Edited by: Fern Sidman
As the war launched against Israel by the Hamas terror group rages on, it was reported on Tuesday that the commander of its military wing was killed in an Israeli airstrike.
Hamas announced that Ayman Nofal, commander of Hamas’ Izz al-Adin Al-Qassam Brigades, died after an Israeli warplane struck his hiding place in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday afternoon, as was reported by World Israel News.
Hamas terrorists drive captured Israeli civilian from Kibbutz Kfar Aza into the Gaza Strip on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)
According to a statement released by Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency, Nofal was Hamas’ top intelligence officer and was responsible for assigning targets in Israel to Hamas rocket squads firing projectiles into Israeli territory.
WIN also reported that the Shin Bet also said Nofal was behind the 2006 terrorist attack inside Israel that left two Israeli soldiers dead and soldier Gilad Shalit in Hamas captivity. Nofal also is said to have overseen Hamas’ weapons manufacturing operations in the Gaza Strip.
Also on Tuesday, four Hezbollah terrorists were eliminated as they attempted to infiltrate across the border from Lebanon into Israel, as was noted in the WIN report.
An IDF spokesperson said the four were killed in an Israel Air Force airstrike as they attempted to plant a bomb near the Israeli security fence.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Monday that Iran may attack Israel via its proxy groups in the region, framing such an offensive as a “preemptive” strike against Jerusalem, according to the WIN report.
“In the coming hours, any preemptive action against the Zionist regime is conceivable,” Amir-Abdollahian told an Iranian government-controlled TV outlet.
Speaking about a recent meeting in Lebanon with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, Amir-Abdollahian said that “the leaders of the resistance will not allow the Zionist regime to do whatever it wants in Gaza and then go to other fronts of the resistance,” the WIN report said.
Amir-Abdollahian stressed that “if the war crimes of the Zionist regime are not stopped, new fronts will be opened and this issue will be inevitable.”
A top Hamas commander Ayman Nofal is greeted by Hamas supporters upon his arrival to his home in Nusairat refugee camp in the Central Gaza strip, Saturday , Feb. 5, 2011. (AP Photo – Hatem Moussa)
When asked specifically about what such a move by Iran would entail, Amir-Abdollahian demurred and stated that “every possibility is conceivable…no party can be indifferent to the continuation of these crimes,” WIN reported on Tuesday.
He claimed that an Iranian-led offensive on Israel would be an act of self-defense by the Islamic regime.
“If we do not defend Gaza today, tomorrow we will have to deal with the phosphorus bombs of the regime in our own hospitals,” he said, in a reference to a debunked allegation that Israel uses chemical weapons against its enemies.
“An opportunity has been obtained for us to stop the Zionists inside their own home,” he added.
WIN reported that in an earlier statement during a visit to Beirut, Amir-Abdollahian bemoaned what he said was a lack of action on the part of the United Nations and international community to stop Israel’s ongoing offensive against Hamas.
“Based on my understanding of the situation, I warn the war criminals and their supporters in the region to stop Israel’s crimes against civilians before it is too late, maybe it will be too late in a few hours,” he said, as was indicated in the WIN report.
“There is still a political opportunity to avoid a widespread crisis in the region. Today, I will meet with the representative of the UN secretary-general in the region and I will say that there is still a political opportunity, but tomorrow is too late.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrived in Israel Tuesday evening, one of a number of foreign leaders who have announced solidarity trips to Israel following the Hamas invasion on October 7th, WIN reported.
Under heavy rocket fire from Gaza aimed at central Israel, Scholz met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Kirya, the IDF’s headquarters in Tel Aviv.
Following a private meeting, the two leaders held a joint press conference in the Kirya.
Explosions in Gaza Baptist Hospital, apparently sparked by Hamas rocket, October 17th, 2023. (Telegram)
During his statement to reporters, Netanyahu compared the October 7th massacres of Jews near the Gaza frontier to the Holocaust, and Hamas to Nazi Germany, as was reported by WIN.
President Joe Biden’s efforts to tamp down tensions in the escalating war between Israel and Hamas faced a bloody setback Tuesday when, shortly before his expected departure for the Middle East, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas withdrew from scheduled meetings to protest an explosion at a Gaza hospital that allegedly killed hundreds, according to an AP report.
The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza blamed the blast on an Israeli airstrike but the Israeli military said it had no involvement and said that the blast was attributable to a misfired Hamas rocket.
As was reported by World Israel News, a Palestinian Islamic rocket that misfired killed hundreds of Palestinians on Tuesday night at the Al Ahli Arabi Baptist Hospital in Gaza City, the IDF said.
The Foreign Ministry released a video and graphic that it said proved “PIJ misfire hits Gaza hospital.”
“On October 17, at around 19:00, the PIJ fired a missile salvo toward Israel,” the ministry said, according to the WIN report. “One of the missiles misfired, landing on the al-Ahli hospital in Gaza, causing severe damage, killing at least several Palestinians and injuring many more. ”
“The IDF did not conduct any operations in the area at the time of impact,” the Foreign Ministry added. It also released video of the incident, WIN reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted Hamas for killing both Israelis and its own people.
“So the whole world knows: The barbaric terrorists in Gaza are the ones who attacked the Gaza hospital, not the IDF,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “Those who cruelly murdered our children, murder their children as well.”
WIN also reported that the IDF said, “According to intelligence information, from several sources we have, the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization is responsible for the failed shooting that hit the hospital.”
The army also told Fox News: “A hospital is a highly sensitive building and is not an IDF target,” as was reported by WIN.
Hamas accused the IDF of “the massacre at the Baptist Hospital”, calling it “a crime of genocide.”
Soon thereafter, the mainstream media began to immediately parrot Hamas’ mendacious claims.
Hamas terrorists in Gaza (Flash90/Abed Rahim Khatib)
As was indicated in the WIN report, the terror group called on Arab and Islamic countries to “intervene immediately,” and urged Palestinians in Judea and Samaria to attack Israeli forces to “avenge the massacre.”
Both Jordan and Egypt condemned Israel over the attack.
Jordan’s King Abdullah described it as a “heinous war crime that cannot be tolerated. Israel must immediately stop its brutal aggression against Gaza, which is inconsistent with humanitarian and moral values and constitutes a flagrant violation of the rules of international humanitarian law,” according to a statement from Jordan’s Royal Court, and was reported by WIN.
Dozens of people stormed Israel’s embassy in Amman in the wake of the explosion at the hospital.
Between 15 and 20 percent of all rockets launched by Gaza-based terror groups misfire and land inside Gaza, as was stated in the WIN report.
Abbas’ cancellation for his meeting with Biden, disclosed by a senior Palestinian official, reflects an increasingly volatile situation that will test the limits of American influence in the region as Biden visits Israel and Jordan on Wednesday, as was reported by the AP.
Biden’s decision to put himself in a conflict zone — the same year he made a surprise visit to Ukraine — demonstrates his willingness to take personal and political risks as he becomes heavily invested in another intractable foreign conflict with no clear end game and plenty of opportunity for things to spiral out of control.
The AP report noted that the high-stakes presidential trip is emblematic of Biden’s belief that the United States should not turn back from its central role on the global stage and his faith that personal diplomacy can play a decisive role.
Speaking to the AP, Jon Alterman, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said, “This is how Joe Biden believes politics works and history is made.” Alterman worked on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee while Biden was a member.
A key U.S. ally in the Middle East is also one of the top financial and political backers of the Hamas terrorist organization, as was reported by The Epoch Times on Tuesday. That relationship could now undermine the U.S.-Israel alliance and peace in the Middle East more broadly, according to one expert.
Qatar provides financial and diplomatic support to numerous terrorist groups and state sponsors of terror, including Hamas and Iran, the Epoch Times report said.
Speaking to The Epoch Times was Asher Fredman, director for Israel at the Abraham Accords Peace Institute think tank. He said that, “Qatar is a key supporter of Hamas, housing Hamas offices and senior leaders in Doha, and providing Hamas with funds that enable it to maintain its control over Gaza.”
He added that while Iran is Hamas’s primary patron for military support and training, Qatar is its go-to for spreading anti-Israel propaganda, The Epoch Times reported. This work, he said, is primarily done through Al Jazeera, a media network funded by the Qatari government.
“Through the Al Jazeera network, Qatar spreads narratives that demonize and delegitimize Israel, and justify terrorism, thereby supporting Hamas in its efforts,” Fredman told the Epoch Times.
Qatar has shielded numerous key leaders of the Hamas over the decades.
The Epoch Times report also said that Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s top political leader, currently lives a life of relative luxury in the Qatari capital of Doha. From there, he and several other members of Hamas reportedly publicly celebrated the mass murder, torture, and rape of Israeli civilians on October 7th.
Qatar’s authoritarian government has consistently refused to arrest or hold Hamas leadership accountable for its crimes.
Fredman said the United States should, therefore, use its clout with Qatar to bring about the unconditional release of hostages taken by Hamas and bring the organization’s leadership to justice, as was noted in The Epoch Times report.
“No Hamas leader anywhere should be immune from Israel’s response,” Fredman said.
“The U.S. should demand that Qatar use this leverage to bring about the unconditional release of the hostages, in line with international law. If Qatar refuses, the U.S. should absolutely reevaluate its alliance and the preferred status it gives to Qatar.”
The Biden administration formally designated Qatar as a major non-NATO ally last year, for what the president described as Qatari assistance during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and “maintaining stability in Gaza.”
“Qatar is a good friend and reliable and capable partner,” President Biden said at the time, as was noted in The Epoch Times report.
In other developments, late on Monday, Hamas released a video of Mia Schem, one of the nearly 200 people believed to be held hostage in Gaza after Hamas launched a cross-border assault on Israel nine days ago, according to a report on Tuesday in the New York Times.
The 60-second video — the first released by the group to show any of the hostages — begins with Schem, 21, receiving medical treatment for a wound above her right elbow and shows her arm being wrapped in bandages by a person off-camera.
The NYT report indicated that the next images are of Schem, (who disappeared from the site of the Nova music festival on the Jewish holiday of Simchas Torah where at least 260 people were slaughtered by Hamas), speaking directly to the camera in Hebrew.
“At the moment I am in Gaza,” chem says in the video. She claimed that she is being taken care of and that her arm was operated on for three hours at a hospital, the NYT reported. The video ends with her plea to be returned to Israel.
“I just ask that I am returned as fast as possible to my family, to my parents, and to my siblings,” she said, according to the NYT report. “Please get us out of here as quickly as possible.”
The Israeli military issued a statement after the video was released that said Hamas was “trying to portray itself as a humane organization, while it is a murderous terrorist organization responsible for the murder and abduction of babies, women, children and elderly,” as was noted in the NYT report.
Thus far, Israel has refused to engage in any concrete negotiations with Hamas over the considerable number of people who were abducted by Hamas as hostages are routinely used by Hamas as bargaining chips.
A friend of the Schem family said the family had seen the clip and confirmed Schem’s identity, the NYT report said.
According to an analysis by The New York Times, metadata contained within the video file indicates that some of the footage was filmed at least six days ago.
Israeli officials said on Monday that 199 people were being held captive by Hamas — about 50 more than previously known — in the wake of the attack, which left more than 1,400 victims dead, the NYT report said. Israel has responded with heavy airstrikes on Gaza, the Palestinian enclave controlled by Hamas, and threats of a ground invasion. Hamas has claimed that at least some captives have been killed in the strikes, a claim impossible to independently verify, as was noted by the NYT.
In related news, The Epoch Times also reported that some of the top universities in the United States are facing increasing pressure to confront their faculty members who are openly condoning the Hamas terror attacks that rekindled the deadly conflict.
The large-scale surprise attack Hamas unleashed on Israel last week has prompted a slew of college professors to express solidarity and sympathy with the attackers on social media, according to the Epoch Times report. Some now find themselves targets of student-led campaigns calling for their ouster.
One such petition is directed at Zareena Grewal, a Yale University professor of “American Studies, Ethnicity, Race, Migration, and Religious Studies.” The Epoch Times reported that on October 7, shortly after the Hamas attack unfolded, Grewal posted on X a series of messages praising what she called a Palestinian “resistance.”
“My heart is in my throat. Prayers for Palestinians. Israeli is a murderous, genocidal settler state and Palestinians have every right to resist through armed struggle, solidarity. #FreePalestine,” wrote Grewal, who describes herself in her X profile as a “radical Muslim,” as was reported by The Epoch Times.
Meanwhile, in Israel, nearly half a million of the country’s residents have been forced to abandon their homes as a result of the ongoing war with Hamas in southern Israel, and attacks by Hezbollah terrorists in northern Israel, an IDF spokesperson said, according to a World Israel News report on Tuesday
Speaking with reporters during a news briefing Tuesday morning, IDF spokesman Lt.-Col. (res.) Jonathan Conricus said that roughly half a million Israelis have been displaced following the Gaza invasion of Israel on October 7th, and the Hezbollah missile attacks and terrorist infiltrations from Lebanon.
“There are about half a million internally displaced Israelis at the time,” Conricus said, as was noted in WIN report.
The figure constitutes more than 5% of Israel’s estimated 9.7 million residents.
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