War Day 219: Ambulance Ambush Thwarted, 300,000 Evacuate Rafah

IDF troops destroyed the Hamas “Resistance Monument,” which is a giant fist at the Rafah Crossing, meant to symbolize the success of violence against Israel.

War Summary, Day Two Hundred and Nineteen: Border Police soldiers stopped an ambulance whose driver with Israeli citizenship claimed he was rushing to an accident in Israel but had a vanful of terrorists, UNRWA estimates that 300,000 people have evacuated from Rafah so far in mass compliance to the IDF’s warnings, and there are currently three IDF units fighting in Gaza.

By Mrs. Bruria Efune

War Summary, Day Two Hundred and Nineteen:

132 held captive in Gaza.
112 hostages freed.
12 hostage bodies rescued.
39 hostages confirmed murdered in Gaza.
1,508 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:

  • Significant raise in Hamas rocket fire
  • Three IDF divisions are now operating in Gaza
  • Gazans are evacuating en masse from Rafah
  • The IDF opened up a new humanitarian crossing into Gaza
  • Sirens in Nahariya
  • Terror smuggling prevented

Hostage Updates:

Hamas released a horrific video of 51-year-old hostage Nadav Popplewell, claiming he died due to lack of healthcare. Nadav was taken hostage from his home in Kibbutz Nirim, and is a dual Israeli-British citizen. The IDF sees these videos as a form of psychological warfare, and ask that people not view or share them. The IDF has not confirmed Nadav’s death.

Negotiations have not moved forward, as Hamas continues to demand nothing less than a complete IDF withdrawal and a ceasefire which would leave Hamas still in control of Gaza.

Gaza Front Updates:

Hamas fired at Ashkelon and Israeli communities along the Gaza border a total of 8 times over the last 24 hours, including three times at Sderot. Three people were lightly injured in Ashkelon after a rocket hit a building last night, and today a three-year-old boy in Sderot was injured from fallen shrapnel after he failed to reach shelter within 15 seconds.

Thank G-d, despite intense battles, the IDF did not announce any fallen soldiers today.

Three divisions of IDF troops are currently operating in Gaza: the 98th in Northern Gaza’s Jabaliya, the 99th along the Netzarim Corridor and in Gaza City—specifically in Zeitoun, and the 162nd in Rafah.

The IDF launched a new operation in Northern Gaza’s Jabaliya, based on intelligence that Hamas terrorists were reorganizing in the area. The operation began overnight with a sudden wave of airstrikes against 30 Hamas targets which eliminated several terrorists.

In Zeitoun, where Hamas was also seen to be regrouping, airstrikes were carried out against over 150 Hamas targets, which included terror squads, weapon storages, tunnels, observation posts, and other infrastructure. Intense battles took place on ground, including close-quarters combat, in which several Hamas terrorists were eliminated.

The IDF released for publication that during gun battles on Friday, Brig. Gen. Yogev Bar Sheshet was moderately injured by shrapnel from gunfire. He is the most senior IDF officer to be wounded in Gaza during the war.

The surge in rocket launches come as a response of the Hamas terrorists who were regrouping in Northern Gaza, and are now being taken down by the IDF.

An airstrike in the Central Gaza area eliminated Naim Ghoul, one of the terrorists who was responsible for holding IDF Cpl. Noa Marciano hostage, before she was murdered in Shifa Hospital in November. There are unconfirmed reports of small IDF operations in areas in Central Gaza as well.

The IDF has not yet advanced past Eastern Rafah after delivering expanded evacuation warnings, but continues to search for and destroy tunnel shafts and rocket launchers in the area, and eliminates 10 more terrorists. Troops have set up base in the Rafah Crossing, and destroyed the Hamas “Resistance Monument,” which is a giant fist meant to symbolize the success of violence against Israel. Hamas has threatened heavy rockets at Be’er Sheva if the IDF moves forward in Rafah.

UNRWA estimates that 300,000 people have evacuated from Rafah so far, in mass compliance to the IDF’s warnings.

Hamas is trying to boost morale by publishing tough photos of the commander of two Rafah Brigades—someone who usually kept a low profile. It is rumored that of the four Hamas battalions in Rafah, two fled to Khan Younis and Central Gaza.

After (ridiculous) rumors were spread claiming that the IDF thinks Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar is in Rafah, and that the U.S. has intelligence that Israel does not have, regarding his whereabouts in Khan Younis; the New York Times reported according to a source, that Israel has more accurate information, and that there are tunnels under Khan Younis that reach as far as 15 stories deep.

Earlier, when the IDF first withdrew from Khan Younis, many speculated that the reason was to be able to follow Hamas terrorists back, and track their movements to discover any remaining tunnels, and how to safely access them. It is known that in some circumstances when the IDF discovered a “strategic” tunnel, instead of blowing it up, they put sophisticated surveillance systems inside.

Gaza Humanitarian Efforts Updates:

On Sunday the IDF’s COGAT division announced that a new crossing had been opened to assist in transferring aid to Northern Gaza. The new crossing, which is in the Zikim area and is being called “Western Erez,” was built by the IDF, including inspection facilities and aid routes. On it’s first day, COGAT says that “dozens” of trucks of flour from the World Food Program were transferred via the new crossing.

7 tankers carrying 266,000 liters of fuel were transferred to Gaza today through the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

Northern Front Updates:

Hezbollah continued firing missiles and attack drones from Lebanon onto Israeli communities on the border, including as far as Nahariya. No injuries were reported today.

The IDF responded with airstrikes against Hezbollah positions in Southern Lebanon, and with shelling new Hezbollah positions along the border. A few terrorists were eliminated.

Judea and Samaria Updates:

Border Police soldiers stopped an ambulance whose driver with Israeli citizenship claimed he was rushing to an accident in Israel. The forces suspected he was smuggling terrorists, and insisted he open the back of the truck—where their suspicions were confirmed. The passengers later confirmed that they had intent to carry out an attack.

International Updates:

In an interview on CBS, American Secretary of State Anthony Blinken claimed that “Israel has killed more civilians in the Gaza Strip than terrorists.” In addition, he warned: “Israel is facing a ‘prolonged insurgency’ because the Hamas operatives will remain armed, regardless of the continuation of the operation in Rafah.” While according to many estimates, the death toll in Gaza is at a ration of 1:1 terrorists to civilians, It would be fair for Blinken to remember how many more civilians the Americans killed in urban warfare than they did terrorists, as well as their own failures in rooting out terrorism in Afghanistan.

Egypt announced its intention to support South Africa’s claim at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

British Foreign Minister, David Cameron gave a clear statement: “I will not support an arms embargo on Israel, it is a move that will strengthen Hamas and weaken Israel.”

General Updates:

Tonight and Monday until the evening, Israel is marking “Yom Hazikaron,” the Remembrance Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror. The air is sombre, in what many say is Israel’s most painful Remembrance Day yet. Since the last year, 1,594 names have been added to the remembrance list: 760 who fell defending the country, and 834 civilian victims of terror. In addition, 132 Israelis are still being held hostage in Gaza.

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