ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 145

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Live updates (closed)

Oct. 24: More trucks carrying aid enter Gaza Strip as IDF rejects fuel demands

Army kills terrorists attempting to enter from sea * Blinken suggests possible humanitarian pause, but US refuses to back ceasefire * Washington seeking int’l sanctions on Hamas

  • Israeli soldiers stand next to a burning field near the border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, October 24, 2023. (AP/Ohad Zwigenberg)
    Israeli soldiers stand next to a burning field near the border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, October 24, 2023. (AP/Ohad Zwigenberg)
  • People leave their vehicles to take cover during a rocket attack from the Palestinian Gaza Strip along a main road in Tel Aviv on October 24, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. - Thousands of civilians, both Palestinians and Israelis, have died since October 7, 2023, after Palestinian Hamas terrorists based in the Gaza Strip entered southern Israel in an unprecedented attack triggering a war declared by Israel on Hamas with retaliatory bombings on Gaza. (Photo by GIL COHEN-MAGEN / AFP)
    People leave their vehicles to take cover during a rocket attack from the Palestinian Gaza Strip along a main road in Tel Aviv on October 24, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. - Thousands of civilians, both Palestinians and Israelis, have died since October 7, 2023, after Palestinian Hamas terrorists based in the Gaza Strip entered southern Israel in an unprecedented attack triggering a war declared by Israel on Hamas with retaliatory bombings on Gaza. (Photo by GIL COHEN-MAGEN / AFP)
  • People enter Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on October 24, 2023. (Mahmud HAMS / AFP)
    People enter Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on October 24, 2023. (Mahmud HAMS / AFP)
  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, and US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, left, talk with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres before a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023. (AP/Seth Wenig)
    US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, and US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, left, talk with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres before a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023. (AP/Seth Wenig)
  • The scene where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit and caused damage in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, October 24, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    The scene where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit and caused damage in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, October 24, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi at a briefing on October 24, 2023. (Emanuel Fabian/ Times of Israel)
    IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi at a briefing on October 24, 2023. (Emanuel Fabian/ Times of Israel)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron (L) as they hold a joint press conference in Jerusalem on October 24, 2023. (Christophe Ena/Pool/AFP)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron (L) as they hold a joint press conference in Jerusalem on October 24, 2023. (Christophe Ena/Pool/AFP)
  • Palestinians look for survivors after an Israeli strike on the Zaroub family house in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Oct.24, 2023. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)
    Palestinians look for survivors after an Israeli strike on the Zaroub family house in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Oct.24, 2023. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)
  • Foreign Minister Eli Cohen speaks during a United Nations Security Council meeting on the conflict in Middle East at the UN headquarters in New York City on October 24, 2023. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)
    Foreign Minister Eli Cohen speaks during a United Nations Security Council meeting on the conflict in Middle East at the UN headquarters in New York City on October 24, 2023. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)
  • Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, speaks to reporters at Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv after being freed from Hamas captivity on October 24, 2023 (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)
    Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, speaks to reporters at Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv after being freed from Hamas captivity on October 24, 2023 (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)
  • Freed hostage Yocheved Lifshitz with her family and Ichilov Hospital staff on  October 24, 2023. (Jenny Yerushalmi)
    Freed hostage Yocheved Lifshitz with her family and Ichilov Hospital staff on October 24, 2023. (Jenny Yerushalmi)
  • Palestinians inspect homes destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in the city of Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, October 24, 2023. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
    Palestinians inspect homes destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in the city of Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, October 24, 2023. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
  • A convoy of Israeli army trucks carrying mortar shells advances on a road near the southern city of Sderot, October 23, 2023. (Thomas COEX / AFP)
    A convoy of Israeli army trucks carrying mortar shells advances on a road near the southern city of Sderot, October 23, 2023. (Thomas COEX / AFP)

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

Rocket alert activated in kibbutz along Gaza border

The rocket warning alert system is activated in Ein Hashlosha, a kibbutz along the border with the Gaza Strip.

S&P downgrades Israel’s credit outlook to ‘negative’

The headquarters of US financial company Standard and Poor's (S&P) in lower Manhattan, New York, May 2014.   (mixmotive via iStock by Getty Images)
The headquarters of US financial company Standard and Poor's (S&P) in lower Manhattan, New York, May 2014. (mixmotive via iStock by Getty Images)

S&P Global Ratings announces it is downgrading its outlook for Israeli sovereign debt to “negative” from “stable,” while maintaining the Jewish state’s AA- ratings amid the war in Gaza against Hamas.

The credit rating firm says it believes the fighting “will remain centered in Gaza, but there are risks that it could spread more widely with a more pronounced impact on the economy and security situation in Israel.”

It also predicts the economy will contract 5% in the last quarter of 2023 before returning to growth early next year.

Rocket warning siren sounds in kibbutz near Gaza

A rocket warning siren is activated in Kibbutz Sufa, near the Gaza Strip.

Israeli envoy to US urges Red Cross to help secure release of captives held by Hamas

Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Herzog hands birthday cards for an Israeli boy being held hostage in Gaza to two senior International Red Cross officials at their office in Washington on October 24, 2023. (Israeli Embassy to the United States)
Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Herzog hands birthday cards for an Israeli boy being held hostage in Gaza to two senior International Red Cross officials at their office in Washington on October 24, 2023. (Israeli Embassy to the United States)

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog meets with a pair of senior International Red Cross officials in Washington, urging them to work to secure the release of the roughly 220 hostages that were taken into Gaza by terror groups during the October 7 Hamas onslaught in southern Israel.

Herzog also delivers the Red Cross officials thousands of birthday cards that were sent to Ohad Zichri, an Israeli boy who turned nine yesterday while in Hamas captivity.

“I call on the Red Cross to act against the war crimes of Hamas by ordering the return of all the hostages unconditionally, demanding an immediate visit by the Red Cross to all the hostages and to deliver the birthday letters to Ohad,” Herzog says in a statement after the meeting.

“I thank the president of the Red Cross in the United States, Gail McGovern, and the representative of the International Red Cross in the United States and Canada, Patrick Hamilton, who met with me today, and I thank the organization for cooperating with the Israeli government on this urgent humanitarian issue,” he says.

Pentagon says US fighter squadron has arrived in Middle East

US Air Force F-16 fighter jets fly over the Osan US Airbase during a combined air force exercise with the United States and South Korea in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, December 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)
US Air Force F-16 fighter jets fly over the Osan US Airbase during a combined air force exercise with the United States and South Korea in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, December 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

WASHINGTON — The New Jersey Air National Guard’s 119 Expeditionary Fighter Squadron has arrived in the Middle East, Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder tells reporters. The squadron has F-16 fighter jets, and officials will not say where exactly it went.

Ryder also says the US is preparing for an increase in violence, noting that there have already been at least 13 attacks against troops and installations in Iraq and Syria.

“What we are seeing is the prospect for more significant escalation against US forces and personnel across the region in the very near term coming from Iranian proxy forces and ultimately from Iran,” he says during a Pentagon briefing.

He adds that the US won’t hesitate to take action if needed to protect its forces and interests in the region.

Aid trucks arrive as Hamas says Gaza health system on cusp of collapse

The Palestinian Red Crescent says eight aid trucks have entered Gaza, the first aid to reach the enclave in over 24 hours.

The trucks are carrying water, food and medicine.

Hamas-run health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra tells al-Jazeera that the Strip is hours away from no longer being able to provide any medical services.

“We have reached the stage of complete collapse,” he claims, pleading for fuel and medical goods.

The claim cannot be independently verified.

The World Health Organization, which works through UNRWA, says it delivered 34000 liters (8981.85 gallons) of fuel Monday to four major hospitals in southern Gaza and the Palestine Red Crescent. Such an amount was only enough to keep ambulances and critical hospital functions running for a little over 24 hours.

It also distributed medicine and other supplies to key hospitals in southern Gaza, as well as the Palestine Red Crescent.

Israel has said it will not allow fuel into the Strip as it may be stolen by Hamas.

UNRWA also says it will stop being able to deliver services without an infusion of fuel.

Saudi Arabia intercepted Houthi missile headed toward Israel — report

Saudi Arabia intercepted one of the cruise missiles fired toward Israel last week by Iran-backed Houthi rebels, The Wall Street Journal reveals.

The US was known to have shot down the other four missiles from its USS Carney guided missile cruiser but Saudi involvement in the missile defense actions had been unknown until now. Saudi Arabia’s Patriot Missile Defense array is supplied by the US.

The US has said the missiles were likely headed toward Israel.

A member of the US Air Force stands near a Patriot missile battery at the Prince Sultan air base in al-Kharj, central Saudi Arabia, February 20, 2020. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via AP)

Pentagon spokesperson Pat Ryder says the US doesn’t have information that Iran “explicitly ordered” the recent missile attacks by its proxies but a senior Defense Department official separately briefing reporters says Washington holds Tehran responsible.

“When you see this uptick in activity and attacks by many of these groups… there’s Iranian fingerprints all over it,” the official says.

Army publishes audio of Hamas terrorist calling parents to brag of killing Jews

The Defense Ministry has published a recording of a Hamas terrorist who took part in the October 7 onslaught in southern Israel bragging to his parents of slaughtering 10 Jews, complete with English subtitles.

The recording was apparently made using the phone of one of his victims.

In the call, the man excitedly tells his parents that he is in Mefalsim, a kibbutz near the Gaza border, and that he alone killed 10 Jews. His parents are heard praising him.

The audio was played earlier at the UN Security Council by Foreign Minister Eli Cohen.

US looking to rally international sanctions against Hamas

Washington aims to build an international coalition to target the financing of Hamas, a top US Treasury official says.

“Our goal is to build a coalition with countries both in the region but also around the world to go after their financing,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo says on the sidelines of an event in Washington.

Adeyemo said that during a trip to Europe later this week, he plans to meet with “allies and partners and talk about what we can do in a coordinated way to go after Hamas’s financial network.”

The United States unveiled fresh sanctions last week on Hamas members, operatives and financial facilitators.

While the United States has previously issued a number of sanctions against Hamas, which Washington has designated a terrorist group, Adeyemo says the organization has tried to find ways around the restrictions — such as by using cryptocurrencies and new facilitators.

“The strategy that was used to counteract the Islamic State and other terrorist groups is the one we have to use here,” he says.

Minister ‘likes’ post accusing overhaul activist of complicity in Hamas massacres

Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli has liked a post on X claiming that anti-judicial overhaul activist Shikma Bressler contributed to the October 7 Hamas onslaught, which left over 1,400 people dead in southern Israel.

Bressler wrote on Twitter yesterday that there is virtually no one in Israel who trusts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and that the leadership vacuum in Israel poses a danger to the state.

Chikli’s X account put a “like” on a post by Tamir Morag, a reporter for the right-wing Channel 14 news channel, who posted a screenshot of Bressler’s tweet with the comment, “No matter what you do, say or scream: you will forever live with the mark of Cain for your contribution to the terrible massacre in the Gaza Strip.”

Addressing Bressler, Morag wrote, “We warned in real time that you and your friends would bring war on the people of Israel,” but that the anti-overhaul activists refused to listen, suggesting that Hamas felt emboldened to launch such a wide-range attack due to Israeli infighting. Opponents of the overhaul vociferously blame Netanyahu for causing the societal ruptures, blasting the government for pushing such controversial fundamental reforms when they lacked widespread public support.

Chikli also likes another post that criticizes Bressler’s response to the Hamas onslaught.

Minister asks to prosecute Hamas terrorists as Nazis, opening up death penalty

Energy Minister Israel Katz is seeking the creation of a drumhead court that will operate according to Israel’s law for prosecuting Nazis and collaborators in order to seek justice for terrorists captured alive during Hamas’s October 7 onslaught on southern Israel.

Such a law would allow Israel to execute those it is holding. Israeli law only allows capital punishment under the Nazi law and in a court martial for treason.

In a letter to Justice Minister Yariv Levin, Katz says that extending a law intended for Nazis to terrorists responsible for the massacres is not an overreach.

“The acts of these vile Hamas wretches, who cut off heads and limbs, tortured, burned, raped are no less severe than those of the Nazis,” Katz writes, asking Levin to act quickly to set up a court to deal with them as swiftly as possible.

Netiv Ha’asara given all-clear

The Home Front Command gives an all-clear to residents of Netiv Ha’asara, saying “the incident has been dealt with,” without giving any details.

The few residents who may still be on the Gaza border kibbutz are told they can leave their homes freely.

An infiltration alert remains in place for nearby Zikim and Karmia. It’s unclear if they are related.

Saudi crown prince tells Biden Israel normalization can resume after war

US President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman agreed to eventually “build on” the negotiations that were underway to normalize ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia before the outbreak of the Gaza war, the White House says in a readout from a phone call the two leaders held earlier today.

Biden and bin Salman “affirmed the importance of working toward a sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians as soon as the crisis subsides, building on the work that was already underway between Saudi Arabia and the United States over recent months,” the White House readout says.

Biden officials have acknowledged that the normalization effort is no longer the most immediate priority for the US and Israel, as they work to respond to the October 7 Hamas onslaught. However, the White House insists that it is still committed to the goal and has suggested that one of the reasons for the Hamas massacre was to try and thwart the effort.

Biden, but more notably Bin Salman, “welcomed ongoing efforts to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas and called for their immediate release,” according to the readout.

The two leaders also welcomed the recent delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza while recognizing the need for additional assistance.

Biden hailed “the Gulf Cooperation Council’s contribution of $100 million to support these humanitarian efforts, and discussed the disbursement of $100 million from the United States to support the response.”

“The two leaders agreed on pursuing broader diplomatic efforts to maintain stability across the region and prevent the conflict from expanding,” the White House says, adding that Biden affirmed US support for the defense of its allies in the region from terror attacks.

According to the subsequently released Saudi readout, MBS during the conversation called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, rejecting the targeting of civilians.

MBS urged resuming the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Biden thanked him for his efforts to prevent regional escalation, the readout says.

Infiltration alarm sounds in Netiv Ha’asara

Infiltration alarms are now sounding in Netiv Ha’asara, a kibbutz just north of Gaza, after alarms earlier sounded in Zikim and Karmia.

Residents have been evacuated but anybody there is instructed to enter their homes and lock the doors.

There is no comment from the IDF, but footage earlier showed flares being fired to light up the coastal area amid a search for suspects.

Fresh infiltration alarm sounds in Zikim after sea-borne attack

An infiltration warning is sounding in Zikim and Karmia for the second time tonight, hours after the IDF said it engaged a group of Hamas terrorists attempting to enter Israel via the sea.

Residents of both kibbutzim were evacuated with the rest of the Gaza border region following October 7.

The IDF said earlier it was continuing to scan the area for possible terrorists who may have escaped the initial encounter with Israeli forces on the Zikim beach, just north of Gaza.

Dirty water and airstrikes: CNN producer documents life for displaced Gazans in Khan Younis

CNN reporter Ibrahim Dahman's children sleep on the floor in Khan Younis after fleeing Gaza city, in footage aired on October 24, 2023. (Screen capture/X)
CNN reporter Ibrahim Dahman's children sleep on the floor in Khan Younis after fleeing Gaza city, in footage aired on October 24, 2023. (Screen capture/X)

CNN airs footage compiled by its Gaza-based producer Ibrahim Dahman who has been documenting his family’s experience trying to flee the fighting in Gaza.

Dahman and his family left Gaza City for Khan Younis following Israel’s directive for Gazans to evacuate the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

“‘Are we going to die today?’ That’s what my son has asked me since we fled Gaza City,” Dahman recalls.

“Life in Khan Younis is difficult. We’re staying with at least 150 other displaced families from the north, eating the bare minimum to survive,” he says, narrating footage of children sleeping on the floor of an unfurnished room.

“We spend our time watching airstrikes and filling the water tank. It’s like drinking toilet water — Our children drink toilet water,” he says.

Fuel is needed to power the desalination plants in Gaza, but Israel has not allowed any in, saying it will be diverted by Hamas, which has already stolen it from the UN.

He says he tried to reach the Rafah crossing to escape to Egypt over the weekend, along with hundreds of other foreign passport holders, but was turned away. According to the US, Hamas has stopped Gazans holding foreign passports from being able to use the crossing.

“We made our way back, avoiding the chaos, hoping that tomorrow will be better than today,” he says.

Dahman shows footage he took of an Israeli airstrike at a distance in which he asks his young son if he is afraid. The little boy says he is not. “But I can see the fear in his eyes — the same that’s in mine.”

Home Front Command okays most schools to return to normal Wednesday

Schools throughout much of Israel will be able to open as usual starting tomorrow, including in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, according to new guidelines from the Home Front Command today. Previously in these areas, a combination of distance learning and in-person activity, depending on access to bomb shelters and staffing, was permitted.

The directive applies to K-12 schools in “most of the country,” but excludes the western Negev, Ashkelon, Ashdod and other areas around Gaza, where in-person learning is still banned. Other areas such as along the Lebanon border, the Golan and the central Negev will continue to allow in-person learning under what are called safe security conditions, combined with distance learning.

This latest directive is technically only in place until 6 p.m. Thursday, October 26.

The Jerusalem Municipality has announced that schools will be open tomorrow, and in Tel Aviv, the municipality said that until the end of the week they would only allow schools to open that had adequate protection for all students.

Around one in five schools nationwide don’t have adequate bomb shelter space for all students and staff, according to a Ynet report today.

Since the Israel-Hamas war began several weeks ago, the Education Ministry, in conjunction with Home Front Command, has issued a series of statements implementing distance-learning and/or in-person school activities in various locations, using a color-coded system which has changed as the security situation has developed.

The entire educational system is still suffering from a staff shortage caused by the massive call-up of IDF reservists, and dealing with tens of thousands of displaced students, who have been evacuated from communities around Gaza and along the Lebanon border.

German police arrest Islamist suspected of planning truck attack on pro-Israel rally

German police have arrested a convicted Islamist on suspicion of planning an attack on a pro-Israel event.

The man was arrested by police in Essen, in northwest Germany, according to Der Spiegel, which reports that he had access to a truck and may have sought to use it in a ramming attack.

According to the report, the man had searched online for pro-Israel events, but it’s not yet known if he had chosen a target.

Essen police say in a statement that they arrested a man in neighboring Duisberg after raiding his apartment based on a tip.

According to Speigel, the tip came from a foreign intelligence service, and the man had long been a surveillance target due to previous warnings regarding him.

Hamas rejects UN resolution pushed by US

In a statement, Hamas rejects the US-drafted resolution that is up for discussion at the UN Security Council today.

According to a copy obtained by The Times of Israel, the resolution condemns Hamas, demands the immediate release of all hostages, and recognizes Israel’s right to self-defense, but also calls for a humanitarian pause, urges respect for international laws on protecting civilians, and demands immediate humanitarian access to Gaza.

The terror group claims the resolution is “an extension of the political cover” that the US provides to Israel, and that the amendments made so far to the text “do not meet the minimum level of justice.”

Hamas also calls on Security Council member states to force Israel to put an end to its attack on Gaza, open the border crossings and facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid into the Strip.

No aid entered Gaza Tuesday, US says

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby says no trucks have been able to enter Gaza with humanitarian aid today after three consecutive days of convoys totaling roughly 60 trucks being allowed into the enclave through Egypt.

Earlier this week, US envoy David Satterfield said that there would be a “continuous flow” of humanitarian aid into Gaza after Israel blocked any from being allowed in during the first two weeks of the war, fearing that it would be diverted to Hamas.

Asked whether the US is preparing for the possibility of mass evacuations of American citizens in the event that the war widens, Kirby declines to get into specifics but admits that “it would be imprudent and irresponsible if we didn’t have folks thinking through a broad range of contingencies and possibilities, and certainly evacuations are one of those things.”

He adds that the US is not presenting Israel with any red lines with regard to how it carries out its military operations in Gaza, though it is stressing the importance of protecting civilians.

WATCH: Bring the hostages home event outside the UN in New York

Family members of the hostages taken by and held by Hamas, Israeli dignitaries and major Jewish organizations have come together to call for the immediate release of hostages.

The event is being held at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, outside the United Nations headquarters.

Hamas tricked Israel into thinking it was ready to deal captive, remains ahead of October 7 — report

Demonstrators marching with a banner showing the faces of captive Israeli civilian Avera Mengistu, and late soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin from the Israeli city of Ashkelon arrive at the Karmia kibbutz on August 5, 2022. (Jack Guez/AFP)
Demonstrators marching with a banner showing the faces of captive Israeli civilian Avera Mengistu, and late soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin from the Israeli city of Ashkelon arrive at the Karmia kibbutz on August 5, 2022. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Hamas led Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office to believe that it was interested in a deal for the return of captive Avera Mengistu and the remains of soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, apparently as part of its deception in the lead-up to the October 7 massacres, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

According to the report, indirect talks which have been stuck for years ramped up in recent months, with Hamas seemingly signaling it was prepared for a deal. It does not say why captive Hisham al-Sayed, who like Mengistu has been held since 2015, was not part of the fake talks.

The report notes that Netanyahu’s office, particularly Military Secretary Avi Gil, were hoodwinked by the bogus negotiations, after no replacement was appointed for hostage talks point man Yaron Blum over a year ago.

The PMO declines to respond to Kan.

Naval forces scanning for additional Hamas divers after sea-borne attack

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says Navy forces are continuing to search for additional possible terrorists that tried to infiltrate into Israel from the Gaza Strip, via the sea.

Hagari says Navy forces — including naval commandos — operating across from the coast of Gaza City, spotted the Hamas terror cell entering the sea from a tunnel.

Navy forces opened fire at the Hamas divers, killing them, “and are currently in the process of making sure that there aren’t any more members of the cell in the sea,” he says.

Hamas in a statement claimed responsibility for the sea-borne attack, and claimed that its members had clashed with Israeli forces after ostensibly managing to infiltrate into Israel.

Hebrew-language media have suggested at least four terrorists were killed. Other reports put that number as high as nine.

White House reiterates opposition to ceasefire, but not humanitarian pause

White House Press Secretary John Kirby reiterates the Biden administration’s current stance against a ceasefire in the Gaza war.

The remark comes after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for the international community to consider “humanitarian pauses” to the fighting in Gaza to better protect civilians.

“A ceasefire right now will only benefit Hamas,” Kirby says during a press briefing.

Kirby clarifies that humanitarian pauses are tools… for temporary periods of time. That is not the same as saying a ceasefire,” he adds.

On Monday, a State Department spokesman said pausing strikes on Hamas would allow the terror organization to regroup.

IDF rejects allowing fuel into Gaza

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says fuel will not enter Gaza, after reports that Hamas has conditioned the release of 50 dual nationals it is holding hostage on Israel allowing fuel into the Strip.

“Fuel will not enter the Gaza Strip. Hamas needs it for its operational infrastructure,” Hagari says.

IDF: Two rockets launched from Syria at north

The Israel Defense Forces says two rockets were launched from Syria at northern Israel, setting off alarms in the Golan Heights communities of Neot Golan, Bnei Yehuda and Givat Yoav.

According to the IDF, both projectiles landed in open areas.

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

White House spokesperson sharpens comments on antisemitism after criticism

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre opens up today’s press briefing by clarifying a response she gave yesterday that appeared to downplay an uptick in antisemitic attacks since the outbreak of the Gaza war.

Asked about the degree of concern in the White House about the potential for an increase in antisemitism in light of the war, Jean-Pierre said Monday, “We have not seen any credible threats… But look: Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim have endured a disproportionate number of hate-fueled attacks.”

After coming under fire for the remarks, Jean-Pierre tweeted hours later, “To be clear: the President and our team are very concerned about a rise in antisemitism, especially after the horrific Hamas terrorist attack in Israel.”

But the press secretary goes further in her latest remarks to open today’s press briefing.

“When Jews are targeted because of their beliefs, or their identity, when Israel is singled out because of anti-Jewish hatred, that is antisemitism, and that is unacceptable. There’s no place for antisemitism full stop, period,” she says.

“This is important to the President, it’s important to me personally and to everyone in the administration, following the Hamas terror attacks in Israel, which were the deadliest for Jews since the Holocaust. The president has been consistent and clear: We must all do our part and forcefully speak out against antisemitism and we must ensure that there is no place for hate in America — not against Jews, not against Muslims, not against Arab Americans, not against Palestinian Americans, not against anyone.”

Biden says Gaza aid not getting in fast enough

Asked upon leaving a White House event whether he thinks humanitarian aid is reaching Gaza quickly enough, US President Joe Biden responds, “Not fast enough.”

Rights group says settlers behind over 100 assaults on Palestinians since October 7

An image that appears to show masked settlers near the West Bank village of Qusra, October 11, 2023. (Screenshot, X used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
An image that appears to show masked settlers near the West Bank village of Qusra, October 11, 2023. (Screenshot, X used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Israeli settlers have committed over 100 assaults against Palestinians since the start of the war, according to the human rights NGO Yesh Din.

The attacks have reportedly taken place in at least 62 different West Bank localities, and have caused the death of at least six Palestinians with live ammunition.

Four Palestinians were killed in clashes with settlers in the West Bank village of Qusra, close to Nablus, on October 11, and two more were gunned down the following day when Israeli settlers opened fire on a funeral procession.

In addition, Israeli settlers have caused damage to Palestinian property, torching homes and vehicles and uprooting trees. They are accused of displacing communities of Bedouin shepherds.

The NGO claims that not a single settler has been detained, arrested or investigated.

In total, since the start of the war between Hamas and Israel, 96 West Bank Palestinians have been killed, the NGO reports.

Clashes have repeatedly taken place between IDF forces and Palestinians in the West Bank in the days since October 7, with the army reporting several attempted terror attacks.

Bahrain dispatches aid shipment meant for Gaza

Bahrain has dispatched its first shipment of humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza since the start of the war on October 7.

“The Bahraini aid shipment reflects His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s firm stance on the just Palestinian cause and support for the Palestinian people,” says Bahrain’s envoy for humanitarian affairs Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

The shipment includes 40 tons of medical and food supplies for Palestinians in Gaza and is coordinated with the International Red Crescent, Egyptian Red Crescent, and Palestinian Red Crescent, Sheikh Nasser says, adding that Bahrain will provide additional aid in the future.

Abbas will only agree to rule Gaza as part of statehood deal — Palestinian official

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, is welcomed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on October 24, 2023. (Christophe Ena/Pool/AFP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, right, is welcomed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on October 24, 2023. (Christophe Ena/Pool/AFP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has told Biden Administration officials since the outbreak of Israel’s war with Hamas that the PA will only consider returning to rule the Gaza Strip if it is part of a broader peace initiative with Israel, a Palestinian official tells The Times of Israel.

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is not currently focused on who will govern Gaza after the IDF succeeds in its goal of toppling Hamas, US officials have begun inquiring into possible scenarios and have asked Abbas and his aides whether the PA would be willing to once again rule the coastal enclave.

Such a scenario would be highly difficult to implement, given the historically weak state of the PA. The governing body in the West Bank has been plagued by corruption, has lost face among Palestinians for cooperating with Israel and has seen international support shrink with rejected peace offers and continued stipends to Palestinian security prisoners.

Critics of Netanyahu have accused him of strengthening Hamas over the past 15 years in order to divide the Palestinian factions and weaken the more moderate PA, which recognizes Israel and supports a two-state solution.

Abbas has told Biden officials that he will not return to Gaza “on top of an Israeli tank,” the Palestinian official says, confirming a report in the Ynet news site.

Instead, the official says that the PA president has insisted that Israel publicly state its intention to allow for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza — something that is surely a non-starter for the current hardline Israeli government.

The Palestinian official claimed that the Biden administration recognizes that returning the PA to the Gaza Strip would not be able to occur overnight but believes there are no good options at the moment.

Discussions on the matter are still in their early stages, the official says.

Rocket sirens sound in Golan Heights

Rocket sirens are sounding in the southern Golan Heights, indicating possible rocket fire from Syria.

The Israel Defense Forces says it is investigating the cause of the alarms.

Two weeks ago, a number of mortars were launched from Syria at northern Israel, causing no damage.

Rocket fire from Gaza also appears to have resumed after a several-hour pause, with sirens sounding both in communities near the Strip.

Gunfire still being heard at Zikim — report

Fighting against Gaza-based Hamas terrorists who attempted to infiltrate Israel from the sea appears to be ongoing, Channel 12 news reports.

According to the station, gunfire can be heard echoing in the area and military helicopters are flying overhead.

The IDF says only that forces are continuing to scan the area.

Walla reports that residents of nearby Kibbutz Zikim have been told that the fighting is occurring on the shoreline and not in the kibbutz.

Reports on the number of terrorists killed vary from five to eight.

Hamas divers trying to sneak onto Israeli shore killed, IDF says

Israeli soldiers stand next to a burning field near the border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023. (AP/Ohad Zwigenberg)
Israeli soldiers stand next to a burning field near the border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023. (AP/Ohad Zwigenberg)

A number of Hamas terrorists attempting to infiltrate into Israel from the Gaza Strip via the sea have been killed by Israeli Navy forces, the military says.

The Israel Defense Forces does not specify how many Hamas divers attempted to infiltrate into Israel, but Hebrew-language media reports say at least 4 terrorists were killed.

One report puts the number of Hamas terrorists killed at 8.

During the incident, a suspected infiltration alarm sounded in the border communities of Zikim and Karmia.

The IDF says a fighter jet also carried out an airstrike against a compound from which the terrorists set out.

Forces are continuing to scan the area, the IDF adds.

UNRWA says Gaza operations to halt unless fuel brought in

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees says it will be forced to stop working across the Gaza Strip on Wednesday unless there are fuel deliveries to the war-torn territory.

“If we do not get fuel urgently, we will be forced to halt our operations in the Gaza Strip as of tomorrow night,” UNRWA says on X.

The group’s trucks have been used to distribute aid in the enclave.

In Beirut, Hamas official Osama Hamdan tells German news agency DPA that no hostages will be released unless fuel starts flowing into the Strip.

In apparent shift, Blinken says humanitarian pauses in Gaza should be considered

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says “humanitarian pauses” in the Gaza war must be considered in order to protect Palestinian civilians.

The remark during his address to a ministerial gathering of the UN Security Council on the war is the first time a US official has publicly called for any sort of stoppage to the fighting.

The idea falls short of a ceasefire, which US officials have rejected in recent days as a step that would amount to help for Hamas, arguing that Israel still has a right to forcefully respond to the October 7 onslaught in order to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

“Palestinian civilians must be protected. That means Hamas must cease using them as human shields. It’s hard to think of an act of greater cynicism,” Blinken says.

“It means Israel must take all possible precautions to avoid harm to civilians. It means food, water, medicine and other essential humanitarian assistance must be able to flow into Gaza and to the people who need it. It means civilians must be able to get out of harm’s way. It means humanitarian pauses must be considered for these purposes,” the secretary of state adds.

Netanyahu says Monday strikes on Gaza hardest yet

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with troops in southern Israel on October 24, 2023. (Kobi Gidon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with troops in southern Israel on October 24, 2023. (Kobi Gidon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told IDF soldiers from the elite Yohalam division of the Engineering Corps that the country will soon enter the next stage of the operation against Hamas, presumably referring to a ground invasion, the Prime Minister’s Office says.

“We are facing the next stage [of the operation], it is on its way. You know it, you are part of it, you are part of the spearhead. I have enormous appreciation for what you know how to do, your fighting spirit, and your willingness to save our country from these animals, and I am sure we will succeed in this. We have only one task – to crush Hamas, crush it. We won’t stop until we get it done,” the PMO quotes him saying.

The prime minister addressed the soldiers during a visit to an army base some 20 kilometers (12 miles) outside of Gaza. While there, he received an overview of the unit’s activities since the start of the war on October 7 and was shown evidence of weapons brought into Israel from the Gaza Strip by Hamas, which were found and seized by the unit.

“We are striking our enemies with tremendous force,” he told the soldiers, according to his office. “Yesterday, during our attacks in Gaza, we dealt the enemy the hardest blow he has suffered in a single day. We have killed many dozens of terrorists, possibly many more than that, and at this very moment, we are finding out the exact extent of the damage.”

Ashkelon added to Gaza border community benefits plan

The Knesset’s Finance Committee designates Ashkelon as entitled to full compensation for damages incurred during the war, part of an emergency benefits package that the state is awarding to municipalities and cities close to Israel’s Gaza border.

Previous policy only awarded the state’s highest level of compensation to communities within seven kilometers of the Gaza border, which Ashkelon slightly misses, despite being the most rocketed city in Israel.

The Finance Committee’s decision is enough to extend benefits to Ashkelon, said a committee spokesperson.

The policy change will be valid for a year.

Blinken to Security Council: Where’s the revulsion over Hamas attacks

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken appears to call out much of the international community for failing to explicitly condemn the October 7 Hamas onslaught.

Blinken says in his speech to the ministerial gathering of the United Nations Security Council that in his conversations with world leaders since the assault, there has been agreement that countries have a right and obligation to respond to terror attacks against their civilians, but indicates that not all of them have acknowledged this publicly.

“It must be asked: Where’s the outrage? Where’s the revulsion? Where’s the rejection? Where’s the explicit condemnation of these horrors?” Blinken asks.

The secretary calls on countries to do everything in their power to secure the release of the remaining 220-plus hostages in Gaza.

Blinken tells the ministerial gathering that while the US does not seek conflict with Iran, it will respond if Tehran or its proxies attack US personnel. “Make no mistake. We will defend our people. We will defend our security swiftly and decisively.”

Blinken urges Security Council members to call out Iran for its malign regional activity and warn it, like the US has, not to open another front against Israel.

“Act as if the security and stability of the entire region and beyond is on the line because it is,” Blinken tells members.

He closes by urging members to “redouble our collective effort” to work toward a two-state solution following the outbreak of the war in Gaza.

“The only road to lasting peace and security in the region, the only way to break out of this horrific cycle of violence is through two states for two peoples,” Blinken says, acknowledging that it will be difficult.

“Nothing would be a greater victory for Hamas, than allowing its brutality to send us down the path of terrorism and nihilism. We must not let it. Hamas does not get to choose for us,” Blinken says, adding that the path the US and the world should choose is one where the region is more integrated and “normalized” — hinting at efforts to broker an Israel-Saudi agreement.

Islamic Jihad’s man in Iran says many ifs and buts around Gaza invasion

Nasser Abu Sharif, the representative of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Iran, says that a ground invasion in Gaza will not “bring Israel much success.”

While Israel has sophisticated military equipment, the ground invasion will be “accompanied by many ifs and buts, both inside [Gaza] and outside it,” the terror group’s official says in an interview with the Iranian press agency IRNA, referencing the possible opening of a war front in the north against Hezbollah.

Abu Sharif claims that terror groups have targeted a number of Israeli tanks, “causing the soldiers and crews of the tanks to flee from the battlefield.”

“The situation is uncertain now and it is very difficult to predict the end results,” he adds.

Cohen plays Security Council recording of Hamas terrorist bragging of killing Jews

At the UN Security Council, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen plays a recording of what he says is a Hamas terrorist bragging to his parents that he “is proud that he has the blood of 10 [Jews] that he murdered.”

“Mr. Secretary General, this is the world that we live [in],” he says, continuing to pound Antonio Guterres for his comment that the Hamas attacks did not occur in a vacuum.

According to the IDF, which played the tape as part of a screening for foreign journalists on Hamas atrocities a day earlier, the call was made using the phone of a woman the terrorist had just killed.

In it, the terrorist boasts of being a hero for killing 10 Jews with his own hands.

Cohen tweets that he has canceled a planned meeting with Guterres.

“After October 7, there is no room for a balanced approach,” he writes.

In Israel, minister Benny Gantz also takes aim at Guterres.

 

IDF says airstrikes hit terror cells, Hezbollah post in southern Lebanon

The Israel Defense Forces says it has carried out airstrikes against three terror cells and a Hezbollah position in southern Lebanon in the last few hours.

According to the IDF, a military drone struck two terror cells in southern Lebanon launching mortars and anti-tank guided missiles at army posts and nearby towns on the border.

The mortar launches set off sirens in the northern communities of Elkosh and Netua. The IDF says it also shelled the area of the mortar and missile launches with artillery.

In a third strike, the IDF says forces struck a terror cell in southern Lebanon preparing to carry out a missile attack near Kibbutz Yiftah.

The IDF says that earlier, a combat helicopter also struck a Hezbollah position in response to the recent missile attacks.

Cohen to Guterres at UN: In what world do you live?

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on Tuesday has denounced UN chief Antonio Guterres over his criticism of Israel’s Gaza campaign, recounting graphic details of Hamas attacks on civilians, and naming children kidnapped by the terror group.

“Mr. Secretary General, in what world do you live?” Cohen tells Guterres in English at a special Security Council session on the crisis. “Definitely this is not our world.”

Cohen speaks after Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki on Tuesday deplored inaction by the UN Security Council to stop “massacres” in Gaza by Israel.

“The ongoing massacres being deliberately and systematically and savagely perpetrated by Israel — the occupying power against the Palestinian civilian population under illegal occupation — must be stopped,” Maliki said.

Hospital says it’s not to blame for freed hostage’s remarks

Ichilov Hospital is attempting to deflect blame after a press conference by freed hostage Yocheved Lifshitz turned into a debacle, with the octogenarian describing her treatment in Hamas’s hands in positive terms.

“Ichilov was asked to allow the hostage and her family and the media to speak in an organized and coordinated way. Coaching the family regarding the style and content of the messages is not our responsibility, but that of official security and PR figures, who have been in direct contact with the family,” it says.

France retreats after Macron suggests anti-IS coalition could battle Hamas

After French President Emmanuel Macron introduces the idea of expanding the international anti-Islamic State coalition to include the fight against Hamas, the Elysee Palace appears to walk it back.

“The aim is to get inspiration from the international coalition’s experience against ISIS and to check which aspects can be implemented against Hamas as well,” says the president’s office in a statement.

“We are ready to think, along with our partners and with Israel, about relevant courses of action against Hamas.”

The statement also stresses the coalition’s non-combat roles.

“The international coalition against ISIS is not limited to actions on the ground, but also includes training of Iraqi forces, information sharing between partners, and fighting terrorism funding.”

UN chief says Hamas attacks did not occur in vacuum, sparking Israeli fury

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, and US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, left, talk with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres before a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023. (AP/Seth Wenig)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, and US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, left, talk with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres before a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023. (AP/Seth Wenig)

Israel is protesting after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appeared to try to explain the impetus behind the Hamas terror group’s attacks on Israel at a UN Security Council meeting on the Israel-Hamas.

“It is important to also recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum,” Guterres said. “The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation. They have seen their land steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence; their economy stifled; their people displaced and their homes demolished. Their hopes for a political solution to their plight have been vanishing.”

Guterres added that “the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

Israeli envoy to the UN Gilad Erdan calls Guterres’s remarks “shocking,” “horrible,” and “totally detached from the reality of our region.”

“His comments… constitute a justification for terrorism and murder,” Erdan says. “It’s sad that a person with such views is the head of an organization that arose after the Holocaust.”

Two injured by rocket shrapnel in Holon, Be’er Yaakov

Two people have been lightly injured by rocket shrapnel following a barrage targeting the Tel Aviv area, the Magen David Adom ambulance service says, and three people were hurt while running to shelters.

The two shrapnel victims, men in their 40s, are in Be’er Yaakov and Holon.

A man aged 77 was lightly hurt running to a shelter near Kfar Saba, as was a woman, 80, in Yavne and a woman, 35, in Tel Aviv.

Hamas says over 700 Gazans killed in past day in widened Israeli strikes

Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip have killed at least 704 people in the past day, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says.

The figure represents a massive increase in the death toll amid what appear to be widening Israeli bombing attacks in the territory.

The death toll from the war stands at 5,791, including 2,360 children, ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra says in a statement. At least 16,297 others were wounded, he says. The figures cannot be verified independently.

Israel says its campaign is aimed at eliminating the Hamas terror group, which sent thousands of gunmen into Israel on October 7, killing some 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping over 200 more.

Rocket sirens sound in northern towns

Incoming rocket sirens are sounding in the northern towns of Elkosh and Netua, close to the Lebanon border.

The alerts come amid repeated rocket and missile attacks by Hezbollah and allied Palestinian terror groups in southern Lebanon.

Israel: Hamas bid for points off hostage release reminiscent of Nazi’s Theresienstadt

A message sent to Israeli journalists in the name of a “diplomatic source” accuses Hamas of imitating the Nazis in trying to score PR points with its release of two elderly Israeli hostages.

“Just like the Nazis gave engineered and staged tours to the Red Cross of a ‘clean’ concentration camp, to fool the world and present itself as humane, so too does Hamas, while butchering babies, raping women and shooting kids, try to present itself as humane by releasing some hostages it seemingly treated,” the government statement reads, referring to Theresienstadt.

A scene from incomplete Nazi propaganda film, ‘The Fuhrer Gives the Jews a City,’ staged at Theresienstadt during the summer of 1944 (photo courtesy: National Center for Jewish Film)

The comments come as Israel scrambles to do damage control after freed hostage Yocheved Lifshitz appeared to praise her treatment at Hamas’s hands in a press conference earlier.

“The world cannot buy Hamas’s propaganda. Hamas is worse than Islamic State. Hamas is the new Nazis,” the statement reads.

Massive rocket barrage targets Tel Aviv region for third time in hours

Rocket sirens are sounding all over the Tel Aviv region, including the city itself, areas east of the city around Ben-Gurion airport, and towns to the north and south.

The rockets appear to be part of a massive barrage from Gaza aimed at Israel’s most populated areas, the third such volley in under two hours, and it appears to be the largest.

The earlier launches were claimed by Hamas.

IDF says it struck terror cell in Lebanon and source of anti-tank missile fired at Manara

The IDF says there are no injuries in an anti-tank missile strike from Lebanon at an area near the border kibbutz of Manara.

Separately it says Israeli military aircraft attacked a “terror cell” in Lebanese territory near the Har Dov area and “destroyed weapons used by the cell.”

The army says it also shelled the source of the anti-tank fire toward Manara.

 

Lifshitz press conference panned as disastrous for Israel, PR win for Hamas

Freed Israeli hostage Yocheved Lifshitz speaks to press at Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv on October 24, 2023 (Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Freed Israeli hostage Yocheved Lifshitz speaks to press at Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv on October 24, 2023 (Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Criticism is pouring in after freed hostage Yocheved Lifshitz appeared to praise her Hamas captors and criticize Israel at a press conference earlier in the day.

The Kan public broadcaster reports that Israeli PR experts are calling the decision to put Lifshitz in front of cameras a “mistake.” The station notes that international media is now reporting on Hamas’s kindness in taking care of the hostage’s needs.

In Israel Hayom, columnist Eddie Rothstein calls the interview a “propaganda win for Hamas.”

“What a brave and enlightened woman, the kind we thought they no longer make in Israel, and what clumsy handling of the event,” he writes. “The truth is you don’t need to be a PR expert to know you can’t have a press conference like this live on TV.”

“There’s no doubt that Lifshitz’s statement could have been managed better,” tweets Channel 12 reporter Daphna Liel, who adds that her descriptions were still pretty shocking. “Anyone sane should understand that medical attention she was given was intended to keep their bargaining chips alive and not from the kindness of their hearts.”

The channel’s Dana Weiss calls the press conference a “disaster,” noting the lack of state intervention in managing her appearances.

ToI’s Tal Schnieder takes aim at the hospital’s spokesperson, who put Lifshitz in front of the cameras, rather than just her family members, and then bragged about his ability to get a “wow factor” for journalists on Instagram.

“From a professional point of view, this is an embarrassment for the hospital,” she writes on X.

IDF chief: Army ready for Gaza incursion, delayed by ‘tactical, strategic’ factors; Oct. 7 changed our reality

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi at a briefing on October 24, 2023. (Emanuel Fabian/ Times of Israel)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi at a briefing on October 24, 2023. (Emanuel Fabian/ Times of Israel)

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi says that the Hamas terror group “regrets” launching a war against Israel, and admits that a ground offensive is being delayed by “strategic considerations.”

“Israel is in the midst of a war that was launched by the Hamas terror group. It already regrets it,” he says in a press conference near the Gaza border.

“We’ve prepared for this. The IDF and the Southern Command have prepared quality offensive plans to achieve the goals of the war,” he says. “The IDF is ready for the [ground] maneuver, and we will make a decision with the political echelon regarding the shape and timing of the next stage,” Halevi says.

He says that there are “tactical and even strategic considerations” delaying the ground offensive, but they enable the IDF to better prepare.

“We are making use of every minute to be even more prepared,” he says. “And every minute that passes on the other side, we strike the enemy even more. Killing terrorists, destroying infrastructure, collecting more intelligence for the next stage,” he adds.

Says Halevi: “This is our state, our house, and we will defend it by every means.

“What happened [on October 7, with Hamas’s slaughter of 1,400 people in Israel] is unprecedented since the founding of the state. It will require a fundamental change in our security reality. There will be a cost to that, including as regards the length of the war.

“This war has one address: The Hamas leadership and all those who acted under its command. They will pay the price for what they did,” he says.

He says no one should doubt Hamas’s cruelty and barbarism. “We recommend that Hamas treat the Israeli citizens it holds hostage with respect.” This is “essential,” he says, but bears no relationship to the “gravity of the treatment” the IDF will mete out to Hamas. There is nothing that can atone in any way, he says, for what Hamas did on October 7, “and since then, to every one of the hostages, the killed, and their families.”

“The IDF is fighting Hamas, it is not fighting Gaza’s populace. The IDF wants the residents of Gaza to come through this war as unharmed as possible,” he says, hence Israel’s urging of residents to evacuate to safe areas, where they will find food, water and medicine. “Every resident of Gaza should take the responsible decision [to evacuate] for the sake of their lives.”

Where fuel is needed by civilians, Israel will ensure it is available. “We will not allow fuel for Hamas, with which it can continue to fight Israel.”

Rocket said to hit West Bank settlement

Reports indicate a rocket shot from Gaza may have fallen in or near the West Bank settlement of Alfei Menashe, northeast of Tel Aviv.

The Magen David Adom emergency service reports there are no injuries from the strike.

 

Sirens sound east of Tel Aviv, including close to airport, for second time

Sirens are blaring all over areas east of Tel Aviv, including towns near Ben-Gurion airport, as well as West Bank settlements, in what appears to be a large barrage of Gazan rockets.

The barrage is the second toward the area in under 15 minutes.

In between, rocket sirens also sounded in Beersheba.

Large rocket barrage fired at central Israel, northern West Bank

A large rocket barrage is fired from Gaza toward central Israel and the northern West Bank.

Sirens sound in Lod, Rehovot, Nes Ziona and surrounding communities in central Israel. Warnings are also heard in settlements in the northern West Bank, including Elkana.

There are no immediate reports of direct hits or injuries.

French officials say military cooperation against Hamas is possible

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron (L) as they hold a joint press conference in Jerusalem on October 24, 2023. (Photo by Christophe Ena / POOL / AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron (L) as they hold a joint press conference in Jerusalem on October 24, 2023. (Photo by Christophe Ena / POOL / AFP)

After French President Emmanuel Macron brings up the idea of expanding the coalition against ISIS to counter Hamas, an Elysee Palace official says in Jerusalem that France is available “to beef up what we are doing in the coalition against ISIS. We are available to include Hamas in the coalition against ISIS depending on what Israel will ask us to deliver.”

“Not every country is fighting on the ground,” the official continues. “Much will depend on conversations we have with our allies.”

At the same time, the official does not rule out the possibility of military cooperation against Hamas or French boots on the ground.

The official also stresses the need to think ahead about restarting a “more crucial, more decisive peace process.”

“If you want to fight effectively and if you want to have everyone with you, you have to offer a political perspective,” the official continues. “We need to know altogether why we are fighting.”

“The cause that Israel is fighting for is our cause as well.”

The official says that Macron asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for “clarity about the endgame, the modalities with which you operate, the conditions which you create, your political motivation.”

He adds that France wants to “consolidate the perspective of a ceasefire. I know it is very delicate to discuss. But we need again to know where we are going to have the instruments available that can bring back peace and stability.”

After Macron’s discussion with Netanyahu, the official says, “We understand where the prime minister wants to go. I think it will take much more work to make sure everybody wants to embark.”

“We believe a key priority remains, which is to free the hostages,” the official says. “We are exploring every option and we believe it very important to do it with Israel.”

France lost 30 citizens in the Hamas assault, and nine are missing.

Two arrested for attacking protesters at pro-Palestinian rally in Chicago

Two people were arrested after police say one man fired a shot into the air and another pepper-sprayed pro-Palestinian demonstrators near an Israel solidarity event in Chicago’s northern suburbs.

The episode took place yesterday evening around a banquet hall in Skokie, where about 1,000 people had gathered to show solidarity with Israel, according to event organizers.

A group of about 200 pro-Palestinian protesters staged their own rally near the hall. A man reportedly drove his car into the group, got out and fired a shot before police said they took him into custody. A witness told the Chicago Sun-Times that the man’s car had been covered in Israeli flags, the newspaper reported.

A man coming out of the banquet hall wearing an Israeli flag as a cape sprayed the crowd with pepper spray before he was arrested. No one was seriously hurt in the melee, but the pepper spray hit several protesters, a Chicago police officer and a Sun-Times reporter.

IDF says anti-tank missile fired across Lebanese border, no injuries

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

The IDF says there are no injuries in the attack.

Germany’s Scholz vows support for Israel won’t impact Ukraine aid

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, center, visits the Territorial Disposition Group capability demonstration, at Cologne-Wahn military airport, in Cologne, Germany, Monday Oct. 23, 2023. (Kay Nietfeld/Pool via AP)
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, center, visits the Territorial Disposition Group capability demonstration, at Cologne-Wahn military airport, in Cologne, Germany, Monday Oct. 23, 2023. (Kay Nietfeld/Pool via AP)

Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledges to maintain Germany’s aid to Ukraine in the face of the Russian invasion even as Berlin supports Israel in its conflict with Hamas.

“We are backing Ukraine economically, financially, with humanitarian aid and also with weapons. This support will in no way be impacted by the fact that we of course since the horrible morning hours of October 7 have focused on Israel and the Middle East with the greatest sympathy and concern,” Scholz says.

Rocket salvo fired at Beersheba

A barrage of rockets is fired toward the southern city of Beersheba from the Gaza Strip.

There are no immediate reports of impacts or injuries.

Hezbollah-allied politician says Lebanon won’t initiate war with Israel

Hezbollah fighters raise their group's flag and shout slogans, as they attend the funeral procession of Hezbollah fighter, Bilal Nemr Rmeiti, who was killed by Israeli shelling, during his funeral procession in Majadel village, south Lebanon, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Hezbollah fighters raise their group's flag and shout slogans, as they attend the funeral procession of Hezbollah fighter, Bilal Nemr Rmeiti, who was killed by Israeli shelling, during his funeral procession in Majadel village, south Lebanon, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

A prominent Lebanese Christian politician allied with Hezbollah says that Lebanon will not initiate a war with Israel but would defend itself if attacked.

The comments by Gebran Bassil, head of the Free Patriotic Movement of former president Michel Aoun, came as sporadic clashes continue on the Lebanese border with Israel between Hezbollah and Palestinian terror groups in Lebanon on one side and Israeli forces on the other.

“No one can drag us into war unless the Israeli enemy attacks us, and then we will be forced to defend ourselves,” Bassil said after a meeting with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, another Hezbollah ally.

Bassil also spoke by phone to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Monday. “All the Lebanese agree that they do not want war, but that does not mean that we should allow ourselves to be attacked without a response.”

There has been widespread speculation as to whether and under what circumstances Hezbollah and its arsenal of an estimated 150,000 rockets and missiles would fully enter the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. The ongoing clashes on the border and anxieties about a wider conflict have internally displaced 19,646 people in Lebanon, according to the International Organization for Migration, and a greater number of Israelis who live near the border.

Macron proposes international coalition against Hamas

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) greets French President Emmanuel Macron before a meeting in Jerusalem on October 24, 2023. (Photo by Christophe Ena / POOL / AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) greets French President Emmanuel Macron before a meeting in Jerusalem on October 24, 2023. (Photo by Christophe Ena / POOL / AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron calls for the international coalition fighting the Islamic State group to be expanded to also fight Hamas after the October 7 assault on Israel.

Macron, speaking after talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, said that countries fighting ISIS “should also fight against Hamas.”

The French leader stressed there must be a “decisive relaunch” of the Palestinian peace process following the Hamas atrocities and Israel’s declaration of war against the terror group.

IDF drops leaflets urging Gazans to reveal information on hostages

The Israel Defense Forces says it has dropped leaflets in the Gaza Strip asking Palestinians to provide Israel with information on the hostages held by the Hamas terror group.

“If you want a better future for you and your children, take action and provide us with solid and useful information as soon as possible regarding the hostages in your area,” the flyer reads.

“The Israeli army assures you that it will put forth maximum effort to provide you and your home with security, as well as a financial reward,” it continues.

“We guarantee you complete confidentiality,” it says, adding a secure phone line (*8619) and a mobile number (+972503957992) that can be contacted via the WhatsApp, Telegram, or Signal messaging apps.

IDF drone strike hits terrorist launching missile in southern Lebanon

The Israel Defense Forces says it carried out a drone strike against a terrorist in southern Lebanon attempting to launch rockets at Israel, near the northern community of Bar’am.

In recent days, the IDF has been preemptively striking Hezbollah cells in southern Lebanon attempting to carry out rocket and missile attacks.

The IDF releases footage showing the latest strike.

Speaking alongside Macron, Netanyahu compares Hamas assault to Holocaust

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) greets French President Emmanuel Macron before a meeting in Jerusalem on October 24, 2023. (Photo by Christophe Ena / POOL / AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) greets French President Emmanuel Macron before a meeting in Jerusalem on October 24, 2023. (Photo by Christophe Ena / POOL / AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, compares Hamas’s October 7 attack to the Holocaust, citing Babyn Yar and Anne Frank as he lists the atrocities: “Hamas butchered, Hamas beheaded, Hamas burned babies alive, Hamas raped, Hamas kidnapped hostages.”

“As in the Second World War, when the French supported the anti-Nazi resistance, today the international community is uniting in support of Israel,” he continues. “Hamas barbarism threatens the Jews, it threatens the Middle East, it threatens Europe, it threatens the world.”

Netanyahu calls Gaza “an enclave of ISIS.”

“We are doing everything we need to do to destroy Hamas in Gaza. We will dismantle its terror machine, we will dismantle its political structure. We will make every effort to release our hostages. And we will take every effort to keep Palestinian civilians out of harm’s way.”

“Hamas must be destroyed,” Netanyahu stresses as the key aim of the war.

Tnuva sets up NIS 15 million fund to rehabilitate dairies in destroyed border communities

Israel’s largest food manufacturer Tnuva is setting up a NIS 15 million aid fund to help rehabilitate dairy farms \in communities near the Gaza border that have been damaged by the onslaught of the Hamas terror group.

The Iran-backed terror group’s murderous assault on the country, in which some 2,500 Hamas terrorists streamed into Israel on October 7 and murdered some 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and blew up and torched swaths of kibbutzim, villages and towns, has caused widescale devastation of fields and damaged infrastructure of dairy farms, putting a strain on milk production.

Tnuva said the fund will help, among others, in the rebuilding of farm structures, milking rooms, and milk cooling tanks, as well as the repair of electricity networks and cow feeding equipment.

“We work with hundreds of dairy farms and other farmers across Israel, who make it possible for us to produce and supply vital products and maintain food security in Israel,” says  Haim Gavrieli, chairman of the Tnuva group. “We will do everything in our power to aid in the recovery of the communities of the region and the dairy farms’ resumption of production.”

The fund is directed to dairy firms that have suffered direct damage from the war with Hamas and are located in communities including Nir Oz, Nir Am, Nir Yitzhak, Nahal Oz, Kissufim, Ein Hashlosha, Alumim, Yad Mordechai, Gevim, and Moshav Yachini.

Qatari leader says Israel’s allies have given Jerusalem ‘free license to kill’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani shake hands before their meeting in Lusail, Qatar, Friday Oct. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani shake hands before their meeting in Lusail, Qatar, Friday Oct. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

Qatar’s ruler hits out at Israel’s backers, charging they had given it “free license to kill” in its war with Hamas and questioning what the conflict would achieve.

Major powers, including the United States, Britain and France, have rallied to support Israel and affirmed its right to defend itself after this month’s deadly assault by the Palestinian terror group.

Hamas terrorists stormed into Israel from the Gaza Strip on October 7, killing at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and taking over 220 hostages.

“We are saying enough is enough,” Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani tells a meeting of the Shura Council, Qatar’s legislative body, according to a translation released by the royal court.

“It is untenable for Israel to be given an unconditional green light and free license to kill, nor is it tenable to continue ignoring the reality of occupation, siege and settlement.”

Qatar, a US ally that hosts a large US military base, also hosts an office of Hamas which doubles as the main residence of its self-exiled leader Ismail Haniyeh.

The wealthy Gulf monarchy has acted as a communications channel with Hamas and is playing a key role in negotiations to release the hostages, with four freed so far.

WATCH: Netanyahu and Macron to give statements

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and French President Emmanuel Macron give statements after their meeting in Jerusalem.

Daughter of freed captive: Our hearts are with the over 200 hostages still held in Gaza

Sharone Luton speaks to the media after her mother Yocheved Lifshitz was freed from Hamas captivity, at Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv on October 24, 2023 (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)
Sharone Luton speaks to the media after her mother Yocheved Lifshitz was freed from Hamas captivity, at Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv on October 24, 2023 (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)

“She is a ray of light,” says Sharone Luton as her mother, freed hostage Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, finishes talking to the media at Ichilov hospital.

But “our hearts are with the over 200 hostages still there,” she says.

“Our heart is with my dad and all the captives that are still there,” Luton adds.

She is happy to hear her mother was well treated, but stresses that she does “not know” how other hostages are being treated because her mom only saw about 25 fellow captives.

Firebrand Arab Israeli Islamist cleric calls on both sides to stop the war

Sheikh Raed Salah, one of the most prominent Arab Israeli Islamists, calls on “adherents of all religions” to “stop the war” and “spread peace.”

In a short video Salah, who led the Islamic Movement’s radical Northern Branch until it was banned by the government in 2015 for alleged terror ties, and was convicted in 2017 for nine months for incitement to terror, urged people to “say no to the destruction of mosques, churches, synagogues,” and “say no to the killing of fetuses in the wombs of their mothers.”

While not explicitly mentioning the Hamas terror group, the latter reference appears to be citing the brutalities it carried out in the October 7 assault on southern Israel.

He also urges both sides to stop the violence — not just Israel, unlike most religious leaders in the Arab and Muslim world.

Freed hostage describes abduction, entering ‘spiderweb’ of tunnels; speaks warmly of her captors

Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, speaks to reporters at Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv after being freed from Hamas captivity on October 24, 2023 (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)
Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, speaks to reporters at Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv after being freed from Hamas captivity on October 24, 2023 (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)

Her voice barely a whisper, released Hamas hostage Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, describes at a widely attended press conference outside Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital how the terror organization took her by motorcycle from Kibbutz Nir Oz to the Gaza Strip on October 7 and into a “spiderweb” of tunnels.

“I went through a hell that we’d never imagined. They rampaged through the kibbutz,” she says. She derides Israel’s costly border fence, which the terrorists “blew up… It was no help at all… A mob converged” on the kibbutz. Some 180 of the kibbutz’s 400 residents were killed or abducted, according to the New York Times.

“I was taken, with my legs on one side and my head on the other” of the motorcycle, the wheelchair-bound woman says, and her abductors “flew through the fields” back toward Gaza. En route, she says, she was beaten with sticks, “not breaking my ribs” but “hurting me badly and making it hard for me to breathe.”

The terrorists removed her watch and jewelry and then forced her to walk through fields before reaching a tunnel network, which she described as similar to “a spiderweb.”

Her daughter Sharone kneels next to her to help make her voice heard, repeat some of her remarks and translate her account into English.

Once in captivity, Lifschitz says, she passed through a tunnel and arrived in a large hall where about 25 other hostages were gathered. (Some 220 hostages are believed to be held in Gaza in total.) “They told us they believe in the Quran and would not harm us, that they would give us the same conditions as they have in the tunnels,” she says of her captors.

After about 2-3 hours, she and about 4 other hostages from Kibbutz Nir Oz were taken into a separate room.

“A medic and a doctor came,” she says. They were put on mattresses. The doctor returned every couple of days, and the medic arranged for medicines. “The treatment towards us was good,” she says, describing how the medic treated another of the hostages who was injured. She says her captors made sure the conditions were sanitary. “They cleaned the toilets, not us,” she says. “They were afraid of contagion.”

Asked about conversations with the captors, she says “they tried” to converse; “we told then, no politics… We didn’t answer them [on politics]. They talked about all kinds of things. They were very friendly to us.”

“They took care of all of our needs; this must be said to their credit,” she repeats. “We ate what they did,” she says, describing meals with pita, cheeses and cucumber.

She says “the lack of knowledge by the IDF and Shin Bet” about what Hamas was planning “hurt us badly. We were the scapegoats.” The signs were there ahead of the onslaught, including balloons flown over the border to set fire to kibbutz fields. “And the IDF, somewhere, didn’t take it seriously. And suddenly on Shabbat morning, when everything was quiet, there was very heavy shelling on the communities, and along with the shelling, the mob burst in, [easily] burst through the [border] fence… opened the gate of the kibbutz and broke in en masse. It was very unpleasant, very hard. My memory keeps replaying those pictures.”

She is asked why she shook hands, apparently with one of her captors, when she was transferred to a Red Cross ambulance, and repeats again that they was treated with “sensitivity.”

The organizers of the press conference are now trying to bring it to a close, but Lifshitz speaks some more.

She said her captors had plainly prepared long ahead for holding hostages, and even had shampoo and conditioner for them.

She says, incorrectly, “Israel announced that it has 900 dead, but they have 1,000 or more.”

Lifshitz’s husband Oded, 83, remains in Hamas captivity. Channel 12 says Yocheved has indicated that she does not know his status or condition.

Her daughter Sharone says “it’s wonderful” to have her mother back.

“My mom is very much hoping that all the people who were with her will come back,” Sharone adds.

Soldier moderately wounded during IDF West Bank raid

Palestinians inspect the damage after an Israeli strike hit a compound beneath a mosque in Jenin refugee camp, West Bank, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023.  (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinians inspect the damage after an Israeli strike hit a compound beneath a mosque in Jenin refugee camp, West Bank, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

An Israeli soldier was moderately wounded by an explosive device during an overnight raid in the West Bank village of Burqa, the Israel Defense Forces says.

The IDF says the reservist soldier was taken to a hospital for further treatment, and troops are scanning the area for suspects.

The military says that since the war in the Gaza Strip began on October 7, troops have arrested more than 860 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including some 514 affiliated with Hamas.

Overnight, 18 Hamas members were arrested, the military says.

There have been numerous 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, around 100 West Bank Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, and in some cases settlers, since October 7.

Italy confirms death of third citizen missing since Hamas assault

Italian foreign minister Antonio Tajani says the last of three Italian Israeli citizens who had been missing in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel is dead.

“Unfortunately, also Nir Forti is deceased,’’ the minister writes on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. Forti had been attending a music festival that Hamas attacked.

“To die at 29, barbarously killed by terrorists, is deeply unjust,’’ Tajani writes.

Google and Waze suspend live traffic updates due to Israel-Hamas war

The Waze application is displayed on a smartphone in San Francisco, March 27, 2017.  (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
The Waze application is displayed on a smartphone in San Francisco, March 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Google temporarily suspends live traffic updates for Google Maps and Waze in response to the Israel-Hamas war.

“As we have done previously in conflict situations and in response to the evolving situation in the region, we have temporarily disabled the ability to see live traffic conditions and busyness information out of consideration for the safety of local communities,” Google says.

Google says users will still get directions and estimated times of arrival.

The move, which follows a similar step in Russia and Ukraine last year, is aimed at preventing the discovery of large concentrations of people who could be targeted by terrorists, or troop movements.

Netanyahu meeting Macron

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with French President Emanuel Macron in Jerusalem on October 24, 2023(Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with French President Emanuel Macron in Jerusalem on October 24, 2023(Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and French President Emmanuel Macron begin their one-on-one meeting in Jerusalem.

After their private discussion, Netanyahu will be joined by Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, Likud MK Boaz Bismuth, National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi, Military Secretary Avi Gil, and Netanyahu’s Chief of Staff Yossi Braverman.

Macron will call in France’s Ambassador Frédéric Journès, as well as his military secretary, diplomatic adviser, and Middle East adviser.

Son: Freed hostage kept in room with some 60 other captives

Freed hostage Yocheved Lifshitz with her family and Ichilov Hospital staff on  October 24, 2023. (Jenny Yerushalmi)
Freed hostage Yocheved Lifshitz with her family and Ichilov Hospital staff on October 24, 2023. (Jenny Yerushalmi)

Arnon Lifshitz, the son of 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz who was freed last night from Hamas captivity, says she was held in a room with some 60 other hostages.

“She was together with another 55-60 people in the same place. If they are all in the same situation then there is room for optimism,” he tells the Walla news site.

“She and my father were separated, he was in another place and we hope that he will also return healthy as soon as possible,” he says.

Terror groups in Gaza are holding more than 200 hostages.

University studies pushed back until after reserve call-up ends

Students at Hebrew University on the first day of the academic year on October 23, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Students at Hebrew University on the first day of the academic year on October 23, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Israel’s universities will delay the start of the academic year until after the massive call-up of reserve soldiers ends, but not before December 3, the Committee of University Presidents announces.

The fall semester, which was to have started October 15, had previously been delayed to November 5.

The call up of some 360,000 IDF reservists, one of the largest in Israeli history, includes thousands of staff and students, the committee says. About 30% of all university students are among those now serving.

“The winter semester will begin in all research universities when those called up for reserve duty begin to be released, but not before December 3, 2023. Before the start of the semester, a two-week advance notice will be given, to prepare for a return to a routine and academic track, and after this studies will commence,” the committee says in a statement.

The university system will still aim for a full academic year of two semesters, and the university presidents anticipate that the second semester will therefore continue into the summer, but exactly how to implement that will be left to the individual universities.

Universities with foreign student programs have the option of beginning earlier using distance learning, but that decision “is made individually for each institution, according to the situation,” the committee spokesperson says.

The Rothberg International School at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has already begun its regular semester using distance learning, the Hebrew University confirms.

Macron tells Herzog priority is release of all hostages

President Isaac Herzog (R) meets visiting French President Emanuel Macron at his residence in Jerusalem on October 24, 2023 (Amos Ben-Gershom / GPO)
President Isaac Herzog (R) meets visiting French President Emanuel Macron at his residence in Jerusalem on October 24, 2023 (Amos Ben-Gershom / GPO)

Greeting French President Emmanuel Macron, President Isaac Herzog says, “We are committed to overcome, and we are committed to destroying our enemies.”

“The situation is extremely complicated and fragile,” says Herzog, stressing that “we are demanding the full and immediate release of all our citizens.”

“There is no difference between Israeli citizens and someone who holds another citizenship,” says the president, after reports emerged that dozens of hostages with foreign citizenship could be released.

Herzog also says Iran is “playing with fire” in Lebanon.

“If Hezbollah will drag us into war, it should be clear that Lebanon will pay the price. Lebanon cannot be a sovereign member of the international community, its citizens carrying a Lebanese passport, but when it comes to attacking Israel, they are not responsible.”

Speaking in English, Macron says, “The first objective should be the release of all hostages without any distinction.”

“I want to make sure you are not left alone in this war on terrorism,” he continues, “because I speak on behalf of a country which experienced terrorist attacks, and you were there. And I think this is our duty to fight against this terrorism, without any confusion, without enlarging the conflict.”

Macron says France has passed along messages to “other terrorist organizations.”

He adds that is is necessary to carry out “targeted operations.”

Macron met with families of kidnapped Israelis earlier in the day, and is slated to meet with Netanyahu after Herzog.

He is meeting with war cabinet minister Benny Gantz and Opposition Leader Yair Lapid later in the day, before heading to Ramallah.

He flies home in the evening.

Abbas to host Macron in Ramallah

French President Emmanuel Macron arrives at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv on October 24, 2023, as he visits Israel amid the war against Hamas. (Photo by Christophe Ena / POOL / AFP)
French President Emmanuel Macron arrives at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv on October 24, 2023, as he visits Israel amid the war against Hamas. (Photo by Christophe Ena / POOL / AFP)

France’s President Emmanuel Macron will meet his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah today, the Palestinian Authority leader’s office says.

Macron is the latest Western leader to make a solidarity visit to Israel after the October 7 attacks by Hamas.

The French presidency did not immediately confirm the meeting.

Israelis urged not to let guard down over drop in Hamas rocket attacks

Rockets are fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Monday, Oct. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Rockets are fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Monday, Oct. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari warns the public not to become complacent amid the relatively slow rate of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip in recent days.

“Complacency must not be shown in the home front. This is an attempt by the enemy to put us to sleep,” Hagari says, warning that Hamas still has rocket-launching capabilities.

Hamas is believed to have slowed down the rate of rocket fire in order to conserve stockpiles for a long war.

Rocket fire from the Strip has continued daily, though, largely aimed at the areas near Gaza.

IDF thanks Egypt for role in release of two hostages

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari thanks Egypt for playing a “key role” in the release of two Israeli hostages from Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip last night.

“We are happy for their return, but at the same time, I want to mention that the husbands of Yocheved [Lifshitz] and Nurit [Cooper] are still being held captive by Hamas. They are just two among the 222 hostages,” he says.

He says the IDF worked for their release and that “Egypt played a key role in the issue. Its efforts are appreciated. We thank Egypt and the Red Cross and we are committed to returning all the hostages home.”

On a Hamas propaganda video showing Lifshitz and Cooper being released by Hamas terrorists, Hagari says, “We must not become confused for even a moment, this is part of the psychological terror that Hamas uses to seemingly show that it is a humanitarian organization.”

The video appears to show one of the hostages turn and say goodbye to her captor.

A still from a video released by Hamas’s armed wing claiming to show hostages Yocheved Lifshitz, left, and Nurit Cooper before their release from captivity. (screen capture)

“It’s a cynical video that won’t make us forget October 7,” he adds.

IDF shows Hamas fuel tanks amid claims of Gaza shortages

The IDF Arabic-language account on X, formerly Twitter, shares a post with two aerial images purportedly showing 12 oil tanks hidden in the ground near the Rafah crossing, in the south of the Gaza Strip.

“This is what over half a million liters of diesel oil looks like,” writes IDF Arabic spokesman Avichay Adraee, “while Hamas keeps claiming it does not have enough fuel to support hospitals and food production.”

“Hamas-ISIS steals this fuel from civilians and transfers it to its tunnels, rocket launchers, and leaders. This is what Hamas’s list of priorities looks like,” he continues.

“Residents of Gaza, the address for your complaints is not Israel. It’s Yahya Sinwar, Muhammad Deif and other Hamas-ISIS members who pushed Gaza into this abyss.”

World Bank chief says Israel-Hamas war could deal serious blow to global economy

Ajay Banga, World Bank president, participates in global infrastructure and investment forum in New York, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool)
Ajay Banga, World Bank president, participates in global infrastructure and investment forum in New York, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool)

The war between Israel and Hamas could deal a “serious” blow to global economic development, the president of the World Bank tells an investor conference in Saudi Arabia.

“What just happened recently in Israel and Gaza — at the end of the day you put all this together, I think the impact on economic development is even more serious,” Ajay Banga says, adding: “I think we’re at a very dangerous juncture.”

Israel protests Russian stance in war against Hamas

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

An Israeli diplomat had a conversation with Russian diplomatic officials this week to express Jerusalem’s “displeasure with the role Russia is playing” in the war against Hamas, and to stress Israel’s hope that Moscow will take “more balanced” positions, the Foreign Ministry tells The Times of Israel.

Among other positions, Moscow submitted a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire that did not mention Hamas, and blasted Israel for employing “cruel methods” in its campaign against Hamas.

Hamas sent thousands of terrorists through the border fence on October 7 to rampage through southern Israel, killing some 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and abducting over 200.

Daughter of freed Hamas hostage says no information on her father, still being held captive

Oded and Yocheved Lifshitz. (Courtesy)
Oded and Yocheved Lifshitz. (Courtesy)

Sharone Lifschitz, the UK-based daughter of Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, who was released last night, says the family still has no information on the fate of her father Oded, 83, who was also taken captive.

“He was not with my mum, so my mum doesn’t know where he is,” Sharone Lifschitz tells the BBC in an interview.

“My father was getting more frail. Both of them are very loving people, family people. They really loved hosting the family and my father was very involved in political things in the kibbutz.

“He was very involved in rights for Palestinians and working towards peace with our neighbors,” she says adding that he was a long-time campaigner for coexistence with the Palestinians.

“And I hope that he’s there and he’s being looked after and he’s got the chance to talk,” she says. “He speaks good Arabic, so can communicate very well with the people there. He knows many people in Gaza. I want to think he’s going to be OK.

“I know for my mum, she says they have been looked after and there was a doctor there so this brings a lot of comfort to everybody that there is some treatment.”

Health Ministry in recruiting drive to address ‘mass casualty mental health event’

The Health Ministry announces a plan to recruit additional mental health professionals to address what it calls “an unprecedented mass casualty mental health event.”

Those recruited will be paid and will work with health maintenance organizations, mental health centers resilience centers, and mental health organizations.

The ministry is calling on the thousands of mental health professionals who have volunteered their services since the beginning of the war and others to apply.

278 still hospitalized in Israel since Hamas assault

The Health Ministry reports that as of 8 a.m., 278 injured in the October 7 massacre by Hamas terrorists and ensuing war are in hospitals across the country.

Of them, 40 are in serious condition, 164 are in moderate condition, and 74 are in good condition.

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

Leading Arab Israeli actor Maisa Abd Elhadi detained for supporting Hamas assault

Maisa Abd Elhadi in "Tel Aviv on Fire." (Courtesy Cohen Media Group)
Maisa Abd Elhadi in "Tel Aviv on Fire." (Courtesy Cohen Media Group)

Prominent Arab Israeli actor Maisa Abd Elhadi is detained by police after allegedly expressing support for the Hamas assault on Israel that killed some 1,400 people, Hebrew media reports.

Police confirm the arrest of “an actress and network influencer, resident of the city of Nazareth, on suspicion of expressions of praise [for terror] and hate speech,” but do not name her.

“The police fight against incitement and support for terrorism continues all the time,” the statement says.

Abd Elhadi shared images of an elderly woman being taken hostage by Hamas  with laughing emojis and another image of Hamas forces breaching Israel’s security barrier with the caption in English “Let’s go, Berlin style.”

Her posts on social media were slammed by her Israeli co-star Ofer Shechter on “Temporarily Dead,” who wrote, “I’m ashamed of you. You live in Nazareth, act and star in our TV shows and films, and then stab us in the back.”

Abd Elhadi has appeared in several Israeli shows, the Hollywood film “World War Z,” and most recently the British series “Baghdad Central.”

 

China calls to protect civilians in Gaza, expresses sympathy for Palestinians

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a meeting prior to an opening ceremony of a diplomatic symposium at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023. (Ken Ishii/Pool Photo via AP)
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a meeting prior to an opening ceremony of a diplomatic symposium at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023. (Ken Ishii/Pool Photo via AP)

China’s foreign minister speaks to his Israeli and Palestinian counterparts and calls to protect civilians in Gaza, Beijing says.

Wang Yi speaks with Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, the first call between them since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, saying that all countries have a right to self-defense, but they must protect civilians and abide by international law.

In his talks with Cohen, Wang said China was deeply concerned about the “ongoing escalation of the conflict,” according to a readout from Beijing.

“All countries have the right to self-defense, but they should abide by international humanitarian law and protect the safety of civilians,” Wang says. “The most pressing task now is to prevent the situation from escalating further and from leading to a more serious humanitarian disaster.”

Wang also speaks with his Palestinian Authority counterpart, Riyad al-Maliki, telling him Beijing “deeply expresses its sympathy with the Palestinian side.”

“What the people of Gaza need most at present is security and food and medicine, not war and weapons and ammunition,” Wang tells Maliki.

Macron arrives in Tel Aviv to express ‘full solidarity’ with Israel

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at Elysee Palace in Paris, Monday, Oct, 23 2023 ahead of his visit to Israel. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at Elysee Palace in Paris, Monday, Oct, 23 2023 ahead of his visit to Israel. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)

French President Emmanuel Macron arrives in Tel Aviv to express his country’s “full solidarity” with Israel after the deadly October 7 assault by Palestinian terror group Hamas, according to an AFP journalist.

The French head of state was also expected to call for the “preservation of the civilian population” in Gaza, , the presidency says, as Israel carries out a relentless bombardment on Hamas targets in the Palestinian enclave and prepares for a ground offensive with the aim of destroying the terror group that rules the Strip.

IDF says it carried out strikes against 400 Hamas targets over last day

The Israel Defense Forces says it carried out strikes against some 400 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip over the past day, and killed several field commanders and other terror operatives.

According to the IDF, the recent strikes focused on Hamas staging grounds across the Gaza Strip — including several in mosques — and against terror operatives preparing rocket fire on Israel.

The IDF says it also struck the entrance of a Hamas tunnel on the Gaza coast and command centers overnight.

The recent strikes have left several Hamas field officers dead, including the deputy commanders of the terror group’s Nuseirat, Shati, and Furqan battalions, the IDF says.

Recently released hostage says she doesn’t know where Hamas kept her after being taken into Gaza

Yocheved Lifshitz (sitting) with her grandchildren at Ichilov Hospital following her release from Hamas captivity on October 23, 2023. (Courtesy)
Yocheved Lifshitz (sitting) with her grandchildren at Ichilov Hospital following her release from Hamas captivity on October 23, 2023. (Courtesy)

In her first public comments since being released from Hamas captivity, Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, tells the Ynet news site that she doesn’t know where she was held after being captured by Hamas terrorists.

“They schooled us,” she says, appearing to refer to the October 7 Hamas onslaught.

“They loaded me onto a motorcycle… with one terrorist holding me from the front and the other from behind so that I wouldn’t fall. We crossed the border fence into the Strip, and at first they held me in the town of Abasan al-Kabira, which is close to [Kibbutz] Be’eri. After that, I don’t know where I was taken,” she says.

Biden welcomes release of two hostages in latest call with Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) greets US President Joe Biden upon his arrival at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport on October 18, 2023. (Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) greets US President Joe Biden upon his arrival at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport on October 18, 2023. (Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP)

In his latest call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier today, US President Joe Biden “welcomed the release of two additional hostages from Gaza earlier today, and reaffirmed his commitment to ongoing efforts to secure the release of all the remaining hostages taken by Hamas – including Americans – and to provide for safe passage for US citizens and other civilians in Gaza,” the White House says in its readout.

“The President also underscored the need to sustain a continuous flow of urgently needed humanitarian assistance into Gaza; updated the prime minister on US support for Israel and ongoing efforts at regional deterrence, to include new US military deployments,” the White House says.

Ichilov nurse says released Israeli hostages appear to be in good health

A nurse at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital says in a video statement that Nurit Cooper and Yocheved Lifshitz appear to be in good health after arriving at the Israeli medical center directly after their release from Hamas captivity in Gaza.

The two elderly women were both speaking and had an emotional reunion with their families, the nurse says.

The pair are resting before doctors perform more exhaustive tests to determine their exact medical condition.

Both of them were on medication that they likely were unable to receive during their over two weeks in captivity.

The nurse says the hospital will have a better understanding of their conditions in the morning.

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