War Day 153: War in N. Imminent, Sinwar Refuses Hostage Deal

War Summary, Day One Hundred and Fifty Three: Yahya Sinwar, who is Hamas’s military leader and is inside Gaza, refuses the hostage deal in exchange for a six week break in fighting, there are hints that war with Hezbollah in Lebanon is coming around Pesach time, and the IDF decided to reopen the Jit Crossing near Shechem after it was closed since Simchas Torah.

By Mrs. Bruria Efune

War Summary, Day One Hundred and Fifty Three:

134 held captive in Gaza.
112 hostages freed.
11 hostage bodies rescued.
33 hostages confirmed murdered in Gaza.
1,400+ Israelis murdered.
247 fallen soldiers in the battle in Gaza.
6 fallen soldiers in Northern Israel.
3 fallen soldiers in Judea & Samaria.
14,900 injured.
13,650 rockets fired at Israel.
160,000 Israelis displaced from their homes.
1 Jewish nation united in prayer, charity, and good deeds.

Hostage Updates:

CIA Chief William Burns arrived in Cairo for a last attempt to reach a deal before the start of Ramadan on Sunday. Hamas has been increasing their demands, and now wants 1,500 terrorists released from prison in exchange for each hostage—a number that Israel will not give in to.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Egyptian officials say Sinwar believes Hamas currently has the upper hand in negotiations, citing internal political divisions within Israel, including cracks in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wartime government and mounting U.S. pressure on Israel to do more to alleviate the suffering of Gazans.”

While Hamas is clearly losing militarily, it appears that they believe that worldwide pressure will save them, and Israel’s maneuver into Rafah during Ramadan will greatly assist in that by bringing increased civilian casualties. They are also hoping that Ramadan will inspire Arabs to riot in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, increasing tensions further.

According to some reports, Ismael Haniyeh, Hamas’s political leader living in Qatar, was ready to accept a deal with a six week pause in fighting, but Yahya Sinwar, who is Hamas’s military leader and is inside Gaza, wants to keep on going.

Gaza Front Updates:

Hamas fired two barrages of rockets on civilians in the Gaza Envelope area today, including at Sderot, where over half the population has returned, and schools reopened. One rocket landed in Sderot, but caused no damage or injuries, thank G-d.

Thank G-d, the IDF did not announce any heroes fallen in battle in the Gaza Strip today.

In Central Gaza, IDF troops eliminated some terrorists today, including a cell who were loading a vehicle with weapons and explosives—which led to a secondary explosion after being hit. There remain two battalions over two cities in Central Gaza which the IDF have surrounded but not yet engaged in battle.

In Southern Gaza, the IDF is continuing the operation in Hamad, where troops are continuing to go door-to-door, finding Hamas infrastructure and equipment, and eliminating or arresting terrorists. The IDF hasn’t released much information about the operation in al-Qarara, but that troops have found and eliminated a significant number of terrorists. Smaller operations also continue in Khan Younis.

The IDF is preparing for a maneuver into Rafah within “days.” This maneuver was delayed by the hostage negotiation talks, after the U.S. pressured the IDF to hold off in case of a temporary ceasefire deal before Ramadan. Displacement camps are being prepared along the beaches in Gaza for hundreds of thousands of civilians to be safely evacuated to from Rafah.

Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke at an IDF graduation ceremony and said, “The IDF will continue to fight in all Hamas strongholds in Gaza, this includes Rafah. Whoever tells us not to act in Rafah—tells us to lose the war; and it won’t happen.”

Gaza Humanitarian Efforts Updates:

237 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid: food, medical supplies, shelter equipment, and water were inspected and transferred to Gaza today. The content of 250 humanitarian aid trucks is still waiting on the Gazan side of Kerem Shalom to be picked up by UN aid organizations.

More than twice the amount of food has been entering Gaza daily than before October 7th, when food was in abundant supply across the Gaza Strip.

Overnight, 11 food trucks made their way to northern Gaza. In the last 24 hours, 26 trucks traveled north, all private sector, none from the UN. The U.S. and Jordan airdropped 38,000 meals over Northern Gaza, where UN organizations are refusing to deliver to, and where Hamas and other mobs have made it very difficult to deliver. The huge effort to deliver aid to Northern Gaza is being made while the IDF holds humanitarian corridors for civilians to safely evacuate to areas just a few kilometers away such as in Central Gaza, where there is plenty aid.

U.S. President Biden is expected to announce that the U.S. will establish a temporary pier off the coast of Gaza, by which to deliver humanitarian aid via the Mediterranean Sea—after it is inspected at the port in Larnaca, Cyprus. The plan has Israel’s full support, since Israel had been floating this idea for years, but never brought it to fruition due to logistical concerns involving Gaza’s port capabilities. The U.S. is not expected to put their own boots on ground, but rather stay at sea, with local contractors building the port.

It is unclear how this port will improve the situation, since abundant aid is already entering Gaza. The problem is in getting the aid delivered to the people, and not hijacked by Hamas terrorists.

Despite clear evidence that UNRWA has over 350 Hamas terrorists on payroll, including dozens who participated in the October 7th massacre inside Israel, Spain has decided to renew contributions to the organization, and will give UNRWA 20 million euros in addition to the 3.5 million euros that the country committed to transfer in February.

Activists of the “Order 9” group continue to show up daily to protest the transfer of aid into Gaza, and attempt to block the trucks. The activists include mothers of soldiers fighting in Gaza, and of fallen soldiers, as well as family members of hostages. They demand that the aid be halted until the hostages are released, and Hamas is destroyed. At least 60% of all aid delivered in Gaza is taken by Hamas terrorists.

Northern Front Updates:

Hezbollah fired heavily on the far north today, though no injuries or serious damage was reported. The Iron Dome intercepted 9 out of 10 rockets headed to civilian areas, and intercepted one out of two attack drones. The short-range anti-tank missiles are rarely intercepted, and often evade the air-raid detection system altogether.

The IDF responded by attacking Hezbollah positions in Southern Lebanon, and shelling new Hezbollah positions along the border.

There are hints that war with Hezbollah in Lebanon is coming around Pesach time. Many Israelis are preparing by purchasing generators, though the Ministry of Environment suggested that solar panels are a more effective solution for power production and storage.

Judea and Samaria Updates:

The IDF, Shin Bet and Border Police forces operated overnight to arrest 34 wanted persons throughout Judea and Samaria, for their ties to various terror groups.

The IDF decided to reopen the Jit Crossing near Shechem (Nablus) after it was closed since October 7th, due to it being frequently used by terrorists as an escape route. A number of local Israelis stood at the crossing to protest, and held off the opening for 8 hours, before the IDF forcefully removed them, and reopened the crossing.

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