Israeli army says Iran helping Hamas with intel-sharing ■ Senior Hamas commander killed in Gaza Strip ■ Hezbollah’s Nasrallah meets with Islamic Jihad and Hamas leaders in Lebanon ■ Red Crescent reports two deaths from Israeli airstrike in Jenin ■ Rocket fire from Gaza renews ■ Eight Syrian military personnel killed in Israeli airstrike on military positions, Syrian state media reports ■ Israel confirms it attacked in Syria ■At least 1,300 killed by Hamas since October 7 ■ Hamas-run health ministry: 5,300 Palestinians killed, 18,000 wounded
The leaders of the Czech Republic and Austria met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog at Israeli military headquarters on Wednesday in a show of solidarity following the devastating Hamas attacks of October 7.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, who met with Netanyahu, described Hamas as a “common enemy” of Israel and Europe. He pledged to work toward isolating the organization in its participation in European Union institutions. Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer called for the immediate and unconditional release of hostages held by Hamas during his meeting with Herzog.
Rocket sirens were activated in Rishon Letzion, a large city located south of Tel Aviv.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said that following the October 7 Hamas massacre, the chant “from the [Meditteranean] sea to the [Jordan] river” will be banned in Austria and will be considered a criminal offense, opposition leader Yair Lapid said.
According to Lapid, Nehammer informed him of the decision during a meeting between the two on Wednesday.
Rocket sirens were activated in Ashkelon, Nir Oz, Magen and Nirim.
Israel is reportedly agreeing to hold off on a Gaza ground invasion amid U.S. pressure until Americans can better bolster its defenses across the Middle East, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Iran-proxy fighters have launched more than a dozen strikes toward U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq and Syria over the past week, causing U.S. officials deep concern that the Gaza war could rapidly expand.
Beyond the already bolstered U.S. defense posture, the Biden administration hopes to further deploy defenses in Iraq and Syria, as well as countries with a U.S. military presence such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
U.S. officials have also previously pushed Israel to hold off on a ground invasion in order to preserve diplomatic efforts toward releasing hostages held captive in Gaza, as well as so the international community can further address the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
U.S. officials have stressed they are not pushing Israel on its strategy or timing, but rather asking questions and offering advice behind the scenes.
U.S. officials, however, have expressed relatively significant concerns about Israel’s exit strategy from Gaza, its vision for post-war Gaza should it succeed in eliminating Hamas as an entity, as well as warning about the length and bloody nature such a ground invasion would cost Israel.
The U.S., however, confirmed it is not imposing any red lines on Israel while encouraging it to abide by international laws of war.
Rocket sirens sounded in southern Israel, near Netiv Ha’asara – a small community located near the border with Gaza.
The Nazareth District Court ordered Arab Israeli actress Maisa Abd Elhadi, who was suspected of incitement to terrorism and supporting Hamas, to be placed under house arrest.
Elhadi was arrested following her posts on social media about Hamas’ massacre in southern Israel on October 7.
Judge Arafat Taha stated that the postings are indeed “blatant and harsh, and even evoke feelings of anger and disappointment,” but added that “it is highly doubtful that there is any criminal offense in publishing the posts.”
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir attacked the decision, calling Taha a “domestic enemy”.
Jack Lew, the Biden administration’s nominee to serve as next U.S. ambassador to Israel, advanced from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — one week after a contentious confirmation hearing where Republicans sharply criticized him (and the Obama and Biden administrations, in turn) for empowering Iran’s backing of Hamas.
The vote passed 12-9, with Sen. Rand Paul serving as the only Republican to vote in favor of Lew.
Lew’s nomination now need approval of the full Senate before he is confirmed. A vote on the matter is expected to take place next week.
Both the White House and U.S. lawmakers have flagged Lew’s swift confirmation as an essential step in the U.S. response to the Hamas attack on Israel.
Israel said it “wholeheartedly rejects” Turkish President’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “harsh words” about Hamas.
“Hamas is a despicable terrorist organization worse than ISIS that brutally and intentionally murders babies, children, women and the elderly, takes civilians hostage and uses its own people as human shields,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat.
“Even the Turkish president’s attempt to defend the terrorist organization and his inciting words will not change the horrors that the whole world has seen and the unequivocal fact: Hamas = ISIS,” he added.
Hamas carried out a series of cyberattacks on October 7 in an attempt to take down Israeli news sites, according to a report by Cloudflare, which specializes in protecting against such attacks.
According to the company, the first attack took place 12 minutes after the terrorist attack on the communities bordering the Gaza Strip began. Attacks of this type were detected the following week as well.
The company reported that 56 percent of the attacks targeted news sites, a tactic used in the war in Ukraine, where most cyberattacks targeted media outlets.
Additionally, 34 percent of the attacks were aimed at software companies, 4 percent at the finance sector, and the rest at government offices, telecommunications and retail companies.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday rejected accusations that he had justified Hamas attacks on Israel in his statement to the Security Council on Tuesday.
“I am shocked by the misrepresentations by some of my statement… as if I was justifying acts of terror by Hamas. This is false. It was the opposite,” he told reporters. “I believe it’s necessary to set the record straight – especially out of respect for the victims and their families.”
The U.S. is planning on sending its entire Iron Dome stockpile – including two batteries and more than 300 interceptors owned by the U.S. Army – to Israel as part of its efforts to lend military assistance following the Hamas attack.
A U.S. official confirmed the plans to Haaretz, which were first reported by Bloomberg and later by the Washington Post, are in the works. The Pentagon has yet to officially confirm the plans.
Congress has pressed the Biden administration to deliver its stockpile to Israel, after months of efforts to press Israel to OK sending the batteries to Ukraine.
The consensus to date within America has been that Iron Dome in itself would be a stopgap measure until the U.S. military could procure or develop a better defense system against cruise missiles, though there has been an appetite to incorporate parts of Israeli tech into its indirect fire protection capabilities. Israel has also been unwilling to send America proprietary source code, discouraging the U.S. from procuring additional batteries.
The acquisition of the Israeli system was largely the result of pressure from lawmakers who obligated the army by law to acquire the weapon system.
U.S. defense officials have long stressed the need to develop medium-range air-defense capabilities, though these efforts have increased over the past several years following conflicts in Syria and the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region on the Azerbaijan-Armenia border. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a potential U.S. strategic shift to the Indo-Pacific has only made efforts more pressing.
Jordan’s Queen Rania sharply criticized U.S. President Joe Biden and the media for “confirmation bias” and a “glaring double standard” when it comes to the deaths of Israeli and Palestinian civilians in the conflict that has raged since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7.
Both journalists and western leaders like Biden, she charged, were consistently “quick to adopt the Israeli narratives,” said the wife of Jordanian monarch King Abdullah, contrasting condemnations of the Hamas atrocities to what she perceived as “silence” from the world regarding Palestinian civilian deaths resulting from Israeli reprisals.
The spokesman for the Israeli military said four rockets had been fired from Lebanon towards the Kiryat Shmona area and its surroundings, all of which fell in open areas. Alarms were activated in the city as well as in Kfar Giladi and Tel Hai.
Due to the rocket fire, surrounding roads were closed to traffic.
The Biden administration is pressing Middle Eastern allies to crack down on Hamas fundraising in the region — paying particular attention to its ability to fundraise via cryptocurrency and third-party donations via regional charities and shell companies.
A top U.S. Treasury official visited Saudi Arabia earlier this week in an expedited meeting for the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, followed by a trip to Qatar — the U.S. ally that has both empowered Hamas over the years while playing a key role in diplomatic efforts to release hostages.
“This moment is critical,” U.S. Under Secretary Brian Nelson said, “to come together to assess our own exposure to the risk of terrorist financing, and to ensure appropriate controls are in place to protect not only our financial jurisdictions, but also human life.”
Australia called for a humanitarian pause in Gaza, shortly before Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is set to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington.
“We call for humanitarian pauses on hostilities so food, water, medicine and other essential assistance can reach people in desperate need, and so civilians can get to safety,” said Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong.
“The way Israel exercises its right to defend itself matters. It matters to civilians throughout the region, and it matters to Israel’s ongoing security,” she added.
The UN agency dedicated to Palestinian refugees said it will be forced to “make some very tough decisions” if fuel doesn’t enter Gaza via Rafah on Wednesday. UNRWA previously warned that it would be forced to cease operations by Wednesday night if fuel wasn’t delivered as part of a convoy of aid.
UNRWA further warned it would have to be more selective about where to deliver aid and how often depending on the next “critical” 24 hours, adding that fuel is needed for vehicles to distribute supplies to other UN agencies working in Gaza.
As companies around the world celebrate International Opera Day, the Israeli Opera has chosen to highlight the plight of its country’s hostages who were kidnapped by Hamas terrorists on October 7, particularly the hostages who are children.
The opera company has released a specially dedicated version of the song “Bring Him Home” from the musical Les Miserables on YouTube.
As the company’s performers sing the lyrics “He is young; He’s afraid; him rest; Heaven blessed: bring him peace, bring him joy, he is young, he is only a boy” photographs of the more than 20 under the age of 18 who are believed to be held in the Gaza Strip.
With the plea “Bring Them Home” the Israeli Opera said it was asking “each and every opera house across the globe to join the efforts towards the safe return of all Israelis who are held hostage in Gaza.”
Student groups on campuses across the United States are organizing walkouts on Wednesday afternoon demanding an end to what they describe as Israel’s “siege on Gaza” and the “Gaza Genocide.”
The national event is being organized by Students for Justice in Palestine – a driving force in the nationwide university campaigns against Israel since Hamas’s bloody incursion into Israel on October 7.
“I encourage the release of the hostages and the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza,” Pope Francis said, adding that he “continue[s] to pray for those suffering and hope for paths of peace in the Middle East and other regions wounded by war.”
“I am always thinking of the serious situation in Palestine and Israel,” the Pope said.
UNICEF, the UN children’s rights agency, called the situation in Gaza “a growing stain on our collective conscience.”
“The rate of death and injuries of children is simply staggering,” said Adele Khodr, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. More than 2,360 children have reportedly been killed in Gaza, with more than 5,360 wounded, the UN said, adding that over 30 Israeli children were killed during the Hamas attack, and dozens are currently held hostage in Gaza.
“Even more frightening is the fact that unless tensions are eased, and unless humanitarian aid is allowed, including food, water, medical supplies and fuel, the daily death toll will continue to rise,” she added.
The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee announced that it would hold a press conference on Thursday in the northern city of Nazareth following a police ban on a scheduled Jewish-Arab meeting that was supposed to be held in Haifa on the subject of the war and its consequences.
According to the committee, which is considered the umbrella organization of Arab society in Israel, the police threatened the owners of the hall where the event was slated to take place with closure if it went ahead as planned.
“This step is extremely dangerous and reveals a worsening of the fascist and anti-democratic attack. It is part of a political blockade against [Israel’s] Arab citizens, which includes preventing dialogue with progressive and democratic elements in Jewish society,” said committee chairman Mohammad Barakeh.
The police have yet to comment on the issue.
The prosecutor’s office submitted on Wednesday indictments to the Haifa Magistrate’s Court against two Arab citizens of Israel for inciting terrorism and identifying with a terrorist organization.
The first indictment was filed against a resident of Nahaf in northern Israel, who wrote in her WhatsApp status “Pride that will not be forgotten, 7.10.23, God let them win and keep them.”
A second indictment was filed against a resident of Rameh in northern Israel who posted a photo depicting armed Hamas operatives with the caption “Among the believers there are men who are true to what they promised God,” as well as a video of operatives next to rocket launchers captioned: “We did not come here to be martyrs, we came here to fight; we did not come here to kill men; we came here to defend our flag; we came to live and exist.”
According to the attorney’s office, the indictments were filed quickly following the state attorney’s directive to investigate and prosecute anyone who publishes words of support for the massacre committed by Hamas.
Since the beginning of the war, 18 additional indictments have been filed.
Britain would consider discussing a humanitarian pause in Gaza to facilitate aid coming into the territory, but does not want a wholesale ceasefire as that would only benefit Hamas militants, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson said.
A law under consideration by the German parliament would mean that people who have committed anti-Semitic acts can never be granted citizenship, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said on Wednesday.
“Our draft for the new citizenship law, which we will now discuss in the Bundestag, provides a clear exclusion of anti-Semites,” Faeser said in a statement issued after she met with Israeli ambassador to Germany, Ron Prosor.
She added that German authorities were “extremely vigilant” in regard to supporters of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in Germany, saying that any such person would be “prosecuted with the full force of the law.”
Jordan’s King Abdullah on Wednesday told French President Emmanuel Macron that ending the war in Gaza was an urgent necessity and warned that there could otherwise be an “explosion” in the region.
In a royal court statement, the monarch told Macron Israel should be pressured by global powers to stop its bombing campaign against civilians in the enclave and end its siege of its over two million residents.
At least 6,546 Palestinians, including 2,704 children, were killed and 17,439 wounded in Gaza since October 7, the spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry in Gaza, Dr. Ashraf al-Qudra, said on Wednesday. He added that 704 of them were children and 1584 were women.
According to al-Qudra, in the last 24 hours, 756 people were killed in attacks, of which 344 were minors. According to the ministry’s data, 65 percent of those killed since the beginning of the week were in the southern Gaza Strip, where Israel is urging residents to evacuate, claiming that these are safe areas.
Hamas has claimed responsibility for firing a rocket to Israel’s southernmost city, Eilat. The IDF has confirmed the report, adding that the rocket fell in an open area.
Hamas’ military wing, the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, took responsibility for the shooting into Haifa and said that it launched an R-160 rocket in response to the killing of civilians in Gaza.
Italy’s deputy prime minister condemned the words said by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Palestinian militant group Hamas, defining them “grave and disgusting”.
Matteo Salvini would suggest to Italy’s Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani to formally summon the Turkish ambassador to Italy, the deputy PM’s office said in a note.
Earlier on Wednesday Erdogan said that Palestinian militant group Hamas is not a terrorist organization but a liberation group waging a battle to protect its land, in a speech to his party’s lawmakers in parliament
The head of Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial has criticized UN Secretary General António Guterres for his remarks on the Gaza war.
Dani Dayan, chairman of Yad Vashem, said on Wednesday of the controversy: “The slaughter of Jews by Hamas on October 7 was genocidal in its intents and immeasurably brutal in its form. Part of why it differs from the Holocaust is because Jews have today a state and an army. We are not defenceless and at the mercy of others.
“However, it puts to test the sincerity of world leaders, intellectuals and influencers that come to Yad Vashem and pledge ‘Never Again.’ Those who seek to ‘understand,’ look for a justifying context, do not categorically condemn the perpetrators, and do not call for the unconditional and immediate release of the abducted – fail the test. UN Secretary General António Guterres failed the test,” Dayan said in a statement.
The IDF and Shin Bet announced that since the beginning of the war, their forces have arrested more than 930 wanted persons in the West Bank, 608 of them Hamas operatives.
According to the army, an extensive arrest operation took place overnight in the West Bank, in which 68 wanted persons were arrested, 58 of them Hamas operatives.
In Jenin, a drone attacked the terrorists attacking Israeli forces. The Palestinian Health Ministry in the West Bank reported earlier that since last night six Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank.
Jordan’s King Abdullah on Wednesday told French President Emmanuel Macron that ending the war in Gaza was an urgent necessity and warned that there could otherwise be an “explosion” in the region.
In a royal court statement, the monarch told Macron Israel should be pressured by global powers to stop its bombing campaign against civilians in the enclave and end its siege of its over two million residents.
The IDF announced that terrorists launched an anti-tank missile from Lebanese territory at an army tank in the Moshav Avivim area. There are no casualties.
IDF tanks and artillery forces are now attacking the source of the fire.
The IDF spokesman announced that the siren in northern Israel was activated due to a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip. According to the army, the rocket exploded in the air. No casualties are known.
Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett harshly criticized National Security Council head Tzachi Hanegbi’s statement praising Qatar’s efforts to return the abductees from the Gaza Strip.
“The Israeli government is making a grave moral and practical error,” said Bennett. “Qatar is not an ‘essential partner for humanitarian operations and diplomatic operations.’ Qatar is the enemy itself. Qatar finances, assists and strengthens the terrorist organization Hamas-Daesh [ISIS]. Israel’s stated goal is the destruction of Hamas. Qatar’s goal is exactly the opposite: saving Hamas.”
According to Bennett, Qatar “creates manipulations as if it were humanitarian and will wave in front of us limited deals of prisoners every few days, in order to confuse Israel and stop its efforts to destroy Hamas.”
The IDF announced that both navy and air forces and the Gaza Division killed two terrorists last night who tried to enter Israeli territory in the Zikim area through a tunnel.
According to the army, warplanes and navy forces attacked the pit from which the terrorists came out and the warehouse of weapons they used.
IDF aircraft and artillery units targeted a terrorist cell that attempted to carry out a cross-border shooting from Lebanon into Israeli territory near the Israeli border town of Zar’it.
Israel entered its 19th day of war with Hamas since the massacre in southern Israel on October 7 that killed at least 1,300 Israelis and wounded more than 3,300. The IDF’s Spokesperson Daniel Hagari maintained that there are currently 222 hostages held in the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli police announced that they have identified the bodies of 798 civilians who were murdered in the war so far. The police statement said that this constitutes 84 percent of the civilians who were murdered. The IDF spokesman informed that so far the army has notified the families of 308 soldiers who were killed in the war.
- Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi on Wednesday described on X the diplomatic intervention by Qatar in humanitarian aspects of the war with Hamas in Gaza as “crucial at this time,” adding “I’m pleased to say that Qatar is becoming an essential party and stakeholder in the facilitation of humanitarian solutions.” Soon after, Qatar’s prime minister said that he hopes there will be a breakthrough on hostage release ‘soon.’
- The IDF and the Shin Bet announced that they killed the commander of Hamas’ northern Khan Yunis battalion, who carried out attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians, according to the army. In the announcement, it was stated that Tisir Mbasher was close to senior Hamas officials including the head of the military arm, Muhammad Deif, and held several positions in the production of weapons and served as the commander of the organization’s naval force.
- The IDF also announced that in the past day the Air Force attacked hundreds of military and government targets belonging to Hamas and killed Hamas operatives. According to the army, terrorist infrastructures of the organization were destroyed in the attacks, including tunnel shafts, military headquarters, weapons depots and launching positions for mortar shells and anti-tank missiles.
- Hezbollah chief Hassan Nassrallah met with the head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad Ziad Nahleh and deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau Saleh al-Arouri. According to a Hezbollah statement, the three discussed the latest events in the Gaza Strip including the ongoing clashes on Lebanon’s border with Israel. It was agreed to continue coordination and regular monitoring of developments on a daily and regular basis, the statement added. The IDF continued to strike targets in Lebanon including terrorist cells that fired anti-tank missiles towards Israel.
- The Palestinian Health Ministry in the West Bank reported six deaths from Israeli fire. The IDF spokesperson stated that a drone targeted terrorists in the Jenin refugee camp after they shot and threw explosives at the security forces.
- The IDF’s West Bank commander, Brig. Gen. Avi Bluth met with the Israeli security officers and the heads of the settlements in the West Bank, and told them: “We took the gloves off in our war with Hamas in Judea and Samaria as well.”
- The army’s statement said that Bluth told those present that since the beginning of the war, more than 930 wanted persons and about 600 Hamas operatives have been arrested in the West Bank. “We are going to see more offensive operations to cleanse terrorist nests like what was done in the Nur al-Shams refugee camp,” he said.
- In Gaza, a fourth convoy of 20 aid trucks passed through the Rafah crossing from Egypt into Gaza. The UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) release a statement saying their shelters are four times above their capacity and that many people are sleeping in the streets. They added that at least 40 UNRWA installations have been impacted and that nearly 600,000 Palestinians are internally displaced sheltering in 150 UNRWA facilities.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Palestinian militant group Hamas is not a terrorist organization but a liberation group waging a battle to protect its land.
In a speech to his party’s lawmakers in parliament, Erdogan said Israel had taken advantage of Turkey’s good intentions and that he will not go to Israel as previously planned.
The note found instructs Hamas operatives to carry out ‘merciless slaughter’ of residents of Gaza border communities. The note included an order to kill as many Jews as possible, and an encouragement that they would go down in Muslim history and become a symbol of Jihad. According to the IDF spokesman, the note instructed Hamas members to decapitate, dismember, and disembowel whoever they encountered.
Qatar’s prime minister said on Wednesday that the only way to reach a peaceful solution in Gaza is to keep communication channels open, and he hopes there will be a breakthrough on hostage release ‘soon.’
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, who is also the minister of foreign affairs, added in a press conference with the Turkish foreign minister in Doha that Qatar will continue coordinating with Turkey and regional partners to de-escalate the crisis.
He added: “Qatar condemns the collective punishment policy” on Gaza.
Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi on Wednesday described diplomatic intervention by Qatar in humanitarian aspects of the war with Hamas in Gaza as “crucial at this time.”
“I’m pleased to say that Qatar is becoming an essential party and stakeholder in the facilitation of humanitarian solutions,” Hanegbi said in an English-language post on the social-media platform X.
The Hezbollah-affiliated Al Mayadeen news reported that the IDF recently struck the village of Ayta al Shaab in southern Lebanon.
The Knesset approved a first reading a bill banning the consumption of content defined as “terrorist publications” by Hamas and ISIS.
This is a temporary order that should, if it passes its second and third readings, allow for a limited period of two years to prosecute those consuming publications “which include words of praise, sympathy or encouragement for acts of terrorism.”
In the bill’s explanation, it states that if consumption is determined that consumption of such publication is done randomly or in good faith then it will not be considered prohibited and will not result in prosecution.
Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said while inspecting military units in Suez on Wednesday that Cairo is playing a very positive role in de-escalating Gaza crisis.
Sisi also said that in light of current events it is important to “use capabilities wisely.”, adding that the army’s role is to secure Egyptian borders.
He added that it is very important to rely on a diplomatic solution for the Palestinian cause.
The police announced that they have identified the bodies of 798 civilians who were murdered in the war so far. The police statement said that this constitutes 84 percent of the civilians who were murdered. The IDF spokesman informed that so far the army has notified the families of 308 soldiers who were killed in the war.
The IDF’s West Bank commander, Brig. Gen. Avi Bluth met with the Israeli security officers and the heads of the settlements in the West Bank, and told them: “We took the gloves off in our war with Hamas in Judea and Samaria as well.”
The army’s statement said that Bluth told those present that since the beginning of the war, more than 930 wanted persons and about 600 Hamas operatives have been arrested in the West Bank. “We are going to see more offensive operations to cleanse terrorist nests like what was done in the Nur al-Shams refugee camp,” he said.
Bluth added that the IDF “will do everything to maintain the resident’s security, especially in these difficult days… We are aggressive, we do not contain incidents but eliminate them, and beyond defense, we act in a significant way to thwart terrorism.”
Qatari mediators on Tuesday are urging Hamas to quicken the pace of hostage releases to include women and children held in Gaza and to do so without expecting Israeli concessions, according to three diplomats and a source in the region familiar with the talks, as Israel readies a ground assault on the enclave.
The Gulf state, in coordination with the U.S., is leading mediation talks with Hamas and Israeli officials over the release of more than 200 hostages captured in the Palestinian terror group’s cross-border onslaught on October 7.
Hamas on Monday freed two Israeli civilian women captives from the besieged enclave following the release of two hostages with dual U.S.-Israeli nationality on Friday. Qatar is now discussing a larger release of civilians with Hamas and Israel, a fifth source told Reuters on Tuesday after being briefed on the negotiations. The source said the talks were progressing.
The talks are not about any of the Israeli soldiers held by Hamas, the diplomats and regional source familiar with the talks said. Hamas says such captive soldiers are strategic assets the group can eventually exchange for major concessions from Israel.
Some 222 people aged from 9 months to 85 years were seized on Oct. 7 when Hamas and other militants went on a killing spree through southern Israel, shooting motorists, hunting down civilians including children in their own homes, and burning and stabbing people to death, according to survivors’ accounts.
The UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) release a statement saying their shelters are four times above their capacity and that many people are sleeping in the streets.
They added that at least 40 UNRWA installations have been impacted and that nearly 600,000 Palestinians are internally displaced sheltering in 150 UNRWA facilities.
The IDF Spokesperson Daniel Hagari said during a press conference that Iran is currently assisting Hamas with intelligence-sharing and with anti-Israel messaging online.
Hagari also said that when Iranian proxies in Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon take action, it’s under orders from Tehran. He said that the IDF struck 5 Lebanese terror cells in the past day.
He further warned the residents of northern Gaza to move south before the ground invasion begins adding they should not listen to Hamas telling them to remain in place. He continued saying that they will be able to return to northern Gaza after the war ends.
Hagari updated the death toll of IDF soldiers to 308, and maintained the reported number of 222 hostages in Gaza.
The IDF and the Shin Bet killed the commander of Hamas’ northern Khan Yunis battalion, who carried out attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians, according to the army.
In the announcement, it was stated that Tisir Mbasher was close to senior Hamas officials including the head of the military arm, Muhammad Deif, and held several positions in the production of weapons and served as the commander of the organization’s naval force.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nassrallah met with the head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad Ziad Nahleh and deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau Saleh al-Arouri.
According to a Hezbollah statement, the three discussed the latest events in the Gaza Strip including the ongoing clashes on Lebanon’s border with Israel. It was agreed to continue coordination and regular monitoring of developments on a daily and regular basis, the statement added.
It was also reported that they discussed the manner in which the “axis of resistance” should act in order to achieve a “real victory” in Gaza. In a photograph circulated from the meeting, the three are seen sitting while on the wall hang the pictures of the supreme leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, and of the spiritual father of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini.
An Israeli attack on military positions in southwest Syria on Wednesday killed eight soldiers and wounded seven more, the Syrian state news agency (SANA) reported.
Citing a military source, SANA said Israel’s “aerial aggression” targeted a number of military positions near the southwestern city of Deraa. The strike also caused material damage, it reported.
The attack took place at around 1:45 a.m. on Wednesday (2245 GMT on Tuesday), SANA reported.
Israel’s military said earlier that its jets had struck Syrian army infrastructure and mortar launchers early on Wednesday in what it described as a response to rocket launches from Syria toward Israel.
The IDF announced that in the past day the Air Force attacked hundreds of military and government targets belonging to Hamas and killed Hamas operatives. According to the army, terrorist infrastructures of the organization were destroyed in the attacks, including tunnel shafts, military headquarters, weapons depots and launching positions for mortar shells and anti-tank missiles.
We can cautiously predict that in the end, there will be an Israeli ground operation in the Gaza Strip. It apparently won’t be everything that gung-ho pundits are envisioning in their television studios, but Israeli troops will enter at least parts of Gaza.
But the extent, time and nature of these maneuvers will be determined by the triangle comprised of the U.S. administration, the Israeli war cabinet and the IDF brass. And they may well be postponed for several more days, or even longer.
A CNN report disclosed that a small group of Hamas operatives planned the massacre against Israel on October 7 by communicating over a network of hardwired phones inserted into their tunnel system to avoid detection and tapping by Israeli intelligence.
According to the report, over the span of two years, Hamas avoided using cellphone and computers, and met in person to plan the attack through “old-fashioned counterintelligence measures.”
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres posted on X in attempt to make a balanced statement after causing widespread condemnation from Israeli officials for his controversial assertion Tuesday that the Hamas attack on October 7 “did not happen in a vacuum,” suggesting that Israeli shared responsibility for the deadliest assault on the Jewish people since the Holocaust.
The Palestinian Health Ministry in the West Bank reported that four people were killed by Israeli fire. IDF spokesperson stated that Israeli forces arrested two terror suspects and that it fired on four armed terrorists.
The IDF spokesman also added that a drone targeted terrorists in the Jenin refugee camp after they shot and threw explosives at the security forces.
Florida’s university system, working with Governor Ron DeSantis, ordered colleges on Tuesday to shut down a pro-Palestinian student organization, marking the first U.S. state to outlaw the group whose national leadership backed Hamas’ attack on Israel.
The State University System of Florida said chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) had to be dismantled as part of a “crack down” in the Republican-led state on campus demonstrations that provide “harmful support for terrorist groups.”
“Based on the National SJP’s support of terrorism, in consultation with Governor DeSantis, the student chapters must be deactivated,” the system’s Chancellor Ray Rodrigues wrote in a memo to university leaders.
SJP is active in at least two Florida universities, Rodrigues said.
The University of North Florida in Jacksonville and Florida State University in Tallahassee have SJP chapters, based on Instagram sites. The National SJP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The commander of the IDF’s 13th Golani Brigade, Lt. Col. Tomer Greenbaum, said Tuesday that his troops are preparing for a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. “This time,” he added, “we will have the element of surprise. We will come with a concentrated force, with all of the advanced capabilities and high standard of the Brigade – and we will be victorious.”
U.S. intelligence officials have “high confidence” that an explosion at a Gaza hospital last week was caused by a Palestinian rocket that broke up mid-flight, and not by Israel, a U.S. official said on Tuesday.
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said 471 people were killed in the blast at Al-Ahli al-Arabi Hospital last week. Palestinians and Arab states said an Israeli air strike hit the hospital.
Israel said the blast was caused by a failed rocket launch by Islamic Jihad, which has denied responsibility.
U.S. President Biden said a day after the incident, while visiting Tel Aviv, that the explosion appeared to be the result of an errant rocket fired by a “terrorist group”, echoing Israel’s view.
U.S. media reported the U.S. intelligence assessment on Tuesday, citing a briefing with reporters. The U.S. official declined to be named as the information remained confidential.
The officials said there was still uncertainty around the death toll and the number of injuries, the New York Times reported. The officials said there was little damage to the hospital and the structure did not collapse, it reported.
The intelligence assessment was based on Israeli intercepts of Palestinian groups, publicly available video, communications intercepts provided by the Israelis and images of the blast and the aftermath, the officials told the newspaper.
An unclassified U.S. intelligence report seen by Reuters two days after the blast estimated the death toll was “probably at the low end of the 100 to 300 spectrum” but added that the assessment may evolve.
IDF Chief of Staff Herzl Halevi convened a press conference on Monday, the third since the war began. Not a pompous proclamation on prime time, and not a meticulously edited video clip. He was asked questions and gave answers.
That is what is expected of a democratic country’s military commander, even one who failed horribly. That is what is expected of the political leadership. But even on the 18th day of the war, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant have not mustered the courage to face the media.
Families of the Israelis taken hostage by Hamas were subjected to pressure by Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on Tuesday to cancel their scheduled meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres over controversial remarks he delivered earlier in the day.
Several of the families met with Guterres nonetheless, unwilling to squander the opportunity for a personal meeting with the world’s top diplomat.
U.S. President Joe Biden said Tuesday that “the Israelis are making their own decisions” when asked by reporters whether the United States was pressuring Israel to postpone a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.
The IDF said early Wednesday that it carried out a drone strike against armed Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp during an arrest operation.
According to a statement, Palestinians opened fire and threw explosive devices at Israeli forces who had arrested two terror suspects in area. The military said a drone was called in to neutralize the threat. The IDF added that there were no Israeli causalities.
The Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service said two Palestinians were killed, with others injured, some of them critically. Islamic Jihad said that one of its members, Mahmoud al-Fayad, 20, was killed in the drone strike.
The Israeli military said early Wednesday that its fighter jets have attacked military infrastructure and mortar launchers belonging to the Syrian army in response to rocket fire at Israel on Tuesday.
S&P Global revised Israel’s outlook to “negative” from “stable” on Tuesday, citing risks that the Israel-Hamas war could spread more widely with a more pronounced impact on the economy and security situation in the country.
Last week, peer Fitch placed Israel’s sovereign debt rating of “A+” on rating watch negative and warned that a major escalation of the ongoing conflict with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas could result in a negative rating action.
“We currently assume the conflict will remain centered in Gaza and last no more than three to six months,” S&P said in a statement.
S&P could revise the outlook to “stable” if the conflict is resolved, resulting in a “reduction in regional and domestic security risks without a material longer-term toll on Israel’s economy and public finances.”
It added that international support could mitigate some of the negative macroeconomic effects on Israel.
The agency affirmed the country’s “AA-/A-1+” long-term and short-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings.