A U.S. Navy warship on Thursday intercepted three cruise missiles and several drones launched by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement from Yemen potentially toward Israel, the Pentagon said. The missiles, one of which was reportedly intercepted by Saudi Arabia, are believed to have been meant for Israel. The interceptions come in the shadow of the war in Gaza, and the fear that Iran will use the war to cause a regional escalation and fighting on several fronts.
The IDF announced Thursday evening that 30 children are among the hostages in Gaza, and there are still 100-200 missing people whose fate is unknown. Meanwhile, 26 members of Knesset from the coalition and opposition parties, led by lawmaker Naama Lazimi of the Labor Party, sent a letter to the government ministers in which they called for declaring the 30th day from the massacre in the Gaza Strip on October 7 a day of national mourning.
Former Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal said on Thursday that the group has a number of Israeli soldiers, held as hostages, which are enough to negotiate releasing all the Palestinian prisoners in Israel. Meshaal, who heads Hamas' diaspora office, made the remarks during an exclusive interview to Al Arabiya TV. Earlier, Mashaal said Hamas's Israeli captives include high-ranking officers from the Gaza Division.
An unclassified U.S. intelligence report, seen by Reuters on Thursday, estimated that the death toll from a blast at a Gaza hospital was "probably at the low end of the 100 to 300 spectrum," but added that the assessment may evolve.
Hamas said Thursday afternoon that its Az ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades military arm in Lebanon is responsible for at least 30 rockets fired from southern Lebanon toward Israeli communities in the Galilee. One of the rockets scored a direct hit on a building in the northern Israeli city of Kiryat Shemona, moderately injuring one and lightly injuring two, including a five-year-old girl.
Earlier on Thursday afternoon six rockets were fired from Lebanon at communities in northern Israel on Thursday afternoon; five of the rockets landed in open areas and one was intercepted. The IDF responded by firing at the source of the rocket fire. Also on Thursday afternoon, two rockets landed in the northern Israeli city of Sderot, one of them hit a car and the other in an open area in a residential neighborhood. There were no injuries, but there was damage.
The Israel Defense Forces announced that some 800 Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets have been attacked in the first 12 days of the war, including weapons, operational infrastructure and rocket launchers from which rockets were launched into Israeli territory in real time - as well as terrorists.
Hamas fired a rocket barrage at central Israel on Thursday while rockets to the south continued in the late morning and early afternoon. No casualties were reported.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during statements following his meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that just as Britain fought the Nazis in WWII, Israel was now fighting the new Nazis.
Sunak said he was aware that Israel was attempting to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza and that the residents of the Strip were also victims of Hamas. He thanked Netanyahu for his support of for families of the British nationals among the hostages held in Gaza.
President Issac Herzog asked visiting British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to intervene in the BBC's refusal to name Hamas a terror group even after its horrific attack on civilians in the southern border area on Oct. 7.
“We are dealing with one of the worst terrorist organizations in the world. And I know that in modern democracies, like ours and yours, you can't interfere per se, but since the BBC has a certain linkage and as is known as British all over the world, there has to be an outcry for it to be corrected, and that Hamas will be defined as a terrorist organization there as well. What else do they need to see to understand that this is an atrocious terror organization?”
Sunak said in response: You have suffered something unspeakable, a barbaric act of terrorism, as you said, we should call it what it is: an act of terrorism perpetrated by an evil terrorist organization, Hamas. That's what I believe. And that's what we will continue to say. And in that vein, we will stand with Israel, we will stand with you in solidarity with your people and your right to defend yourself, to bring security back to your country, to your people, to ensure the safe return of the hostages that have been taken. You have not just a right to do that, I think you have a duty to do that, to restore that security to your country.”
Earlier, Sunak met with family members of hostages held in Gaza and said the UK was determined to secure the release of the hostages taken by Hamas terrorists.
The IDF said on Thursday that a senior Hamas official, the head of Gaza's National Security Force was killed along with his family in a strike on his home while the Air Force continues to attack targets of the terror group in Gaza.
The military said that currently it can confirm the death of 306 members of its force since Saturday, Oct. 7 and that 203 people were currently confirmed held by Hamas as hostages in Gaza. At least 11 more bodies were uncovered near Kibbutz Be'eri on the Israeli border with Gaza, among them a little boy and a woman whose bodies were burned after they were murdered. Israeli officials said the work to identify all those who died was expected to take a long time, leaving many families in uncertainty over the fate of their loved ones.
Earlier, the IDF said the head of the Rafah military branch of the Popular Resistance Committees, Harb Hussein Abu Hilal was killed in an Israeli strike. "Overnight IDF struck hundreds of Hamas terror structures, including anti-tank missile launching posts, terror tunnel shafts, intelligence infrastructure, and additional command centers," the military spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said Hezbollah targets were struck in attacks on south Lebanon overnight. Earlier the names of three more people confirmed killed were released.
"I did it," U.S. President Joe Biden told CNN's Kevin Liptak on Wednesday regarding his Israel visit and the facilitation of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.
Speaking aboard Air Force One after leaving Israel, Biden recognized he faced potential criticism for his Middle East trip, particularly after the cancellation of a regional summit in Jordaan. However, he remarked that the risk was worth it despite his many doubters.
Earlier, Biden said that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has agreed to open the Rafah crossing to allow the passage of 20 trucks carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. The two leaders have committed to working together to promote a robust international response to the UN's call for assistance to the residents of the Palestinian enclave.
Air raid sirens sounded across central Israel four times within three hours after Biden concluded his brief seven-and-a-half-hour visit to Israel and departed from Ben-Gurion Airport.
During his visit, the Democratic leader met with Israel's wartime cabinet to discuss the ongoing conflict with Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip. In his closing remarks from Tel Aviv, he reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring Israel will "again be a safe place for the Jewish people". He also confirmed an agreement with the Israeli government to provide essential humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza. Rockets were also fired into Gaza border towns during his visit. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will arrive on a solidarity visit of his own on Thursday.
Meanwhile, an IDF drone Wednesday evening eliminated a terrorist squad that launched mortar shells toward the Upper Galilee region near the Lebanon border, according to the military.
Earlier, the army said it had identified an anti-tank missile squad in Lebanon aiming at Israel, targeting two Hezbollah military positions with tank fire in response.
Additionally, the IDF retaliated against a military post near the border town of Metula from which an anti-tank missile had been launched earlier. Gunfire was also directed at Israel's Har Dov military outpost along the Lebanese border, prompting IDF soldiers to return fire.
Earlier Wednesday, two rockets fired from Lebanon crashed in the city of Kiryat Shmona near the northern border. There were no reports of injuries.
Meanwhile, the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Argentina were evacuated on Wednesday following two bomb threats received via email, local media sites Clarin and La Nacion reported. Anti-bomb squads were reported on the scene.
Around 11:00 local time (14:00 GMT), authorities said a first search of one of the embassies turned up negative, La Nation reported.
First published: 18:58, 10.18.23