War Day 96: 6 Killed In Accidental Tunnel Blast, Sec. Blinken Visits

War Summary, Day Ninety Six: Six combat engineers from the elite Yahalom unit were killed in one accidental tunnel blast in Bureij, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, arrived in Israel for a diplomatic visit, and the IDF assassinate Ali Hussein Burji, a senior Hezbollah commander.

By Mrs. Bruria Efune

War Summary, Day Ninety Six:

132 held captive in Gaza.
110 hostages freed.
11 hostage bodies rescued.
33 hostages confirmed murdered in Gaza.
1,300+ Israelis murdered.
185 fallen soldiers in the battle in Gaza.
5 fallen soldiers in Northern Israel.
2 fallen soldiers in Judea & Samaria.
8,000 injured.
12,700 rockets fired at Israel.
187,533 Israelis displaced from their homes.
1 Jewish nation united in prayer, charity, and good deeds.

Hostage Updates:

A convoy of dozens of families of the Israeli hostages made their way to the Kerem Shalom crossing in order to block the entry of the humanitarian aid trucks to the Gaza Strip. “We will not allow the introduction of humanitarian equipment into Gaza while our sick and wounded are held captive by Hamas,” the families said.

The police prevented the families of the hostages from entering the Kerem Shalom crossing on the grounds that it is a closed military area. Ayala, the daughter-in-law of 80-year-old hostage Yoram Metzger, said: “How much longer will he survive? The average in Auschwitz was 3-4 months!”

Ambassador Gilad Erdan marked the first birthday of hostage baby Kfir Bibas, on the stage of the UN assembly. “I wish you from here, Kfir, that next year you will celebrate your birthday with your family”, he said.

In the general assembly hall sat family members of hostages Almog Meir and Avitar David, who are still being held by Hamas.

Gaza Front Updates:

Hamas fired two rounds of rockets into the Gaza Envelope areas, including Sderot.

The IDF announced the names of nine heroes who fell in battle in Gaza:

Sgt. Roi Tal, 19, from Kfar Yehoshua
Sgt. First Class (res.) David Schwartz, 26, from Elazar
Sgt. First Class (res.) Yakir Hexter, 26, from Jerusalem
Sgt. First Class (res.) Gavriel Bloom, 27, from Beit Shemesh
Master Sgt. (res.) Amit Moshe Shahar, 25, from Ramat Yohanan
Cpt. (res.) Denis Krokhmalov Veksler, 32, from Be’er Sheva
Cpt. (res.) Ron Efrimi, 26, from Hod Hasharon
Master Sgt. (res.) Roi Avraham Maimon, 24, from Afula
Sgt. Maj. (res.) Akiva Yasinskiy, 35, from Ramat Gan

Six combat engineers from the elite Yahalom unit were killed in one blast in Bureij, Central Gaza, on Monday. Dozens more soldiers were injured.

The incident occurred as the combat engineers were inside the underground Hamas weapons factory, lining it with explosives in preparation for demolition. Half an hour before the planned demolition, suspicious movement was seen in a building nearby, threatening the soldiers stationed in the area. A tank shelled the building, and according to an IDF probe, the shelling somehow activated the detonating cord, causing the tunnel system to explode prematurely, while the soldiers were still inside.

On Monday morning, family members of around 30 soldiers received phone calls from the unit’s commander relaying that an explosion had occurred, and the soldiers were trapped under rubble, and not yet accounted for. The devastating tragedy was initially expected to be much worse.

The IDF is continuing with an intensive search for Hamas’s leadership and the hostages in Khan Younis. Underneath Khan Younis is an entire city of complex tunnels with multiple layers. Tunnel shafts connected to the system are hidden all over the city, primarily in private homes and public buildings. The IDF troops are searching through every corner of the city for these shafts as they close in on the Hamas terror chiefs.

Over the past day, IDF troops moved further into Khan Younis, and eliminated over 40 terrorists in the process. In the new ground, troops so far located dozens of tunnel shafts—some very significant, and a wide range of Hamas weapons.

The searches for tunnels are fraught with danger, even without entering the shafts. In one incident yesterday, armed terrorists popped out of a tunnel shaft and threw three explosives at the IDF troops as they were scanning it.

IDF troops also raided the building of the Islamic University in Khan Younis, which was used by Hamas as a terror headquarters. Inside classrooms, troops found assault rifles and other military equipment. In the immediate area, troops found dozens of hidden weapon depots, all together storing a large amount of grenades, mortars, explosive devices, and maps used by Hamas terrorists.

Blinken’s Visit:

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, arrived in Israel for a diplomatic visit, during which he met Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Herzog, Defense Minister Galant, and Israel’s full War Cabinet. Reports indicate a significant disagreement between the US Secretary of State, and Israel.

In summary, Blinken’s main concern is preventing the conflict from spreading, and Israel’s main concern is surviving. The two concerns may not be compatible so long as Iran continues to finance attacks against Israel from Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Palestinian factions in Judea and Samaria.

State Department spokesperson, Matthew Miller, said in a statement that, “The secretary reaffirmed our support for Israel’s right to prevent the terrorist attacks of October 7 from being repeated and stressed the importance of avoiding further civilian harm and protecting civilian infrastructure in Gaza.”

Blinken also spoke about getting more aid to civilians in Gaza, returning them to their homes in Northern Gaza, and about working towards a two-state solution in order to foster normalization with the Arab states.

It appears that while simultaneously recognizing that Hamas hides inside civilian infrastructure, Blinken demanded that Israel stop targeting civilian buildings. Israel’s War Cabinet members in turn responded that it won’t be possible to get rid of Hamas without attacking the buildings they hide inside.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant briefed Blinken on the war developments, and told him that while the IDF has scaled back fighting in the north of Gaza, where Hamas has mostly been defeated, “operations in the region of Khan Younis will intensify and continue until Hamas leadership is detected, and Israeli hostages return home safely.”

Gallant emphasized that only pressure on the terrorists will bring about results, and not appeasement. He called for an increase of pressure on Iran as the means to prevent a regional escalation.

Regarding the situation in the north, Blinken said that the US supports Israel’s demand to ensure the safety of the residents of the north, and that the administration is working to achieve a diplomatic solution to the situation and prevent the expansion of the conflict.

Blinken also addressed the issue of transferring the tax money to the Palestinian Authority (PA), in light of Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s refusal to transfer these funds, saying that “these are Palestinian funds and must be transferred to them.”

The funds being held are designated by the PA to pay terrorists salaries. Smotrich responded with a post on Twitter/X, which said, “We really appreciate US support for Israel, but when it comes to our existence in our land, we will always act according to the Israeli interest,. Therefore we will continue to fight with all our strength to destroy Hamas. We will not transfer a shekel to the PA that will reach the families of Nazis in Gaza.”

Smotrich also called on countries to take refugees from Gaza, in the same way they welcomed refugees from Ukraine and Syria.

Gaza Humanitarian Efforts Updates:

182 humanitarian aid trucks were inspected and transferred to the Gaza Strip today.

Before the war, an average of 70 food trucks entered Gaza every day. The average last week was 109. 

Northern Front Updates:

Hezbollah continues to slowly escalate attacks on Israel. Today they attacked with a range of rocket fire, anti-tank missiles, and attack drones, setting off air-raid sirens in northern cities up until Tzfat (Safed). Minor damage was caused in multiple locations.

In Tzfat, a Hezbollah drone launched from Lebanon, hit the IDF’s Northern Command HQ. No damage was done, and no injuries were reported.

Hezbolla announced that the attack on Tzfat was in response to last week’s assassination of Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut, and senior Hezbollah commander Wissam al-Tawil yesterday.

The IDF responded heavily, including with the assassination of Ali Hussein Burji, a senior Hezbollah commander responsible for dozens of drone attacks on northern Israel.

The “Dir al-Zor 24” website, which is affiliated with the Syrian opposition, reported on trucks arriving in the Buchmal area in eastern Syria with ammunition and weapons from Iraq. According to the report, the trucks arrived at one of the headquarters of the pro-Iranian militias in the border town of al-Khari, in the Bukhamal region. The headquarters are near a mosque and under the guard of a pro-Iranian militia.

Additional War Fronts Updates:

The Al Jazeera network reported another attack on vessels in the Red Sea by the Houthis, according to a military source in Yemen.

Judea and Samaria Updates:

The IDF says that during a routine inspection near Ramallah, a Palestinian attempted to stab IDF troops. The soldiers shot him dead. No IDF soldiers were hurt.

The IDF spokesman said that overnight Israel’s security forces arrested 13 wanted Palestinians throughout Judea and Samaria, while destroying explosives planted under the roads in order to harm our forces. During the operation, an IDF aircraft attacked a terrorist squad that fired at the forces. According to reports, areas of operation included Tulkarm and nearby Noor al-Shams.

This morning, elite Duvduvan soldiers operated in Shchem (Nablus), where they arrested a wanted man and destroyed ready-to-use explosives found inside the wanted man’s house. In the villages of Atara and Habla in Samaria, the forces located and confiscated a number of weapons. In an operation in the village of Surif, the forces arrested two wanted men and interrogated many suspects. In the village In Ein Masbah, an activist of the Kotala, the student cell of Hamas, was arrested. The arrested wanted persons and the confiscated weapons were transferred to the security forces for further treatment, there were no casualties to our forces.

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