War Day 197: Turkey Welcomes Hamas Leaders, US Sanctions IDF Battalion

War Summary, Day One Hundred and Ninety Seven: Sinwar’s deputy and head of Hamas in Judea and Samaria given a royal welcoming by Turkish President Erdogan, US Secretary of State Tony Blinken is expected to announce sanctions on the IDF Charedi Netzach Yehuda battalion, and the U.S. House of Representatives approved a $17 billion security aid package for Israel.

By Mrs. Bruria Efune

War Summary, Day One Hundred and Ninety Seven:

133 held captive in Gaza.
112 hostages freed.
12 hostage bodies rescued.
37 hostages confirmed murdered in Gaza.
1,490 Israelis murdered.
260 fallen soldiers in the battle in Gaza.
6 fallen soldiers in Northern Israel.
4 fallen soldiers in Judea & Samaria.
11,600+ injured.
13,430 estimated rockets fired at Israel.
102,100 Israelis displaced from their homes.
1 Jewish nation united in prayer, charity, and good deeds.

Top Headlines:

  • Senior PIJ commander eliminated in Tulkarem
  • Hamas leaders explore move to Turkey
  • The U.S. plans to enact sanctions on the Netzach Yehuda battalion

Hostage Updates:

There are no ongoing negotiations, after Hamas refuses to settle for anything less than a complete ceasefire and IDF withdrawal, and will only guarantee the return of 20 hostages alive, without naming who they are.

After Qatar said they are reconsidering their involvement in the negotiations, and the U.S. pressured them to kick the three Hamas political leaders out of Qatar if no agreement materializes, it appears that the trio are looking for a new home.

Ismael Haniyeh, Khaled Mashal, and Khalil al-Hiya (Sinwar’s deputy), visited Turkey along with Zahar Jabrain (the head of Hamas in Judea and Samaria), where they were given a very warm royal welcoming by Turkish President Erdogan. Analysts assess that it will be much harder to continue negotiations if Hamas headquarters are moved from Qatar to Turkey. Turkey is a member of NATO.

Iranian Front Updates:

More than 36 hours after the attack on the Iranian regime, there is still only limited information about what happened, as both Israel and Iran refuse to talk about the strike on official record.

The most verifiable information I’ve seen, which correlates with satellite images and other reports on ground, comes from the New York Times, who site three Western and two Iranian officials in-the-know. According to their report, Israel damaged an S-300 antiaircraft system at the Eighth Shekari Air Base in Isfahan—an essential site of the Iranian nuclear project. The attack appears to have been carried out with small drones which took off within Iranian territory, and a missile which was launched from an Israeli warplane outside of Iranian airspace and included technology that enabled it to evade Iran’s radar defenses. 

The two Iranian officials told the NYT that Iran’s military had not detected anything entering Iran’s airspace on Friday, including drones, missiles and aircraft. The attack was intended to send a message to the Iranian regime that it’s not worth messing with Israel—since the IDF can hit their most important sites, and the Iranian air-defenses will be of no help.

It appears that Iran has chosen not to respond, and any immediate continuation of hostilities will return to being in secret unspoken attacks, as was until now.

Gaza Front Updates:

Hamas launched a salvo of rockets from Northern Gaza towards Sderot on Friday night, of which one was intercepted over Sderot, and the rest fell short and landed in Gaza. After Shabbat rockets were fired towards Kibbutz Kissufim in the Central Gaza border area.

Following the Friday night attack, the IDF struck several Hamas targets in Beit Hanoun, Northern Gaza, including the underground rocket launcher from the incident.

At least 25 airstrikes were carried out on Friday, and dozens more today, including against Hamas targets in Rafah, in what appears to be early preparations for a ground entry.

Currently, the only known active IDF force inside Gaza is operating along the Netzarim corridor, which divides the North and South of Gaza, and has an extension up to Nuseirat in Central Gaza. Troops reportedly eliminated a number of active terrorists along the corridor over the last two days.

Gaza Humanitarian Efforts Updates:

At the request of the UN, Israel does not deliver aid over Shabbat, in order to allow the UN agencies in Gaza time to deliver aid which is waiting at the border. A surplus of 700 trucks worth of aid is waiting at the Gaza side of the Kerem Shalom crossing. It is unknown how much waits at the Rafah crossing.

Northern Front Updates:

Hezbollah continued to fire very heavily on Israeli communities along the border with Lebanon, using attack drones, anti-tank missiles, and rockets. The anti-tank missiles frequently evade detection of air-defenses, and land without warning. No injuries were reported, but damage was, including a direct hit on a family home in Metula. Around 80,000 residents of Israel’s far north remain evacuated due to the danger.

The IDF struck Hezbollah targets in Southern Lebanon three times today, including a building in which at least three Hezbollah terrorists had entered. Hezbollah announced deaths today, bringing their total since October 8th to 285.

Houthi & Iraqi War Front Updates:

An unclear number of attacks were reported in Iraq on early Friday morning and Shabbat morning. Both Israeli officials and the U.S.’s Central Command deny involvement. The attacks struck weapons containers belonging to Iranian associated militias, leaving significant craters. Iraqi air-defenses did not detect and missiles or UAVs before the strikes.

Today (Shabbat), the Iraqi militia claimed to have attacked “vital targets” in the city of Eilat with a UAV in response. No such attack was seen or heard.

Judea and Samaria Updates:

The IDF and Border Police carried out a large-scale counter-terrorism operation in Nur-Shams, near Tulkarm, for over 40 hours. During the operation, troops found and destroyed a bomb-making lab, and seized explosives and firearms, including assault rifles. In ensuing battles, 10 armed terrorists were eliminated, and eight wanted men were arrested for their part in terror groups.

Palestinian media outlets report that Muhammad Jaber, a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist and commander of the PIJ’s Tulkarem wing, was killed in the operation.

Eight IDF soldiers and one Border Police officer were wounded.

On Shabbat, the IDF was reported to be active in Beit Furik, near Shechem (Nablus).

According to a Reuters report, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), says that the PA is reconsidering its diplomatic relationship with the US, following the US veto on the proposal to accept it as an equal member of the United Nations.

U.S. Sanctions:

Barak Ravid, reported on Wallah news, that in the coming days, US Secretary of State Tony Blinken is expected to announce sanctions on the IDF Charedi Netzach Yehuda battalion. This would be the first time ever that the U.S. imposes sanctions on soldiers in the IDF. The sanctions would mean that the battalion is not allowed use of funds or equipment purchased by the IDF with U.S. aid.

The sanctions are a response to allegations of violence against Palestinians by a few soldiers in the battalion, and particularly a specific incident in January 2022, when an 80-year-old Palestinian was arrested at a checkpoint after refusing to be searched for weapons. The soldiers cuffed him and sat him at a curb for three hours, and then found him dead. The company and platoon commander of the unit involved were immediately dismissed by the IDF, and the battalion commander was reprimanded.

The U.S. administration reportedly considered sanctioning other IDF and Police units, but chose for now to sanction the Charedi one.

In response to the pending sanctions, War Cabinet Minister, Benny Gantz, wrote: “The ‘Netzah Yehuda’ battalion is an inseparable part of the Israel Defense Forces. It is subject to military law and is responsible for operating in full compliance with International law. The State of Israel has a strong, independent judicial system that evaluates meticulously any claim of a violation or deviation from IDF orders and code of conduct, and will continue to do so. I have great appreciation for our American friends, but the decision to impose sanctions on an IDF unit and its soldiers sets a dangerous precedent and conveys the wrong message to our shared enemies during war time. I intend on acting to have this decision changed.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu wrote: “Sanctions must not be imposed on the Israel Defense Forces! In recent weeks, I have been working against the imposition of sanctions on Israeli citizens, including in my conversations with senior American government officials. At a time when our soldiers are fighting the monsters of terror, the intention to impose a sanction on a unit in the IDF is the height of absurdity and a moral low. The government headed by me will act by all means against these moves.”

According to Israel Hayom, behind the sanctions is the lobbying work of an American NGO called DAWN (Democracy for the Arab World Now), of which number of senior employees and board members have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and have expressed support Hamas.

The U.S. had previously imposed sanctions on several Israelis living in Judea and Samaria, who were labeled as extremists and a danger to Palestinians, as well as two NGOs—one of which is the Mount Hebron Fund, belonging to the regional municipality of Jewish towns in the Mount Hebron region.

International Updates:

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a $17 billion security aid package for Israel. An additional $9.2 billion will be transferred as humanitarian aid to Gaza. The packages are on their way to Senate approval, which is expected in the coming days. Much of the military aid is conditioned to purchases from the U.S. Military.

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