Though Israel’s massive ground invasion of Gaza appears to be in a holding pattern, its forces staged another limited incursion there, Israeli and Hamas officials both say. The two sides, however, disputed the extent and success of that operation.
"During the night there were raids by tank and infantry forces,” Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said on national television Monday, according to Reuters. "These raids are raids that kill squads of terrorists who are preparing for the next stage in the war," he said, describing incursions that went "deep" into Gaza. "These raids also locate and search for anything we can get in terms of intelligence on the missing and the hostages."
Hagari added that such interventions helped understand where "the terrorists are assembling, the terrorists are getting organized in anticipation of the next stages of the war. And our role is to reduce these threats."
Hamas said it repelled the limited incursion, destroying several Israeli vehicles.
“Al-Qassam Mujahideen put a Zionist armored force in a tight ambush east of Khan Yunis after crossing the fleeting fence for several meters,” Hamas said Sunday on its Telegram channel. “The Mujahideen clashed with the infiltrating force, destroying two bulldozers and a tank, forcing the force to withdraw and return to their bases safely.”
The Israeli probing operation came as there are reports that Israel has agreed to a U.S. request to delay the full-on Gaza invasion. However, it remains unclear whether Israel has agreed to that request, though the ground invasion has yet to happen.
“Israel agreed to the US request to delay ground entry into the Gaza Strip until more American forces are sent to the area,” the Israeli GLZ Radio reported Monday. The War Zone could not independently verify that claim.
The New York Times reported Sunday that the U.S. advised Israel to delay a ground invasion, but no final decision had been reached. Though still supporting a ground invasion, the Biden administration is asking, not demanding, Israel hold off to “buy time for hostage negotiations and to allow more humanitarian aid to reach Palestinians in the sealed-off enclave,” The New York Times reported, citing “several U.S. officials.”
Hagari on Monday said that Hamas is holding at least 222 hostages. You can read more about the challenges Israel will face in any hostage rescue attempt here.
The Biden administration recently sent a Marine three-star general and several other U.S. military officers to Israel to help advise the Israeli military's leadership in its operation in Gaza, Axios reported Monday, citing "two U.S. officials and two Israeli officials briefed on the issue."
"The Marine Corps officers sent include Lt. Gen. James Glynn, according to a senior Israeli official. Glynn previously headed the Marines' special operations and was involved in the operations against ISIS in Iraq," Axios reported. They are not directing operating, but they are providing military advice and shared lessons learned from the fight against ISIS in Mosul, a very difficult urban battle.
American officials “also want more time to prepare for attacks on U.S. interests in the region from Iran-backed groups, which officials said are likely to intensify once Israel moves its forces fully into Gaza,” The New York Times reported.
The concern about protecting U.S. forces is so high that the Pentagon announced it is sending a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery and additional Patriot air defense batteries to the region, which you can read more about in our initial reporting here.
That decision is part of a larger effort to boost U.S. presence in the region, after “recent escalations by Iran and its proxy forces across the Middle East Region.”
The U.S. is concerned about Iran directly entering the conflict, as well as the full involvement of Hezbollah, which possesses a massive arsenal of missiles and is already engaged in a limited, but increasing fight with Israel along the Lebanese border.
U.S. forces, however, have already come in direct contact with Iranian proxies. Last week, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney downed four Houthi land attack cruise missiles and nearly 20 drones over a nine-hour period, which you can read more about in our reporting here. There has also been what the Pentagon said last week was an “uptick” in attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, which you can read more about in our reporting here.
Those attacks continued in Syria on Monday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) and the Telegram channel of a loose-knit organization of Iranian-backed militias in the region.
“American forces were able to shoot down drones of the Iranian militias,” SOHR said Monday on its website. One drone attacked at-Tanf base while two drones attacked a base near Al-Rukban camp, SOHR said.
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group of Iranian-backed militias, said on its Telegram channel Monday that it “targeted two American occupation bases, ‘Al-Tanf’ and ‘Al-Rukban’ in Syria, this morning, using two drones, and they directly hit their targets.”
Iraq officials have denounced the attacks on U.S. forces there.
"The attacks that target Iraqi bases that house advisers from the international coalition in Iraq are unacceptable," Iraq's military spokesman Yahya Rasool said in a statement, Barrons reported.
Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani had "directed all the security services to... pursue the elements responsible for these attacks," he added, according to the publication.
We reached out to U.S. Central Command to for more details and will update this story with any pertinent information provided.
As the IDF waits to invade Gaza, its forces are conducting training.
"Regular and reserve IDF soldiers are conducting a series of trainings in order to improve the readiness and competence of the forces to maneuver in the Gaza Strip," Hagari said on Twitter Monday. "The fighters and commanders, who arrived determined and highly motivated, are training in brigade combat teams, which combine infantry forces, armor and other units in a number of patterns and in different scenarios."
As we noted in our deep dive into the challenges Israel will face in any ground invasion, the vast network of underground tunnels, known as the Gaza Metro, will be particularly difficult for the IDF. This video below reportedly shows part of that network.
The IDF will also have to face Hamas drones, like this Al-Zawari kamikaze drone Hamas showcased in the video below.
Israel's version of the FBI has reportedly launched a new unit dedicated to tracking down and killing everyone from Hamas who took part in the surprise Oct. 7 attacks from Gaza, Fox News is reporting.
The new unit, which will operate separately from other command and control units focused on taking out strike cells and high-ranking Hamas officials, is tasked with tracking down and eliminating every person who played a role in the atrocities, according to the publication.
Israel on Monday screened a film showing the horrors of the Hamas invasion.
"This afternoon, at a military base north of Tel Aviv, the Israel Defense Forces held a grisly matinee screening of 43 minutes of raw footage from Hamas’s October 7 attack," The Atlantic reported. "Members of the press were invited, but cameras were not allowed. Hamas had the opposite policy on cameras during the attack, which it documented gleefully with its fighters’ body cams and mobile phones. Some of the clips had been circulating already on social media in truncated or expurgated form, with the footage decorously stopped just before beheadings and moments of death. After having seen them both in raw and trimmed forms, I can endorse the decision to trim those clips. I certainly hope I never see any of the extra footage again."
Israel continues to pound Gaza with airstrikes.
"In the last day, the IDF attacked over 320 targets throughout the Gaza Strip," the Israeli Air Force said on Twitter. "In the last day, the IDF continued to attack terrorist infrastructures and military targets in the Gaza Strip."
"At least 436 people, including 182 children, were killed in overnight Israeli strikes on Gaza, the Palestinian Health Ministry said," according to CNN. Since Oct. 7, when Hamas invaded Israel, "at least 5,087 people have been killed in Gaza, including 2,055 children and 1,119 women, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health," CNN reported. At least 1,400 Israelis have been killed during that period, CNN reported.
Hamas said it carried out a number of attacks inside Israel, at Ashkelon, Beersheba, Mafka'im and Sderot.
Fighting also continued to flare on Israel's border with Lebanon. The IDF said it carried out several strikes on Hezbollah forces.
"Following the initial report regarding sirens sounded in Qiryat Shemona, a short while ago, terrorists opened fire at an IDF post in the area of Misgav Am, the shooting activated sirens in the city of Qiryat Shemona," the IDF said on its Telegram channel shortly before 6:30 p.m. local time (11:30 a.m. EST). "The IDF is responding with live fire toward the source of the launch in Lebanon."
That followed a drone intrusion and several other skirmishes.
As the fighting heats up on the northern front, it appears that foreign fighters are flocking to Lebanon, gearing up for a potential fight against Israel.
A very slow trickle of badly needed aid is starting to flow into Gaza.
A third group of vehicles carrying vital aid entered the Rafah crossing linking Egypt and Gaza on Monday, according to CNN, but relief groups have warned much more is required to curb a deepening humanitarian crisis inside the strip.
"The Palestinian enclave is more than 7,200 truckloads short of the aid usually imported since October 7," according to CNN. "The territory normally receives 455 aid trucks per day, the United Nations said. Therefore, 7,280 trucks should have arrived between Oct. 7 and Oct. 22."
"We call on our Arab and Islamic countries and the United Nations to intensify efforts to open a permanent humanitarian corridor for the Gaza Strip and fail the Israeli occupation’s plan to starve Gazans," Hamas said Monday on its Telegram channel. "The entry of very limited amounts of aid into the Gaza Strip during the past two days does not cover the increasing needs of our people who are subjected to barbaric aggression for the seventeenth day in a row. The ongoing siege crippled the humanitarian conditions and caused severe shortages in food supplies and medicine. Not to mention that all hospitals in the Gaza Strip have run out of fuel."
Israel has apparently garnered support from a Nigerian separatist organization called the Biafra Liberation Army, according to the BNN news outlet. The group staged a parade in support of Israel.
"The BLA members, armed with RPG-7 Launchers, PG-7V rockets, FN MAG machine guns, PK machine guns, AKM/Type 56 rifles, and 12G JOJEFF shotguns, paraded in a show of solidarity with Israel and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)," BNN reported. "This public display of support suggests a shared sense of struggle and an aspiration for self-determination binding the Nigerian separatists to the Israeli cause. However, the parade’s implications extend beyond symbolism, raising concerns about the BLA’s intentions and capabilities."
The is a developing story. We will update it when there is more news to report about the Israel-Hamas war.
Update: 6:22 PM EST -
Another two hostages held in Gaza since Oct. 7 have been released by Hamas.
The release was arranged through Egyptian-Qatari mediation, Hamas said on its Telegram channel Monday. It identified them as Nurit Yitzhak and Yochved Lifshitz.
The International Red Cross on Monday did not identify the former hostages, but said it “facilitated the release of 2 more hostages, transporting them out of #Gaza this evening.”
NBC broadcast video of the two hostages being transferred to an ambulance.
U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the U.S. welcomes the move and is working to secure the release of the remaining hostages.
Israel earlier in the day said that there were more than 220 hostages being held by Hamas.
Update: 6:38 PM EST -
The IDF said it continued to strike targets in Lebanon.
"The IDF recently attacked terrorist infrastructures of the Hezbollah terrorist organization, including a military compound and an observation post used by the organization," the IDF said. "The attack was carried out in response to launches from Lebanon today."
Officials from both the Pentagon and State Department today declined to say if the U.S. has advised Israel to delay its Gaza ground invasion, but did talk a little bit about what the U.S. is advising.
During a briefing with reporters, including from The War Zone, a senior U.S. defense official said the Pentagon is checking in every day to see what military equipment Israel needs to defend itself. It is also sharing lessons learned on how to reduce civilian harm during its operations. In addition, the Pentagon is consulting with Israel on integrating hostage recovery activities into its operations and discussing the need to accelerate humanitarian aid deliver to Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
In "all of our conversations we continue to talk to them about the importance of having meaningful goals, meaningful objectives, and a plan to achieve those objectives," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters earlier in the day. "We’ve been engaged in a number of levels. The Pentagon has been engaging in military-to-military channels about what their operations might look like. But beyond that, I wouldn’t want to go into details other than to say that, ultimately, these are decisions that Israel has to make."
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