The Cabinet approved doubling the amount of fuel supplied to Gaza in a meeting late on Wednesday in order to prevent a humanitarian crisis in the Strip.
The decision was made amid pressure from the Biden administration that wanted the fuel supply up from 60,000 liters per day to 180,000 liters. There was no statement detailing how much fuel would be allowed to be delivered but Defense Minister Yoav Gallant early suggested that there would be an initial supply of 120,000 liters that would be increased only if Hamas allowed the Red Cross to visit the refugees and deliver medications to them.
The Washington Post reported late on Wednesday that in the efforts to fool Israel into believing Hamas had no intention of launching its attack, the terror group supplied the military with intelligence on the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, the second largest Islamist faction in the Strip. Israel clashed with the PIJ in 2021, while Hamas remained out of the conflict.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made a rare move on Wednesday to formally warn the Security Council of a global threat from the Gaza war as Arab states seek to leverage that to renew a push for the council to call for a cease-fire. He evoked section 99 of the UN charter which states: "The Secretary-General may bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security." The article has not been used for decades, U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.
The IDF announced Wednesday evening that the 98th Division is fighting for the first time in the heart of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.
According to a statement, the division, which includes the Commando Brigade and other special forces units, "launched a combined attack on the city of Khan Younis, targeting strongholds of the Hamas terrorist organization. Within a few hours, the division's soldiers breached the defense lines of the Khan Younis Brigade, surrounded the city and for the first time began maneuvering in the heart of the area.”
According to the IDF, since the beginning of ground operations in Khan Younis, the division's soldiers have eliminated numerous terrorists in face-to-face combat and through aerial fire and have located and destroyed about 30 tunnel shafts.
It was also reported that the forces raided a Hamas battalion post, discovering many weapons and intelligence resources. The commando and Givati brigades reached the center of Khan Younis and began focused raids in the heart of the city.
IDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said that IDF forces are engaged in intense combat against terrorists both in the northern and southern Gaza Strip.
"We have breached the defense lines in Jabalyia, Shijaiyah and Khan Younis. The terrorists are emerging from underground, and our forces are winning in face-to-face battles," he said.
Hagari added that forces in Khan Younis were “fighting bravely, eliminating terrorists, locating underground infrastructures and destroying weapons.”
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi on Wednesday said that Israeli forces are currently trying to locate and rescue hostages within the Gaza Strip, among other operational duties.
"The soldiers are making decisions, fighting the enemy, striking them, protecting each other and attempting to locate and rescue captives,” he told new recruits. “These are indeed missions of the highest moral significance one can imagine.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday evening that IDF forces have surrounded the home of Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar.
"I said last night that our forces could reach anywhere in the Gaza Strip. Now, they are encircling Sinwar's home. His home is not his fortress, and while he may flee, it is only a matter of time until we get him,” Netanyahu said in a video statement.
Following rocket alerts in Eilat on Wednesday afternoon, that the Arrow anti-rocket system intercepted a surface-to-surface (STS) missile aimed at Israel's southernmost city. "The interception took place in the Red Sea, and the missile didn't enter Israel's territory or pose a threat to Israeli civilians," the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said in a statement.
The IDF also on Wednesday afternoon attacked a number of areas in Lebanon with tanks and artillery fire, in response to mortar fire on Israel. Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the mortar fire. "Aircraft attacked an operational headquarters and terrorist infrastructure of the terrorist organization Hezbollah," according to the IDF.
Meanwhile, following rocket fire from Gaza on southern Israel, a 60-year-old man was slightly injured by shrapnel near a factory in the Gaza Envelope. The Magen David Adom team evacuated him to Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva. Fire crews were working to gain control of a fire that broke out at the site following damage to the factory.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan commented on reports regarding the "day after" in the Gaza Strip, and clarified that he opposes the establishment of a "buffer zone" for Gaza, adding that "the plan does not respect the Palestinians." Erdogan sent a threatening message, saying: "If Israel tries to harm Hamas members in Turkey, it will pay a very heavy price for it."
IDF soldiers located what it says is "one of the largest stockpiles of weapons" in the Gaza Strip, near a clinic and a school, the IDF said Wednesday afternoon. To full story - click here.
The stockpile contained hundreds of rockets and RPG launchers, long-range rockets, UAVs, and ready-to-use explosive devices, unmanned aerial vehicles that claim to resemble the Israeli Sky Rider drone, dozens of anti-tank missiles, dozens of explosive charges, long-range rockets aimed at the center of the country with the ability to reach the heavily populated Sharon region, and dozens of grenades.
Kibbutz Nir Oz announced Wednesday morning that the condition of Hanna Katzir, 76, the kibbutz member who was freed from Hamas captivity in Gaza, has deteriorated, and she is hospitalized in serious condition. "Our mother is the proof that every day in Gaza is a life-threatening situation. The hostages' time is running out. We know in what condition they were kidnapped, but it is impossible to know in what condition they will return," said Katzir's family; meanwhile, her son Elad is still in Hamas captivity. "The conditions in captivity are not conditions in which humans should live. The trauma, the hunger and the lack of medical treatment caused her heart problems." To full story - click here.
The Israel Defense Forces early Wednesday morning announce the names of two more soldiers who have been killed during the Swords of Iron war in Gaza. Maj. Gen.(res.) Yehonatan Malka, 23, from Beersheba, a soldier in the 7th Armored Brigade’s 82nd Battalion, fell in battle in the Gaza Strip. Lt. Col. (res.) Yochai Gur Hershberg, 52, from Havat Philip, commander of the unit to locate missing persons in the 98th Division, was killed in a military car accident in southern Israel. The announcement brings to 14 the number of soldiers killed since the renewal of the ground operation in Gaza and comes a day after seven solders were killed during fighting in the Gaza Strip.
Over the last day, the Israeli Air Force struck approximately 250 terror targets in the Gaza Strip, according to the IDF spokesman. IDF troops are continuing to locate weapons, underground tunnel shafts, explosives and additional military infrastructure.
IDF ground troops directed an IDF fighter jet to strike two rocket launchers from which terrorists fired a barrage of rockets toward central Israel on Tuesday, causing damage in Tel Aviv. In addition, the troops directed an IAF aircraft to strike in the area of Deir al-Balah. During these strikes, terrorists from the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations were eliminated, and a number of terrorist infrastructure were destroyed.
Moreover, IDF troops struck an armed terrorist cell operating adjacent to a school in the northern Gaza Strip. Following this, the troops struck an additional underground shaft located in the area of the school. In an additional school in the northern Gaza Strip, weapons and ammunition were located.
Israeli security forces arrested 10 wanted persons in an overnight operation in Jenin, and located weapons, three bomb laboratories filled with explosives, two underground tunnel shafts, military equipment and ammunition. During the operation, clashes developed, and several terrorists were injured in the exchange of fire. Additional forces also operated overnight in Halhul in the Etzion bloc, where a printing press linked to the terrorist organization Hamas was confiscated and weapons were found.
Also overnight, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a resolution stating that anti-Zionism is antisemitism. Some 311 congressmen voted in favor of the resolution and 14 were opposed - with more than half of the members of the Democratic Party voting "present" on the Republican initiative. They claimed that comparing criticism of the State of Israel with hatred of the Jewish people "goes too far."
After the Lebanese army announced Tuesday that one soldier was killed and three were wounded by an Israeli attack in the border area, the IDF spokesman said overnight that military regretted the incident, and stated that the Lebanese army forces were not the target of the attack.
"The IDF fighters acted yesterday to neutralize a real threat detected from Lebanese territory. The threat was detected from a launch and observation complex of the Hezbollah terrorist organization near Al Awadi on the Lebanese border. The IDF received a report that a number of soldiers from the Lebanese Army were injured during the attack," the IDF statement said. "Lebanese army forces were not the target of the attack," the IDF spokesperson said. "Egypt is responsible for the incident, it is being investigated."
Three Israeli security officials told The Washington Post that at least 5,000 Hamas terrorists have been killed since the beginning of the Swords of Iron war - a sixth of the 30,000 terrorists affiliated with the organization. One of the sources said that this is an assessment based on intelligence, and also on Hamas' own assessments that have reached Israel. The figure includes an estimate based also on the number of people killed in the Hamas tunnels.
In a nationally televised address on Tuesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to evidence of sexual violence and rape cases committed by Hamas terrorists. "I must say that until a few days ago I did not hear the human rights organizations and the women's organizations. I did not hear their cry. Where are you? Did you keep silent because these are Jewish women? I expect all the human rights organizations to speak against this atrocity," he said.
The address and news conference was held jointly with the other members of the War Cabinet: Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Minister Benny Gantz. Addressing the dueling news conferences held last week by the prime minister and the defense minister, Netanyahu said that that he and Gallant "are working in full cooperation in the War Cabinet, in the extended cabinet and also in government meetings to bring about the results we defined – the release of all our hostages, the elimination of Hamas and the promise that Gaza will not become a threat to the State of Israel the day after. We are doing it In my opinion, in the best way."
Gallant commented on the renewed ground operation in the Gaza Strip. "Unfortunately, war also has prices, and they are heavy, very heavy. Each and every one of the fallen are dear people to their families, to their friends and to us as a nation and as a security system. Many of them are known to me personally, as commanders, or as 'sons of,'" he said. He said one way to justify the heavy price of the war against Hamas is to hit Hamas hard. He added that the return of the hostages from Gaza "is our duty as a country, it's my personal duty as defense minister."
Gantz said that the IDF "continues and expands the operation in the Gaza Strip." He noted: "As we promised – nothing will stop us. Some thought that Hamas would prevent the renewal of fighting, or that we would avoid it, and we are proving that only Israel will determine its future. We will operate as much as we need to, and wherever we need to in the south as well as in the north. We will do this while listening to our friends, and doing what is right for the State of Israel."
First published: 08:27, 12.06.23