Day Forty-Eight Of Swords Of Iron
'If Israel fails in Gaza, all of us will be next' says former Hamas operative.
After Qatar’s announcement about the hostage deal going into effect tomorrow, Israeli PM Netanyahu’s office confirmed that Israel has received an “initial” list of names of abductees expected to go free. “The relevant officials are checking the details of the list and are currently in contact with all families,” the statement says.
A Qatari foreign ministry spokesperson said the ceasefire will begin Friday, Nov. 24 at 7am (5am GMT) and that the first hostage release, of 13 hostages of 240, will be at 4pm that day. The spokesman expects aid to to start moving into Gaza through the Rafah crossing as soon as the ceasefire starts.
Hamas is believed to have seized at least 240 Israeli hostages during its 7 October attack inside Israel. The deal envisages that 50 Israeli hostages will be returned in exchange for a four-day pause in hostilities, and the release of 150 Palestinians held in Israeli detention. Last-minute hitches delayed the expected implementation of the ceasefire.
The Qatari foreign ministry spokesman said the Israel-Hamas deal is “a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel”. A priority was placed on freeing women and children, he said, adding that he hoped there would be momentum generated by the deal to help everybody get out and “lessen the hardship of the people in Gaza through the humanitarian pause that is taking place”.
A journalist at the Doha press conference asked for reassurance that all the hostages on the list for initial release are alive. The spokesman answered they are alive, but he also said he does not have verifiable information of the total number of hostages and their status.
The IDF said its 215th Artillery Regiment struck several targets in northern Gaza's Jabaliya. A drone strike was also carried out against a group of Hamas operatives moving toward Israeli forces, and an observation post was targeted with a guided munition, the IDF said. In a separate incident, the IDF reported that tanks and a drone struck a group of Hamas terrorists in the midst of a battle with Israeli troops of the Golani Brigade.
The Israeli Air Force carried out strikes against some 300 targets in the Gaza Strip over the past day, the IDF said. According to the IDF, these include command centers, tunnels, weapons depots, weapon manufacturing sites, and anti-tank missile launch positions.
IDF says it struck further Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon, as well as a cell preparing to launch rockets, and another cell that opened fire at troops on the border.
A major Iranian-backed militant group in Iraq warned it may strike additional U.S. targets after U.S. warplanes killed multiple militants in response to the first use of short-range ballistic missiles against U.S. forces at Al-Asad Air Base Monday.
U.S. fighter jets struck a Kataib Hezbollah operations center and a Kataib Hezbollah command and control node near Al Anbar and Jurf al Saqr, south of Baghdad, Iraq, on Nov. 22, according to DoD officials.
The IDF pumped seawater into Hamas's underground labyrinth of tunnels beneath Gaza to flush out the terrorists.
According to the Wall Street Journal: "Senior Egyptian officials said Hamas failed to formally sign off on the mechanism for the hostages’ release, and didn’t provide Israel with a specific list of around a dozen or more to be freed first. Israel for its part delayed the handover of a list of the first group of Palestinian prisoners it plans to free, according to officials familiar with the talks. Among the technical issues gumming up the process is access by the International Committee of the Red Cross to the released hostages, and negotiations over the exit through which they will leave Gaza, according to officials familiar with the situation. Israel had wanted the hostages to be handed over to the Red Cross before their transfer to Israel, while Hamas is now asking for them to be given directly to Egypt, the officials said. Israel has also asked that the Red Cross be given access to those hostages who remain in Gaza after the first exchange, something Hamas hasn’t agreed to."
The IDF released the following statement about its detention of Muhammad Abu Salmiya, the director of al-Shifa hospital, where the IDF has found extensive underground tunnels and chambers: "The director of the al-Shifa hospital in the Gaza Strip was apprehended and transferred for ISA questioning following evidence showing that the al-Shifa hospital, under his direct management, served as a Hamas command and control centre. The Hamas terror tunnel network situated under the hospital also exploited electricity and resources taken from the hospital. In addition, Hamas stored numerous weapons inside the hospital and on the hospital grounds. Furthermore, after the Hamas massacre on 7 October, Hamas terrorists sought refuge within the hospital, some of them taking hostages from Israel with them. A pathological report also confirmed the murder of CPL Noa Marciano on the hospital premises. In the hospital, under his management, there was extensive Hamas terrorist activity. Findings of his involvement in terrorist activity will determine whether he will be subject to further ISA questioning."
The IDF also re-released the Nov. 22 statement from the Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, who said: “Now, the irrefutable truth of Hamas’s exploitation of hospitals in Gaza is on full display to the world. We have an important question to ask the international community: what will you do to stop Gaza’s hospitals from being turned into terror bases in the future? Will you condemn Hamas? Or will you continue to be silent? Will you remain silent? I want to make it clear that Israel is at war with Hamas. We are not at war with the people of Gaza.”
Nevertheless, Hamas and medical staff within Gaza’s hospitals have repeatedly denied the Israeli accusation.
Dani Dayan, chair of Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem World Holocaust memorial center told the media that comparisons between the Hamas attack and the Holocaust were “simplistic”, even if “the genocidal intentions, sadism and barbarism of Hamas” had similarities with Nazi atrocities. Dayan said: “The crimes that took place on 7 October are on the same level as Nazi crimes, but they are not the Shoah. I do not accept the simplistic comparison with the Holocaust even if there are similarities in the genocidal intentions, sadism and barbarism of Hamas. For any Jew who has heard the stories of families putting their hands over a baby’s mouth to stop it from crying, the association of ideas is obvious. We have all thought about it.” He said that modern Jews are far from defenseless: “We cannot compare it with the period of the Holocaust because there is an army here, which is fighting and making Hamas pay the price.”
American actress Melissa Barrera has publicly responded to being fired from the Scream television franchise for sharing posts that the film’s production company says were interpreted as antisemitic. She condemned antisemitism and Islamophobia but would “continue to speak out” on the Israel-Hamas conflict. She is an outspoken supporter of the Palestinian cause, and has described Israel's retaliation for the Oct 7 as “genocide” and for “brutally killing innocent Palestinians, mothers and children, under the pretense of destroying Hamas”. On Nov. 21, Scream VII production company Spyglass Media fired her, and confirmed to Variety that it was due to some of her social media posts, which were interpreted as antisemitic. “We have zero tolerance for antisemitism or the incitement of hate in any form, including false references to genocide, ethnic cleansing, Holocaust distortion or anything that flagrantly crosses the line into hate speech,” a Spyglass spokesperson told Variety. The Guardian has not confirmed which posts Spyglass was referring to.
Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, met Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah. Hezbollah released a statement saying the pair “reviewed the latest developments in Palestine, Lebanon and the region, and … the efforts made to end the Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip”.
Amir-Abdollahian has warned that the war could spiral out of control, left Beirut for Doha after their meeting.
Today, Hezbollah fired 48 Russian Katyusha rockets at a military base at Ein Zeitim, near the town of Safed in northern Israel. It claims at least 10 other attacks on Israeli positions near the frontier. The IDF earlier said it had returned fire over the UN-drawn blue line that separates the two countries. Fighting between Hezbollah and Israel has reaped 108+ lives in Lebanon, most of them Hezbollah fighters, but also at least 14 civilians, including three journalists, according to AFP. Six Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed on the Israeli side, according to the authorities.
The English Football Association will stop lighting the arch at Wembley in support of humanitarian causes after the controversy that followed its decision not to commemorate the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October. The stadium will be illuminated only for sporting and entertainment, says the FA board. FA chief exec Mark Bullingham said he “recognised the hurt” to the Jewish community caused by the decision to leave the arch unlit during England men’s friendly against Australia in the week after the Hamas attack.
According to the IDF, "Following the initial reports regarding sirens sounding in northern Israel, approximately 35 launches were identified crossing from Lebanon toward Israeli territory. The IDF Aerial Defense Array intercepted a number of the launches. In addition, since this morning, terrorists launched a number of anti-tank missiles and mortars at various locations along the border with Lebanon. There have been frequent exchanges of fires between the IDF and anti-Israeli forces over the UN-drawn blue line that separates Lebanon and Israel."
British foreign secretary David Cameron visited Kibbutz Be’eri, which witnessed some of the worst carnage during the Oct. 7 attack. The former prime minister said: "I wanted to come here to see it for myself; I have heard and seen things I will never forget. Today is also a day where we hope to see progress on the humanitarian pause. This is a crucial opportunity to get hostages out and aid into Gaza, to help Palestinian civilians who are facing a growing humanitarian crisis." Israel foreign minister Eli Cohen said, “World leaders need to see the horrors of Hamas with their own eyes.”
The Guardian summarized the day's events in the Israel/Gaza war:
A long-awaited hostage and ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas won’t take effect before Friday, US and Israeli officials have said, dashing the hopes of families who thought captives may be freed earlier and prolonging the suffering of Palestinians under bombardment in Gaza. It was not immediately clear what caused the delay. The deal had been expected to come into force from Thursday.
Under the agreement, Hamas will free at least 50 of the more than 240 mostly Israeli hostages they took on 7 October. In turn, Israel will release at least 150 Palestinian prisoners and allow up to 300 trucks of humanitarian aid into Gaza after more than six weeks of bombardment, heavy fighting and a crippling blockade of fuel, food, medicine and other essentials.
The Israeli military (IDF) says it struck more than 300 “Hamas terror targets” in total over the past day. In a Telegram post the IDF said it had struck “military command centres, underground terror tunnels, weapon storage facilities, weapon manufacturing sites and anti-tank missile posts”.
The chief of the general staff of Israel’s armed forces has told soldiers “we are not ending the war”. In comments to brigade commanders inside Gaza released to the media, Herzi Halevi said: “We are not ending the war. We will continue until we are victorious, going forward and continuing in other Hamas areas. I’m very proud of you, you are doing an outstanding job.”
The Israeli offensive in Gaza has so far killed between 13,000 and 14,000 people, thousands of them children, according to Palestinian officials. More are thought to be under rubble. Israel launched the assault after the Hamas attacks on 7 October inside Israel, which killed at least 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and during which an estimated 240 people were taken hostage. It has not been possible for journalists to independently verify the casualty figures being issued during the conflict.
Sarbini Abdul Murad, the head of the Indonesian charity Medical Emergency Rescue Committee, has said: “The Indonesia hospital in Gaza is now empty. The doctors and the wounded were moved to the European hospital. Our volunteers are sheltering at a school with thousands of others.”
In another development, unconfirmed reports say the director of the al-Shifa hospital has been detained by Israeli forces.
The US says it has downed drones in the Red Sea that had been launched from Yemen.
Israel’s military spokesperson, Danial Hagari, has said the IDF has again attacked targets inside Lebanon. There had been indications yesterday that while it was not a direct part of the Israel-Hamas deal, Hezbollah would respect a truce period on the northern boundary between Israel and Lebanon. The IDF reported “a number of launches” from Lebanon into Israel.
The British foreign secretary, David Cameron, is in Israel, where he has visited kibbutz Be’eri, one of the sites attacked by Hamas on 7 October in an assault that one of the survivors described as a “pogrom”.
Spain’s foreign minister, José Manuel Albares, on Thursday said his country is in favour of the recognition of a viable Palestinian state “in the very short term”.
Germany’s interior ministry said 15 properties of members and supporters of Hamas and another Palestinian organisation – Samidoun had been raided in four regions. The groups are banned in the country. There are an estimated 450 Hamas members in Germany, according to official figures.
Israeli government spokesman appeared on British TV, saying Hamas can choose to release hostages at any time, and that it did not have to be contingent on a deal. He said on Sky News that the delay in releasing hostages was “heartbreaking”, saying: "You know, Hamas could release the hostages now. It could have released them yesterday. It could have released them on 7 October. And every moment that it chooses not to release those vulnerable little children is a moment that it continues to psychologically terrorise these children’s families. They’ve been holding them in the dark and they’ve been keeping their families in the dark. Their families know nothing about their condition. Physically, mentally, emotionally. You know, maybe even worse, these children don’t know what has happened to their families. This hostage crisis is intensely personal for everyone in Israel. We’re a small country. Everyone knows someone who has had someone stolen from them. And we’re hoping to begin bringing back our stolen children, bring back those hostages, and we’re committed to the pledge that we will bring all of them back, and there will be no one left behind."
Hostage and ceasefire deal won't be implemented before Friday, Nov. 24, both the US and Israel say. In a statement, Israeli national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said, “The contacts on the release of our hostages are advancing and continuing constantly,”adding, “The start of the release will take place according to the original agreement between the sides, and not before Friday.”
Amid a delay in a possible ceasefire in Gaza, Qatar says announcement on hostage, truce deal to be made in coming hours. The US insists that it is a done deal.
IDF chief says military ‘is not ending war’. The US asserted that a ceasefire deal ‘remains agreed,’ with both sides just finalizing logistics. Israel's High Court rejects final two petitions against prisoner release.The Wall Street Journal reported that Egypt has received a list of the first 10 Israeli hostages to be released. The BBC reported that Hamas has made additional demands for a possible ceasefire. Air radi sirens sounded in Israeli communities along the border of Gaza.
The Daily Wire reported that Mosab Hassan Yousef, son of Hamas co-founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef, spoke at Israel's mission to the UN in New York City, warned that if Israel does not eliminate Hamas "all of us will be next." The younger Yousef converted from Islam to Christianity. "This crime cannot be forgiven. None of us should forgive this crime,” he said in reference to the slaughter commited by Hamas on Oct. 7 in Israel. Speaking to Israel's retaliation in Gaza, he said: “So Israel now got stained by blood. This is what Hamas wanted to happen from day one. They wanted to sacrifice thousands of children so Israel can take the blame. Digging tunnels and bunkers under hospitals, schools … Hamas misfired. How many people killed at the hospital and they went so fast to blame Israel and the rest of the world listened to them and listened to their propaganda?”
“If Hamas is not defeated, if Hamas is not eradicated in Gaza, we will set the model, we will give the freedom to so many radical groups around the world,” he warned. “And this is just a warning. If you really care for the global security — and I speak of a person who was part of the counter-terrorism effort against radical Islamists — if Hamas is not defeated in Gaza, it will inspire many groups around the globe. They will see that a few thousands of savages can blackmail the international community, the super powers and bring democracies to their knees. Many of them are watching now and many of them are very happy about how the world is responding. And many of them are satisfied to see the state of confusion and fear and anxiety.” “This is the time to get united,” he asserted. “Because if Israel fails in Gaza, all of us will be next.”
The Israel Defense Forces and Intelligence reported: The director of the Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip was apprehended and transferred for ISA questioning following evidence showing that the Shifa Hospital, under his direct management, served as a Hamas command and control center. The Hamas terror tunnel network situated under the hospital also exploited electricity and resources taken from the hospital. In addition, Hamas stored numerous weapons inside the hospital and on the hospital grounds. Furthermore, after the Hamas massacre on October 7th, Hamas terrorists sought refuge within the hospital, some of them taking hostages from Israel with them. A pathological report also confirmed the murder of CPL Noa Marciano on the hospital premises. In the hospital, under his management, there was extensive Hamas terrorist activity. Findings of his involvement in terrorist activity will determine whether he will be subject to further ISA questioning. IDF Spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari: “Now, the irrefutable truth of Hamas’ exploitation of hospitals in Gaza is on full display to the world. We have an important question to ask the international community: what will you do to stop Gaza’s hospitals from being turned into terror bases in the future? Will you condemn Hamas? Or will you continue to be silent? Will you remain silent? I want to make it clear that Israel is at war with Hamas. We are not at war with the people of Gaza.”
November 23, 2023