Operation Swords of Iron – Week 24


By HFI Staff Writers

This coming week, Israel – and Jewish communities around the world – will celebrate the joyous holiday of Purim, which originates in the Biblical book of Esther. Sadly, this year Purim is overshadowed by ongoing war, grief, and loss. 134 innocent people are still held hostage by Hamas.

Although Purim may not be the holiday of unalloyed festivity that Israelis are used to, it remains a powerful reminder that the God of Israel is faithful to His people! We encourage you to read the book of Esther this coming week and pray for the release of the hostages and the surrender of Israel’s enemies!

Hope for Israel’s “Operation Restoration” continues to provide practical support for Israelis affected by the war, including evacuated families and wounded soldiers. When you support “Operation Restoration” you are bringing hot meals and emotional support to wounded soldiers and their families in Israeli hospitals. Hope for Israel will continue to support the people of Israel through whatever the next period of war will bring.

Overall Statistics from Operation “Swords of Iron”:
  • 1,528 Israelis and internationals have been killed, most of them on October 7th.
  • 594 Israeli soldiers have been killed, 251 of them in the ground operation in Gaza. 3,098 soldiers have been injured to varying degrees since the beginning of the war.
  • 134 Israelis and foreign nationals, including multiple children, remain hostages in Gaza. Included in the number are the bodies of hostages murdered by Hamas in captivity.
  • 14,830 Israelis have been injured in the war.
  • Over 18,000 rockets have been fired at Israeli civilians by Hamas and Hizballah since October 7th.
Home Front Update, Including Judea and Samaria

What happened this week on the home front?

  • Over 30,000 Israelis protested in the streets Saturday night calling for elections and the release of the 134 hostages remaining in Gaza.
  • German Chancellor Schulz visited Israel and expressed continued support for Israel’s war against Hamas.
  • The Israeli government approved a National Day of Remembrance for the horrors of October 7th.
  • Hundreds gathered at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem Thursday night to pray for the return of the hostages.

What happened this week in Judea and Samaria?

  • A Palestinian terrorist opened fire on a minibus traveling in Samaria; 6 are wounded, two of them seriously. The terrorist was eliminated by military chopper fire following hours’ long chase.
  • A Hamas terrorist was eliminated after opening fire on a Jewish community in Hebron.
  • Dozens of wanted individuals were arrested in Israeli security operations in Judea and Samaria as well as the Jordan Valley.
  • The Palestinian Authority called Hamas out for October 7th, corruption and disconnect from the needs of the Palestinian people.
  • Two members of the Israeli security forces were injured in a shooting attack outside Jerusalem.
  • Palestinians were arrested for destroying a Jewish historical site dating to the Roman period. The defendants built a parking lot on the site, which included at least one place of burial. There has so far been no international recognition of, or outcry over, this incident.

The tensions in Palestinian society are important to understanding Israel’s current situation and the dilemmas facing the Jewish State. Hamas, which essentially called for terrorist violence against Israeli security forces in the leadup to Ramadan, is rapidly losing popularity in Gaza. In contrast, many Palestinians in Judea and Samaria continue to strongly support the terrorist organization.

However, despite this fact, there has not yet been a mass response to Hamas’ call for violence, indicating either that Palestinians in this area either genuinely want peace or are becoming disillusioned with Hamas’ empty rhetoric, or that the IDF has successfully established blanket deterrence against terror.

It is interesting to note the shift in the Palestinian Authority’s concerning Hamas. This week, after Hamas criticized the PA’s new president, the latter notably called Hamas out for starting the war and for running it from penthouses in Qatar while the residents of Gaza starve. The public break between the two bodies is interesting, especially given that only a few weeks ago they were apparently discussing a Palestinian “unity” government after the war.

Israel is largely disillusioned with the PA, which has become corrupt and ineffective in the twenty-plus years since it was founded. Additionally, it is known for providing financial incentives to terrorist activity, including stipends to the families of terrorists. The swearing in of a new government this week could signal a change, especially with the PA likely hoping – backed by the international community – to play a part in governing Gaza after the war.

This coming week, Purim is set to fall during Ramadan, possibly leading to additional tensions. Sadly, the traditional street festivities could be seen as an easy target for plotting terrorists. We need your continued prayers for a peaceful and encouraging Purim for all of Israel!

    Southern Fronts: Gaza & Eilat Update

    What happened this week in Gaza?

    • 31 aid trucks entered northern Gaza, where desperate civilians were shot on by terrorists. 313,000 tons of food, water and medical supplies have entered Gaza since the war’s outbreak.
    • A new squad of masked and armed Gazan men defended trucks of flour from thieves in northern Gaza.
    • The US, Germany, Jordan and France coordinated air drops of humanitarian aid into Gaza.
    • Israel launched a new limited operation in the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City after receiving intel that senior terror operatives were again using the facility for terrorist activity. The operation is on-going and at the time of this writing, around 140 terrorists have been eliminated, over 300 arrested, and millions of shekels in Hamas funding seized.
    • Sadly, two soldiers were killed this week in action and two more were sadly declared dead in Hamas captivity.

    What happened this week in Eilat?

    • A UAV fell inside Israeli territory north of Eilat. The details of the incident are unclear.
    • An additional suspicious object was shot down off Eilat Thursday evening.

    Since the IDF moved to southern Gaza several months ago their presence in the north has been relatively limited, leading Hamas to hope for a return to power in places from which the IDF has withdrawn. The IDF’s operation this week in Al-Shifa Hospital, although an “operational necessity” as the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said, may be just as useful to Israel as a message to Hamas.

    Hamas continues to maintain delusions of grandeur regarding its return to power and the IDF’s eventual withdrawal from the Gaza Strip which likely influence its continuing and ridiculous demands for a potential deal to release hostages.

    As international pressure on Hamas becomes lukewarm, and the terror organization takes its chances on a resurgence in northern Gaza, it is to be hoped that the IDF operation in Al-Shifa will serve as a warning and bring the terror organization to the table for the genuine negotiations.

    As a reminder, Israel’s primary objective in the ongoing war against Hamas is the return of the hostages! Israel does not arbitrarily continue to risk its international image and the lives of its soldiers; this campaign is necessary for the rescue of 134 innocent people being held in inhumane conditions and losing hope of their rescue.

    Northern Front Update

    What happened this week?

    • The IDF released evidence that Hizballah is abusing civilian ambulances for terrorist activity, a violation of international humanitarian law.
    • Rocket sirens sounded multiple times in communities across northern Israel.
    • A rocket fell without detonating in a civilian community in northern Israel during barrages Hizballah launched additional barrages Thursday evening.

    After several weeks of heightened tensions on Israel’s northern border, this week brought a return of relative – but tense – calm to the region. Although the few days without Hizballah’s ceaseless attacks provided a much-needed respite to exhausted and despairing residents of northern Israel, it is much too soon to breathe a sigh of relief.

    Israel is still preparing for war with Hizballah and the reason for the brief pause – which ended already in the middle of the week – is unclear. It is possible that Hizballah was also taking a deep breath before launching a more serious and sinister offensive.

    Regardless of the challenging and unpredictable nature of the terror organization’s attacks on northern Israel, another example of their war crimes was made available to the Israeli public this week. Israeli intelligence services published evidence that Hizballah is using civilian ambulances to transport operatives and weapons between terrorist bases.

    It is unpardonable that the world stands by silently allowing Hizballah to continue these violations. Hizballah must be universally recognized as a terrorist organization and sanctioned as such, both in the context of the current conflict and outside it. Hizballah must be held accountable for its ongoing crimes against Israeli civilians, such as the unprovoked rocket and drone attacks, as well as their abuse of Lebanese civilian infrastructure.

    International Front

    What happened this week?

    • The Houthis widened their area of attacks to include the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Cape of Good Hope route around South Africa.
    • Over 100 pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested after storming the NYT offices in New York.
    • In contrast to last week’s refusal to condemn Hamas, the UN Secretary General again expressed an empty call for the hostages’ release.
    • Congress subpoenaed three US universities for the release of financial records relating to Qatari donations.
    • Professor Hassner of UC Berkeley continued his sit-in protest of the university’s tepid response to rampant campus anti-Semitism.
    • Josep Borrell of the EU, the UNRWA, and Egypt have all accused Israel of intentionally withholding aid from starving Gazans.
    • Two Afghani immigrants allegedly affiliated with ISIS were arrested for planning a terror attack on the Swedish Parliament.
    • 70 individuals who hold or held influential positions in the US Democrat party wrote a letter to Biden encouraging pressure on Israel to change policy in Judea and Samaria.
    • Robert F. Kennedy Jr. expressed support for Israel’s “moral” war against Hamas.
    • Great Britain threatened Israel with an arms embargo should the latter not allow Red Cross visits to October 7th terrorists in Israeli prisons.

    This week held some surprising and encouraging expressions of support for Israel including from RFK Jr. as well as in relation to campus anti-Semitism.

    However, despite these brave individuals’ choice to stand for the truth, Israel is now meeting opposition in every arena as even its own allies face – and often give in to – pressures to condemn the Middle East’s only democracy. The pressures include violent protests, diplomatic tensions, and concerns over dissatisfied constituents. As the forces surrounding Israel grow, Hamas will only be emboldened to dig in its heels and refuse to release the hostages.

    As the world focuses on Gazan children, many seem to have forgotten that after nearly 170 days and counting, Hamas is still holding hostage two little Israeli boys with red hair. Hamas has claimed that the little Bibas brothers, Ariel and Kfir, both of whom are under five years old, were murdered, a claim which Israel has not confirmed. If they are still alive, they are most certainly being starved and abused. It is time to release these two children! Where are the headlines calling to bring them home?

    Every voice in favor of Israel, even as the voices opposing multiply, is meaningful and powerful! Thank you for standing with us in faith and prayer for the hostages’ release! We don’t take your support for granted.

    Partner with us in standing for the truth by:
    Please continue to pray with us for:
      • Israel’s Home Front, specifically:
        • A peaceful and encouraging Purim!
        • The release of ALL the hostages, and for supernational protection over them in captivity.
        • Comfort for the families of Israel's fallen, as well as the families of victims of recent terror attacks.
        • Hope for those whose loved ones are among those still held hostage by Hamas.
        • Wisdom for Israel’s leaders as they navigate growing economic, security and social challenges.
        • Protection over Israelis - soldiers and civilians - who are struggling with PTSD.
        • Guidance and support for reserve-duty soldiers who are gradually being released to return to their jobs and families after months of combat.
      • Israel’s Military Fronts, specifically:
        • De-escalation on Israel’s northern border.
        • Protection over Israel's soldiers in Gaza, on the northern borders, in Judea and Samaria and in Eilat/the Red Sea.
        • Healing for injured soldiers, especially for those fighting bacterial or fungal infections contracted in Gaza.
      • The International Front, specifically:
        • For moral clarity regarding Israel, Hamas, and anti-Semitism.
        • For continued – and even growing – international understanding of the importance of Israeli military action in Rafiah.
        • International pressure for the immediate release of ALL the hostages.
        • Favor for Israel at the Hague.
        • Concerted action against anti-Semitism throughout the world.
        • For the Body of Messiah throughout the world to wake up and take a stand for God and for Israel.
      • HFI Prayer Requests, specifically:
        • That our online Israel advocacy content would reach and influence the right people.
        • The immediate cessation of attacks against our platforms
        • Funding for our continued work through "Operation Restoration" to support evacuated Israeli families.
      • Please also pray for
        • Civilians throughout the Arab world to awaken to the truth and come to know the God of Israel.
        • The LORD's peace to rule over our land and in the hearts of all in Israel and for Israel to come to know her Messiah!

      May the God of Israel protect us all!

      “Behold, He who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.” – Psalms 121:4

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