33 days into the war and heavy ground operations in Gaza continues. To date 31 of our soldiers have been killed since we began the invasion. Most of those have been from attacks by Hamas troops popping out of tunnels or firing from other concealed positions.
The Israeli army has been advancing faster than its own commanders anticipated in encircling Gaza City and reaching Hamas headquarters, but accomplishing the goal of eliminating the group’s political and military leadership will take time. Israel’s vision of a knockout victory includes killing or capturing Hamas’ entire military and political leadership, killing all the planners and perpetrators of the Oct. 7 massacre in Israel, eliminating all Hamas arsenals and firepower, and denying its ability to run Gaza or maintain its sovereignty there.
Three IDF divisions are currently operating in Gaza with artillery, helicopter gunships, drones and fighter jets backing up their advance. Hamas has so far avoided confronting the Israeli troops head on, opting to exploit its advantage in ambushing and attacking from tunnels, and booby-trapping their route. The IDF estimates that between 1,500 and 2,000 assailants have been killed, including 15 officers at tactical command levels. The number of Israeli casualties, as of now, is at the low end of the preliminary estimates.
The Gazan authorities claim that their death toll exceeds 10,000 with more than half of those children. Although there are many people who dispute those figures, there have, for sure, been huge amounts of casualties.
Israel is doing what it can to minimize civilian casualties. There is now an established safe passage route in place protected by Israel for those residents of North Gaza who want to go south. Aerial surveillance shows large numbers of people carry white cloths walking south on that path. Where they go when they get to the south is, of course, yet another problem.
Regarding addressing the daily needs of civilians in Gaza, the IDF is continuing to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza. As of yesterday, a total of 665 (double trailer) trucks have entered Gaza, with deliveries of vital humanitarian aid. Specifically, (a) over 3,000 tons of food; (b) over 1,720 tons of medical equipment; and (c) over 600 tons of equipment for temporary shelters have been brought from Egypt through the Rafah border crossing. Israel does not permit fuel to be brought in as we know it will be immediately requisitioned for use by Hamas to power their war machine, even though we also know that they have 200,000 liters of fuel stored in fuel tanks which they control.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has reiterated Israel’s position that there will be no truce, no cease fire and no fuel shipments until the 240+ hostages are returned to Israel.
The situation on the ground remains volatile, with no clear end in sight. Earlier today, the northern front saw its share of tension, with Hezbollah launching 20 rockets toward the Golan Heights and even as far south as Haifa. In spite of Nasrallah’s comments late last week that Lebanon has no interest in escalating the cross border activity, it would appear to some that we are inching ever closer to war with Hizballah as well.
Additionally, Israeli security forces have just arrested 28 Palestinian suspects in the West Bank, 11 of whom are linked to Hamas.
Across the world demonstrations in support of Hamas and against what we are doing here in Israel continue to grow. We heard this week that the pro Hamas, pro ceasefire movement is contacting the US Congress at a 6:1 rate against those supporting Israel. If those of you reading this update support Israel, we need your voice to be heard now!!!! Please take a moment and write to your representatives in Washington urging them to continue their support of Israel at this challenging time.
We continue our prayers that the war will end sooner rather than later and our troops will return home safely.