Day 80 of the war with Hamas and the casualty rate of soldiers who have fallen in action now stands at 156. Heavy fighting continues in Gaza with Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterating last night that Israel will continue to advance until it achieves the goal of eliminating the threat of Hamas on our southern border.
Rocket fire from the south began again this afternoon after a 16-hour lull with the launching of three rockets from Gaza into Israel. On the northern border with Lebanon, cross-border activity continues with some shelling of northern Israel’s communities which, of course, had been previously evacuated.
Roads and towns near the Lebanese-Israeli border were closed to civilian traffic this morning until further notice, due to escalating tensions between Israel and Hezbollah. Several roads in the area were also closed to civilian traffic until further notice, according to the Upper Galilee Regional Council.
The hostage release initiative put forth by Egypt and reported here yesterday is being given consideration by Israel. No indication yet whether it will find favor with the War Cabinet here. Nevertheless, there seems to be a general consensus that Egypt is a better potential go-between than Qatar which stands squarely on the side of Hamas.
Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, has communicated to the organization’s international leaders his refusal to accept Israel’s terms for ending the war, according to a report by Qatar’s Al Jazeera earlier today. The refusal comes amidst discussions about the Egypt-mediated ceasefire proposal, which involves releasing some hostages, establishing an expert-led government in the Strip, and an Israeli withdrawal. Notably, Al Jazeera later removed this news article from their website after a few hours.
The report from the Qatari network, known for its connections with Hamas, indicates that Sinwar has sent messages asserting the readiness of Hamas’ military wing to prolong the conflict with the IDF. This statement comes nearly three months into the war. Sinwar also mentioned figures regarding IDF losses in personnel and equipment, but these claims are reportedly exaggerated and inconsistent with the IDF’s published data.
Sinwar, a primary target in this war, has been out of public sight and unheard of since the offensive began on October 7. It is speculated that he might be hiding in Khan Yunis, located in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.
Maersk Shipping Lines has begun to traverse the Red Sea once again now that the US-backed Prosperity Guardian initiative to protect shipping lanes there seems to be in place and functioning. Time will tell how effective it will be in stopping the Houti pirates in their tracks.
Late this afternoon there was a report that an attack on a neighborhood in Damascus has killed a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) commander who was headquartered there. Israel has not taken responsibility for this action.
As always, much information is less than clear. What is clear is that the fighting rages on, the rockets from Gaza and Lebanon continue and our young people continue to get killed. May all of this end sooner rather than later.