By HFI Staff Writers
On Saturday, October 7th, 2023, Hamas launched the worst attack on Israel in its history. Around 6:30am, as rockets rained down on Israel, thousands of terrorists broke through the barrier between Gaza and Israel. During the attack, terrorists brutally murdered nearly 1,200 Israeli civilians and over 300 soldiers. Hamas also kidnapped 240+ civilians and soldiers, including children, and brought them back into Gaza.
The same day, October 7th, the Israeli government declared war on Hamas. The IDF has now taken over nearly all northern Gaza and destroyed thousands of terror assets. During this time, the IDF has done everything in its power to help Gazan civilians evacuate the war zone. Until the ceasefire (and even 15 minutes after) Hamas continued to fire rockets towards Israeli population centers, mainly in southern and central Israel.
Over 250,000 Israelis have been displaced since the beginning of the conflict, leaving behind their homes, possessions and livelihoods. Hope for Israel’s Operation Restoration continues to support many of these families at hotels throughout Israel.
A deal between Hamas and Israel for a four-day ceasefire in return for the release of around 50 children, mothers and elderly women has been reached. As of this writing, 61 Israeli hostages and 23+ foreign hostages are now back in Israel.
Overall Statistics from Operation “Swords of Iron”:
- 1,225 Israeli civilians have been killed, most of them on October 7th.
- 392 Israeli soldiers have been killed, 71 since the beginning of the ground operation in Gaza.
- 157 Israelis and foreign nationals, including multiple children, remain hostages in Gaza.
- 9,038 Israelis have been injured in the war.
- Over 10,500 rockets have been fired at Israeli civilians by Hamas since October 7th.
Gaza Front Update
What happened this week?
- Israel worked with Shifa Hospital and the UN to evacuate premature babies from Shifa to a safer hospital.
- IDF forces discovered a fortified tunnel with a climate-controlled command room and bathroom under Shifa Hospital. Forces also found evidence that hostages were held at least temporarily in the hospital after their kidnapping.
- The IDF surrounded Jabaliya, its last main target above ground in northern Gaza. Fighting continues here, as well as in a few other areas.
- The IDF has destroyed at least 400 tunnels since the beginning of the ground operation.
- The IDF found and conquered Hamas’ intelligence headquarters this week, recovering numerous documents and other intelligence materials.
- A ceasefire began Friday morning, November 24th, 2023, and the first 13 hostages were released at 4:00pm Friday, and are back in Israel. 12 Thai nationals were also released as part of the deal.
- In the second day of ceasefire, 13 more Israelis and 4 more foreign hostages were released, and on the third day 14 Israelis and 3 internationals were released. On the fourth day, 11 Israelis and 6 internationals were released and are now back in Israel. 10 Israelis were released on the fifth day.
- There were air raid sirens in the Gaza Envelope about 15 minutes after the ceasefire began.
- Sadly, at least 19 Israeli soldiers have fallen this week in combat in Gaza.
Israel’s efforts to preserve civilian life continue to be worthy of note, especially when contrasted by Hamas’ outrageous and continued use of human shields. Additionally, long-standing Israeli claims about a command center under Shifa Hospital were justified this week.
Regarding the hostage deal, Israelis are cautiously optimistic. At the time of this writing, approximately 57 hostages have been released and are back in Israel. In the past, the terror organization has taken advantage of Israel’s briefly lowering its guard during ceasefires to launch additional attacks against Israel. This continues to be a source of some concern.
Hamas has at this point lost control of northern Gaza and their only remaining bargaining chip is the hostages, meaning that they will hold their cards close right now.
Northern Front Update
What happened this week?
- Hizballah and the IDF continued to exchange fire across the Lebanese border, with Hizballah firing guided anti-tank missiles towards Israeli communities and army bases and the IDF responding with air and artillery strikes.
- A rocket fired from Lebanon hit an Israeli home in Metulla.
- There were several incidents of UAVs attempting to enter Israeli airspace, at least four on Sunday alone.
- Sirens sounded in the Lower Galilee region for the first time in around a month.
- After an Israeli strike in southern Lebanon which neutralized several terrorists, Hizballah threatened to retaliate.
It remains unclear whether Hizballah (or maybe more accurately Iran) is interested in an all-out war with Israel. At the moment, Israel and the Lebanese organization are playing a “ping-pong” game, with neither side moving to escalate the situation further. Surprisingly, Hizballah announced Wednesday that they will also respect the presumed ceasefire in Gaza as long as Israel does. However, this statement should not be taken at face value; it could be an attempt to gain international legitimacy or a cover for a larger attack on Israel. In any case, as long as there is no enforced demilitarized zone between Israel and Lebanon, Israel’s northern front should be considered a war zone.
Other Fronts: Judea & Samaria and Eilat
What happened this week?
- A terrorist opened fire on an Israeli vehicle in Judea and Samaria. There were no casualties, thank God, but the terrorist escaped.
- Israel continues to operate to arrest terror suspects in Judea and Samaria. Close to 2,000 suspects have been arrested since October 7th.
- Israel also arrested a senior Hamas commander at his home in Judea.
- The Houthis took responsibility for a cruise missile fired towards Eilat on Wednesday. A US destroyer in the Red Sea also shot down several UAVs fired by the Houthis this week.
- The Yemenite Houthi rebel group seized a cargo ship en route from Turkey to India and continues to hold it and its crew captive.
In the expansion or restriction of the conflict, Judea and Samaria play a central role, due to their large and fractious Palestinian population and the continuous tension between Jewish and Palestinian residents in the area.
The involvement of the Houthis in the conflict remains concerning. Although they are relatively disconnected from Israel geographically speaking, they have proved their ability this week to cause deadly disruptions to both Israeli and international actors. The Houthis have now stated that any ship with Israeli connections must sail around the Cape of Good Hope instead of through the Suez Canal and Red Sea (making the journey longer by thousands of miles).
At the very least, the Houthis are another distraction for Israel in the war against Hamas; at most, they could open another aerial front for Israel and shut down the Red Sea to shipping traffic.
Home Front Update
What happened this week?
- A deal for the release of at least 50 hostages was signed this week. The first 13 women and children were released Friday at 4:00pm.
- Families of some of the hostages along with thousands of Israelis finished a march from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem with a demonstration outside the PM’s office.
- Sadly, the bodies of multiple Israelis who were officially “missing” since October 7th were identified this week, including that of a 12-year-old girl.
- Hamas fired the heaviest barrage on central Israel in several weeks.
- Possible food shortages caused by the war are beginning to be felt by the general public.
The war’s effect on the economy is only just beginning, with lowered financial ratings, tens of thousands of unemployed Israelis, and collapsing farming and tourism sectors. Even non-Israeli airlines’ stock ratings have dropped as they are forced to cancel numerous flights to the Jewish State. The crisis will likely only get worse as the war continues and more sectors are affected.
There is also a growing sense of frustration with the government, both in their failure to prevent October 7th and in their lack of support for struggling civilians since. It is important to note that those affected are not just Jewish Israelis, but Israeli Arabs and Palestinians as well.
What happened this week?
- A neo-Nazi march in Wisconsin was attended by hundreds.
- A US schoolboard member resigned after calling the IDF a “terrorist” organization.
- A Red Cross official visited Hamas leaders to call for the release of the hostages – but only after Israeli criticism.
- Spain appointed a new “Minister of Child and Youth Affairs” who openly supports Hamas and accuses Israel of genocide.
- Dozens of people participated in a solidarity run in Tokyo for the release of the hostages.
Anti-Israel sentiment and anti-Semitism have not only risen hundreds of percents since October 7th, acceptance of people who express anti-Semitic views has also grown. The most shocking example of this is of course the new Spanish minister, who will have a concerning amount of influence over the next generation of Spanish children.
However, as seen in the event in Tokyo, millions of people continue to support Israel and call for the release of the hostages.
What You Can Do:
We at HFI have experienced several serious incidents recently where our content has been censored or removed. These incidents only drive home the necessity to stand for the truth of what is happening in Israel and share it with others!
You can help us and Israel by:
- Encouraging others to receive our daily updates via email. You can sign up at Join - Hope for Israel (hope4israel.org)
- Joining our social media ISRAEL ADVOCACY campaign by commenting on our posts, and by sharing our email updates, YouTube channel Beyond The Headlines - YouTube, Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Hope4IsraelMinistries and Instagram feed Hope for Israel (@hope4israel_jerusalem) • Instagram photos and videos.
- If you are able, please also consider donating to “Operation Restoration” to support the immense need in Israel. Write “OPERATION RESTORATION” in the description box of your donation, and it will go directly to relieve refugees and support our soldiers where needed, as well as for the restoration of the hurting communities after the war.
Please also continue to pray:
- For the release of ALL the hostages held by Hamas and other terror organizations and for God’s protection over them during their captivity.
- For Iran, Hizballah and the Houthis not to escalate the war on other fronts.
- For protection over Israeli soldiers and security forces.
- For wisdom for Israel's government & military leaders
- For continued international backing
- For protection over Israelis struggling with PTSD
- For comfort for the families of Israel's fallen and hope for those whose loved ones are among those taken hostage by Hamas
- For stability and endurance for Israel's economy
- For unity for the people of Israel.
- For prayer against rising anti-Israel sentiment and anti-Semitism
- That the Comforter would bring comfort to the hurting and open the eyes of His people
- For civilians in Gaza to awaken to the truth and come to know the God of Israel
- For 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.” – Psalm 121:4
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