War Day 228: Heavy Bombing in Rafah, US Withdraws Opposition

War Summary, Day Two Hundred and Twenty Eight: Egypt duped America, Qatar, and Israel, Chief of Staff visits Jabaliya for operations to rescue hostage bodies, US removes its opposition to Rafah operation, heavy bombing in Rafah, Israel is supplying 50% of Gaza’s water, Hezbollah commander eliminated, Meron is closed to visitors, and operation in Jenin eliminates Hamas and PIJ terrorists.

By Mrs. Bruria Efune

128 held captive in Gaza.
41 hostages confirmed murdered in Gaza.
112 hostages freed.
16 hostage bodies rescued.
1,520 Israelis killed.
282 fallen soldiers in the battle in Gaza.
14 fallen soldiers in Northern Israel.
5 fallen soldiers in Judea & Samaria.
13,950 estimated rockets fired at Israel.
90,000 Israelis displaced from their homes.
1 Jewish nation united in prayer, charity, and good deeds.

Top Headlines:

  • Egypt duped America, Qatar, and Israel
  • Sirens in Ashkelon, Sderot, and area
  • Chief of Staff visits Jabaliya, addresses operations to rescue hostage bodies
  • US removes its opposition to Rafah operation
  • Heavy bombing in Rafah
  • 650 truckloads of aid in Gaza waiting for the UN agencies to deliver it
  • Israel is supplying 50% of Gaza’s water
  • Hezbollah commander eliminated
  • Meron is closed to visitors
  • Operation in Jenin leads to several eliminated Hamas and PIJ terrorists

Hostage Updates:

CNN reported, according to three insider sources, that Egypt had blindsided the U.S., Qatar, and Israel, and are to blame for the failure of the last round of hostage negotiation talks. According to the report, Egypt changed the details of the ceasefire for hostage release deal which Israel had signed off on, and surprised everyone when Hamas came back agreeing to a completely altered deal. One of the sources says that Egypt had everyone duped, and CIA Director Bill Burns “almost blew a gasket,” in fury.

While some members of Israel’s War Cabinet believe it would be good to renew negotiations, it is now unclear who would mediate them, and why they would trust Egypt again. However, it seems that Israel has not yet shut the door on Egypt, and is making an effort not to burn bridges with them, by not publicly sharing Egypt’s outright assistance to Hamas in 1. Tailoring negotiations in their favor, 2. Allowing a huge number of Hamas smuggling tunnels into the Sinai, 3. Stopping all aid transfers through the Rafah crossing now that Hamas is no longer receiving and controlling it, 4. Pressuring Israel not to enter Rafah.

Gaza Front Updates:

Hamas fired a barrage of rockets at the city of Ashkelon, and at Sderot. Most were intercepted, one fell short and landed in Gaza.

Thank G-d, 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 Central Gaza, and the 162nd in Rafah. Over the last day, the Israeli Air Force struck over 70 Hamas targets across Gaza to take out cells of terrorists, rocket launchers, weapons depots, Hamas firing sites, and other terror infrastructure. At nightfall, additional heavy fire began in Rafah.

In a mosque on the outskirts of Jabaliya, troops found two rocket launchers and a large cache of rockets.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi visited troops in Jabaliya, where he told soldiers that their mission is to eliminate as many terrorists as possible and destroy the terror infrastructure, which will lead to pressure on Hamas to release the hostages. He also mentioned the the IDF is prepared to carry out dangerous missions to return the bodies of hostages to be buried in Israel.

Troops continue to operate along the Netzarim Corridor, and on pinpoint operations in Central Gaza, which the IDF has not yet detailed.

In Rafah, troops continued with thorough searches in the eastern area, and along the first half of the Philedalphi corridor, which extends along the border with Egypt. The IDF says that they found numerous tunnel shafts containing Hamas weapons, and in one instance, captured three armed terrorists as they climbed out of a tunnel. Several tunnels were demolished. The IDF and Israeli government are still not publicly addressing the many tunnels which reach into Egypt, aside from the one instance in the ICJ.

Israel Hayom reports, that after US National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, arrived in Israel and was briefed by War Cabinet Ministers, the U.S. has removed its opposition to Israel’s operation in Rafah, on condition that there will be no occupation of the city. The approved plan focuses first on removing all Hams and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorists, and then a thorough sweep and search of tunnels. Insiders say that the US removed their opposition after seeing the successful evacuation of 950,000 Rafah residents to humanitarian camps where all their needs are provided for. After nightfall on Tuesday, very heavy bombing was reported in Rafah, likely signaling a further IDF advancement.

According to some reports, the real reason that the U.S. attempted to stop Israel’s entry into Rafah, was pressure from Egypt.

After closing the Patriot air defense system, which was rarely used, the IDF has reopened the unit which had operated it, this time to operate additional Iron Dome defense systems.

Gaza Humanitarian Efforts Updates:

Egypt is still not allowing the transfer of aid via the Rafah crossing, since the IDF took it over from Hamas. The UN says it has halted aid delivery in Rafah, since they’ve run out of supplies. In other areas, there is a surplus. The IDF reported that 650 truckloads are waiting for collection and distribution by international aid agencies on the Gazan side of the crossings.

Aid is being transferred via Israel through the Kerem Shalom and two Erez crossings, as well as the new JLOTS pier. The JLOTS pier was temporary halted on Sunday evening, after the World Food Program (WFP) warned that almost all trucks were being looted, and not reaching aid warehouses. The WFP asked for a new and more safe transportation plan.

On Monday, May 20:

403 aid trucks were inspected and transferred to the Gaza Strip.
14 trucks of aid were transferred into Gaza, through the temporary floating pier.
40 trucks of flour were coordinated via the Ashdod port program.
40 trucks were coordinated to northern Gaza.
There are currently 8 operational field hospitals in Gaza, of which, according to some reports in Gaza, remain largely empty.
26 bakeries are currently operational in Gaza, providing close to 5 million breads, rolls, and pita breads daily.
The northern water pipeline from Israel and the Bani Suheila line are now fully operational, and Israel is supplying nearly half of Gaza’s water, compared to 7% before the war.

Northern Front Updates:

Hezbollah continued with heavy fire on communities in Israel’s far north today, though at a slightly decreased level from recent days.

The IDF carried out airstrikes on Hezbollah targets in various areas across Southern Lebanon. In one airstrike, Qassem Saqlawi, the commander of Hezbollah’s coastal rocket and missile unit, was eliminated. The IDF says that Saqlawi was responsible for directing many attacks against Israel.

Ahead of Lag B’Omer celebrations, the IDF Home Front Command has closed the Mount Meron area to non-residents, until Monday afternoon. Locals will be allowed to set up three small bonfires with a total of ten approved guests. On a normal year, tens of thousands visit the burial site of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in Meron on the anniversary of his passing, which lands on Lag B’Omer – Sunday this year. However, Hezbollah has been firing heavily on the mountain, which is also home to an essential IDF air defense base, and it is now too dangerous for mass visits. The move to block off the mountain is widely supported, and voted for by the Charedi parties as well, though with regrets that it came to this.

Judea and Samaria Updates:

Gunfights broke out during an IDF counter-terrorism operation in Jenin, where troops targeted Hamas and PIJ terrorists based on Shin Bet intelligence. According to local reports, seven terrorists were eliminated in battle, including one who misfired an explosive device and hit himself.

International Updates:

After the ICC prosecutor’s announcement, Israel received support from various friends, as well as US President Biden, who said, “It’s clear Israel wants to do all it can to ensure civilian protection. Let me be clear: What’s happening is not genocide.”

A bipartisan group of US Senators are working to prepare and pass a bill which would sanction ICC officials involved in targeting Israel.

An ICC delegation was supposed to arrive in Israel yesterday to meet with Israeli and IDF officials and learn about the humanitarian efforts in Gaza. Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan however cancelled the trip without telling Israel, and instead publicly announced the petition to arrest Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Gallant without speaking to them.

General Updates:

After warning AP offices in Israel that they were violating Israeli law by providing Al Jazeera with footage of a livened of Gaza, Israel temporarily confiscated equipment, before returning it hours later.

This update is sponsored by Melanie and Hilton Efune and their children, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren, in honor of the heroic IDF and the resilient people of Israel. With thanks to Mendy and Bruria for all you do and your comforting words that inspire us and help us remain connected to Israel.

Please contact me if you’d like to sponsor a daily update, which is sent to over 15,000 readers and followers on WhatsApp, social media, and my new website, so that people can be accurately informed about the war.

P.S., A huge mazel to my sister Nitzeves Freeman, on her engagement to Yosef Yiftach!

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