Today has been one of the most difficult days of the war so far. Our recovery people have been in the south collecting bodies now for two days. Most of them have said that what they saw was worse than anything they have ever seen and that was even from some battle-hardened veterans. The barbarism on the part of the Hamas marauders knew no bounds, causing our teams to view the mutilation of women, children and old people along with young adults, all of which was almost beyond belief.
Today’s upwardly revised numbers show 1,200 Israelis dead with 3,400 now wounded, some in very serious condition. Those numbers will probably grow as there as still people unaccounted for. 14 Americans and 17 Brits are among the dead (or missing), with 20 Americans still categorized as unaccounted for. The government now says that there are 150 hostages being held in Gaza as well.
The Israeli Defense Forces have called up an additional 60,000 reservists bringing the total to 360,000. Mobilizing that many people on short notice for an unexpected war presents major challenges to feed, transport and support so many troops. Thankfully, in Israel, when a war begins the country becomes united and totally committed to supporting our troops. Someone I know just sent us an email that he is on the way to deliver pizza from Modi’in to troops assembled in the Etzion area south of Jerusalem. Another friend told us today she made 2,000 tuna fish sandwiches at a Chabad facility in Jerusalem to be sent to the troops near Gaza.
The Israel Air Force has conducted 2,300 air strikes on military targets in Gaza, most of which are situated in residential apartment blocks. As a result, almost 1,000 Gazan citizens have also lost their lives.
Of course, Hamas is trying very hard to change the narrative. In an interview on London’s Sky New earlier today, Dr. Basam Naim, the Head of Political and International relations for Hamas spouted the new line of lies to justify the carnage. The interviewer asked him how Hamas could justify the slaughter of over 1,000 Israeli non-combatant civilians who were just living their lives? Naim replied that Hamas did not kill any civilians. In their mind every Israeli is living on land that is part of Palestine and, therefore, every Israeli is a soldier who is deserving of death. Thankfully the interviewer, who was aghast at the response, pushed back hard. You can see the full program here…
Yesterday, we also saw action on the Lebanese and today on the Syrian border as well. The infiltration of terrorists from Lebanon were neutralized but, in the gun battle, two members of the IDF lost their lives. Today, there were also some mortars lobbed at Israel from Syria. Those borders will need to be watched carefully. The arrival of a US Aircraft Carrier off of Israel’s shores earlier today will, hopefully, convey a message to Lebanon not to carry this further.
We also often forget the personal side of all of this. There were people who were scheduled to be married this week where one or both of the partners received a call up notice. Our rabbi married one of those couples earlier in the week. The young man received a call up notice (Tzav 8 as it is called here) to report to duty on Monday but he was scheduled to be married that evening. The army gave him an extra day to report, so he could be married on Monday as planned and then left for his post on Tuesday morning.
In addition, most of the communities close to the Gaza border have been evacuated so the IDF can mass their troops, vehicles and tanks there. Some of the hotels at the Dead Sea made their rooms available to the evacuees at reduced rates which were paid for by generous donors around the world.
So the sad saga continues and we pray that our troops will be successful, that the war will end and our young men and women will return home to their families, whole and in good health.