IDF strikes terror cell on Lebanese border; US advised to delay Gaza ground invasion

Western leaders led by US call on Israel to protect civilians, underscore support for Israel; Second shipment of critical supplies delivered despite opposition from families of hostage

Yael Ciechanover, Yoav Zitun, Lior Ben Ari, Reuters, Korin Elbaz-Alush|Updated:
The Israel Defense Forces struck several Hezbollah targets overnight between Sunday and Monday, including terrorist outposts and watchtowers. On Monday morning, IDF forces attacked a terror cell on the Lebanon border, destroying the anti-tank missile launcher it had planned on using against IDF positions, according to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit.
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The New York Times reported Monday that the White House "advised Israel to delay a ground invasion of Gaza" in order to buy more time for negotiations on the release of hostages. Another goal of the US in calling for the postponement is to prepare for attacks by pro-Iranian militias against American targets. However, the US still supports Israeli entry into the Gaza Strip and does not "require" a delay. According to the report, the release of Judith and Natalie Raanan from Gaza led the US administration to put more significant pressure on Israel to delay ground invasion.
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דגל פלסטין ו חיזבאללה ליד פקחי או"ם יוניפי"ל ב דרום לבנון
דגל פלסטין ו חיזבאללה ליד פקחי או"ם יוניפי"ל ב דרום לבנון
The flags of the Palestinians and Hezbollah near UN UNIFIL inspectors in southern Lebanon
(Photo: Joseph EID / AFP)
Meanwhile, the leaders of the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Britain late on Sunday underscored their support for Israel and its right to defend itself, but also urged it to adhere to international humanitarian law and protect civilians. In a joint statement issued after a telephone call convened by U.S. President Joe Biden, the leaders also welcomed the release of two hostages and called for the immediate release of all remaining hostages.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed on the "continued flow" of humanitarian assistance into the Gaza Strip amid Israel's war against the territory's ruling Hamas terrorist faction, the White House announced Sunday night.
"The President welcomed the first two convoys of humanitarian assistance since Hamas’s October 7 terrorist attack, which crossed the border into Gaza and is being distributed to Palestinians in need," according to a readout of the call between the leaders. "The leaders affirmed that there will now be continued flow of this critical assistance into Gaza."
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ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו פגישה עם נשיא ארה"ב ג'ו ביידן ב תל אביב
ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו פגישה עם נשיא ארה"ב ג'ו ביידן ב תל אביב
U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
(Photo: GPO)
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir blasted Netanyahu shortly following the White House announcement. "Any agreement on ‘continued flow’ of assistance to Gaza that doesn't include the release of all our captives is a continuation of the approach that brought us to our current situation. Humanitarian aid should only be given in exchange for the release of all the captives," he said.
The first shipment of humanitarian aid into Gaza was delivered Saturday morning with Israel's approval, despite opposition from the families of Israelis who are listed as missing or held hostage in Gaza. Another convoy carrying critical supplies entered Gaza through the Rafah border crossing Sunday night.
Critical supplies entered Gaza through the Rafah border
(REUTERS)

Shortly before the delivery of the second shipment, the IDF’s liaison to the Palestinians said that the Israeli military would “thwart” any shipment of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip that is not coordinated with Israeli authorities.
"The delivery and its intended recipients are being monitored by Israel. Any other supply attempt that is not coordinated and approved by Israel will be thwarted," the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said.
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מעבר רפיח נפתח לסיוע הומניטרי
מעבר רפיח נפתח לסיוע הומניטרי
Truck convoy carrying humanitarian assistance entering Gaza through Rafah border crossing, Saturday morning
(Photo: AP / Fatima Shbair)
COGAT added that Israel's decision to allow the aid came in response to a U.S. request to not obstruct humanitarian supplies from Egypt, as long as they do not end up in the hands of Hamas, and that “the equipment was inspected by Israeli security personnel before entering Gaza.”
Sources in Gaza said that the second delivery was scheduled to enter Gaza through Rafah in the afternoon but a spokesperson for the Rafah border crossing later announced that Palestinian trucks were heading back to Gaza following the postponement of aid delivery.
The Prime Minister's Office issued a statement denying media reports that purported to show fuel trucks entering the Palestinian enclave. "The trucks seen transporting fuel within the Strip are from the UN's fuel reserves on the Gazan side, intended for hospitals in the Strip," the statement read.
The IDF reported Sunday evening that it struck two terrorist cells in Lebanon near the Har Dov and Metula areas, the fifth and sixth in the span of 24 hours. Based on intelligence, the cell near Metula was believed to be preparing to launch anti-tank missiles into Israeli territory, while the cell in Mount Dov aimed to shoot rockets. Both cells were eliminated before they could carry out any attacks. Meanwhile, Hezbollah confirmed the deaths of 13 of its members on Saturday and Sunday.
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גבול הגדר ברצועת עזה
גבול הגדר ברצועת עזה
Archival: the Gaza border security fence
(Photo: EPA / MOHAMMED SABER)
The army also reported that an IDF soldier was killed, and three others were wounded—one moderately and two lightly—on Sunday following an anti-tank missile strike on an IDF tank and an engineering vehicle in the Gaza Strip near Kibbutz Kissufim.
The force came under attack during a local operation west of the Gaza security fence aimed at dismantling terrorist infrastructure, clearing the area of terrorists and weapons and finding missing individuals. An IDF tank responded by targeting the group that fired at the troops. The families of the deceased and wounded soldiers have been informed.
IDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said "we are working to prepare the ground for maneuver. We need to strike from the air to reduce the risks to the soldiers in the Gaza Strip."
Earlier, the army said that an Israeli tank "accidentally fired and hit an Egyptian post" near Kerem Shalom in the Egypt-Gaza-Israel tri-border area. "The incident is being investigated and the details are under review. The IDF expresses sorrow regarding the incident," a statement read.
The Egyptian army spokesperson said in a statement that several Egyptian border guards sustained minor injuries after being accidentally hit by fragments of a shell from an Israeli tank. He added that Israel apologized for the incident.
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פגיעה סמוך לרכב בנתיבות
פגיעה סמוך לרכב בנתיבות
Vehicle hit by Gaza rocket near Netivot
A man in his 60s was moderately to severely wounded by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hitting a vehicle in the southern city of Netivot. First responders transported him to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hezbollah would be making the mistake of its life if it decided to join the war. Speaking to troops on the Lebanon border Netanyahu said that Israel was holding the enemy at bay in the north while fighting to win in the south.
"If Hezbollah opens a second front against Israel, our response would be such that the terror group would long for the level of destruction inflicted on it during the 2006 Second Lebanon War and the ramifications for Lebanon would be devastating. But we are prepared for any scenario."
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בנימין נתניהו  עם לוחמי הקומנדו בצפון
בנימין נתניהו  עם לוחמי הקומנדו בצפון
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with special forces on the border with Lebanon
(Photo: GPO)
Exchanges of fire across the Israel-Lebanon border continued and earlier IDF forces shot down a drone approaching Israel. The military said its troops also thwarted an attempt to fire anti-tank missiles at Israel.
The Hamas Health Ministry in Gaza said that since Oct. 7, Israeli strikes on Gaza 4,651 Palestinians were killed, of which 40% were children. More than 14,245 others have been wounded, with 70% of them being children and women. The spokesman, Ashraf Al-Qudra, said that Israel strikes had killed 266 Palestinians over the past 24 hours, including 117 children.
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דיר אל-בלח
דיר אל-בלח
Aftermath of Israeli air strikes on Deir al Balah in Gaza
(Photo: Hatem Moussa / AP)
The Oct. 7 terrorist attack by Hamas has left 21 children from 13 families orphaned, the Welfare Ministry reported on Sunday.
One of the orphans is a 4-year-old girl who was abducted to the Gaza Strip after both her parents were murdered in the attack. Another girl lost her mother, and her father was taken to Gaza.
Since the onset of hostilities, the ministry’s social workers and local authorities have been locating children who lost their parents and establishing contact with the families where these children are now living.
Expert teams will offer them a holistic care package, encompassing emotional, psychological and material support, as well as assistance in claiming rights from other authorities.
Furthermore, the ministry is working to stabilize the families' situation for a three-month period, during which the children and families' conditions will be assessed, and needs that arise will be addressed.
IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said in a briefing that the terrorist squad targeted in Jenin in the early morning hours was a ticking timebomb. He said it was the practice of the terrorists to hide under a place of worship. Earlier the military said It conducted an aerial strike on the Al-Ansar mosque in the West Bank city of Jenin.
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הריסות בג'נין
הריסות בג'נין
Aftermath of a bombing raid on Jenin
(Photo: AFP)
The mosque had an underground tunnel used by Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists that the military said were planning an imminent attack like the one carried out by Hamas on its murderous rampage. Hagari said that in the attacks on Gaza overnight, the commander of the Hamas rocket force was killed.
Syrian media reported an Israeli strike on the airports in Damascus and Aleppo, early on Sunday, one week after similar attacks were carried out.
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הפגיעה במסלול בנמל התעופה בחלב
הפגיעה במסלול בנמל התעופה בחלב
A crater caused by an airstrike on the Aleppo airport
The strike was the most extensive thus far and included more munitions than were used overnight in Gaza against Hamas targets. The runways in both airfields were bombed amid real concerns that forces and advanced weaponry from Iran and Iraq would arrive to be deployed in Syria and Lebanon.
Residents of communities located up to 5 km. (3 miles) for the Lebanon border were told to evacuate to the south after other communities including the city of Kiryat Shmona were already instructed to leave, out of concern for the safety of civilians.
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פינוי התושבים בקריית שמונה
פינוי התושבים בקריית שמונה
Residents of Kiryat Shmona boarding busses that will take them to safety away from the fighting on the Lebanon border
(Photo: Efi Sharir)
Late on Saturday, U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters, when asked whether he is encouraging Israel to delay a ground invasion of Gaza, that "I'm talking to the Israelis."
First published: 17:44, 10.21.23
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