Day Twenty-Three Of Swords Of Iron
Israel moves to the "next phase" of its war on Hamas.
US Special Envoy to Combat and Monitor Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt condemned mobs targetting Jews at an airport in Russian Dagestan on Oct. 29. “We call on Russian authorities to ensure their safety. The US stands with Israel and the entire Jewish community as we see a surge in antisemitism throughout the world,” Lipstadt tweeted. “There is no excuse for targeting Jews or engaging in antisemitic incitement anywhere,” she added. No Israelis or Jews were reported injured or killed.
The Biden administration is pushing Israel to carry out only a limited ground operation in Gaza. Currently, the IDF an incursion into northern Gaza. A US official reoprtedly said that Israeli leaders also oppose an all-out ground offensive at this stage because it could risk the hostages currently held by Hamas in Gaza. A US official reportedly said that the White House is taking its concerns to PM Netanyahu about Israel's broader strategy. Netanyahu has not said who Jerusalem wants to govern Gaza once it succeeds in its goal of toppling Hamas, the US official said.
Billionaire Elon Musk spoke to Israel’s Shin Bet head Ronen Bar after offering to provide some internet service in Gaza through his Starlink satellite network. Musk told Bar he would only grant access to recognized aid organizations. Israel is believed to have cut off much of Gaza’s internet and phone access to limit Hamas’s communications capabilities.
According to Israel's Channel 12, Musk said he would double-check with Israeli and American security officials before enabling any connections.
Russian authorities succeeded in gaining control of the Makhachkala airport in the Dagestan republic after a mob stormed the building, looking for Israelis and Jews. “The airport in Makhachkala will be closed to receive aircraft… until, preliminarily, 02:59 Moscow time on November 6, 2023,” the agency says. The head of Russian Dagestan security vowed to punish the mob: “All Dagestanis empathize with the suffering of victims by the actions of unrighteous people and politicians and pray for peace in Palestine. But what happened at our airport is outrageous and should receive the appropriate assessment from law enforcement,” said Dagestan Republic governor Sergei Melikov, who added, “This will be done.”
The IDF conducted air strikes on Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon in response to rocket and missile fire on northern Israel on Oct. 29. According to the IDF, the targets included “infrastructure for directing terror, and military infrastructure” belonging to the terror group.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stressed that military pressure on Hamas is more likely to win the release of Hamas's captives’ rather than a grand prisoner exchange, arguing the terror group is not really interested in the latter solution. “If there is no military pressure on Hamas, nothing will progress,” Gallant said. “The stories published by Hamas are part of their psychological games … Hamas is cynically using those who are dear to us — they understand the pain and the pressure,” Gallant told relatives of some of the 239 hostages held by Hamas that he met on Oct. 29.
Gallant told the families that an “everybody for everybody” prisoner swap (all Israeli hostages for all Hamas prisoners) is not doable. “If it were that simple [to do a swap] then it would not be a problem,” Gallant said. “If those were the terms it would happen tomorrow morning. Those aren’t the terms.” At the meeting, some family members assailed Gallant, blaming him and the government for the Hamas attack and kidnappings that occurred under their watch and demanding they not “forsake” the hostages.
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Karim A.A. Khan says his institution is conducting “active investigations” into the October 7 Hamas massacres, as well as the situation in both Gaza and the West Bank. “We have active investigations ongoing in relation to the crimes allegedly committed in Israel on 7th October, and also in relation to Gaza and the West Bank, and our jurisdiction goes back to 2014,” says Khan in a statement made at the Rafah crossing on the Egypt-Gaza border.
The ICC prosecutor evoked the Holocaust and the Second World War in explaining the reason for his mission to the region, and says the ICC will work professionally to “separate allegation from fact,” and examine all relevant evidence. “This is a moment of objectivity, a moment of quiet reflection and it needs to be a moment in which the international community and the international architecture built on the rubble of the World War II, the terrible gas chambers and the Holocaust, the razing of cities throughout Europe, [which] was meant to create institutions that would ensure never again would we see abominations where people could be targeted for their race, religion, culture, where they come from or what passport they hold,” says Khan.
“Those promises need to be fulfilled.”
“We are independently looking at the situation in Palestine, we’re looking at the events in Israel and the allegations that Palestinian nationals have also committed crimes, we need cooperation and assistance.”
Khan also insists that “there should not be any impediment to humanitarian relief supplies, going to children, women and men — civilians,” and says the curtailment of the rights of civilians as defined under international humanitarian law, customary international law and the Geneva Conventions could give rise to “criminal responsibility” under the Rome Statute which established the ICC.
Shin Bet head Ronen Bar, the war cabinet, and the defense ministry warned of “fears about an eruption” of violence in the West Bank. “The specific warning notes a rise in violence by settlers [and] incidents between settlers and Palestinians that result in the deaths of Palestinians.” Bar said the US and the EU warn that the West Bank is a powder keg. “These incidents are likely to set the area alight” and harm the war effort against Hamas, the report quotes Israeli sources as saying. It says some Israeli “decision-makers” are urging ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir “to take responsibility and calm things down.”
The Israel Defense Forces says a number of rockets were fired from Syria at northern Israel on the evening of Oct 29. All of the projectiles landed in open areas, causing no damage or injuries, the IDF says. It adds that troops are responding with artillery shelling at the source of the rocket fire.
International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan said that the ICC has “active investigations ongoing” into alleged war crimes in Israel, Gaza,and the West Bank. The prosecutor added: “There should not be any impediment to humanitarian relief supplies going to … civilians.”
Jordan asked the US to deploy Patriot air defense systems to bolder its border defense amid increased regional tensions. “We asked the American side to help bolster our defence system with Patriot air defense missile systems,” said Jordanian Brigadier General Mustafa Hiyari.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has announced that three more aid trucks crossed into Gaza on Oct. 29. These are in addition to the six trucks and surgical team that were sent into Gaza on October 27, the ICRC said.
Israel summoned the Russian ambassador to protest Moscow’s hosting last week of a delegation from Hamas. Inviting Hamas “sends a message legitimizing terrorism against Israelis”, Israel’s foreign ministry said.
In Dagestan in the city of Makhachkala in the northern Caucasus in the Dagestan region, Russian authorities closed an airport and diverted flights, including one from Israel, after media reports showed mobs of shouting demonstrators denouncing Israeli actions in Gaza. The airport would remain closed pending “normalization” of the situation. Russia’s Investigative Committee ordered a criminal probe into the incident.
President Biden spoke with Israeli PM Netanyahu. According to the White House: “The president reiterated that Israel has every right and responsibility to defend its citizens from terrorism and underscored the need to do so in a manner consistent with international humanitarian law that prioritizes the protection of civilians.”
Biden also spoke with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi: "President Biden and President Sisi affirmed their commitment to work together to set the conditions for a durable and sustainable peace in the Middle East to include the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
Thousands of Gazans looted UN warehouses, taking flour and other essential items in a sign they had reached “breaking point”, said the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA). "This is a worrying sign that civil order is starting to break down after three weeks of war and a tight siege on Gaza,” UNRWA said in a statement.
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said on Fox News, “We are going to move a standalone Israeli funding bill.” Responding to whether aid to Israel and Ukraine are separate, Johnson said: “Our Republican colleagues in the Senate have a similar measure. We believe that that is a pressing and urgent need.”
Médecins Sans Frontières has sent 26 tons of medical supplies on a World Health Organization plane to Egypt. “The medical supplies can cover the needs for 800 surgical interventions and are destined for healthcare facilities in Gaza in collaboration with the local health authorities,” MSF said.
According to Palestinian authorities, the number of children killed in Gaza in last three weeks surpassed annual number of children killed in war zones since 2019, Save the Children said on Sunday. “With a further 1,000 children reported missing in Gaza assumed buried under the rubble, the death toll is likely much higher,” it added.
Faculty members of Columbia University and Barnard College in New York City signed an open letter in support of students's expressions of solidarity with Palestine, noting that such expressions of solidarity and the historical contextualization of the ongoing war is not antisemitic. “One could regard the events of October 7th as just one salvo in an ongoing war between an occupying state and the people it occupies, or as an occupied people exercising a right to resist violent and illegal occupation,” the letter said.
Last week, Palestinian authorities in Gaza dismissed as a “lie” Israeli claims of tanks of fuel are being held by Hamas in the enclave. “This lie shows how narrow-minded the Israeli army spokesman is and unable to make believable claims,” the government media office said in a statement.
On Oct. 24, Israeli military spokesman Avichay Adraee issued photos of what he said were fuel tanks held by Hamas in Gaza. The photos showed a location near the Rafah crossing in the south Gaza Strip. “This is what over half a million liters of diesel looks like, while Hamas keeps claiming it does not have enough fuel to support hospitals and bakeries,” Adraee said on social media platform X.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said it has received warnings from Israel to evacuate al-Quds hospital in Gaza Strip because it is “going to be bombarded”. It tweeted, “Since this morning, there has been raids 50 meters away from the hospital.”
Speaking to crowds assembled in St. Peter's Square in Rome, Pope Francis called for a ceasefire iand renewed an appeal for the release of hostages held by Hamas. "Let no one abandon the possibility of stopping the weapons,” he said. He added, “Ceasefire … we say ‘ceasefire, ceasefire’. Brothers and sisters, stop. War is always a defeat, always.”
London's police chief Sir Mark Rowley called for greater clarity from the British government on policing extremism. He said about 100 people had been arrested at demonstrations held since Oct. 7 and that “many more” arrests expected in the near future. He said officers are limited by legal definitions of extremism and arresting people without cause could risk “inflaming” the situation with the protesters. He wants a review of the legal definition of extremism and how it should be policed. On Oct 29, he told Sky News: "There is scope to be much sharper in how we deal with extremism within this country. The law was never designed to deal with extremism, there’s a lot to do with terrorism and hate crime but we don’t have a body of law that deals with extremism, and that is creating a gap." Rowley said that has been a 14-fold increase in antisemitic incidents since the crisis started, and a threefold increase in crimes against the Muslim community. He said lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Service are working with police to identify offenses.
Layla Moran, the spokesperson for Britain's Liberal Democrats for foreign affairs, who has extended family in Gaza, said the British government and its allies are “failing” to prevent civilian casualties. On Oct. 29, she told the BBC: "I heard the secretary of state (Michelle Donelan) now suggest it is Hamas that is stopping them from leaving. That is not what is happening. I find it deeply offensive to suggest that Hamas is giving my family any kind of marching orders. They have nothing to do with Hamas. The reason they are there is because it is three generations: one is frail; you’ve got 11-year-old twins. They can’t move. There is bombing in the south – there is bombing on the so-called safe route that they were given to get to the south. Nowhere in Gaza is safe, and the conversation in Gaza, I’m afraid to say, has changed. No longer are people saying, ‘Where do we go to be safe?’ – the question they are now asking is, ‘Where do we want to be when we die?’. “And this is not hyperbole, this is not just from them but their friends and family who we are in touch with. I cannot overstress the situation. “So when I hear from the government that they want to minimise civilians casualties, I have to say to them that they are failing, the strategy of the UK government, America and what they are effectively sanctioning in the way Israel is responding …" Moran affirmed Israel's right to self-defense, but called for a ceasefire and a two-state solution.
Israel may soon allow a dramatic increase in aid to Gaza, according to an Israeli official who called on Gazans to flee south to what he described as the "humanitarian" zone in the south of the enclave. “In the coming week we were planning to increase dramatically the amount of assistance” headed for Gaza from Egypt, said Col. Elad Goren of Cogat. “We have marked a humanitarian zone in the southern Gaza Strip in the Khan Younis area … we still recommend that the civilian population that evacuated will go to this zone,” he told journalists during an online briefing, according to Reuters.
On Oct. 27, the UN claimed that basic services had faltered in Gaza, thus exposing locals to disease, overflowing sewage, and shortages of food, water, and medicine.
UK Science secretary Michelle Donelan told Sky News’ on Oct. 29: "I don’t think we need to do that because there are already structures in place, there is international law that is well established.” When asked whether the UK willl support Israel “come what may”, Donelan said: “That is categorically not what we’ve said. The prime minister has stood there and said he backs Israel’s right to defend itself, just like we would expect our own right to defend ourselves were the shoe to be on the other foot, but that must be done within international law. And the protection of civilians must be a priority. We’ve seen Israel telling the Gazan people to go to the south, we’ve also seen Hamas telling them not to move.”
Donelan said Hamas has been using the Palestinian people as “human shields”, and added, “It is very difficult to get to Hamas without hurting innocent civilians. We of course though have said that the priority is to try and avoid doing that because we don’t want to see any loss of life.”
The IDF struck Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon overnight in response to three missile launches. The IDF tweeted, "In response to three rockets launches from Lebanon, the IDF is currently striking Hezbollah terrorist targets in Lebanon." the IDF said in a tweet.
"This is the second stage of the war whose goals are clear - to destroy Hamas' governing and military capabilities and to bring the hostages home," Israeli PM Netanyahu said. "We are only at the start."
"We made the decision to expand ground operations unanimously – both in the War Cabinet and in the political-security cabinet. We did so in a prudent and informed manner, out of a commitment to ensuring the fate of the state and ensuring the safety of our soldiers. The commanders and fighters who are now fighting in enemy territory know that the people, and the leadership of the people, stand behind them," Netanyahu said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Turkey is becoming "The Squad" of NATO after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared Israel a war criminal in its fight against Hamas terrorists.
"Seems that Turkey, particularly senior leadership, is setting itself up to be 'The Squad' of NATO," Graham wrote. "Very disappointing and destabilizing."
"Israel has been openly committing war crimes for 22 days, but the Western leaders cannot even call on Israel for a ceasefire, let alone react to it," Erdogan told a crowd in Istanbul.
"We will tell the whole world that Israel is a war criminal. We are making preparations for this. We will declare Israel a war criminal," the Turkish president added.
Israel is recalling its diplomats from Istanbul and will reevaluate its relations with Turkey.
Czech Defense Minister Jana Cernochova said at the UN on Oct. 28: "Exactly three weeks ago, Hamas murdered over 1400 Israelis, more victims for their population than the militant Islamist organization al-Qaeda murdered in the US on 9/11. And only 14 countries, including ours, have spoken out clearly and understandably against this unpreceented terrorist attack perpetrated by Hamas terrorists! I am ashamed of the UN. In my opinion, the Czech Republic has no place in an organization that cheers on terrorist and does not respect the fundamental right to self-defence. Let's get out."
There are reports that Hamas terrorists emerged from the so-called 'Gaza Metro' - the subterranean complext of tunnels where in Hamas stores fuel, food, water, weapons and materiel -- and engaged the IDF. Reportedly, 20 terrorists were killed.
Rocket barrage fired at central Israel, including Tel Aviv, Holon, Hod Hasharon, Herzliya, and Ra’anana, triggered sirens. There were no reports of injuries or damage, despite 1.5-2 million people fleeing for shelter.
In Gaza, thousands of people broke into NGO aid warehouses, taking food and “basic survival items,”, according to the UN. The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) provides basic services to hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza. Thomas White, the agency’s Gaza director, said the break-ins were “a worrying sign that civil order is starting to break down after three weeks of war and a tight siege on Gaza. “People are scared, frustrated and desperate,” he said.
Gaza grows desperate
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned , “The situation in Gaza is growing more desperate by the hour. I regret that instead of a critically needed humanitarian pause, supported by the international community, Israel has intensified its military operations.” Guterres was on a visit to Nepal when he spoke. He sparked controversy last week when he said the Oct. 7 terrorist attack “didn’t happen in a vacuum,” a comment decried by Israel as justifying terror.
Hamas killed more than 1,400 people, most of whom were civilians, at their homes and at a music festival. In addition, Hamas and other groups took 230 hostages — including some 30 children — into Gaza where they remain captive.
Israeli authorities demolished the house of Hassan Qatnani, near the West Bank city of Nablus. Qatnani killed three members of the Dee family in April 2023.
Palestinian authorities claim three Palestinians were killed overnight in shooting with the IDF in Askar, Bayt Rima, and Tammun. Since Oct 7, there have been numerous clashes between the IDF and Palestinians in the West Bank, in addition to terrorist attacks. The IDF clashed with Palestinian terrorists in Jenin. According to the PA, 118 West Bank Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, and in some cases settlers, since October 7.
The IDF has arrested 23 wanted Palestinians, including four affiliated with the Hamas, in overnight raids across the West Bank. According to the IDF, more than 1,030 wanted Palestinians have been arrested in the West Bank, including some 700 affiliated with Hamas, since Oct. 7.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said Israel’s airstrikes and ground war “may force everyone to take action.” He tweeted, “Zionist regime’s crimes have crossed the red lines, which may force everyone to take action,” and added, “Washington asks us to not do anything, but they keep giving widespread support to Israel. The US sent messages to the Axis of Resistance but received a clear response on the battlefield.”
Iran has repeatedly warned that the retaliation against Hamas risks causing expansion of the conflict. President Biden and PM Netanyahu have warned Iran against involvement, including via its proxies, especially the Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah.
‘I was wrong’
Israeli PM Netanyahu apologized for his earlier statement for which he was criticized for apparently blaming Israeli security services for failures leading to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas. “I was wrong. The things I said following the press conference should not have been said and I apologize for that,” Netanyahu tweetd, shortly after deleting his original statement on the same platform.
“I give full backing to all the heads of the security services. I am sending strength to the [IDF] chief of staff and the commanders and soldiers of the IDF who are on the frontlines and fighting for our home,” he wrote.
Netanyahu tweeted late Oct. 28 that he never received any warnings of Hamas “war intentions” at any stage, and adding that “all the security services, including the head of military intelligence and the head of the Shin Bet, were of the opinion that Hamas was deterred and wanted to come to a settlement.”
On the morning of Oct. 29, Netanyahu’s office clarified his now-deleted post. Following a Saturday night press conference “serious accusations that the prime minister received specific warnings about the war, which was not the case, were repeated and resurfaced,” the statement read, saying that “the prime minister responded to this” and has “full confidence” in the security and defense forces.
War cabinet member and National Unity leader Benny Gantz and Opposition Leader Yair Lapid slammed Netanyahu’s statement. Lapid said Netanyahu “crossed a red line” by assigning blame to the security and defense services for Israel’s Oct. 7 failure. “While IDF soldiers and commanders are fighting valiantly against Hamas and Hezbollah, he is trying to blame them instead of backing them up,” Lapid tweeted.
IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari refused to comment directly on Netanyahu’s now-deleted tweet and said, “I will not answer that question. We are now in a war and are focused on it.” “We in the IDF and Shin Bet will conduct a thorough investigation of the truth and present everything to the public,” Hagari says. “Now we are fighting and focused on the war.”
Hagari also said the IDF is seeking to repatriate hostages held by Hamas. “We are doing everything to bring the hostages home. It is a top priority,” he said. Hagari also said that a new group of surveillance soldiers was being drafted into the military, where they would perform this “important job” for the defense of Israel.
Some of them were killed or abducted by the terrorists on Oct. 7. Known in Hebrew as tatzpitaniyot, they are part of the Combat Intelligence Corps and operate along Israel’s borders and throughout the West Bank. They are known as “the eyes of the army” for providing real-time intelligence information to soldiers in the field, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
IDF strikes 450 targets
The Israel Defense Forces says fighter jets struck some 450 Hamas targets in Gaza over the past day. Targets included: Hamas command centers, observation posts, and anti-tank guided missile launch positions, according to the IDF. Additional ground troops entered Gaza. The IDF says the ground troops struck Hamas terror cells and squads preparing missile attacks, and directed aircraft to target other sites belonging to the terror group. The IDF is now operating deeper in Gaza.
Israel wants to “increase the urgency” of its warning to Gazan civilians in the northern part of the Palestinians to move south, as the military is “moving to the next phase” of the war with Palestinian terror group Hamas in Gaza and “expanding its operations,” said IDF Spokesman Hagari in an English-language video posted to the Israel Defense Forces Twitter profile. “Civilians in northern Gaza, in Gaza City should temporarily move south of Wadi Gaza to a safer area, where they can receive water, food, and medicine,” Hagari said. He added, that on Oct. 30, “humanitarian efforts to Gaza, led by Egypt and the United States, will be expanding,” without further elaborating.
“Israel is in a war it did not start and did not seek,” Hagari says. Israel’s fight is “with Hamas, not the people of Gaza.” “Hamas uses Gazans as human shields. Hamas operated inside and under civilian buildings, precisely because they know the IDF distinguishes between terrorists and civilians,” he said.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell again urged for a “pause of hostilities” to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza after the intense overnight aerial bombardment of the coastal territory. “Gaza is in complete blackout and isolation while heavy shelling continues,” Borrell wrote on social media. Decrying the scarcity of food, electricity, and water in the enclave, he said, “Far too many civilians, including children, have been killed. This is against International Humanitarian Law.”
Borrell also condemns all attacks on civilians, “including continuing indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israel” and called for the “immediate and unconditional release of all hostages”.
Austria scolds EU foreign policy chief
Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg wrote on social media to challenge Borrell for exceeding the posture agreed by EU leaders earlier in the week. “It is imperative to stick to the positions clearly expressed by Heads of States and Governments”, the minister aid. Schallenberg lists the EU’s positions, which included condemnation of Hamas’s “terrorist attacks”, Israel’s “right to defend itself in line with international law” and the call for all hostages to be released.
Telephone and internet connectivity are returning gradually to the Gaza Strip, Reuters reports citing Palestinian media outlets. The global network monitor Netblocks also says that internet connectivity is being restored. “Real-time network data show that internet connectivity is being restored in the #Gaza Strip,” the company writes on X, formerly Twitter.
Billionaire Elon Musk has offered Starlink connectivity to NGOs operating in Gaza.
The United Nations Security Council plans to meet on Oct. 30 to discuss Hamas and Israel. On Oct. 27, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, which made no mention of Hamas, by an overwhelming majority, drawing praise from the Islamist terror group and condemnation from Israel.
Apart from an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the release of all civilians, the protection of civilians, and international institutions, and ensuring the safe passage of humanitarian aid into Gaza.
Israel has rejected calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, saying that it is committed to toppling Hamas to prevent another mass assault like the one that took place three weeks ago.
Last week, the US vetoed a UN Security Council resolution put forth by Brazil calling for a “humanitarian pause” in the war because the text did not include respect for Israel’s right to defend itself. Russia and China then vetoed a resolution drafted by the US that would have reaffirmed Israel’s right to self-defense, urged respect for international laws — especially protection of civilians — and called for “humanitarian pauses” to deliver desperately needed aid to Gaza.
Hamas claims that more than 8,000 Gazans have been killed since Oct. 7. “The death toll linked to the Israeli aggression is past 8,000, half of whom are children,” claimed Hamas. However, the figures have not been independently verified.
On Oct. 28, former president Donald Trump promised that if reelected, he would reimpose a controversial travel ban that targeted Muslim countries. Speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition in the US, he said: “We will keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country.” He said, “You remember the travel ban? On day one I will restore our travel ban.”
In 2017, Trump introduced restrictions on travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Sudan. The order was quickly challenged in court as discriminatory against Muslims, but the bans, along with Trump’s hardline anti-immigration agenda, were popular with his base. President Biden reversed the ban in his first week in office in 2021.
Trump told the coalition that he would “defend our friend and ally in the State of Israel like nobody has ever.” He said that the war is “a fight between civilization and savagery, between decency and depravity, and between good and evil.” He received the warmest response from attendees. Former Vice President Mike Pence announced that he will not seek the presidency in 2024.
Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson indicates that his country has no intention to shutter Hamas’s political bureau in Doha, claiming that this channel of communication is critical for talks on the release of the hostages and for efforts to de-escalate fighting between the terror group and Israel.