News Digest — 11/20/23

Hamas Terrorists Took Hostages Into Hospital, Shifa Cameras Prove

The Shin Bet and the IDF on Sunday night (19th) disclosed a video showing Hamas bringing back two foreign hostages, a Thai man and a Nepalese man, to Al-Shifa Hospital on October 7.

One video shows a group of Hamas terrorists dragging a man into one of the hospital entrances, clearly against his will since he openly resists, though he is overpowered.

Another video shows a man on a stretcher who appears to have been wounded in his chest, with blood coming out, as well as one with his legs severed.

The IDF did not identify which foreign hostage appeared in each video but said that the videos were obtained by internal hospital footage, though it took several days to get them..

In addition, the terrorists entered Shifa hospital with a captured IDF military Jeep.

However, the IDF said that the videos were clear evidence that Hamas used Shifa as an operations center connected to the October 7 attacks on Israel’s South and the taking of hostages.

There was no statement by the IDF about where these hostages are now, but in recent statements, IDF officials speculated that several Hamas terrorists had escaped from Shifa with hostages.

Besides these videos, the IDF had already shown that it found bodies of Israelis killed on October 7.

IDF Rear-Adm. Daniel Hagari also revealed that Intelligence has shown that Israeli hostage Noa Marciano, was killed in Shifa. This is in contrast to Hamas’ narrative that she was killed by Israeli airstrikes.  Hagari said that Marciano had been wounded at some point, but that a pathology report said she was later dealt deadly blows by Hamas in the hospital.



Gallant: Hezbollah has fired Over 1,000 Munitions At Israel Since Start Of War

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told reporters Sunday (19th) that Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group had fired 1,000 munitions at Israel since October 7, warning that Tehran was intensifying its attacks against the Jewish state.

The comments came as Hezbollah launched more rocket and missile attacks and instigated drone infiltrations at northern Israeli communities Sunday (19th), undeterred by the stormy weather, leading Israeli forces to respond against targets belonging to the terror group in Lebanon.

“Iran is the root of hostility and aggression against the State of Israel.  The war is multifront, even though the intensity is focused on Gaza,” Gallant said.

“Since the beginning of the war, Hezbollah has fired more than 1,000 munitions at Israeli targets but suffers far more significant harm.  We’re thwarting [missile and rocket] squads and hitting military assets and targets – Hezbollah pays a heavy price every day,” he said.

He also said that in the West Bank, “there are many attempts to carry out terrorist attacks against Israelis that are thwarted every day by the IDF and Shin Bet.”

“In recent days, the defense establishment has identified a growing trend of Iran working to intensify attacks by the militias against Israel through its proxies in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.  We are following, and will know how to act at the appropriate time, place and strength,” Gallant added.

Since Hamas’ assault on Israel on October 7 and during the subsequent war inside Gaza, where Israel seeks to topple the ruling Hamas terror group, the Iran-backed Hezbollah has conducted and overseen daily assaults on Israel’s northern border from Lebanon, but has stopped short of launching a full-scale campaign.

Israel, too, has sought to respond strongly to attacks while avoiding actions that would escalate the conflict as it seeks to keep its focus on Gaza.

The persistent skirmishes along the border have resulted in three civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of six IDF soldiers.

On the Lebanese side, nearly 100 have been killed.  The toll includes at least 74 Hezbollah members, eight Palestinian terrorists, a number of civilians and a Reuters journalist. 

Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hezbollah that it was “playing with fire.”

“There are those who think they can expand their attacks against our troops and against civilians.  This is “playing with fire,” Netanyahu said, without explicitly mentioning Hezbollah.  “Fire will be met with much stronger fire.  They must not try us, because we have displayed only a little part of our power.  We will harm those who harm us.”



Iran-Backed Militia Said It Hijacked Israeli Merchant Vessel

The Al-Hadath channel in Saudi Arabia reported Sunday (19th) that it had received information indicating that the Iranian-backed Houthi militia – which has taken over parts of Yemen – managed to seize an Israeli merchant vessel near the Persian Gulf coast.  The IDF later confirmed the incident, saying, “The hijacking of a cargo ship by the Houthis near Yemen in the southern Red Sea is a very grave incident of global consequence.  The ship departed Turkey on its way to India, staffed by civilians of various nationalities, not including Israelis.  It is not an Israeli ship.”  Israel Hayom has been able to confirm that it is partially owned by an Israeli, but it is not operated by Israel.  The Israeli government said this was “Iranian Terrorism.” 

The Prime Minister’s Office said the following: “Israel strongly condemns the Iranian attack against an international vessel.  The ship, which is owned by a British company and is operated by a Japanese firm, was hijacked with Iran guidance by the Yemenite Houthi militia.  Onboard the vessel are 25 crew members of various nationalities including Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Filipino, and Mexican.  No Israelis are onboard.  This is another act of Iranian terrorism and constitutes a leap forward in Iran’s aggression against the citizens of the free world, with international consequences regarding the security of the global shipping lanes.”

Recently, the head of the Houthi militia threatened to target Israeli ships in the Red Sea and the Houthis have fired missiles and drones on Israel, which were successfully intercepted.

According to the publication, the ship’s callsign is Galaxy Leader.

According to a ship-monitoring website, the ship was detected on Saturday (18th) in the Red Sea, sailing under the Bahamas’ flag.  In the past, Israel-owned vessels were attacked by Iranian entities even without carrying an Israeli flag.



Iran Issues Threat To Israel, US With New Hypersonic Weapon 

 Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Aerospace Force on Sunday (19th) unveiled the Fattah II, a hypersonic missile claimed to have the capacity to bypass the most advanced anti-ballistic missile systems of the United States and Israel, according to Reuters.

The missile, developed within Iran in spite of numerous sanctions from the West,  has a supposed range of 870 miles.

The first version, Fattah I was unveiled in June but the newer version contains a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) warhead that supposedly supports the weapon reaching maximum speed, Iran’s Tasnim News reported.

The source reported that the updated missile can reach speeds of Mach 5-20 (6,170-24,700 kph). 

The weapon was unveiled by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at Ashura Aerospace Science and Technology University, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).



Netanyahu: Israel Did Not Enter Gaza To Hand It Over To The Palestinian Authority – Tovah Lazaroff

Israel has no intention of handing Gaza over to the PA once the war is over, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday night (18th) as he rebuffed U.S. pressure to do so.  “The Palestinian Authority in its current form is not able to take responsibility for Gaza,” Netanyahu said.  “After we fought and did all this,  how could we hand it over to them?”

He noted that the PA head Mahmoud Abbas has yet to condemn the October 7 massacre, which sparked the Gaza war, adding that there are Palestinian ministers who are celebrating the event.  Moreover, the PA has a policy of paying monthly stipends to terrorists and their families, Netanyahu said, adding that it also educates its children to hate Jews.

Netanyahu recalled that after the IDF withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it handed it over to the PA, which was then ousted by Hamas in a violent coup in 2007.  “They [the PA] were already there, they were given Gaza and what happened?  They were destroyed and chased out of there in less than a year….It is impossible to put in Gaza an authority that supports terror, abets terror, and pays terrorists.”

“There is another condition I set for the day after: that the IDF will have complete freedom of action in Gaza against any threat.  Only in this way will we guarantee the demilitarization of Gaza.”  He added that Israel would only agree to a temporary ceasefire in exchange for the return of all the hostages.



Poll: 83% Of Palestinians in the West Bank Support The Oct. 7 Massacre

A poll of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza conducted by Birzeit University’s Arab World for Research & Development (AWRAD) between October 31 and November 7 found that 77% of Palestinians in the West Bank and 66% in Gaza believe that the Palestinians will emerge victorious from this war.

83% in the West Bank and 64% in Gaza “support the military operation carried out by Hamas on Oct. 7.”  88% in the West Bank and 60% in Gaza have a positive view of Hamas.  (62% in the West Bank but only 29% in Gaza say “very positive.”)

27% in the West Bank and 18% in Gaza have a positive view of Fatah.  12% in the West Bank and 8%  in Gaza have a positive view of the Palestinian Authority.  93% in the West Bank and 72% in Gaza have a positive view of Islamic Jihad.  

75% of Palestinians support a “Palestinian state from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] Sea,” while 17% support a “two-state solution.”  79% expect that the end of the war will lead to the release of the Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.



Bomb Squad Called To Synagogue In Lakewood, NJ After Grenade Found 

A bomb squad was called Sunday (19th) to a Hasidic synagogue in Lakewood, New Jersey after a grenade was found strapped to a utility pole nearby, according to local media reports.

Images published by the Lakewood Scoop from outside the Satmar synagogue showed the grenade taped to a pole across from the synagogue, with the area cordoned off with police tape.

Prosecutors said the state bomb squad arrived after police were notified of the grenade and “the device was found to be inert and nonexplosive.”

“There is no danger to the public and this remains an active and ongoing investigation,” Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer said.

There were no immediate reports of arrests and the law enforcement did not indicate any potential motive.

The incident in Lakewood, which has a major Jewish population, came amid surging anti-Semitism in the United States and elsewhere around the globe since the devastating Hamas onslaught in southern Israel on October 7 and Israel’s subsequent military offensive against the Gaza ruling terror group.

“At a time when communities are already experiencing a rise in hate, a grenade outside of a synagogue stokes fear in Lakewood, NJ, a hub of American Jewish religious life,” the Anti-Defamation League said.

“We urge law enforcement to thoroughly investigate this threat, and as a community, we will stay vigilant but we must not be intimidated.” it said.