ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 148

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Live updates (closed)

Oct. 22: Israel confirms 2nd aid convoy in Gaza, shows rocket launchers near schools

Herzog reveals Hamas terrorists carried chemical weapons instructions * 1 soldier killed, 3 wounded near Gaza * Netivot man seriously hurt by rocket * IDF continues to strike Lebanon

  • Israeli soldiers stand near a Merkava tank as they man a position at an undisclosed location on the border with Lebanon on October 21, 2023 (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
    Israeli soldiers stand near a Merkava tank as they man a position at an undisclosed location on the border with Lebanon on October 21, 2023 (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
  • Large crowds of pro-Israel demonstrators gather in Trafalgar Square, London, October 22, 2023, demanding the release of all hostages abducted from Israel to Gaza by Hamas terrorists. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
    Large crowds of pro-Israel demonstrators gather in Trafalgar Square, London, October 22, 2023, demanding the release of all hostages abducted from Israel to Gaza by Hamas terrorists. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
  • A truck carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip crosses the Rafah border gate in Rafah, Egypt, October 22, 2023. (AP Photo/ Mohammed Asad)
    A truck carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip crosses the Rafah border gate in Rafah, Egypt, October 22, 2023. (AP Photo/ Mohammed Asad)
  • Families of Israelis held hostage by terrorists in Gaza hold up photographs of their abducted family members outside the Art Museum of Tel Aviv, October 21, 2023 (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
    Families of Israelis held hostage by terrorists in Gaza hold up photographs of their abducted family members outside the Art Museum of Tel Aviv, October 21, 2023 (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
  • This picture taken from Israel's southern city of Sderot shows smoke billowing over the northern Gaza Strip during Israeli airstrikes on October 22, 2023 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
    This picture taken from Israel's southern city of Sderot shows smoke billowing over the northern Gaza Strip during Israeli airstrikes on October 22, 2023 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
  • This handout photo released by the Israel Defense Forces on October 22, 2023, shows the opening to a "underground terror route" where the military says it struck members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. (Israel Defense Forces)
    This handout photo released by the Israel Defense Forces on October 22, 2023, shows the opening to a "underground terror route" where the military says it struck members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Residents of the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona leave amid orders to evacuate, due to threats on Israel's northern border from Lebanon, October 22, 2023. (David Cohen/Flash90)
    Residents of the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona leave amid orders to evacuate, due to threats on Israel's northern border from Lebanon, October 22, 2023. (David Cohen/Flash90)
  • A photo hangs on a refrigerator next to bullet holes in a house at Kibbutz Kissufim in southern Israel, October 21, 2023, after it was targeted in the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group's deadly onslaught on October 7. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
    A photo hangs on a refrigerator next to bullet holes in a house at Kibbutz Kissufim in southern Israel, October 21, 2023, after it was targeted in the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group's deadly onslaught on October 7. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
  • A woman holds a sign reading 'Well Done Israel, Hitler Would Be Proud' as people rally in Brooklyn, New York in support of Palestinians and against Israel in the wake of the October 7 Hamas terror onslaught, October 21, 2023 (KENA BETANCUR / AFP)
    A woman holds a sign reading 'Well Done Israel, Hitler Would Be Proud' as people rally in Brooklyn, New York in support of Palestinians and against Israel in the wake of the October 7 Hamas terror onslaught, October 21, 2023 (KENA BETANCUR / AFP)
  • President Isaac Herzog meets in Jerusalem with families whose loved ones are believed to be held hostage in Gaza, October 22, 2023. (Kobi Gideon/ GPO)
    President Isaac Herzog meets in Jerusalem with families whose loved ones are believed to be held hostage in Gaza, October 22, 2023. (Kobi Gideon/ GPO)
  • Palestinians inspect the damage after overnight Israeli strikes on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on October 22, 2023 (SAID KHATIB / AFP)
    Palestinians inspect the damage after overnight Israeli strikes on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on October 22, 2023 (SAID KHATIB / AFP)
  • People march towards the US Capitol during a pro-Palestinian march, Oct. 21, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    People march towards the US Capitol during a pro-Palestinian march, Oct. 21, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
  • Army personnel carry one of the coffins containing bodies of Nepali nationals who were killed by Hamas terrorists in Israel, at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, Oct. 22, 2023 (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
    Army personnel carry one of the coffins containing bodies of Nepali nationals who were killed by Hamas terrorists in Israel, at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, Oct. 22, 2023 (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
  • People wave Israeli flags and show posters from people reported to be missing or held by Hamas as hostages, during a demonstration against antisemitism and to show solidarity with Israel in Berlin, Germany, October 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
    People wave Israeli flags and show posters from people reported to be missing or held by Hamas as hostages, during a demonstration against antisemitism and to show solidarity with Israel in Berlin, Germany, October 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
  • President Isaac Herzog shows materials recovered from the body of a Hamas terrorist during an interview with Sky News, October 22, 2023. (Screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
    President Isaac Herzog shows materials recovered from the body of a Hamas terrorist during an interview with Sky News, October 22, 2023. (Screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
  • An aerial image published by the IDF on October 22, 2023, which it says shows a Hamas rocket-launching site next to a kindergarten in Gaza. (Israel Defense Forces)
    An aerial image published by the IDF on October 22, 2023, which it says shows a Hamas rocket-launching site next to a kindergarten in Gaza. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Protesters attend a rally calling for the release of hostages held by Hamas, near the United Nations office in Geneva, on October 22, 2023. (Gabriel MONNET / AFP)
    Protesters attend a rally calling for the release of hostages held by Hamas, near the United Nations office in Geneva, on October 22, 2023. (Gabriel MONNET / AFP)

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

Detroit police say so far no evidence of antisemitism in murder of synagogue president

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

Detroit’s police chief says no evidence uncovered by law enforcement thus far has indicated the murder of the president of a Jewish synagogue was motivated by antisemitism

“The investigation into the death of Ms. [Samantha] Woll remains ongoing. At this time, however, no evidence has surfaced suggesting that this crime was motivated by antisemitism,” police chief James White says in a statement.

Woll was found fatally stabbed outside of her home on Saturday.

“Detroit Police Department investigators are working with the FBI to forensically analyze all of the information obtained up to this point in an effort to ascertain the timeline that ultimately led to Ms. Woll’s death,” White says. “Individuals with information that may further this investigation are being interviewed.”

“I again ask the community to remain patient while our investigators and law enforcement partners continue their work. Everything that can be done to bring this matter to closure is being called into service,” the police chief says, adding that an additional update will be provided tomorrow.

Iranian FM speaks with heads of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian speaks during a joint press conference with his Lebanese counterpart Abdallah Bouhabib, in Beirut, Lebanon, October 13, 2023. (Hussein Malla/AP)
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian speaks during a joint press conference with his Lebanese counterpart Abdallah Bouhabib, in Beirut, Lebanon, October 13, 2023. (Hussein Malla/AP)

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian says he spoke by phone with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Palestinian Islamic Jihad chief Ziyad al-Nakhala.

According to a statement from Hamas, Haniyeh and Amirabdollahian discussed means to stop Israel’s “brutal crimes” in Gaza.

Ben Gvir slams Israel agreeing to ‘continuous aid to Gaza’ without freeing of hostages

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir at an Israel Police event in Jerusalem on August 17, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir at an Israel Police event in Jerusalem on August 17, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir slams news that Israel has allowed more humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to US demands for continuous aid.

“Any agreement of ‘continuous aid to Gaza’ that doesn’t include freeing all our hostages is just a continuation of the concept that led us to where we are now,” Ben Gvir writes on X.

“Humanitarian [aid] only in exchange for freeing all the hostages,” he adds.

IDF continues to strike Hezbollah squads in southern Lebanon

Smoke rises from after rockets were fired from Lebanon into northern Israel, October 22, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)
Smoke rises from after rockets were fired from Lebanon into northern Israel, October 22, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces says it has carried out strikes against two more Hezbollah squads in southern Lebanon before they could carry out attacks on Israel.

The IDF says one of the cells, in the Mount Dov area, planned to launch rockets, and the second cell, near the northern town of Mattat, planned to launch an anti-tank guided missile.

The strikes mark the sixth and seventh Hezbollah cells that the IDF has hit today.

IDF says it is striking dozens of Hamas targets in Gaza

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, October 22, 2023. (AP Photo/ Ariel Schalit)
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, October 22, 2023. (AP Photo/ Ariel Schalit)

The Israel Defense Forces says it is currently carrying out a wave of airstrikes against dozens of Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.

Footage published by the IDF shows strikes from earlier today:

After call, Biden says Netanyahu agrees to allow ‘continued flow’ of humanitarian aid to Gaza

US President Joe Biden (L) meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2023. (Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP)
US President Joe Biden (L) meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2023. (Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP)

The White House says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to allow the “continuous flow” of international aid into Gaza from Egypt during his phone call with US President Joe Biden earlier today.

While there is no immediate confirmation from the Israeli side, Netanyahu’s office said last week that his war cabinet agreed to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza through Egypt.

Twenty trucks of aid entered yesterday and roughly 15 more entered today, confirmed earlier by the Israeli Defense Ministry.

The White House says Biden also “expressed appreciation for Israel’s support in helping to accommodate the release” of two American hostages who were released on Friday, and discussed ongoing efforts to release the remaining hostages, during the call with Netanyahu.

Biden holds call on Israel-Hamas war with leaders of UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy

Illustrative: US President Joe Biden takes a phone call in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on December 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Illustrative: US President Joe Biden takes a phone call in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on December 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

US President Joe Biden discussed the Israel-Hamas war with leaders of major Western powers, the White House says in a statement.

Biden held a call with the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, and Italy, the White House says, with a read-out due to be released later.

Health Ministry encourages Israelis to seek mental health support, avoid self-medicating

People gather and light candles to remember the Israeli victims of the unprecedented Hamas terror onslaught, at Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv, October 13, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
People gather and light candles to remember the Israeli victims of the unprecedented Hamas terror onslaught, at Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv, October 13, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The Health Ministry encourages Israelis to seek professional help to deal with the loss, emotional pain, and distress they are feeling in response to the unprecedented events that the country has been dealing with since October 7.

While sometimes medications can be beneficial, the ministry warns against using them during the acute post-trauma stage, especially not without consulting with a doctor. People should also avoid dealing with their feelings by using alcohol and cannabis.

“We emphasize that the use of cannabis has not been proven effective during the acute stage after a trauma and can even worsen the situation. Cannabis is only relevant for chronic situations, and only after the partial or full failure of talk therapy or drug treatments based on medical research.

“In the first weeks after a trauma, it is normal to exhibit symptoms relating to the unusual situation, but they generally pass with time. The main thing is to look to one’s inner strength and resilience and family and friends for support. Symptoms should gradually diminish, but if they don’t and they interfere with normal daily function, help from a mental health professional should be sought,” says Dr. Eyal Fruchter, chair of the National Council for Post-Trauma.

Information on where to obtain mental health support can be found on the Health Ministry website.

Prominent Palestinian activist says IDF evicted him from his home in Hebron

Prominent Palestinian activist Issa Amro speaks after his release from Palestinian Authority detention, in the West Bank city of Hebron, on September 10, 2017.  (AP/Nasser Shiyoukhi, File)
Prominent Palestinian activist Issa Amro speaks after his release from Palestinian Authority detention, in the West Bank city of Hebron, on September 10, 2017. (AP/Nasser Shiyoukhi, File)

The Israel Defense Forces have evicted a prominent Palestinian activist from his home in the southern West Bank city of Hebron where the army also reportedly significantly intensified its curbs on Palestinian movement since the outbreak of the Gaza war.

Issa Amro says IDF soldiers came to his home last Wednesday and told him he should leave Hebron for the duration of the war before coming back two days later and handing him a military order forcing him to vacate the premises. Amro lives in the H2 section of Hebron, which is under Israeli military control. The military order directed him to move to H1, which is under Palestinian Authority control.

He says the soldiers arrived on Friday after they saw a Breaking the Silence activist arrive, along with a British journalist.

Amro has appealed the eviction order through a pair of Israeli human rights attorneys who wrote to the IDF’s West Bank legal adviser, noting that “the forced transfer of a protected population from an occupied territory is a violation of the laws of war and can constitute a criminal offense.”

The IDF says in a statement that it has received Amro’s appeal against the eviction order and that it is currently under adjudication.

Herzog reveals to Sky News: Hamas had instructions on how to produce chemical weapons

President Isaac Herzog shows materials recovered from the body of a Hamas terrorist during an interview with Sky News, October 22, 2023. (Screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
President Isaac Herzog shows materials recovered from the body of a Hamas terrorist during an interview with Sky News, October 22, 2023. (Screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

President Isaac Herzog reveals in an interview with Sky News that Hamas had planned to use cyanide agents against Israeli civilians.

Herzog shows off materials recovered from USB drive on the body of a Hamas terrorist in Israel which was copied from al-Qaeda and included “detailed instructions on creating chemical weapons,” including “precise instructions for preparing a device for dispersing cyanide agents,” the President’s Office says.

“This is material which was found on the body of one of those sadistic villains. It’s al-Qaeda material, official al-Qaeda material,” Herzog tells the TV network. “When dealing with ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Hamas, this is what we’re dealing with. And in this material, there were instructions, how to produce chemical weapons.”

Netanyahu speaks with leaders of France, Spain, Netherlands

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and French President Emmanuel Macron (R) gesture prior to a working dinner at the Presidential Elysee Palace in Paris on February 2, 2023. (Ludovic Marin/AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and French President Emmanuel Macron (R) gesture prior to a working dinner at the Presidential Elysee Palace in Paris on February 2, 2023. (Ludovic Marin/AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks today with the leaders of France, Spain, and the Netherlands, his office says.

His office says that in all the conversations, Netanyahu said that Israel is “determined to eliminate Hamas’s military and governing capabilities,” and also said that “Israel’s victory over Hamas would be a victory for the entire world.”

French President Emmanuel Macron is slated to visit Israel tomorrow and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is expected to arrive Tuesday and meet Netanyahu.

Israel confirms it allowed entry of humanitarian aid from Egypt to Gaza today

A truck carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip crosses the Rafah border gate in Rafah, Egypt, October 22, 2023. (AP Photo/ Mohammed Asad)
A truck carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip crosses the Rafah border gate in Rafah, Egypt, October 22, 2023. (AP Photo/ Mohammed Asad)

The military’s liaison to the Palestinians confirms that Israel allowed the entry of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip via Egypt today, following requests by the Biden administration.

“At the request of the American administration and in accordance with the instructions of the political echelon, humanitarian aid from the United Nations containing only water, food, and medical equipment was brought into the southern Gaza Strip today, through the Rafah crossing in Egypt,” the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) says in a statement.

“All the equipment was checked by Israeli security officials before entering Gaza,” COGAT adds.

A defense source says that Israel will allow the entry of food, water, and medical supplies — but not fuel — to enter southern Gaza from Egypt, for Palestinian civilians of the area and those who have evacuated there, as long as it does not reach the Hamas terror group.

“Any other supply attempt that is not coordinated and approved by Israel, will be thwarted,” the source warns.

Herzog to families of hostages: ‘I pledge to do everything’ to bring them home

President Isaac Herzog meets in Jerusalem with families whose loved ones are believed to be held hostage in Gaza, October 22, 2023. (Kobi Gideon/ GPO)
President Isaac Herzog meets in Jerusalem with families whose loved ones are believed to be held hostage in Gaza, October 22, 2023. (Kobi Gideon/ GPO)

President Isaac Herzog tells families whose loved ones are held hostage in Gaza that Israel is doing everything it can to bring them back.

Some 80 families were represented at the 90-minute meeting, which included the president and his wife, Michal Herzog.

“We’re here to help, to embrace, to strengthen, to support and to think together about solutions,” Herzog tells the group, according to his office. “We have a national challenge, and it’s an enormous challenge. It requires us to act calmly and responsibly.”

The president adds: “We want to bring your loved ones home, soon — that’s the challenge.”

Herzog says that, “as the president of Israel, I pledge to you to do everything to bring your loved ones home — that is the top goal from my perspective.”

Several hundred supporters stand outside Herzog’s residence in Jerusalem, waiting for representatives of the families of those missing and held captive.

“They must return our daughters to us, we entrusted them to you,” says the father of Roni Eshel, a soldier at the Nahal Oz base who is believed to be held hostage. “I’m calling to the only person, to the prime minister, you drafted them and you need to bring them home.”

Roni Eshel, an IDF soldier who was stationed at a military base near the Gaza border when Hamas attacked on October 7, 2023 and has been missing since. (Courtesy of Eyal Eshel via AP)

IDF publishes aerial images of Hamas rocket launchers near schools, mosques

An aerial image published by the IDF on October 22, 2023, which it says shows a Hamas rocket-launching site next to a kindergarten in Gaza. (Israel Defense Forces)
An aerial image published by the IDF on October 22, 2023, which it says shows a Hamas rocket-launching site next to a kindergarten in Gaza. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces publishes a series of aerial images showing Hamas rocket launchers near civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.

Israel has long accused Hamas of operating from civilian areas of Gaza.

“Since the beginning of the war, the Hamas terrorist organization has been exploiting civilians and civilian sites such as kindergartens, schools, and mosques for the purpose of firing rockets at Israel. Hamas deliberately fires its rockets at Israeli civilians,” the IDF says.

Hundreds rally at UN in Geneva to demand release of hostages in Gaza

Protesters attend a rally calling for the release of hostages held by Hamas, near the United Nations office in Geneva, on October 22, 2023. (Gabriel MONNET / AFP)
Protesters attend a rally calling for the release of hostages held by Hamas, near the United Nations office in Geneva, on October 22, 2023. (Gabriel MONNET / AFP)

Hundreds of demonstrators rally outside the United Nations demanding the release of hostages seized by Hamas during the terror group’s bloody attack on Israel.

The protest on the square outside the UN’s Palais des Nations headquarters in Geneva is organized by the Voice for Freedom coalition, bringing together several Christian Zionist organizing committees.

Many demonstrators wave Israeli flags or wear them around their shoulders, or hold posters featuring pictures of missing Israelis, including children.

Leon Meijer, president of Christians for Israel International, urges the UN Human Rights Council to “work for the release of the hostages,” saying: “Save the lives of those who can still be saved.”

Biden speaks again to Netanyahu, says White House

US President Joe Biden with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2023. (Haim Zach / GPO)
US President Joe Biden with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2023. (Haim Zach / GPO)

US President Joe Biden just got off the phone with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House says, following the second call the two leaders have held since the American commander-in-chief visited the region last week.

The White House says it will issue a readout shortly. Netanyahu’s office has yet to comment.

Biden also spoke earlier today with Pope Francis, and condemned the Hamas onslaught, stressed the need to protect civilians in Gaza and the need to prevent further regional escalation, the US readout from that conversation says.

IDF says it strikes Hezbollah cell in southern Lebanon for 5th time today

The Israel Defense Forces says it carried out a strike against another anti-tank guided missile squad in southern Lebanon, allegedly preparing an attack against the Mount Dov area.

The strike marks the fifth apparent Hezbollah cell the IDF has targeted in southern Lebanon today.

Blinken says US concerned about ‘Iranian proxies’ attacking Americans, Israel

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves as he boards a plane, October 11, 2023, at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, en route to Israel. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves as he boards a plane, October 11, 2023, at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, en route to Israel. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that the US is deeply concerned about Iran escalating the current Israel-Hamas war.

“We are concerned at the possibility of Iranian proxies escalating their attacks against our own personnel, our own people,” Blinken says on CBS News. “We expect there is a likelihood of escalation.”

“No one should take advantage of this moment to escalate to further attacks on Israel or, for that matter, attacks on us on our personnel,” he says.

Blinken says the United States, which has sent two carrier groups to the eastern Mediterranean, is “taking every measure to make sure that we can defend them. And if necessary, respond decisively.”

One soldier killed, 3 wounded following Hamas attack on soldiers near Gaza, says IDF

Merkava tanks roll into position outside Kibbutz Be'eri, near the border with the Gaza Strip on October 20, 2023. (RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP)
Merkava tanks roll into position outside Kibbutz Be'eri, near the border with the Gaza Strip on October 20, 2023. (RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP)

The Israel Defense Forces’s top spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari announces that one soldier was killed and three others were hurt after Hamas attacked soldiers carrying out an operation on the Gaza border earlier today.

The military does not immediate name the soldier.

According to the IDF, Palestinian terrorists launched an anti-tank guided missile at an Israeli tank and engineering vehicle operating on the western side of the border fence, near the southern community of Kissufim.

The operation was part of the military’s searches for bodies of missing Israelis, and to clear the area for Israel’s upcoming ground offensive.

Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

The IDF says one of its tanks shelled the terror cell in response.

US envoy says ‘continuous flow’ of aid to Gaza will start tomorrow

Trucks carrying fuel drive in the Gaza Strip on October 22, 2023. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)
Trucks carrying fuel drive in the Gaza Strip on October 22, 2023. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

The Biden administration’s new envoy for the humanitarian situation in Gaza David Satterfield says a “continuous flow” of humanitarian aid will begin entering Gaza tomorrow after the first convoy of 20 trucks drove into the enclave through Egypt yesterday after significant US pressure on Jerusalem and Cairo.

“There are an additional 15 trucks en route today,” Satterfield tells MSNBC.

“Our expectation and substance of our discussion with all sides is that starting tomorrow, you’ll be seeing a continuous flow of assistance moving. We want to build that flow up to the levels necessary to begin to meet Gaza’s needs,” Satterfield says.

“This is for the legitimate needs of the people in Gaza. If Hamas interferes with, seizes or diverts this assistance, it will, as a practical matter, make it very difficult for this assistance to continue and will be another demonstration of Hamas’s lack of concern for the welfare of the Palestinian people,” he adds.

CNN: US pressuring Israel to delay Gaza ground invasion to allow for hostage talks

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)

CNN reports that the White House is pressuring Israel to delay a widely expected ground incursion into Gaza in order to allow for the possibility of negotiations to release further hostages.

The US TV network cites two sources who were briefed on the discussions, without elaborating.

“The [administration] pressed Israeli leadership to delay because of progress on the hostage front,” and the need to get trucks of aid into Gaza, one person familiar with the discussions is quoted as saying.

Earlier today Israel denied that it was facing US pressure, with a source in the Prime Minister’s Office saying only, “There is no US pressure, only US backing.”

IDF says it is still clearing explosives, weapons from around Gaza border

Merkava tanks roll into position outside Kibbutz Be'eri, near the border with the Gaza Strip on October 20, 2023. (RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP)
Merkava tanks roll into position outside Kibbutz Be'eri, near the border with the Gaza Strip on October 20, 2023. (RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP)

The Israeli military says Combat Engineering Forces are still working to clear the area near the border with the Gaza Strip of explosives and weapons left behind by Hamas terrorists from the October 7 onslaught.

The Israel Defense Forces says members of the elite Yahalom combat engineering unit located a child’s school bag near the southern community of Kissufim, which had been carried by a Hamas terrorist. Inside the bag, the forces found a seven-kilogram explosive device and a remote detonator.

The IDF says Yahalom forces found more than 1,000 firearms, 2,000 grenades, 1,000 RPGs, and 1,200 other explosive devices.

Some of the explosives were safely detonated by the forces after being found, while others were collected for further inspection.

Pope Francis calls, ‘Brothers, stop!’ regarding Hamas-Israel war

Pope Francis addresses the crowd in St. Peter's square during the weekly Angelus prayer on October 22, 2023, in the Vatican. (Andreas SOLARO / AFP)
Pope Francis addresses the crowd in St. Peter's square during the weekly Angelus prayer on October 22, 2023, in the Vatican. (Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

Pope Francis pleads for an end to the Hamas-Israel war, amid fears it could broaden, and calls for more humanitarian aid to be allowed into the Gaza Strip.

“War is always a defeat, it is a destruction of human fraternity. Brothers, stop! Stop!” Francis says after his traditional Angelus prayer at Saint Peter’s Square in Rome.

“I renew my call for spaces to be opened, for humanitarian aid to continue to arrive, and for hostages to be freed,” the 86-year-old pontiff says. “War, any war that there is in the world — I also think of tormented Ukraine — is a defeat.”

Egypt reports ‘minor injuries’ in accidental Israeli cross-border shelling

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)

Egypt’s military spokesman says an unspecified number of border guards sustained “minor injuries” from “fragments of a shell accidentally fired from an Israeli tank.”

The Egyptian army says Israel “immediately expressed its regret over the unintentional incident and an investigation is underway.”

The IDF earlier reported that it accidentally hit an Egyptian border post near the Kerem Shalom area between Egypt, Gaza and Israel.

Gallant: This war may take months, ‘but in the end there will be no Hamas’

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (center) is seen at the IAF's command center in Tel Aviv, October 22, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/ Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (center) is seen at the IAF's command center in Tel Aviv, October 22, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/ Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant says Israel’s upcoming ground offensive in the Gaza Strip may last three months, but it will be the very last one if Israel succeeds in eliminating the Hamas terror group.

“This needs to be the last [ground] maneuver in Gaza, for the simple reason that after it there will be no Hamas. It will take a month, two months, three, but in the end, there will be no Hamas,” Gallant says at the Israeli Air Force’s command center in Tel Aviv.

“Before the enemy meets the armored and infantry forces, it will meet the bombs of the Air Force,” he continues.

“I am under the impression that you know how to do it in a lethal, precise, and very high-quality way, as it has been proven until now,” Gallant adds to the IAF officials.

Thousands attend pro-Israel rally at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

Demonstrators display Israeli flags as they attend a rally in solidarity with Israel in Berlin, October 22, 2023. (John MACDOUGALL / AFP)
Demonstrators display Israeli flags as they attend a rally in solidarity with Israel in Berlin, October 22, 2023. (John MACDOUGALL / AFP)

Several thousand people are rallying in support of Israel in Berlin.

Police say around 10,000 people have gathered at Brandenburg Gate for the demonstration in solidarity with Israel and in opposition to antisemitism, though organizers put the figure at 25,000.

“It is unbearable that Jews are living in fear again today — especially in our country,” Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier tells the crowds. “Every single attack on Jews, on Jewish institutions, is a disgrace for Germany. Every single attack fills me with shame and anger.”

Earlier in the day, Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed a similar message at the opening of a new synagogue in the city of Dessau: “There must be zero tolerance for antisemitism in Germany,” Scholz said.

10 US senators visit Israel to express support: ‘Destroying Hamas is non-negotiable’

US Senator Lindsey Graham speaks at a press conference alongside nine other US senators at a hotel in Tel Aviv on October 22, 2023. (Screenshot)
US Senator Lindsey Graham speaks at a press conference alongside nine other US senators at a hotel in Tel Aviv on October 22, 2023. (Screenshot)

Leading a bipartisan US Senate delegation of five Republicans and five Democrats, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says that “destroying Hamas is non-negotiable.”

“How do we do it? Let’s talk,” says Graham in Tel Aviv. “What is winning? For the terrorist organization to be destroyed, for the people of Israel to have the sense of peace they’ve lost, for the Palestinian people to have hope they don’t have, and for the Arabs and Israelis to end a conflict that would make the world better.”

“How does this end? Israel thrives, they survive, Hamas is destroyed, the Palestinian people have a better life.”

The group met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman yesterday and urged him to offer funds to sustain the Gazan people until Hamas is destroyed. They also met families of hostages taken by Hamas. Graham says he believes that Iran, through Hamas, tried to stop Israel-Saudi peace: “My goal is for them to fail.”

Graham adds that 10 percent of the US Senate is currently in Israel “because we care… I come here because I love Israel. I do not hate Palestinians. I hate Hamas.”

Graham also has stark words of warning for Tehran: “We’re here today to tell Iran, we’re watching you,” says Graham. “If this war grows, it’s coming to your backyard. There won’t be two fronts, there will be three.”

“If these innocent hostages get slaughtered, I hold you, Iran, accountable because you could stop it if you chose to. The idea this happened without Iranian involvement is laughable,” adds Graham. “For Iran to fail, the Middle East needs to come together, marching toward the light, and away from the darkness.”

Speaking after Graham, Maryland Democrat Sen. Ben Cardin concurs that “at the end of the day, Hamas must be eliminated.” He adds that “we must mindful of the innocent people caught in this web.”

“There is no future with Hamas” for the Palestinians, says Cardin.

“Hamas hates the Jewish people, and cares nothing about the Palestinian people,” says Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Jack Reed.

The group also includes Susan Collins (R-Maine), Chris Coons (D-Delaware), Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), and Katie Britt (R-Alabama).

US orders its non-emergency staff to leave Baghdad embassy

The US embassy, seen from across the Tigris River in Baghdad, Iraq, January 3, 2020. (AP/Khalid Mohammed)
The US embassy, seen from across the Tigris River in Baghdad, Iraq, January 3, 2020. (AP/Khalid Mohammed)

The United States says it has ordered non-emergency staff and eligible family members to leave its embassy in Baghdad and its consulate in Arbil, Iraq.

The directive, which was announced today but issued Friday, was given “due to increased security threats against US personnel and interests,” the State Department says.

The department also updates its travel advisory to a level four, the highest possible, warning US citizens not to travel to Iraq.

IDF says it strikes Hezbollah sites in Lebanon for the 4th time today

Israeli soldiers gather near Merkava tanks as they man a position at an undisclosed location on the border with Lebanon on October 22, 2023. (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
Israeli soldiers gather near Merkava tanks as they man a position at an undisclosed location on the border with Lebanon on October 22, 2023. (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)

The Israel Defense Forces says fighter jets struck a Hezbollah position in southern Lebanon, after the military identified preparations by terror operatives to launch an anti-tank guided missile at the northern community of Malkia.

The strike marks the fourth Hezbollah cell the IDF has struck in southern Lebanon today.

Separately, the IDF says a missile was launched from Lebanon at an open area near Arab al-Aramshe, causing no injuries or damage.

Air raid sirens sound in Beersheba, Ofakim

Air raid sirens sound in Beersheba, Ofakim and surrounding areas following a presumed barrage of rockets from Gaza.

UN backtracks, says no aid convoy has crossed into Gaza yet today

Trucks carrying fuel drive in the Gaza Strip on October 22, 2023. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)
Trucks carrying fuel drive in the Gaza Strip on October 22, 2023. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

Egypt’s state-run media reported earlier today that 17 aid trucks were crossing into Gaza, but the United Nations says no trucks have crossed.

“Until now, there is no convoy,” says Juliette Touma, spokeswoman for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

Yesterday, 20 trucks entered in the first shipment into the territory since the start of Israel-Hamas war.

Associated Press journalists saw seven fuel trucks head into Gaza, but Touma and the IDF said that those trucks were taking fuel that had been stored on the Gaza side of the crossing deeper into the territory, and that no fuel had entered from Egypt.

Police chief praises Israel’s Arab citizens for ‘exemplary behavior’ in past two weeks

Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai speaks to a meeting of the Knesset National Security Committee on October 22, 2023. (Dani Shem Tov/Knesset)
Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai speaks to a meeting of the Knesset National Security Committee on October 22, 2023. (Dani Shem Tov/Knesset)

Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai says that Israel’s Arab citizens have behaved in an exemplary manner since the start of the war with Hamas in Gaza on October 7.

Shabtai tells a meeting of the Knesset National Security Committee that he must praise the “exemplary behavior” of Israel’s Arab minority, noting that there have been “zero incidents” of internal clashes over the past two weeks.

Shabtai says the police are in contact with local leaders, and are prepared in case the situation changes.

Last week, Shabtai said in a clip uploaded to the police’s Arabic-language TikTok account that if Arab Israelis want to identify with Gaza “I can send you there on a bus.”

Blinken: Israel needs to think about ‘what could follow’ in terms of Gaza sovereignty

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken holds a press conference in Tel Aviv, October 12, 2023. (Lazar Berman/Times of Israel)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken holds a press conference in Tel Aviv, October 12, 2023. (Lazar Berman/Times of Israel)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Israel should be devising a strategy for who will rule Gaza after the IDF completes its mission of toppling Hamas.

“There are different ideas out there about what could follow, but all of that needs to be worked and it’s something that needs to be worked even as Israel is dealing with the current threat,” Blinken tells NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

This appears to be the first time that Washington is publicly urging Israel to think about its “day after” strategy, after US President Joe Biden and other administration officials have privately been pressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his aides to come up with one in order to avoid making the same mistakes that the US made after 9/11, which led to it being bogged down in Mideast wars for years.

Asked what Israel’s strategy is for who will govern Gaza after the war is over, Blinken tells “Meet the Press,” “We can’t go back to the status quo. They can’t go back to the status quo, with Hamas being in a position in terms of its governance of Gaza to repeat what it did… At the same time, what I’ve heard from the Israelis — is absolutely no intent, no desire to be running Gaza themselves.”

“So, something needs to be found that ensures that Hamas can’t do this again, but that also doesn’t revert to Israeli governance of Gaza, which they do not want and do not intend to do,” the secretary says.

Blinken tells CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the US also continues to work to evacuate US citizens who are trying to leave Gaza but that “Hamas has blocked them from leaving, showing, once again, its total disregard for civilians of any kind who are stuck in Gaza.”

IDF apologizes for accidentally shelling Egyptian military post near Gaza

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)

The Israel Defense Forces says one of its tanks accidentally shelled an Egyptian military post near Kerem Shalom, in the tri-border area with the Gaza Strip.

The IDF says it “expresses sorrow regarding the incident” and it will be investigated further.

WATCH: Large rally in central London calls for return of hostages in Gaza

Large crowds of pro-Israel demonsrators gather in Trafalgar Square, London, October 22, 2023, demanding the release of all hostages abducted from Israel to Gaza by Hamas terrorists. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Large crowds of pro-Israel demonsrators gather in Trafalgar Square, London, October 22, 2023, demanding the release of all hostages abducted from Israel to Gaza by Hamas terrorists. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

WATCH: A large rally is being held in central London calling for the return of the 200-250 hostages being held by terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

Organizers say that there will be a police presence as well as guards from the Community Security Trust (CST) at the rally in Trafalgar Square.

Large crowds of pro-Israel demonsrators gather in Trafalgar Square, London, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023, demanding the release of all hostages abducted from Israel to Gaza by Hamas terrorists. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

The event comes a day after some 100,000 people attended a pro-Palestinian rally in London yesterday, at which there were reportedly chants of “jihad.”

Today’s rally draws a huge crowd, that fills the central London square.

Large crowds of pro-Israel demonsrators gather in Trafalgar Square, London, October 22, 2023, demanding the release of all hostages abducted from Israel to Gaza by Hamas terrorists. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Man arrested for physical altercation with Likud lawmaker

Likud minister May Golan arrives for a coalition gathering ahead of Rosh Hashanah at a restaurant in Jerusalem, September 13, 2023. (Noam Revkin Fenton/FLASH90)
Likud minister May Golan arrives for a coalition gathering ahead of Rosh Hashanah at a restaurant in Jerusalem, September 13, 2023. (Noam Revkin Fenton/FLASH90)

Police say they have arrested a man in Rishon Lezion for attacking a member of Knesset during an argument near an elevator inside an office building.

Hebrew media reports indicated that the lawmaker in question was Likud’s May Golan, the minister for the advancement of women.

Her office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Blinken says US would like to see more water supply for Gaza, working to secure further aid

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 says the US would like to see Israel expand water supply into Gaza.

Blinken tells NBC’s “Meet The Press” that Israel turned one of the water pipelines into Gaza back on last week but that “there are a couple of other pipelines that we’d like to see restored.”

The top US diplomat says desalination plants also need to be powered back on in order to ensure that the drinking water in Gaza is clean, and the Biden administration is concerned about the spreading of disease in the enclave caused by civilians drinking dirty water.

Blinken notes yesterday’s entry of the first 20 trucks of humanitarian aid into Gaza and says that the US has been told that “some of the convoys started to move again and are moving today as we speak.”

Despite foreign reporting to the contrary, Israel has denied that a convoy carrying fuel entered the Strip today.

The secretary of state says the US is working “every day” to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza for Palestinian civilians.

More than 5,400 people in Israel wounded since start of war, says Health Ministry

An Israeli wounded by rockets fired from Lebanon into Israel arrives at the Ziv hospital in Safed, October 17, 2023. (David Cohen/Flash90)
An Israeli wounded by rockets fired from Lebanon into Israel arrives at the Ziv hospital in Safed, October 17, 2023. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The Health Ministry says that 5,431 people in Israel have been wounded since the start of the war with Hamas in Gaza on October 7.

Currently, the ministry says, there are 302 people hospitalized for their injuries, of whom 43 are seriously wounded, 172 moderately wounded and 87 lightly wounded.

Over 7,400 rockets fired into Israel since start of war, says government

The Iron Dome air defense system fires to intercept a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, October 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Avi Roccah)
The Iron Dome air defense system fires to intercept a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, October 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Avi Roccah)

Terror groups have fired more than 7,400 rockets into Israel since October 7, says a government representative.

According to Government Press Office figures, the Iron Dome intercepted over 1,100 of these rockets, 550 misfired and fell inside Gaza, and more than 400 directly hit Israel.

The figures did not account for several thousand rockets, many of which may have fallen in open areas, although the government did not immediately qualify the discrepancy.

The IDF has declined to provide figures on rockets since the start of the war.

Israel says it is still trying to avoid new war front along Lebanon border

Israeli soldiers seen at a staging area near the Israeli border with Lebanon, northern Israel, October 22, 2023. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers seen at a staging area near the Israeli border with Lebanon, northern Israel, October 22, 2023. (David Cohen/Flash90)

As exchanges of fire continue to intensify between terror groups in Lebanon and Israeli forces, an Israeli government spokesperson says that Israel is still trying to avoid opening a northern front in its ongoing war.

“Israel’s position remains unchanged. Israel is not interested in a war on two fronts. Our primary objective remains the defeat and dismantling of Hamas,” Eylon Levy answers The Times of Israel.

Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would make Hezbollah rue the day it entered the fighting, should it intensify.

Israel says all aid convoys entering Gaza have been checked for contraband

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

An Israeli government spokesman denies reports that humanitarian aid has been flowing into the Gaza Strip without being checked for weapons and contraband.

“All supplies were inspected before entering Gaza. Israel has the ability to make sure nothing that was brought in that was not approved,” says Eylon Levy, in a Tel Aviv news conference with reporters.

“Israel wants aid” to flow into Gaza, but “we will not let that aid be diverted to Hamas,” he reiterates.

An Israeli official told The Times of Israel on Saturday that Egypt, in “coordination” with Israel, is responsible for physically checking aid convoys.

21 children in 13 families orphaned following Hamas attack, says Welfare Ministry

The remains of Kibbutz Be'eri, destroyed by Hamas attack on October 7, seen on October 20, 2023. (Carrie Keller-Lynn/The Times of Israel)
The remains of Kibbutz Be'eri, destroyed by Hamas attack on October 7, seen on October 20, 2023. (Carrie Keller-Lynn/The Times of Israel)

The Welfare Ministry says that at least 21 children in 13 families have been left with no parents after they were murdered by terrorists during Hamas’s onslaught against southern Israel on October 7.

One of those is a 4-year-old girl held hostage in Gaza. Another young girl’s mother was murdered and her father is being held captive, the ministry adds.

Social workers with the ministry are working to identify all such children and provide them and their guardians with all the resources necessary.

Man seriously wounded by rocket impact in Netivot, say medics

The aftermath of a Qassam rocket's fall on a street in Netivot, Israel on October 10, 2023. (Canaan Lidor/Times of Israel)
The aftermath of a Qassam rocket's fall on a street in Netivot, Israel on October 10, 2023. (Canaan Lidor/Times of Israel)

A man in his 60s is seriously wounded as a result of a rocket impact in the southern city of Netivot, medics say.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service says the man is in moderate-to-serious condition after sustaining shrapnel injuries, and he is being taken to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba.

MDA adds that its medics are scanning other parts of the city where rockets were reported to have landed.

Earlier, Palestinian terrorists launched a barrage of rockets from the Gaza Strip at Netivot and nearby towns.

More than 200,000 Israelis are displaced internally due to war, says government

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

More than 200,000 Israelis are internally displaced, says a spokesperson for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Half of that number were ordered to evacuated from 105 communities near the Gaza and Lebanon borders, while half left areas close to the front of their own volition, says Eylon Levy during a media briefing to reporters.

IDF says terrorists fired from Gaza at troops near Kissufim

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)

The Israel Defense Forces says Palestinian terrorists “opened fire” at troops operating on the western side of the Gaza border fence, near the southern community of Kissufim.

The IDF says one of its tanks shelled the terror cell in response.

Hamas earlier had claimed to have clashed with Israeli forces in the area, amid reports by Hebrew-language media of an anti-tank guided missile attack from Gaza that caused several casualties.

Air raid sirens sound in Gaza border towns

Air raid sirens sound in more than a dozen Gaza border communities as well as in the city of Netivot.

Austin says US ‘won’t hesitate’ to act if Gaza war spills over across region

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon, in Washington, October 19, 2023. (Cliff Owen/AP)
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon, in Washington, October 19, 2023. (Cliff Owen/AP)

The United States will take “appropriate action” in response to any escalation in the Middle East of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says.

“We’re concerned about potential escalation. In fact, what we’re seeing is a prospect of significant escalation of attacks on our troops and our people throughout the region,” he tells ABC’s “This Week.”

“If any group or any country is looking to widen this conflict and take advantage of this very unfortunate situation that we see, our advice is: don’t,” he says, hours after the Pentagon announced it was increasing its military presence in the region.

“We maintain the right to defend ourselves and we won’t hesitate to take the appropriate action,” Austin adds.

New schools to be created for evacuees from Gaza area and the north

Residents of the Be'eri kibbutz seen at a hotel in the Dead Sea, on October 20, 2023, after they were evacuated from their homes. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Residents of the Be'eri kibbutz seen at a hotel in the Dead Sea, on October 20, 2023, after they were evacuated from their homes. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

New schools will be established in the coming days for students who have had to leave their homes due to the security situation, the Education Ministry announces.

The schools will be located in Eilat, the Arava, and near the Dead Sea, areas where large numbers of citizens have been transferred and where in-person learning is permitted as usual, under the wartime rules drawn up by the Home Front Command.

Some 120,000 citizens have been displaced or evacuated from Gaza-adjacent communities and from the north of Israel, including residents of Sderot, Ofakim and Kiryat Shmona. In Eilat, Education Minister Yoav Kisch says, the school system has essentially doubled in size due to the influx of students, and the schools are currently working in shifts, with morning and afternoon learning, in order to accommodate them.

In areas where it is permitted under certain security conditions, about 40% of schools have begun to have in-person activities, the ministry says.

Distance learning under the system first devised during the 2020-21 COVID lockdowns has been implemented in most areas, and in order to facilitate this the ministry has distributed nearly 5,000 laptop computers to evacuee families, with plans to provide a total of 10,000.

Anti-tank missile reportedly fired from Gaza toward Kissufim, wounding several

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)

An anti-tank guided missile was reportedly launched from the Gaza Strip toward the Kissufim area on the border.

According to Army Radio, several people are wounded in the attack.

Meanwhile, the Hamas terror group claims to have clashed with Israeli forces in the area.

There is no immediate comment from the Israel Defense Forces.

At least 120,000 Israelis internally displaced by war, says Defense Ministry

Donated clothes, toys and other items pile up at the Herod's Hotel in Tel Aviv for evacuees from Kibbutz Nir Am near the Gaza border, October 9, 2023. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)
Donated clothes, toys and other items pile up at the Herod's Hotel in Tel Aviv for evacuees from Kibbutz Nir Am near the Gaza border, October 9, 2023. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)

The Defense Ministry says more than 120,000 Israelis are internally displaced amid the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip and escalating skirmishes on the Lebanon border.

According to ministry officials, the numbers are broken down into two main categories: those who have been fully evacuated from their homes, and those who are eligible “to rest and refresh themselves” at state-subsidized guesthouses temporarily.

Some 16,000 Israelis living in 25 communities up to four kilometers from the Gaza Strip, and another 27,000 Israelis living in 28 towns up to two kilometers from the Lebanon border have already been evacuated.

The ministry’s National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) has also been working to evacuate some 23,000 Israelis from the northern city of Kiryat Shmona in recent days.

Meanwhile, NEMA announced this morning that it would evacuate another 14 towns from the Lebanon border, comprising another 11,000 residents.

The state will be responsible for these Israelis until the military allows them to return to what is now a closed military zone near the Gaza border and a restricted area near Lebanon.

Separately, some 36,000 residents of Sderot and 18,000 Israelis living in 29 towns between four and seven kilometers from Gaza are eligible to go and “rest and refresh themselves” for a week at state-subsidized guesthouses.

Ministry officials say not all of those living in those areas have taken the opportunity to leave at this stage.

Additionally, many Israelis have evacuated their homes near the northern and southern borders, despite not being ordered to.

UNRWA claims fuel trucks enter Gaza; Israel denies any fuel has entered Strip

An official at the Rafah crossing and an AFP journalist claim that fuel trucks have entered Gaza via the crossing from Egypt for the first time since the war began, while Israel denies that is the case.

According to an UNRWA official and Egyptian source cited by AFP, six trucks with fuel to power generators at two hospitals cross from Egypt.

AP journalists at the crossing say that they have seen seven fuel trucks enter Gaza today.

However, Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office as well as COGAT, the Defense Ministry body, deny that any fuel has entered the Strip.

Both bodies claim that the photos of such trucks are in fact of trucks transferring fuel internally inside Gaza from UN fuel depots to hospitals.

Israel has repeatedly said that it will not allow any fuel to enter the enclave until all hostages being held in Gaza are released, but it will allow in water, food and medical supplies.

Netanyahu to troops: ‘If Hezbollah enters the war, it’s making the mistake of its life’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with troops on October 22, 2023 (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with troops on October 22, 2023 (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with soldiers on the northern border and issues words of warning to the Hezbollah terror group amid repeated clashes on the border with Lebanon.

“If Hezbollah decides to enter the war, it will long for the Second Lebanon War,” Netanyahu says, according to his office, referencing Israel’s 2006 war with Lebanon. “It will be making the mistake of its life. We will strike it with strength that it cannot even imagine and the significance to it and to the country of Lebanon will be devastating.”

Netanyahu tells the soldiers that “I know that you lost friends, and it’s a very difficult thing, but we are in the fight of our life, a fight for our home. That’s not an exaggeration, it’s not an overstatement, that’s this war. It is kill or be killed, and they need to be killed.”

17 more aid trucks enter Gaza from Egypt as crossing opens for 2nd day

Trucks of Egyptian Red Crecent carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip cross the Rafah border gate, in Rafah, Egypt, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Mohammed Asad)
Trucks of Egyptian Red Crecent carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip cross the Rafah border gate, in Rafah, Egypt, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Mohammed Asad)

For the second day in a row, trucks carrying aid cross the Rafah border from Egypt into the southern Gaza Strip.

The convoy comes a day after 20 trucks carried medical aid, food and water into the Palestinian enclave.

The United Nations has estimated about 100 trucks per day are needed to meet the needs of Gazans.

It was the second aid shipment into the Strip since the devastating October 7 Hamas onslaught on southern Israel, amid continued rocket fire from Gaza and as the number of confirmed hostages abducted and held in Gaza since the shock assault rose to 212.

The aid entered the Strip ahead of Israel’s looming ground offensive and as the IDF continued to carry out airstrikes on terror targets.

Israel says its offensive is aimed at destroying Hamas’s infrastructure, and has vowed to eliminate the entire terror group, which rules the Strip. It says it is targeting all areas where Hamas operates while seeking to minimize civilian casualties, and has urged residents of northern Gaza to evacuate southward ahead of the expected ground offensive.

Archbishop of Canterbury: False accusations of Israel involvement in Gaza hospital blast are ‘blood libel’

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby delivers his speech at a interreligious meeting, in Rome on Oct. 6, 2021 (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby delivers his speech at a interreligious meeting, in Rome on Oct. 6, 2021 (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says in Jerusalem that there is no reason to assume Israel was behind the October 17 blast at an Anglican Hospital in Gaza City, and that spreading false accusations about Israeli complicity is a “blood libel.”

“Don’t assume it’s Israel,” Welby says to The Times of Israel. “You have no proof.”

“Do not start propagating another blood libel,” he says to those blaming Israel.

The Anglican leader is on a solidarity visit after the blast at the Anglican hospital.

Israel has produced evidence showing the explosion was caused by an Islamic Jihad rocket misfire. The United States, also citing its own data, has endorsed the Israeli account.

However, the local Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem issued a statement blaming “the loss of hundreds of innocent civilians” on Israeli airstrikes.

Welby would not back that figure, saying only “I have no idea how many civilians there were, I’ve heard so many different numbers.”

Welby makes the comments after meeting with the family of slain 22-year-old IDF soldier of British descent, Sgt. First Class Yosef Malachi Guedalia, and with members of the Haran family from Kibbutz Be’eri, eight  of whom are missing or taken captive, and two of whom were killed on October 7.

Empty strollers in central London highlight plight of babies and children held hostage in Gaza

Protesters leave empty strollers in London’s Parliament Square in a call for the return of the Israeli hostages held by terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

Each stroller contains the photo of one of the at least 30 babies and children confirmed snatched by terrorists during the October 7 massacre.

Some 1,400 people were killed in the onslaught, and 200-250 are being held captive in the Gaza Strip.

The installation comes hours ahead of a rally in central London to call for the release of the hostages, and a day after some 100,000 people attended a pro-Palestinian march in the British capital.

IDF carries out airstrike on Hezbollah target after anti-tank missile attacks

The Israel Defense Forces says it carried out an airstrike against a Hezbollah position in southern Lebanon in response to anti-tank guided missile attacks on northern Israel earlier today.

The IDF adds that two more missiles were launched in the last hour at northern Israel.

The military says it is responding with artillery shelling against the source of the missile fire.

Retailer Fox Group says 30-50% of staff to be furloughed amid expected downturn from war

People walk by a closed Fox clothing store in Dizengoff Center, Tel Aviv, July 24, 2023 (Avshalom Sassoni/FLASH90)
People walk by a closed Fox clothing store in Dizengoff Center, Tel Aviv, July 24, 2023 (Avshalom Sassoni/FLASH90)

Israeli retail fashion chain Fox Group announces it will furlough between 30% and 50% of its staff across the country because of the negative economic repercussions of the ongoing war with the Hamas terror group.

Up to 50% of the fashion group’s employees, mainly those working in the retail chain’s shops and stores, will be furloughed for a period of one month for now, Fox says in a filing to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Employees working in the group’s headquarters who will not be furloughed will be paid 80% of their salary.

Harel Wizel, CEO and owner of the Fox Group, along with other senior executives including the board chairman, announce that they are cutting their salary to 50% for 30 days.

Since Israel declared war on Hamas after 2,500 terrorists broke through the fortified Gaza border on October 7 and murdered some 1,400 people in Israel, the scope of the retail chain’s business activity has been significantly reduced, the group says.

Rocket alert sirens in northern town Yiftah

Rocket alert sirens sound in the northern community of Yiftah, close to the border with Lebanon.

The Israel Defense Forces later says a number of mortars landed in open areas causing no injuries.

Last week, the Defense Ministry’s National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) began to evacuate the community amid repeated rocket and missile attacks by Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions in the last two weeks.

100 environmental activists in Israel to Greta Thunberg after Gaza posts: ‘Appallingly one-sided, ill-informed’

Environmental activist Greta Thunberg attends the Oily Money Out protest outside the Intercontinental Hotel, in London, Oct. 17, 2023 (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Environmental activist Greta Thunberg attends the Oily Money Out protest outside the Intercontinental Hotel, in London, Oct. 17, 2023 (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

A group of 100 environmental activists in Israel have signed an open letter to Greta Thunberg after she uploaded posts expressing “solidarity with Palestine and Gaza.”

The signatories say that Thunberg’s tweets and posts on the matter are “appallingly one-sided, ill-informed, superficial and are in complete contrast to your ability to deep dive into details and get to the bottom of complex issues.”

“Do you think Hamas represents human rights and freedom? Think again!” the letter reads.

“On Saturday, October 7th a brutal massacre took place in Israel. So far, we have counted 1,400 bodies of babies, children, women and men. All brutally murdered, shot, burned alive, molested before their deaths, raided by terrorists in their homes, in a music festival and randomly on the streets,” the letter reads.

“Hundreds of people were kidnapped to Gaza, ages ranging from 9 months to 90 years old, including babies and people with severe illnesses (like cancer, heart failure, Parkinson) without their medication, and people with special needs such as autism and dementia, and many more are still missing,” the signatories say.

The statement also raises the plight of Shoshan Haran who dedicated her life to helping African farmers, and is presumed held captive by terrorists in Gaza.

Thunberg deleted her original post as the photo of her and three others included a toy octopus — the sea creature is sometimes used as an antisemitic trope — and replaced it with a similar photo, albeit without the animal.

“It has come to my knowledge that the stuffed animal shown in my earlier post can be interpreted as a symbol for antisemitism, which I was completely unaware of. The toy in the picture is a tool often used by autistic people as a way to communicate feelings,” she wrote. “We are of course against any type of discrimination, and condemn antisemitism in all forms and shapes. This is non-negotiable. That is why I deleted the last post.”

Amid growing outcry, Thunberg wrote on X/Twitter on Saturday that “it goes without saying – or so I thought – that I’m against the horrific attacks by Hamas.”

As foreign workers head home amid war, ministry says West Bank Palestinians aged 60+ will replace them

Foreign workers working in the fields near the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh, November 13, 2016. (Yaakov Lederman/FLASH90)
Foreign workers working in the fields near the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh, November 13, 2016. (Yaakov Lederman/FLASH90)

The Agriculture Ministry has expressed support for the daily entrance of some 8,000 West Bank agricultural workers to Israel, in light of the high number of foreign workers who have left Israel due to the ongoing war.

Amid the tense security situation, the Agriculture Ministry proposes to limit permits to Palestinian women and men over 60, in a proposal suggested on Friday during a National Security Council meeting. The proposal will be voted on at an upcoming cabinet meeting.

Only agricultural workers already familiar to the farmers employing them will be considered, and they will be subject to security approval.

This proposal is similar to existing arrangements to bring Palestinian workers to support the hotel industry, says the ministry.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir releases a statement on Sunday opposing the idea, saying there is “inherent danger in the introduction of Palestinian workers into towns during war.”

Ben Gvir says that the Israel Police backs his stance.

Neither the police nor the Shin Bet have made a public comment on the proposal.

The Agriculture Ministry says that there is a shortfall of about 10,000 laborers, and it will be working to extend existing residence permits for foreign workers and is working with the Population and Immigration Authority to bring foreign workers from additional countries.

Since the start of the war, 2,000 Thai foreign workers have left the country, reports Army Radio.

The Government Press Office has said that 15 Thai nationals were killed in Hamas’s devastating October 7 terror onslaught, and another five are missing or abducted into the Gaza Strip.

Rocket sirens sound in Beit Shemesh, Kiryat Gat and surrounding areas

Rocket alert sirens sound in Beit Shmesh and Kiryat Gat, as well as a number of other locations.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

2 weeks after onslaught, Hamas commando captured trying to return to Gaza

An Israeli soldier inspects a damaged home in Kibbutz Be'eri, Israel, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. (AP/Ariel Schalit)
An Israeli soldier inspects a damaged home in Kibbutz Be'eri, Israel, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

Israeli forces are still finding terrorists in Israeli territory from Hamas’s murderous invasion of southern Israel on October 7.

Yesterday, a member of Hamas’s so-called Nukhba commando forces was captured by Israeli forces while attempting to return to the Gaza Strip.

He was described to reporters as being “exhausted” after spending more than two weeks in Israel.

Meanwhile, the military is expected to further ramp up strikes in the Gaza Strip to ensure a safer entry for forces during the upcoming ground offensive.

Strikes in recent days have included targeting high-rise buildings that are allegedly being used by Hamas as sniper positions.

Rally to be held in central London calling for release of Gaza hostages

Protesters wave Israeli flags at a gathering outside the headquarters of the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) in London on October 16, 2023, denouncing the corporation for failing to refer to Hamas as a terror group. (Daniel LEAL / AFP)
Protesters wave Israeli flags at a gathering outside the headquarters of the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) in London on October 16, 2023, denouncing the corporation for failing to refer to Hamas as a terror group. (Daniel LEAL / AFP)

A large rally calling for the return of the 200-250 hostages being held by terrorists in the Gaza Strip will be held in central London this afternoon.

Organizers say that there will be a police presence as well as guards from the Community Security Trust (CST).

The rally comes a day after some 100,000 people attended a pro-Palestinian rally in London yesterday, at which there were reportedly chants of “jihad.”

The UK’s Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick tells Sky News that the chanting was “completely reprehensible,” and that the government would work to ensure police do “everything that they can to protect British Jews.”

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.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visited Jerusalem on Thursday and said he backed Israel’s war against Hamas so long as it adheres to international law.

Police say bodies of 769 civilians killed in October 7 onslaught have been identified

The bodies of Israelis killed in an unprecedented Hamas attack are gathered for identification at a military base in Ramla, Israel, Oct. 13, 2023. (AP/Francisco Seco)
The bodies of Israelis killed in an unprecedented Hamas attack are gathered for identification at a military base in Ramla, Israel, Oct. 13, 2023. (AP/Francisco Seco)

Police say the bodies of 769 civilians killed in Hamas’s October 7 onslaught have been identified.

Of those, 673 have been transferred to their families for burial.

“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.

Many of the bodies have been burned, mutilated or destroyed, making identification extremely challenging.

Some 1,400 people have been killed since Hamas launched its murderous attack, which mainly targeted civilians. Some 200-250 people are being held hostage by terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

Defense Ministry says it is fast-tracking recognition of disabled veterans

The Defense Ministry’s Rehabilitation Department and the Disabled Veterans Association say 1,210 troops from the Israel Defense Forces and security forces are newly under the care of the department since October 7, when Hamas launched its devastating attack on Israel.

The vast majority of them have been released from hospital, the statement says.

In a joint announcement, the two organizations say that 329 people have been recognized as disabled in a fast-tracked procedure — 88 percent of them on the day that the requests were submitted.

The figures do not include conscripted soldiers, but only reservists, career soldiers, police, Shin Bet agents, etc.

The statement says that the Defense Ministry has expedited the process for those recognized as wounded and their families to receive financial assistance.

The Defense Ministry’s treatment of wounded veterans has come under intense scrutiny since IDF veteran Itzik Saidyan self-immolated outside the Petah Tikva offices of the Rehabilitation Department, in a case that attracted national attention to the plight of military veterans traumatized by events that happened during their military service.

IDF hits 3rd south Lebanon terror cell preparing anti-tank missile attack on Israel, intercepts drone

The Israel Defense Forces says it has carried out a drone strike against another cell in southern Lebanon, preparing to carry out an anti-tank guided missile attack against the northern community of Zar’it.

The strike marks the third cell the IDF has struck in southern Lebanon today, amid repeated missile and rocket attacks by the Hezbollah terror group.

The IDF publishes footage of the strike.

Separately, the IDF says a drone approaching Israeli airspace from Lebanon was intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system.

Hezbollah also launched another anti-tank guided missile attack on IDF surveillance equipment at a military post near the northern communities of Manara and Margaliot.

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

Rocket alert siren in Gaza border town

Rocket alert sirens sound in the Gaza border community of Nahal Oz.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

IDF hits cell that fired anti-tank missile from Lebanon

The Israel Defense Forces says one of its tanks shelled a terror cell that launched an anti-tank guided missile from Lebanon at the Mount Dov area.

The military says there are no casualties among IDF troops, and no damage has been caused.

The strike marks the second cell the IDF has struck in southern Lebanon today, amid repeated missile and rocket attacks by the Hezbollah terror group.

Rocket alert sirens blare in southern Israel

Rocket alert sirens sound in southern Israel, including the coastal city of Ashkelon.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

IDF says senior Hamas commander killed in overnight Gaza strike

This picture taken from Israel's southern city of Sderot shows smoke billowing over the northern Gaza Strip during Israeli airstrikes on October 22, 2023 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
This picture taken from Israel's southern city of Sderot shows smoke billowing over the northern Gaza Strip during Israeli airstrikes on October 22, 2023 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says a senior Hamas commander was killed in an overnight Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip.

“We are not stopping our attacks on the Strip,” he says, adding that dozens of Hamas members, including the deputy commander of the terror group’s rocket array, were killed in overnight strikes.

“We are increasing the attacks in the Gaza Strip in order to reduce the threats to our forces in preparation for the next phase of the war,” he says, referring to Israel’s expected ground offensive.

“We will go to the next stage under the best conditions for the IDF and in accordance with the decision of the political echelon,” Hagari adds.

IDF says families of 212 hostages notified that loved ones are being held in Gaza

Families of Israelis held hostage by terrorists in Gaza hold up photographs of their abducted family members outside the Art Museum of Tel Aviv, October 21, 2023 (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Families of Israelis held hostage by terrorists in Gaza hold up photographs of their abducted family members outside the Art Museum of Tel Aviv, October 21, 2023 (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says the military has so far notified the families of 212 hostages that their loved ones are being held in the Gaza Strip.

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

The number does not include Judith Raanan and her daughter Natalie, who were released by Hamas on Friday night.

IDF says targeted Jenin cell was planning to attack inside Israel

This handout photo released by the Israel Defense Forces on October 22, 2023, shows the opening to a "underground terror route" where the military says it struck members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. (Israel Defense Forces)
This handout photo released by the Israel Defense Forces on October 22, 2023, shows the opening to a "underground terror route" where the military says it struck members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. (Israel Defense Forces)

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says the terror cell that Israel targeted in the West Bank city of Jenin overnight was planning a “murderous terror attack inside Israel.”

He says the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad cell was a “ticking time bomb” and was therefore struck while hiding in a tunnel under a mosque.

“Hamas desecrates holy places in the hope that we will attack them. They use the symbols of Islam as a human shield,” he adds.

IDF says 727 West Bank Palestinians arrested since Oct. 7

The Israel Defense Forces says troops have arrested 727 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including more than 480 affiliated with Hamas, since the war in the Gaza Strip began on October 7.

Overnight, 27 Hamas members were arrested, the military says.

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 90 West Bank Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers since October 7.

Rocket sirens sound in south, including Ashkelon

Rocket sirens sound in a number of southern communities, including the coastal city of Ashkelon.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Rocket sirens sound in Gaza border community

Rocket alert sirens sound in the Gaza border town of Kissufim.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Man arrested on suspicion of vandalizing Israeli flags with swastikas in Jerusalem

An Israeli flag defaced with a swastika in Jerusalem, undated photo (Israel Police)
An Israeli flag defaced with a swastika in Jerusalem, undated photo (Israel Police)

Police say a man has been arrested on suspicion of spraying swastikas on Israeli flags in Jerusalem.

The suspect is from the Abu Tor neighborhood and is in his 40s, police say.

He was detained for questioning on suspicion of desecrating the flag with a racist motivation.

The suspect will appear in court later today for a hearing on his detention.

Public Diplomacy Ministry to be closed down, budget transferred to Gaza border communities

Public Diplomacy Minister Galit Distel Atbaryan speaks at the Knesset, in Jerusalem on August 16, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Public Diplomacy Minister Galit Distel Atbaryan speaks at the Knesset, in Jerusalem on August 16, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel’s flagging Public Diplomacy Ministry will be shuttered and its budget transferred to rehabilitate communities near the Gaza bordered, the cabinet decides via a telephone vote.

Minister Galit Distel Atbaryan quit her post five days into the war, after failing to release any meaningful explanatory content after Israel suffered the largest single-day loss of Jewish life since the Holocaust in a devastating attack by Hamas, and entered what is expected to be a protracted war with the terror group.

The cabinet decision says that the office’s unused budget, NIS 9.4 million for 2023 and NIS 14.4 million for 2024, will be redirected to the new Tekuma Authority, charged with restarting life in the battered western Negev.

The Tekuma Authority will also receive the defunct ministry’s 29 full-time employee allocation.

The decision will soon be brought to the Knesset, to finalize the ministry’s dissolution.

Bodies of 3 Nepalese nationals killed in Hamas onslaught arrive in Kathmandu

Army personnel carry one of the coffins containing bodies of Nepali nationals who were killed by Hamas terrorists in Israel, at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, Oct. 22, 2023 (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
Army personnel carry one of the coffins containing bodies of Nepali nationals who were killed by Hamas terrorists in Israel, at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, Oct. 22, 2023 (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

Nepal repatriates the bodies of three of the 10 Nepali students who were killed during the devastating Hamas attack on Israel two weeks ago.

Nepal’s Foreign Minister Narayan Prakash Saud and Israeli Ambassador Hanan Goder receive the bodies at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport.

The bodies will be flown to the students’ home district of Kailai.

Another body of a Nepali student is expected to be flown to Kathmandu later today.

One Nepalese student is missing and believed to be held captive by Hamas in Gaza, officials say.

Israeli authorities have so far handed over four bodies to the Nepalese Embassy in Tel Aviv. They are in the process of identifying the remaining six bodies, a statement from the embassy says.

More than 200 Nepalese nationals returned home from Israel on Oct. 13. As many as 265 Nepali students were in Israel attending a program launched by the Israeli government.

Some 2,500 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea on October 7, killing some 1,400 people and seizing 200-250 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — men, women, children and the elderly.

Rocket alert sirens sound in central Israel

Rocket sirens sound in central Israel, signaling an incoming barrage.

Alerts are heard in towns including Rishon Lezion, Holon and Bat Yam.

The sirens come after a lull of some eight hours.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

IDF says it killed 2 Hamas commandos in overnight Gaza border strike

The Israel Defense Forces says it killed two members of Hamas’s Nukhba commando forces in an airstrike near the Gaza border fence last night.

The military says other Hamas terrorists were also killed in the same incident, but does not elaborate further.

The Nukhba unit led the murderous October 7 assault on southern Israel.

At the same time, fighter jets struck dozens of Hamas sites in the Strip, the IDF adds.

The targets hit overnight include Hamas assets in multi-story buildings, tunnel shafts, weapons storage sites, command centers, and mosques used as war rooms by the terror group, according to the IDF.

Health Ministry says 299 people currently hospitalized as result of Israel-Hamas war

An Israeli wounded by rockets fired from Lebanon into Israel arrives at the Ziv hospital in Safed, October 17, 2023. (David Cohen/Flash90)
An Israeli wounded by rockets fired from Lebanon into Israel arrives at the Ziv hospital in Safed, October 17, 2023. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The Health Ministry reports that as of 8:30 a.m., 299 people injured in the October 7 massacre by Hamas terrorists and ensuing war are in hospitals across the country.

Of them, 47 are in serious condition, 178 are in moderate condition, and 78 are in mild condition.

A total of 5,132 wounded individuals have been treated at hospitals since October 7.

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

IDF says it hit Lebanon terror cell planning missile attack on Israeli town

View of the border fence with Lebanon, near Avivim, June 13, 2023 (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)
View of the border fence with Lebanon, near Avivim, June 13, 2023 (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces says it has struck a terror cell in southern Lebanon that was planning to carry out an anti-tank guided missile attack against the northern community of Avivim.

The IDF publishes a video of the strike.

The Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group has been carrying out daily missile attacks from Lebanon against IDF positions and towns in northern Israel since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7.

Israel to evacuate another 14 communities close to Lebanon border

Kiryat Shmona residents are evacuated from the city, October 20, 2023 (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)
Kiryat Shmona residents are evacuated from the city, October 20, 2023 (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces and Defense Ministry say they are planning to evacuate another 14 communities close to the Lebanese border, amid repeated rocket and missile attacks by Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions in the last two weeks.

The ministry’s National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) says the residents will be taken to state-funded guesthouses, after the plan was approved by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

Last week, NEMA began to evacuate 28 communities that are within 2 kilometers of the border, as well as the city of Kiryat Shmona.

According to the IDF and Defense Ministry, the 14 communities being added to the plan are: Snir, Dan, Beit Hillel, She’ar Yashuv, Hagoshrim, Liman, Matzuva, Eylon, Goren, Gornot HaGalil, Even Menachem, Sasa, Tziv’on and Ramot Naftali.

Syria says Israel hit Aleppo and Damascus airports, putting them out of service

Syrian state-run news agency SANA says Israel carried out airstrikes against the Aleppo and Damascus airports earlier this morning, damaging the runways and putting them both out of service.

In the Damascus strike, one civilian worker was killed and another was wounded, SANA says.

Aleppo International Airport was allegedly targeted by Israel on October 14 and October 12, while Damascus International Airport was allegedly hit only on the 12th.

Both airports have been struck numerous times over the past year, as Israel is believed to be stepping up efforts to prevent the shipment of advanced weapons from Iran to its various Middle East proxies, chief among them Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group.

Hezbollah ‘dragging Lebanon into a war,’ IDF says

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)

Escalating attacks by Hezbollah risk “dragging Lebanon into a war,” the IDF says, as renewed cross-border attacks on Israel by the Iran-backed terror group raise fears of a wider conflict.

“Hezbollah… is dragging Lebanon into a war that it will gain nothing from, but stands to lose a lot,” warns Israel Defense Forces spokesman Jonathan Conricus.

“They’re escalating the situation,” he says.

“Hezbollah is playing a very, very dangerous game. They’re escalating the situation. We see more and more attacks every day,” he says.

“Is the Lebanese state really willing to jeopardize what is left of Lebanese prosperity and Lebanese sovereignty for the sake of terrorists in Gaza?” he asks.

“That’s a question that the Lebanese authorities need to ask themselves and answer.”

The past two weeks have seen repeated clashes between the Israeli military and the Hezbollah terror group and allied Palestinian factions in southern Lebanon, amid fears a new front could be opened as Israel continues its war with Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

US activates air defense systems across Mideast, citing ‘escalations’ by Iran and its proxies

Illustrative: In this February 20, 2020, file pool photo, a member of the US Air Force stands near a Patriot missile battery at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via AP)
Illustrative: In this February 20, 2020, file pool photo, a member of the US Air Force stands near a Patriot missile battery at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via AP)

The Pentagon moves to step up its military readiness in the Middle East, ordering the activation of air defense systems “throughout” the region and alerting additional US forces that they may be deployed soon.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin says in a statement that the moves are in response to “recent escalations by Iran and its proxy forces across the Middle East.”

“These steps will bolster regional deterrence efforts, increase force protection for US forces in the region, and assist in the defense of Israel,” he says.

Austin does not specify how many additional US troops will be deployed to the region.

“I will continue to assess our force posture requirements in the region and consider deploying additional capabilities as necessary,” he says, adding that the moves follow “detailed discussions” with US President Joe Biden.

The announcement also comes after Austin again spoke with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, amid the ongoing war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.

“The secretary thanked Minister Gallant for Israel’s role in facilitating the October 21 humanitarian convoy into Gaza and reiterated the importance of protecting civilians,” said a statement from the Pentagon. “The two leaders also discussed the continued provision of security assistance and the US commitment to deter any state or non-state actor seeking to escalate this war.”

Detroit police caution against speculation on motive in synagogue president’s murder

Samantha Woll, president of the board at the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue poses for a photo in Detroit, October 13, 2022. (David Guralnick/Detroit News via AP)
Samantha Woll, president of the board at the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue poses for a photo in Detroit, October 13, 2022. (David Guralnick/Detroit News via AP)

Police in Detroit caution against speculation over the motive for the murder of a politically active leader of a local synagogue after she was found dead with stab wounds outside her home.

Police request FBI assistance in investigating the murder of Samantha Woll, 40, who presided over the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, which serves metropolitan Detroit.

Police Chief James White urges “that everyone remain patient” while the investigation is underway despite “many unanswered questions.”

“It is important that no conclusions be drawn until all of the available facts are reviewed,” White says in a statement. “An update… will be forthcoming tomorrow.”

The murder came amid escalating tensions in Jewish and Muslim communities across the United States over the Israel-Hamas war that has taken thousands of lives since the terror group led a deadly onslaught in southern Israel earlier this month.

Emergency personnel found Woll dead “with multiple stab wounds to her body,” police say. A trail of blood led officers to Woll’s nearby home, “which is where the crime is believed to have occurred.”

The motive in the killing “is unknown,” a police statement adds.

The Detroit office of the FBI tells AFP in an email that it “will assist the Detroit Police Department as requested.”

The Jewish Federation of Detroit says Jewish security officials have been in touch with law enforcement about the case.

“No evidence has been shared to indicate this was a targeted act motivated by antisemitism,” the federation says. “We are all eager to understand the circumstance’s of Samantha’s death.”

It also says “there are no known threats at this time.”

Hezbollah deputy chief says terror group ‘is in the heart’ of Israel-Hamas war

Sheik Naim Qassem, Hezbollah's deputy leader addresses a speech during a protest to show their solidarity with the Palestinians, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, October 13, 2023.  (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Sheik Naim Qassem, Hezbollah's deputy leader addresses a speech during a protest to show their solidarity with the Palestinians, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, October 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

BEIRUT — A top official with Hezbollah vows that Israel will pay a high price whenever it starts a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip and says that his terror group based in Lebanon already is “in the heart of the battle.”

The comments by Hezbollah’s deputy leader, Sheikh Naim Qassem, came as Israel shelled and carried out drone strikes in southern Lebanon and Hezbollah fired rockets and missiles toward Israel. Hezbollah said six of its fighters were killed today, the highest daily toll since the violence began two weeks ago.

For Hezbollah, heating up the Lebanon-Israel border has a clear purpose, Qassem says: “We are trying to weaken the Israeli enemy and let them know that we are ready.” Hamas officials have said that if Israel starts a ground offensive in Gaza, Hezbollah will join the fighting.

Qassem says his Iran-backed group, which is allied with Hamas, already is affecting the course of the conflict by heating up the Lebanon-Israel border and keeping three Israeli army divisions tied up in the north instead of preparing to fight in Gaza.

“Do you believe that if you try to crush the Palestinian resistance, other resistance fighters in the region will not act?” Qassem says in a speech during the funeral of a Hezbollah fighter. “We are in the heart of the battle today. We are making achievements through this battle.”

Qassem also comments on foreign dignitaries who visited Lebanon over the past two weeks asking Lebanese officials to convince the group not to take part in the latest Hamas-Israel battle. He says Hezbollah’s response to Lebanese officials is, “We are part of the battle.”

“We tell those who are contacting us, ‘Stop the (Israeli) aggression so that its (conflict) repercussions and possibility of expansion stops,’” Qassem says, referring to the officials who recently visited Beirut, including the foreign ministers of France and Germany.

Speaking about an expected Israeli ground invasion of Gaza, Qassem, says: “Our information are that the preparedness in Gaza by Hamas and resistance fighters will make (the) Israeli ground invasion their graveyard.”

IDF, Shin Bet announce airstrike on terror cell at mosque in Jenin

This handout photo released by the Israel Defense Forces on October 22, 2023, shows the opening to a "underground terror route" where the military says it struck members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. (Israel Defense Forces)
This handout photo released by the Israel Defense Forces on October 22, 2023, shows the opening to a "underground terror route" where the military says it struck members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet say a military aircraft struck an “underground terror route” at a mosque in the northern West Bank city of Jenin where members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were sheltering.

In a joint statement, the security agencies said the IDF carried out the strike after receiving intelligence that the cell was planning an imminent attack, without elaborating.

The Shin Bet and military said the terror operatives were using the mosque as a base to plan and carry out attacks, including the recent detonation of an explosive near Israeli troops along the West Bank security barrier. No soldiers were hurt in the blast.

The statement also said Israeli forces raided the mosque during a major operation in Jenin over the summer, uncovering “terror infrastructure” and armaments.

The Palestinian Authority’s official Wafa news agency said one person was killed and several others injured in the Israeli strike.

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