Day Fifty-Two Of Swords Of Iron

Elon Musk is in Israel and met with President Herzog, and visited devastated kibbutz with PM Netanyahu.

Musk Netanyahu meet Israel November 27 2023 GPO photo

3:05 pm

An attempted hijacking of a commercial tanker Sunday in the Gulf of Aden was not carried out by Yemeni Houthis and instead appears to have been done by five Somali individuals, the Pentagon’s top spokesperson said. “We know that they’re not Houthi,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters. 

2:35 pm

Israel PM told the media in advance of a cabinet meeting, to approve a controversial wartime budget: “Regarding the hostages — we are continuing with the plan as agreed upon, and we are also continuing with the central goal we’ve stated: to secure the release of the hostages, to eliminate Hamas and to ensure this threat will not repeat itself in Gaza.” Netanyahu did  not comment on announcements by Qatar, the US, and Hamas that the sides have agreed to a two-day truce extension. Israeli officials have said they would agree to an additional day of truce for every 10 hostages released by Hamas.

According to the IDF, a a fourth hostage release ‘underway’, but an extension of the truce is not yet final. IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says that the fourth release of hostages is “underway," but did not specify what stage tonight’s hostage transfer has reached, and did not confirm that the hostages are in the hands of the Red Cross. He said a ceasefire extension has not been finalized. “We are managing a deal through mediators around the clock. Nothing is final until it actually happens,” he says. “Things are progressing, tonight as well, but patience is required.”

Denouncing Hamas for its propaganda videos showing the release of the hostages, Hagari said, “Dozens of videos of terrorists waving will not hide the brutality of Hamas.” He said that the fate of the Bibas family (father, mother and two children) lies with Hamas, even though they were handed over to another terrorist group. He said that 84-year-old Elma Avraham, who was released from Hamas captivity, remains in critical condition. “Last night, Elma Avraham was released from Hamas captivity. She was rushed to a hospital in critical condition. Elma is 84 years old, she is a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother,” Hagari said. “During the Hamas massacre of October 7th, Elma was taken hostage by savage terrorists. She was dragged into Gaza on the back of a motorbike. She was in Hamas captivity for 51 days and nights. She was kept in a harsh condition, denied life-saving medication, she was not visited by the Red Cross,” he said. "When she was released from captivity she was in a critical condition. Elma is a reminder of our critical mission. Now she is home [in Israel] and being taken care of. But who is taking care of the other hostages in Gaza,” he said. “Over 150 of our hostages, men, women, children, babies, who is taking care of them? Who is holding a 10-month-old baby, Kfir Bibas?” Hagari asks. “I’ll tell you, ruthless terrorists are holding him hostage in Gaza.”

“We call on international organizations, especially the Red Cross to use every tool at their disposal to gain access to our hostages, to make sure they are receiving the medical care they need,” he says.

“Our hostages are not lost, and we won’t sit around and hope they are found. We will rescue our hostages at all costs, it is our duty, our moral responsibility as the Israel Defense Forces. It’s why we fight, and why we must keep on fighting until all our hostages are home,” Hagari adds.

Hamas announces that it has received the list of Palestinian prisoners being released tonight, which includes three women and as many as 30 men aged 19 and under. Many of them were convicted of crimes such as stabbings in Israel. Nine of the prisoners are residents of East Jerusalem, and the remaining ones are believed to be from the West Bank.

Israel’s COGAT military liaison to the Palestinians announces that four fuel tankers were transferred into Gaza today. 200 trucks containing food, water, shelter equipment, and medical supplies are making their way into the enclave, COGAT says.

Israel's cabinet voted to extend Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron’s tenure for a second five-year term. While he was reportedly critical of PM Netanyahu's judicial reform, and would leave at the end of 2023, things changed with the outbreak of war. 

Hamas is slated to release six Thai hostages tonight in addition to 11 Israeli abductees. 

Hamas terror chief Yahya Sinwar reportedly visited several of the Israeli hostages who were being held in an underground tunnel in Gaza. He spoke to hostages in Hebrew without an accent, told them they were safe and should not fear. The story has been confirmed by the Israeli security establishment.

White House National Security  Council spokesman John Kirby confirmed that another 20 Israeli women and children will be released during the two-day extension of the ongoing truce between Israel and Hamas. Israel was to agree to a truce extension by an additional day for every 10 hostages released by Hamas. Kirby says that there was a hold-up because Hamas initially sought to release several children without their mothers, who are also being held in Gaza. He did not know whether the remaining two female US citizens being held in Gaza. There are six other male hostages who are US citizens and one male US Green Card holder. Kirby said the US “would… hope to see the pause extended further, but reiterates that this will depend on Hamas releasing additional hostages. He said 200 aid trucks entered Gaza yesterday for the third day as part of the truce, bringing the total to 2,000 since Oct. 21.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told troops that when Israel returns to fighting Hamas in Gaza, its “strength will be greater, and it will take place throughout the entire Strip.” Speaking to the Givati Infantry Brigade and of the Armored Corps, Gallant said: “You now have a few days, we will return to fighting, we will use the same amount of power and more.”

“Remember that while you are organizing and resting and investigating, the enemy is also doing the same,” he said. “You will meet something that is a little more ready. Therefore, [Hamas] will meet first the bombs of the Air Force, and after that the shells of the tanks and the artillery and the scoops of the D9 [bulldozers], and finally also gunfire of the infantry troops,” Gallant says.

“We will fight in the entire Strip,” he added.

2:15 pm

Human Rights Watch confirmed that the Al-Ahli Hospital blast in Gaza early in the war was caused by the terrorist group Islamic Jihad, not Israel. It was widely reported following the Oct. 7 onslaught by Hamas in Israel that an Israel missile struck the parking lot of the hospital. HRW also found that reports of a 500 death toll were fake and false. 

2:12 pm

When a distress signal went out from Israeli-owned freighter MV Central Park, the US Navy responded with a counter-piracy mission. Five pirates were arrested who attempted to flee when approached by the USS Mason. Later, the USS Mason came under fire from Houthi rebels in Yemen who fired ballistic missiles at the vessel, but missed.

9:14 am

During a live chat on X, featuring Israeli PM Netanyahu, Elon Musk said there is “no choice” but destroy Hamas terror for a better future for Gaza. Musk agreed with Netanyahu that Hamas seeks Jewish genocide. Musk said even though that he would like to help rebuild Gaza as an important step to preventing future war, “If you want security, peace and a better life for Gazans, then you need to destroy Hamas. You first have to get rid of the poisonous regime as was done in Germany and Japan...There’s no choice.” He said that civilian casualties are "unavoidable” but Israel seeks to avoid collateral damage. "You need to pair firmness and taking out the terrorists and those intent on murder, and at the same time help those that remain, which is what happened in Germany and Japan,” he said. He added: “Usually the victor punishes the loser.” 

8:21 am

Israeli PM Netanayahu and billionaire Elon Musk conducted a live broadcast from a kibbutz in Israel:

8:16 am

More than 1,000 far-left Jewish Americans and other pro-Palestinian activists blocked traffic at New York City’s Manhattan Bridge. NYPD stated, “Due to a demonstration, the Manhattan Bridge is closed in both directions. If possible, use alternative routes. Update to follow.” Allied pro-Palestine groups, including Rabbis for Ceasefire, blocked the bridge saying: "President Biden, pick a side! ceasefire now, not genocide!"

8:15 am

President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed the need to “surge” humanitarian assistance into Gaza, the White House said. Israel has agreed to allow in at least 200 trucks of aid on each day of the four-day ceasefire in addition to fuel while also ensuring that aid reaches northern Gaza which has been the section most damaged. Netanyahu also thanked Biden for his efforts to broker and implement the ongoing hostage deal. “The two leaders agreed that the work is not yet done and that they will continue working to secure the release of all hostages.” Biden and Netanyahu have spoken at least 15 times since the war's outbreak. 

8:10 am

On Nov. 26, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan was asked on a morning news show about President Biden’s response  to a question about whether he supports growing calls from the  the Democratic party to condition aid to Israel based on Jerusalem’s human rights record, particularly in the West Bank. “That’s a worthwhile thought, but I don’t think if I started off with that we’d have ever gotten to where we are today. We have to take this one piece at a time,” Biden responded at the time. Sullivan said, “President Biden acknowledged the idea, but he went on to say that his approach, which was high-level private diplomacy, has actually generated results." Sullivan pointed out the results of giving humanitarian aid to Gazans, after Israel initially blocked any from entering, prompting the exit of thousands of foreign nationals from Gaza, the first pause in the fighting, which is currently in its [third] day; and the first major hostage release. Sullivan refused to answer if Biden will condition aid to Israel. 

8:02 am

Crowds in Ramallah welcomed one of the 39 prisoners Israel released on Nov. 26 in exchange for Israelis and others abducted by Hamas on Oct. 7. As celebrations were unleashed when a prisoner arrived, a video showed him embracing his mother. The mother shouts, “With our soul, with our blood, we will redeem you Hamas,” prompting the crowd to chant the same slogan.

7:55 am

On Nov. 26, Israeli PM Netanayahu said that he told President Biden that while he is open to extending the current truce, the IDF ground operations are destined to return in full force. “We brought home another group of hostages, children and women, and I am moved to the depths of my heart, the entire nation is, when we see families reunited,” he stated. Regarding the release of US-Israeli citizen Avigail Idan, 4, he said, “what a joy it is to see her with us. But on the other hand, what sadness that she is returning to a reality without parents.” Both of her parents were murdered by Hamas. According to Netanyahu, the four-day truce (which ends today) may be extended if more hostages are released: “for every day another 10.”

Netanyahu told Biden “at the end of the deal, we are returning full power to carry out our aims: destroy Hamas, ensure that Gaza won’t return to what it was and of course to free all of our hostages.” “I am sure that we will succeed in this mission — because we have no other choice.”

President Biden telephoned members of Avigail's family. “The story of Avigail in many ways was a microcosm of the horror Hamas unleashed on October 7,” a Biden administration official told reporters. Young Avigail saw her mother killed in front of her in Kibbutz Kfar Aza during Hamas’s October 7 massacre and then ran to her father who shielded her with his body, as terrorists then shot him dead. She ran to her neighbor’s home where she along with those inside were taken hostage into Gaza.

The Guardian posted the following summary of the events of Nov. 26:

The third exchange of hostages and prisoners between Hamas and Israel has taken place amid the four-day ceasefire deal. Israel said the militant group released 17 hostages on Sunday, including three Thai nationals and a Russian national, and all the Israelis were women or children. Thirty-nine Palestinian prisoners, also women and children, were freed from Israeli jails, Israeli prison authorities said.

The releases bring to 63 the total number of freed hostages from around 240 taken to Gaza after Hamas’ 7 October attack, Agence France-Presse reports, while Israel has freed 39 Palestinian prisoners and detainees on each of three days since Friday.

One hundred and twenty aid trucks crossed from Egypt to Gaza on Sunday, including two fuel trucks and two with gas for cooking, the head of Egypt’s State Information Service said. “The truce is proceeding without roadblocks,” Diaa Rashwan said.

Benjamin Netanyahu said in a phone call with US president Joe Biden on Sunday that at the end of the four-day ceasefire, Israel will resume its military operations in Gaza with full force, Reuters has reported. However, the Israeli prime minister also said he welcomed the possibility of 10 hostages being freed for each extra day of truce.

Hamas said on Sunday that it was seeking to extend the truce with Israel should serious efforts be made to increase the number of Palestinian detainees released from Israel.

A US Navy warship responded to a distress call from a commercial tanker in the Gulf of Aden that had been seized by armed individuals and was now safe and free, US officials say. The tanker, carrying a cargo of phosphoric acid, was identified as the Central Park by the vessel’s company. The officials did not identify the attackers. The incident is the latest in a series of attacks in Middle Eastern waters since the Israel-Hamas war broke out.

Hamas has announced that four senior commanders have been killed, including Ahmed al-Ghandour, a commander in the north of Gaza. Ghandour – whose nom de guerre was Abu Anas – was listed by the US in 2017 as a “specially designated global terrorist”.

A Palestinian farmer was killed and another injured on Sunday after they were targeted by Israeli forces in the Maghazi refugee camp in the centre of Gaza, the Palestine Red Crescent Society reported.

Israel’s military claimed to have killed five Palestinians overnight on Saturday as well as arresting 21 in Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. Funerals were held for those killed on Sunday. The Palestinian health ministry said three others were killed in separate areas of the West Bank since Saturday morning.

The current state of aid in Gaza is “hardly enough for humanitarian response if we want to reverse the impact of the siege of Gaza Strip”, the head of the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) has said. Philippe Lazzarini told US CBS’s Face the Nation said on Sunday that a lot more aid was required than the 160 to 200 trucks’ worth crossing into Gaza daily over the past few days.

Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk will meet Israeli president Isaac Herzog on Monday, along with Israelis whose relatives have been held by Hamas in Gaza. Herzog’s office announced the meeting on Sunday night, saying: “In their meeting, the president will emphasise the need to act to combat rising antisemitism online.” Musk, who also runs Tesla and SpaceX, did not respond to requests for comment through spokespeople for Tesla and X. The billionaire has been accused by civil rights groups of amplifying anti-Jewish hatred on his social media platform X, formerly Twitter. Israel’s Channel 12 said Musk would also meet Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday during the visit coinciding with the temporary truce.

Three college students described as being of Palestinian descent were shot and wounded in the US city of Burlington, Vermont, on their way to a family dinner on Saturday evening.

Tens of thousands of people including former UK prime minister Boris Johnson gathered in London on Sunday for a march against antisemitism, a day after large crowds turned out for a pro-Palestinian rally. Johnson was joined by the UK chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and other senior government officials at the march, which organisers billed as the largest gathering against antisemitism in London for almost a century. Police at the march detained Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, more widely known by his alias Tommy Robinson, who is the former leader of the far-right English Defence League.

November 27, 2023

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Swords of Iron