The IDF presented on Sunday evening new evidence indicating that Al Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip functioned as a terror base, where Hamas terrorists took hostages on October 7.
Footage unveiled by IDF Spokesperson Read Admiral Daniel Hagari depicts Hamas terrorists inside the hospital forcibly taking a Nepalese and a Thai civilian, both kidnapped from Israeli territory. Israeli military vehicles taken on the day of the massacre in southern Israel can also be seen on the hospital's premises.
IDF forces uncovered a tunnel used by Hamas for terrorist purposes underneath Gaza City's Al Shifa hospital complex, the army reported Sunday evening.
A statement revealed that a staircase leading to a 55-meter-long (180-foot) terror tunnel, situated 10 meters (30 feet) deep, was discovered beneath the compound.
The tunnel shaft is reportedly outfitted with various defense measures, including a blast-proof door and a firing hole, which the army says is "used by the Hamas terrorist organization to block Israeli forces from entering the command centers and the underground assets belonging to Hamas."
The IDF added that the tunnel shaft was discovered under a shed near the hospital, alongside a booby-trapped pickup truck loaded with weapons such as anti-tank missiles, explosives and AK-47 rifles.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Sunday that Iran was ramping up its attacks on Israel using its proxies throughout the Middle East, labeling the Islamic Republic "the root of hostility and aggression against the State of Israel."
“The defense establishment has been seeing an increasing tendency of Iran to intensify militia attacks against Israel through its proxies in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. We are monitoring these developments and will act in time, place and with appropriate force."
Gallant noted that since the war began, Hezbollah has fired over 1,000 munitions against Israeli targets, but "is sustaining significantly more damage. We are thwarting firing cells and striking military assets and targets. Hezbollah is paying a heavy price every day."
Meanwhile, the IDF said that army chief, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, conducted a situation assessment Saturday night in the Southern Command headquarters and approved plans for ongoing ground operations in the Gaza Strip.
Yemen's Houthi rebels hijacked an Israeli-leased cargo ship and 22 crewmembers on board, Saudi media reported on Sunday.
The vessel, named the Galaxy Leader, was carrying cars from Turkey and was seized in the southern Red Sea en route to India. She is registered under the Bahamian flag and has Nassau as her home port.
The IDF called the hijacking of the cargo ship "a very grave incident of global consequence." The army added that the vessel was "staffed by civilians of various nationalities, not including Israelis. It is not an Israeli ship."
Earlier on Sunday, the Houthis, backed by Israel's arch-foe Iran, declared their intention to target any ships flying the Israeli flag or owned/operated by Israeli companies.
In their statement, they called on countries to evacuate their citizens from such vessels and advised against using them to transport goods. They also urged nations to notify these ships to steer clear of their ports.
The IDF announced on Sunday the names of three additional reservists who were killed in action in the Gaza Strip on Saturday. Two of the soldiers were killed by an anti-tank missile near Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, and the third, an artillery officer, was killed in a car accident on the way to an operational activity.
The soldiers are: Master Sgt. (res.) Yakir Biton, 34, of the 261st Reserve Brigade’s 8717th Battalion, from Jerusalem.; Sgt. Maj. (res.) Rani Tahan, 40, an operations sergeant of the 261st Reserve Brigade’s 8717th Battalion from Sde Nehemia; and Maj. (res.) Chen Yahalom, 35, an officer in the Artillery Corps’s 8159th Battalion, from Kfar Azar killed on the way to an operational activity.
The army later announced that two Givati Brigade soldiers were killed in combat in Gaza. They are Staff Sergeant Gal Mishaelof, 21, from Modi'in and Lieutenant (res.) Adir Portugal, 23, from Mazkeret Batya.
The remains of the body of 12-year-old Liel Hetzroni, who was murdered in the massacre at Kibbutz Be'eri, have been officially identified, the family was informed on Sunday. The remains were discovered by archaeologists of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Liel and her aunt Ayala were murdered along with Liel's twin brother, Yanai, and the twins' grandfather, Avi. In the absence of a body, the family chose to bury Liel's belongings in a ceremony last week.
A task force made up of the paratrooper brigade, along with units from armor, engineering and air force, located about 35 tunnel shafts and many weapons in the Sheikh Ijlin and Rimal neighborhoods in the southern Gaza Strip, and eliminated terrorists. "The soldiers of the brigade raided a camp used by the technical department of Hamas' military intelligence. During the raid, the soldiers located anti-tank missiles and seven rocket launchers," the IDF reported on Sunday.
Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said on Sunday his confidence was growing that a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas would be reached, adding challenges that remained were "very minor."
He said at a joint press conference with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in Doha that the "challenges facing the agreement are just practical and logistical."
At the same time, Borrell said that the UN Security Council resolution on humanitarian pauses in Gaza must be implemented. "The decisions of the Security Council are not just words ... They have to be implemented," Borrel said at the joint press conference.
The IDF announced on Sunday morning that it intercepted a "suspicious aerial target" that entered from Lebanon. It is suspected to be a Hezbollah drone, which was intercepted over the border. "The IDF is responding with fire toward Lebanon," the IDF spokesman said. Following the announcement, alert sirens sounded in about a dozen other northern border communities in a second possible drone infiltration.
A spokesman for Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi military, Yahya Sarea, said on Sunday the group will target all ships owned or operated by Israeli companies or carrying the Israeli flag, according to the group's Telegram channel. The spokesman called on all countries to withdraw their citizens working on the crews of any such ships.
The expanded political-security cabinet approved on Sunday morning at the end of a meeting that lasted about six and a half hours the war cabinet's decision to comply with the United States' request and bring a limited amount of fuel into the Gaza Strip. Ministers Bezalel Smotrich, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Miri Regev voted against. Minister Gideon Sa'ar abstained.
The IDF announced early Sunday morning the names of two additional IDF soldiers who fell in battles in the northern Gaza Strip. Sergeant Binyamin Meir Airly, 21, a paratrooper, and Captain (res.) Roey Biber, 28, from Beit Shemesh, a squad commander in the Combat Engineering Corps’ Yahalom special forces unit, each fell in battles in the northern Gaza Strip. In addition, a fighter in a paratrooper patrol was seriously injured in a battle in the northern Gaza Strip.
The Washington Post reported early Sunday morning that Israel and Hamas are close to a deal brokered by the United States and Qatar that will include the release of at least 50 hostages from the Gaza Strip, as well as a temporary cease-fire of at least five days, with a small group of hostages being released every 24 hours.
The newspaper claimed that a six-page document detailing the terms of the deal had been drafted. But a White House spokesperson said on Saturday night in the United States that no deal had yet been reached, but that the U.S. is continuing to work to get a deal between the two sides. A second U.S. official confirmed no deal had been reached. "No deal yet but we continue to work hard to get a deal," Adrienne Watson, spokesperson for the White House's National Security Council, said in a statement.
U.S. President Joe Biden said he has directed senior officials of his administration to "examine policy options for actions against those responsible for violence in the West Bank, including imposing sanctions and denying visas to enter the United States." Meanwhile, Politico reported that Biden sees the issue as a "serious threat" to the peace between Israel and the Palestinians and the destabilization of the entire Middle East.
In an op-ed published Saturday night in the Washington Post, Biden stated: "I have been emphatic with Israel’s leaders that extremist violence against Palestinians in the West Bank must stop and that those committing the violence must be held accountable. The United States is prepared to take our own steps, including issuing visa bans against extremists attacking civilians in the West Bank."
New York City police arrested on Saturday Brooklyn resident Wesley Miles, 66, suspected of attempting to murder a 32-year-old Israeli, following a verbal confrontation between them on the street. On Thursday morning, Miles reportedly fired three shots at the Israeli, who was then taken to a hospital in stable condition. After receiving medical treatment, he got on a plane to Israel to join his reserve unit.
In Madison, Wisconsin, neo-Nazis marched through the streets of the city on Saturday carrying swastika flags and chanting "Heil Hitler." A similar march also took place on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which the university president called "repulsive."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night in a news conference with Israeli journalists implied that the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) will not return to rule the Gaza Strip once the Palestinian enclave’s Islamist rulers Hamas have been defeated.
Netanyahu, who did not mention the PA by name, said that he would oppose Gaza being ruled by “any entity that supports terrorism, pays terrorists or terror families or indoctrinates its children to annihilate the State of Israel.”
He stated that one of the war's goals is "to ensure that after victory, Gaza will never again threaten Israeli citizens,” adding that “the IDF will have complete freedom in Gaza to counter any threat. This is the only way to guarantee our victory."
First published: 08:36, 11.19.23