The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they happened.
The US pushed Israel to restore communications in Gaza after it was shut off on Friday night as the IDF launched the first stage of its ground incursion into the enclave, the Washington Post reports, citing a US official.
The official says that Israel did not give a reason for shutting off communications.
“We made it clear that it had to be turned back on,” the US official tells the Post, adding that communications were subsequently restored. “They need to stay back on.”
Reports in Palestinian media late Sunday claimed some communications in northern Gaza had gone dark again.
A large blast has sounded over Haifa’s skies, though no rocket alert sounded in the city.
Videos from Haifa show a projectile streaking across the sky before it explodes mid-air, in what may have been an interception or an interceptor rocket fired following a false alarm.
תושבים בקריות מדווחים על יירוטים ללא אזעקה pic.twitter.com/RT7gtj3B9D
— חדשות חיפה והקריות (@haifakrayot) October 30, 2023
תושבים בקריות נודרים שהיה יירוט pic.twitter.com/fZgxQRqRsZ
— חדשות חיפה והקריות (@haifakrayot) October 30, 2023
There is no immediate word on the incident from military sources.
The Cornell University Hillel in Ithaca New York is advising Jewish students to stay away from a building housing a kosher dining hall, after threats and antisemitic slurs were posted to an online student forum.
Police have been dispatched to the building, the Hillel statement says, and the school says that the FBI is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.
— Jamie Weinstein (@Jamie_Weinstein) October 29, 2023
According to the Cornell Daily Sun, the alert was prompted by comments to a student forum including a threat “to bring an assault rifle to campus and shoot all you pig jews,” from a user named hamas soldier. Other threats and antisemitic slurs, including a call to follow Jews on campus and slit their throats, were posted on the forum as well, though some posts have since been removed, the paper reports.
The Cornell police department says it is “investigating posts located on a website that contain threats of violence directed at religious groups across the campus.”
Cornell President Martha Pollack sent a statement to students saying that “we will not tolerate antisemitism at Cornell,” the Daily Sun reports.
The incident comes days after anti-Israel graffiti was discovered on campus, and amid an alarming uptick in antisemitic attacks on US campuses thought fueled by the Israel-Hamas war.
A document compiled by Israel’s Intelligence Ministry recommends moving Gaza’s civilian population to Egypt’s Sinai peninsula as a solution for the Strip following the toppling of its Hamas rulers, according to a copy of the document published by the Sicha Mekomit website.
The document is being downplayed by government officials, with the Prime Minister’s Office telling Haaretz that it represents “initial thoughts” on the issue, which is currently not being considered by authorities focused on the war effort and not the day after.
The document, which is dated October 13, calls for the civilian population to be moved to tent cities in northern Sinai, and eventually the building of permanent cities and the opening of a humanitarian corridor. The plan includes a several-kilometer-wide “sterile” buffer zone inside Egypt, to ensure the population cannot settle on Israel’s borders.
The plan notes likely issues with international legitimacy, but justifies the move by couching it in terms of a solution for a refugee population seeking shelter from war. It claims such forced transfer would also serve as a warning to Hezbollah, presumably as what Israel could force on southern Lebanon, an area previously occupied by Israel’s military from 1982 to 2000.
The document also includes two other options, importing Palestinian Authority control into the Strip or propping up a local regime, but dismisses both as problematic for various reasons, including the fact that it will not serve as a deterrent to attacking Israel.
Egypt has refused to consider taking in Palestinians fleeing Israel’s offensive in Gaza.
Israeli fighter jets struck a number of sites in southern Syria in response to rocket fire on the Golan Heights hours earlier, the Israel Defense Forces announces.
In a statement on X, the IDF says it struck launchers responsible for the cross-border fire.
There is no acknowledgment of the strikes from official Syrian media, but Hebrew-language media cite unspecified local reports of Israeli strikes near Daraa in southern Syria.
בתגובה לשיגורים: צה״ל תקף את המשגרים מהם בוצעו השיגורים משטח סוריה
מטוס קרב של צה״ל תקף לפני זמן קצר את המשגרים מהם בוצעו השיגורים משטח סוריה לעבר שטח ישראל אמש pic.twitter.com/IBJ3So7vq0
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) October 29, 2023
The IDF earlier said it had shelled the source of the launches in an immediate reaction to the rocket fire, which occured at around 9:45 p.m.
All of the projectiles launched from Syria landed in open areas, causing no damage or injuries, the IDF said.
The Israeli government says the incident at the airport in Dagestan, in which a mob broke into an airport to find Jews on a flight landing from Israel, has ended without any casualties.
The Foreign Ministry says the event was dealt with by Israeli Ambassador to Russia Alexander Ben Zvi, along with other diplomats, National Security Council officials and “other security officials.”
It says help was provided by local government and security officials, without specifying if that includes officials from Moscow. The Kremlin recently hosted top Hamas officials, signaling support for the terror group.
Fresh rocket sirens are sounding in Sderot and other communities near the Gaza Strip.
Channel 12 news reports that many residents who left Sderot in the wake of the October 7 attacks have returned home despite the unstable security situations, after becoming tired of living in hotels for weeks.
US antisemitism envoy Deborah Lipstadt is condemning the mob targeting of Jews at an airport in Russian Dagestan earlier this evening.
“We call on Russian authorities to ensure their safety. The US stands with Israel and the entire Jewish community as we see a surge in antisemitism throughout the world,” Lipstadt tweets.
“There is no excuse for targeting Jews or engaging in antisemitic incitement anywhere,” she adds.
The Biden administration has pushed Israel to carry out a more limited ground operation in the Gaza Strip, as the IDF is currently conducting in the northern part of the enclave, a US official tells The Times of Israel.
The US official says Israel’s leaders also currently oppose an all-out ground offensive at this stage because it could well risk the hostages currently in Gaza; and accordingly did not need pressure from Washington in order to choose the current military path.
There remains in the Biden administration skepticism regarding Israel’s broader strategy, given that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not said who Jerusalem wants to govern Gaza once it succeeds in its goal of toppling Hamas, the US official says, adding that Washington is privately raising its concerns with the premier and his top aides.
X owner Elon Musk has spoken to Israel’s Shin Bet head Ronen Bar after saying he would enable some internet in Gaza through his Starlink satellite network, Hebrew media outlets report.
Musk told Bar he would only grant access to recognized aid organizations, the reports say.
Israeli is believed to have cut off much of the Strip’s internet and phone access to limit Hamas’s communications capabilities as it expands its ground operations in the territory.
According to Channel 12, Musk said he would doublecheck with Israeli and American security officials before enabling any connections.
Russian law enforcement has “freed” Makhachkala airport in the Dagestan republic from a mob who stormed the building, looking for Israelis traveling from Tel Aviv, Russia’s aviation agency says.
“The airport in Makhachkala will be closed to receive aircraft… until, preliminarily, 02:59 Moscow time on November 6, 2023,” the agency says.
The head of Russia’s Dagestan republic denounces the mob, vowing punishment.
“All Dagestanis empathize with the suffering of victims by the actions of unrighteous people and politicians and pray for peace in Palestine. But what happened at our airport is outrageous and should receive the appropriate assessment from law enforcement,” Sergei Melikov, the republic’s governor, says on Telegram. “This will be done.”
The Israel Defense Forces says it carried out airstrikes against a number of Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon in response to rocket and missile fire on northern Israel today.
According to the IDF, the targets included “infrastructure for directing terror, and military infrastructure” belonging to the terror group.
The IDF publishes footage showing the strikes.
IDF says it carried out airstrikes against a number of Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon in response to the rocket and missile fire on northern Israel. pic.twitter.com/Ku7JMZIE9V
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) October 29, 2023
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant met earlier with family members of hostages being held by terrorists in Gaza and stressed that military pressure on Hamas is more likely to win the captives’ release than a grand prisoner exchange, arguing the terror group is not really interested in the latter solution.
“If there is no military pressure on Hamas, nothing will progress,” Gallant said, according to a statement from the Defense Ministry.
He was the latest senior Israeli official to meet representatives of captives’ families, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a similar meeting on Saturday.
“The stories published by Hamas are part of their psychological games … Hamas is cynically using those who are dear to us — they understand the pain and the pressure,” Gallant told relatives of some of the 239 hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, according to the statement.
According to a recording from the meeting broadcast by Channel 12, Gallant told the families that an “everybody for everybody” prisoner swap (all Israeli hostages for all Hamas prisoners) is not doable.
“If it were that simple [to do a swap] then it would not be a problem,” Gallant said. “If those were the terms it would happen tomorrow morning. Those aren’t the terms.”
No further details were available. Channel 12 noted that some parts of the recording were not approved for publication by the military censorship.
At the meeting, some family members assailed Gallant, blaming him and the government for the Hamas attack and kidnappings that occurred under their watch and demanding they not “forsake” the hostages.
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Karim A.A. Khan says his institution is conducting “active investigations” into the October 7 Hamas massacres, as well as the situation in both Gaza and the West Bank.
“We have active investigations ongoing in relation to the crimes allegedly committed in Israel on 7th October, and also in relation to Gaza and the West Bank, and our jurisdiction goes back to 2014,” says Khan in a statement made at the Rafah crossing on the Egypt-Gaza border.
The ICC prosecutor evokes the Holocaust and the Second World War in explaining the reason for his mission to the region, and says the ICC will work professionally to “separate allegation from fact,” and examine all relevant evidence.
“This is a moment of objectivity, a moment of quiet reflection and it needs to be a moment in which the international community and the international architecture built on the rubble of the World War II, the terrible gas chambers and the Holocaust, the razing of cities throughout Europe, [which] was meant to create institutions that would ensure never again would we see abominations where people could be targeted for their race, religion, culture, where they come from or what passport they hold,” says Khan.
“Those promises need to be fulfilled.”
“We are independently looking at the situation in Palestine, we’re looking at the events in Israel and the allegations that Palestinian nationals have also committed crimes, we need cooperation and assistance.”
Khan also insists that “there should not be any impediment to humanitarian relief supplies, going to children, women and men — civilians,” and says the curtailment of the rights of civilians as defined under international humanitarian law, customary international law and the Geneva Conventions could give rise to “criminal responsibility” under the Rome Statute which established the ICC.
Shin Bet head Ronen Bar has warned the war cabinet and the defense establishment has warned the wider cabinet of “fears about an eruption” of violence in the West Bank, Channel 12 reports.
“The specific warning notes a rise in violence by settlers [and] incidents between settlers and Palestinians that result in the deaths of Palestinians.”
It says the US and EU are also warning that the West Bank is at a boiling point.
“These incidents are likely to set the area alight” and harm the war effort against Hamas, the report quotes Israeli sources as saying. It says some Israeli “decision-makers” are urging far-right ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir “to take responsibility and calm things down.”
The Israel Defense Forces says a number of rockets were fired from Syria at northern Israel a short while ago.
All of the projectiles landed in open areas, causing no damage or injuries, the IDF says.
It adds that troops are responding with artillery shelling at the source of the rocket fire.
Ze’ev Elkin, a Ukraine-born member of Benny Gantz’s National Unity party who often served as a translator for Israeli prime ministers in talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, tells Channel 12 that the current chaos at a Dagestan airport is not coincidental or random, but rather the consequence of the Russian political leadership’s stance in the wake of Hamas’s October 7 massacre of Israelis.
“There are radical Islamic groups in those areas, but what’s happening today is not happenstance,” he says.
He notes that Russia’s deputy foreign minister gave “a king’s welcome” to a Hamas delegation in Moscow on Thursday. He says the Hamas delegates claim they were told that Russian military schools would for years study the “success” of the October 7 assault on southern Israel.
“When that is the nature of the discussion, obviously there are radical Islamic groups that conclude: It is permitted [to carry out attacks like the one in Dagestan],” Elkin says.
Elkin notes that Russian Jewish organizations have been telling Russian Jews “not to think about holding demonstrations in support of Israel. That wasn’t the case in the past. The atmosphere was different in the past.”
The MK, who sits on the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, says the change in the Russian political leadership’s stance relates in part to US-Russia tensions and to Russia’s growing proximity to Iran. “That has influenced Russia’s behavior in this crisis with Hamas.”
Elkin refers to new unconfirmed reports from Dagestan that claim there are no Jews or Israelis on the plane that is the focus of the mob assault, and that the authorities have invited three people to go on board, check the passengers, and confirm this.
“Look at where we’ve got to,” he says in horror. “That [a passenger check] from our point of view would be a successful resolution of this incident. And what if, heaven forbid, there is a Jew on board? This is an abnormal situation.”
He says Israel must utilize all its channels to Russia, including possibly having Netanyahu call Putin, and “demand that incidents like this be prevented. One thing the Russians know how to do is to deal with great firmness with protests of any kind — if they want to.”
If this is not handled properly, “there’ll be more and more incidents like this,” he warns. “Russia needs to respond firmly.”
Israel’s obligation is to protect its citizens and Russian Jews, he stresses. And so Israel needs “to demand a harsh response from the Russian authorities and severe punishment for all the participants.”
He notes that yesterday there was an attempt [Hebrew link] to attack a hotel in the same area, where Israeli refugees from the war were said to be staying. “The writing was on the wall.”
An Israeli security official says the incident in Dagestan’s capital of Makhachkala is ongoing after a plane from Israel was attacked by a local pro-Palestinian mob.
“A limited number of Israelis and Jews are currently isolated and under guard at the airport,” the official says.
“We are working on having them depart on a connection flight to Moscow once conditions allow it,” he adds.
“Israeli security officials and the Israeli ambassador are working with the local security authorities.”
US President Joe Biden spoke earlier today with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, as he works the phones to try and get more humanitarian aid into Gaza.
Biden “expressed his appreciation for Egypt’s leading role in efforts to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population of Gaza,” the US readout say.
“The two leaders committed to the significant acceleration and increase of assistance flowing into Gaza beginning today and then continuously,” the White House says.
“They also discussed the importance of protecting civilian lives, respect for international humanitarian law and ensuring that Palestinians in Gaza are not displaced to Egypt or any other nation,” the US readout says, giving a nod to Egypt’s rejection of calls from some in Israel to take in refugees from Gaza.
The proposals have infuriated Cairo, particularly because Jerusalem has refused to publicly promise that it will allow Gazans to return to the enclave after the war, an Arab diplomat told The Times of Israel last week.
Biden also briefed Sissi on “US efforts to ensure that regional actors not expand the conflict in Gaza and also on continuing efforts to secure the release of hostages,” the White House says.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi told troops on the Gaza border earlier that the military is solely focused on “dismantling Hamas.”
“We are at war, you understand that from day one. It will be a long process and we are now at the stage where we are hitting the enemy hard, also inside the Gaza Strip,” Halevi said.
“The IDF is now focused on only one thing: victory, dismantling Hamas, hitting as many enemy commanders as possible, as many enemy fighters as possible, and as much enemy infrastructure as possible,” he said.
US President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their phone call earlier today that the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza needs to “immediately and significantly increase,” the White House says.
Israel over the weekend reopened the second of three water pipelines that provide water to the Gaza Strip but 90% of the water flow in Gaza is self-sourced and goes through desalinization and water treatment plants that have been only running at a limited capacity due to lack of fuel. Israel says Hamas is diverting fuel from civilian use and has refused to allow additional supply since the war broke out, in what may push hospitals to the brink.
The United Nations warned earlier that “civil order” is starting to collapse in Gaza after thousands of people ransacked its food warehouses in the war-torn Palestinian enclave.
The issue came up during Biden’s call with Netanyahu about the latest developments in the Gaza war and the president “underscored the need to immediately and significantly increase the flow of humanitarian assistance to meet the needs of civilians in Gaza,” according to the US readout.
The rest of the readout repeats previous White House talking points on the war.
Biden “reiterated that Israel has every right and responsibility to defend its citizens from terrorism and underscored the need to do so in a manner consistent with international humanitarian law that prioritizes the protection of civilians.”
The two also “discussed ongoing efforts to locate and secure the release of hostages, including American citizens who remain unaccounted for and may be held by Hamas,” the readout adds, saying that the two agreed to “remain in regular consultation both directly and through their respective national security teams.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says he is appalled by the scenes in Dagestan, Russia, as a mob rampages through an airport in search of Israelis arriving from Tel Aviv.
“This is not an isolated incident in Makhachkala, but rather part of Russia’s widespread culture of hatred toward other nations, which is propagated by state television, pundits, and authorities,” he says.
“The Russian foreign minister has made a series of antisemitic remarks in the last year. The Russian president also used antisemitic slurs,” he states.
Appalling videos from Makhachkala, Russia, where an angry mob broke into the airport searching for Israeli citizens on the flight from Tel-Aviv.
This is not an isolated incident in Makhachkala, but rather part of Russia’s widespread culture of hatred toward other nations, which…
— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) October 29, 2023
IDF Spokesman Hagari vows that the military will “pursue” Hamas’s Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar “until we reach him.”
He says “the population of Gaza is already talking about how Sinwar brought disaster upon them.”
“He is the man responsible for the destruction of Gaza, he thinks and acts like a murderer, who proved to the whole world that Hamas is worse than ISIS,” Hagari adds.
The Prime Minister’s Office and Foreign Ministry say they are following events in Dagestan and “expect Russian law enforcement to maintain the safety of all Israeli citizens and Jews and to act with determination against rioters and wild incitement against Jews and Israelis.
“Israel takes a grave view of attempts to harm Israeli citizens and Jews anywhere,” they say.
Israeli Ambassador to Russia Alex Ben Zvi is working to ensure the safety of the plane passengers.
IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says the military has so far notified the families of 239 hostages that their loved ones are being held in the Gaza Strip.
He says the number is not final, as the military investigates new information.
“It’s an unfathomable number. There are foreign workers among the hostages, it takes us time to reach everyone’s families,” he says.
The number does not include four released hostages — mother and daughter Judith and Natalie Ra’anan on Friday night, and elderly women Yocheved Lifshitz and Nurit Cooper on Monday night.
He says the number of missing people whose fates are currently unknown stands at 40.
The Israel Defense Forces says troops struck another anti-tank guided missile squad in southern Lebanon, before they could carry out an attack against northern Israel.
The military says it also carried out a drone strike on a terror operative flying a drone over the border.
The IDF also releases footage showing troops of the elite Maglan unit striking Hezbollah positions on the Lebanon border, as well as the bolstering of forces in northern Israel.
כוחות צה״ל תקפו לפני זמן קצר חוליית מחבלים שניסתה לשגר טילי נ"ט במרחב יקינטון.
בנוסף, כלי טיס מאוייש מרחוק תקף מחבל שזוהה מפעיל רחפן שנע לעבר שטח ישראל במרחב הגבול. כמו כן, חוסל מחבל שהתקרב למרחב הגבול בחניתה >> pic.twitter.com/NkjZVPEenf
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) October 29, 2023
A flight from Israel to the Russian Republic of Dagestan earlier today was forced to divert from its intended destination in the capital of Makhachkala after pro-Palestinians protesters stormed the airport, seeking to attack the Israeli arrivals, according to multiple reports.
The plane landed at an alternate airport, but faced riots there as well, according to Channel 12. Passengers were instructed to remain inside the plane and riot police were called to the scene to protect them, the report says.
Footage showed a mob rampaging through an airport terminal after learning of the incoming flight.
Dagestan’s population is overwhelmingly Muslim. According to Channel 12, the crowd was apparently largely made up of Palestinian expats.
Mobs break into the Makhachkala airport, in Russia’s north Caucasus, looking to lynch Jews after rumors spread about the arrival of Jewish refugees from Israel. pic.twitter.com/stMvyqNUqv
— Yaroslav Trofimov (@yarotrof) October 29, 2023
A Lynch mob has stormed the airport in Dagestan, Russia and is now going from plane to plane looking for Jewish passengers.
A plane from Tel Aviv was landing.
In this video, they interrogate one of the plane technicians, asking him:
"tell us where the Jews are" pic.twitter.com/CEHrjrBmez
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) October 29, 2023
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has again spoken on the phone with US President Joe Biden about the latest developments in the Israel-Hamas war.
No details are immediately available from the call.
Earlier, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN that Biden would stress “the need for the IDF to make every possible effort to distinguish between terrorists and Palestinian civilians during the ground operation in Gaza.”
“There have been deaths of thousands of Palestinian civilians in this conflict and that is an absolute tragedy,” Sullivan said. “Those people did not deserve to die. Those people deserve to live lives of peace and safety and dignity.”
The head of the IDF Home Front Command, Maj. Gen. Rafi Milo, warns that the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip may last months, and that the economy will eventually need to reopen, even during the fighting.
“This war will be long, weeks or months,” says Milo at a press conference in the southern city of Ashkelon.
He says the Home Front Command conducts daily assessments to decide whether restrictions can be lifted.
“We look at the enemies’ abilities and intentions,” Milo says.
“Because it’s going to be a long war, the daily routine will slowly [return to normalcy]. The economy must open,” he says.
Milo adds that Home Front Command soldiers are stationed across the country to provide a sense of security for Israeli civilians, noting that “personal security and resilience” were harmed following the October 7 massacres.
Noam Tibon, a retired general who drove to Kibbutz Nahal Oz on the morning of October 7, and led a rescue effort against Hamas terrorists there, including saving his own son and family, calls on Benjamin Netanyahu to resign with immediate effect.
Netanyahu’s continued presence as prime minister harms the war against Hamas, he says, and likens the imperative for change at the top to Britain replacing Neville Chamberlain with Winston Churchill to defeat the Nazis.
“On that black Shabbat,” Tibon tells Channel 12, “Hamas, a not very large organization, humiliated the IDF and humiliated Israel.
“There are people who are to blame for the failures: the chief of staff has already taken responsibility, and I have no doubt that at the end of the campaign, he and all those in the IDF responsible for this failure will go home. The head of the Shin Bet has already taken responsibility and I’m sure there’ll be a similar process there.
“The only one who has not taken responsibility is Benjamin Netanyahu, and now he is shooting from inside the APC,” Tibon says, referring to Netanyahu’s tweet overnight, later deleted, in which the prime minister blamed intelligence chiefs for the failure to prevent Hamas’s October 7 onslaught.
Tibon estimated that 80 percent of Israelis do not believe Netanyahu will lead Israel to a decisive victory over Hamas, and that 90% of Israelis do not believe Netanyahu will protect their families and children.
“People have lost their entire sense of security in the past three weeks,” says Tibon. “And therefore I say directly to Netanyahu: Take responsibility. Resign now. It will help the campaign.”
Tibon adds: “The people need to feel security — they need to be sure that we are going to be victorious. I don’t think he can lead us to victory.”
He then indicates that members of Knesset should remove Netanyahu if he does not step down. “The British in World War II replaced Chamberlain with Churchill,” he says. “We have to win. That is more important than Netanyahu.”
Concludes Tibon: “Within the year, with Gaza in ruins, all of Hamas’s leaders dead, and all who took place in that murder, that slaughter, dead, [there needs to be] a thriving bloc of communities [in the Gaza-envelope area where the slaughter took place] — with people returned to their communities because they feel it is safe to live there, and me able to go back to visit my grandchildren without a gun.”
France condemns “unacceptable” Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank.
“France strongly condemns the settler attacks that have led to the deaths of several Palestinian civilians over the past few days in Qusra and Sawiya, as well as the forced departure of several communities,” says a foreign ministry statement.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society says the Israeli military has repeatedly bombed around its hospital in northern Gaza, causing damage and putting civilians at risk.
“The Israeli army deliberately continues to launch rockets directly near Al-Quds hospital with the aim of forcing medical staff, displaced individuals and patients to evacuate the hospital,” the medical organization says in a statement.
“This has caused significant damage to hospital departments and exposed residents and patients to suffocation,” the statement adds.
Israel has called on all non-combatants in northern Gaza to move south as it intensifies operations against Hamas terrorists in the area.
It has also accused Hamas of using numerous Gaza hospitals as bases of operation, using them as human shields.
The IDF says it is conducting strikes in Lebanon in response to rockets fired at Israel earlier.
The military says 10 rockets flew into Israeli territory.
One hit a building in Kiryat Shmona, without casualties.
Yad Vashem is converting part of its facility to a school in order to create a learning environment for evacuees from Gaza-area communities, the Holocaust memorial museum announces.
The students won’t be focusing on Holocaust studies.
“Today, Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, opened the building of the International School for Holocaust Studies to some 300 students ranging from grades 1 through 12, so that they could resume regular educational activities despite the ongoing war,” Yad Vashem says in a press release, calling the initiative an “opportunity to return to school, restoring some sense of mental and emotional resilience.”
The facility was reorganized and underwent some adjustments, to make it more appropriate for everyday learning. Students will have learning materials and meals each day, and lectures are being organized for parents as well.
Some 50 Yad Vashem staff members have volunteered to assist, the organization says.
“At a time when we are experiencing one of the most difficult crises in the history of our country, it is our duty to extend a helping hand and do what we can to support those affected,” Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan says.
Upwards of 200,000 Israeli citizens have been internally displaced by the Israel-Hamas war, which began on October 7 with a surprise Hamas assault on the western Negev.
World leaders step up calls for desperately needed humanitarian aid to reach war-torn Gaza.
Britain Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and France President Emmanuel Macron stress “the importance of getting urgent humanitarian support” into the Palestinian territory, while UN chief Antonio Guterres says the situation is getting “more desperate by the hour.”
Sunak and Macron spoke by telephone and “agreed to work together on efforts both to get crucial food, fuel, water and medicine to those who need it, and to get foreign nationals out,” says a Downing Street spokesperson.
They expressed “their shared concern at the risk of escalation in the wider region, in particular in the West Bank,” and updated each other “on the conversations they have had with leaders in the region to stress the importance of working to ensure regional stability,” the readout of their conversation adds.
Sunak and Macron also “agreed that it was important not to lose sight of the long-term future of the region and, in particular, the need for a two-state solution.”
Norway’s prime minister says the Israeli army’s response to the deadly Hamas attack that killed 1,400 people and saw over 230 abducted by terrorists has been disproportionate, and denounces a “catastrophic” humanitarian situation in Gaza.
“International law stipulates that [the reaction] must be proportionate. Civilians must be taken into account, and humanitarian law is very clear on this. I think this limit has been largely exceeded,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store says on NRK public radio.
“Almost half of the thousands of people killed are children,” he adds.
“Israel has the right to defend itself, and I recognize that it is very difficult to defend against attacks from an area as densely populated as Gaza,” Store says.
“Rockets are still being fired from Gaza into Israel, and we condemn this,” he adds.
Waving flags and banners, thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters march through the streets of Madrid to demand an immediate ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas.
Cries of “Freedom for Palestine” ring out as the crowd snakes through the closed-off streets of the Spanish capital.
Around 35,000 people take part, according to the central government’s delegation to Madrid, making it one of the biggest rallies in Spain in support of Palestinians since the shock murderous assault by Hamas triggered war with Israel earlier this month.
Merav Leshem Gonen, whose daughter Romi is among those being held in Gaza, tells Channel 12 that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara attended their meeting yesterday with the premier and used the opportunity to laud her husband in front of the families.
“Sara really praised the prime minister and said he’s the man to look up to and trust,” she says.
The premier’s wife has come under fire for allegedly concerning herself with political matters since the Gaza war outbreak.
She reportedly sought to block National Unity chair Benny Gantz’s entry into the government, fearing he would be credited for the “victory picture” if and when the cabinet achieved success in its war aims.
Gallant indicates to hostages’ families that ground incursion needed to pressure Hamas over their return
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is the latest senior Israeli official to meet with family members of the hostages currently being held by terrorists in Gaza.
“The ground operation is intertwined with the effort to return the hostages,” Gallant tells the families, according to a statement from the Defense Ministry.
“If there is no military pressure on Hamas, nothing will progress,” he says.
“We are fighting animals, not people. It is a complex journey, with hopes and disappointments. I am determined to win the war and returning the hostages is part of the victory.”
A rocket has fallen in Kiryat Shmona, local authorities say, shortly after sirens went off in the northern town.
Authorities are en route to the impact site to determine if anyone was hurt and the degree of damage to infrastructure.
Hundreds of people are protesting outside Qatar’s Embassy in London, calling for the release of the hostages in Gaza.
Qatar has been a key mediator in the efforts to negotiate the hostages’ release but has also come under fire for hosting Hamas’s political bureau in Doha.
— Nefolet (@Nefolet) October 29, 2023
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly yesterday to discuss the Gaza war, the US State Department says.
The two “affirmed Israel’s right to self-defense, discussed their engagement with regional partners to prevent the spread of the conflict and secure the release of hostages,” the US readout says.
“They reiterated the need to ensure sustained delivery of humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza,” it adds.
The Israel Defense Forces says troops have killed a number of Palestinian terrorists during clashes in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
In one incident, a number of Hamas operatives exited a tunnel in the northern Gaza Strip, close to the Erez Crossing, and clashed with IDF forces.
The IDF says the troops killed several of the terrorists and wounded others.
Several more Palestinian gunmen were killed in other nearby battles, the IDF adds.
Additionally, the IDF says ground forces directed the Air Force to carry out drone strikes against two Hamas staging grounds, killing several operatives.
בשעות האחרונות צה"ל המשיך לתקוף ולחסל מחבלים ברצועת עזה, לוחמי צה"ל שפעלו בסמוך למעבר ארז זיהו מספר מחבלים שיצאו מפיר של מנהרה בשטח רצועת עזה, לאחר הזיהוי הלוחמים ניהלו מולם קרב, הרגו מספר מחבלים ופצעו נוספים. במקביל, התרחשו מספר קרבות נוספים בהם חוסלו מחבלים>> pic.twitter.com/R4TpMIJupy
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) October 29, 2023
More than 5,000 people are protesting in Athens, police say, calling for an end to the “massacre” of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
“We are fighting for the peace of people,” Athens News Agency quotes demonstrators as chanting through megaphones.
“Stop the massacre of the Palestinian people in Gaza,” they shout.
The Athens demonstrators brand Israel a “murderous state” and also denounce the Greek government for abstaining in Friday’s UN vote on an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.
The protesters march to Israel’s embassy in the Greek capital’s Psychiko’s suburb.
No trouble is reported during the demonstration.
Ambassador from the Palestinian Authority Youssef Dorchom attends the protest, as did a large delegation from Greece’s KKE Communist Party.
Tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters marched in Britain on Saturday calling for a ceasefire as Israel’s army intensified its military operations on Gaza.
Thousands more demonstrated in France and Switzerland, as well as New York.
The Israel Defense Forces says it carried out a drone strike against a terror cell in southern Lebanon that launched rockets at the Mount Dov area earlier today.
The IDF adds that fighter jets also hit a Hezbollah position in response to the rocket attack.
כלי טיס של צה״ל תקף לפני זמן קצר חוליית מחבלים שזוהתה במרחב הר דב, מדובר בחוליה שביצעה שיגורים לעבר שטח ישראל מוקדם יותר היום. בתקיפה הושמדו גם אמצעי לחימה רבים איתם תכננו המחבלים לבצע שיגורים נוספים לעבר שטח ישראל>> pic.twitter.com/SKzRhJryrk
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) October 29, 2023
The Israel Defense Forces says three rockets were launched from Lebanon at northern Israel a short while ago, setting off sirens in the Upper Galilee towns of Tuba-Zangariyye, Rosh Pina, Ayelet Hashahar, and Hatzor Haglilit.
According to the IDF, two of the projectiles were intercepted by air defenses, while the third landed in an open area, causing no damage.
Earlier, rockets were also fired from Lebanon at areas near the northern communities of Malkia and Arab al-Aramshe, causing no injuries.
The IDF says it is responding with artillery shelling against the sources of the rocket fire.
The residents of A’nizan are packing up their belongings and leaving the small Palestinian hamlet in the South Hebron Hills due to repeated instances of settler violence and harassment, Yehuda Shaul, human rights activist and co-director of the Ofek Israeli Center for Public Affairs, tweets.
A’nizan is made up of four families totaling some 35 residents, he says, adding that it is located across the road from Khirbet Zanuta — another hamlet deserted by its residents due to settler violence, which has intensified since the outbreak of the Gaza war.
Shaul calls the situation “forcible transfer.”
President Isaac Herzog is meeting with representatives of the families of the hostages in Gaza at his Jerusalem residence.
Roughly 70 family members of 35 hostages are participating in the meeting, and Herzog will meet with additional relatives in the coming days.
Anger at the government has grown among the hostages’ families in recent days as Israel has launched the first stage of its ground incursion into Gaza, which some of the relatives fear might risk the hostages’ lives.
Incoming rocket sirens are sounding in several towns in Upper Galilee.
The alerts are activated in Tuba-Zangariyye, Rosh Pina, Ayelet Hashahar, Hatzor Haglilit, and other towns in the area.
It is unclear if the sirens are sounding due to rocket fire from Syria or from Lebanon.
The IDF says it is investigating.
Amnon Shashua, who heads the self-driving car company Mobileye, is calling for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ouster amid the fallout of the October 7 Hamas onslaught.
Shashua says Netanyahu’s government was guilty of “failures, dissonance and incompetence.”
“We must cut our losses and do it quickly. The only solution to the current situation in Israel is to replace the government, and it needs to happen immediately,” Shashua writes in an op-ed in the Calcalist business daily.
In a late-night tweet Saturday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated previous claims that he was not warned by security chiefs about an impending Hamas attack, and claimed all security chiefs had consistently assured him Hamas was deterred, drawing sharp criticism over the apparent attempt to blame them and evade responsibility for the disaster. He deleted the post some nine hours later, and issued a rare apology shortly afterward.
Shashua says Netanyahu’s government is more concerned with its political survival than “the good of the country” and a new election should be called in order to install new leaders.
Netanyahu has repeatedly refused to take responsibility for the intelligence and operational failures that led to the October 7 assault and asserts that he will only face a probe on his performance after the war is over — a war that some Israeli officials indicate could take months, if not longer.
Doctors at the neurology department at Assuta Medical Center in Ashdod report an increase in patients throughout the country being treated for brain hemorrhages since the beginning of the war.
In one case, a 70-year-old woman hospitalized at Assuta suffered a brain hemorrhage last night. When rocket sirens sounded, she entered the protected area in her home. However, when the all-clear was given, she saw the damage caused by a rocket that had fallen close by. She suffered a panic attack, which led to a brain bleed.
“For years, research in Israel and abroad has shown a connection between anxiety and an increase in brain hemorrhages during wartime. These bleeds generally occur among populations with chronic illnesses, especially high blood pressure,” says Dr. Salo Haratz, director of Assuta’s neurology department.
“Therefore, during this period, it is extra important to follow one’s blood pressure medication regimen.”
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan says hostage negotiations are “ongoing,” with the US in hourly contact with Israel and regional partners to secure their release.
“Even though we have started to see Israel move in on the ground, that has not changed our basic view that this has to remain of paramount priority,” Sullivan says.
Speaking to the plight of the hostages’ families, the national security adviser says, “It’s impossible to understand what they’re going through not knowing the fate of their loved ones.
“It’s something that weighs on us emotionally, but we are trying to stay as focused and as clear-eyed as possible in achieving the objective of bringing people home,” he says, adding that one of the purposes of the humanitarian pauses it has been pushing in the Gaza fighting is for the hostages to be able to be safely released.
Sullivan says the US is also still working on getting out the several hundred American citizens who want to leave Gaza — an objective that has hit repeated roadblocks amid Israeli, Egyptian and Hamas intransigence.
Sullivan: Biden will speak to PM today, stress need for distinguishing between terrorists and civilians
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan tells CNN that US President Joe Biden will speak again with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the coming hours “and is going to stress the need for the IDF to make every possible effort to distinguish between terrorists and Palestinian civilians during the ground operation in Gaza.”
“There have been deaths of thousands of Palestinian civilians in this conflict and that is an absolute tragedy,” Sullivan says, becoming the first US official to give a general figure of civilian deaths in Gaza
“Those people did not deserve to die. Those people deserve to live lives of peace and safety and dignity,” he adds.
Sullivan reiterates that Hamas’s use of human shields “creates an added burden for Israel but does not lessen Israel’s responsibility under international law to distinguish between terrorists and civilians and to protect the lives of innocent people who are the overwhelming majority of people in Gaza.”
Sullivan insists that the US has been asking Israel “hard questions” about its operations in Gaza, ones that it would be asking itself if it were carrying out such a counter-terror operation.
He says they’re also pushing Israel on “matching means with objectives” in the war, hinting at concern in Washington regarding Israel’s strategy for the ground operation.
Israel says it is committed to toppling Hamas, but some in the US administration are unconvinced that this is possible and believe that more surgical raids in Gaza would also be more conducive to securing the release of the hostages, the Washington Post reported on Friday.
Netanyahu has responsibility to rein in settlers amid ‘totally unacceptable violence,’ top Biden aide says
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan calls out the “totally unacceptable” uptick in settler violence since the outbreak of the Gaza war and says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “has a responsibility to rein in the settlers.”
“This is an ongoing challenge. We expect over time to see the Israeli government step up on this. We expect accountability for extremist settlers who engage in this kind of violence,” Sullivan tells CNN.
There are reports of clashes between IDF troops and Palestinian gunmen in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, close to Erez.
Army Radio reports that a number of Palestinian gunmen came out of a tunnel in the Gaza Strip, several hundred meters from the Israeli border, and began to clash with Israeli troops.
The reports says the IDF forces killed a number of gunmen.
Amid the clashes, mortars are fired, some of them setting off sirens in Netiv Ha’asara.
There is no immediate comment from the IDF on the incident.
Ministers advance bill allowing designation of individuals as terror operatives to better thwart their finances
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation has advanced an amendment to Israel’s counterterrorism law that will enable the state to designate individuals, and not just organizations, as terror operatives.
The aim of the amendment is “to thwart the financing of individuals operating in various organizations, and in particular the Hamas terrorist organization,” says a joint statement from Justice Minister Yariv Levin and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s offices.
“This amendment will enhance the administrative measures that may be employed against individual terrorists and terrorist organizations. It will also address the issues of recruitment, financing, and the transfer of funds for terrorist purposes,” the statement says.
The Israel Defense Forces says it struck a cell in southern Lebanon preparing to carry out an anti-tank guided missile attack near the northern community of Avivim.
The incident comes amid repeated missile and rocket attacks by the Hezbollah terror group on northern Israel.
כוחות צה"ל תקפו לפני זמן קצר חוליית מחבלים שניסתה לשגר טילי נ"ט משטח לבנון לעבר שטח ישראל במרחב אביבים. pic.twitter.com/x4iMGJ3oeb
— דובר צה״ל דניאל הגרי – Daniel Hagari (@IDFSpokesperson) October 29, 2023
Interior minister asks to check if actor can be stripped of her citizenship for allegedly cheering Hamas assault
Interior Minister Moshe Arbel asks the Population and Immigration Authority to look into removing the citizenship of prominent Arab Israeli actor Maisa Abd Elhadi, who has been indicted for allegedly expressing support for Hamas after posting on social media celebrating the terror group’s October 7 massacre.
Abd Elhadi was indicted today on charges of identifying with a terror organization and incitement to terror, amid a wide police crackdown on Israelis allegedly expressing support for the attacks online.
It is unclear if Abd Elhadi holds residency rights or citizenship of another country, and whether it would be legally possible for her to be stripped of her Israeli citizenship.
Abd Elhadi “expressed words of praise and sympathy for the terrible act of terrorism, the worst in the country’s history, and even ridiculed one of the abductees, an 85-year-old woman who was abducted from her home in Gaza, as detailed in the indictment,” Arbel wrote, according to the Ynet news site.
Best known for her role in the 2013 film “World War Z,” as well as several Israeli TV shows, the actor was detained after sharing images on Instagram of Yaffa Adar, 85, being taken hostage by Hamas, along with laughing emojis.
Adar was one of at least 230 Israelis taken captive by terrorists on October 7 during their murderous rampage through southern Israel.
In a second post, Abd Elhadi shared an image of Hamas forces breaching Israel’s security border, with a caption reading “Let’s go, Berlin style,” in an apparent reference to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Rocket sirens continue to sound steadily throughout the day in a number of communities close to the border with the Gaza Strip.
Most of the towns close to the border with the enclave have been largely evacuated.
There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
Prominent settlement activist Ariel Danino is put into administrative detention for four months after Defense Minister Yoav Gallant approved the order.
The administrative detention order, reportedly approved by the Shin Bet, cites “a reasonable foundation to assume that state security/public security requires” he be detained.
The administrative detention order is dated October 29 to February 28.
Danino was arrested Saturday night in the illegal West Bank outpost of Kumi Ori close to the Yitzhar settlement in the northern West Bank by Border Police forces and Shin Bet agents, some of whom were masked, who blocked off roads in the outpost while the arrest operation was underway, according to the far-right Kol Hayehudi online news site.
Administrative detention is primarily used for Palestinian terror suspects — about 1,000 of whom are currently held in custody under the practice. The orders have also been used with a handful of Jewish Israeli terror suspects in recent years.
The tool is typically used when authorities have intelligence tying a suspect to a crime but do not have enough evidence for charges to stand in a court of law. Its use against settler extremists has become more common as of late, as many of them maintain their right to silence and refuse to cooperate with an investigation. Moreover, police are slower to arrive to the scene of crimes against Palestinians in the West Bank and often fail to collect evidence in time, if at all.
Videos uploaded to social media showed Danino flashing the V sign while sitting in the back of a security services vehicle after he was arrested.
According to the anti-settlements group Peace Now, extremist settlers from Yitzhar and surrounding settlements and outposts have been involved in dozens of attacks against Palestinians in the last decade.
On Saturday, a Palestinian man harvesting olives was reportedly shot dead by a settler outside the village of As-Sawiya some 15 kilometers (9 miles) south of Yitzhar, the latest in a long series of incidents of settler attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank since the October 7 massacres by Hamas in southern Israel.
The Israel Defense Forces says ground forces are continuing to operate in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, killing Hamas gunmen and destroying sites belonging to the terror group.
The IDF says troops killed a number of Hamas gunmen who opened fire at the ground forces in the Strip, and other terrorists identified on the beach in Gaza, near the southern Israel community of Zikim.
According to the IDF, the ground troops, including tanks, also struck anti-tank guided missile positions, observation posts, and other Hamas infrastructure.
The forces also directed the Air Force to carry out strikes against buildings used by the terror group, the IDF adds.
The IDF publishes a video showing troops operating in Gaza today, as well as some of the recent airstrikes on the Strip.
IDF says that during the ground operation in the Gaza Strip, forces killed a number of Hamas operatives who opened fire at troops, and others identified on the coast, near Zikim. Troops also struck anti-tank guided missile positions, observation posts, and other Hamas… pic.twitter.com/kiFGdbMmdW
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) October 29, 2023
כלי טיס של חיל האוויר שמוכוונים על ידי כוחות צה״ל תקפו מבנים צבאיים של ארגון הטרור חמאס, בחלקם שהו מחבלים של הארגון. בנוסף, הותקפו עמדות נ"ט, עמדות תצפית ותשתיות צבאיות.
הכוחות חיסלו מחבלים שירו לעבר הכוחות וכן מחבלים שזוהו בקו החוף במרחב זיקים בשטח רצועת עזה. pic.twitter.com/tARtJM6Dbu
— Israeli Air Force (@IAFsite) October 29, 2023
An aide to Sara Netanyahu is suspended for 14 days for a series of inflammatory Facebook posts lashing out at so-called “leftists” amid the ongoing war in Gaza sparked by the Hamas terror group’s deadly shock assault in southern Israel.
The decision is made by Yossi Shelley, the director general of the Prime Minister’s Office, after a number of posts by Tzipi Navon using the terms “traitors,” “treasonous kikes,” “scum” and “fifth column.”
In one Facebook post denouncing a group criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the October 7 Hamas massacre, Navon wrote that “traitors from the left are continuing to incite” against the premier.
In another post she wrote that Channel 12 and 13 were trying to “divide and harm Jewish morale” during the current war with Gaza, and separately called Channel 12 “fifth columnists.”
In another post, Navon reposted a picture of body bags, ostensibly of victims of the Hamas massacre, writing: “Well pedophile friend, Brothers in Arms, the air force and army enlistment refusers, are you satisfied now???” in reference to former prime minister Ehud Barak and the anti-judicial overhaul movement.
Sara Netanyahu’s chief of staff is a state-paid position in the civil service working as an employee in the prime minister’s residence, which is under the authority of the Prime Minister’s Office.
A spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent says Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City received two calls from Israeli authorities demanding it evacuate.
A statement released by the organization says that the calls constituted a “clear and direct threat that the hospital must be evacuated at once, otherwise PRCS holds full responsibility for the lives of everyone inside the hospital.”
Spokesperson Nebal Farsakh says that 12,000 people are currently sheltering in the hospital.
She says the intensive care unit is predominantly occupied by children injured in the latest airstrikes.
“Most of them are connected to oxygen machines,” she says. “Evacuating them would be killing them.”
The Israeli military does not immediately comment.
The IDF has told some 1 million civilians to evacuate to the southern part of the Gaza Strip ahead of an expected ground invasion.
The Israel Defense Forces on Friday said the Hamas terror group’s main base of operations is under Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, providing visuals and intercepted audio as evidence of the terror organization’s activities.
Gaza hospitals have been a key feature of the now three-week-long Gaza war, with Hamas on October 17 claiming that an Israeli strike targeted al-Ahli hospital in Gaza City and killed over 500 civilians. The claim was disproven within hours by Israeli and US intelligence, which found that the explosion occurred just outside the hospital, was caused by an errant Islamic Jihad rocket aimed at Israel and killed far fewer than 500 people.
Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in the Haredi city of Bnei Brak issues a statement today refuting a claim made by MK Ahmad Tibi that an Arab Israeli woman with cancer was refused treatment there last Thursday.
Writing on X (formerly Twitter), Tibi said that he heard directly about what happened from the woman involved. He said that the woman from the Arab city of Kfar Qasim, a regular patient at the hospital, arrived that evening at the emergency department feeling unwell from a chemotherapy treatment she had received earlier in the day. Tibi wrote that the doctor in charge told the woman and a Jewish friend accompanying her to immediately leave the hospital.
Tibi claimed that the doctor told the women, “We don’t treat Arabs here.”
Tibi further recounted that another doctor tried to intervene, but that the doctor in charge called hospital security, which escorted the women out.
“This is an egregious act that should not happen in the healthcare system, including during these difficult days [of war],” Tibi wrote.
“This is fake news,” said the hospital in a statement. “Indeed, this does involve a woman who has been treated with dedication in various departments at Mayanei Hayeshua. She arrived at the emergency room and was received by the physician in charge, Dr. Mustafa. She herself made the decision to leave because she did not want to wait for an outside expert physician.
“At Mayanei Hayeshua, there are caregivers and patients of all religions and sexes, and we will continue to provide dedicated and professional care to all who come here,” the hospital said.
The Israel Defense Forces says that a number of rockets were launched from Lebanon at the Mount Dov area on the northern border, where there are a number of military positions and no towns.
The IDF says all the projectiles landed in open areas, causing no injuries.
It adds that forces are responding with artillery shelling against the sources of the rocket fire in southern Lebanon.
Photos and videos circulating on social media show fragments of apparently intercepted rockets that fell in locations across central Israel during the most recent barrage.
One fragment fell in a schoolyard in Ramat Hasharon. All the students were inside and in shelters at the time.
Pieces also fell in Rishon Lezion.
The Home Front regularly reminds the public that they should not exit shelters the moment that the sirens end, as it may take a while for the fragments — often sizable — to fall to the ground.
Instead, people should remain in the protected area for at least ten minutes.
— ynet עדכוני (@ynetalerts) October 29, 2023
— וואלה! (@WallaNews) October 29, 2023
To ensure the smooth supply of food to Israel, the Health Ministry is temporarily doing away with the “red labeling” of imported food products and the Hebrew labeling of imported bottled mineral and spring water during the war.
In an announcement, the ministry says that the public should not be concerned about seeing a local product on store shelves with red labels indicating high sugar, fat, or salt content next to a similar imported product without those labels.
While still maintaining food safety standards, authorities are temporarily doing away with the requirement for these labels to avoid holding up the process by which food reaches the Israeli consumer.
Nutritional content tables will still appear on all products, and consumers are advised to continue their efforts to reduce intake of excess sugar, fat and salt.
Similarly, imported bottled water that used to be labeled in Hebrew and English may only be labeled in English. The public should rest assured that the former and latter are indeed the same product.
The Health Ministry reminds the public to boil all water — including bottled mineral or spring water — when preparing formula for babies and toddlers.
Israel reopens the second of three water pipelines that provide water to the Gaza Strip, now allowing for a total of some 28.5 million liters a day to flow into the Hamas-run territory.
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announces that the second pipeline was reopened on Saturday.
The supply of a total of 28.5 million liters a day is just over half the approximately 49 million liters a day Israel supplied before the war.
On October 9, Israel cut off the piped water it sends into Gaza, which amounts to 9 percent of the coastal enclave’s water supply in peacetime, according to a COGAT official, but reopened one of the southern pipelines last week with a reduced flow.
COGAT says that there is now sufficient water and food to meet Gaza’s humanitarian requirements, adding that the agency is constantly monitoring the situation in the territory.
COGAT adds that Hamas is distributing fuel to hospitals in Gaza to keep them operating on diesel generators, partly in order to keep the hospitals occupied since Hamas has built command and control centers underneath these health facilities.
“The hospitals are military operational infrastructures,” says a senior COGAT official.
Rocket barrage fired at central Israel, triggering sirens in cities including Tel Aviv, Herzliya and Ra’anana
Rocket alert sirens sound in a number of towns and cities in central Israel, including Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Ra’anana, Holon and Hod Hasharon.
There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
A number of explosions are heard.
Channel 12 reports that the barrage sent 1.5-2 million people running for shelter.
Thousands of people broke into aid warehouses in Gaza to take food and “basic survival items,” a UN agency says, in a mark of growing desperation and the breakdown of public order three weeks into the war between Gaza’s Hamas terror group rulers and Israel.
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, provides basic services to hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza.
Thomas White, the agency’s Gaza director, says the break-ins were “a worrying sign that civil order is starting to break down after three weeks of war and a tight siege on Gaza.
“People are scared, frustrated and desperate,” he says.
Yesterday, The New York Times published a report backing up Israel’s assertion that Hamas is stockpiling food and fuel in the Gaza Strip, keeping it from residents who are in desperate need.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns the situation in Hamas-ruled Gaza is declining rapidly as he repeats desperate appeals for a ceasefire to end the “nightmare” of bloodshed.
“The situation in Gaza is growing more desperate by the hour. I regret that instead of a critically needed humanitarian pause, supported by the international community, Israel has intensified its military operations,” Guterres says on a visit to Nepal’s capital Kathmandu.
Last week, Guterres said that Hamas’s October 7 massacre “didn’t happen in a vacuum,” a comment decried by Israel as justifying terror.
Israel has been fighting Hamas since the attack in which some 2,500 terrorists streamed into Israel, killing over 1,400 people, a majority of them civilians in their homes and at an outdoor music festival.
Hamas and allied terrorist factions also dragged over 230 hostages — including some 30 children — into the Gaza Strip where they remain captive.
Israel says its Gaza offensive is aimed at destroying Hamas’s infrastructure, and has vowed to eliminate the entire terror group, which rules the Strip. It says it is targeting all areas where Hamas operates, while seeking to minimize civilian casualties.
The Palestinian Authority health ministry says three Palestinians were killed in overnight clashes with IDF troops, in Askar, Bayt Rima, and Tammun.
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 PA health ministry, 118 West Bank Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, and in some cases settlers, since October 7.
The Israel Defense Forces says troops detained 23 wanted Palestinians, including four affiliated with the Hamas terror group, in overnight arrest raids across the West Bank.
The IDF says that since the war in the Gaza Strip began on October 7, troops have arrested more than 1,030 wanted Palestinians in the West Bank, including some 700 affiliated with Hamas.
Also overnight, the IDF says troops demolished the home of Hassan Qatnani, one of the Hamas terrorists who carried out the deadly shooting attack on the Dee family in April, in the West Bank’s Askar refugee camp, adjacent to Nablus.
The IDF says it also clashed with Palestinian gunmen and rioters in Jenin.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi says Israel’s ongoing airstrikes and ground operation in Gaza “may force everyone to take action.”
“Zionist regime’s crimes have crossed the red lines, which may force everyone to take action,” Raisi writes on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“Washington asks us to not do anything, but they keep giving widespread support to Israel. The US sent messages to the Axis of Resistance but received a clear response on the battlefield,” Raisi writes.
Iran has long warned that Israel’s war against the Tehran-backed Hamas terror group may be expanded.
Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden have cautioned Tehran against involvement, including via its proxies, chief among them Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah.
Netanyahu after storm over post blaming security chiefs for Oct. 7 failure: ‘I was wrong, I apologize’
In a rare about-face, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologizes for an earlier statement in which he seemed to foist blame onto the security services and off of himself for failing to prevent Hamas’s murderous October 7 terror attack, the largest against Israel in its 75-year history.
“I was wrong. The things I said following the press conference should not have been said and I apologize for that,” Netanyahu writes on X, shortly after deleting his original statement on the same platform.
The prime minister adds: “I give full backing to all the heads of the security services. I am sending strength to the [IDF] chief of staff and the commanders and soldiers of the IDF who are on the frontlines and fighting for our home.”
Late on Saturday night, Netanyahu wrote a post on X (formerly Twitter), insisting that he never received any warnings of Hamas “war intentions” at any stage, and adding that “all the security services, including the head of military intelligence and the head of the Shin Bet, were of the opinion that Hamas was deterred and wanted to come to a settlement.”
Earlier this morning, the Prime Minister’s Office released a statement to explain Netanyahu’s by-then-deleted post on X
Following a Saturday night press conference “serious accusations that the prime minister received specific warnings about the war, which was not the case, were repeated and resurfaced,” the statement read, saying that “the prime minister responded to this” and has “full confidence” in the security and defense forces.
Rocket fire continues toward communities in the Gaza border area.
There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari refuses to comment directly on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s now-deleted tweet assigning blame to the security and defense services for failures ahead of the Oct. 7 massacres.
“I will not answer that question. We are now in a war and are focused on it,” Hagari says.
“We in the IDF and Shin Bet will conduct a thorough investigation of the truth and present everything to the public,” Hagari says. “Now we are fighting and focused on the war.”
IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says that amid the expanded ground operation in Gaza, the military was working to bring home the hostages held in the Strip.
“We all doing everything to bring the hostages home. It is a top priority,” he says.
Hagari also said that a new group of surveillance soldiers was being drafted into the military, where they would perform this “important job” for the defense of Israel.
A number of them were killed or kidnapped on October 7.
IDF surveillance soldiers, referred to in Hebrew as tatzpitaniyot, belong to the Combat Intelligence Corps and operate along the country’s borders, as well as throughout the West Bank.
The surveillance soldiers are referred to by many as “the eyes of the army” as they provide real-time intelligence information to soldiers in the field, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Rocket sirens sound in the Gaza border communities of Nir Oz, Nirim, Nahal Oz and Magen.
There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
National Security Minister and far-right leader Itamar Ben Gvir joins the criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the wake of the premier’s now-deleted post on X criticizing security chiefs over the October 7 Hamas invasion and massacres.
“The problem isn’t specific warnings, but rather the entire mistaken concept. The policy of containment, the imaginary deterrence, and buying temporary quiet for an exorbitant price” are the root of the entire problem, says Ben Gvir on X in reference to Netanyahu’s post that he never received any warning of an impending Hamas attack.
Ben Gvir, the leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, says however that such a discussion “is not for now,” but adds that there will be “a lot of time afterwards for an accounting,” alluding to the position he will likely adopt after the war against Netanyahu’s past policies of trying to contain Hamas.
The Health Ministry announces that the entire healthcare system will observe a moment of silence at 10 a.m. today in memory of the 1,400 murdered civilians and fallen soldiers since the beginning of the war.
The war began on October 7 when 2,500 terrorists from Hamas and other terror organizations burst through the border with Gaza.
They infiltrated over 20 communities and IDF bases in southwestern Israel, destroying many of them and slaughtering their inhabitants.
The terror organizations is also holding at least 230 Israelis and foreign nationals hostage in Gaza, including some 30 babies and children.
As outrage grew over his comments blaming the security and intelligence services for the devastating October 7 attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deletes the statement.
The premier was attacked by war cabinet member National Unity leader Benny Gantz, as well as Opposition Leader Yair Lapid, for writing a post on X insisting that he never received any warnings of Hamas “war intentions” at any stage.
Netanayhu also wrote that “all the security services, including the head of military intelligence and the head of the Shin Bet, were of the opinion that Hamas was deterred and wanted to come to a settlement.”
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid says that prime minister “crossed a red line” by assigning blame to the security and defense services for Israel’s Oct. 7 failure.
“While IDF soldiers and commanders are fighting valiantly against Hamas and Hezbollah, he is trying to blame them instead of backing them up,” Lapid writes on X.
“Such attempts to evade responsibility and place the blame on the security establishment weakens the IDF while it is fighting Israel’s enemies,” Lapid continues.
“Netanyahu must apologize for his words.”
Ex-Mossad head Yossi Cohen says that negotiations for the release of the hostages in Gaza can continue even as Israel works to carry out its objective of eliminating the Hamas terror group.
“We cannot wait quietly for proposals for deals, without entering the Gaza Strip,” Cohen tells the Kan public broadcaster.
“It is possible and necessary to eliminate the rule of Hamas and at the same time be open to mediating future deals for the release of the hostage,” he says.
While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed ally Gal Hirsch as hostage envoy, Cohen is reportedly also involved in behind-the-scenes talks.
Over 230 hostages — including some 30 children — are captive in the Gaza Strip.
Gantz calls on Netanyahu to retract comments blaming security, intelligence forces for Oct. 7 attack
National Unity chairman Benny Gantz calls on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to retract comments he made blaming the heads of the security and intelligence forces for the Hamas October 7 massacres on Saturday night, in the first public sign of tensions between the two leaders.
“This morning in particular I want to back and support all the security forces and IDF soldiers, including the IDF chief of staff, the head of military intelligence, the head of the Shin Bet,” says Gantz.
“When we are at war, leadership needs to be responsible, to decide to do the right things and support the [security] forces in a way in which they can carry out what we demand of them. Any other action or comment harms the resilience of the people and its forces.
“The prime minister must retract his comments from yesterday and stop dealing with this issue.”
Late on Saturday night, Netanyahu wrote a post on X (formerly Twitter), insisting that he never received any warnings of Hamas “war intentions” at any stage, adding “all the security services, including the head of military intelligence and the head of the Shin Bet, were of the opinion that Hamas was deterred and wanted to come to a settlement.”
The Israel Defense Forces says fighter jets struck some 450 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip over the past day.
The targets included Hamas command centers, observation posts, and anti-tank guided missile launch positions, according to the IDF.
The military also expanded ground operations in the Gaza Strip overnight, with additional forces entering.
The IDF says the ground troops struck Hamas terror cells and squads preparing missile attacks, and directed aircraft to target other sites belonging to the terror group.
מטוסי קרב של צה"ל תקפו ביממה האחרונה מעל ל-450 מטרות צבאיות של ארגון הטרור חמאס ברחבי רצועת עזה. בין המטרות שהותקפו היו מפקדות צבאיות, עמדות תצפית, עמדות ירי נ"ט של ארגון הטרור >> pic.twitter.com/OAu0xBlFow
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) October 29, 2023
An IDF officer was seriously hurt by a mortar impact and separately a soldier was moderately hurt during a gun battle with Hamas, both in the northern Gaza Strip overnight, the military says.
The IDF says the pair have been taken to a hospital for treatment.
The Israel Defense Forces has increased the number of troops on the ground as part of its expanded operation in the Gaza Strip.
Forces are also operating deeper in the enclave than they have since the start of the war.
Israel has been fighting Hamas since October 7, when some 2,500 terrorists streamed into Israel, killing over 1,400 people, a majority of them civilians in their homes and at an outdoor music festival.
Hamas and allied terrorist factions also dragged over 230 hostages — including some 30 children — into the Gaza Strip where they remain captive.
The Israel Defense Forces entered a Palestinian refugee camp near Nablus and demolished the home of a terrorist who was involved in the attack in which three members of the Dee family were killed, reports say.
Forces reportedly destroyed Hassan Qatnani’s apartment in the Askar refugee camp on the outskirts of Nablus.
There was no confirmation from the IDF.
On April 7, Hamas terrorists Qatnani and Moaz al-Masri opened fire at Lucy Dee, 48, and her daughters Maia Dee, 20, and Rina Dee, 15, as they drove through the northern Jordan Valley.
The daughters were declared dead at the scene, while Lucy was rushed to a hospital in critical condition but died three days later.
Qatnani and al-Masri, along with a third Palestinian gunman, were killed in an Israeli raid in Nablus in early May.
تغطية صحفية: "آثار تفجير قوات الاحتلال لمنزل عائلة حسن قطناني خلال اقتحام واسع لمخيم عسكر القديم شرق نابلس". pic.twitter.com/HEO1ghdz3e
— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) October 29, 2023
Israel wants to “increase the urgency” of its warning to Gazan civilians in the northern part of the Palestinians to move south, as the military is “moving to the next phase” of the war with Palestinian terror group Hamas in Gaza and “expanding its operations,” says IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari in an English-language video posted to the Israel Defense Forces Twitter profile.
“Civilians in northern Gaza, in Gaza City should temporarily move south of Wadi Gaza to a safer area, where they can receive water, food, and medicine,” Hagari says.
He adds that tomorrow (on Monday), “humanitarian efforts to Gaza, led by Egypt and the United States, will be expanding,” without further elaborating.
“Hamas terrorists operate inside and under civilian buildings, precisely because they know the IDF distinguishes between terrorists and civilians.”—RAdm. Daniel Hagari pic.twitter.com/DWaa4R27No
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) October 29, 2023
“Israel is in a war it did not start and did not seek,” Hagari says. Israel’s fight is “with Hamas, not the people of Gaza.”
“Hamas uses Gazans as human shields. Hamas operated inside and under civilian buildings, precisely because they know the IDF distinguishes between terrorists and civilians,” he says.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell urges a “pause of hostilities” to allow humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip after the intense overnight aerial bombardment of the coastal territory.
“Gaza is in complete blackout and isolation while heavy shelling continues,” Borrell says on social media.
“UNRWA warns about the desperate situation of Gaza people without electricity, food, water” he adds, referring to the UN relief agency for Palestinian Refugees.
“Far too many civilians, including children, have been killed. This is against International Humanitarian Law,” he said.
“A pause of hostilities is urgently needed to enable humanitarian access,” he adds.
Borrell also condemns all attacks on civilians, “including continuing indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israel” and called for the “immediate and unconditional release of all hostages”.
His comments are challenged by Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg on social media for having exceeded the position agreed by EU leaders earlier in the week.
“It is imperative to stick to the positions clearly expressed by Heads of States and Governments”, the minister says, referring to the meeting of European Union leaders on Thursday.
Schallenberg lists the EU’s positions, which included condemnation of Hamas’s “terrorist attacks”, Israel’s “right to defend itself in line with international law” and the call for all hostages to be released.
Telephone and internet connectivity are returning gradually to the Gaza Strip, Reuters reports citing Palestinian media outlets.
The global network monitor Netblocks also says that internet connectivity is being restored.
“Real-time network data show that internet connectivity is being restored in the #Gaza Strip,” the company writes on X, formerly Twitter.
An AFP employee in Gaza City said shortly after 4:00 a.m. (0200 GMT) that he could use the internet and phone network and had contacted people by phone.
The United Nations Security Council plans to meet on Monday to discuss the war between Israel and Hamas, Reuters reports, citing unnamed diplomats and without elaborating.
On Friday, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, which made no mention of Hamas, by an overwhelming majority, drawing praise from the Islamist terror group and condemnation from Israel.
The resolution called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the release of all civilians, the protection of civilians and international institutions, and ensuring the safe passage of humanitarian aid into the Strip.
The initiative was nonbinding but highlighted the overwhelming international support for the Palestinians amid Israel’s military campaign in response to the October 7 Hamas onslaught.
Israel has rejected calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, saying that it is committed to toppling Hamas to prevent another mass assault like the one that took place three weeks ago.
Last week, the US vetoed a UN Security Council resolution put forth by Brazil calling for a “humanitarian pause” in the war because the text did not include respect for Israel’s right to defend itself.
Russia and China then vetoed a resolution drafted by the US that would have reaffirmed Israel’s right to self-defense, urged respect for international laws — especially protection of civilians — and called for “humanitarian pauses” to deliver desperately needed aid to Gaza.
The Hamas-controlled health ministry in the Gaza Strip says that more than 8,000 have been killed in the Palestinian enclave since the start of the war with Israel on October 7 when terrorists killed 1,400 people across southern Israel, a majority of them civilians, and took 230 people hostage.
“The death toll linked to the Israeli aggression is past 8,000, half of whom are children,” the ministry, run by the terror group, told AFP. The last toll, issued early Saturday, was of 7,703 dead.
The numbers cannot be independently verified and include Palestinian terrorists killed by Israel as well as Palestinian civilians killed by errant rockets launched by terror groups in Gaza.
Israel says it killed 1,500 Hamas terrorists inside Israel on and after October 7.
Donald Trump uses a speech to a Republican Jewish convention on Saturday to promise the reimposition of a controversial travel ban that targeted a slew of mostly Muslim countries if he gets re-elected.
“We will keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country,” Trump tells the audience attending the annual summit of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
“You remember the travel ban? On day one I will restore our travel ban.”
At the start of his presidency in 2017, Trump imposed sweeping restrictions on the entry of travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and, initially, Iraq and Sudan. The order was quickly challenged in court as discriminatory against a religious group, but the bans, along with Trump’s hardline anti-immigration agenda, were popular with his base.
US President Joe Biden reversed the ban in his first week in office in 2021.
Trump told the event, held in Las Vegas, that he would “defend our friend and ally in the State of Israel like nobody has ever.”
The war between Israel and Hamas following its October 7 shock onslaught is “a fight between civilization and savagery, between decency and depravity, and between good and evil,” said Trump, who received the warmest response from attendees, as he took aim at the Biden administration and avoided criticizing his rivals.
Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson indicates that his country has no intention to shutter Hamas’s political bureau in Doha after the October 7 onslaught, arguing that the channel of communication has been critical for talks on the release of the hostages and for efforts to de-escalate fighting between the terror group and Israel.
Majed al-Ansari tells CNN that “various sides” had pushed Qatar to open a line of communication with Hamas and to even allow the terror group to establish a political bureau in Doha. “This channel has been very instrumental in countering the escalations that took place,” he says, claiming that Qatar’s talks with Hamas helped curb tensions in September after two weeks of border rioting by Palestinians.
“Therefore, as long as this channel is useful in creating peace, we have to have it. We cannot afford to lose it,” al-Ansari says.
“It is now useful during this escalation. It is the only way that we are mediating the release of these hostages and for them to get back home to their families,” he adds.
Qatar’s role in the current conflict has been a source of controversy in Israel, with a growing number of officials arguing that Doha should not be hosting the terror group after the carnage that Hamas inflicted on October 7.
At the same time, there appears to be recognition in Jerusalem that Qatar is the country most capable of mediating between Israel and Hamas, perhaps because of Doha’s longstanding ties to the terror group.
National Security Council chairman Tzachi Hanegbi even hailed Qatar’s efforts in an English tweet earlier this week that drew criticism from former prime minister Naftali Bennett but also led many analysts to believe that a major deal to release the hostages in Gaza was on the horizon.
In 2020, Israel’s then-Mossad chief Yossi Cohen and then IDF Southern Command chief Herzi Halevi (now chief of staff) reportedly flew to Qatar to encourage Doha to continue funneling tens of millions of dollars in monthly aid to Hamas, as Jerusalem was then convinced that the terror group could be bought off to refrain from attacking Israel.
The payments were seen as part of a broader policy from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who critics have accused of boosting Hamas at the expense of the more moderate Palestinian Authority to avoid political negotiations and to keep the various Palestinian factions divided.
Saudi Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman is expected at the White House on Monday for talks with officials in the Biden administration, Axios reports.
The meetings will come as fears ramp up that the war between Israel and the Hamas terror group following its October 7 shock onslaught, could expand into a regional war, according to the report.
The Saudis on Saturday said that “any ground operation by Israel would threaten the lives of Palestinian civilians and result in inhumane dangers,” according to a Saudi Foreign Ministry statement.
Citing three sources with knowledge of the meetings, Axios reports that bin Salman will meet with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Tony Blinken as well as several senators.
In the weeks before the war, Saudi Arabia had spoken of progress in US-led diplomacy to normalize relations with Israel.
Earlier this week, Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman agreed in a phone call to eventually “build on” the US-brokered negotiations that had been underway to normalize Israel-Saudi ties.
The spokesperson for Qatar’s foreign ministry says that the Israeli ground offensive in Gaza launched yesterday (Friday) has significantly complicated Doha’s efforts to secure the release of the hostages taken from Israel held in Gaza.
“This escalation makes it considerably more difficult,” Majed al-Ansari says while noting that both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas’s Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar have continued to express openness toward the issue, including since Israel launched an intensified phase of the war into northern Gaza on Friday night.
Sinwar said earlier that his terror group was ready to “immediately” swap with Israel in a deal “that includes “releasing all prisoners in the prisons of the Zionist occupation enemy in return for the release of all prisoners held by the resistance,” he said in a comment posted Saturday evening on Hamas media groups.
Netanyahu said the government was discussing the issue after being asked about the proposal while saying that discussing the details publicly would harm efforts to reach a deal.
The prime minister also insisted that “broadening the ground offensive does not clash in any way with our ability to bring back the hostages.”
Explaining why he felt the opposite, al-Ansari tells CNN that “moving people during a [ground] incursion and [under] increased bombardment” is more difficult. “But also from a political [perspective], mediation only works when you have periods of calm.”
However, he stresses that the talks are “ongoing” and that “nobody in the region can afford to give up on this and just leave it to the military people to decide what happens in the future.”
Qatar was credited for brokering the release of two pairs of female hostages on October 20 and October 22, but al-Ansari indicated that successive hostage releases might require Israel to release prisoners of its own.
“We are talking around the idea of more hostages coming out, we’re talking about the idea of a prisoner exchange,” al-Ansari says.
“We are optimistic that the dots are heading more toward all civilian hostages, but obviously it’s a fluid situation on the ground,” he adds.
The Qatari government spokesperson acknowledges that Doha does not have a definitive number of how many hostages currently being held in Gaza. “I’m not sure, to be honest, that anybody knows,” he says, adding that the lists provided by Israel and Hamas “are not necessarily always the same,” while appearing to confirm Palestinian Islamic Jihad claims that it too is holding a number of hostages.
Al-Ansari claims that both Israel and Hamas “acknowledge that the civilian hostages need to [be released] immediately,” though he does not say why Hamas continues to hold them in Gaza.
The military has notified the families of 230 hostages that their loved ones are currently being held in the Gaza Strip. The number is not final as the military investigates new information.
The Qatari foreign minister spokesperson says that Qatar prioritizes women and children followed by “foreign citizens” in the negotiations, not clarifying whether he’s referring to dual nationals or those without an Israeli passport. However, he insists that the latest discussions pertain to all civilians being held in Gaza, regardless of their age, gender, or nationality.
Al-Ansari does not mention the subgroup of soldiers who are also among those being held hostage. Hamas officials said toward the beginning of the war that it would only start negotiating their release after the fighting ended, but Sinwar said Saturday that the terror group would be prepared to release them all “immediately.”
Military spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari has dismissed the offer as “psychological terror” andsaid Israel is working on multiple channels to free the hostages.
Netanyahu met earlier Saturday with representatives of the families whose loved ones are being held captive in Gaza, and pledged that Israel “will exhaust every possibility” to bring about their return.
The representatives urged Netanyahu to agree to an “everyone for everyone” prisoner exchange with Hamas.
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