The 45h day of war in Israel dawned with some 236 hostages still being kept by Hamas. On Sunday night there was an emergency meeting of the Israeli Cabinet to discuss an offer by Hamas made through the Qataris to release a significant number of hostages (women, children and foreign nationals) for a three-day suspension of the fighting as well as other considerations not yet made public. The Cabinet said it would consider any serious and verifiable offer by Hamas to free some or all of the hostages. There was even a rumor that this would start at 1100 this morning local time but that time has passed and there is no agreement. So the stalemate on release of the hostages continues.
The IDF now has conclusive proof that Noa Marciano, the young woman who died in captivity, was taken into Shifa Hospital in Gaza in early October with non-life-threatening injuries and came out in a body bag, clearly having been murdered by Hamas. Supporting video from Shifa Hospital security cameras show additional hostages being brought there who were not injured, adding veracity to Israel’s claim that the building was used as a Hamas activity center.
Military action continues on both borders. Hamas continues to fire rockets into Israel while Hizballah continues firing mortars into northern Israel.
Security sources suspect that the head of Hamas, Yeheh Sinwar and the “military brains” behind Hamas, Mohammed Dieff, have fled south, and are probably hiding out in Khan Yunis, Dieff’s hometown. Earlier today Israel captured 300 Hamas terrorists and brought them to Israel for questioning. Hopefully some of them have intel that will aid us in the search for the hostages.
Israel’s Minister of Defense, Yoav Gallant, said that Israel is now wrapping up the first phase of the battle plan and is ready to enter the second phase. Ynetnews reported that as part of the end game of phase one, the IDF is getting ready to enter Sangia, a Gaza town with one of Hamas’ strongest battalions. This was also where Israel suffered huge losses during the Tzuk Eitan battle in 2014. Defense Minister Gallant was not specific about what the second phase would be, but military analysts suspect he is talking about sending troops into the south. This is going to be a difficult struggle, according to analysts.
Because of the difficulties the IDF faces, Israel is still taking a slow and steady approach, especially as it considers entering southern Gaza. Experts also say that the Rafiah crossing into Sinai is problematic as tunnels there have been used for years to smuggle in tens of thousands of weapons for Hamas’ use, many used in the Oct 7th massacre.
The good news is that in the last few weeks 100 young people who live abroad have made aliyah and have joined the IDF as lone soldiers. Bless them all for doing this and may they bring honor to Israel as we thank them for their dedication to their people and its land.
As is obvious, those of us who live here, are facing the greatest challenge to our continued existence as a free people since 1973. The threat reminds us of what is at stake, so ably summarized by former US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during World War II when he said: “The only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over the government.” Let’s hope both we the people and our government are up to the challenge.
And on this World Children’s Day let’s hope we get our 38 children back quickly and safely so that they may be with their families once again.