War Day 218: Large Fires Start in North, Five Soldiers Killed in Gaza

A direct hit was made on a building in Ashkelon, late at night after Shabbos.

War Summary, Day Two Hundred and Eighteen: Hezbollah missiles caused significant damage and led to a large fire around the city which took 10 firefighting teams time to put out, five soldiers from the Nachal Brigade’s 931st Battalion fell during fierce gun battles in Zeitoun, and Hamas published a video of hostage Nadav Popelwell that the IDF requests people not view.

By Mrs. Bruria Efune

War Summary, Day Two Hundred and Eighteen:

132 held captive in Gaza.
112 hostages freed.
12 hostage bodies rescued.
39 hostages confirmed murdered in Gaza.
1,503 Israelis murdered.
272 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:

  • Multiple barrages at Be’er Sheva
  • Five fallen soldiers in Gaza
  • New operations in Zeitoun and Jabaliya
  • Expanded evacuation warnings in Rafah
  • Egypt blocking aid trucks
  • Huge barrages from Hezbollah start large fires
  • Large call-up of reservists to the north expected in the next weeks

Hostage Updates:

Hamas published a video of hostage Nadav Popelwell. The IDF says these videos are a form of psychological warfare, and requests that they not be watched or shared.

Gaza Front Updates:

On Friday, Hamas fired twice at the Kerem Shalom crossing, once at Kibbutz Sufa and Holit, and two separate barrages at Be’er Sheva—one exactly during Shabbat candle-lighting time. One woman in Be’er Sheva was lightly injured. On Shabbat they fired again at the Kerem Shalom crossing, and aimed at Be’er Sheva, but fell just short, hitting the waste facility outside the city. Schools remain open in Be’er Sheva tomorrow.

Most rockets were launched from Rafah, but once barrage at Be’er Sheva came from the Central Gaza area. The IDF struck the launch positions, and in one instance, secondary explosions were seen, indicating the presence of additional munitions.

Late at night after Shabbat, a barrage was fired at Ashkelon. A direct hit was made on a building, causing extensive damage, but no injuries were reported.

Since Friday morning, the IDF announced the names of 5 heroes who fell in battle in Gaza:

Sgt. Itay Livny, 19, from Ramat Hasharon
Sgt. Yosef Dassa, 19, from Kiryat Bialik
Sgt. Ermiyas Mekuriyaw, 19, from Be’er Sheva
Sgt. Daniel Levy, 19, from Kiryat Motzkin
Staff Sgt. Ariel Tsim, 20, from Modiin

The five are all from the Nachal Brigade’s 931st Battalion, and fell during fierce gun battles in Zeitoun.

In Northern Gaza, the IDF launched a pinpoint operation in Zeitoun, which is a neighborhood in Gaza City, on Thursday night. The operation has been extremely intense, and a large number of Hamas terrorists were eliminated in gun battles and airstrikes called in by troops on ground. One terrorist who was killed was a known participant in the October 7th massacre. IDF troops raided a school building, where they found caches of weapons in the classrooms, and a tunnel underneath the school. More weapons were found in a medical clinic.

After Shabbat, the IDF announced that it is beginning airstrikes ahead of a pinpoint operation in Jabaliya in Northern Gaza, where Hamas was seen regrouping. Residents were issued an evacuation warning, and told to move to shelters west of Gaza City. All residents of Northern Gaza were already ordered to evacuate in October 2023, but it’s estimated that between 100,000-150,000 people remain. The IDF dropped leaflets warning people that the operation will be with “great force.” Late at night following the announcement, a heavy round of at least 70 airstrikes began.

In Central Gaza, the IDF continues to hold the Netzarim Corridor, which is being used as a strategic point from where operations in the north and center of Gaza are launched. As many terrorists flee the Rafah area, soldiers on the corridor find themselves under an increased number of attacks.

In Southern Gaza’s Rafah, the IDF announced expanded evacuation warnings for additional neighborhoods in the city, specifically the Rafah and Shabourah camps, and Geneina and Khirbat al-Adas neighborhoods. Civilians were directed to shelters in the al-Mawasi and Khan Younis areas, along the coast, and warned to stay away from the Israeli and Egyptian borders. An estimated 300,000 people have already evacuated Rafah, heeding IDF warnings at a high percentage. The IDF is using facial recognition technology and other AI methods to recognize and weed out known Hamas terrorists and commanders from the evacuees.

Over the last couple days, IDF troops continued to operate in Eastern Rafah, where they eliminated several more terrorists, and located more tunnels. Troops also called in airstrikes to destroy Hamas sites, including rocket launchers, observation posts, and gathering grounds. Two soldiers were seriously injured by an RPG fired at their tank.

Israel Hayom reports that Hamas military leader, Yahya Sinwar is estimated to be in a tunnel under Khan Younis, and not Rafah.

The IDF is continuing to hold the Rafah crossing, despite Egypt’s protests.

The Washington Post reported that the Biden administration is offering Israel sensitive intelligence that will help the IDF track down Hamas leaders and find the terrorist organization’s hidden tunnels, in exchange for avoiding a full-blown operation. According to four sources the newspaper spoke with, the Americans also offered assistance in supplying thousands of tents to the Palestinian evacuees and in building systems for supplying food, water, and medicine. It’s unclear why the intelligence assistance hasn’t been provided earlier, if it could have helped shorten the war.

The Biden administration announced that it accepts the assurances of the Israeli government that it is not violating American or international law during the war in Gaza. Israeli sources told YNet that they believe that the U.S. will withdraw the hold on ammunition sales to Israel, due to the strong response both locally and from Israel, and since they are so far happy with the IDF’s method in Rafah, and the so-far successful evacuation of civilians. The assumption is that the U.S. will allow the sale, but on condition that it’s not used in Rafah.

Gaza Humanitarian Efforts Updates:

Egypt is refusing to allow humanitarian aid to be delivered through the Rafah crossing, now that the IDF is holding the Gaza side. They also refuse to allow the trucks lined up at the crossing to cross into Israel, in order to enter via the Kerem Shalom crossing. It is unclear whether the motive is entirely a protest against Israel holding the corridor, or a fear of the IDF re-inspecting the contents of the lined up trucks.

The Kerem Shalom crossing is operating under Hamas fire, and against security recommendations, at the request of the U.S., although with frequent closes and pauses surrounding Hamas rocket launches at the workers.

On Friday, 200,000 liters of fuel were transferred to Gaza through the Kerem Shalom Crossing, for the essential requirements of the international aid community, including hospitals, humanitarian areas, logistical centers, and the distribution of aid. The transfer of fuel under constant risk of Hamas fire, was extremely dangerous.

Also on Friday, 76 aid trucks were transferred to Gaza, through the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings. 117 pallets containing tens of thousands of packages of aid were airdropped into northern Gaza on Thursday. The sharp decrease in deliveries is due to Egypt’s protests, the slowed processing at Kerem Shalom due to Hamas fire, and protesters in Israel blocking aid trucks on the way to the crossings.

A new field hospital operated by the International Medical Corps began treating patients in Deir-Albala, Central Gaza. With a capacity of 42 beds, personnel of 150 and comprehensive care, the hospital is now the 8th field hospital facilitated by the IDF’s COGAT division, and the second run by the International Medical Corps.

The UN quietly updated their reports to halve the estimated number of women and children killed in Gaza. On May 6th, the UN published data indicating 9,500 women and 14,500 children were killed in Gaza. On May 8th, the UN changed the numbers to 4,959 women and 7,797 children. The UN also admits that they have not been able to independently verity the casualty figures, which were given by Hamas.

Northern Front Updates:

Hezbollah has been firing extremely heavily on Israel’s far north, with drones and anti-tank missiles. On Friday a barrage of 35 rockets were fired at Kiryat Shmona. Due to the short range, Israeli air defenses only managed to intercept 15, and the others hit in and around the city. The missiles caused significant damage, and led to a large fire around the city, which took 10 firefighting teams time to put out. In another instance, attack drones hit near Beit Hillel. Thank G-d, no physical injuries were reported in any of the incidents.

The IDF responded with airstrikes on several Hezbollah positions in Southern Lebanon, and shelled new Hezbollah positions on the border.

A large number of reservists are being called up to the north in the next two weeks, after Defense Minister Gallant warned to prepare for a “hot summer.”

Judea and Samaria Updates:

IDF activity was reported in Jenin.

International Updates:

According to a Reuters report, Australia supports the Palestinian request to become a member of the United Nations. Foreign Minister Penny Wong said that the move is part of “building the momentum to ensure peace in the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.” She added: “We all know that one vote won’t end the conflict, but we all need to do what we can to build momentum towards peace.” Israel has repeatedly emphasized that unilateral recognition of a Palestinian State will not lead to peace, but will do more harm than good.

AFP, the French news agency, reported: The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that its country is calling on Israel to stop the military operation in Rafah, which he says threatens to lead to a major disaster that will affect the Palestinians in the strip. “We call on the Israeli authorities to stop this operation without any delay and return to negotiations, the only way to lead to the immediate release of the hostages and to achieve a lasting ceasefire.”

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