News Digest — 10/9/23

Israel Shifts to ‘Offensive Phase’ Of Gaza Operation  After 700 Killed, 100 Held Hostage

Israel’s Cabinet early on Sunday (8th) made a series of decisions marking the start of the offensive phase of “Operation Swords of Iron,” ordering the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the “destruction of the military and governing capabilities of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”

“We are embarking on a long and difficult war that was forced on us by a murderous Hamas attack,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We will restore security to the citizens of Israel, and we’ll win,” he vowed.

“The first stage is ending at this time with the destruction of the vast majority of the enemy forces that infiltrated our territory. At the same time, we have begun the offensive phase, which will continue with neither limitations nor respite until the objectives are achieved,” he added.

Among the Cabinet’s decisions was to halt the supply of electricity, fuel and goods to the Gaza Strip.

On Saturday night (7th), the cabinet officially approved a war situation and the taking of significant military steps, as per Article 40 of Basic Law: The Government.

“The war that was forced on the State of Israel in a murderous terror assault from the Gaza Strip began at 6 a.m. Saturday 7 Oct.2023,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Hamas killed at least 700 and wounded more than 2,700 on Saturday (7th) in a massive offensive launched from the Gaza Strip, including firing thousands of rockets and sending hundreds of terrorists to infiltrate the Jewish state.

Israel on Sunday (8th) said that more than 100 Israelis, including children, disabled and elderly, were being held captive in Gaza.

Overnight Saturday (7th), Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip continued to fire rockets at Israel’s southern region, with a direct hit reported on Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical center.  The projectile struck a bridge between hospital buildings and no casualties were reported, according to Channel 12.

Twenty-eight Israelis were hurt in rocket attacks overnight Saturday (7th) – Magen David Adom listing two as in serious condition.

Meanwhile, security forces, including 35 battalions, continued their search for Hamas infiltrators throughout southern communities.  Following a day-long standoff, hostages were freed in Kibbutz Be’eri and Ofakim.

Control was also regained over the area surrounding the police station in Sderot, where ten Hamas terrorists were killed after Israel Police ordered the building destroyed.

The Israeli Navy announced its sailors had killed five Palestinian terrorists hiding on Zikim Beach near the border with Gaza. 

“We neutralized most of the significant battles in the Gaza Envelope and began to evacuate residents.  We have long days ahead of us,” the IDF Spokesperson told the media on Sunday, (8th).

The IDF gained control over 29 infiltration points along the border fence and at sea, he said, noting that hundreds of terrorists had been killed and dozens captured.

“There were battles in which commanders and fighters fought heroically against terrorists, and some of them also fell,” added the spokesperson as he announced that at least 26 soldiers were among those killed during the fighting.

The Israel Police said 30 of its officers had been killed since Saturday morning (7th).  “We are far from announcing that we have succeeded in eliminating all the terrorists who entered Israeli territory,” Ynet quoted police spokesperson Eli Levy as saying.

On Israel’s northern front, the IDF hit targets in southern Lebanon with artillery on Sunday morning (8th) after Hezbollah terrorists there fired mortars at the Jewish state.  There were no reports of casualties or damage.

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for Sunday’s (8th) fire, saying it targeted three Israeli military sites in solidarity with the “Palestinian resistance.”

In Judea and Samaria Sunday (8th), Israeli troops arrested 19 Hamas operatives.



Israel Calls On UN To Condemn Hamas War Crimes

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, on Saturday (7th) called on the UN Security Council to immediately condemn Hamas.  “It is now time for the international community including the Security Council to unequivocally condemn the appalling terror attacks carried out by Hamas and all terrorist organizations against the civilians of Israel.”

“Israel expects and demands the solidarity and support of all those in the international community who oppose this barbaric terrorism and the targeting of innocent men, women and children for slaughter.  It will not tolerate moral equivalence between those defending against this terrorism  and those perpetrating it.  There can be no option other than zero tolerance for Hamas’ war crimes and genocidal agenda.”

The State of Israel will act in any way necessary to protect its citizens and sovereignty from the ongoing terrorist attacks originating from Gaza and carried out by Hamas and other terrorist organizations.  We will not stand idly by as Israelis are attacked and killed.”



In Support Of Israel, US Sending Aircraft Carrier Group To Eastern Mediterranean

The United States will be moving a carrier strike group closer to Israel, which includes the Ford carrier and ships that support it, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Sunday (8th).

Austin also added that the United States will provide munitions to Israel and that its security assistance would begin moving on Sunday (8th)

Earlier, two US officials said the Pentagon will also be adding fighter jets in the region.  The Pentagon has ordered the Ford carrier strike group to sail to the eastern Mediterranean to be ready to assist Israel.

The USS Gerald R. Ford and its approximately 5,000 sailors and deck of warplanes will be accompanied by cruisers and destroyers in a show of force that is meant to be ready to respond to anything, from possibly interdicting additional weapons from reaching Hamas and conducting surveillance.

Hamas launched its unprecedented attack out of Gaza on Saturday (7th).  At least 700 people have been reported killed in Israel.

The Norfolk, Virginia-based carrier was already in the Mediterranean.  Last week it was conducting naval exercises with Italy in the Ionian Sea.  It’s the United States newest and most advanced aircraft carrier and this is its first full deployment.



Israelis Rush Back From US To Join The Fighting

Israelis were rushing to find a way to fly from the US back home to join the fighting against Hamas despite airlines canceling their scheduled flights. 

Noy Leyb opened a WhatsApp group to help IDF reservists around the world to find a way home. He himself managed to get on an El Al flight overnight Sunday (8th), having paid $2500, an exceptionally high price.  “My dad told me I was nuts to come, but there is no question in my mind,” he said.  “I am a Zionist and there is no way that my friends would be there and I would not, no matter the financial cost.”

He is a Canadian reservist in the paratroopers and a tech entrepreneur who founded his own company in New York.  He came to Israel on his own to serve in the military and his family followed and settled in the north.  His brother who lives in Tel Aviv had already joined his unit.

“I’ve not slept,” he says.  “I keep asking myself what I’m doing here.  I see pictures of my friends gearing up and asking for a ride to their base and I’m going crazy.  I made a million calls and purchased a ticket on United Airlines.  But that flight was canceled.  Then I found one on Delta and that flight was canceled.”  Leyb finally found a seat on El Al to Tel Aviv. “People are trying to find any way they can to get back,” he said.

Yotam Avahami, a businessman from New York said it took him all of 10 minutes to decide he must get back and join the fighting.  “I grew up 50 minutes from Gaza.  I have a wife and a seven-month-old baby girl, a full business operation and customers but I’m setting it all aside to get back to help out,” he said.

Avrahami is a reservist in the Armored Corps and spent hours searching for a flight.  “My crew is there, and I have friends who are officers and need people.”

The Israeli community in New York organized quickly, making arrangements to host Israelis stuck in the city because of flight cancellations.  They organized a meeting to offer support in the Jewish center in Manhattan for people who want to be together and support each other.

The Israeli Consulate opened a war room to assist in the consular bureaucracy and organized volunteers to post on social media.  Jewish organizations around the country were quick to condemn the Hamas attack and projected a united front.

Eviatar Shamsayev, a 35-year-old teacher originally from Jerusalem says he has friends among the missing.  He said he was inspired to return to Israel by other teachers at his Manhattan school.  “It was reminiscent of how people reacted at the outbreak of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.  Then too people did whatever they could to get back to Israel,” he said.

“We are a group of 50 people who have not been in the reserves for years because we’ve been living abroad, but now everyone will be volunteering for service.  This is a fight to protect our home.  My blood boils.  My sister has been calling me from her shelter, crying.”

He said a WhatsApp group was opened for those who cannot leave but want to help by sending packages or money.  “We’ve had a huge response.  There are no liberals vs conservatives, now.  Everyone is united in support of Israel,  The equation has changed,” he said.     



Hamas’ Surprise Attack A Reminder of israel’s Existential Peril – Editorial

The scenes of Israeli civilians gunned down in the streets, children and grandmothers taken hostage, and Palestinians cheering it all, are awful to behold.  Israel is on the front lines, but all the democratic world is a target.

One myth busted is that Palestinians will live in peace with Israel if they get a state of their own.  Not so long as Hamas and Islamic Jihad can terrorize and dominate Palestinians.  Israel ceded Gaza to the Palestinians in 2005, but Hamas took over in 2007 and assassinates anyone in the territory who challenges its goal of expelling the Jews from all of Israel.

And please no more condemnation of Israel’s“blockade” or “occupation.”  Israel has been allowing 17,000 Gazans to work in Israel each day and would like to allow more.  No Israeli government can afford to give up control of more territory and that could become a launching point for Hamas attacks.

The temptation at the White House will be to give Israel a week or so to respond with a free hand, and then lean on the Netanyahu government to stand down.  That is always the US pattern, but it shouldn’t be this time.

The attacks on Israel, horrible as they are, at least provide some moral clarity about the stakes in the Middle East.  One side seeks the destruction of Israel and the Jews, while the other arms itself to protect its citizens and state from that destruction. (Wall Street Journal)



Col. Richard Kemp: Iran, Russia Behind Hamas Attack

The war launched by the Hamas terror group in Gaza on Saturday (7th) was jointly orchestrated by Iran and Russia, former British military commander in Afghanistan, Colonel Richard Kemp, said on Sunday (8th).  The former British military commander said the attack was too sophisticated for the Gaza-ruling terror group.

Over 700 Israelis were killed, 2,700 were injured and more than 100 are being held captive in the surprise attack, which began with a coordinated breach of Gaza’s border fence and thousands of rockets targeting southern Israel, and reaching as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

“This attack has been called Israel’s 9/11 by some people, or Israel’s Pearl Harbor, both of which were also accompanied by tragic intelligence failure,” Kemp told Israel National News.

“Iran’s hand was behind this attack… Iran is dedicated to the annihilation of the Jewish State as their leaders have repeated again and again.” he said.

Kemp also pointed to Russia’s involvement, citing its alliance with Iran and shared activities in the Ukraine war.  “Leaders of Islamic Jihad and Hamas have visited Moscow in the last few months meeting senior Russian government officials,” Kemp said.

According to the former commander, Russia’s objective is to cause turmoil in the Middle East, thereby diverting US attention from Ukraine. 

Both countries also aim to thwart the budding normalization discussions between Saudi Arabia and Israel, he said.  Commenting on the implications, he stated, “It is hard to assess the impact this will have on the negotiations with Saudi Arabia, but it will certainly complicate negotiations and may even lead to their temporary abandonment.”

Regarding Israel’s potential response, Kemp stated that Israel might need to employ unprecedented measures against Hamas and Islamic JIhad, possibly resulting in extended ground operations in Gaza.  “I think the immediate goal will be to destroy Hamas and Islamic Jihad as viable terrorist bodies.” he commented.

Addressing the issue of hostages, Kemp called it Israel’s greatest challenge.  While he believes rescuing the dispersed hostages might prove difficult, he emphasized Israel’s unwavering commitment to attempt rescues.  Kemp also hopes for international pressure on the terrorists holding the hostages.

“Rescuing large numbers of people, no doubt dispersed in secure locations around Gaza may well be impossible but I have no doubt the Israeli government, intelligence, and the IDF will make every conceivable effort to do so.”

Kemp concluded by urging Western nations, particularly the US, to acknowledge Iran and Russia’s roles in the conflict.  He called for solidarity with Israel, advocating for active countering of “the  anti-Israel narrative that will be boosted by Israel’s necessary actions to defend its population.”



Israel At War: Thousands Respond to MDA’s Blood Drive

Thousands of Israelis flocked to blood donation centers on Saturday (7th) and Sunday (8th), responding to Magen David Adom (MDA)’s call for blood, leading to an unexpectedly high turnout of people.

The volume prompted MDA, Israel’s national emergency medical service, to ask donors to pause their offers to give blood.  The requests had been publicized due to hundreds of Israelis who have been hospitalized, as a result of the number of terrorist attacks on Saturday (7th).

In an official statement, MDA said on Saturday (7th), “Due to a tremendous overload of people wanting to donate blood, we request that people stop coming for now.  We will notify you when it will be possible to come and donate blood again.”

The statement further highlighted that starting from 10:30 a.m. Saturday (7th), MDA’s blood services began their donation initiative, urging especially those with type O blood, but also donors of all other blood types, to participate.

Currently, an updated list of added blood donation centers has been posted by Magen David Adom making it easier and more organized for those who still want to donate blood throughout Israel.