War Day 216: Lag Ba’Omer in Meron Cancelled, New Chareidi Unit Opening

From War Mapper - the IDF’s current and historic position in Gaza.

War Summary, Day Two Hundred and Sixteen: Due to Hezbollah’s heavy barrages of missiles at Har Meron the IDF Home Front Command cancelled the upcoming Lag B’Omer celebrations in Meron, the Border Police have announced that a new unit opened for the first time ever with 30 new drafts from Charedi communities, and an “unidentified object” flew from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory and fell in an open area in the Netivot area.

By Mrs. Bruria Efune

War Summary, Day Two Hundred and Sixteen:

132 held captive in Gaza.
112 hostages freed.
12 hostage bodies rescued.
39 hostages confirmed murdered in Gaza.
1,503 Israelis murdered.
267 fallen soldiers in the battle in Gaza.
14 fallen soldiers in Northern Israel.
5 fallen soldiers in Judea & Samaria.
11,600+ injured.
13,640 estimated rockets fired at Israel.
90,000 Israelis displaced from their homes.
1 Jewish nation united in prayer, charity, and good deeds.

Top Headlines:

  • An “unidentified object” landed near Netivot in Southern Israel
  • A large-scale pinpoint operation was launched in Zeitoun
  • PM Netanyahu to Biden “we will fight with our fingernails if necessary.”
  • A soldier was killed by a missile in the north
  • Lag B’Omer in Meron is cancelled due to the danger

Hostage Updates:

It was revealed that Noa Marciano, a hostage whose body was rescued from Gaza by the IDF earlier in the war, was killed by a doctor in Shifa Hospital.

Negotiations for a hostage release have pretty much ended. In a stalemate—with Hamas insisting on an end of the war and complete IDF withdrawal, and Israel intent on dismantling Hamas so that they can’t terrorize Israel again. Egypt, who has been hosting the negotiations, is reportedly angry about Israel’s limited operation in Eastern Rafah and the Rafah crossing. CIA Chief Bill Burns returned to Washington.

Seth Frantzman, PhD, a Middle East security analyst, sums it up saying that Hamas feels they have Israel in a checkmate—with IDF troops standing outside Rafah where Hamas can fire short range rockets on them from a heavily populated Rafah, with no consequences. Israel is being held back from entering by world pressure and an arms embargo threat from the U.S., while Qatar, a major NATO ally, stands firmly at Hamas’s side, and Turkey—an actual NATO member—has cut off trade with Israel. Hamas doesn’t care if they’ve lost 16,000 militants, so long as they remain standing, and have the world turned against Israel. They feel like they’re winning and have the complete upper hand in negotiations and the lives of the hostages.

Gaza Front Updates:

In the evening, an “unidentified object” flew from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, and fell in an open area in the Netivot area. The object was continuously monitored by the IDF until its crash, and no casualties or damage occurred. The IDF has not yet explained what the object was.

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

In Northern Gaza, the IDF announced that it launched a new pinpoint operation in Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood, which began last night with heavy airstrikes and then the entrance of artillery and infantry forces. The Air Force struck over 25 terror sites thus far in the operation, including attack tunnels, observation posts, sniper positions, and other terrorist infrastructure in the civilian neighborhood. Troops on ground are now weeding out remaining terrorists, who either evaded earlier detection, or returned to the area. This is the third time since the start of the war that the IDF is operating at a large scale in Zeitoun.

In Central Gaza, the IDF announced that it carried out strikes against Hamas positions, but didn’t give more information. The IDF has been generally vague about operations in the Central Gaza area.

In Southern Gaza, the IDF is continuing with the limited operation in Eastern Rafah, where troops are searching for tunnels and other Hamas infrastructure. Thus far over 50 armed terrorists were eliminated and 20 tunnel shafts were found. Three IDF soldiers were wounded from a blast in a booby-trapped tunnel shaft, and were evacuated to the hospital in moderate condition.

The Rafah crossing to Egypt remains closed while the IDF continues to search its offices and the area. It is still unclear who will be managing the crossing in the near future, but it seems unlikely that the IDF will let go of it for the time being.

The IDF estimates that around 150,000 Gazans have evacuated from Eastern Rafah thus far, following IDF instructions. This appears to be a significant majority for the rural part of the city. Reports on social media indicate that many are evacuating other areas of Rafah, which haven’t yet been put under notice.

Weapons Shipment Pause:

After U.S. President Biden said he would halt weapons sales to Israel if Israel enters Rafah’s population centers, Prime Minister Netanyahu came out with a strong response, of which some he reportedly said to Biden on the phone earlier this week:

“We are on the eve of Independence Day. In the War of Independence 76 years ago, we were few against many. We had no weapons, and there was an arms embargo on Israel, but with the greatness of the soul, bravery, and unity within us – we won. Today, we are much more substantial. We are determined and united to defeat our enemy and those who seek our souls.

“If we have to stand alone, we will stand alone. I already said we would fight with our fingernails if necessary. But we have much more than nails, and with the same greatness, with God’s help, together, we will win.”

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant similarly addressed “Israel’s enemies and best of friends,” saying that Israel will not be subdues, and will continue to fight Hamas and Hezbollah, adding:

“Whatever the cost, we will ensure the existence of the State of Israel and remember well the directive we signed just a week ago during the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony, the words ‘Never Again.’ For me, it’s not just a directive, it’s a work plan, this is how the defense establishment will work and this is how the IDF will work.”

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari meanwhile reassured reporters that Israel has enough ammunition for the missions at hand, including the missions in Rafah, and said that “The US has so far provided security assistance to the State of Israel and the IDF in an unprecedented manner during the war.”

Hagari also said that IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi speaks with US CENTCOM chief Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla every day, and when there are disagreements, they’re resolved behind closed doors.

Amongst the many calling out Biden’s policy is Israel-American billionaire and major Biden donor, who wrote to Biden: “Let’s not forget there are more Jewish voters who care about Israel than Muslim voters who care about Hamas” and that the decision was “bad bad bad on all levels.”

There are reports that due to the response, the Biden administration is beginning to regret the decision and Biden’s speaking about it publicly, and may be looking for a way out, such as by allowing the sale but banning its use in Rafah.

White House spokesman John Kirby said today that “President Biden voiced his opposition to action in Rafah repeatedly directly to Netanyahu, entering Rafah will not advance the goal of defeating Hamas.” Kirby also said that the US is not abandoning Israel.

According to Israel Hayom, the British Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, hinted that Britain will not follow the US by stopping arms sales to Israel even if Israel launches a major operation in Rafah. However, Cameron emphasized that Britain will not support an attack without a comprehensive plan regarding the Palestinians in Gaza. 

Gaza Humanitarian Efforts Updates:

The Kerem Shalom Crossing remains open and transferring aid to Southern Gaza, despite fire threats from Hamas. The Erez Crossing is also open and transferring aid to Northern Gaza. The Rafah crossing to Egypt is closed while the IDF searches it. The new U.S. pier and port in Central Gaza is almost up and running after delays due to a rainstorm and Hamas firing at workers.

The last update on aid transfer is from May 8th, when both Kerem Shalom and Rafah were closed:

9 trucks were coordinated via the Ashdod port through the Erez Crossing
26 bakeries are currently operational in Gaza, providing close to 5 million breads, rolls, and pita breads daily.
The northern water pipeline from Israel is now fully operational, providing an average of 50 liters per person a day.

This was significantly the lowest amount of aid transferred since the early days of the war, but reportedly had no significant effect, since there were many truckloads of aid sitting and waiting at the Gaza side of the crossing and in warehouses to be distributed.

Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, announced that he will request to hold a vote at the meeting of the political-security cabinet to completely cancel aid transfers to Gaza, from all crossings. According to Ben Gvir, the aid was only transferred at Biden’s request, as a condition to U.S. sale of weapons. Since the sale isn’t happening, there is no longer a reason to deliver the aid, which is taken and sold by Hamas for huge profits. Alluding to the classic Jewish parable, Ben Gvir says, “Now it turns out that we ate the smelly fish, and were also expelled from the city.”

Northern Front Updates:

The IDF announced the name of a hero who fell while defending the northern border:

Staff Sgt. Chaim Sabach, 20, of the Combat Intelligence Collection Unit, from Holon

Chaim was killed by a Hezbollah mortar and missile attack on his unit’s position near the community of Malkiya, along the border.

Hezbollah continues to fire heavily on Israel’s far north, with rockets, anti-tank missiles, and attack drones. In once instance, a rocket landed and set fire in the hills of the border town of Shlomi, and several homes were damaged from the blast, which shattered glass and shook objects over.

The IDF carried out airstrikes against many Hezbollah targets in Southern Lebanon, reportedly eliminating several terrorists. Airstrikes were also reported in Syria, in the outskirts of Damascus.

Due to Hezbollah’s heavy barrages of missiles at Mount Meron, and the significant safety risk, The IDF Home Front Command cancelled the upcoming Lag B’Omer celebrations in Meron, which usually brings tens of thousands to pray and dance near the resting place of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. Police will be blocking entry to non-residents between May 24th-27th.

Judea and Samaria Updates:

The IDF, Shin Bet, and Border Police arrested 31 wanted persons throughout Judea and Samaria overnight, ten of whom are associated with Hamas, and the rest with other terror groups.

General Updates:

The Border Police (which is both police and IDF), have announced that a new unit opened for the first time ever, with 30 new drafts from Charedi communities. The unit aims to make it easier for Charedim who wish to draft and uphold their religious values and practices.

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  1. I am a Christian in Cypress, Tx. I am very much for Israel. I watch ILTV and TBN Israel on YouTube. I read the Jerusalem Post via Google. Yours is by far the most excellent war day summary that I can find. So thank you.

  2. to commentator number one from Cypress Tx, thank you so much for your support to Israel and the Jewish people who support it. as someone who is literally reading for hours a day anything out there regarding this war, I agree this column is the best.

  3. There are many Christians, and others, in Australia, who are with Israel. As a Christian, I am praying for God’s special people, the Jews, to remain steadfast and look to their God for salvation.

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