27 days into the war and all aspects of the conflict continue unabated. The IDF reports they have destroyed over 12,000 targets in Gaza as nightly raids have intensified. To date 20 soldiers have been killed since the beginning of the war. The IDF also noted that the hostage total continues to rise with now 243 being held by Hamas. This morning there was a terror attack in Beit Lid in Samaria (what the press calls the West Bank) and an Israel driver was killed in the incident.
The news reports of a second attack on the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza tries to give the impression that these “camps” are somehow more vulnerable than the rest of Gaza and, therefore, more prone to greater damage, human and otherwise. But it is important to note that refugee camps were set up there after the 1948 War of Independence when large segments of the Arab population left Israel, some at the urging of their leaders, with a promise of quick return. When that did not happen the “camps” became permanent. After 75 years the “camps” in Gaza are basically residential neighborhoods, no different from others in the city, but still carry the refugee camp name so the people there are eligible for aid from UNRWA.
This week a multinational deal allowed scores of people — including seriously wounded Palestinians and some with dual nationalities — to enter Egypt from Gaza beginning on Wednesday. They were the first such exits from Gaza since the start of the war.
By last night, buses had ferried 361 foreign nationals over the border to Egypt, and ambulances had carried 45 severely injured Palestinians and some of their family members to Egyptian hospitals, an Egyptian state-owned television channel reported. The deal was negotiated late Tuesday between Israel, Egypt, Hamas, the US and Qatar.
American citizens were not expected to be among the first group of evacuees, other than those working for certain aid groups, but the plan is form them to follow in batches later in the week, diplomats said. 7,000 dual nationals are currently waiting to leave Gaza.
On the diplomatic front, Chile and Colombia have joined Jordan as countries that have called their ambassadors home as a sign they are unhappy with Israel’s actions in Gaza.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will arrive here Friday and is expected to urge Israel to agree to a series of brief cessations of military operations in Gaza to allow for hostages to be released safely and for humanitarian aid to be distributed, White House officials said earlier today. This is similar to what was done for the October 20th release of two of the American hostages.
We have resisted a cease fire and White House officials said the request for these pauses was far different from an overall cease-fire, which the Biden administration believes would benefit Hamas by allowing it to recover from Israel’s intense bombardment. But Biden is under increasing pressure to respond to what humanitarian groups have called an urgent crisis for civilians inside Gaza, where food, water, medicine and fuel are reported to be in short supply.
Though all of this the morale of the population here continues to be high with the troops on the front line continuing to convey their commitment to getting the job done. May they succeed!