News Digest — 10/16/23
Israel Denies Claims Of Ceasefire In Southern Gaza As Rafah Crossing Opens
No ceasefire has been agreed to in southern Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after reports claimed a ceasefire for the transport of foreign nationals and aid has been agreed upon.
Two Egyptian security sources told Reuters that Israel, the United States and Egypt agreed to a ceasefire in southern Gaza at 9 a.m., coinciding with Egypt’s opening of the Rafah border crossing for the evacuation of foreign nationals out of Gaza and humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.
The sources said the ceasefire would last for several hours but were not clear on the exact duration. They also said the three countries had agreed that Rafah would be open until 12 a.m. as a one-day initial re-opening.
Asked for confirmation, the Israeli military and the US Embassy in Israel had no immediate comment. This was not immediately confirmed by officials with Gaza’s governing Hamas either.
US Secretary Antony Blinken told reporters in Egypt that the crossing would open to humanitarian aid. “We’re putting in place – with the United Nations, with Egypt, with Israel and with others – the mechanism by which to get the assistance in and to get it to the people who need it,” said Blinken.
Earlier on Sunday (15th), National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN that Hamas had been preventing people from leaving Gaza through the Rafah crossing. Three US sources with knowledge of the situation told NBC as well that it remains unclear if Hamas will open their side of the Rafah crossing.
Gallant: This Is A War between Light And Darkness
“This is a war between the children of light and the children of darkness,” said Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday (15th) after going to the Yiftach military base in Zikim near the Gaza border. “It will be a deadly war.”
The defense minister toured the area and spoke with the soldiers serving there.
“What I saw here,” he said, “by our soldiers, men and women, all these people together protected the State of Israel with their bodies.”
“The bravery of the soldiers who attacked with their bare hands, sometimes with grenades, with weapons taken from terrorists, with the equipment they brought from home in the spur of the moment – these things are very impressive.”
“We are dealing with a culture that does not accept our existence here – human savages, beasts of prey, who murdered our soldiers, our children and our citizens, – Israeli forces will eliminate Hamas.”
“We will reach all the terrorist infrastructures, we will reach all the Hamas operatives, and we will finish our mission only when we have eliminated them all.”
Gallant then touched on the issue of missing Israeli citizens whose status has still not been confirmed.
“I received dozens of inquiries from families of abductees, missing persons, martyrs, – the State of Israel has suffered a severe blow. We are all in our hearts, with the bereaved families and those who are looking for their loved ones. We are making every effort to locate them.”
“Our intelligence organizations and our security forces are working day and night to try to get information on missing persons. This effort is happening parallel to the war effort.”
Finally, the defense minister stated that he had spoken with several US politicians, Chuck Schumer and Mitt Romney, in addition to US security officials from the Pentagon and the State department. They assured the Israeli people that the US would give Israel all the aid it needs to assist Israel in the current war.
Gaza Family Urges Israel To “Flatten The Strip”
An Arab Muslim family originally from the Gaza Strip, who have lived in Israel for more than three decades, are calling for the Israeli military to defeat Hamas, even if that entails widespread destruction to the coastal enclave.
Amit Tanabura, 20, was brutally gunned down in Sderot by Hamas terrorists during the massacre on October 7th.
Tanabura’s father and mother, who are originally from Gaza, settled in Sderot some 30 years ago. Their six children were born in Israel.
While the family has integrated into Israeli society, they are practicing Muslims – a fact which did not deter Hamas from murdering the young man.
On Saturday morning (Oct.7th), Amit Tanabura left his family with a friend to go to the store. They spotted a person lying wounded in the street – presumably after being shot – and Amit rushed over to attempt to render aid to the victim, his friend recounted.
This attracted the attention of the terrorists who opened fire and chased Amit Tanabura down as he fled.
Tanabura was struck multiple times. The terrorists gleefully filmed videos of his bullet-ridden body, posting the clips on TikTok.
“Three terrorists chased him, but he was unable to escape. They murdered him like that, for nothing, a good man who saw an injured person and wanted to help,” one brother Younes, told Sky News.
“There was no mercy,” another brother Ibrahm said. “They could have shot him once, but no – they shot him several times . Well-after he died he got a bullet, here, here and here.”
The Tanabura family told Sky News that Hamas must be removed from power in Gaza,by any means necessary.
“Hamas are murderers, they are terrorists. We should erase everybody, Gaza should be flattened. I have family in Gaza but I think Gaza should be flattened,” said one family member.”
“However, the dismantling of Hamas will not bring back our loved one, who we dearly miss,” the family said.
“Ibrahim said “He had a heart of gold. As they say, ‘God takes only the best.’ Next month he would have been 21.”
Iran Warns ‘Of Consequences’ If Israel Bombing of Gaza Not Stopped
Tehran warned of “far-reaching consequences” if the IDF’s bombing of Gaza is not stopped, as diplomats worked around the clock to prevent the Israel-Hamas war from escalating into a regional conflict that would include Hezbollah and Iran.
Iran has issued public warnings and sent a private message to Israel through the United Nations that it could intervene if Israel continued its military campaign to root Hamas out of Gaza, according to a report first published by the Walla news site and confirmed by The Jerusalem Post.
On Saturday (14th), Iranian Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian met with the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland in Beirut to discuss the situation.
Amirabdollahian later met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Qatar where they discussed the Palestinian terror group’s deadly attack on Israel “and agreed to continue cooperation” to achieve the group’s goals, Hamas said in a statement.
Amirabdollahian in that conversation praised the rampage as a “historic victory” that had dealt a setback to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations posted on X on Saturday (14th), “If the Israeli apartheid’s war crimes and genocide are not halted immediately, the situation could spiral out of control and ricochet to far-reaching consequences, the responsibility of which lies with the UN, the Security Council and the states steering the Council, toward a dead end.”
Iran’s UN mission spoke out a week into the war sparked by the October 7th assault by the Iranian proxy group Hamas on southern Israel in which over 1,300 civilians and soldiers were killed and over 150 were taken hostage. Israeli retaliatory aerial strikes have killed some 2,200 in Gaza as the IDF pushes to eliminate Hamas.
Israel has held that Iran is complicit in the October 7th attack, which came as the United States and Saudi Arabia were in the midst of discussing a security pact to protect the Kingdom against an attack from the neighboring Islamic Republic.
The Hamas assault is seen as a part of Tehran’s proxy war against Israel. President Joe Biden has warned Iran not to get involved, telling it, “be careful.”
In CNN Interview, President Herzog Reveals Hamas “Captive-Taking Handbook”
Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Sunday (15th), in an interview with CNN, presented evidence found on Hamas terrorists following the barbaric attack on the people of Israel a week ago. He showed viewers a booklet entitled “The Warrior’s Guide – Jihad Version,” issued and distributed by Hamas to terrorists in the field.
In addition , the President presented a shocking photo of atrocities in the massacre at Kibbutz Be’eri which he had just visited.
In the booklet, recovered on the battlefield from a Hamas terrorist who was killed after taking part in the attack on Israel, terrorists are advised in detail how to carry out a kidnapping. According to the description, the kidnappers are required to create chaos and intimidation, coercing and blindfolding captives, using electric shocks, and instructing them to execute any person who may pose a threat or distraction. They were also instructed to collect the captives and use them as human shields, if necessary, without distinction of religion, race or sex.
According to the barbaric text, similar to the terrorist organization ISIS, the terrorists are required to document their actions by livestreaming and executing hostages.
Also in the manual was a chapter explaining IDF ranks and their importance, as well as an explanation of the IDF’s means of warfare and technological capabilities.
Like – and even worse than ISIS – the text places cruel brutality at the heart of Hamas’ action.
In his interview, the President said, “We are faced with an extremely cruel, inhumane ending enemy which we have to uproot with no mercy. This booklet was found on the body of one of the terrorists. It is an instruction guide on how to go into civilian premises, into a kibbutz, a city, a moshav, and how to break in. What is the first thing you do when you find the citizens? You torture them. This is the booklet – it says exactly how to torture them, how to abduct them, how to kidnap them. So therefore, the story is not Israel versus Palestinians or Judaism versus Islam – God Forbid – the story is about humans, humanity, are we with the good or with evil? The battle we are carrying out now as a nation, rising up like a lion against evil, is to uproot evil so there will be good for the entire region and the world.”
He added, “There is no justification. It is simply an ISIS-type of ideology that wants to eliminate us off the ground, and therefore, they need to be eliminated off the ground.”
Israeli Murdered By Hezbollah Anti-Tank Fire, IDF Strikes In Lebanon
Several anti-tank missiles were fired by Hezbollah at IDF posts and the northern Israeli Moshav Shtula, near the Lebanese border, the IDF said on Sunday (15th).
Hezbollah took responsibility for the launch. The IDF said artillery forces targeted the source of the fire.
The IDF also struck targets in southern Lebanon throughout the day after four incidents of anti-tank fire at Israeli military positions in the North on Sunday (15th)
At least four civilians were reported wounded in the shooting on Shtula, with one man in his 40s murdered following failed resuscitation attempts, Magen David Adom said. The other wounded civilians were rushed to the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya for further treatment.
Later on Sunday (15th), residents of the northern border towns of Menara, Malkia, Yiftach, Margaliot and Ramot Naftali were told to seek shelter amid exchanges of fire at the border between Hezbollah and IDF forces.
The IDF on Sunday (15th) created a 2.5 mile security zone in northern Israel to keep any civilians out who do not live in the area until further notice. It said this was necessary after the continued firing of rockets, attempted invasions, and other tension on the northern border.
U.S. Defense Secretary In Israel: ‘Hamas is Worse Than ISIS” – Yonah Jeremy Bob
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant at IDF military headquarters in Tel Aviv over the weekend. Referring to Hamas’ assault on Israel, Austin said, “We have seen the horrific acts of the terrorist organization. As you know, I was the one who first planned the war on ISIS, so I know ISIS very well, and it’s worse than what I’ve seen with ISIS.”
“In times like these, sometimes the best thing a friend can do is just to show up and get to work. This is no time for neutrality or for false equivalence or for excuses for the inexcusable. There is never a justification for terrorism, and this is especially true after this rampage by Hamas…..The deliberate cruelty of Hamas vividly reminds me of ISIS – bloodthirsty, fanatical, and hateful. Like ISIS, Hamas has nothing to offer but zealotry, bigotry, and death.”
In response to a question about concerns of Palestinian civilians being harmed in Israel’s response in Gaza, Austin stressed that he fought alongside Israeli forces in the past, and they are professional, disciplined, and focused on the right things.”
In response to a question about Iran’s involvement in Hamas’ assault, Gallant stressed that “Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas are one axis. Everything is directed generally from Iran: permission is given by Iran, money is supplied by Iran, and ideas are shaped in Iran.”