War Day 213: Rafah Incursion Began, 12 Senators Threaten Prosecutor

Flares light up the sky over Rafah tonight.

War Summary, Day Two Hundred and Thirteen: On Monday evening the IDF announced that troops had begun to operate in Eastern Rafah, Hamas manipulatively announced that they accepted a ceasefire deal after Rafah attack began, and twelve Republican senators sent a letter to the chief prosecutor at the International Court of Justice and threatened: “If you hurt Israel, we will hurt you”.

By Mrs. Bruria Efune

War Summary, Day Two Hundred and Thirteen:

132 held captive in Gaza.
112 hostages freed.
12 hostage bodies rescued.
38 hostages confirmed murdered in Gaza.
1,499 Israelis murdered.
267 fallen soldiers in the battle in Gaza.
7 fallen soldiers in Northern Israel.
4 fallen soldiers in Judea & Samaria.
11,600+ injured.
13,600 estimated rockets fired at Israel.
90,000 Israelis displaced from their homes.
1 Jewish nation united in prayer, charity, and good deeds.

Top Headlines:

  • Hamas announced that they accepted a ceasefire deal—which isn’t Israel’s
  • The Rafah incursion has begun
  • Escalation in the north

Hostage Updates:

Former hostage, Noga Weiss, drafted into the IDF this morning, as a social worker. Nova was taken hostage from her home in Kibbutz Be’eri with her mother Shiri on October 7th, after terrorists killed her father, Ilan. She and her mother were released in November. Noga says she’s enlisting into what was her dream position for years.

Hamas announced that they accepted a ceasefire deal proposed by Egypt & Qatar—however the proposal they accepted is one which Israel had previously said is not acceptable as it demands a complete IDF withdrawal with no Hamas surrender, and only releases 15 hostages. Other versions say that the deal demands first that the IDF withdraw, and then only after a three month period of ceasefire, Hamas releases hostages.

Israel’s War Cabinet unanimously agreed to continue with the operation in Rafah, “to exert military pressure on Hamas in order to advance the release of our hostages and the other goals of the war.” At the same time, the cabinet also decided to send a delegation to Egypt to continue with negotiations, while noting that the current Hamas proposal is “far from Israel’s necessary requirements.”

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant met today with families of hostages and reassured them that Israel is continuing all efforts to return the hostages home, even during a military operation in Rafah.

Gaza Front Updates:

Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) launched multiple rockets at Sderot and the area—most were intercepted by the Iron Dome, some landed in empty areas. Fallen shrapnel caused minor damage, and no physical injuries were reported.

The IDF announced the name of an additional hero who fell after Hamas fired at the Kerem Shalom crossing yesterday:

Sgt. Michael Ruzal, 18, from Rishon Lezion

In a Sunday night phone call, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke with his American counterpart, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and told him that for Israel “there was no choice left, and the meaning was the start of the Israeli operation in Rafah.” Gallant also thanked the secretary of defense for the close cooperation, and emphasized that the US plays an important role in advancing the negotiations for the release of the hostages held captive by Hamas.

On Monday evening, the IDF announced that troops had begun to operate in Eastern Rafah, and are striking Hamas sites in a “targeted manner.” The eastern part of Rafah is relatively rural, and only houses 100,000 residents of the 1.5 million estimated to be in Rafah.

The IDF’s offensive in Rafah began Sunday night with heavy airstrikes, accompanied on Monday morning by leaflets dropped over Eastern Rafah, which directed civilians to evacuate to the designated humanitarian zone and avoid approaching the Egyptian or Israeli borders. Civilians also received text messages and phone calls urging them to evacuate. Footage taken in Rafah showed that despite Hamas’s demands that civilians stay, large numbers chose to follow IDF instructions, and began moving towards safety. Following Hamas’s playbook however, UNRWA announced that they refuse to evacuate Rafah.

The IDF uses facial recognition technology to scan crowds of evacuees for Hamas and PIJ terrorists, and weed them out.

As nightfall began, the IDF launched flares to light up the skies over Rafah, and artillery corps approached the city, and began shelling Hamas positions. According to some reports, infantry entered as well, after the tanks. Airstrikes continued through the night.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says that the Air Force struck over 50 terror targets in Rafah on Monday alone.

Aside from Rafah, the IDF is continuing to operate along the Netzarim Corridor which divides the north and south of Gaza, and is continuing with pinpoint operations in areas in Northern Gaza. A number of terrorists were eliminated in those areas over the last day, and several Hamas sites were destroyed. Hamas launched three rocket and mortar attacks at the soldiers and IDF bases in the corridor, but thank G-d, no soldiers were injured.

Gaza Humanitarian Efforts Updates:

On May 5th:
243 aid trucks were inspected and transferred to the Gaza Strip. After Hamas attacked the crossing, Kerem Shalom was closed.
185 pallets containing tens of thousands of packages of food aid were airdropped, in coordination with partner countries over northern Gaza.
39 aid trucks were coordinated to northern Gaza.

The Kerem Shalom Crossing with southern Gaza still remains closed following yesterday’s deadly rocket attack on troops in the area, but the IDF plans to reopen it soon. In the meantime, the IDF says it still will try to maintain the supply of humanitarian aid at the same level as otherwise, by transferring via other crossings.

Northern Front Updates:

Hezbollah in Lebanon continues to fire heavily onto Israel’s far north with both missiles and drones. Two people were injured from hits in Metula, and a large amount of damage was reported.

Overnight, the IDF struck a Hezbollah compound near Northeastern Lebanon’s Baalbek. A large number more airstrikes were carried out in Southern Lebanon including against around 15 buildings belonging to Hezbollah’s elite Radwan forces.

Houthi & Other War Front Updates:

The Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen launched an attack drone towards Eilat, which was intercepted over the Red Sea by the US.

The Iran-backed Islamic Resistance in Iraq claims to have launched two attack drones towards Israel overnight, targeting military bases in Eilat. One was intercepted by the IDF, and the other was never seen.

Judea and Samaria Updates:

The IDF and Border Police carried out a large counterterrorism operation in Tulkarem overnight, aiming to dismantle a terror network local to the city. During the operation, troops uncovered and confiscated explosives and weapons, and destroyed a weapons lab. One terrorist was eliminated in the operation.

A total of 13 wanted Palestinians were arrested throughout Judea and Samaria overnight.cSince October 7, the IDF arrested around 4,000 wanted Palestinians, of which more than 1,700 were affiliated with Hamas, and the remainder affiliated with other terror groups, such as the PIJ.

International Updates:

Twelve Republican senators sent a letter to the chief prosecutor at the International Court of Justice in The Hague in which they criticized what they called the illegal and delegitimate intentions of the ICC to indict Israeli leaders, and threatened: “If you hurt Israel, we will hurt you”

A soldier blesses his unit and then blows the shofar before entering battle in Rafah.

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