Israel is 'settling accounts' with Hamas terrorists, Netanyahu says; missing Israeli identified as hostage

Number of hostages held in Gaza currently at 138; 7 soldiers killed in one day of fighting; Tel Aviv sites damaged in rocket fire

Yoav Zitun, Itamar Eichner, Lior Ben Ari, Yael Ciechanover, Reuters|Updated:
In a nationally televised address, 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.
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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."
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מפגש משפחות החטופים עם קבינט המלחמה
מפגש משפחות החטופים עם קבינט המלחמה
Families of hostages leave meeting with War Cabinet
(Photo: Dor Pezzolo)
Netanyahu also referred to the referred to the meeting held earlier in the day by the War Cabinet with the families of the hostages. "I heard about the thirst, the hunger, mental and physical abuse. About the children who are still whispering in fear, about the darkness in which their loved ones are. Hamas tried to dismantle us, we are dismantling it. So far we have eliminated about half of Hamas' generals – we are settling accounts with everyone who murdered , raped and slaughtered our people," he said.
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."
During the news conference, Gantz took issue with the use of the term settler violence, a reaction to the U.S. decision to impose sanctions on several dozen Israeli settlers involved in attacks against Palestinians, by banning them from travel to the U.S.
"Do not use the term 'settler violence', it does not represent the residents of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank); there are settlements where 80% of the men are at the front – there is violence by extremists which we must condemn in every way," Gantz said.
Gallant added: "The phrase attributing the violence to a group from Judea and Samaria is not true. I sign orders and quite a few of the extremists come from outside Judea and Samaria."
An Israeli missing since October 7 was identified as having been kidnapped into Gaza, bringing the number of hostages to 138. "We determined today that one of the missing, according to intelligence information, should be defined as a hostage. We have the moral duty to return everyone home and to continue the effort at all times," IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Daniel Hagari said.
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מחבלי חמאס שחוסלו על ידי צה"ל
מחבלי חמאס שחוסלו על ידי צה"ל
Hamas terrorist leaders killed by the IDF
(Photo: IDF Spokesman's Unit)
The IDF releases video and photos of senior Hamas operatives of the Northern Gaza Strip Brigade and the Gaza City Brigade in never-before seen footage from inside Hamas tunnels; most of the senior commanders were eliminated by Israeli forces.
The IDF announced on Tuesday evening the deaths of two more soldiers in the Gaza Strip, making the death toll seven in the last day alone, and 12 since the resumption of ground operations.
Master Sgt. (res.) Matan Damari, 31, a squad commander in the 215th Artillery Regiment’s reconnaissance company, from Dimona, and Master Sgt. (res.) Ilay Eliyahu Cohen, 23, of the 551st Brigade’s 7008th Battalion, from Beit Nehemia were killed in battles in the north of the Gaza Strip.
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רס״ר (מיל׳) מתן דמארי,  רס״ר (מיל׳) עילי אליהו כהן
רס״ר (מיל׳) מתן דמארי,  רס״ר (מיל׳) עילי אליהו כהן
Master Sgt.(res.) Matan Damari, and Master Sgt. (res.) Ilay Eliyahu Cohen
(Photo: IDF Spokesman's Unit)
Those present at the meeting of the members of the War Cabinet with the families of the hostages on Tuesday afternoon said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not answer questions, but read things from a piece of paper. According to those present at the meeting, Netanyahu said that it is not possible to bring all of the hostages home. “There is no possibility right now to bring everyone home. Can anyone really imagine that if that was an option, anyone would refuse it?” he reportedly asked.
They also said that a hostage released from captivity, said: "Bombs from an airplane exploded above us. The Hamasniks continued to sleep, your bombs don't move them."
A senior Israeli official said Tuesday evening that there is no disagreement between Israel and the United States regarding the fighting and the goal of eliminating Hamas. "The biggest thing that worries the Americans is the civilian population, the evacuation and killing of non-involved people and humanitarian aid," the official said, adding: "The Americans are not telling us 'stop and don't fight more.' They think we can do more to protect civilians. Part of the population cooperates, the southern Gaza test is still in the making. The IDF does not want to kill for nothing. Whoever vacates, vacates."
Still, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Tuesday that the State Department will impose visa bans against individuals involved in undermining peace, security or stability in the occupied West Bank.
The restrictions will target those who have committed acts of violence or taken other actions that restrict civilians' access to essential services and basic necessities and may also apply to those individuals' family members, Blinken said.
Meanwhile, a Hamas official said Tuesday evening that there will be no negotiations or hostage release until Israel's aggression against the Gaza Strip stops. Hamas official Osama Hamdan said in a press conference that: "We hold (Israeli Prime Minister) Netanyahu fully responsible for the lives of the Israeli hostages and for obstructing the completion of the exchange deal."
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יואב גלנט בכינוס הערכת מצב לנושא העורף האזרחי, על הקמת מנהלת ״אופק צפוני״ במשרד הביטחון
יואב גלנט בכינוס הערכת מצב לנושא העורף האזרחי, על הקמת מנהלת ״אופק צפוני״ במשרד הביטחון
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced at the end of a situation assessment meeting the establishment of the "Ofek North" directorate
(Photo: Ariel Harmoni, Ministry of Defense)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced Tuesday afternoon at the end of a situation assessment meeting on the issue of the civilian home front on the establishment of the "Ofek North" (Northern Horizon) directorate in the Ministry of Defense. The directorate will work to strengthen the civil infrastructure in the local authorities, improve the security elements in the northern communities, including increasing the standby units and their arms, restoring infrastructure damaged during the fighting, and work for the full implementation of the government's decision to complete the "Defender of the North" project, to protect the communities located at a distance of up to nine kilometers from the Lebanese border.
The Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Social Equality were set to screen the IDF Spokesperson office's film of Hamas atrocities taken from body cams worn by the terrorists to leaders in the Israeli Arab sector as part of public diplomacy activity on Tuesday evening. Invited to the screening were Arab local council heads and community center directors and CEOs, as well as media personalities, journalists and opinion-leaders in the Israeli Arab sector. The screening will be held in the Government office complex in Nazareth. Social Equality Minister and Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli and national project manager for crime in the Arab sector attorney Roi Kahlon will attend the screening. (Ynetnews)
The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange said on Tuesday a report by U.S. researchers suggesting there were investors in Israel who may have profited from prior knowledge of Hamas' Oct. 7 attack was inaccurate and its publication irresponsible. Research by law professors Robert Jackson Jr. from New York University and Joshua Mitts of Columbia University found significant short-selling of shares – when investors bet on share prices to fall – leading up to the attacks, which triggered Israel's ongoing war with Hamas.
The activity, they said, "exceeded the short-selling that occurred during numerous other periods of crisis" such as the 2008 financial crisis and COVID-19. But the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) said the authors miscalculated, since share prices are listed in agorot, which are similar to cents and pence, rather than shekels – putting the potential short sale profit at just 32 million shekels. Israel's securities regulator said it had been aware of the report for a week and was in contact with the researchers, but declined to comment while it investigates the TASE's rebuttal.
Rocket attack alarms were activated in Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Petah Tikva, Rishon Lezion and other central Israel communities Tuesday afternoon.
About 15 rockets were launched in the latest barrage toward central Israel. About 10 were reportedly intercepted by air defenses while the rest crashed in the ocean or unpopulated areas.
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המטחים לגוש דן כפי שצולמו מעוטף עזה
המטחים לגוש דן כפי שצולמו מעוטף עזה
Archival: Gaza rocket barrage targeting central Israel
(Photo: Amnon Ziv)
The police reported that extensive searches are being conducted to locate rocket debris landing sites in the Tel Aviv district. Emergency services said that a man in his 40s was lightly wounded by shrapnel in Tel Aviv. Shortly thereafter, sirens also sounded off in communities near the Lebanon border. Rocket shrapnel also damaged several sites in Tel Aviv, including the classroom of a city school, a main street and the beach area.
Ashkelon home takes direct hit from Gaza rocket
A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip Tuesday afternoon hit a residential building in the southern city of Ashkelon, with shrapnel lightly wounding two women in their 60s while and several others were treated for shock.
Earlier, the IDF reported that a hostile aircraft infiltrating from Lebanese territory fell near the border community of Margalitot, with no casualties. It was unclear whether the aircraft, spotted by a civilian, was carrying explosives. The aircraft's wings were inscribed with Arabic words of praise to Allah.
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כלי טיס שחדר מלבנון נפל ליד מרגליות
כלי טיס שחדר מלבנון נפל ליד מרגליות
Crashed drone found near Lebanon border
IDF Arabic spokesperson Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee announced a temporary halt of military activity in the Rafah area for humanitarian purposes. "In the Al-Janinah district of Rafah, there will be a tactical, local and temporary cessation of military activity until 14:00 for humanitarian needs, to facilitate the resumption of supply," he wrote on social network X (formerly Twitter).
He also noted that "IDF forces are operating with full force against Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the Strip, especially in the Khan Younis area."
He advised civilians to avoid the central Salah al-Din Road in Khan Younis due to ongoing combat activities and use instead the coastal road in the city's west.
Israel expects difficult fighting in the new phase of its war in Gaza but is open to "constructive feedback" on reducing harm to civilians as long as the advice is consistent with its aim of destroying Hamas, a government spokesperson said on Tuesday.
"We're moving ahead with the second stage now. A second stage that is going to be difficult militarily," spokesperson Eylon Levy told reporters.
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צילום: מערך ההסברה הלאומי
צילום: מערך ההסברה הלאומי
Government spokesperson Eylon Levy
(Photo: National Public Diplomacy Directorate)
"Any constructive feedback that we get, any serious military strategic advice about how to target Hamas while minimizing harm to civilians, we will of course mention," Levy said.
"We are going to continue with our campaign to destroy Hamas, a campaign that the United States sees eye to eye with us about the strategic objectives of this war, that this war cannot end with Hamas still standing."
The IDF’s 162nd Division has completely encircled the Gaza Strip city of Jabaliya, the army said Tuesday morning.
According to a statement, the Shin Bet, 551st Brigade reserve forces and Shayetet 13 commandos raided the Hamas General Security headquarters in Jabaliya, where surveillance and control equipment, weapons and maps were found.
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תיעוד מעיני התותחן בלחימת חטיבות האש של חיל התותחנים ברצועת עזה
תיעוד מעיני התותחן בלחימת חטיבות האש של חיל התותחנים ברצועת עזה
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
The Air Force, in collaboration with the Paratroopers Brigade, attacked buildings used by Nukhba terrorists last night, eliminating several and destroying rockets in a yard in the northern Strip. The Navy also attacked dozens of operational targets and assisted ground forces.
Over the past day, military forces conducted operations in Hamas strongholds, demolishing terror-related infrastructure, and uncovering weapons and rocket launchers in civilian areas.
Overnight Tuesday, the Air Force and Paratroopers Brigade jointly targeted buildings used by Nukhba terrorists, neutralizing several and destroying rockets in a northern Gaza yard. The Navy also attacked numerous operational targets, providing support to the ground forces.
The IDF on Tuesday confirmed the death of two soldiers and an officer killed in action in the Gaza Strip. It was later reported that the three were killed by anti-tank fire on the outskirts of Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, a key Hamas stronghold.
They are Captain Eitan Fisch, 23, 188th Armored Brigade officer, from Peduel; Sergeant Yakir Yedidya Schenkolewski, 21, 188th Armored Brigade soldier, from Migdal Oz and Staff Sergeant Tuval Yaakov Tsanani, 20, 188th Armored Brigade soldier, from Kiryat Gat. According to the army's statement, four more soldiers were seriously wounded in battle.
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סמל יקיר ידידיה שינקולבסקי, סמ"ר תובל יעקב צנעני, סרן איתן פיש
סמל יקיר ידידיה שינקולבסקי, סמ"ר תובל יעקב צנעני, סרן איתן פיש
Captain Eitan Fisch, Staff Sergeant Tuval Yaakov Tsanani, Sergeant Yakir Yedidya Schenkolewski
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
The army later announced that Captain Yahel Gazit, 24, a 188th Armored Brigade officer, from Rakefet and Sergeant First Class (res.) Gil Daniels, 34, a 261st Infantry Reserve Brigade soldier, from Ashdod were killed in battles in Gaza.
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רס"ר מיל' גיל דניאלס ז"ל, סרן יהל גזית ז"ל
רס"ר מיל' גיל דניאלס ז"ל, סרן יהל גזית ז"ל
Captain Yahel Gazit and Sergeant First Class (res.) Gil Daniels
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Meanwhile, rockets targeted Be'er Sheva and its surrounding areas on Tuesday morning, including the Hatzerim airbase, breaking a 14-hour lull in rocket fire.
According to the military, the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted eight projectiles. Rockets also targeted Gaza border communities.
Saudi media reported that explosions were heard in Yemen's capital Sana'a late on Monday following an alleged attack attributed to Israel.
IDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said on Monday that the military is expanding its ground operation “against Hamas strongholds.” During his daily briefing, he said “We have carried out precise intelligence-based strikes. The soldiers are moving from house to house, tunnel to tunnel."
Meanwhile, the IDF was tightening its grip on the Jabaliya refugee camp and Gaza City’s Shijaiyah neighborhood, as well as in Khan Younis in the south, through heavy artillery shelling and extensive air strikes. Like Jabaliya, Shijaiyah faces intense targeting.
The forces were primarily engaged in uncovering enemy positions and seeking to eliminate Hamas' observation posts on the outskirts. Arrayed against these targets are thousands of soldiers, supported by hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles, ready to confront Hamas' most powerful brigades.
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חאן יונס
חאן יונס
IDF strikes in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip
(Photo: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
Russia said that 120 of its citizens were airlifted from Gaza to Moscow, including 30 children. The Kremlin reported that over 880 Russians have been evacuated from Gaza on 9 flights so far.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday it had been forced to move supplies from a WHO medical warehouse in southern Gaza within 24 hours after a warning from the Israeli military that ground operations there would make it inaccessible. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a post on X, called on Israel to "take every possible measure to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and humanitarian facilities."
Meanwhile, Paltel, the Palestinian telecom company, reported Monday night a total outage of communication services, including landline, cellular and Internet, in Gaza City and northern Gaza Strip, due to damages to key network components.
International Committee of the Red Cross President Mirjana Spoljaric in Gaza
International Committee of the Red Cross President Mirjana Spoljaric published on Monday a video from her visit to the Gaza Strip, making only a brief mention of the Israelis held hostage there.
In a brief statement, she mentioned the captives held in the Strip, calling for "the preservation of their rights." In the same post, she also referred to "the detainees," implying those held in Israeli prisons. In the rest of the video, Spoljaric discussed the condition of hospitals in Gaza, the injured and the civilian population in the Strip and their suffering.
First published: 07:12, 12.05.23
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