IDF intercepts second 'aerial threat' over Eilat; Blinken to visit Israel again to press Gaza humanitarian aid

Heavy rocket fire on Tel Aviv and central Israel for third time in one day; IDF kills senior Hamas commander and a leader of the October 7 massacre; 2 soldiers killed amid heavy fighting in Gaza

Lior Ben Ari, Elisha Ben Kimon, Yoav Zitun, Itamar Eichner, Matan Tzuri, AFP|Updated:
Rocket fire on Ashdod 

After midnight on Tuesday night, the IDF Aerial Defense Array intercepted an aerial threat that was identified in the area of the Red Sea, south of the city of Eilat, according to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, which added that no threat was posed to civilians and no infiltration into Israeli territory was identified. It is believed to be another attack by the Houthis from Yemen, who are supported by Iran.
Also very late on Tuesday night, the IDF intercepted a surface-to-air missile that was launched from Lebanese territory toward an IDF UAV, according to the IDF Spokesperson's unit. In response, IAF aircraft struck the origin of the missile launch, as well as the terrorists who carried out the launch.
Late on Tuesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began holding a security assessment at the Kirya defense headquarters in Tel Aviv, according to his office.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will visit Israel on Friday, against the backdrop of the pressure the U.S. is exerting on Jerusalem to increase humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, including fuel. This will be Blinken's third visit since the outbreak of the war. On Tuesday night, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf, arrived in the country to start talking to senior officials in Israel.
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The General Authority for Crossings and Borders in Gaza said late on Tuesday that Egyptian authorities told it that 81 Gazans who were severely wounded will be allowed to enter Egypt on Wednesday for treatment.
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives to speak with reporters during a media availability in Amman, Jordan
Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives to speak with reporters during a media availability in Amman, Jordan
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will arrive in Israel on Friday
(Photo: Reuters)
The US Senate approved the appointment of Jack Lew to the post of US ambassador to Israel on Tuesday. The appointment, whose confirmation process was accelerated following the start of the Gaza war, met with opposition from Republicans mainly due to Lew's part in the signing of former President Barack Obama's nuclear deal with Iran in 2015. Lew, who is Jewish, previously served as US Treasury Secretary and as Obama's White House Chief of Staff. He replaces Tom Nides who left the position after two years due to "personal reasons."
A third barrage of rockets were fired on Tel Aviv and central Israeli cities on Tuesday evening; no damage or injuries were reported.
Meanwhile, Hamas told mediators it will release a number of foreign captives in the coming days, Abu Ubaida, the spokesman of the group's armed wing said in a video on its Telegram account on Tuesday.
A senior Hamas commander who was one of the leaders of the October 7 massacre in southern Israel was killed, the Israel Defense Forces announced. Ibrahim Biari, the commander of Hamas' Central Jabaliya Battalion, was killed on Tuesday afternoon by IDF fighter jets, acting on intelligence provided by the Shin Bet.
The IDF announced on Tuesday evening that two soldiers of the Givati Brigde were killed in the morning in the fierce battles that took place in the ground operation, which is approaching Gaza City. The soldiers were killed by an RPG missile that hit the building where the Givati soldiers was staying. The dead are Sergeant Roei Wolf, 20, from Ramat Gan, and Sergeant Lavi Lipshitz , 20, from Modi'in-Maccabim-Reut. Two other soldiers were seriously injured in the incident.
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סמ"ר רועי וולף ז"ל, סמ"ר לביא ליפשיץ ז"ל
סמ"ר רועי וולף ז"ל, סמ"ר לביא ליפשיץ ז"ל
Sergeant Roei Wolf, 20, from Ramat Gan, and Sergeant Lavi Lipshitz , 20, from Modi'in-Maccabim-Reut were killed in Gaza
(Photo: IDF Spokesman's Unit)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant commented on the fall of the two soldiers during a visit on Tuesday afternoon to the Palmachim base. "We are deploying forces on a large scale, deep in the Strip, there are battles against the forces that are operating and the results and achievements on the battlefield are very high. Unfortunately, war also has a price, and the prices in the last day were heavy ones."
He emphasized that despite the heavy price, "we are also determined to continue and win. I believe in you, I see your faces, the faces of warriors, in your case, warriors who have gone through difficult battles in the last few days." The defense minister added: "We trust you, because we know we can win this war thanks to you, it won't be easy, it won't be short, there will be prices, but we will win."
A heavy barrage of rockets were fired on Tel Aviv and cities in central Israel early Tuesday evening, the second attack on the center of the day; all of the rockets were intercepted and there were no injuries.
The attack by Hamas on Israel will inspire the most significant terror threat to the U.S. since the rise of ISIS nearly a decade ago, FBI Director Christopher Wray said at a congressional hearing on Tuesday. Wray said that since the start of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza earlier this month, multiple foreign terrorist organizations have called for attacks against Americans and the West, significantly raising the threat posed by homegrown U.S. violent extremists. "The actions of Hamas and its allies will serve as an inspiration the likes of which we haven't seen since ISIS launched its so-called caliphate several years ago," Wray said.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said at a Senate hearing in Washington that the U.S. is working to rescue 400 American citizens and their families from the Gaza Strip, a total of 1,000 people. Blinken said the Biden administration is working in "a variety of ways" to allow them to leave the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing into Egypt, and said that Hamas is preventing them from doing so. Hamas reportedly has set various demands on the US in exchange for allowing them to leave.
At least four people were hurt when two rockets landed in Ashdod in a heavy barrage targeting the city hours after rockets were fired at central Israel. One man in his 50s was badly hurt from shrapnel and three more men suffered lighter wounds caused by broken glass. They were all transfered to the Asuta hospital in the city while emergency teams were searching for any more wounded.
The military said that combined forces led by IDF ground troops struck a Hamas outpost in northern Gaza. Dozens of terrorists were killed, anti-tank missile firing squads were hit as well as other Hamas positions. A large cache of weapons was seized including firearms and explosives.

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נפילת רקטה בשדרות
נפילת רקטה בשדרות
A rocket lands in Ashdod on Tuesday
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כוחות צה"ל ברצועה
כוחות צה"ל ברצועה
Fighting in the Gaza Strip
(Photo: REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)
Meanwhile, air raid sirens blared across central Israel, including in Tel Aviv and neighboring cities. Alarms also sounded in the Gaza border communities of Holit, Sufa and Kissufim.
Earlier, a 29-year-old was lightly injured after his vehicle was hit by shrapnel from an interceptor that shot down a Gaza rocket over unrecognized Bedouin villages in southern Israel. The Magen David Adom ambulance service said he was transported to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva.
Meanwhile, the IDF said it struck a Hezbollah anti-tank missile squad that targeted two Israeli border outposts. The army added that it detected two failed rocket launches that fell short in Lebanese territory. The launches triggered sirens in the northern border community of Metula. Israeli forces fired back at the source of the launches.
The IDF said on Tuesday it intercepted a fresh aerial assault launched from Yemen toward Israel as blasts were heard in the southern resort town of Eilat.
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בתי מלון באילת
בתי מלון באילת
Eilat
(Photo: Shutterstock)
Two cruise missiles and one surface-to-surface missile were launched at Israel from the Red Sea area, and at least one of them was successfully intercepted by the Arrow long-range air defense system. The IDF said it "tracked the trajectory of the missile" which was successfully intercepted at the "optimal operational moment and location."
The military spokesperson for the Iran-backed Houthis, Yahya Saree, said in a televised statement that they have launched a "large number" of ballistic missiles and drones toward Israel. He said that this was the third operation targeting Israel with more to come.
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תימן צנעא מורדים חות'ים חמושים חותים
תימן צנעא מורדים חות'ים חמושים חותים
Houthi rebels in Yemen
(Photo: AP)
IDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said on Tuesday that Israeli forces continued to advance ground operations in the Gaza Strip.
“Over the course of integrated and coordinated air and ground strikes, terrorists and hundreds of targets of the murderous Hamas terrorist organization were and continue to be struck,” he said in his daily briefing.
He noted that the number of hostages held in Gaza has risen to 240 due to the complex identification process.
He also addressed recurring border skirmishes between Israeli forces and Lebanese terrorist groups, chiefly Hezbollah. "Over the past few weeks, thousands of Lebanese civilians have and continue to evacuate southern Lebanon - on their own initiative - out of fear that Hezbollah will bring war upon them," he said.
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תא״ל דניאל הגרי
תא״ל דניאל הגרי
IDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
RDML Hagari also stated that Israeli forces were engaging in "fierce, close-quarters battles" in Gaza, adding that "this type of combat endangers our forces and carries a heavy price," which will demand "a great deal of resilience and patience" from the Israeli public in the coming weeks.
A rocket from the Gaza Strip directly struck a house in Kibbutz Nir Am near the Gaza border Tuesday morning. The property sustained significant damage, but no one was inside at the time, and there were no casualties.
The Defense Ministry reported Tuesday morning that dozens of tanks, as well as new Namer and Eitan armored personnel carriers, have been supplied to IDF forces since the beginning of the war against Hamas, along with additional engineering solutions.
Earlier, the IDF said that Israeli forces have struck some 300 targets in the Gaza Strip, including anti-tank missile sites, rocket launch points and military facilities within Hamas' underground tunnels, as the army continues to expand its ground offensive.
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התמרון הקרקעי מתרחב: 300 מטרות הותקפו, קרבות ברצועה עם חוליות נ"ט ומקלעים
התמרון הקרקעי מתרחב: 300 מטרות הותקפו, קרבות ברצועה עם חוליות נ"ט ומקלעים
Israeli forces within Gaza
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
During ground operations, soldiers confronted anti-tank missile squads and machine gun fire that were eliminated. Troops also coordinated with the Air Force for immediate strikes on strategic targets and terrorist infrastructure.
The army is intensifying its operations, deploying additional combat brigades toward Gaza City. Armored and infantry units are advancing with robust artillery and aerial support. Each maneuver is preceded by concentrated bombardment to provide cover to forces and inflict damage on terrorists in hiding.
Additionally, the army said that Nasim Abu Ajina, the commander of the Beit Lahia Battalion of Hamas' Northern Brigade, was killed in an IDF airstrike on Monday.
Aerial footage of assassination of Hamas commander Nasim Abu Ajina
(Video: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Abu Ajina was responsible for the attack on October 7th in Kibbutz Erez and Moshav Netiv HaAsara. Previously, he led Hamas' aerial units and contributed to the development of the organization's UAVs and paragliders.
The IDF demolished overnight Tuesday the northern West Bank home of Salah al-Arouri, the deputy chief of the terror organization's politburo and the head of its military wing in the West Bank. Following the demolition, a sign was placed on the rubble displaying a split Hamas-ISIS flag with the inscription "Hamas = ISIS" in Arabic.
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ביתו ההרוס של בכיר חמאס סלאח אל-עארורי
ביתו ההרוס של בכיר חמאס סלאח אל-עארורי
Sign 'Hamas=ISIS' in Arabic on rubble of Hamas official Salah al Arouri's home in northern West Bank
Israel has approached international leaders, seeking their help in persuading Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to allow Palestinian refugees into Sinai.
However, El-Sisi opposes this idea and recently suggested that Israel should accommodate them in the Negev instead. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked various leaders to try and convince Egypt to admit these refugees, believing it to be the best solution.
One proposal suggests that the World Bank could forgive a significant part of Egypt's debt in return for accepting the refugees. Egypt is concerned about the potential influx of refugees attempting to breach the Rafah border. Another suggestion on the table is to transport injured Palestinians via ships and set up a field hospital in Egypt.
Meanwhile, Egypt has invited Hamas for a meeting in Cairo in the coming days to discuss the prisoner issue and the situation in the Gaza Strip, the Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing a senior Egyptian official.
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נשיא מצרים עבד אל-פתאח א-סיסי בפגישה בקהיר עם נשיא צרפת עמנואל מקרון
נשיא מצרים עבד אל-פתאח א-סיסי בפגישה בקהיר עם נשיא צרפת עמנואל מקרון
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi
(Photo: Christophe Ena / POOL / AFP)
According to the report, Cairo's initiative to address the crisis goes beyond just inviting a Hamas delegation; invitations will also be extended to leaders of other Palestinian factions, such as Islamic Jihad.
The official added that Cairo is considering having a permanent representative of the Hamas politburo in Egypt to facilitate communication in the near future. This comes, as per the official, "within the framework of Egypt's changing stance toward Hamas, in light of Hamas' clear position refusing migration to Sinai and in view of Israel's attempts to push Gaza residents toward the Egyptian border."
The official emphasized that it's not in Egypt's interest to adopt the Israeli and American narrative regarding Hamas and other Palestinian factions at this stage. During its meetings with Western officials, Cairo has highlighted that there are "resistance movements" in Gaza, not "terrorist organizations.”
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מחנה אוהלים בחאן יונס
מחנה אוהלים בחאן יונס
Encampment for displaced individuals in Khan Yunis, Gaza Strip
(צילום: EPA/HAITHAM IMAD)
According to the official, Cairo has expanded its engagements concerning the situation in the Gaza Strip to avoid Israeli and American pressures regarding the relocation of Gaza residents.
The official revealed that recently, Egyptian security officials have been in contact with Hezbollah in Lebanon to consult about Gaza and to assess Hezbollah's intentions regarding a full-scale war against Israel in the north and its implications for the Hamas-ruled Palestinian enclave.
The official added that the engagements with Hezbollah were accompanied by contacts with Iran, stating, "Currently, there are high-level engagements between Cairo and Tehran due to the crisis in Gaza. Egypt realized it needs to broaden its alliances to cope with American and Israeli pressures on relocating Gazans to Sinai."
First published: 08:22, 10.31.23
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