War Summary, Day Seventy Six: Israel offered Hamas a one-week truce in exchange for 40 hostages- Hamas declines the deal, Hamas fails to launch a single rocket today, and Netanyahu announces Israel won’t back down until every terrorist surrenders or is killed.
By Mrs. Bruria Efune
War Summary, Day Seventy Six:
129 held captive in Gaza.
110 hostages freed.
11 hostage bodies rescued.
20 hostages confirmed murdered in Gaza.
1,300+ Israelis murdered.
134 fallen soldiers since entering Gaza.
11,580 rockets fired at Israel.
187,533 Israelis displaced from their homes.
1 Jewish nation united in prayer, charity, and good deeds.
As negotiations for a new hostage release deal are ongoing, many rumors are spreading about possible agreements. A political source told Israel Hayom that the rumors about Israel withdrawing soldiers is as part of the agreement is completely false.
According to most sources, Israel offered a one-week truce in exchange for the release of 40 hostages, including all the women and elderly men.
US President Joe Biden said, “We do not expect an arrangement for the release of abductees soon, but we are pushing for it.”
Late Wednesday evening, the Wall Street Journal reported that Hamas rejected the Israeli proposal for a weeklong ceasefire.
Ashkelon Mayor, Tomer Glam appealed to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to include the city’s residents, Avera Mengistu and Alex Labnov, in any future kidnapping deal. “The state has a huge moral debt towards the abductees and must do everything to bring them home,” Glam wrote in the letter he delivered to Netanyahu.
Avera Mengistu has been held hostage by Hamas since 2014 when he wandered into Gaza during a mental health relapse. Hamas recently released a video of Avera, and Netanyahu promised his mother that efforts are being made to bring him home.
Economy Minister Nir Barkat and Brigadier General Gal Hirsch held a meeting today with the families of the abductees to discuss financial needs of the families. After the meeting, individual meetings were held with the families in order to find solutions for unique financial assistance for each of them.
The IDF is continuing to investigate the incident of the accidental shooting of three hostages, in order to prepare and understand better what might occur with other hostages. During investigations, the IDF reviewed footage from a body cam of a canine which had been killed in Gaza.
The canine was from the military’s Oketz unit. On December 10th, Hamas terrorists fired from inside a building towards troops of the Golan Brigade. A gun battle ensued, and the canine was sent into the building, where it was shot by the terrorists. The terrorists were soon eliminated by the IDF soldiers, but due to the intensity of the battle, the troops didn’t immediately retrieve the canine, and the footage wasn’t reviewed until December 18th. In the footage, the voices of the hostages can be heard screaming for help, as the terrorists who were holding them were eliminated and they were freed.
Today, Iris Haim, the mother of Yotam—one of the three hostages who were accidentally killed, sent a letter to the battalion involved in the tragic incident, in it she wrote:
“I wanted to tell you that I love you very much and I embrace you from afar. I know that everything that happened is completely not your fault, it is nobody’s fault – except the Hamas, may their name and memory be wiped off the face of the earth.
“We invite you to come visit us at the earliest opportunity, whoever is willing, we want to see you with our own eyes and embrace you and tell you that what you have done – as painful as it is to say, and as sad as it is – was likely the right thing to do at that moment, and none of us are judging you or angry with you. Not me, not my husband Raviv, not my daughter Noya, not Yotam, of blessed memory, and not Tuval, Yotam’s brother. We love you very much, and that’s that.”
Gaza Front Updates:
Hamas didn’t successfully fire a single rocket into Israel today.
The IDF released footage showing an airstrike on a Hamas cell as they were preparing a truck of attack drones to launch at Israel.
The IDF announced the names of two heroes who fell in battle in Gaza:
Cpt. (res.) Lior Sivan, 32, from Beit Shemesh.
Master Sgt. (res.) Uriel Cohen, 33, from Tzur Hadassah.
In light of international pressure to stop or slow down the battle against Hamas, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made a statement expressing that it’s not in the plans. “We will continue the war until the end. It will continue until Hamas is eliminated – until victory. Those who think we will stop are not connected to reality. We will not stop fighting until we achieve all the goals we have set: the elimination of Hamas, the release of our hostages and the removal of the threat from Gaza.
Netanyahu emphasized, “All Hamas terrorists, from the first to the last, are mortal. They have only two options: surrender or die.”
The IDF carried out over 300 strikes on terror targets in Gaza over the last day, including some which were directed by ground forces mid-battle against Hamas terrorists.
The IDF reports that Air Force and Navy strikes over the past day have eliminated dozens of Hamas terrorists, and destroyed significant Hamas infrastructure—including the launcher which fired missiles at Tel Aviv yesterday.
According to the head of the IDF Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, the IDF is at “another significant phase of the offensive, in new areas.”
IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, announced that the military is advancing into new neighborhoods in Gaza city, and is now beginning to fight in Daraj and Tuffah, which are next to Shejaiya. This advancement brings the IDF close to complete control of Gaza CIty, and all of Northern Gaza.
“This offensive will continue, and keep moving forward.” Said Hagari. “It will continue with pressure against the enemy above ground, and underground. We will continue to advance here and in additional areas in which we have not maneuvered to yet.”
After taking full control of Jabaliya, IDF troops continue to raid Hamas sites, and today discovered a truck with several long-range rockets inside, and other weapons in the area. The troops also found Hamas terrorists still hiding in the Jabaliya area, and directed airstrikes on their locations.
In Southern Gaza, IDF troops continue to raid Hamas sites and homes of senior Hamas officials in Khan Younis. In several Hamas officials homes, the soldiers found tunnel shafts, sometimes hid with sophisticated methods. From the various locations raided, the soldiers located a large weapons cache which included firearms, ammunition, explosive devices, and around 20 mortars.
Air strikes were also reported in the Rafah area, near the Kuwaiti hospital.
Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, arrived in Cairo to hold talks with Egyptian officials about developments in the war in the Gaza Strip.
Egypt also extended an invitation to representatives of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group, who plan on visiting in the coming days.
Gaza Humanitarian Efforts Updates:
165 humanitarian aid trucks and 7 ambulances were transferred into Gaza from the Rafah crossing in Egypt today after being inspected in Israel.
The IDF enabled a tactical pause for humanitarian purposes to allow civilians to replenish stocks such as food and water in the Al-Shaboura neighborhood in Rafah from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
On Dec. 18, the first stage of implementing a water pipeline from mobile desalination facilities situated on the Egyptian side of Rafah was successfully concluded. This initiative, led by the United Arab Emirates, aims to provide clean water access to approx. 150,000 people in Gaza.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen visited Cyprus to discuss a maritime corridor from Cyprus to the Gaza Strip as part of the Israeli strategy for economic disengagement from the Gaza Strip.
Northern Front Updates:
Hezbollah fired several rounds of missiles into Israel’s north today, including a heavy barrage at the city of Kiryat Shmona, which resulted in a few crash sites and a fire but no injuries. Most residents of Kiryat Shemona have been evacuated since October.
Rockets were also fired into the Golan Heights from Syria.
The IDF carried out airstrikes on positions of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Syrian Army, and shelled both their positions along the border which were involved the firing on Israel. Media outlets affiliated with the Syrian opposition report an explosion in the Damascus airport area
Hezbollah targets included military buildings, rocket launch sites, a command center, and a weapons depot belonging to the terror group.
Hezbollah announced that three of their terrorists were eliminated by the IDF today, and took responsibility for five attacks today, and an additional two shortly after midnight.
Houthi War Fronts Updates:
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visited the Eilat port today, and toured the Navy’s Sa’ar 6-class corvette. In a message to the Houthis, he stated that Israel “will not tolerate threats and attempts to attack Eilat.”
According to reports from Israel Hayom, in meetings with Biden’s staff, Israel demanded to maintain freedom of action in the Red Sea against the Houthi attacks.
Judea and Samaria Updates:
IDF forces arrested 17 wanted persons throughout Judea and Samaria, of which 11 of them are associated with Hamas, and the rest with other terror groups in the territories.
IDF soldiers mapped the house of one of the terrorists who carried out the shooting attack at the tunnel checkpoint, in preparation for its demolition.
A huge thank you to everyone who has been donating to and sharing the campaign to purchase cameras for tanks to protect our soldiers! So far 349 people donated over $54,407. In response to urgent requests, some of these camera systems are also going to use in uncovered Hamas tunnels for life-saving purposes, which due to the battleground, we can’t share more about yet.
We had a tough day today, after one of the soldiers in a small elite unit we work closely with was killed in battle. At the same time, we got to feel how so many people from around the world are eager to help and come together to protect our soldiers, and it’s a big light in all the darkness. Thank you!
I hope to share a video from the field later next week.