernstein/AP)

Hamas gunmen likely fired North Korean weapons during their Oct. 7 assault on Israel, a terrorist video and weapons seized by Israel show, despite Pyongyang’s denials that it sells arms to the group.

The video was analyzed by two experts on North Korean arms. Along with an Associated Press analysis of weapons captured on the battlefield and South Korean military intelligence, the video indicates that Hamas used the F-7 rocket-propelled grenade, a shoulder-fired weapon that fighters typically use against armored vehicles.

The evidence shines a light on the murky world of the illicit arms shipments that sanctions-battered North Korea uses as a way to fund its arms programs.

Rocket-propelled grenade launchers fire a single warhead and can be quickly reloaded, making them valuable weapons for guerrilla forces in running skirmishes with heavy vehicles. The F-7 has been documented in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, says N.R. Jenzen-Jones, a weapons expert who works as the director of the consultancy Armament Research Services.

“North Korea has long supported Palestinian militant groups, and North Korean arms have previously been documented amongst interdicted supplies,” Jenzen-Jones tells The Associated Press.

Hamas has published images of their training that show fighters with a weapon with a rocket-propelled grenade with a distinctive red stripe across its warhead, and other design elements matching the F-7, says Matt Schroeder, a senior researcher with Small Arms Survey who wrote a guide to Pyongyang’s light weapons.

“It is not a surprise to see North Korean weapons with Hamas,” Schroeder says.

Egypt announces ‘sustainable’ aid corridor to Gaza

Humanitarian aid convoy for the Gaza Strip is parked at the Rafah crossing port, Egypt, Oct. 17, 2023.  (AP Photo/Omar Aziz)
Humanitarian aid convoy for the Gaza Strip is parked at the Rafah crossing port, Egypt, Oct. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Omar Aziz)

Egypt announces the “sustainable” passage of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing, as hundreds of aid trucks wait at the gates of the enclave.

“Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and American President Joe Biden have agreed on the sustainable delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip via the Rafah terminal,” says presidential spokesperson Ahmed Fahmy in a statement, without specifying a date.

‘All lives are sacred’: Egyptian soccer star Mohamed Salah makes plea for aid to Gaza

Egyptian soccer star Mohamed Salah, arguably the most celebrated Arab footballer, calls on world leaders to “come together to prevent further slaughter of all innocent souls” and for the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid to the people in Gaza.

“There has been too much violence and too much heartbreak and brutality,” the Liverpool striker says in a video that lasted a little under a minute. “The escalations in the recent weeks is unbearable to witness. All lives are sacred and must be protected. The massacres need to stop. Families are being torn apart.”

Aid to Gaza “must be allowed immediately,” he adds. “The people there are in terrible conditions.”

They were Salah’s first comments on the Israel-Hamas war, after he was criticized by some Arab fans for his silence.

Officials said Wednesday that some aid will begin flowing into Gaza in the coming days.

Biden praises Netanyahu, Sissi on Gaza humanitarian aid deal: They ‘stepped up’

US President Joe Biden praised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi for an agreement to let humanitarian aid in to the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing from Egypt.

Speaking to reporters at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany following a brief solidarity visit to Israel on Wednesday, Biden said Sissi agreed to open the crossing and to let in an initial group of 20 trucks with humanitarian aid, and possibly more at a later time.

“Sissi deserves some real credit because he was very accommodating,” Biden said, adding that the Egyptian president was “fair” and “very cooperative.”

Israel stopped all entry of food, water, medicine and fuel to Gaza following Hamas’s brutal onslaught on October 7 when some 2,500 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,400 people and seizing 200-250 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.

The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — men, women, children and the elderly. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 260 were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists, in what Biden has highlighted as “the worst massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust.”

Israel had bombed the Rafah crossing to prevent all entry of materials shortly after the war broke out.

Biden’s wartime visit to Israel Wednesday was aimed at showing support and also securing humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian enclave, ruled by the Hamas terror group.

Netanyahu’s office said Israel “will not thwart” deliveries of food, water or medicine from Egypt, as long as they are limited to civilians in the south of the Gaza Strip and don’t go to Hamas terrorists. Netanyahu also vowed not to let any aid into the Strip through Israel’s crossings.

Biden warned that “if Hamas confiscates it, doesn’t let it get through … then it’s going to end,” he said. The aid will start moving Friday at the earliest, White House officials said.

Biden clarified 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.

Biden said he thought he’s have to spend more time trying to convince Sissi but he “stepped up as did Bibi [Netanyahu],” Biden told reporters.

“Israel has been badly victimized, but, you know, the truth is that if they have an opportunity to relieve suffering of people who are — have nowhere to go… it’s what they should do. And if they don’t, they’ll be held accountable in ways that may be unfair,” he said, adding that he was “very blunt with the Israelis in talks Wednesday.

“If you have an opportunity to alleviate the pain, you should do it. Period. And if you don’t, you’re going to lose credibility worldwide,” he said.

Relatives of some of the roughly 200 people who were taken hostage and forced into Gaza during the attack reacted with fury to the aid announcement.

“Children, infants, women, soldiers, men, and elderly, some with serious illnesses, wounded and shot, are held underground like animals,” said a statement from the Hostage and Missing Families Forum. But “the Israeli government pampers the murderers and kidnappers.”

The UN earlier today said that roughly 100 trucks of aid per day will be needed to rehabilitate Gaza following the Israeli counter-attacks.

Biden says humanitarian aid to Gaza via Egypt may begin as soon as Friday

US President Joe Biden speaks to members of the media during his flight returning from Israel aboard Air Force One, on October 18, 2023. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)
US President Joe Biden speaks to members of the media during his flight returning from Israel aboard Air Force One, on October 18, 2023. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

US President Joe Biden says humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip via Egypt may begin as soon as Friday, following an agreement brokered with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allow assistance into the Palestinian enclave through the Rafah crossing.

Biden said earlier that Sissi agreed to open the crossing and to let in an initial group of 20 trucks with humanitarian aid.

“He agreed to… let up to 20 trucks through to begin with,” Biden said from Air Force One while returning from a visit to Israel, where he was showing solidarity after the October 7 Hamas shock massacre of some 1,400 people, mostly civilians. Terrorists also abducted 200-250 people and are holding them captive in Gaza.

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.

Egypt must still repair the road across the border that was cratered by Israeli airstrikes, he indicated. Israel bombed the Gaza-Egypt crossing following the brutal terror attack on Israeli civilians and soldiers.

Bide warned that “if Hamas confiscates it, doesn’t let it get through … then it’s going to end,” he said. The aid will start moving Friday at the earliest, White House officials said.

More than 200 trucks and some 3,000 tons of aid are positioned at or near the Rafah crossing, said the head of the Red Crescent for North Sinai, Khalid Zayed.

Biden said the UN would distribute the aid on the other side, and that a second tranche was possible depending on “how it goes.”

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 added.

Supplies will go in under supervision of the UN, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told Al-Arabiya TV. Asked if foreigners and dual nationals seeking to leave would be let through, he said: “As long as the crossing is operating normally and the (crossing) facility has been repaired.”

Netanyahu’s office said the decision was approved after a request from Biden. It said Israel “will not thwart” deliveries of food, water or medicine from Egypt, as long as they are limited to civilians in the south of the Gaza Strip and don’t go to Hamas terrorists. The statement made no mention of fuel, which is badly needed for hospital generators.

Relatives of some of the roughly 200 people who were taken hostage and forced into Gaza during the attack reacted with fury to the aid announcement.

“Children, infants, women, soldiers, men, and elderly, some with serious illnesses, wounded and shot, are held underground like animals,” said a statement from the Hostage and Missing Families Forum. But “the Israeli government pampers the murderers and kidnappers.”

Biden clarified 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 UN earlier today said that roughly 100 trucks of aid per day will be needed to rehabilitate Gaza following the Israeli counter-attacks.

IDF strikes Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, military says

The Israeli military says it attacked military targets of terror organization Hezbollah in the border area with Lebanon.

Among the targets was an military observation post from which a guided anti-tank missile was fired toward the northern town of Rosh Hanikra on Wednesday, the military says.

The Israel Defense Forces adds that the strikes were carried out in response to shooting incidents at Israel over the past day.

Israel’s northern border has been heating up amid the ongoing war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Rockets were fired from Lebanon at northern Israel towns, and the Hezbollah terror group attacked several Israeli army posts along the border, as skirmishes on the frontier continued on Wednesday.

According to the IDF, nine rockets were launched from Lebanon, setting off sirens in Kiryat Shmona and several nearby communities. The IDF said four were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system.

At least one rocket landed in the northern city, causing no injuries or damage.

Shortly before the rocket sirens, the IDF said one of its tanks 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 a missile attack on the northern town of Metula.

The IDF later Wednesday said it had carried out a drone strike against a terror cell launching mortars from Lebanon at the Malkia area on the border.

Airstrike hits Gaza home, killing 7, say doctors and residents

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — Residents and doctors in this southern Gaza town say an airstrike slammed into a home, killing seven small children.

The news spread quickly on social media, as grisly images of dead and bloodied toddlers lined up side by side on a hospital stretcher stirred outrage in Gaza and the West Bank.

Bandaged and caked in dust, the bodies were brought to the Gaza European Hospital in Khan Younis along with three other dead members of the Bakri family. Photographers swarmed the operation room as women covered their eyes and doctors wept.

“This is a massacre,” hospital director Dr. Yousef Al-Akkad said, his voice choking with emotion. “Let the world see, these are just children.”

Local medics also confirmed that the children were killed in a strike and said the Bakri family was just one of many such cases Wednesday.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

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