As shabbat approaches here in Israel we are getting reports that a second incursion into Gaza occurred overnight Thursday with all troops returning safely. This morning the IDF revised the hostage numbers and indicated that there are now 229 hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza and this does not include the four released previously. The IDF also reported that of the 1,400 plus Israelis killed in the October 7th massacre just 800 bodies, or remains, have been identified and buried. Israel is doing everything it can to find and identify the balance although, in some cases, the remains may end up to be too small to identify accurately. The barbarism of Hamas is unexplainable in the framework of the morality of people fighting in the name of their God.
This morning Egypt reported being hit by a drone attack in two places in the Sinai, one in Taba near the Israeli southern border with Israel and the other at Nuweiba. No injuries were reported and Israel suspects that the drones were launched from Yemen, possibly directed at Israel but falling short in Egypt.
The US military on Thursday carried out strikes against two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and groups it backs, the Pentagon said, in response to a spate of attacks against US forces in both Iraq and Syria.
“These precision self-defense strikes are a response to a series of ongoing and mostly unsuccessful attacks against US personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-backed militia groups that began on October 17,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement.
Regarding the still pending ground invasion of Gaza, according to a report in the New York Times today, within the military establishment, there is concern that Israel’s goals will be blurred if our Prime Minister follows through on his promise of Wednesday to simultaneously seek the liberation of all the 229 hostages while also attempting to destroy Hamas. The first goal requires negotiation and accommodation with Hamas’s leadership, while the second requires its annihilation — a difficult balance to strike, two senior military officials said. In a sign of internal division, Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, pointedly did not describe rescuing the hostages as one of Israel’s military objectives in a speech he gave on Thursday evening.
The mutual suspicion between the military and the prime minister runs so deep that people in the know say civil servants have barred the military from bringing recording equipment into cabinet meetings. They interpreted the move as an attempt to limit the amount of evidence that could be presented to a national commission of inquiry after the war. Bibi has appeared unusually isolated since the Hamas attack, amid cratering poll numbers and accusations that his chaotic leadership over the past year had set the stage for the catastrophic security failure on Oct 7.
Regarding the rising antisemitism worldwide and the fear that Jewish students at universities in America and Europe have of even being on campus, the events at New York’s Cooper Union earlier next week are particularly disturbing. During a pro-Palestinian demonstration there earlier this week the Jewish students, in an effort to get out of harm’s way, barricaded themselves in the school library. While there the protestors attempted to breach the locked doors and gain entry to the library itself. Sadly, none of the press about this event, although expressing concern about the implications of the situation, ever questioned what the protestors thought they might do to the Jewish students inside the library. Clearly, they were not interested in sitting down and reading together. It is a question that should bother every moral person everywhere and not be dismissed as a stand-alone event.
To my Jewish readers, I close with a wish for a Shabbat Shalom and to all a prayer that the war should end soon, the 229 hostages should come home to their families whose pain is indescribable, and that the threat of Hamas should be eradicated….and soon.