War Day 229: IDF Brings a Fifth Brigade to Rafah, 2 Lubavitchers Killed by Snipers

Master Sgt. (res.) Gideon Chay DeRowe, 33, from Tel Aviv Cpt. Yisrael Yudkin, 22, from Kfar Chabad Staff Sgt. Eliyahu Haim Emsallem, 21, from Ra’anana.

War Summary, Day Two Hundred and Twenty Nine: Yisrael Yudkin and Eliyahu Haim Emsallem, both Chabad soldiers from the Netzach Yehuda Brigade, were killed in a sniper attack in Beit Hanoun, IDF Brings a Fifth Brigade to Rafah, and Ireland, Spain, and Norway announce intention to recognize a Palestinian state to which Hamas gives credit to October 7th.

By Mrs. Bruria Efune

War Summary, Day Two Hundred and Twenty Nine:

128 held captive in Gaza.
41 hostages confirmed murdered in Gaza.
112 hostages freed.
16 hostage bodies rescued.
1,523 Israelis killed.
285 fallen soldiers in the battle in Gaza.
14 fallen soldiers in Northern Israel.
5 fallen soldiers in Judea & Samaria.
14,000 estimated rockets fired at Israel.
90,000 Israelis displaced from their homes.
1 Jewish nation united in prayer, charity, and good deeds.

Top Headlines:

  • Hostage families release painful video
  • Three IDF soldiers fell in battle
  • Several senior Hamas commanders eliminated in targeted strikes
  • IDF may hold Jabaliya
  • Strike eliminates terrorists and weapons in UNRWA school
  • IDF advances in Rafah
  • Biden leading takes for an EU-run Rafah crossing
  • Ireland, Spain, and Norway announce intention to recognize a Palestinian state
  • Hamas thanks three European countries, credits the October 7th massacre

Hostage Updates:

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum released footage which the IDF had obtained from Hamas terrorists. The traumatic footage, which was edited to removed the more disturbing scenes, shows the capture and torture of five female IDF observers: Liri Albag, Karina Ariev, Agam Berger, Daniella Gilboa and Naama Levy, who were only 19-years-old. The footage shows clear evidence of gender-based violence, and intention to repeat it.

The families chose to release the painful footage in the hopes that it will help bring about the release of their daughters.

Egypt warned that it may withdraw from mediating the war in Gaza, because of the “attempts to cast doubt,” on their role in the war.

Gaza Front Updates:

Hamas did not successfully fire rockets at any Israeli communities today.

The IDF announced the names of three heroes who fell in battle.

Master Sgt. (res.) Gideon Chay DeRowe, 33, from Tel Aviv
Cpt. Yisrael Yudkin, 22, from Kfar Chabad
Staff Sgt. Eliyahu Haim Emsallem, 21, from Ra’anana

Gideon, from the Yahalom unit, was killed by an explosive in Jabaliya. Yisrael and Eliyahu, both Chabad soldiers from the Netzach Yehuda Brigade, were killed in a sniper attack in Beit Hanoun. Additional soldiers from both units were seriously injured in both incidents.

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. In addition, the Gaza Division, whose activity is rarely mentioned, is operating in various areas to secure the border and carry out pinpoint operations in places such as Beit Hanoun.

Over the last day, the Israeli Air Force struck over 130 Hamas targets across Gaza to take out cells of terrorists, rocket launchers, weapons depots, Hamas firing sites, and other terror infrastructure.

One targeted airstrike in Khan Younis eliminated Ahmed Yasser al-Qara, who participated in the October 7th massacre, and was a “prominent” member of Hamas’s anti-tank unit, responsible for many attempted attacks on IDF units in Gaza. The IDF initially held off the airstrike in al-Qara, after a child was seen nearby, and only struck once he was at a safe distance. Two there terrorists were eliminated with him, including one of Hamas’s elite Nukhba fighters. A separate airstrike in Gaza City’s Daraj & Tuffah neighborhood hit a school building where five Hamas terrorists were gathering, and eliminated them all without harming any civilians. Among the five were the head of Hamas in Gaza City’s propaganda unit, another Nukhba fighter, and three intelligence officers.

Battles continue in Jabaliya, as IDF troops gain ground against Hamas, and rumors indicate that the IDF intends to hold the city this time, with an IDF base. In one incident today, troops on ground located a Hamas weapons storage where eight terrorists were gathered, and called a drone strike to take them all out. The troops have been carrying out careful searches for Hamas weapons and rocket launchers, and found several, which were well hidden.

Hamas prefers to spread their weapons across many buildings and tunnel shafts, so that it can take a long time for the IDF to find and destroy, and so that the terrorists can walk around unarmed, posing as civilians, and then easily pick up weapons whenever they need to. Rocket launchers are often found buried under sand, or in other makeshift hiding spots that are difficult to spot.

In Central Gaza, troops continue to operate along the Netzarim Corridor which separates the North and South of Gaza, and eliminated several terrorists today. Based on intelligence from on ground, an airstrike was carried out against an UNRWA school in Nuseirat, where a large number of Hamas terrorists were gathered, and where they had been storing a wide range of weapons. The weapons storage cause secondary explosions after the airstrike, confirming their presence. The IDF says that the airstrike was cautiously planned to avoid harm to citizens as much as possible.

In Rafah, at the far south of Gaza, the IDF has made advancements, and brought a fifth brigade into the city. The IDF is now operating in Rafah’s Brazil and Shaboura neighborhoods, and according to Egyptian reports, now controls 70% of the Philadelphi Corridor which stretches along the Gaza-Egyptian border. Before the advancements, the Air Force carried out many strikes against Hamas targets in the area.

The IDF stressed that it is carrying out the operation in Rafah with caution and accuracy, so as to prevent harm to the civilian population as much as possible, and that this is after most of the civilians have evacuated the area.

The IDF says that troops on ground found several hidden primed rocket launchers along the Philedalphi Corridor, and promptly destroyed them. The IDF is still not publicly mentioning the many tunnels found, which cross from Rafah into Egypt, and the only official mention so far has been from Gilad Noam at the ICJ. I can confirm that I’ve seen photos of the tunnels, which are not cleared for publication, and heard from sources who have seen them.

According to a report from Politico, the Biden administration is in talks with an organization of the European Union to help open and take over the Rafah border crossing in Gaza, after it was captured by the IDF. Politico sites an anonymous senior administration official and another person familiar with the matter.

Gaza Humanitarian Efforts Updates:

Egypt continues to block the Rafah Crossing, not allowing any Humanitarian aid through, ever since the IDF took it over from Hamas. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken publicly urged Egypt to do everything in their power to ensure that humanitarian aid flows to Gaza through the Rafah Crossing.

The IDF spokesman announced in Arabic that the humanitarian zone in Moasi will be expanded from Deir al-Balah in the north to defined areas in the Khan Yunis area and the center of the Gaza Strip. 

On Tuesday, May 21:

463 aid trucks (total) were inspected and transferred to the Gaza Strip, including 62 trucks of flour.
650 truckloads of aid are piling up on the Gazan side of the crossing, waiting for collection and distribution by international aid agencies.
12 trucks of aid were transferred into Gaza, through the temporary floating pier. 
70 trucks were transferred to northern Gaza.
3 tankers of fuel designated for the operation of essential infrastructure in Gaza, entered Gaza.
The northern water pipeline from Israel and the Bani Suheila line are now fully operational, and Israel is providing over half of all of Gaza’s water.

Northern Front Updates:

Hezbollah continues to fire heavily on Israel’s far north. An anti-tank missile hit a family home in Aviv, and set it on fire. An attack drone crashed in Beit Hillel, with no warning siren. No physical injuries were reported. An estimated third of all homes in the border area with Lebanon have been damaged in some way by Hezbollah fire. Short-range anti-tank missiles and attack drones frequently break past Israel’s air defense systems.

The IDF continued attacking Hezbollah positions in Southern Lebanon, with a focus on buildings where Hezbollah terrorists were seen to be gathering. Reservists continue to gather on the border.

Houthi & Iraqi War Front Updates:

Suspected drone sirens in Eilat were later said to be a false alarm. It’s unclear if it was a false detection, or if the threat was removed or fell before reaching the city.

Judea and Samaria Updates:

Defense Minister Yoav Galant announced that disengagement plans were canceled for three small Jewish towns in the Northern Shomron: Shanur, Ganim and Kadim. He said, “We succeeded in completing the historic move. The Jewish hold on Judea and Samaria guarantees security, the application of the Law on the Cancellation of Disengagement will lead to the development of the communities and provide security to the residents of the area.” The announcement comes as a follow-up to the enactment of the secession cancellation law that passed in the Knesset in March 2023.

International Updates:

Ireland, Spain and Norway announced that they would unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state. Poland followed and announced that it supports a two-state solution to the Middle East crisis.

The High Representative for Foreign Policy of the European Union, Joseph Borrell announced: “I have taken note of the recognition of the Palestinian state by the two EU members, Ireland, and Spain, and by Norway. I will work tirelessly with all the EU members to promote a common European position on the issue the basis of a two-state solution.”

The White House spokesman responded to the announcements stating that President Biden believes that a Palestinian state should be realized through negotiations and not unilateral recognition.

Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to the announcements: “The intention of several European countries to recognize a Palestinian state is a reward for terrorism. 80% of the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria support the terrible massacre of October 7. This evil cannot be given a state. This would be a terrorist state. It will try to repeat the massacre of October 7 again and again; we will not consent to this. Rewarding terrorism will not bring peace and neither will it stop us from defeating Hamas.”

Foreign Minister Israel Katz ordered the Israeli ambassadors of the three counties to immediately return to Israel for consultations. “I am sending a clear message today,” he said. “Israel will not be complacent against those who undermine its sovereignty and endanger its security.”

Confirming Netanyahu’s position, senior Hamas official Hussam Badran said in an interview with Al-Jazeera: “The European countries’ recognition of a Palestinian state came as a result of the “al Aqsa Flood” operation ([October 7th attack] and the steadfastness of the resistance.” Senior Hamas official Izat al-Rashak said similar: “The recognition of the state of Palestine by Norway, Spain and Ireland is the fruit of our struggle and resistance.”

In Hamas’s formal announcement they welcomed the recognition of a Palestinian State, and said that it’s “an important step on the way to establishing our right to our land and establishing an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.” 

On a separate topic, an American source told Reuters that Saudi Arabia and the US discussed the sale of advanced F-35 fighter jets and weapons to Riyadh, as part of the strategic agreement that is taking shape between the countries.

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