War Summary, Day Sixty Eight: Nine soldiers were killed in a devastating ambush inside a residential building in Shejaiya, an Ashdod supermarket was hit by shrapnel and experienced extensive damage, and Jenin operations continue with search and arrests.
By Mrs. Bruria Efune
War Summary, Day Sixty Eight
135 held captive in Gaza.
110 hostages freed.
6 hostage bodies rescued.
1,200+ Israelis murdered.
116 fallen soldiers since entering Gaza.
11,540 rockets fired at Israel.
187,533 Israelis displaced from their homes.
1 Jewish nation united in prayer, charity, and good deeds.
Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak announced that Tal Haimi, 41, was murdered in Hamas captivity. Tal is a third generation kibbutz member, and pillar of the community. Only three months ago, Tal lost his mother, Esti, after a battle with a serious illness. Tal leaves behind his wife Ella, and his children— 9-year-old twins, and a 6-year-old boy, as well as his father, Zohar, and his sister, Ohr.
Kibbutz Nachal Oz announced that Joshua Loito Molal, 21, from Tanzania was killed in Hamas captivity. Joshua arrived in Israel to study and work in agriculture only two weeks before the attack.
Hamas is refusing to return to the negotiating table to return hostages, even after Qatar presented new ideas.
Families of the American citizens still held hostage by Hamas in Gaza met with president Biden ad the White House. Robi Chen, whose son Itai Chen is still being held in Gaza, attended the meeting and reported about Biden, “He encouraged us and gave us room for hope, they told us about the possibility of bringing about another deal.”
News 13 announced this evening that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rejected the request of Mossad Director Dedi Barnea to travel to Qatar for negotiations to advance a deal for the release of hostages. The office of the family’s of the hostages responded in dismay and expressed that every evening it’s a Russian roulette ceremony finding out which hostage is no longer alive.
In Kiryat Ata, a reception was held for Sapir Cohen, 29, a resident of the city, who was released from captivity by Hamas. Sapir shared some of her story, and said, “They took me on a motorcycle, and on the way residents of Gaza stood with sticks, screamed, and threw cigarettes at me.” In captivity, Sapir says there were days when she didn’t know if she would survive, and she hopes the other hostages are returned quickly.
Minister of Health Uriel Bosso, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Eli Cohen, will meet with the President of the Red Cross in Tel Aviv on Thursday. At the meeting, which will be attended by senior professionals from the Ministry of Health, and the medical teams that treated the women and children who returned from Gaza, Minister Bosso will present a confidential medical report regarding the condition of the abductees who returned from captivity.
Hadassah, the Zionist women’s organization in America, and owner of the Hadassah hospitals in Jerusalem, sent an urgent letter to the president of the Red Cross, in which they wrote: “There is no meaning to your visit to Israel tomorrow if the Red Cross does not visit and take care of the Israeli hostages in Gaza. We demand that you fulfill the role for which you were established and take care of the abductees now, before it is too late.”
The families of the hostages held a protest rally in front of the UN building in Geneva – in the background of the gathering of heads of state on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the declaration of human rights. They placed a huge sign with the names and photos of the abductees in front of the UN building.
Gaza Front Updates:
Hamas fired eight salvos of rockets at the Gaza Envelope communities, and one at Ashdod. All the rockets over Ashdod were intercepted by the Iron Dome, but one very large piece of a rocket crashed into a supermarket, causing heavy destruction. Thank God, no injuries were reported.
The IDF says that Hamas has fired 116 rockets from the al-Mawasi humanitarian zone in southern Gaza, towards Israel. Of the 116, 38 of them fell short and landed in Gaza.
The IDF announced the names of ten heroes who fell in battle against Hamas:
Col. Itzhak Ben Basat, 44, from Sde Ya’akov
Lt. Col. Tomer Grinberg, 35, from Almog
Maj. Roei Meldasi, 23, from Afula
Maj. Moshe Avram Bar On, 23, from Ra’anana
Cpt. Liel Hayo, 22, from Shoham
Sgt. Achia Daskal, 19, from Haifa
Sgt. Eran Aloni, 19, from Ofakim
Maj. Ben Shelly, 26, from Kidron
Sgt. First Class Rom Hecht, 20, from Givatayim
Staff Sgt. Oriya Yaakov, 19, from Ashkelon
Nine of the fallen were killed in a devastating ambush inside a residential building in Shejaiya.
Col. Itzhak Ben Basat is the most senior officer to have been killed in the ground offensive inside Gaza since the war broke out. Basat was about to retire from the IDF at age 44, but decided to remain for the war. He was killed after running in to the building to rescue his soldiers who he thought may have been kidnapped, but had really been ambushed and killed ahead of him. Several high ranking commanders were killed in the incident, because of the IDF’s standard of fighting, in which commanders lead from the front.
IDF Spokesman, Lt. Col. Daniel Hagari, responded to criticism after the Battle of Shejaiya, and said: “If we had known a few days before that there were terrorists in that building, surely we would have attacked it [by air]. As soon as the fighters encounter fire inside the building, it is impossible to attack it from the air to rescue them.”
Golani Brigade Major General Yair Palai delivered a message to the brigade’s soldiers after the disaster:
“For the last week and a half, we have been fighting the murderous battalion of Shejaya. Last night, we took a hit. a painful blow. We have lost good friends, heroic warriors and commanders, brave souls, whose bodies prevented the abduction of our warriors. Chanukah is the holiday of Jewish heroism, a holiday of victory, and at the core of our nation’s heritage. We are the people’s brigade, the heroes’ brigade, and you are heroes! You are the generation of victory, and we all understand that it’s either us, or them. The legacy of our heroic friends is sharp and clear. We are moving forward. There will be time for pain too, now we fight. Golani stations here are the top, until the victory.”
The IDF is continuing to move forward in Gaza. In the last day, over 250 targets were hit, including a terrorist squad who were on their way to launch rockets into Israel.
In the north of the Gaza Strip, the IDF estimates they need only a few more days to complete the battle of Shejaiya, and clear out the area of Hamas. Additional battles ongoing in several neighborhoods of Gaza City.
In Khan Younis, the IDF reported that troops raided a school where they found and eliminated a terrorist squad, and nearby found a Hamas underground combat complex. The troops are also operating in Bani Suheila, on the outskirts of Khan Younis, where they eliminated many terrorists in short-range encounters.
Air strikes were also reported all the way south, in Rafah, where terrorists were reported killed in their homes.
A source told CNN that Israel informed the White House that the IDF is flooding Hamas tunnels with sea water “in a measured and limited manner.”
An investigation into the nature of the deaths of IDF surveillance soldiers serving in the Nahal Oz base on October 7th, has reportedly revealed that they were killed by a toxic gas that caused suffocation and loss of consciousness within a few minutes of exposure.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who is in Qatar, delivered a videotaped statement that “those who build on arrangements in Gaza without Hamas and the resistance factions are living in illusions.” He also stated that the organization is open to discussing any idea or initiative that may lead to an end to the fighting in Gaza, and asked Arab countries to force a ceasefire.
Gaza Humanitarian Efforts Updates:
Qatar announced that it will provide $50 million USD of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, and a hundred scholarships for young Palestinians. It’s unclear how they will ensure that the aid goes to Gaza civilians and not Hamas.
Today, additional equipment and personnel for the UAE and Jordanian field hospitals entered the Gaza Strip, and between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. the IDF paused operations in Al Shabura in order to enable movement of humanitarian aid.
Yesterday, (Dec. 12), four tankers of fuel and two tankers of cooking gas designated for the operation of essential infrastructure in Gaza, entered the Gaza Strip, along with 195 trucks of humanitarian aid.
Northern Front Updates:
After the IAF heavily attacked Hezbollah positions in Lebanon, only one rocket was launched today from Lebanon into Rosh Hanikra.
The IDF attacked Hezbollah terror infrastructure in Lebanon, as well as a military position of the Syrian army in Syrian territory.
Houthi War Fronts Updates:
The Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen fired two missiles towards a commercial tanker loaded with Indian-manufactured jet fuel near the key Bab el-Mandeb Strait, and missed.
During the incident, an American warship also shot down a suspected Houthi drone flying in its direction.
Judea and Samaria Updates:
The IDF has been carrying out an anti-terrorism operation in Jenin for over 40 hours, during which two airstrikes were carried out to assist the ground forces by eliminating terrorists threats.
The troops are working under the direction of the Shin Bet, and have searched hundreds of buildings and detained hundreds of suspects for questioning. About 30 weapons, a lot of ammunition, military equipment, and many weapon parts were confiscated. In addition, six explosives manufacturing laboratories, several underground shafts discovered in the city, four observation rooms, and many explosives found in the searches, were destroyed.
During the operation four IDF soldiers were slightly injured by shrapnel from explosions.
Reports of seven dead terrorists.
Senior White House officials told CNN that the Biden administration currently has no plans to place limits on military aid to Israel. The clarification comes amid calls from lawmakers from the Democratic Party and human rights organizations to stop the supply of weapons if Israel does not do more to protect the civilians in Gaza.
US National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, is expected to arrive in Israel shortly, and will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the War Cabinet, and President Yitzhak Herzog, to discuss the latest developments in the war in Gaza .
Britain announced new sanctions against Hamas leaders, including Mahmoud al-Zahar. Foreign Minister Cameron said that “Hamas will have no future in Gaza.”
The Minister of Defense, Yoav Galant, visited Sderot today, and met with the mayor, Alon Davidi, and with the security personnel of the municipality. Davidi told Galant: “The residents miss home, but they won’t return until they feel there is security.”
Most of the 27,000 residents of Sderot are currently in Eilat, and although they are extremely uncomfortable living in small hotels suites, they don’t think they will be returning home for at least several months more. At least 50 civilians and 20 police officers were killed in the battle of Sderot on October 7th, and Hamas rocket fire on the small city has not yet ceased.
I’m extremely grateful and touched by everyone who donated to Chabad of Eilat’s efforts for the displaced families. I got to spend the first few days of Chanukah with them, and in that short time, witnessed true selfless love and assistance in a respectful way, where it’s needed most. Tomorrow I hope to share a report on the unimaginable amount of activities run over Chanukah, and stories from moving menorah lightings with children who have been released from Hamas captivity, and loved ones of those who haven’t been yet.
May the last lights of Chanukah bring the huge miracles we so much need.