ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 148

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Oct. 20: Judith Raanan, daughter Natalie back in Israel, set to reunite with relatives

Hezbollah claims to target military positions * IDF says 20-30 rockets fired at Mount Dov on northern border * UN chief visits Egypt’s Rafah, Gaza aid expected ‘next day or so’

  • Judith Raanan, left, and her daughter Natalie, 18, after Natalie's recent high school graduation. Undated photo provided by Rabbi Meir Hecht on behalf of the Raanan family (Raanan Family via AP)
    Judith Raanan, left, and her daughter Natalie, 18, after Natalie's recent high school graduation. Undated photo provided by Rabbi Meir Hecht on behalf of the Raanan family (Raanan Family via AP)
  • A picture shows a fragment of a rocket reportedly fired from Lebanon in the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona close to the border with Lebanon on October 18, 2023. (jalaa marey / AFP)
    A picture shows a fragment of a rocket reportedly fired from Lebanon in the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona close to the border with Lebanon on October 18, 2023. (jalaa marey / AFP)
  • Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, center, speaks at a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting in Tel Aviv, October 20, 2023. (Elad Malka/Defense Ministry)
    Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, center, speaks at a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting in Tel Aviv, October 20, 2023. (Elad Malka/Defense Ministry)
  • Journalists take cover upon hearing warning sirens in the southern Israeli city of Sderot on the border with the Gaza Strip on October 20, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas. (Photo by Jack Guez / AFP)
    Journalists take cover upon hearing warning sirens in the southern Israeli city of Sderot on the border with the Gaza Strip on October 20, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas. (Photo by Jack Guez / AFP)
  • The destruction caused by the Hamas terror group's October 7 onslaught in Kibbutz Nir Oz, near the Gaza border, in southern Israel, October 19, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)
    The destruction caused by the Hamas terror group's October 7 onslaught in Kibbutz Nir Oz, near the Gaza border, in southern Israel, October 19, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)
  • A picture taken from the southern Israeli city of Sderot on October 20, 2023, shows smoke ascending over the northern Gaza Strip following an Israeli strike, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas. (Photo by Jack Guez / AFP)
    A picture taken from the southern Israeli city of Sderot on October 20, 2023, shows smoke ascending over the northern Gaza Strip following an Israeli strike, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas. (Photo by Jack Guez / AFP)
  • File: A cable car is seen at Manara cliff above the northern city of Kiryat Shmona on August 13, 2014 (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
    File: A cable car is seen at Manara cliff above the northern city of Kiryat Shmona on August 13, 2014 (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
  • People buy vegetable from a stall set up in front of the rubble of a destroyed building at a market in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on October 20, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas terrorists. (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)
    People buy vegetable from a stall set up in front of the rubble of a destroyed building at a market in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on October 20, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas terrorists. (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)
  • This picture taken on October 19, 2023 shows the closed gate to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)
    This picture taken on October 19, 2023 shows the closed gate to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)
  • An Israel soldier gestures to passers-by as he drives a military vehicle near the border between Israel and Gaza Strip, October 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
    An Israel soldier gestures to passers-by as he drives a military vehicle near the border between Israel and Gaza Strip, October 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
  • 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)

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

Rocket warning sirens activated in southern towns

Rocket warning sirens are activated in several Israeli communities near the Gaza border, amid the ongoing fighting between Israel and Palestinian terrorists in the Strip.

Hamas puts out video showing terror group’s release of 2 US hostages

Hamas puts out a video showing the release of American citizens Judith and Natalie Raanan after they were kidnapped and taken into Gaza during the Palestinian terror group’s deadly onslaught in southern Israel on October 7.

In the clip, members of Hamas — whose bodies and faces are blurred — are seen taking the mother and daughter out of a car. The video then shows the pair before Hamas hands them over to the Red Cross.

BIden speaks with Judith and Natalie Raanan after they’re released by Hamas

This handout picture courtesy of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem, taken on October 20, 2023, shows Natalie Raanan (L) and her mother Judith Raanan speaking on the phone with US President Joe Biden, after they were held hostage and later released by the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group. (US Embassy in Jerusalem/AFP)
This handout picture courtesy of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem, taken on October 20, 2023, shows Natalie Raanan (L) and her mother Judith Raanan speaking on the phone with US President Joe Biden, after they were held hostage and later released by the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group. (US Embassy in Jerusalem/AFP)

US President Joe Biden held a phone call earlier this evening with Judith and Natalie Raanan after they were released by Hamas following two weeks in captivity, the White House says.

Biden “relayed that they will have the full support of the US government as they recover from this terrible ordeal,” the White House adds.

The US president held an earlier call with other members of the Raanan family as well.

News agency withdraws story that claimed Israel warned a hospital, 5 schools to evacuate

French news agency AFP “withdraws” an earlier story on purported Israeli warnings to a hospital and five schools to evacuate, saying it included “erroneous reporting.”

The story earlier Friday had reported what it said was a claim by aid agencies in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip that Israel warned humanitarian groups to evacuate a major hospital and five schools ahead of a potential strike.

The story was denied by the IDF, which said no such warning had been issued.

The story had also quoted what it said was a statement by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, saying Israel had told it to evacuate five schools “as fast as possible.”

Withdrawing the story, AFP says UNRWA issued no official statement to that effect.

Macron says hoping more hostages will be released by Hamas

French President Emmanuel Macron attends a video-conference with families of the French hostages being held in Gaza following the Hamas onslaught in southern Israel on October 7th., at the Elysee Palace in Paris, October 20, 2023. (Benoit Tessier/Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron attends a video-conference with families of the French hostages being held in Gaza following the Hamas onslaught in southern Israel on October 7th., at the Elysee Palace in Paris, October 20, 2023. (Benoit Tessier/Pool via AP)

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron says the release of two Americans who were held hostage in Gaza is “a very good result” and expresses hope it could help pave the way for others to be freed, including French-Israelis.

So far, France has one confirmed hostage, 21-year-old Mia Schem, who was shown dazed and injured in a video that Hamas’ military wing released Monday.

Six other French citizens also are missing and Macron says that they’re presumed to be hostages “but without certainty.”

French contacts with Israeli authorities and other contacts via Qatar “keep up our hope that we will be able to find solutions to get the maximum number of hostages out,” he says. “We are confident: the channels we have are the good ones and are useful,” he says.

Macron says he is still weighing the possibility of traveling to the Middle East but that it would be dependent on more talks with leaders in the region.

He also announces 10 million euros ($10.6 million) in additional humanitarian aid for Palestinians and says urgent aid, including medicines, will be airfreighted to Egypt.

Father of Natalie Raanan says she’s ‘doing very good’ after being released by Hamas

This photo provided by the Raanan family shows Natalie Raanan and her father, Uri Raanan, in Mexico. (Courtesy of the Raanan family via AP)
This photo provided by the Raanan family shows Natalie Raanan and her father, Uri Raanan, in Mexico. (Courtesy of the Raanan family via AP)

EVANSTON, Illinois — The father of freed American teen hostage Natalie Raanan says she’s doing well after her release by Hamas.

Uri Raanan of Illinois tells The Associated Press that he spoke to his daughter by telephone. “She’s doing good. She’s doing very good,” says Uri Raanan, who lives in the Chicago suburbs. “I’m in tears, and I feel very, very good.”

The 71-year-old says he saw on the news that an American mother and daughter would be released by Hamas, and he spent the day hoping they meant his daughter and her mother, Judith.

Knowing Natalie may be able to celebrate her 18th birthday next week at home with family and friends feels “wonderful. The best news,” Uri Raanan says.

He says he believes Natalie and Judith to be in transit to Tel Aviv to reunite with relatives, and that both will be back in the US early next week.

Rocket lands in Sderot, causing damage to street and bus stop

The site of a rocket impact in Sderot on October 20, 2023. (Sderot Municipality)
The site of a rocket impact in Sderot on October 20, 2023. (Sderot Municipality)

A rocket landed in the southern city of Sderot during one of the recent barrages from the Gaza Strip, causing damage to a street and a bus stop.

The Sderot municipality says there are no injuries in the rocket impact.

Blinken balks on question regarding Hamas office in Qatar

Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, right, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, attend a meeting, in Doha, Qatar, Oct. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)
Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, right, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, attend a meeting, in Doha, Qatar, Oct. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is asked during a press conference about whether the US still supports Qatar hosting Hamas’s political bureau, after Doha helped secure the release of two American hostages.

“You’ll understand that because this is an ongoing effort to get the Americans who are hostage at this moment in Gaza out… I really can’t go into any details about what we’re doing, how we’re doing it. All I can say with regard to Qatar is, in this instance, we very much appreciate their assistance,” Blinken says.

Blinken: 10 Americans remain unaccounted for; we’re working for their release

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 welcomes the release of two American hostages from Gaza.

“We share in the relief that their families, friends and loved ones are feeling,” he says in a statement to the press. “But there are still 10 additional Americans who remain unaccounted for in this conflict. We know that some of them are being held hostage by Hamas, along with an estimated 200 other hostages held in Gaza.”

“They include men women, young boys, young girls, elderly people from many nations. Every single one of them should be released,” Blinken states.

“Since the earliest hours of this crisis, the president has made clear that he will do everything possible to secure the release of every hostage. During my own recent travels in the region, I emphasized the urgency and importance of this is to the United States and pressed our partners to do everything they can to help us secure their release,” he says.

“I can’t speak publicly about the details of these efforts. I know you understand that, but the urgent work to free every single American, to free all their hostages continues, as is our work to secure the safe passage out of Gaza for the Americans who are trapped there,” Blinken asserts.

AOC meets with families of hostages being held in Gaza

In this August 24, 2020, file photo, US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asks questions during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, in Washington. (Tom Williams/Pool Photo via AP, File)
In this August 24, 2020, file photo, US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asks questions during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, in Washington. (Tom Williams/Pool Photo via AP, File)

United States Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has been critical of Israel’s response to the Hamas onslaught, says she met yesterday with family members of the hostages currently being held by terrorists in Gaza.

“They said: ‘We can do it all. We can fight for our families held hostage by Hamas, stand against occupation, stand with impacted Israelis, stand up for innocent Palestinians,'” she tweets.

“May their humanity be an example,” Ocasio-Cortez adds.

First photo released of American hostages since their return to Israel

Natalie Raanan, 3rd left, Judith Raanan, right, are seen upon arrival in Israel after being released from Hamas captivity as government hostage envoy Gal Hirsch, center, holds their hands, October 20, 2023 (Courtesy)
Natalie Raanan, 3rd left, Judith Raanan, right, are seen upon arrival in Israel after being released from Hamas captivity as government hostage envoy Gal Hirsch, center, holds their hands, October 20, 2023 (Courtesy)

The first photo of American hostages Judith and Natalie Raanan since their return to Israel has been released by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Biden reiterates importance of protecting civilians in call with Netanyahu

US President Joe Biden “reaffirmed the United States’ support for Israel’s right to defend itself and obligation to protect its citizens, while underscoring the importance of operating consistent with the law of war to include the protection of civilians in Gaza caught in the conflict launched by Hamas,” the White House says in its readout from his call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier today.

The two leaders also “discussed follow-up from the president’s visit to Israel earlier this week, including plans to begin moving humanitarian assistance into Gaza from Egypt,” the readout says.

“The leaders discussed ongoing efforts to secure the release of hostages taken by Hamas – including US citizens – and to provide for safe passage for US citizens and other civilians in Gaza,” the US readout adds.

IDF striking Hezbollah sites in response to today’s rocket, missile attacks

A column of Israeli Merkava battle tanks is amassed in the upper Galilee in northern Israel near the border with Lebanon on October 11, 2023. (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
A column of Israeli Merkava battle tanks is amassed in the upper Galilee in northern Israel near the border with Lebanon on October 11, 2023. (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)

The Israel Defense Forces says it is carrying out new airstrikes against Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon in response to today’s rocket and missile attacks on northern Israel.

The IDF says it will provide further details soon.

Gallant visits troops on Gaza border to ‘monitor their readiness for expansion of military campaign’

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant meets with IDF troops on the Gaza border on October 20, 2023. (Elad Malka/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant meets with IDF troops on the Gaza border on October 20, 2023. (Elad Malka/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant arrived this evening at an Israel Defense Forces assembly area near the border with the Gaza Strip and “closely monitored the readiness of the forces for the expansion of the campaign,” his office says.

Gallant spoke with commanders and soldiers from various units, a statement adds.

Tens of thousands of troops are gathered near the Gaza border ahead of Israel’s expected ground offensive in the Strip.

IDF denies Gaza aid groups’ claim that it urged evacuation of hospital, 5 schools

Gazans help the injured in Israeli airstrikes, October 10, 2023. (Atia Mohammed/Flash90)
Gazans help the injured in Israeli airstrikes, October 10, 2023. (Atia Mohammed/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces denies a claim by aid agencies in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip that asserted Israel had warned humanitarian groups to evacuate a major hospital and five schools ahead of a potential strike.

A military spokesperson says there has been no specific call to evacuate the hospital or the schools. The spokesperson reiterates that the army has been calling on all civilians in northern Gaza to evacuate and head south since last week.

Update: AFP subsequently withdrew its story on the purported Israeli warning, saying it contained erroneous reporting.

The Palestine Red Crescent launched an “urgent appeal” saying it had “received a threat from the occupying authorities to bombard Al-Quds Hospital.”

The IDF has repeatedly said that it does not target hospitals.

The Al-Quds Hospital is in northern Gaza, the area of the strip which has borne the brunt of Israeli air raids as Israel has hit back at Hamas since the terror group staged a devastating attack on Israel on October 7, massacring 1,400 people, over 1,000 of them civilians, and abducting 200.

The Palestine Red Crescent claimed Israel had “demanded” the hospital’s evacuation, and said this would affect more than 400 patients and 12,000 displaced people who have sought “safe haven.”

“We call upon the international community to take immediate and urgent action to prevent another massacre similar to what occurred at Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital,” the statement added.

This was a reference to a blast at the hospital on Tuesday, which Hamas blamed on Israel but which Israel has produced evidence — endorsed by the US — showing was caused by a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said in parallel that Israel had told it to evacuate five schools “as fast as possible.”

All of the schools are in Gaza City, close to the hospital.

“We did what we could to protest and reject this decision, but this means that from now these facilities are no longer safe,” an UNRWA statement said, calling on thousands of people in and around the hospitals to flee.

Meta, Google quit tech summit after organizer accuses Israel of committing war crimes

Web Summit's CEO and Founder Paddy Cosgrave gives an interview at the Europe's largest tech conference, the Web Summit, in Lisbon on November 2, 2022. (Patricia De Melo Moreira/AFP)
Web Summit's CEO and Founder Paddy Cosgrave gives an interview at the Europe's largest tech conference, the Web Summit, in Lisbon on November 2, 2022. (Patricia De Melo Moreira/AFP)

Meta and Google have pulled out of the Web Summit, one of the tech sector’s biggest annual events, after the organizer criticized Israel’s actions following the Hamas attacks, the companies say.

A spokesman for Meta confirms to AFP that it would not take part in this year’s event, with Google telling the Irish Independent that it too would not be making the trip to Lisbon.

Irish entrepreneur Paddy Cosgrave, co-founder of the Web Summit, wrote on social media platform X last week that he was “shocked at the rhetoric and actions of so many Western leaders & governments.”

“War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies and should be called out for what they are,” Cosgrave wrote on October 13.

The boycott by Meta and Google follows other exits by companies and tech figures, including Intel, Siemens and US comedian Amy Poehler and X-files actor Gillian Anderson.

The Web Summit is due to host some 2,300 startups and more than 70,000 people on November 13-16 in Lisbon.

Cosgrave issued an apology on Tuesday.

“I understand that what I said, the timing of what I said, and the way it has been presented has caused profound hurt to many. To anyone who was hurt by my words, I apologize deeply,” he said. “What is needed at this time is compassion, and I did not convey that.”

Cosgrave said he “unreservedly” condemns Hamas’s “evil, disgusting and monstrous” attack on Israel and “unequivocally” supports Israel’s “right to exist and to defend itself.”

He also said that Israel should adhere to the Geneva Conventions, “ie, not commit war crimes.”

French military intel says no indication Gaza hospital blast was ‘Israeli strike’

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

France’s DRM military intelligence agency said Friday that there was no evidence that an Israeli strike had caused the explosion at the Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza that killed hundreds of people.

“The most probable hypothesis is that a Palestinian rocket exploded with a charge of about five kilos,” on Tuesday, the Directorate of Military Intelligence says, adding there was “nothing to indicate… an Israeli strike.”

Rockets from Gaza strike home, cars in Ashkelon; no one injured

A fire is seen in the southern city of Ashkelon following a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip, October 20, 2023. (Courtesy)
A fire is seen in the southern city of Ashkelon following a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip, October 20, 2023. (Courtesy)

Rockets launched from the Gaza Strip at the southern coastal city of Ashkelon in the latest barrage have caused damage, authorities say.

The Fire and Rescue Services says it is checking two sites where rockets landed in the city.

One rocket directly hit a home, causing damage, and another hit a number of cars, it says.

The Ashkelon municipality and Magen David Adom ambulance service both say there are no reports of injuries.

Qatar: We’re working to secure release of all civilian hostages

Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, center, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, attend a meeting, in Doha, Qatar, Friday Oct. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)
Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, center, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, attend a meeting, in Doha, Qatar, Friday Oct. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

A spokesperson for Qatar’s foreign ministry says the release of the American hostages tonight came after “many days of continuous communication with all parties.”

The spokesperson says that Doha’s talks with Israel and Hamas will continue in the hope that they will lead to the “release of all civilian hostages from every nationality.”

Biden thanks Qatar and Israel for efforts to secure release of American hostages from Gaza

US President Joe Biden addresses the nation on the budget deal that lifts the federal debt limit and averts a US government default, from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Friday, June 2, 2023. (Jim Watson/Pool via AP)
US President Joe Biden addresses the nation on the budget deal that lifts the federal debt limit and averts a US government default, from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Friday, June 2, 2023. (Jim Watson/Pool via AP)

The White House has issued a statement from US President Joe Biden on the release of the two American hostages released by Hamas earlier this evening.

“Today, we have secured the release of two Americans taken hostage by Hamas during the horrific terrorist assault against Israel on October 7,” Biden says.

“Our fellow citizens have endured a terrible ordeal these past 14 days, and I am overjoyed that they will soon be reunited with their family, who has been wracked with fear,” he says.

“These individuals and their family will have the full support of the United States government as they recover and heal, and we should all respect their privacy in this moment,” Biden says.

“From the earliest moments of this attack, we have been working around-the-clock to free American citizens who were taken hostage by Hamas, and we have not ceased our efforts to secure the release of those who are still being held.”

“I thank the government of Qatar and the government of Israel for their partnership in this work,” Biden adds.

“Jill and I have been holding close in our hearts all the families of unaccounted for Americans,” he continues. “And, as I told those families when I spoke with them last week, we will not stop until we get their loved ones home. As president, I have no higher priority than the safety of Americans held hostage around the world.”

Red Crescent raises alarm, saying that the IDF ordered evacuation of Gaza hospital

A picture taken from Sderot on October 20, 2023, shows smoke ascending over the northern Gaza Strip following an Israeli airstrike (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP)
A picture taken from Sderot on October 20, 2023, shows smoke ascending over the northern Gaza Strip following an Israeli airstrike (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP)

The Palestine Red Crescent says the Israeli military has notified the Al-Quds Hospital in northern Gaza that they must evacuate, apparently ahead of an impending strike targeting the medical center or the surrounding area.

The Red Crescent says the hospital is serving as a sanctuary for over 400 patients and around 12,000 displaced civilians.

“We call the international community to act urgently, averting another catastrophe like Al-Ahli Hospital,” the Red Crescent tweets, referring to the nearby hospital that sustained an explosion earlier this week that Israel and the US said was caused by an errant rocket fired from Gaza.

Army says it intercepted apparent drone heading into Israel from Lebanon

The Israel Defense Forces strikes a Hezbollah cell in southern Lebanon on October 20, 2023. (IDF)
The Israel Defense Forces strikes a Hezbollah cell in southern Lebanon on October 20, 2023. (IDF)

The Israel Defense Forces says it intercepted a “target” — believed to be a drone — that was heading toward Israeli airspace from Lebanon.

The IDF says the object did not manage to enter Israeli airspace.

Separately, the IDF says it struck another Hezbollah cell at one of the terror group’s posts in southern Lebanon.

The strike marks the fifth cell the IDF has struck in southern Lebanon today, amid repeated rocket and missile attacks on northern Israel

IDF spokesman confirms release of 2 hostages, blasts Hamas for holding another 200

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari gives a statement on October 17, 2023, saying that the Palestinian terror group Islamic Jihad was responsible for a rocket misfire that hit a hospital in the Gaza Strip, killing hundreds. (Screenshot)
IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari gives a statement on October 17, 2023, saying that the Palestinian terror group Islamic Jihad was responsible for a rocket misfire that hit a hospital in the Gaza Strip, killing hundreds. (Screenshot)

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari confirms Judith Raanan and her daughter Natalie have been released by Hamas and are in Israeli troops’ hands, but he slams the terror group for continuing to hold onto some 200 more captives.

“Hamas presents itself to the world at this hour as one who releases hostages for humanitarian reasons, but in reality, we are talking about a murderous terror group, which at this hour is holding babies, children, women and elderly captive,” Hagari says.

He says the IDF is continuing its efforts to return the hostages to Israel.

Hagari adds that the IDF is still preparing for the “next stages of the fighting,” which is expected to include a major ground offensive. “The fighting is likely to last many more weeks,” he adds.

Netanyahu: ‘The goal is to eliminate Hamas. Talk of handing Gaza to PA a lie’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a press conference in Tel Aviv, Oct. 17, 2023. (AP/Maya Alleruzzo, Pool)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a press conference in Tel Aviv, Oct. 17, 2023. (AP/Maya Alleruzzo, Pool)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office has issued a statement, apparently in response to Hebrew media reports this evening suggesting that Israel is weighing the idea of having the Palestinian Authority again rule the Gaza Strip once Israel succeeds in its goal of toppling Hamas.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu defined the goal: the elimination of Hamas. All talk of decisions to hand over the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority or any other party is a lie,” the statement reads.

Judith Raanan and daughter Natalie back in Israel, en route to reunite with relatives

Judith Raanan, left, and her daughter Natalie, 17, after Natalie's recent high school graduation. Undated photo provided by Rabbi Meir Hecht on behalf of the Raanan family (Raanan Family via AP)
Judith Raanan, left, and her daughter Natalie, 17, after Natalie's recent high school graduation. Undated photo provided by Rabbi Meir Hecht on behalf of the Raanan family (Raanan Family via AP)

Judith and Natalie Raanan have crossed back into Israel after being released by Hamas terrorists, who have held them hostage since the October 7 onslaught, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office says in a statement.

Netanyahu’s hostage envoy Gal Hirsch along with officials from the IDF and other security organizations met the pair at the Gaza border and are currently taking them to a nearby military base where they will be reunited with their relatives who are waiting for them there, the premier’s office says.

“The government of Israel, the IDF and the entire security establishment will continue to operate with the best of their abilities and efforts in order to locate all of the hostages and return them home,” the statement adds.

Rocket fire from Gaza at southern Israel intensifies; no immediate reports of injuries

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

Terrorists in the Gaza Strip continue to launch rocket barrages at Israel, setting off alarms in multiple communities.

The sirens are sounding in Gaza border communities, including Sderot, as well as Ashkelon, Ashdod and several nearby towns.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Gallant: We can’t say ‘no’ to the US on humanitarian aid given how much they do for us

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant briefs NATO counterparts on October 12, 2023 (Elad Malka/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant briefs NATO counterparts on October 12, 2023 (Elad Malka/Defense Ministry)

Lawmakers in the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee have leaked selected quotes from a meeting earlier this week during the Gaza war to Channel 12.

During the meeting, Defense Minister Yaov Gallant was pressed on why the government agreed to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza from Egypt before the hostages have been returned.

“The Americans insisted and we are not in a place where we can refuse them. We rely on them for planes and military equipment. What are we supposed to do? Tell them no?” Gallant responds

Hostages released by Hamas identified as Judith and Natalie Raanan

Judith Raanan, left, and her daughter Natalie, 18, after Natalie's recent high school graduation. Undated photo provided by Rabbi Meir Hecht on behalf of the Raanan family (Raanan Family via AP)
Judith Raanan, left, and her daughter Natalie, 18, after Natalie's recent high school graduation. Undated photo provided by Rabbi Meir Hecht on behalf of the Raanan family (Raanan Family via AP)

A senior Israeli official speaking to The Times of Israel identifies the two hostages released by Hamas as Judith Raanan and her daughter Natalie.

The pair, who both have American citizenship, have been transferred to the International Red Cross ahead of their arrival in Israel, the official says.

The two are residents of Evanston, Illinois outside of Chicago and came to Israel this month to celebrate a relative’s 85th birthday and the Jewish holiday season, according to their rabbi.

The Raanan family had been celebrating Simchat Torah in Nahal Oz, a kibbutz in Israel about a mile from the Gaza border when the Hamas onslaught began.

Natalie Raanan, 18, recently graduated from high school and was looking forward to taking a break and visiting family overseas, her uncle, Avi Zamir, said at a community event for the Raanans in Evanston last week.

Qatar led efforts to secure release of Israeli-American mother, daughter — diplomatic source to ToI

Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, right, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, attend a meeting, in Doha, Qatar, Oct. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)
Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, right, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, attend a meeting, in Doha, Qatar, Oct. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

Qatar led the negotiations with Hamas that led to the terror group agreeing to release an Israeli-American mother and her daughter earlier today, a senior diplomatic source tells The Times of Israel, adding that the United States also contributed to the effort.

TV: Security chiefs had ‘telltale signs’ of small scale attack two hours before Hamas struck

Without citing sources, Channel 12 reports that Israel’s security chiefs had “telltale signs” more than two hours before Hamas’s devastating assault on the morning of Saturday, October 7 that an attack was looming, albeit on a much smaller scale than the devastating onslaught in which 1,400 were killed by the terrorists in southern Israel.

The “concrete” indications pointed to a likely “battle” that day, in which a “force” of terrorists would attempt to infiltrate across the border, seize control of one or two communities and/or attempt kidnappings.

The indications were discussed in a previously reported consultation involving senior military and Shin Bet officials, including IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi. But no alert was issued. The consultation took place at about 4 a.m., the TV report says; the onslaught began at 6:29 a.m.

Again as previously reported, the Shin Bet dispatched a small operations team to the border area. When the huge infiltration occurred, with Hamas bursting through the border at multiple locations and massacring Israelis at 22 communities and an outdoor music festival, the small Shin Bet team participated in the fighting at one of the kibbutzim that was attacked.

The security chiefs did not pass on word of the “telltale signs” of an imminent attack, did not alert IDF troops at the border, many of whom were killed at their bases and positions, did not move up tanks deployed in the area, and did not alert the local civil defense squads at nearby communities who fought the rampaging terrorists hours later, the report says.

Mother and daughter released by Hamas reportedly arrive in Egypt

Families of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza since the group's murderous infiltration of Israel on October 7, 2023, protest outside the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv. October 14, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)
Families of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza since the group's murderous infiltration of Israel on October 7, 2023, protest outside the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv. October 14, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

The mother and daughter released by Hamas have arrived in Egypt, Channel 12 reports.

CNN reports that Hamas chose to release the pair due to the declining health of the mother.

The two are dual nationals of Israel and the United States, Channel 12 reports.

Biden says bombed Rafah should be able to reopen in 24-48 hours

This picture taken on October 19, 2023 shows the closed gate to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)
This picture taken on October 19, 2023 shows the closed gate to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

After initially saying that Egypt’s Rafah crossing into Gaza would be reopened today, US President Joe Biden speculates to reporters ahead of a meeting with the European Union’s leadership at the White House that the border will reopen in 24 to 48 hours.

“I got a commitment from the Israelis and the president of Egypt that the crossing will be open,” Biden says.

“The highway had to be repaved, and it was in very bad shape…and I believe in the next 24 to 48 hours, the first 20 trucks will come across the border,” Biden says.

IDF says it killed Hamas engineer in Gaza earlier today

A picture taken from Sderot on October 20, 2023, shows smoke ascending over the northern Gaza Strip following an Israeli airstrike (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP)
A picture taken from Sderot on October 20, 2023, shows smoke ascending over the northern Gaza Strip following an Israeli airstrike (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP)

The Israel Defense Forces says it struck and killed a senior Hamas engineer in the Gaza Strip earlier today.

The IDF says Mahmoud Sabih headed a unit that developed weapons for the terror group, including drones, and had “exchanged knowledge with other terror groups throughout the Middle East.”

Anti-tank guided missiles again fired from Lebanon at Israeli troops, IDF says

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)

Anti-tank guided missiles were launched from Lebanon at Israeli troops operating in the Netu’a and Biranit areas on the northern border, the Israel Defense Forces says.

The IDF says it is responding with artillery shelling at the sources of the missile fire.

The military does not immediately release information on possible casualties.

Family of 2 hostages slated for release have been contacted by Israeli authorities

Members of the Melbourne Jewish community rally in support of the Israelis taken hostage by Hamas. Melbourne, October 15, 2023 (Courtesy Nirit Eylon)
Members of the Melbourne Jewish community rally in support of the Israelis taken hostage by Hamas. Melbourne, October 15, 2023 (Courtesy Nirit Eylon)

The family of the mother and daughter whom Hamas has released from captivity has been contacted by Israeli authorities that representatives are on their way to their home in order to provide an update on their situation, Channel 12 reports.

Pair of Israeli hostages reportedly handed over to Red Cross

Posters of Israeli hostages in New York City's Union Square subway station, October 16, 2023. (Luke Tress/ JTA)
Posters of Israeli hostages in New York City's Union Square subway station, October 16, 2023. (Luke Tress/ JTA)

A pair of Israeli hostages — a mother and her daughter — have been handed over to the International Red Cross in Gaza ahead of their transfer to Israel through Egypt, Hebrew media reports.

Israeli officials leak to press that Hamas hostage release done unilaterally

People look at images showing hostages held by terrorists in Gaza, on posters hung by the UEJF (Union of Jewish French Students), in Paris, France, October 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
People look at images showing hostages held by terrorists in Gaza, on posters hung by the UEJF (Union of Jewish French Students), in Paris, France, October 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Hebrew media is citing Israeli officials who clarify that the Hamas decision to release a pair of hostages was done unilaterally and that Jerusalem didn’t offer anything in exchange.

Channel 12 says ‘Israeli sources’ confirm pending release of two hostages

Family members of Israelis being held hostage in Gaza hold a press conference in Tel Aviv, October 14, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Family members of Israelis being held hostage in Gaza hold a press conference in Tel Aviv, October 14, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Channel 12 says “Israeli sources” have confirmed the Hamas claim that the terror group has released a mother and her daughter who were being held captive in Gaza.

They will be transferred to the International Red Cross who will take them to Egypt and then to Israel, Channel 12 says.

The transfer is expected to take place imminently but there is no exact timeline known yet, the network says.

IDF says troops shoot dead gunman who opened fire at them from across Lebanon 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 Israel Defense Forces says a gunman who opened fire at forces near the northern town of Margaliot on the Lebanon border this morning was killed in a new exchange of fire in the area a short while ago.

The IDF says the suspect arrived at Margaliot this morning and opened fire at reservist forces, seriously wounding one.

He then fled the area, and following a lengthy chase, he was shot dead, the IDF adds.

It remains unclear if the gunman infiltrated into Israel from Lebanon.

Hamas says it released mother and daughter held in Gaza; no Israeli confirmation

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)

Hamas issues a statement announcing it has released two American citizens — a mother and her daughter — “for humanitarian reasons.”

The step follows efforts by Qatar taken to “prove to the American people and the world that the claims made by [US president Joe] Biden and his fascist administration are false and baseless,” a Hamas spokesperson says.

Hamas does not identify which hostages it has released.

There is not immediately any Israeli confirmation of the move or footage of the hostages’ release.

Israeli envoy blasts NYT for rehiring reporter who praised Hitler

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan addresses the General Assembly on January 20, 2022. (Screen capture)
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan addresses the General Assembly on January 20, 2022. (Screen capture)

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan blasts The New York Times for rehiring a reporter in Gaza who praised Hitler.

Soliman Hijjy’s byline has been on NYT stories since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war after a two-year hiatus.

“The @nytimes has just rehired a NAZI. Let that sink in. Soliman Hijjy praises Hitler, and the NYT rehired him,” Erdan tweets.

“Spreading Hamas propaganda and rehiring a Holocaust-praising terror supporter, actively stokes antisemitism,” he says.

In a statement responding to the criticism, The New York Times says, “We reviewed problematic social media posts by Mr. Hijjy when they first came to light in 2022 and took a variety of actions to ensure he understood our concerns and could adhere to our standards if he wished to do freelance work for us in the future.”

“Mr. Hijjy followed those steps and has maintained high journalistic standards. He has delivered important and impartial work at great personal risk in Gaza during this conflict,” the statement adds.

Earlier Metula sirens caused by 2 rockets fired from Lebanon; no injuries or damage — IDF

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 two rockets were fired from Lebanon at northern Israel earlier, setting off sirens in Metula.

Both projectiles landed in open areas, causing no injuries or damage.

Separately, the IDF says it carried out a strike against an anti-tank guided missile squad in southern Lebanon, marking the fourth terror cell hit by the military today.

Germany sees over 1,100 offenses linked to Israel-Hamas conflict

German riot police officers push back Pro-Palestinian demonstrators as they protest against the bombing in Gaza outside the Foreign Ministry in Berlin on October 18, 2023. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP)
German riot police officers push back Pro-Palestinian demonstrators as they protest against the bombing in Gaza outside the Foreign Ministry in Berlin on October 18, 2023. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP)

German police have recorded more than 1,100 offenses in relation to the Israel-Gaza conflict since Hamas launched its deadly attack earlier this month, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser says.

“These are preliminary figures… and investigations are underway everywhere,” Faeser tells journalists in a press conference at the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in Wiesbaden.

The recorded offenses included “bodily harm… breaches of the peace, incitement to hatred and damage to property,” BKA deputy chief Juergen Peter says at the same press conference.

In all, a “low three-digit” figure of violent crimes had been recorded, Peter says.

Berlin had become a “hotspot” for offenses, he says, with the majority occurring in the capital, where clashes between protesters and police were fiercest.

Police had made “hundreds of provisional arrests” in Berlin, Faeser says, adding that this was “the right response.”

“Over 100 police officers have been injured by thrown bottles and fireworks” in the city, Faeser says, adding that “this violence… is in no way acceptable.”

In all, 46 gatherings related to the conflict had been prohibited by authorities since October 7, Faeser says.

By contrast, 211 pro-Israel events and 129 pro-Palestinian events had taken place in that period, Faeser says.

US troops targeted in Iraq rocket attacks escape unharmed

US troops stationed at two bases in Iraq have been targeted with rocket attacks that caused no casualties, US and Iraqi military sources said say, against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war.

Armed factions close to Iran have threatened to attack US interests in Iraq over Washington’s support for Israel since the Hamas onslaught.

“We can confirm a rocket attack on US and coalition forces at the Baghdad diplomatic support centre, near the Baghdad international airport, occurred Friday at approximately 2:50 am” (2350 GMT Thursday), a Pentagon official says.

“Initial assessments indicate two rockets were fired. One was intercepted by a counter-rocket system and the other impacted an empty storage facility. There were no casualties reported,” the official says, speaking on condition of anonymity.

An Iraqi security official had earlier told AFP that three Katyusha rockets struck near a base of the international coalition close to Baghdad airport.

An Iraqi military source says there were no casualties in the attack and material damage was “being assessed.”

There are no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Teen arrested over bomb threat in France

A protester gestures as protesters face French Republican Security Corps (CRS - Compagnies Republicaines de Securite) police officers during a demonstration in support of Palestinians at Place de la Republique during in Paris, on October 19, 2023. (Photo by Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)
A protester gestures as protesters face French Republican Security Corps (CRS - Compagnies Republicaines de Securite) police officers during a demonstration in support of Palestinians at Place de la Republique during in Paris, on October 19, 2023. (Photo by Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)

A 16-year-old has been arrested over a bomb hoax near Paris, police sources say, as authorities scramble to halt a week of bomb scares at airports, schools and landmarks.

The spate of fake threats has hit a country on high alert since the Hamas onslaught on Israel and the fatal stabbing of a teacher in the northern French city of Arras last week.

The teenager was arrested yesterday in Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône, a town northwest of Paris, over a bomb threat emailed to his school that caused the evacuation of around a thousand pupils.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin says French authorities have made 18 arrests over false bomb threats on Wednesday and Thursday.

Most of France’s major airports outside Paris were targeted, leading to evacuations, hours-long delays and dozens of cancelled flights.

Today, a new slew of threats affected 18 regional airports, 10 of which were evacuated, says Transport Minister Clement Beaune.

“Since Wednesday, we have seen an increase in alerts, false bomb threats in our airports,” Beaune tells reporters.

“And I want to say it very clearly, the smart guys or the little jokers who play these games are in fact big fools, even serious offenders,” he says.

Officials say Bordeaux and Beziers in the south were evacuated while others, including Lille in the northeast and Nantes in the west, were able to rule out danger without removing passengers.

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti says 22 probes had been launched into false alarms.

“There will obviously be convictions. We cannot let this happen,” he tells broadcaster RTL. “I remind you that it is the parents who will pay the financial consequences.”

Families of hostages hold meeting with Red Cross president in Geneva

Family members of Israelis being held hostage in Gaza hold a press conference in Tel Aviv, October 14, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Family members of Israelis being held hostage in Gaza hold a press conference in Tel Aviv, October 14, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The relatives of three Israelis currently held by terrorists in Gaza are meeting with International Red Cross president Mirjana Spoljaric Egger in Geneva.

The Red Cross hasn’t been allowed to see the 200+ hostages, some 30 of them children, currently being held in Gaza.

Envoy urges public to send bday wishes to Israeli boy turning 9 in captivity

A poster for an Israeli campaign to send birthday wishes to an Israeli boy who is slated to celebrate his ninth birthday in Hamas captivity on October 23, 2023. (Courtesy)
A poster for an Israeli campaign to send birthday wishes to an Israeli boy who is slated to celebrate his ninth birthday in Hamas captivity on October 23, 2023. (Courtesy)

Israel’s Ambassador to the US Michael Herzog urges the public to join an online campaign to wish Ohad Zichri — an Israeli boy who is one of the 30 children held by terrorists in Gaza — a happy birthday.

Ohad will be turning nine on Monday.

His family says Ohad “is a bright kid who loves soccer, tennis and solving the Rubik’s cube.”

Ohad was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists and brought into Gaza along with mother Keren and his grandparents.

“We send Ohad and all those who were kidnapped strength and courage. We hope and pray we will be able to celebrate with them soon. Israel will spare no effort to bring them home, safe and sound,” says a statement from the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

“Please join Ambassador Herzog in wishing Ohad a happy birthday by signing the e-card linked below or by sending an email to: KIDnappedBday@washington.mfa.gov.il,” the statement adds.

IDF says it carried out airstrikes against Hamas command centers, launch sites

Footage from an IDF airstrike against a Hamas command center on October 20, 2023. (IDF)
Footage from an IDF airstrike against a Hamas command center on October 20, 2023. (IDF)

The Israel Defense Forces says it has carried out airstrikes against Hamas command centers, anti-tank guided missile launch sites and underground infrastructure in the Gaza Strip since Friday morning.

Further airstrikes against the terror group’s sites are being carried out now, the IDF adds.

Rocket sirens sound in northern town of Metula after repeated Hezbollah attacks

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

An incoming rocket siren is sounding in the northern town of Metula on the Lebanon border.

Metula was evacuated several days ago.

The alert comes amid repeated rocket and missile attacks by Hezbollah and allied Palestinian terror groups on northern Israel in recent days.

There have also been several false alarms.

Netanyahu holds first phone call with Biden since US president’s wartime visit

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with US President Joe Biden in the IDF's Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv on October 20, 2023. (Prime Minister's Office)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with US President Joe Biden in the IDF's Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv on October 20, 2023. (Prime Minister's Office)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is holding another phone call with US President Joe Biden — the first since Biden made a wartime visit to Israel on Wednesday and gave an Oval Office address about plans to expand US aid to Israel and Ukraine.

Ex-senior Saudi official: Hamas gave moral high ground to universally shunned Israeli gov’t

Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal speaks at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston on October 17, 2023. (Screen capture/X)
Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal speaks at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston on October 17, 2023. (Screen capture/X)

Saudi Arabis’s former intel chief and ambassador to the US gave a recent speech blasting both Hamas for its onslaught on October 7 as well as the longheld policies of successive Israeli governments that he says helped lead to the current bloody situation.

While Prince Turki al-Faisal may no longer be in government, he still is seen as close to the royal palace and he appears to be the most prominent Saudi figure yet to specifically condemn Hamas.

“I categorically condemn Hamas’s targeting of civilians of any age or gender, as it is accused of. Such targeting belies Hamas’s claimed to Islamic identity,” Prince Turki says in an address at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston on Tuesday.

“I also condemn Hamas for giving the higher moral ground to an Israeli government that is universally shunned, even by half of the Israeli public as fascist, miscreant and abhorrent.

“I condemn Hamas for giving this awful government the excuse to ethnically cleanse Gaza of its citizens and bombing them to oblivion.”

“I condemn Hamas for further undermining the Palestinian Authority as Israel has been doing.”

“I condemn Hamas for sabotaging the attempt of Saudi Arabia to reach a peaceful resolution to the plight of the Palestinian people.”

“But equally, I condemned Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of Palestinian innocent civilians in Gaza, and the attempt to forcibly drive them into Sinai. I condemn Israel’s targeted killing and the indiscriminate arrest of Palestinian children, women and men in the West Bank. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

“I’ve been hearing a repeated phrase in American media unprovoked attack. What more provocation is required to make it provoked than what Israel has done to the Palestinian people for three quarters of a century.”

“I condemn Israel for funneling Qatari money to Hamas, a terrorist group as defined by Israel.”

“I condemn Western politicians for shedding tears when Israelis are killed by Palestinians, but refused to even express sorrow when Israelis killed Palestinians. There are no heroes in this complex, only victims,” he says.

Palestinian dual nationals await Gaza border opening

This picture taken on October 19, 2023 shows the closed gate to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)
This picture taken on October 19, 2023 shows the closed gate to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

Dozens of Palestinians clutching foreign passports have gathered at Gaza’s border with Egypt, the only crossing which can possibly open as Israel bombards the tiny territory.

The crowds are waiting at the cafeteria of the Rafah border crossing, which has been hit multiple times since Israel began an intense bombardment of the enclave following the deadly Hamas attacks of October 7.

“They told us at the embassy to head to the crossing. We sleep here despite the danger,” say 29-year-old Mahmud Salah Ibrahim Abu Musallam, who has Swedish citizenship and urged European embassies “to help us get out of here.”

Waiting at the crossing with her father Abu Musallam, seven-year-old Ghazal said she wanted to go to Sweden “because all the children die here.”

IDF carries out drone strike against terror cell on Lebanon border

Smoke rises from an Israeli army position which was hit by the Hezbollah terror group as it is seen from Tair Harfa village, south Lebanon, Oct. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Smoke rises from an Israeli army position which was hit by the Hezbollah terror group as it is seen from Tair Harfa village, south Lebanon, Oct. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

The Israel Defense Forces says it carried out a new drone strike against a terrorist cell on the Lebanon border.

No further details are immediately given on the cell and what sort of attack they were planning to carry out.

The IDF says several more anti-tank guided missiles were fired from Lebanon at IDF posts on the border.

It adds that troops are responding with artillery shelling against the sources of the missile fire.

299 Israelis remain hospitalized — 49 in serious condition — since Hamas onslaught

Medical staff prepare the the Sammy Ofer Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa following the outbreak of war, October 11, 2023. (Courtesy of Rambam)
Medical staff prepare the the Sammy Ofer Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa following the outbreak of war, October 11, 2023. (Courtesy of Rambam)

The Health Ministry updates that as of 4:30 p.m. Friday, 299 injured in the massacre by Hamas terrorists and ensuing war are in hospitals across the country. Of them, 49 are in serious condition, 172 are in moderate condition and 78 are in light condition.

A total of 4,932 injured individuals have been treated at hospitals since October 7.

The Health Ministry has a hotline for locating hospitalized war victims. Call 5400* ext. 3

203 empty chairs: Hostage families hold Shabbat Dinner ‘demonstration’ in Tel Aviv

Families of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza set a symbolic Shabbat table with more than 200 empty seats for the hostages, at 'Hostage Square,' outside the Art Museum of Tel Aviv, October 20, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Families of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza set a symbolic Shabbat table with more than 200 empty seats for the hostages, at 'Hostage Square,' outside the Art Museum of Tel Aviv, October 20, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The families of the hostages in Gaza have set up a massive Shabbat dinner table in Tel Aviv with challah, wine, candles, place settings and 203 empty chairs to represent all of the people currently being held by terrorists in Gaza.

The hostages’ families have pledged to intensify their pressure campaign against the government after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza through Egypt without first securing the release of the 200 to 250 captives.

Thousands rally for Palestinians in Gaza in Tahrir Square and across Egypt

People take to the street during a protest supporting the Palestinian people following Friday Noon prayers outside the al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo on October 20, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)
People take to the street during a protest supporting the Palestinian people following Friday Noon prayers outside the al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo on October 20, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

Tens of thousands of protesters are rallying across Egypt in support of war-torn Gaza, with large crowds flooding into Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square, an AFP correspondent and Egyptian media says.

The correspondent says several thousand packed into Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the 2011 uprising that toppled long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak, while media outlets said others took place in Egypt’s main cities on day 14 of Israel’s bombardment of the enclave following Hamas’s deadly October 7 onslaught.

Rocket sirens in northern border community of Dovev were false alarm — IDF

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 rocket sirens that sounded in the Lebanon border community of Dovev were a false alarm.

Separately, the military confirms claims by Hezbollah that several anti-tank guided missiles were fired at IDF posts along the border, and surveillance equipment was shot at with light arms.

The IDF says it is responding with artillery shelling against the sources of fire in southern Lebanon.

There are no reports of injuries in all the recent incidents

Russia advises against travel to Israel and Lebanon

Illustrative: Passengers are seen at Domodedovo airport outside Moscow, Russia, April 18, 2010. (Misha Japaridze/AP)
Illustrative: Passengers are seen at Domodedovo airport outside Moscow, Russia, April 18, 2010. (Misha Japaridze/AP)

Russia advises its citizens against traveling to Israel, Lebanon, Jordan and the Palestinian territories amid flaring tensions over Israel’s war with Hamas.

“The situation in the Middle East is heating up,” Moscow’s foreign ministry says. “We strongly recommend that Russian citizens refrain from traveling to the region, especially to Israel, Lebanon, Jordan and the Palestinian territories.”

Hezbollah claims to target IDF posts with anti-tank guided missiles and gunfire

A picture shows a fragment of a rocket reportedly fired from Lebanon in the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona close to the border with Lebanon on October 18, 2023. (Photo by jalaa marey / AFP)
A picture shows a fragment of a rocket reportedly fired from Lebanon in the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona close to the border with Lebanon on October 18, 2023. (Photo by jalaa marey / AFP)

The Lebanese Hezbollah terror group claims to have targeted a number of Israeli military positions along the Lebanon border with anti-tank guided missiles and gunfire.

The IDF does not immediately comment on the missile attacks, but says 20-30 rockets were launched at the Mount Dov area earlier.

Aid ‘a lifeline’ for war-torn Gaza, UN chief says at Rafah border

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (C) gives a press conference on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing on the border with the Gaza Stirp on October 20, 2023. (Photo by Ali Moustafa / AFP)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (C) gives a press conference on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing on the border with the Gaza Stirp on October 20, 2023. (Photo by Ali Moustafa / AFP)

Aid trucks waiting to cross from Egypt into Gaza are “a lifeline” which need to move into the war-torn Palestinian enclave as soon as possible, the UN chief says.

“These trucks are not just trucks, they are a lifeline. They are the difference between life and death for so many people in Gaza,” says UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as he visited the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing with Gaza to oversee preparations for the delivery of aid.

Cargo planes and trucks have been bringing humanitarian aid to Rafah for days, but so far none has been delivered to Gaza which has been under intense Israeli bombardment for almost two weeks since the deadly October 7 onslaught.

“To see (the aid trucks) stuck here makes me be very clear: what we need is to make them move… to the other side of this wall… as quickly as possible and as many as possible,” Guterres tells reporters at the crossing.

The UN chief says it must be “a sustained effort” with not just one convoy crossing but for many “to be authorized in a meaningful number to have enough trucks to provide support to Gaza’s people.”

The United Nations, he says, was “actively engaging with all the parties,” including Egypt, Israel and the United States, to get the trucks moving as quickly as possible.

Rocket sirens wail in Lebanon border town of Dovev

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)

Incoming rocket sirens are sounding in the northern town of Dovev on the Lebanon border.

The alerts come amid repeated attacks from southern Lebanon on IDF posts and Israeli towns along the northern frontier.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Israeli player for Spanish soccer team skips Osasuna trip for security reasons

Israel's forward Shon Weissman reacts at the end of the UEFA Nations League - League B Group 2 - football match between Israel and Iceland at the Samy Ofer stadium in the Israeli city of Haifa on June 2, 2022. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)
Israel's forward Shon Weissman reacts at the end of the UEFA Nations League - League B Group 2 - football match between Israel and Iceland at the Samy Ofer stadium in the Israeli city of Haifa on June 2, 2022. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Granada’s Israeli forward Shon Weissman is not traveling for Friday’s Liga match against Osasuna in the Basque country for security reasons, his club tells AFP.

Weissman, the only Israeli player in La Liga, was left out of the trip to Pamplona on the advice of Spanish authorities amid the Israel-Hamas war.

Weissman posted messages on social media in support of Israel after the Hamas onslaught.

The Israeli international later deleted the posts but has since been the victim of on-line abuse.

The Basque far-left radical group Indar Gorri published on its social networks an image of a “forbidden” sign with the Granada player’s face and the slogan “Weissman out.”

“It’s a delicate subject. I’m against all war,” Granada coach Paco Lopez says during the pre-match press conference, affirming that his player was “affected” by the situation, but was training normally.

On Wednesday, Spanish authorities deployed 700 police officers to supervise the Euroleague basketball match between Valencia and Maccabi Tel Aviv, without took place without incident.

Russian envoy in Israel says Moscow in talks with Hamas to release hostages

Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov speaks to the media at the Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv, on March 3, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni‎‏/Flash90)
Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov speaks to the media at the Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv, on March 3, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni‎‏/Flash90)

Russia’s Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov says Moscow is in talks with Hamas to release the 200 to 250 hostages that terror groups are currently holding in Gaza.

Russia appears to be one of at least half a dozen countries that claim to be in talks with Hamas to release the hostages.

758 bodies of civilians have been identified so far as work continues, police say

Bodies of the victims of the mass murderous attack by Hamas on southern Israeli communities on October 7, 2023 await advanced examination for identification at the National Center of Forensic Medicine (Abu Kabir) in Jaffa, October 16, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Bodies of the victims of the mass murderous attack by Hamas on southern Israeli communities on October 7, 2023 await advanced examination for identification at the National Center of Forensic Medicine (Abu Kabir) in Jaffa, October 16, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The Israel Police says in a statement that so far the bodies of 758 civilians have been identified from the October 7 Hamas massacre in southern Israel.

Of those, 655 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.

Netanyahu’s hostage envoy said to ‘lecture’ EU diplomats over their support for Oslo

Gal Hirsch, the government point man on missing and kidnapped citizens, speaks during a meeting with relatives of Israelis kidnapped by Hamas and missing Israelis in Tel Aviv, October 13, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Gal Hirsch, the government point man on missing and kidnapped citizens, speaks during a meeting with relatives of Israelis kidnapped by Hamas and missing Israelis in Tel Aviv, October 13, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s newly appointed hostage envoy Gal Hirsch reportedly yelled at a group of European ambassadors during a meeting earlier this week because of their governments’ support for the Oslo process.

Hirsch used the opportunity to give a “political lecture” on Israeli-Palestinian relations over the past several decades, blasting the European Union for backing the peace process and pressuring Israel to show restraint against the Palestinians, ambassadors present tell the Haaretz daily.

“Instead of asking us how we can help in releasing the captives, he came to reprimand us for an agreement signed when none of us were in office,” one of the envoys says.

“There is hardly a country in Europe that isn’t trying to help with the abductees’ issue in some way or other,” another ambassador says.

“Many of us are in constant contact with families of abductees who hold dual citizenship. We want to help, and we don’t need political lectures.”

Hirsch, a once-promising senior IDF officer, resigned from the military over a damning inquiry into his conduct during the 2006 Second Lebanon War. He came under intense scrutiny and criticism in the wake of the abduction of two Israeli soldiers on the eve of the war in an area under his command, as well as for his leadership style during the war.

In 2015 he was nominated by then-police minister Gilad Erdan to serve as police chief, but his candidacy was sunk over suspicions of illicit business dealings.

IDF says mortars fired from Lebanon toward Mount Dov; troops shell source of attack

The Israel Defense Forces says mortars have been launched from Lebanon toward the contested Mount Dov border area, where there are a number of military positions and no towns.

There are no immediate reports of injuries in the attacks.

The IDF says it is responding with artillery shelling against the sources of the fire.

Hezbollah and allied Palestinian terror groups have carried out repeated missile and rocket attacks against IDF posts and Israeli towns on the northern border in recent days.

Hamas ministry claims 4,137 have died in Gaza since war started

At least 4,137 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip since Israel’s war against the Hamas terror group began, the Hamas-controlled health ministry says.

The ministry says another 13,162 people have been wounded, in figures that cannot immediately be independently verified.

While the terror group attributed all the deaths to Israeli airstrikes, some are likely to have been caused by misfired Palestinian rockets landing inside the Strip. Israel says over 450 such impacts have occurred since October 7, including a major blast at a Gaza City hospital’s parking lot in which Hamas says 471 people were killed, while Western intelligence estimates the toll to be in the dozens or lower hundreds.

The numbers for Gaza don’t include some 1,500 Palestinian terrorists Jerusalem says were killed inside Israeli territory following the mass Hamas invasion.

Rocket alarms blare in communities south of Modiin

Rocket alarms sound in small communities in the Judean foothills region, south of Modiin.

There are no immediate reports of impacts or interceptions.

Gallant sets out 3 phases of war; says after Hamas vanquished, Israel will seek new ‘security regime’ in Gaza

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, center, speaks at a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting in Tel Aviv, October 20, 2023. (Elad Malka/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, center, speaks at a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting in Tel Aviv, October 20, 2023. (Elad Malka/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant lays out Israel’s war plans and objectives in the Gaza Strip, speaking at a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting in Tel Aviv.

He says the objectives include eliminating the Hamas terror group by destroying its military and governmental capabilities, and completely removing any responsibility Israel has over Gaza by creating a new “security regime” in the Strip.

Gallant tells the committee members that the war will have three main phases.

“We are in the first phase, in which a military campaign is taking place with [airstrikes] and later with a [ground] maneuver with the purpose of destroying operatives and damaging infrastructure in order to defeat and destroy Hamas,” Gallant says.

He says the second phase will be continued fighting but at a lower intensity as troops work to “eliminate pockets of resistance.”

“The third step will be the creation of a new security regime in the Gaza Strip, the removal of Israel’s responsibility for day-to-day life in the Gaza Strip, and the creation of a new security reality for the citizens of Israel and the residents of the [area surrounding Gaza],” he says.

Kremlin rejects Biden’s branding of Putin as ‘tyrant,’ likening of Russia to Hamas

The Kremlin denounces an address by US President Joe Biden in which he compared Russia to the Hamas terror group and called Vladimir Putin a “tyrant.”

“We do not accept such a tone in relation to the Russian Federation, in relation to our president,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells reporters.

Biden, in an address to the US from the Oval Office yesterday, said the United States had to stand behind Israel and Ukraine in the face of Russia and Hamas, who are trying to “completely annihilate a neighboring democracy.”

He added: “We cannot and will not let terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like Putin win. I refuse to let that happen.”

In a call with reporters, Peskov says such “rhetoric is hardly suitable for responsible leaders of states, and it can hardly be acceptable to us.”

US efforts to “contain” Russia would prove ineffective, he adds.

IDF strikes 3 Hezbollah terrorists with drone near Israel-Lebanon border

The Israel Defense Forces says it has struck three Hezbollah terrorists who were identified by forces in southern Lebanon near Israel’s security barrier.

The IDF says it carried out a drone strike against the cell.

In a separate incident, the IDF says snipers opened fire at gunmen who were identified near a different part of the border fence.

Medics save life of girl whose heart stopped beating following Ashdod rocket siren

A 10-year-old girl collapsed during today’s rocket alarm in Ashdod and lost consciousness with her heart stopping to beat, the Magen David Adom ambulance service says.

Medics rushed to the seen and performed CPR using a defibrillator while taking her to a hospital, where they revived her heart beat, MDA says.

UN chief visits Egypt’s Rafah crossing ahead of Gaza aid delivery

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pays a visit to the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing with Gaza to oversee preparations for the delivery of aid to the Hamas-ruled enclave.

Cargo planes and trucks have been bringing aid to the crossing for days, but so far none has been delivered to Gaza, which Israel has besieged and bombed Hamas targets ever since the terror group’s brutal onslaught in southern Israel on October 7.

Tel Aviv HQ of Netanyahu’s party defaced with fake blood and photos of Gaza hostages

Red paint splashed on the Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv, October 20, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)
Red paint splashed on the Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv, October 20, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)

A Tel Aviv building that serves as the headquarters of the ruling Likud party in the city has been defaced with fake blood overnight, in an act that appears to convey the message that the national leadership is to blame for the many victims of Hamas’s October 7 massacres.

Images of Israelis who are being held hostage by terrorists in Gaza, and red paint splashed on the Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv, October 20, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)

The display at the entrance to the Metzudat Ze’ev office building is accompanied by a collage of photos of hostages being held in Gaza following the onslaught on southern Israel.

It also features fake bloody hand prints covering photos of the face of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Police say they have opened an investigation.

Images of Israelis who are being held hostage by terrorists in Gaza, and red paint splashed on the Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv, October 20, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)

Plane lands in Israel with military ambulance, medical equipment for IDF troops

A military ambulance and other medical equipment are seen being brought off a plane that landed at the Ramon Airport in southern Israel, October 20, 2023. (Defense Ministry)
A military ambulance and other medical equipment are seen being brought off a plane that landed at the Ramon Airport in southern Israel, October 20, 2023. (Defense Ministry)

The Defense Ministry says a cargo plane landed at the Ramon Airport in southern Israel this morning, ferrying military ambulances and medical equipment for the Israel Defense Forces.

The ministry says it is the 45th plane carrying equipment for the IDF to arrive in Israel since the war began on October 7.

So far, some 1,000 tons of armaments have arrived in Israel, which are “designed to bolster the IDF’s offensive plans,” the ministry says.

IDF says troops were shot at near Lebanon border town, returned fire; search underway

The Israel Defense Forces says troops operating near the northern town of Margaliot, on the Lebanon border, came under fire.

The IDF does not immediately provide information on potential casualties.

It says troops returned fire, and are currently scanning the area for suspects who may have infiltrated into Israeli territory.

Rocket alarms sound in moshav near Beit Shemesh; Hamas claims to target Jerusalem

Rocket alarms sound in Aderet, a moshav south of Beit Shemesh.

Hamas claims to have launched rockets toward Jerusalem, though no sirens sound in or near the capital.

There are initial media reports of a rocket impact in an open area near Bet Shemesh.

El Al says it’s flown 200,000 people since war erupted, details efforts to repatriate Israelis

FILE: El Al airplanes on the tarmac at Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport, October 4, 2022. (Moshe Shai/Flash 90)
FILE: El Al airplanes on the tarmac at Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport, October 4, 2022. (Moshe Shai/Flash 90)

Israel’s national airline El Al reports that since the outbreak of the war on October 7, it has flown more than 1,400 flights carrying 200,000 passengers, over half of whom were headed to Israel.

It has added many extra flights to its schedule and last weekend, the airline flew hundreds of active-duty soldiers, reservists and security and medical personnel to Israel. The passengers flew free of charge, with all expenses covered by donations.

El Al has also flown in around 3,500 tons of supplies and equipment from around the world, seen as crucial to the war and relief efforts. Working in close coordination with various IDF units, El Al has directed more than 10,000 donated items to Israel’s troops, such as food, clothing, flashlights, blankets, sleeping bags and toiletries.

After the government warned Israelis not to fly to Turkey, El Al quickly arranged evacuation flights from Istanbul through its subsidiary airline Sun d’Or. El Al also gave preference to Israelis wanting to fly home from Athens after they got themselves out of Turkey independently. These passengers were charged only airport taxes.

El Al says it will continue to adapt to the evolving situation. It has created a webpage that updates automatically to show the availability of seats in real-time for upcoming dates.

BBC admits mistakes in coverage of Gaza hospital blast; still won’t call Hamas terrorists

The scorched parking lot of the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City after an overnight blast there, October 18, 2023. (Courtesy; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
The scorched parking lot of the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City after an overnight blast there, October 18, 2023. (Courtesy; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The UK’s BBC news corporation has admitted mistakes were made in its coverage of a deadly blast Tuesday at a hospital parking lot in Gaza City, which many global media outlets attributed to Israel based on the Hamas terror group’s accusation, before mounting evidence emerged that a misfired Palestinian rocket was to blame and that the death toll is far smaller than the initially claimed 500.

US and European sources have now said the actual death toll is presumed to be in the dozens or lower hundreds.

A BBC correspondent, Jon Donnison, said on air after the explosion that he could see no possibility other than an Israeli airstrike as the cause. The following morning, footage of the site quickly led many observers to note that the lack of a large crater and the lack of structural damage to nearby buildings made it highly unlikely it had been an airstrike.

In a statement carried by British media, the chief of journalism at BBC says Donnison “was wrong to speculate about the cause of the explosion of the hospital. At no stage did he actually say it was caused by the Israelis… but nonetheless, when the impression is left that we’ve speculated, [it] is important to correct that which we’ve done.”

“Somewhere along the line, human beings are going to make a mistake on a bit of output and when it gets magnified and is used as an example of getting things wrong, it’s a very uncomfortable place to be,” he adds. “And of course, it shouldn’t have happened and we need to make sure that we’re doubling down on… [keeping] our language absolutely accurate.”

The corporation, however, indicates it will continue to avoid referring to Hamas as a terror group, a refusal that has drawn growing outcry from Israeli officials and supporters.

Exchange of gunfire, possible infiltration reported near Lebanon border

The Israel Defense Forces says it has received reports of gunfire toward the northern town of Margaliot on the Lebanon border.

The IDF says troops are scanning the area, without immediately providing further details.

According to Hebrew-language media reports, a gunman may have infiltrated into Israel.

Residents of nearby towns are told to go into bomb shelters as a precaution, though most have already evacuated amid repeated rocket and missile attacks from Lebanon.

UN says first aid delivery due in Gaza in ‘the next day or so’

This picture taken on October 19, 2023 shows the closed gate to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)
This picture taken on October 19, 2023 shows the closed gate to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

The first aid delivery into the besieged Gaza Strip via the Rafah border crossing with Egypt should take place “in the next day or so,” the United Nations says.

“We are in deep and advanced negotiations with all relevant sides to ensure that an aid operation in Gaza starts as quickly as possible… a first delivery is due to start in the next day or so,” the UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths has said, his spokesman tells reporters in Geneva.

Police locate, arrest 4 Gazans hiding in Beersheba apartment

Gazans arrested in a hideout apartment in Beersheba on October 20, 2023. (Israel Police)
Gazans arrested in a hideout apartment in Beersheba on October 20, 2023. (Israel Police)

Police say four residents of the Gaza Strip have been found and arrested in a hideout apartment in Beersheba.

Border Police officers acted upon intelligence indicating that Gazans are staying in Israel illegally, according to a police statement. They found and broke into an apartment and found the four Gazans.

They have been taken for questioning.

The police statement doesn’t say whether they are Gazans who were in Israel when the Israel-Hamas war began and became stuck, or if they participated in the mass infiltration on October 7 in which terrorists massacred some 1,400 people in Israel.

IDF says 584 wanted Palestinians arrested in West Bank since Oct. 7

The Israel Defense Forces says troops have arrested 584 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including more than 375 affiliated with the Hamas terror group, since the war in the Gaza Strip began on October 7.

Overnight, 47 Hamas members were arrested, the military says.

The IDF also confirms troops demolished the home — in the village of Urif near Nablus — of Khaled Mustafa Sabah, one of the two Hamas terrorists who killed four Israelis in a shooting attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli in June.

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

The military says that in the early morning hours it also wrapped up a 24-hour-long operation in the Nur Shams refugee camp, where troops killed at least 12 Palestinian gunmen and arrested 20 wanted suspects. One Israeli officer was also killed in the clashes.

According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, at least 75 West Bank Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers since October 7.

Rocket alarms blare in Ashkelon, Ashdod

Rocket alerts sound in Ashdod, Askelon and other nearby towns.

There are no immediate reports of impacts or interceptions.

2 Jewish men arrested on suspicion of assaulting Arab municipality worker in Jerusalem

Two young Jewish men were arrested overnight on suspicion of assaulting an Arab worker of the Jerusalem Municipality for nationalistic reasons, the Israel Police says.

Police say in a statement that around 2 a.m., they received a report about a municipality worker who was attacked while cleaning the street in the area of Mahane Yehuda Market.

Cops arrived and after a short search arrested the two men nearby, one aged 20 from Mevo Modi’im and the other aged 18 from the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood.

The attacked worker didn’t require hospitalization, police say. The suspects have been taken for questioning and will be brought later today for a remand hearing.

IDF says ready to repel Houthi missiles, hails cooperation with US military

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says the Israeli military is prepared to protect against potential attacks by the Iran-backed Houthis, after a US Navy ship intercepted a number of missiles and drones launched from Yemen yesterday, apparently toward Israel.

“This shows the defense capabilities of the US, and their ability to build a picture of the region,” Hagari says, noting the close relationship the IDF has with the US Central Command.

“Israel has some of the world’s best air defenses, and is prepared for threats like these,” he adds.

On Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, Hagari says the Israeli Air Force has been “operating at a rate that has not been seen for decades.”

2 rockets land in Sderot, causing no casualties

After a barrage of rockets toward Sderot, the municipality of the mostly evacuated city near Gaza says two projectiles fell in the city.

It adds that there are no casualties.

Most of the city’s residents have moved elsewhere as Israel readies a ground offensive in the Strip.

Israel approves emergency regulations that could pave way to closing Al Jazeera offices

Illustrative: An employee of Al Jazeera walks past the channel's logo at its headquarters in Doha, Qatar, in 2006. (AP/Kamran Jebreili, File)
Illustrative: An employee of Al Jazeera walks past the channel's logo at its headquarters in Doha, Qatar, in 2006. (AP/Kamran Jebreili, File)

The government has approved regulations that will allow it to temporarily shut down foreign news channels during states of emergency, such as the current war with terror group Hamas in Gaza, if it believes the outlet is damaging national security.

Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi has led the charge to pass these regulations in order to shut down the Al Jazeera news channel, which he claims has damaged national security.

The regulations are retroactive, meaning broadcasts by the Qatari network since the war started can now be used as the basis for a decision to shut down the staunchly pro-Palestinian news outlet’s local branch.

“Israel is at war on land, in the air, at sea, and on the public diplomacy front. We will not allow in any way broadcasts that harm the security of the state… The broadcasts and reports of Al Jazeera constitute incitement against Israel, help Hamas-ISIS and the terror organizations with their propaganda, and encourage violence against Israel,” says Karhi.

According to the new regulations, the communications minister — with the agreement of the defense minister — will be able to order TV providers to stop broadcasting the news outlet in question; close its offices in Israel, seize its equipment, and shut down its website or restrict access to its website, depending on the location of its server.

The decision must be approved by the security cabinet, must be based on legal opinions by the security establishment that the outlet is indeed harming national security, and is subject to the review of a district court.

Such a decision will be valid for 30 days but can be extended for additional 30-day periods. The emergency regulations will be in place for three months, or until the specific state of emergency is formally ended by the government.

Police arrest Palestinian Hamas supporter suspected of planning to ram West Bank troops

An 18-year-old Palestinian from Ramallah was arrested overnight while staying in Israel illegally, on suspicion of stealing a car with the intention of carrying out a ramming attack against Israeli forces at the West Bank’s Hizma checkpoint near Jerusalem, the Israel Police says.

Cops near the checkpoint noticed a vehicle approaching with no headlights and a broken windshield, suspecting it was stolen. They signaled to the driver to stop and he tried to flee.

The driver was taken for questioning, where police found out he is a supporter of the Hamas terror group who planned to harm the forces at the checkpoint, according to police.

Rocket sirens blare in Israeli communities near Gaza, after 11-hour lull

Rocket alarms sound in the evacuated Gaza-area communities of Mefalsim and Nir Am.

The last rockets fired from Gaza by terror groups were launched shortly before 11 p.m. last night.

There are no immediate reports of impacts or interceptions.

Health Ministry says 301 people currently hospitalized as result of Israel-Hamas war

The Health Ministry says that 301 people injured as a result of the Israel-Hamas war remain in hospitals, including 48 in serious condition and 173 in moderate condition.

In total, 4,834 people have been hospitalized since the terror group’s massive onslaught in southern Israel, in which some 1,400 were murdered and at least 203 were kidnapped to Gaza.

Military says it struck Hezbollah sites overnight, killed terror operative in Lebanon

The Israel Defense Forces says it struck several more sites belonging to the Hezbollah terror group in southern Lebanon overnight in response to yesterday’s rocket and missile fire on northern Israel.

Separately, the IDF says it carried out a drone strike killing a terror operative in the area.

No further details are given on the terror operative, including his affiliation or what he was planning to carry out.

IDF strikes over 100 Gaza targets overnight, kills Hamas troop who took part in onslaught

The Israel Defense Forces says it struck more than 100 targets in the Gaza Strip overnight, including one that killed a member of Hamas’s naval forces who participated in the October 7 massacres.

The IDF says Amjad Majed Muhammad Abu ‘Odeh, targeted in one of the overnight strikes, was involved in the murder of Israeli civilians in southern Israel.

Another overnight strike targeted a Hamas aerial forces squad, after they attempted to fire missiles at Israeli fighter jets, the IDF says.

The IDF says that an underground tunnel, a weapon warehouse and dozens of command centers were among the 100 Hamas sites struck overnight.

Also among the targets was a mosque in the Jabaliya neighborhood, which the IDF says contained Hamas assets and weapons and was used by Hamas as an observation post and a staging ground.

Yesh Atid MK says party must join wartime government, criticizes party chief Lapid

Elazar Stern of the Yesh Atid party attends a plenum session in the Knesset in Jerusalem, on July 6, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Elazar Stern of the Yesh Atid party attends a plenum session in the Knesset in Jerusalem, on July 6, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A member of Opposition Leader Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party criticizes his party chief for refusing to enter the emergency wartime government.

Lapid has declined to join forces with the coalition unless it removes key security-related authorities held by far-right ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir. The coalition has not considered making such a move. Fellow opposition party National Unity, headed by Benny Gantz, has entered the government.

Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern tells Channel 12 news: “I hope we enter. I’m doing everything so that we enter the unity government, I think we need to be there.”

Asked if Lapid has erred, Stern replies: “Ask him, I think we need to enter,” adding that the answers he has received from the opposition chief on the matter haven’t satisfied him.

Bodies of 8 Thai nationals murdered in Hamas assault arrive in Bangkok

Thai and Israeli officials including Thai Ambassador to Israel Pannabha Chandraramya, left, pay respect to the bodies of eight Thai nationals murdered in the October 7 Hamas terror group's onslaught in southern Israel, at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, October 19 2023, before the bodies are sent back to Thailand. (Thailand’s Foreign Ministry via AP)
Thai and Israeli officials including Thai Ambassador to Israel Pannabha Chandraramya, left, pay respect to the bodies of eight Thai nationals murdered in the October 7 Hamas terror group's onslaught in southern Israel, at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, October 19 2023, before the bodies are sent back to Thailand. (Thailand’s Foreign Ministry via AP)

The bodies of eight Thai nationals who were murdered in the October 7 Hamas onslaught on southern Israel arrive at Bangkok’s international airport on Friday, as repatriation efforts continue for thousands of Thai workers.

Ahead of the first repatriation of the Thai dead, Thai and Israeli officials laid wreaths at a small memorial ceremony yesterday at Tel Aviv’s airport. Thailand’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said that 30 Thai nationals are feared dead, while 16 are reportedly injured and 17 are believed to have been abducted.

There are about 30,000 Thai workers in Israel, mostly agricultural laborers, and about 5,000 were working in the area that was attacked. Two evacuation flights bring more than 500 Thais back to the country, with more flights set to arrive daily. Officials say more than 8,000 of the Thais remaining in Israel have expressed their wish to return home.

US 2nd Gentleman Emhoff meets US survivor of Hamas onslaught

Doug Emhoff, husband of US Vice President Kamala Harris, introduces US President Joe Biden during the celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month in the East Room of the White House, May 16, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Doug Emhoff, husband of US Vice President Kamala Harris, introduces US President Joe Biden during the celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month in the East Room of the White House, May 16, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Douglas Emhoff, the husband of US Vice President Kamala Harris, has met in Washington with Natalie Sanandaji, a 28-year-old American survivor of Hamas’s brutal October 7 assaults on southern Israel.

Sanandaji recounted the attack on a music festival, where some 260 people were massacred, a White House official says.

Emhoff, who is Jewish and has been outspoken about and against antisemitism, spoke to Sanandaji about US President Joe Biden and Harris’s support for Israel, providing humanitarian aid to civilians and the administration’s work to combat hate of all kinds, the official says.

Defense Ministry, IDF say they’ll start evacuating residents of Kiryat Shmona in north

File: A cable car is seen at Manara cliff above the northern city of Kiryat Shmona on August 13, 2014 (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
File: A cable car is seen at Manara cliff above the northern city of Kiryat Shmona on August 13, 2014 (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The Defense Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces announce that they will begin to evacuate residents from the northern city of Kiryat Shmona to state-subsidized guest houses.

The evacuation comes amid repeated rocket and missile attacks by the Hezbollah terror group and other allied Palestinian factions targeting northern Israel.

Yesterday, three people were wounded in a rocket attack on the city.

Kiryat Shmona has a population of some 22,000 residents, though many have already left amid the ongoing tensions.

Earlier this week, the ministry’s National Emergency Management Authority began working to evacuate all communities within two kilometers of the Lebanon border.

Poll: 80% of Israelis say Netanyahu must publicly take responsibility for Oct. 7 failures

The vast majority of Israelis believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should publicly accept responsibility for the staggering failures that led to Hamas’s devastating onslaught on October 7, according to an opinion poll by the Maariv newspaper.

The chiefs of the IDF and the Shin Bet have already taken such responsibility, as have the defense minister and finance minister.

Eighty percent of Israelis say Netanyahu should follow suit, including 69% of those who voted for the premier’s Likud party in last year’s election, according to the survey. Only 8% of the general public think he should not.

Asked who is better suited to be prime minister, 49% pick National Unity party leader Benny Gantz and only 28% pick Netanyahu, with the rest undecided.

Regarding the war in Gaza, 65% of Israelis support a ground offensive in the Strip, while 21% oppose it.

Additionally, 51% back a large-scale military operation on the northern front following increasing skirmishes with Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, while 30% want a limited operation.

Asked who they would vote for had elections been held today, the poll again gives abysmal grades to the current coalition — 43 seats compared to their current 64 — with Gantz’s party soaring to 40 seats from its current 12.

The survey was conducted on October 18 and 19 by the Lazar Institute, along with Panel4All, among 510 respondents constituting a representative sample of adult Israelis. The margin of error is 4.3%.

PA’s Abbas refused to hold phone call with Biden during Wednesday visit — report

US President Joe Biden (L) is received by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem in the West Bank on July 15, 2022. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
US President Joe Biden (L) is received by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem in the West Bank on July 15, 2022. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas refused to hold a phone call with US President Joe Biden during the latter’s visit to Israel on Wednesday, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

Citing an unnamed Palestinian source in Ramallah with knowledge of the matter, Kan says Biden administration officials tried to arrange a phone call between the leaders, but Abbas rejected the request.

Nevertheless, US and PA teams have remained in contact, even as Abbas has seethed with Washington’s support for Israel in its war against Hamas. He also canceled an expected meeting with Biden and Arab leaders at a summit in Jordan earlier this week.

IDF said to demolish West Bank home of terrorist behind deadly June attack in Eli

Israel Defense Forces troops have demolished the West Bank home of one of the perpetrators of a Palestinian terror attack in June that killed four at a gas station near the settlement of Eli, Hebrew media reports.

The terrorist, who lived in the town of Urif in the northern West Bank, is said to have been a Hamas member.

2 new drone attacks said to target US bases in Iraq amid anger over Gaza

An aerial file photo taken from a helicopter shows Ain al-Asad air base in the western Anbar desert, Iraq, December 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
An aerial file photo taken from a helicopter shows Ain al-Asad air base in the western Anbar desert, Iraq, December 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Two recent drone attacks are reported on US bases in Iraq, as regional terror groups step up attacks on American troops, presumably over the country’s support for Israel in its war against the Hamas terror group in Gaza.

The most recent drone attack is at al-Asad Air Base in western Iraq. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq posts a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, saying they have fired a salvo of rockets at the base and “they hit their targets directly and precisely.”

A US official confirms the latest attack but says it is too early to assess any impact. The Reuters news agency reports that the attack included drone and rocket attacks and that multiple explosions were heard on the base, which also houses other international forces.

A US official says that earlier, there was a rocket attack on US and coalition forces at a diplomatic support center near the Baghdad International Airport. Initial assessments indicate two rockets were fired, the official says, noting that one was intercepted by a counter-rocket system and the other struck an empty storage facility.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss details not yet made public, says no casualties have been reported in that incident.

Chicago-area man charged with hate crimes over threats to Muslim men

WHEATON, Illinois — A suburban Chicago man has been charged with two hate crimes for allegedly verbally abusing and threatening to shoot two Muslim men, a prosecutor say.

Larry York, 46, of Lombard, was denied pretrial release during a court hearing Thursday, DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin says.

York confronted the victims and cursed at them Tuesday night at an apartment complex, where one of the victims had gone to meet a friend, Berlin says.

While one man was seated in his car waiting for his friend, York initially approached him and asked the victim what he was doing there and began swearing at him and telling him he didn’t belong in this country and to leave, Berlin says.

York punched the man’s car window and walked to the lobby of the building, where the second victim was leaving an elevator. York began swearing at the second man and threatened to beat him, Berlin says.

A short time later, while one of the men sat on a bench outside the building, York again approached the men and twice lifted the opposite end of the bench, causing the seated man to fall to the ground, the prosecutor says.

York also allegedly told the men that he called four of his friends to come over and shoot the two men.

The violence occurred amid heightened fears that the war between Israel and Hamas is sparking violence in the United States.

The confrontation came three days after authorities say a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy was stabbed 26 times by his landlord in suburban Chicago.

EU takes step to address domestic security concerns amid Israel-Hamas war

German police officers stand guard in front of the building complex of the Kahal Adass Jisroel community, which houses a synagogue, a kindergarten and a community center, in the center of Berlin, Germany, October 18, 2023. (AP/Markus Schreiber)
German police officers stand guard in front of the building complex of the Kahal Adass Jisroel community, which houses a synagogue, a kindergarten and a community center, in the center of Berlin, Germany, October 18, 2023. (AP/Markus Schreiber)

BRUSSELS — The European Union begins taking steps to limit the impact of the war between Israel and Hamas on the bloc, amid heightened security tensions after a firebomb attack on a Berlin synagogue and killings in Belgium and France by suspected Islamic extremists.

Spain, which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, has activated a crisis mechanism to speed up decision-making and coordination between the 27 member countries, the bloc’s institutions and major partners like the United Nations or the United States.

Officials from across the EU have expressed concerns about a rise in antisemitic attacks, radicalization online, the use of encrypted messaging services by extremists, and the need to speed up the deportation of people who might pose a public danger.

But calls for an increase in security across the board are creating deep unease as the solutions being discussed could undermine free movement and the right to assemble in Europe.

Italy is introducing border checks to counter a possible rise in tensions over the Israel-Hamas war. Denmark and Sweden are too, due to what they have said is a terrorist threat. France intends to keep checks in place until at least May 2024, citing “new terrorist threats and external borders situation.”

More police have been deployed in Belgium, France and Germany.

In show of support for Israel, thousands rally in New York’s Times Square

Members of the Jewish community and supporters of Israel attend a rally calling for the release of hostages held by the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group, in Times Square, New York on October 19, 2023. (Ed Jones/AFP)
Members of the Jewish community and supporters of Israel attend a rally calling for the release of hostages held by the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group, in Times Square, New York on October 19, 2023. (Ed Jones/AFP)

Thousands of pro-Israel demonstrators hold a rally in New York’s Times Square, calling for the release of those taken captive in the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group’s deadly onslaught on October 7.

A number of speakers address the event remotely, including US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and New York Mayor Eric Adams.

“We know, that no matter what they try to do to us, in America and in Eretz Yisrael, Am Yisrael Chai… the people of Israel live,” Schumer says.

Rafah crossing not expected to reopen today for aid deliveries to Gaza — report

This picture taken on October 19, 2023 shows the closed gate to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)
This picture taken on October 19, 2023 shows the closed gate to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

Despite expectations the border between Egypt and Gaza could reopen later today to allow humanitarian aid into the coastal enclave, the Rafah crossing is expected to remain shuttered, according to CNN.

The report cites multiple sources, including one familiar with the discussions on the matter between Israel, Egypt and the Unites States, who says the situation is “volatile.”

“I would not put money on those trucks going through tomorrow,” the source is quoted as saying.

Biden highlights dangers of rising antisemitism and Islamophobia

“We cannot give up on peace. We cannot give up on a two-state solution,” Biden says toward the end of his address to the nation.

“Israel and the Palestinians equally deserve to live in safety, dignity and peace,” he says.

“Here at home,  we have to be honest with ourselves. In recent years, too much hate has given too much oxygen, fueling racism, the rise of antisemitism, and Islamophobia right here in America,” he says.

“Today, Jewish families are worried about being targeted in school or wearing symbols of their faith while walking down the street or going out about their daily lives,” Biden laments.

He also recalls this week’s tragic murder of a 6-year-old Palestinian-American in a suspected hate crime targeting him and his mother because of their faith.

‘A smart investment that’ll pay dividends’: Biden asks Congress to boost Israel, Ukraine support

US President Joe Biden addresses the nation from the Oval Office on October 19, 2023. (Screen capture/YouTube)
US President Joe Biden addresses the nation from the Oval Office on October 19, 2023. (Screen capture/YouTube)

Addressing the nation, US President Joe Biden says he will be submitting an urgent request tomorrow for Congress to “fund America’s national security needs to support our critical partners, including Israel and Ukraine.”

“It is a smart investment that’s going to pay dividends for American security for generations,” he asserts.

“It will help us keep American troops out of harm’s way,” Biden explains, indicating that the defense aid to both countries will be instead of sending US troops to fight in either war.

“We do not seek to have American troops fighting in Russia or fighting against Russia,” he says separately, notably not ruling out the possibility of US troops getting involved in the Gaza war.

Two officials familiar with the matter told The Times of Israel yesterday that the Biden officials have indicated to Israel in recent days that if Hezbollah initiates a war against Israel, the US military will join the IDF in fighting the Iran-backed Lebanese terror group.

The aid will “help us build a world that is safer, more peaceful, more prosperous for our children and grandchildren,” Biden says in the address to the nation.

“American alliances are what keep us America safe. American values are what make us a partner nations want to work with. To put all that at risk if we walk away from Ukraine or if we turn our backs on Israel — it’s just not worth it,” Biden asserts.

“In Israel, we’re going to make sure that they have what they need to protect their people today and always,” Biden says.

“The security package I’m sending to Congress… is an unprecedented commitment to Israel’s security that will sharpen Israel’s qualitative military edge, which we’ve committed [upholding].”

“We’re going to make sure Iron Dome continues to guard the skies over Israel. We’re going to make sure other hostile actors in the region know that Israel is stronger than ever and prevent this conflict from spreading,” he says.

“At the same time, [Prime Minister] Netanyahu and I discussed again yesterday, the critical need for Israel to operate by the laws of war. That means protecting civilians in combat as best as they can,” Biden clarifies.

Tying the two conflicts together again, Biden maintains that “Iran is supporting Russia in Ukraine, and it’s supporting Hamas and other terrorist groups in the region.

“We will continue to hold them accountable,” he asserts.

“The United States and our partners across the region are working to build a better future for the Middle East — One where the Middle East is more stable and better connected to its neighbors through innovative projects like the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor.”

Biden in address to nation: ‘Hamas, Putin aim to annihilate neighboring democracies’

US President Joe Biden addresses the nation from the Oval Office on October 19, 2023. (Screen capture/YouTube)
US President Joe Biden addresses the nation from the Oval Office on October 19, 2023. (Screen capture/YouTube)

US President Joe Biden begins his address to the nation from the Oval Office on the ongoing Gaza and Ukraine wars declaring, “We’re facing an inflection point in history, one of those moments where the decisions we make today are going to determine the future for decades to come.”

Biden recaps his recent trip to Israel, highlighting his meetings with Israeli leaders and with the families of those held hostage in Gaza.

“As President, there is no higher priority for me than the safety of Americans held hostage,” he says.

“The Jewish people know perhaps better than anyone, that there’s no limit to the depravity of people who want to inflict pain on others in Israel,” Biden laments.

Biden says he also spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and reiterated that the “US
remains committed to the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and to self determination.”

“The actions of Hamas don’t take that right away,” he asserts.

“I’m heartbroken by the tragic loss of Palestinian life, including the explosion at the hospital in Gaza, which was not done by the Israelis,” he says, reiterating that the IDF was not responsible, despite Hamas claims to the contrary.

He then likens the Gaza conflict to the one in Ukraine, saying, “Hamas and Putin represent different threads. But they share this in common: They both want neighboring democracy completely annihilated.”

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