On this tenth day of the war here in Israel, Jerusalem had its third air raid alert of the war, a week since the last one. Hamas’ rockets have a maximum range of 80kn (about 48 miles) and Jerusalem is on the edge of that capability. All of the rockets were neutralized by the Iron Dome system.
I continue to be spooked as I drive by the inordinate amount of parking spaces available in the city. Most likely the owners of the cars that would normally be parked there are on duty somewhere in Israel, many of whom are in harms way. May they return safely.
Numerically, 199 families of Israeli captives held by Hamas have now been notified that their loved ones were taken in the October 7th massacre, along with now over 1,400 killed and 4,100 injured. Among the dead are 289 members of the Israel Defense Forces. And the numbers keep growing. Qatar is reported to be pressing Hamas to release the women, children and the aged hostages.
Hundreds of US citizens have left Israel on transports provided by the US government. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also arranged for a rescue flight that landed in Tampa on Sunday night with 270 American citizens. It is not clear how many were tourists and how many were dual-citizens living in Israel who chose to leave.
We now know, as well, that the Hamas terrorists who invaded Israel carried a manual with instructions on how to torture and abduct Israelis. Israeli forensic teams have found cases of rape, electric shock, body parts cut off of living people, and other forms of unspeakable torture and abuse. In one case on a kibbutz the residents ran to a community shelter for protection which became a death chamber when the Hamas terrorists lobbed hand grenades into the facility. The few people who ran outside to escape were shot and killed. One person inside survived, although he is bot sure how he did that.
During the last 24 hours, the Israeli Air Force has been flying ground commanders above Gaza in advance of a potential offensive, so that they can become morefamiliar with the terrain. Israel also observed a unilateral cease fire in southern Gaza so that those who live in the northern part of the strip can relocate to an area that will not be part of the ground action when it begins.
On the northern border, which remains tense, a 40-year-old civilian was killed in a Hezbollah attack. Out of an abundance of caution 28 communities in close proximity to the Lebanese border were evacuated over the last day. Their inhabitants have moved south to live with friends, family and in state funded guest houses as well as with strangers who have opened their homes to those displaced. Israel always comes together as one under wartime conditions.
While visiting Israel yesterday, a delegation of U.S. Senators that included Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney was twice forced to take shelter as Hamas rockets attacked Tel Aviv. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has invited U.S. President Joe Biden to visit Israel in a show of solidarity. The White House has not yet officially responded although rumor has it that the President will be here sometime this week.
Regarding the continued bombing of Gaza by Israel’s Air force, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said that Israel’s campaign in Gaza had “exceeded” its right to self-defense and had become collective punishment. Egypt has largely refused to open its narrow border with Gaza over the past week but it was scheduled to open for a bit earlier today. Criticism of Israel’s actions in Gaza is beginning to gain momentum and it would appear that we have a narrow envelope of time to carry out operations there, until world opinion, once again, turns against us. However, this time the scale of barbarism by the Hamas terrorists was so great that even some of our worst critics have toned down their negativism.
Most likely Israel will launch a three-pronged attack on Gaza in the next days, by land, sea and air. This is a war we did not want, one we did not start, in a place we would rather not enter. Let us hope that this will be the last such war we will need to fight and that our troops will exit Gaza victorious and with minimum casualties.