ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 56

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Oct. 21: Rocket attacks continue from Gaza, Lebanon as Hamas war enters third week

Army chief tells troops to prep for incursion * Israeli shelling said to intensify * Cairo summit panned over failure to condemn Hamas * IDF hits cell in Lebanon readying attack

  • IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi speaks to Golani commanders at an undisclosed military base, October 21, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
    IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi speaks to Golani commanders at an undisclosed military base, October 21, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Israeli soldiers work on a tank at a staging area near the border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, October 20, 2023. (AP Photo/ Ohad Zwigenberg)
    Israeli soldiers work on a tank at a staging area near the border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, October 20, 2023. (AP Photo/ Ohad Zwigenberg)
  • A demonstrator holds a sign calling for Israel's elimination during a rally in support of Palestinians in Madrid on October 21, 2023. (Pierre-Philippe MARCOU / AFP)
    A demonstrator holds a sign calling for Israel's elimination during a rally in support of Palestinians in Madrid on October 21, 2023. (Pierre-Philippe MARCOU / AFP)
  • Trucks of Egyptian Red Crecent carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip cross the Rafah border gate, in Rafah, Egypt, October 21, 2023. (Mohammed Asad/AP)
    Trucks of Egyptian Red Crecent carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip cross the Rafah border gate, in Rafah, Egypt, October 21, 2023. (Mohammed Asad/AP)
  • 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)
  • Illustrative: Palestinians inspect debris after an Israeli strike near a UNRWA school in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip on October 21, 2023. (Mahmud HAMS / AFP)
    Illustrative: Palestinians inspect debris after an Israeli strike near a UNRWA school in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip on October 21, 2023. (Mahmud HAMS / AFP)
  • Young men look at photos of Israelis missing and held hostage in Gaza, displayed on a wall in Tel Aviv, on Friday, Oct. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
    Young men look at photos of Israelis missing and held hostage in Gaza, displayed on a wall in Tel Aviv, on Friday, Oct. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
  • A woman stands in front of photographs of some of those taken hostage by Hamas on October 20, 2023 in Tel Aviv, Israel (Gili Yaari /Flash90)
    A woman stands in front of photographs of some of those taken hostage by Hamas on October 20, 2023 in Tel Aviv, Israel (Gili Yaari /Flash90)
  • An Israeli soldier patrols next to a house damaged by Hamas terrorists at Kibbutz Kissufim in southern Israel, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP/Francisco Seco)
    An Israeli soldier patrols next to a house damaged by Hamas terrorists at Kibbutz Kissufim in southern Israel, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP/Francisco Seco)
  • Palestinians gather over the remains of a destroyed house following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Abed Khaled)
    Palestinians gather over the remains of a destroyed house following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Abed Khaled)
  • A picture taken from the Israeli side of the border with the Gaza Strip shows smoke rising behind destroyed buildings in the northwestern part of the Palestinian enclave during Israeli strikes on Hamas on October 21, 2023 (Photo by Aris MESSINIS / AFP)
    A picture taken from the Israeli side of the border with the Gaza Strip shows smoke rising behind destroyed buildings in the northwestern part of the Palestinian enclave during Israeli strikes on Hamas on October 21, 2023 (Photo by Aris MESSINIS / AFP)
  • A photo hangs on a fridge next to bullet 
holes in a house at Kibbutz Kissufim in southern Israel, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP/Francisco Seco)
    A photo hangs on a fridge next to bullet holes in a house at Kibbutz Kissufim in southern Israel, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP/Francisco Seco)
  • Graves of Israeli soldiers killed in the war with Hamas, at Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, October 20, 2023. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
    Graves of Israeli soldiers killed in the war with Hamas, at Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, October 20, 2023. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
  • Israeli firefighters and police inspect a site struck by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Friday, Oct. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
    Israeli firefighters and police inspect a site struck by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Friday, Oct. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
  • People gather during a pro-Palestinian rally in Sydney, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP/Rick Rycroft)
    People gather during a pro-Palestinian rally in Sydney, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP/Rick Rycroft)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Saturday’s events as they happened.

NYT corrects report claiming trucks carrying aid entered Gaza without inspection

This aerial view shows humanitarian aid trucks arriving at a storage facility in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on October 21, 2023, after having crossed through the Rafah border from Egypt. (Belal Al Sabbagh/AFP)
This aerial view shows humanitarian aid trucks arriving at a storage facility in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on October 21, 2023, after having crossed through the Rafah border from Egypt. (Belal Al Sabbagh/AFP)

The New York Times issues a correction to a report claiming trucks carrying aid entered Gaza without being inspected for weapons, saying it misquoted UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric and that he stressed Israel was aware of the vehicles’ contents.

Rocket alerts activated in pair of southern kibbutzim

Rocket warning alerts sound in Sufa and Holit, a pair of southern kibbutzim bordering the Gaza Strip.

Tech summit organizer quits after facing backlash for accusing Israel of war crimes

Irish entrepreneur and founder of Web Summit, Paddy Cosgrave, speaks during the first day of the Web Summit Rio 2023 at the RioCentro Expo Center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 1, 2023. (Mauro Pimentel/AFP)
Irish entrepreneur and founder of Web Summit, Paddy Cosgrave, speaks during the first day of the Web Summit Rio 2023 at the RioCentro Expo Center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 1, 2023. (Mauro Pimentel/AFP)

LISBON, Portugal — The organizer of the Web Summit, one of the tech sector’s leading events, announced his resignation Saturday following a backlash over his online posts following the Hamas attacks on Israel.

“Unfortunately, my personal comments have become a distraction from the event,” Paddy Cosgrave of Ireland explains in a brief statement sent to AFP.

“I sincerely apologize again for any hurt I have caused,” adds the co-founder of the tech mega gathering created in 2009 in Dublin but held in Lisbon since 2016.

A spokesperson for the organization says: “Web Summit will appoint a new CEO as soon as possible, and Web Summit 2023 in Lisbon will go ahead as planned.”

This year’s edition from November 13 to 16, is set to bring together some 2,300 startups and more than 70,000 participants, say organizers.

Several companies, including tech giants Google and Meta, which is behind Facebook and Instagram, as well as event headliners have announced they are boycotting the gathering since Cosgrave’s remarks.

He had written on X, formerly Twitter, that he was “shocked at the rhetoric and actions of so many Western leaders & governments” in support of Israel.

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

IDF hits Hezbollah posts in south Lebanon, says soldier seriously hurt in missile attack

The Israel Defense Forces says it struck a Hezbollah position in southern Lebanon from which an anti-aircraft missile was launched at an Israeli drone.

The IDF says the missile was intercepted by air defenses, and the military drone was not damaged.

Separately the IDF says fighter jets struck a series of Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon in response to several missile attacks on the border today, claimed by the terror group.

The IDF also releases for publication that an Israeli soldier was seriously wounded and two others were lightly hurt in one of the missile attacks today, near the northern community of Bar’am.

Rocket warning siren sounds in kibbutz near Gaza border

A rocket warning siren is activated in a kibbutz across from the southeastern Gaza Strip.

Israeli strikes in Gaza said to ramp up

Reports claim that Israeli shelling of Gaza is intensifying, after the IDF said it would step up strikes to create the conditions needed for the next phase of the war, expected to be a ground-based offensive.

Reports in Hebrew-language media offer few details of the intensified bombardments. An Al Jazeera correspondent says the strikes are centered around the Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, calling them “really terrifying.”

Israel pans Cairo confab for failure to condemn Hamas

Israel criticizes a peace summit in Cairo where Arab and Western representatives failed to agree on condemning Hamas for its massacres in southern Israel on October 7.

“It is unfortunate that even when faced with those horrific atrocities, there were some who had difficulty condemning terrorism or acknowledging the danger,” a Foreign Ministry statement says.

“Israel will do what it has to do and expects the international community to recognize its justified battle,” it adds.

IDF says it struck cell readying anti-tank missile attack from Lebanon

The Israel Defense Forces says it carried out a strike against another anti-tank guided missile squad in southern Lebanon.

The IDF says the squad was preparing a missile attack against the northern community of Shlomi.

It marks the fourth terror squad the IDF has targeted in southern Lebanon today.

President of Detroit synagogue stabbed to death

Samantha Woll, 40, of the Isaac Agree Downtown Detroit Synagogue. (Facebook)
Samantha Woll, 40, of the Isaac Agree Downtown Detroit Synagogue. (Facebook)

The president of a Detroit synagogue has been found stabbed to death outside her home, police and officials say.

No motive has been announced in the slaying of Samantha Woll, 40, who led the Isaac Agree Downtown Detroit Synagogue. She was found lying on the ground and unresponsive, with a trail of blood leading back to her home, according to police.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says she is “shocked, saddened and horrified to learn of Sam’s brutal murder. Sam was as kind a person as I’ve ever known.”

Woll worked on campaigns for Nessel and was an aide to Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Slotkin wrote that “in politics & in the Jewish community, she dedicated her short life to building understanding across faiths, bringing light in the face of darkness,” the Detroit News reports.

The killing comes as Jewish communities throughout the US have stepped up security amid rising interfaith tensions around the Israel-Hamas war.

Netanyahu’s office calls Hamas claim it offered to free 2 hostages ‘propaganda lies’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office says it “will not respond” after Hamas claimed to have offered to release two hostages but was rejected by Israel.

The spokesperson for Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Obeida, said earlier today that the terror group informed Qatar yesterday that they would release two hostages held in the Gaza Strip, but that Israel refused to accept them.

Abu Obeida named the two hostages, saying they would have been released for “humanitarian reasons.”

“We won’t respond to Hamas’s propaganda lies,” Netanyahu’s bureau says. “We will continue to do everything possible to return all the hostages and missing home.”

Israeli officials have accused Hamas of “psychological terror” by means of various statements and footage of some of the more than 200 hostages it holds in the Gaza Strip.

On Friday, Hamas released mother and daughter Judith and Natalie Raanan.

Israel denies aid went into Gaza without being checked

This aerial view shows humanitarian aid trucks arriving from Egypt after having crossed through the Rafah border crossing arriving at a storage facility in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on October 21, 2023. (Belal Al SABBAGH / AFP)
This aerial view shows humanitarian aid trucks arriving from Egypt after having crossed through the Rafah border crossing arriving at a storage facility in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on October 21, 2023. (Belal Al SABBAGH / AFP)

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories denies that aid entering the Gaza Strip was not checked before going in.

“All of the equipment was checked before going into Gaza,” it says in a statement, noting that the shipment included “only water, food and medical equipment.”

“We emphasize that Israel is able to make sure that nothing goes in or out except the aforementioned,” it adds.

A UN spokesperson told the New York Times that the aid was not checked before going in, with an expedited process in place instead.

Cairo summit participants fail to agree on statement condemning Hamas

Arab diplomats say an international summit in Cairo on the Israel-Hamas war broke up without a joint statement as Arab and Western countries split on whether to condemn Hamas.

Western delegates demanded “a clear condemnation placing responsibility for the escalation on Hamas” but Arab leaders refused, a diplomat tells AFP on condition of anonymity.

Instead the Egyptian hosts released a statement — drafted with the approval of Arab delegates — criticizing world leaders for seeking to “manage the conflict and not end it permanently.”

The statement says such “temporary solutions and palliatives… do not live up to even the lowest aspirations” of the Palestinian people.

First aid trucks entering Gaza not checked for weapons — report

A UN spokesperson says the first 20 trucks of humanitarian aid to enter Gaza were not checked for weapons or other contraband, the New York Times reports.

Instead, the trucks entered via an “expedited process,” in which a manifest of what they contained was submitted to the UN, Egypt and Israel, Stéphane Dujarric says. The aid was given to the Red Cross for distribution.

He says the process will not be used again, and is unsure when more trucks will be allowed to enter.

UN agencies say first aid convoy ‘far from enough’

Trucks with humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip enter from Egypt in Rafah on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP/Fatima Shbair)
Trucks with humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip enter from Egypt in Rafah on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP/Fatima Shbair)

United Nations aid agencies say a first 20-truck convoy of assistance that reached Gaza Saturday is “only a small beginning and far from enough.”

The agencies, including the World Health Organization, the World Food Program and others, say in a joint statement that more than 1.6 million people are in critical need of humanitarian aid.

“Vulnerable people are at greatest risk and children are dying at an alarming rate and being denied their right to protection, food, water and health care,” they say.

The agencies, which also include the UN Population Fund and UNICEF, call for a humanitarian ceasefire, along with immediate, unrestricted humanitarian access throughout Gaza.

“Gaza was a desperate humanitarian situation before the most recent hostilities. It is now catastrophic. The world must do more,” they say.

Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders says Gaza’s health care system is “facing collapse.”

The global medical group says hospitals in Gaza are “overwhelmed and lacking resources.”

“We recently made a large donation of medical stock, including medicines, narcotics and medical equipment to Al Shifa hospital, the main surgical facility in the strip,” the group, known by its French acronym MSF, writes on the X platform.

Qatari official says he’s optimistic all hostages will be released soon

Senior Qatari official Majed Al-Ansari says he is optimistic that all hostages held by Hamas will be released soon, indicating that the release of two American-Israelis Friday was a first step toward the release of more civilian hostages.

“The release took place within a framework that confirms the positive intention to release the hostages,” he tells German newspaper Die Welt. “We are optimistic that the hostages, especially the civilians, will be released very soon.”

Al-Ansari, an adviser to Qatar’s foreign ministry, says Doha is one of several parties involved in negotiations for their release, but unique in that it is talking to both Israel and Hamas.

He also seems to give way when pressed on Doha’s decision to blame Israel for Hamas’s attacks on October 7, in which the terror group rampaged through Israeli communities, slaughtering families.

“Yes, it was particularly serious,” he says. “It was certainly worse than anything we’ve seen before. But when Israel bombs homes knowing that there are children in them, then innocent people are also at stake. And no human life is more important than another.”

Islamic Jihad says member killed in Lebanon amid Israeli shelling

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad says a member from Syria was killed in southern Lebanon today while “performing jihad.”

Muhammad Mahmoud Musa, 41, is believed to have been killed in an Israeli airstrike.

The IDF said it struck three terror cells in southern Lebanon today that were involved in rocket and missile fire on military positions and Israeli towns.

At least six Israeli soldiers, 17 Hezbollah terrorists, and six Palestinian terrorists have been killed in skirmishes on the border during the last two weeks. One Israeli civilian was killed in a Hezbollah attack, and several Lebanese civilians and a journalist were also reported killed by Israeli shelling.

Family of released hostages: No celebrating until everybody home

Uri Raanan, right, pauses as he talks to reporters outside his Bannockburn, Illinois, home with his sister Sigal Zamir, left, wife Paola Raanan, center, and her daughter Frida Alonso, after his daughter Natalie, and her mother Judith Raanan were released by Hamas, Friday, Oct. 20, 2023. (AP/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Uri Raanan, right, pauses as he talks to reporters outside his Bannockburn, Illinois, home with his sister Sigal Zamir, left, wife Paola Raanan, center, and her daughter Frida Alonso, after his daughter Natalie, and her mother Judith Raanan were released by Hamas, Friday, Oct. 20, 2023. (AP/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The family of Judith and Natalia Raanan are tempering their relief over the pair’s release from Hamas captivity, saying they cannot rejoice with so many others still being held hostage by the terror group.

“The release of Judith and Natalie is a moment of extraordinary relief – far beyond anything we can express in words,” say family spokespeople Ayelet, Or, and Limor Sella, cousins of the Illinois-based pair, in an English-language statement. “Unfortunately, we do not have the privilege of celebrating their return, or of mourning our lost loved ones.

“We remain entirely focused on the efforts to secure the return of our eight other family members that remain captive in Gaza, along with the estimated 192 other people still held hostage, which includes numerous Americans and many who are seriously injured and in need of immediate medical treatment,” they say.

They vow to continue working with other families for the hostages’ release, and thank the US administration, Congress “and the many others around the world who were involved in the delicate effort to return our beloved Judith and Natalie.”

Netanyahu meeting Italy’s Meloni in Tel Aviv

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in Tel Aviv on October 21, 2023. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in Tel Aviv on October 21, 2023. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni at Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, his office says.

The two are first meeting alone before holding expanded talks, the Prime Minister’s Office says.

IDF stepping up strikes to create ‘best conditions’ for ‘next phase of war’

Illustrative: Palestinians inspect debris after an Israeli strike near a UNRWA school in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip on October 21, 2023. (Mahmud HAMS / AFP)
Illustrative: Palestinians inspect debris after an Israeli strike near a UNRWA school in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip on October 21, 2023. (Mahmud HAMS / AFP)

Israel will immediately step up its strikes in Gaza to increase pressure on Hamas, IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says.

“We have to enter the next phase of the war in the best conditions, not according to what anyone tells us. From today, we are increasing the strikes and minimizing the danger,” Hagari tells a press conference, likely referring to a looming ground offensive.

In the past, Israel has pounded areas near the Gaza border with artillery and airstrikes to soften resistance immediately before launching a ground incursion.

At Cairo summit, Abbas rejects ‘killing of civilians on both sides’

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is calling for an international peace summit to bring about the end of the Israel-Hamas war.

Speaking at a conference in Cairo, Abbas reiterates his “complete rejection of the killing of civilians on both sides.” He also urges the “release of all civilians, prisoners, and detainees,” likely alluding to some 210 hostages kidnapped from Israel and held by Hamas in Gaza, almost all of them civilians, including children and the elderly, and Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Abbas calls for Israel to stop “its barbaric aggression” in Gaza. He also says Palestinians will not exit the coastal territory, even as Israel’s campaign to eliminate Hamas terrorists, including heavy restrictions on food, water and fuel entering the Strip, pushes the enclave’s humanitarian situation to the brink.

“We will not leave, we will not leave, we will not leave, and we will remain in our land,” he tells the summit.

Erdogan to Hamas’s Haniyeh: Turkey may take in Gaza wounded

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office says he has spoken with Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh about the possibility of bringing Gazan wounded to Turkey for treatment.

“President Erdoğan stated that Türkiye is working to ensure that humanitarian aid reach Gaza, the injured be treated in Türkiye when necessary and for a ceasefire to be achieved in the region as soon as possible,” Erdogan’s office says in a tweet.

There is no mention of efforts to free the hostages Hamas abducted from Israel, despite Turkey saying earlier it would intercede on their behalf. Ankara has ramped up criticism of Israel, an ally, in recent days.

Ultra-Orthodox asking to join up by thousands, army says

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says there have been increasing requests by ultra-Orthodox Israelis to join the military amid the war.

The IDF has received more than 2,000 requests from Haredim in recent days, and on Monday, they will begin to be drafted as volunteers, Hagari says.

Many Haredi communities shun military service, causing a serious split in Israeli society.

IDF still focused on Gaza despite heat from Lebanon, spokesman says

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says the military is still focused on the Gaza Strip, despite repeated attacks from Lebanon by the Hezbollah terror group.

“Every day we conduct an assessment of the north. We are strong on defense and offense [on the Lebanon border], but the main task we are focused on is Gaza,” Hagari says in a press conference.

“Our main mission is Gaza, where Hamas is, and where our kidnapped citizens are,” he adds.

Hezbollah and allied Palestinian terror groups have carried out daily missile and rocket attacks from Lebanon at IDF positions and Israeli towns in the last two weeks.

The IDF has been responding with strikes on Hezbollah sites and operatives.

IDF claims over 550 rockets fell short in Strip since outbreak of war

The Israel Defense Forces releases thermal footage showing failed rocket launches from Gaza landing inside the Strip.

According to the IDF, more than 550 rockets fired at Israel have fallen short since October 7, killing Palestinians in the failed strikes.

Earlier today, IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said one-fifth of the rockets launched at Israel yesterday fell short inside Gaza.

Blinken to Lebanese PM: Consider how entering war would affect your people

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated to Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati in a phone call earlier today “the importance of respecting the interests of the Lebanese people, who would be affected by Lebanon being drawn into the conflict instigated by Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel,” the State Department says.

Blinken notes growing concern over tensions on the Israel-Lebanon border and expresses “his condolences to the families of Lebanese civilians who have tragically lost their lives as a result of the conflict, underscoring continued US support for the Lebanese Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces, the sole legitimate guarantors of Lebanon’s stability and territorial integrity,” according to a US statement.

Rocket sirens sound in Ashkelon

Rocket sirens are sounding in Ashkelon, as well as the communities of Zikim and Karmia closer to the Gaza border north of the Strip.

The launches appear timed to coincide with Israel’s primetime 8 p.m. news broadcasts, a tactic thought employed by Gazan terror groups for maximum exposure of their attacks.

IDF chief: Gaza readying surprises, but so are we

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi speaks to Golani commanders at an undisclosed military base, October 21, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi speaks to Golani commanders at an undisclosed military base, October 21, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The chief of the Israel Defense Forces tells commanders in the Golani infantry brigade that they should expect surprises prepared by terror groups when they enter the Gaza Strip in the upcoming ground offensive, but that the IDF has also prepared some of its own.

“We will enter the Gaza Strip. We will begin an operational and professional mission to destroy the Hamas operatives, the Hamas infrastructure, and we will also keep in our minds the images, the scenes and the fallen from Shabbat two weeks ago,” IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi says, referring to the Hamas massacres on October 7.

“Gaza is complex, Gaza is dense, the enemy is preparing a lot of things there, but we are preparing things for them as well,” Halevi adds.

Sissi: ‘Incomprehensible’ Israel not being rebuked for Gaza campaign

Arab leaders at a summit of world leaders in Cairo focused on ways to de-escalate the raging Israel-Hamas war are using the opportunity to castigate the international community for not condemning Israel’s bombing campaign on Gaza with the same force they did Hamas’s slaughter of 1,400 civilians in southern Israel on October 7.

The response of the world, the office of President Abdel Fatah el-Sissi says, displayed a “shortcoming in the values of the international community in addressing crises.”

“While we see one place officials rushing and competing to promptly condemn the killing of innocent people, we find incomprehensible hesitation in denouncing the same act in another place,” Sissi says in reference to fierce Western condemnation of Hamas’s attack on Israel and a weaker reaction to Palestinian suffering.

Representatives from Arab and European nations at the summit are calling for more humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza and appealing for the protection of civilians there.

The summit does not immediately produce any statements about the prospects of a ceasefire.

Police: 74% of civilians killed October 7 identified

Police figures indicate that approximately 1,033 bodies of civilians killed in Hamas’s October 7 onslaught have been collected, of which 765 have been identified.

Of those, 668 have been transferred to families for burial.

“The 765 victims represent 74% of civilians (non-soldiers) killed in the fighting whose bodies have been brought for identification,” a statement says.

“Thousands of police have been working shifts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are taking part in the tough work of identification,” police say. Some of the bodies have been badly burned or destroyed, making identification extremely challenging.

Around 300 soldiers killed in the assault and ensuing fighting on the Gaza border have also been identified by the IDF, putting the official death toll at over 1,300.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that the toll from the murderous rampage was at least 1,400 and possibly higher.

Foreign citizens not being allowed to leave Gaza despite opening of Egypt border

Palestinians with duel citizenship wait outside the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on October 21, 2023, as they wait for permission to cross. (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)
Palestinians with duel citizenship wait outside the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on October 21, 2023, as they wait for permission to cross. (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

Palestinian Americans and other dual citizens rushed to southern Gaza’s Rafah crossing with Egypt as 20 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid entered the besieged strip earlier today as the border opened for the first time since the start of the war.

It was not immediately clear if the Hamas authorities in Gaza or Egypt were preventing them from leaving.

Embassies had asked their citizens in Gaza to stand ready at the border, but crowds of disappointed Palestinians holding American, Canadian, German and British passports waited hours in vain for at least the fifth time this week.

“There is no opening of the crossing, and the suffering is the same,” said US citizen Dina al- Khatib. “They communicate with us, but there is no change.”

Al-Khatib said she and her family were desperate to get out.

“It’s is not like previous wars,” she said. “There is no electricity, no water, no internet, nothing.”

IDF drone strike hits another anti-tank cell on Lebanese border

The Israel Defense Forces says it has carried out another drone strike against a terror squad in southern Lebanon preparing an anti-tank guided missile attack.
The IDF publishes footage of the strike against the group, near the Mount Dov area.

It marks the third terror squad the IDF has targeted in southern Lebanon today.

The Hezbollah terror group has claimed responsibility for several missile attacks on IDF positions and Israeli towns today, as well as in the past two weeks.

Hezbollah announce death of member killed ‘performing jihad’

The Hezbollah terror group announces the death of a member who was killed while “performing jihad.”

Hezbollah does not elaborate on where Ismail Ahmed al-Zein was killed, but it is believed he was killed in an Israeli strike during recent skirmishes on the Lebanon border.

At least 14 Hezbollah members have been killed in Israeli retaliatory strikes in southern Lebanon in the past two weeks, after the terror group has launched numerous missile attacks against northern Israel.

Official says Israel gave green light for Gaza aid several days ago

Egyptian aid workers celebrate as an aid truck crosses back into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip on October 21, 2023. (Kerolos Salah/AFP)
Egyptian aid workers celebrate as an aid truck crosses back into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip on October 21, 2023. (Kerolos Salah/AFP)

Israel gave the green light for humanitarian aid to pass through Egypt’s Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip several days ago, says an Israeli official, speaking to The Times of Israel on condition of anonymity.

The first 20 aid trucks passed from Egypt to Rafah this morning, with the timing set by Egyptian discretion, the official says.

Aid was one of the first topics discussed between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden, amid burgeoning concerns for the welfare of 2 million Palestinians within the besieged Gaza Strip.

Their crisis has been exacerbated by Hamas bombing water and electricity lines within the Strip, says the Israeli official.

Israel holds an informal veto over what aid can be transferred to Gaza, in line with understandings reached with Egypt. Israel is especially concerned with weapons smuggling into the strip, or diverting aid to Hamas’s war effort. It has also ruled out letting fuel into the Strip.

Egypt, the official adds, is nervous about Palestinian refugees crossing into their territory. No people evacuated Gaza through Rafah today amid expectations that foreign citizens would be allowed to leave.

IDF says private homes harboring terrorists are legitimate targets

Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Abed Khaled)
Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Abed Khaled)

A senior Israel Defense Forces official says the military will try not to strike zones in Gaza where humanitarian aid is being distributed unless rockets are fired from the area.

“It’s a safe zone. We have a system in which every time we decide that an area…is a safe zone, we declare no attack in this area. We won’t attack them,” he tells a group of foreign journalists.

He adds that the definition of what constitutes a “legitimate target” has changed, because the use of civilian infrastructure by Hamas “turns a private home into a legitimate target. And anyone who supports that home is a legitimate target.”

He acknowledges that the IDF has attacked houses where there are civilians living among terrorists.

Air Force chief says military will attack Hamas as if terror group were at full force

IAF chief Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar (right) speaks with Shaldag troops in southern Israel, October 14, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
IAF chief Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar (right) speaks with Shaldag troops in southern Israel, October 14, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The chief of the Israeli Air Force says the military, during the upcoming ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, will be treating the Hamas terror group as if it was not harmed at all by the last two weeks of heavy airstrikes on its assets.

“I would not want to switch places with any enemy and meet a brigade or division of the Israel Defense Forces,” says IAF chief Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar during a briefing with senior commanders.

“With the determination I see, I leave with a very strengthened feeling and together with the [Air] Force, there is a machine here that I have no doubt will work,” Bar says.

“Until now we have hit Hamas with thousands of airstrikes, thousands of bombs that hit precisely. Hamas is not starting from scratch now,” he says.

“However, we are treating it as if it was not harmed at all,” Bar says. “We will enter with all of our power and hit [Hamas] as if it is fighting us on ‘day one.’”

WATCH: White House publishes Biden conversation with freed hostages

The White House publishes US President Joe Biden’s conversation with freed hostages Judith and Natalie Raanan.

“I’m so glad you’re home — well not home, I’m glad you’re out,” Biden tells them. “We’re going to get them all out, God-willing,” he says, referring to the other hostages.

Eight other members of Judith and Natalie’s wider family are among the hostages. Two members of the wider family were killed by terrorists in Hamas’s October 7 onslaught.

Hamas claims to target Israeli tank on Gaza border

The Hamas terror group claims to have targeted an Israeli tank with an anti-tank guided missile on the Gaza border, near the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis.

There is no immediate comment from the IDF on the incident.

Anti-tank missile fired at town on Lebanese border; troops respond with artillery fire

The Israel Defense Forces says an anti-tank guided missile has been fired from Lebanon at the area near the northern town of Bar’am.

The military does not immediately provide information on possible casualties.

The IDF says troops are responding with artillery shelling at the source of the missile launch.

War cabinet tours south to see ground offensive preparations, Netanyahu booed

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of the war cabinet toured southern Israel earlier today to see the military’s preparations for the expected ground offensive into Gaza.

The top security body consists of Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Minister Benny Gantz.

With news of Netanyahu’s arrival at the southern command in Beersheba, several Israelis turned up to protest against him and called on him to resign.

“These are the last days of your corrupt regime,” one man called out to him.

Ex-US congressman Amash says several relatives killed in Gaza strikes

Former US congressman Justin Amash says several of his relatives were killed earlier this week as a result of an Israeli airstrike in Gaza.

“I have now confirmed that several of my relatives (including Viola and Yara pictured here) were killed at Saint Porphyrius Orthodox Church in Gaza, where they had been sheltering, when part of the complex was destroyed as the result of an Israeli airstrike,” tweets Amash, the first Palestinian American member of Congress.

“The Palestinian Christian community has endured so much. Our family is hurting badly. May God watch over all Christians in Gaza—and all Israelis and Palestinians who are suffering, whatever their religion or creed,” he adds.

Amash entered Congress in 2011 as a Republican representing Michigan’s 3rd district, but left the party and registered as an independent for the last two years of his decade in the House.

IDF raids West Bank home of top Hamas leader, arrests 10 relatives

Israeli troops raid the West Bank home of a senior Hamas leader and detain members of his family, witnesses say.

Saleh al-Aruri is the deputy to Hamas’s overall leader Ismail Haniyeh and one of the founders of the Islamist terror group’s military wing.

Based in Lebanon, al-Aruri is a key target for Israel following the October 7 attacks when Hamas terrorists from Gaza stormed into southern Israel and killed at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and seized more than 200 hostages, according to Israeli officials.

Troops entered Aruri’s home in Arura village, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Ramallah, at dawn Saturday morning, arresting more than 20 people, including one of his brothers and nine of his nephews, mayor Ali al-Khasib and witnesses tell AFP.

Dozens more were pulled in for questioning.

Outside the house, troops put up a banner of the Hamas deputy against the background of an Israeli flag that read: “This was the house of Saleh al-Aruri and has become the headquarters of Abu al-Nimer — Israeli intelligence,” witnesses say, with images of it widely shared online.

Village residents say Abu al-Nimer was an alias for the Israeli intelligence officer responsible for the area.

In a statement, the army says the raid was jointly staged with the Shin Bet internal security service and resulted in the arrests of “dozens of Hamas members” among them relatives of Aruri. It confirmed using the house “for the detention and questioning of activists.”

Israel has accused Aruri, who was named Haniyeh’s deputy in 2017, of organizing several attacks.

He spent almost 20 years in Israeli prisons and was freed in 2010 on condition that he go into exile.

Blinken welcomes start of aid to Gaza, still working to get foreign citizens out

Trucks with humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip enter from Egypt in Rafah on Oct. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)
Trucks with humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip enter from Egypt in Rafah on Oct. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

The United States welcomes the delivery of a 20-truck convoy carrying humanitarian aid for Gazan civilians through Egypt’s Rafah crossing for the first time since the October 7 Hamas onslaught, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says in a statement.

Blinken thanks Egypt, Israel and the United Nations for securing the aid, which he says will help begin addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza where residents have been without access to sufficient food, water, medical care and safe shelter.

Blinken says the reopening of Rafah followed days of “exhaustive” diplomatic engagements by the US with Israel and Egypt and he calls on the sides to do their part to keep Rafah open so that more aid can get into Gaza.

“Hamas must not interfere with the provision of this life-saving assistance,” Blinken says. “Palestinian civilians are not responsible for Hamas’s horrific terrorism, and they should not be made to suffer for its depraved acts.”

“As President Biden stated, if Hamas steals or diverts this assistance it will have demonstrated once again that it has no regard for the welfare of the Palestinian people and as a practical matter it will hinder the international community from being able to provide this aid,” he adds

Blinken says the US will continue working to establish safe zones in Gaza where civilians can go to stay out of harm’s way, to allow US citizens looking to leave the Strip to be able to do so, and to secure the release of the hostages.

Foreign citizens were not allowed to leave today when Egypt briefly opened the border to allow the first convoy in.

IDF video shows airstrike against missile squad on Lebanese border

The Israel Defense Forces publishes a video showing an airstrike against an anti-tank guided missile squad in southern Lebanon that launched a missile at Margaliot, wounding two Thai workers.

Footage published by Lebanese media outlets shows a car burning in the southern village of Houla.

In a separate video published by the IDF, a Hezbollah observation post in southern Lebanon is seen struck by members of the elite Maglan unit.

The IDF says that one of its tank shelled another Hezbollah post in the area in response to the recent missile attacks.

Rockets fired at Tel Aviv region, south

A large rocket barrage is fired at south and central Israel.

Rocket warning sirens sound in Tel Aviv, Bat Yam, Ashdod and Yavne.

There are no immediate reports of direct hits or casualties.

2 Thai workers injured in Hezbollah missile attack on northern border

The Magen David Adom ambulance service says two Thai workers, aged 35, are wounded by shrapnel in a Hezbollah missile attack from Lebanon at the Margaliot area in northern Israel.

One is in moderate condition after sustaining an injury to his chest, and the other is lightly hurt, MDA says.

Both are being taken to a nearby hospital.

Switzerland probing Hamas financing

Palestinian boys line up to register for a summer camp organized by Hamas's military wing, the Iz-Ad Din Al-Qassam Brigades, in Gaza City, on June 14, 2021. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)
Palestinian boys line up to register for a summer camp organized by Hamas's military wing, the Iz-Ad Din Al-Qassam Brigades, in Gaza City, on June 14, 2021. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

The Swiss judiciary is investigating possible financing of Hamas from Switzerland despite the country not classifying the group as a terrorist organization, its attorney general says.

The investigation was opened “several weeks” before the October 7 attacks by Hamas on Israel, Stefan Blaettler says, on Swiss public radio station SRF, without revealing further details.

The Attorney General’s office later tells AFP that the investigation was launched “on suspicion of financing Hamas from Switzerland”.

The investigation is expected to be laborious because, unlike the European Union and the United States, Switzerland has not placed bans on Hamas.

But since the attack, mounting calls for the Swiss government to take action has prompted it to respond.

Four days after the attack, the government said it was “of the opinion that Hamas must be classified a terrorist organization”.

Thousands take part in pro-Palestinian rally in London

Demonstrators hold up flags and placards during a pro Palestinian demonstration in London, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/David Cliff)
Demonstrators hold up flags and placards during a pro Palestinian demonstration in London, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/David Cliff)

Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators march in London and other cities to demand Israel stop its strikes on Gaza, as the Israel-Hamas war enters its third week.

Protesters gathered in the rain at Marble Arch near London’s Hyde Park before marching to the government district, Whitehall.

Waving Palestinian flags, participants calls for an end to Israel’s blockade and airstrikes launched in the wake of a brutal incursion into southern Israel by the Hamas terror group that controls Gaza.

British authorities have urged demonstrators to be mindful of the pain and anxiety felt by the Jewish community. London’s Metropolitan Police force says it has seen a 13-fold upsurge in reports of antisemitic offenses in October compared to last year. Reports of anti-Muslim crimes have more than doubled.

Police said there were “pockets of disorder and some instances of hate speech” during protests, but “the majority of the protest activity has been lawful and has taken place without incident.”

In Australia, thousands marched through central Sydney on Saturday, shouting “Shame, shame Israel” and “Palestine will never die.”

Anti-tank missile fired at Israeli village on Lebanese border; drone strike hits launchers

The Israel Defense Forces says an anti-tank guided missile was fired from Lebanon at the Margaliot area in northern Israel.

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

Separately, another missile was launched from Lebanon at the Hanita area, the IDF says, adding troops responded with artillery fire at the source of the missile launch.

The IDF does not immediately provide information on possible casualties in the missile attacks.

In another drone strike, the IDF says it hit a cell launching rockets from Lebanon at the Mount Dov area on the border.

The IDF publishes a video showing the drone strike against the rocket-launching terror cell in southern Lebanon.

Army says preparation, training ongoing for ground offensive

The Israel Defense Forces says that it continuing to prepare for the expected ground offensive in the Gaza Strip with “plans for the expansion of the fighting” being approved in recent days.

Troops are “conducting training in accordance with the approved operational plans,” the IDF says.

The IDF has deployed tens of thousands of troops to the Gaza border in recent days, ahead of a major ground incursion which officials have said will begin “soon.”

Palestinians say Gaza toll rises to 4,385

Palestinian women react as a body is carried out from the rubble of a destroyed house following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Abed Khaled)
Palestinian women react as a body is carried out from the rubble of a destroyed house following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Abed Khaled)

At least 4,385 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the start of the Israel-Hmas war, including 1,756 children, the Hamas-controlled health ministry says.

The ministry says another 13,561 people had been wounded.

The numbers, which can’t be verified, do not differentiate between civilians and terrorists. They also include Palestinians killed in IDF strikes on the Strip and terror rockets fired at Israel that fall short.

In addition, Israel says it killed some 1,500 terrorists inside Israeli territory after Hamas launched its deadly October 7 assault, killing some 1,400 people and taking an estimated 210 hostages.

IDF says rockets fired at Mount Dov on Lebanese border; troops shelling source of fire

The fence of an Israeli military position is seen damaged after Hezbollah targeted it by rockets on Mount Dov on the Lebanese border, Oct. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
The fence of an Israeli military position is seen damaged after Hezbollah targeted it by rockets on Mount Dov on the Lebanese border, Oct. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

The Israel Defense Forces says a number of rockets have been launched from Lebanon at the Mount Dov area on the border, where there are a number of military sites and no towns.

The IDF says troops are responding with artillery shelling at the sources of the rocket fire.

The IDF does not immediately report any injuries.

The disputed area of Mount Dov has been attacked several times in recent days.

Sderot home hit by rocket, no injuries

A house in Sderot is hit by rocket fire from the Gaza Strip on October 21, 2023 (Sderot Municipality)
A house in Sderot is hit by rocket fire from the Gaza Strip on October 21, 2023 (Sderot Municipality)

A home in the southern city of Sderot has been hit by a rocket launched during the latest barrage from the Gaza Strip, the municipality says.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service says there are no reports of injuries.

IDF arrests 68 Hamas members in West Bank overnight, demolishes home of terrorist

A woman draped in a Palestinian flag prepares to hurl stones toward Israeli forces during clashes with them at the northern entrance of the West Bank city of Ramallah on October 20, 2023 (Photo by Jaafar ASHTIYEH / AFP)
A woman draped in a Palestinian flag prepares to hurl stones toward Israeli forces during clashes with them at the northern entrance of the West Bank city of Ramallah on October 20, 2023 (Photo by Jaafar ASHTIYEH / AFP)

The Israel Defense Forces says troops have arrested 670 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including more than 450 affiliated with Hamas, since the war in the Gaza Strip began on October 7.

Overnight, 68 Hamas members were arrested, the military says.

Also overnight, the IDF says troops demolished the home of Hamas terrorist Maher Shalloun — in the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp — who is charged with killing dual American-Israeli citizen Elan Ganeles on the Route 90 highway in February.

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

According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, at least 84 West Bank Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers since October 7.

Large rocket barrage fired at central Israel

Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fire a large rocket barrage at central Israel.

Several loud explosions are heard, apparently caused by Iron Dome interceptions.

Rocket warning sirens go off in Rishon Lezion, Ness Tziona, Yehud and other towns and cities in the area.

There are no immediate reports of direct hits or injuries.

UN chief: Hamas assault on Israel doesn’t justify ‘collective punishment’ of Gazans

Journalists watch a large screen showing United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attending the International Peace Summit hosted by the Egyptian president in Cairo on October 21, 2023. (Khaled Desouki/AFP)
Journalists watch a large screen showing United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attending the International Peace Summit hosted by the Egyptian president in Cairo on October 21, 2023. (Khaled Desouki/AFP)

The United Nations’ chief says Hamas’s “reprehensible assault” on Israel “can never justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

Secretary-General António Guterres calls for the protection of civilians and the sparing of civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, and UN premises, from the Israeli strikes.

Speaking at a summit Egypt is hosting on the Israel-Hamas war, Guterres pointed to the “the wider context” of war, saying that the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “the only realistic foundation for a true peace and stability.”

“Israelis must see their legitimate needs for security materialized, and Palestinians must see their legitimate aspirations for an independent state realized,” he says.

He says the UN is working around the clock with all parties to ensure a sustainable delivery of aid to Gaza, following the crossing of a first twenty-truck convoy.

“But the people of Gaza need a commitment for much, much more — a continuous delivery of aid to Gaza at the scale that is needed,” he said.

On northern border, Gallant says Hezbollah paying ‘heavy price’ for attacks on Israel

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks to soldiers at the Biranit camp on the Lebanon border, October 21, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks to soldiers at the Biranit camp on the Lebanon border, October 21, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant says the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group has been paying “a heavy price” for its missile, rocket, and shooting attacks against Israeli military sites, troops, and Israeli towns in northern Israel in recent days.

“Hezbollah has decided to participate in the fighting, we are exacting a heavy price from it,” Gallant tells troops at the 91st territorial division base, at the Biranit camp on the Lebanon border.

More than 13 Hezbollah members have been killed in Israeli retaliatory strikes in southern Lebanon in the past two weeks.

“I assume that the challenges will become greater [than they are now], and you have to take this into account, to be ready, like a spring, for any situation,” he adds to the forces.

IDF says 550 rockets fired from Gaza have fallen short in the Strip

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

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says that in the past day, a fifth of rockets launched by Palestinian terror groups in Gaza have fallen short in the Strip.

“More than 550 rockets launched by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad have failed, killing innocent civilians in Gaza. They are killing their own civilians,” Hagari says.

IDF says 4 hospitals in northern Gaza refusing to evacuate, Hamas using some as cover

A Palestinian man walks with a child while a woman comforts another outside al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on October 12, 2023. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)
A Palestinian man walks with a child while a woman comforts another outside al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on October 12, 2023. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

An Israeli security official says several hospitals in the northern part of the Gaza Strip have not yet vacated despite a call from the IDF to move south.

“In the north of the Gaza Strip, there are 20 hospitals, as of now six have already been vacated, 10 have not yet, and four are refusing,” the official says.

He says it is hard for some of the hospitals to move seriously wounded and ill patients, but that the military has “a direct relationship with almost all hospital managers and we encourage them to evacuate.”

The official also accuses Hamas of using some hospitals as shelters, “because it knows this is a sensitive site we will avoid attacking.”

IDF says there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza

Workers from the Palestinian Red Crescent unload trucks carrying humanitarian aid after they entered the Gaza Strip from Egypt via the Rafah border crossing on October 21, 2023. (Said Khatib/AFP)
Workers from the Palestinian Red Crescent unload trucks carrying humanitarian aid after they entered the Gaza Strip from Egypt via the Rafah border crossing on October 21, 2023. (Said Khatib/AFP)

An Israeli security official says there is currently no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, as the military continues to order Palestinians to move south.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, some 700,000 people of the estimated 1.1 million population of northern Gaza have evacuated south in recent days.

“As of now, I can tell you that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. There are hardships in moving people within days to the south of the Gaza Strip, but the population is getting along,” the official tells reporters.

“There is no shortage of water in Gaza, there is enough food for the coming weeks, this is in addition to the supply of medicines which, as far as we know, there is no shortage in the hospitals,” he continues.

He says Hamas is still trying to prevent people from moving south.

Meanwhile, IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari in a press conference says food, water and medical aid will enter the southern part of Gaza via Egypt’s Rafah crossing.

“Fuel will not enter Gaza,” Hagari says.

Hagari says the IDF “will continue strikes on Hamas strongholds in northern Gaza.”

IDF says families of 210 hostages notified that loved ones are being held in Gaza

Supporters and family members of Israeli hostages snatched by the Palestinian terror group Hamas protest outside the Israeli military base of HaKirya in central Tel Aviv on October 14, 2023. (Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP)
Supporters and family members of Israeli hostages snatched by the Palestinian terror group Hamas protest outside the Israeli military base of HaKirya in central Tel Aviv on October 14, 2023. (Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP)

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says the military has so far notified the families of 210 hostages that their loved ones are currently being held in the Gaza Strip.

He says the number is not final as the military investigates new information on those missing.

That number does not include Judith Raanan and her teenage daughter Natalie who were released last night by the Hamas terror group.

Rockets launched at southern Israel

Rockets are fired at southern Israel.

Warning sirens sound in several Gaza border communities.

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

Explosive device said to go off near Israeli embassy in Cyprus, no injuries

An explosive device went off overnight near the Israeli Embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus, causing no injuries, local media reports.

According to the reports, the homemade device did not cause significant damage.

Police have detained four people, of Syrian origin, on suspicion of involvement in the incident, the reports say.

There is no immediate confirmation from the Foreign Ministry.

20 aid trucks cross into Gaza; UN: this must not be the last convoy

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid line up on the Egyptian side of the border with the Gaza Strip in Rafah on Oct. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)
Trucks carrying humanitarian aid line up on the Egyptian side of the border with the Gaza Strip in Rafah on Oct. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

Twenty trucks carrying aid cross into the Gaza Strip this morning as the Rafah crossing with Egypt opens for the first time since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas.

Reports from the border say the crossing closed again after the trucks went through.

That first convoy “must not be the last,” UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths says.

“I am confident that this delivery will be the start of a sustainable effort to provide essential supplies… to the people of Gaza,” says Griffiths.

“This first convoy must not be the last,” he warns.

More than 200 trucks were waiting on the Egyptian side.

Report: Asylum seeker carried out UK terror attack to avenge Gaza, public not told

Protesters hold flares during a pro-Palestinian demonstration in London, October 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Protesters hold flares during a pro-Palestinian demonstration in London, October 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

The UK’s Daily Telegraph reports that a terror attack was carried out in Britain by an asylum seeker claiming he wanted to avenge Gaza.

The paper claims that details of the attack are being withheld from the public for security reasons.

The paper says the man was arrested and told police that he had done it “for Palestine.”

The report quotes Iain Duncan Smith, the former leader of the Conservative Party, as saying that the public has a right to know about threats.

“I think the public does have a right to know that something has happened. If they are worried about reaction, people need to know whether their streets are safe,” he tells the paper.

The report notes the mass anti-Israel protests held in London last week and similar ones being planned for today.

UNRWA says 17 of its staffers killed since start of Israel-Hamas war

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at the Rafah border crossing, Egypt, Friday, Oct. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Mohammed Asad)
The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at the Rafah border crossing, Egypt, Friday, Oct. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Mohammed Asad)

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees says at least 17 of its staff had been killed in the Israel-Hamas war, warning that the death toll would likely rise.

“To date, 17 of our colleagues have been confirmed killed in this vicious war. Very sadly, the actual numbers are likely to be higher,” UNRWA says in a statement.

Egypt hosting summit on Israel-Hamas war

Egypt is hosting dozens of regional leaders and senior Western officials for a summit on the war between Israel and Palestinian terror groups in Gaza.

The meeting today in Egypt’s New Administrative Capital, just east of Cairo, will discuss ways to de-escalate the fighting and seek a cease-fire amid mounting concerns about a regional conflict, Egypt’s state-run media reports. Among those attending the summit are the leaders of Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and the Palestinian Authority.

Also attending are the prime ministers of Italy, Spain, Greece and Canada and the president of the European Council, according to the state-run Al-Ahram daily newspaper. Foreign ministers from Germany, France, the UK and Japan are also attending, the paper reports.

Aid trucks start entering Gaza

The border crossing between Egypt and Gaza opens to let aid into the territory for the first time since the deadly Hamas onslaught on October 7.

More than 200 trucks carrying roughly 3,000 tons of aid, which had been positioned near the crossing for days, began heading into Gaza. Egyptian state television shows several trucks entering the gate.

At the same time, foreign nationals are expected to leave Gaza, and the US Embassy in Jerusalem has warned of a “potentially chaotic and disorderly environment on both sides of the crossing.”

 

Israel tells citizens to leave Egypt and Jordan as soon as possible

Israel issues a warning against travel to Egypt, Jordan and Morocco, citing fears that Israeli travelers will be targets of those angry at the ongoing war sparked by the deadly Hamas onslaught.

The announcement from the National Security Agency, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry says it is raising the alert to Egypt (including the Sinai Peninsula) and Jordan to a 4 and calling on all Israelis in the country to leave as soon as possible.

For Morocco, the threat level is being raised to a 3, and Israelis are told to avoid non-essential travel.

“Due to the continuation of the war, further significant aggravation has been detected in protests against Israel in recent days in various countries of the world, with an emphasis on Arab countries in the Middle East, alongside displays of hostility and violence against Israeli and Jewish symbols,” the warning reads.

The announcement says it is additionally recommended to avoid staying in all Middle East/Arab countries, including: Turkey, Egypt (including Sinai), Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.

Additionally, it recommends avoiding travel to countries such as Malaysia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Maldives.

Two Israeli tourists were killed by an Egyptian policeman in an attack last week.

Rocket sirens sound in Ashdod

Sirens sound in the coastal city of Ashdod, signaling incoming rockets.

The rocket alerts come after a six-hour lull in fire toward Israel from Gaza.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

US says it ‘received information’ that Rafah crossing from Gaza to Egypt will open at 10 a.m.

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 United States sends out an alert that they “received information” that the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt will open at 10 a.m.

“If the border is opened, we do not know how long it will remain open for foreign citizens to depart Gaza,” the US Embassy in Jerusalem says.

The embassy warns of a “potentially chaotic and disorderly environment on both sides of the crossing,” and says nationals should assess the situation before moving toward the border or attempting to cross.

International mediators have been working toward a deal for the opening of the border with Egypt to allow aid into the Strip and for foreigners to exit.

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 October 7 attacks, when 2,500 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,400 people and seizing 200-250 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.

Brother of released teen hostage: Will give her ‘intense hug that is bigger than words’

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)

Ben Raanan, the brother of 17-year-old Natalie who was released by Hamas yesterday along with her mother after she was held hostage for nearly two weeks, says it is hard to communicate the emotions the family is going through.

“When I see her again, I think there aren’t going to be words to express what’s going on,” he says.

“It’s just going to be like this intense hug that is bigger than words and bigger than what we could actually communicate verbally,” he says.

Judith Raanan and Natalie, dual US-Israeli citizens, were kidnapped from Kibbutz Nahal Oz during the terror group’s October 7 assault on Israel.

It was the first release out of at least 203 hostages held by Hamas since its infiltration and massacre of Israeli southern communities that started the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

The two, who have US citizenship, were handed over to the Red Cross, which then handed them over to Israel.

IDF says it hit multiple Hamas sites in overnight Gaza strikes

The Israel Defense Forces says it carried out strikes against numerous Hamas sites in the Gaza Strip overnight.

The sites include command centers and various other infrastructure belonging to the terror group, the IDF says.

The military adds that it also struck a number of anti-tank missile launch sites and sniper positions in high-rise buildings.

The military publishes footage of the strikes.

IDF announces death of reserve soldier, a dual US citizen, in missile attack along Lebanon border

Smoke rises from inside an Israeli army position which was hit by missiles launched by the Hezbollah terror group, as seen from Tair Harfa village, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, October 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Smoke rises from inside an Israeli army position which was hit by missiles launched by the Hezbollah terror group, as seen from Tair Harfa village, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, October 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

An Israeli reserve soldier was killed yesterday in an anti-tank missile attack along the border with Lebanon, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The soldier is named as Staff Sgt. Omer Balva, 22. from Herzliya.

Balva was a dual Israeli-American citizen. A child of Israeli parents, he grew up in Rockville, Maryland, where he went to the Charles E. Smith Jewish day school. He went to Israel to serve in the IDF, but was in the US last week when called-up for reserve duty because of the war. He promptly flew back to Israel to report for duty.

Israeli officials insist release of US hostages won’t impact planned Gaza operation

Senior Israeli officials tell the Ynet news site that the release of two US citizens taken captive by Hamas will not influence Israel’s plans for a military operation against the Gaza-ruling terror group.

The comments by the unnamed officials come as Israel is facing pressure to hold of its expected offensive in the Gaza Strip, with Western governments hoping that further talks will result in the release of more hostages.

IDF released video of overnight strikes on Hezbollah targets

The military says it carried out a number of strikes overnight on numerous Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon, in response to anti-tank missile and rocket attacks by the Iran-backed terror group.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the targets included a “series of military facilities used by the organization for operational needs” and an anti-tank missile launcher directed at Israel.

“The IDF is ready for all scenarios in the various sectors and will continue to act for the security of Israeli citizens,” the military says, while releasing video footage of the strikes.

Senior official says US, European countries pushing Israel to delay ground offensive

Israeli soldiers move a tank at a staging area near the border with Gaza Strip, in southern Israel on October 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)
Israeli soldiers move a tank at a staging area near the border with Gaza Strip, in southern Israel on October 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

Following Hamas’s release of two hostages from Gaza, the US and several governments in Europe are quietly pushing Israel to hold off on launching a ground invasion of Gaza, fearing that the incursion will all but scuttle efforts to secure additional hostage releases for the foreseeable future, a senior diplomatic official tells The Times of Israel.

The Western governments currently pressuring Israel each have citizens among those unaccounted for and believe that the more time that passes, the harder it will be to secure the hostages’ release, the official says.

The governments recognize that a ground invasion is very likely and are not telling Israel not to launch one at all, rather hold off to try and see if additional diplomatic efforts can succeed, says the senior diplomatic official.

White House says Biden didn’t call for Israel to delay Gaza offensive: He didn’t hear question

US President Joe Biden and US First Lady Jill Biden step off Air Force One upon arrival at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, on October 20, 2023. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP)
US President Joe Biden and US First Lady Jill Biden step off Air Force One upon arrival at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, on October 20, 2023. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP)

The White House is now walking back US President Joe Biden’s earlier comment that Israel should delay its expected offensive in Gaza until more hostages held by Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups are released.

While boarding Air Force One earlier, Biden was asked by a reporter whether Israel should push off a military operation in Gaza, to which he responded, “yes.”

“The president was far away. He didn’t hear the full question. The question sounded like ‘Would you like to see more hostages released?’ He wasn’t commenting on anything else,” White House spokesperson Ben LaBolt is quoted as saying by Reuters/

Biden asserts link between Hamas assault and US push for Israel-Saudi normalization

US President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with the EU Commission at the White House in Washington on October 20, 2023 (Olivier Douliery/AFP)
US President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with the EU Commission at the White House in Washington on October 20, 2023 (Olivier Douliery/AFP)

US President Joe Biden says at a campaign fundraiser, “one of the reasons Hamas moved on Israel… they knew that I was about to sit down with the Saudis.”

“Guess what the Saudis wanted to recognize Israel,” he says, offering details on US efforts to broker a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia that appear to have been put on hold following the October 7 Hamas onslaught.

Saudi Arabia has been very critical of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza over the past two weeks and US officials have acknowledged that the normalization effort is no longer their immediate focus, as they work to support Israel against Hamas.

Biden officials have suggested that scuttling the normalization effort may have been a motivation of Hamas but the president’s remarks appear the furthest anyone in his administration has gone to suggest a direct correlation.

Iranian-backed militias in Iraq call on US forces to ‘leave immediately’ amid attacks

Demonstrators burn banners showing the US and Israeli flags during a demonstration in solidarity with the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, in Iraq's southern city of Basra on October 20, 2023. (Hussein Faleh/AFP)
Demonstrators burn banners showing the US and Israeli flags during a demonstration in solidarity with the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, in Iraq's southern city of Basra on October 20, 2023. (Hussein Faleh/AFP)

BAGHDAD — A group of Iranian-backed militias in Iraq say US forces “must leave immediately” or their bases in Iraq and elsewhere in the region will continue to come under attack.

Militant groups have launched rocket and drone attacks in recent days against US bases in Iraq and Syria, most of which were claimed by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq. The group has said the attacks are retaliation for Washington’s support of Israel and a warning not to intervene in the Israel-Hamas war.

“These are only warning messages to them, and serious work has not yet begun,” the militias say in a statement.

The statement concludes by saying that if Israel launches a ground invasion into Gaza, “watch the border with Jordan carefully.” It doesn’t elaborate.

Biden urges Israel to delay Gaza offensive until Hamas releases more hostages

US President Joe Biden answers a questions as he boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, October 20, 2023, to travel to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
US President Joe Biden answers a questions as he boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, October 20, 2023, to travel to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

US President Joe Biden calls on Israel to delay its planned offensive in the Gaza Strip until the release of more hostages being held by Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists in the coastal enclave.

Asked by a reporter whether Israel should push off the incursion, Biden responds, “yes.”

The remarks come after US media outlets reported that the Biden administration and European governments are pressuring Israel to push off the planned offensive to allow for further hostage negotiations, as Hamas released two American citizens it took captive during its deadly onslaught in southern Israel on October 7.

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