War Day 125: IDF Prepares to Enter Rafah, US Intensifies Pressure

Argentine President Javier Millay visits Kibbutz Nir Oz with Israeli President Yitzhak Herzog

War Summary, Day One Hundred and Twenty-Five: President Biden and administration officials putting heavy pressure on Israel, Hezbollah continued with heavy rocket fire and a drone attack on Israel’s far north.

By Mrs. Bruria Efune

War Summary, Day One Hundred and Twenty-Five

136 held captive in Gaza.
110 hostages freed.
11 hostage bodies rescued.
34 hostages confirmed murdered in Gaza.
1,400+ Israelis murdered.
227 fallen soldiers in the battle in Gaza.
5 fallen soldiers in Northern Israel.
3 fallen soldiers in Judea & Samaria.
8,000 injured.
13,200 rockets fired at Israel.
186,000 Israelis displaced from their homes.
1 Jewish nation united in prayer, charity, and good deeds.

Hostage Updates:

It was announced that Manny Goddard, a resident of Kibbutz Be’eri was murdered on October 7th, and his body is being held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Until the last few days, it was assumed that he was murdered, but his body was not found. His wife, Ayelet Guard, was murdered in an attack on their home on October 7th. Manny and Ayelet left behind four children: Mor, Gal, Bar, and Goni, and six grandchildren.

Gaza Front Updates:

Hamas fired two barrages of rockets onto Israeli civilians in the Gaza Envelope, including Kibbutz Nachal Oz and the Sderot area. No injuries were reported.

Today the IDF did not announce the names of any heroes who fell in battle in Gaza.

The New York Times reported this evening that American intelligence officials told members of Congress that despite the damage to Hamas’ capabilities, the IDF is not close to destroying the terrorist organization’s ability to continue fighting. In a briefing held last week, American intelligence officials expressed doubt as to Israel’s ability to destroy or eliminate Hamas, primarily due to Hamas’s guerrilla fighters and the extensive tunnel network. This is counter to the belief of the Israeli military establishment and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statements. This is not the first time the U.S. establishment doubted Israel’s capabilities and was proven wrong, but the doubt is often used as a form of pressure for concessions.

On Thursday night, US President Joe Biden made a special statement in which he referred, among other things, to the fighting in Gaza. In his speech, he called the IDF’s response in Gaza “over the top,” and added that he is working to bring about a lasting ceasefire in the fighting. He also said that he was the one who convinced Netanyahu to open the crossings for humanitarian aid to Gaza, and President al-Sisi to open the crossing from Mexico [by which he must have meant Egypt].

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met with Former Israeli Prime Minister and Chairman of the Opposition, Yair Lapid. The two discussed the status of the negotiations for the release of the hostages, the urgency of a political settlement in the north, and Lapid’s “day after” plan for Gaza.

Lapid made it clear to Blinken that Israel is united in the war against Hamas, and told him: “The entire Israeli society is determined to return the hostages home and to eradicate Hamas. These are not conflicting goals and we will not give up on both. The US should work together with us to cut off Hamas’ financing lines.”

Today, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant publicly confirmed that Iranian money flows to Hamas inside the Gaza Strip, and particularly in gifts to the Hamas leadership.

“There is clear evidence of the extent of the flow of Iranian money to Hamas in the Gaza Strip,” Galant said. “Out of millions of dollars, one million goes to him [Sinwar], out of tens of millions he pockets what is needed. Hamas is fighting a war of crime and murder and Sinwar is celebrating with his family and enjoying life. This thing is over. Sinwar turned from the leader of a terrorist organization into a fugitive terrorist.”

According to a report by the Israeli Kan News, the head of Hamas’s military, Yahya Sinwar, has been cut off of communication for at least a week, either due to lack of infrastructure, or his fear of being found. The IDF is certain that Sinwar is under Khan Younis, and has ample clue about his precise location. Reaching him may be complex, as it is highly likely that he is hiding with Israeli hostages as a shield.

The IDF is continuing to forge ahead in Khan Younis, and advanced south into the village of Kizan a-Najr. Exchanges of fire were reported in the area around Nasser Hospital, in the heart of West Khan Yunis.

In Khan Younis today, the IDF captured dozens of suspected Hamas terrorists, including two who participated in the October 7th massacre, and one member of Hamas’s elite Nukhba forces. The IDF troops also eliminated several dozen Hamas terrorists during battle in multiple locations in the city. According to IDF data, about 2,000 Hamas terrorists were eliminated in Khan Younis, 4,000 were injured, and hundreds more were arrested.

IDF troops are preparing to forge ahead into areas in Central Gaza which have not yet been reached, and today eliminated several Hamas terrorists in the area, and destroyed Hamas infrastructure.

The IDF is still sorting through Northern Gaza, where today they eliminated at least ten more terrorists. At one point, an IDF combat intelligence unit spotted a terror cell attempting to deliver “technological systems” to Hamas. The unit called a drone strike, eliminating the terrorists and preventing the delivery.

Targeted airstrikes continue in Rafah, in the far south of Gaza.

Thousands attended a rally in Jerusalem which was organized by reservists who were released from duty in Gaza and on the Northern border. The protesters demanded a complete and decisive victory in Gaza, and the use of military pressure to free the hostages. Attendees included family members of October 7th victims, hostages, and fallen soldiers. Notable amongst the speakers was Benny Kalmenson, whose heroic son Elchanan was killed after 24 hours of rescuing residents of Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7th.

Gaza Humanitarian Efforts Updates:

It appears that the IDF is slowly working to completely cut UNRWA out of the humanitarian aid chain, due to their collaboration with Hamas. In an interesting public conversation, the IDF responded to a complaint from Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, who wrote on Twitter/X “The last time UNRWA was allowed to deliver food north or Wadi Gaza was on 23 January.”

The IDF responded through the account of COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories), “In case you haven’t noticed, just 2 days ago, a WFP [World Food Program] humanitarian convoy was coordinated to northern Gaza. Israel will continue to work with international organizations to facilitate a humanitarian response to the population in Gaza while ensuring aid does not end up by Hamas.”

76 trucks carrying humanitarian aid were inspected and transferred to the Gaza Strip yesterday (Feb. 7) via the Rafah crossing, as well as 4 tankers of cooking gas and 2 tankers of fuel designated for the operation of essential infrastructure in Gaza.

Hundreds of protesters have been gathering and camping at the Kerem Shalom crossing, to prevent the transfer of aid to Gaza and Hamas until the hostages are released. On Thursday night, police requested of the campers to leave peacefully so that they wouldn’t have to forcefully evacuate them. The protesters complied and evacuated the site.

Northern Front Updates:

Hezbollah continued with heavy rocket fire and a drone attack on Israel’s far north. An IDF officer was seriously wounded and two solders were lightly hurt by an anti-tank missile attack on the city of Kiryat Shemona. Infrastructure damage was reported in multiple areas, including a direct hit on a home in Metula.

The IDF struck multiple targets in Southern Lebanon, including the source of the fire in Kiryat Shemona, and also shelled Hezbollah positions along the border.

According to Lebanese reports, an Israeli drone attacked a car in the center of the city of Nabatieh this afternoon, with a missile that missed the target and landed in an open area. The car continued to drive and stopped near the northern entrance of the city, where two people got out of it, at which point the drone launched another missile. It’s unclear if the two were eliminated or severely injured.

The duo were Hezbollah terrorists, including senior commander Abbas Al-Debes, who has been wanted by Israel since 2022, due to his work with the coordinator of air warfare in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and specifically his part in the construction of Iran’s air defense system in Syria.

Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar, chief of the Israeli Air Force, issued a warning to Hezbollah, indicating IDF readiness to attack.

“Hezbollah will continue to pay with the loss of its systems,” Bar said. “Dozens of aircraft are now operating in the skies of southern Lebanon, and as soon as the order is given, the dozens will turn into hundreds that will perform the missions within minutes of being scrambled.”

It appears that despite passing the given deadline, the IDF is still waiting on France’s attempts to create a diplomatic solution to precent war in the north. It is highly unlikely that Lebanon will be able to reign in Hezbollah, but Israel is under immense pressure from the international community to hold off defending Israelis in the north. Inside sources suspect the IDF will not wait longer than 2-3 weeks more.

Houthi War Front Updates

According to reports in Yemen, the US and Britain attacked additional Houthi targets in the north of the country overnight.

Judea and Samaria Updates:

A Palestinian terrorist opened fire at IDF troops near Shavei Shim’on in Samaria, and was eliminated by the IDF soldiers. No IDF soldiers were injured—a bullet hit the helmet of an IDF soldier, and bounced off. The soldier had been wearing a newer tactical helmet reportedly donated by American Jews Deanna and Alen Alevy, who saved his life.

An expose by Liel Leibovitz in Tablet Magazine demonstrated how high-ranking U.S. officials have been laundering reports from pro-Palestinian NGOs to create false claims of “settler violence.”

Last week, President Biden invoked the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, to sign an executive order imposing severe sanctions on “persons undermining peace, security, and stability in the West Bank.” The order accused Israeli residents of violence, but did not even mention any Palestinian violence, despite the murder of 30 Israelis in Judea and Samaria over the past 12 months by Palestinian terrorists. In contrast, zero Palestinian civilians were killed by Israeli civilians during that same timeframe.

The evidence used to back the claims of “settler violence” came from Lieutenant General Michael R. Fenzel, a three-star general who currently serves as the U.S. security coordinator to Israel and the Palestinian Authority (USSC). Fenzel in turn took numbers from the websites of highly partisan pro-Palestinian organizations, including the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OCHA) and the far-left Israeli NGO B’Tselem. Both organizations are known for counting terrorists in their numbers of victims.

Leibovitz took a closer look at the victims of “settler violence” listed by OCHA and B’Tselem, and found that it contained the names of terrorists who were eliminated while attempting to or actually managing to murder Israelis, or groups of terrorists from recognized terror groups who were actively shooting at IDF troops.

The implications are severe. Based on this manipulated data, the U.S. State Department already applied sanctions to four Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria accused of violence against Palestinians, barring them from entry to the U.S. or use of the U.S. financial system. No Palestinians were sanctioned for violence.

It’s important to remember that Jewish people have been living in Judea and Samaria without pause for over 3,000 years, and have been subject to surges of Arab violence in the area since long before the establishment of the modern State of Israel. Instead of bringing about peace between the two populations, these one-sided sanctions only encourage more violence by rewarding terrorist actions.

International Updates:

After his emotional visit to the Western Wall yesterday, Argentine President Javier Millay visited Kibbutz Nir Oz with Israeli President Yitzhak Herzog. In the first part of the visit, the two presidents arrived at the point from where the terrorists infiltrated, and then toured the remains and ruins of the various kibbutz houses. The presidents visited the home of Ophelia Rothman, who was freed from Hamas captivity and today returned to visit for the first time. They also visited the home of the Bibas family, the Cunio family, and the home of Oded and Yochaved Lifshitz, and other hostages.

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