Day Nine Of Swords Of Iron

Iran threatened 'far-reaching consequences' should Israel not halt its retaliation for Hamas terrorism.

USS Dwight D Eisenhower steaming in the Atlantic

8:30 pm
President Biden told CBS's '60 Minutes' that it would be a "big mistake" for Israel to occupy Gaza. When asked about the expected ground operations by Israel in Gaza, he said in an interview: “I think it’d be a big mistake.” Biden said, “Look, what happened in Gaza, in my view, is Hamas and the extreme elements of Hamas don’t represent all the Palestinian people. And I think that it would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza again.”

6:04 pm
A pro-Israel rally in Los Angeles was impeded by pro-Palestinian protesters who waved Palestinian flags, and assaulted, harassed and spat on Israel supporters.

5:56 pm
A senior Israeli official has announced that intelligence indicates that Iran is attempting to move “strategic weapons” into Syria in order to open another front against Israel.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres  called on Hamas to release the hostages it holds without pre-conditions, but also called on Israel to allow for rapid and unimpeded humanitarian aid access to Gaza. “Each one of these two objectives are valid in themselves. They should not become bargaining chips and they must be implemented because it’s the right thing to do,” Guterres said in a statement. He added that it was his duty to make both appeals “in this dramatic moment, as we are on the verge of the abyss in the Middle East”.

5:30 pm
Israel has turned on the water supply to southern Gaza in an apparent bid to induce Gazans to leave northern Gaza and go to the south near Egypt.

Some 9,000 unionized baristas working at Starbucks have expressed their "solidarity" with Hamas. The Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce has called for a boycott of the coffee chain.

Starbucks workers united

5:20 pm
Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian warned the United States would suffer “significant damages” if the war in Gaza spills over into a larger conflict, Al Jazeera reported. “We have conveyed our message to the Zionist regime through its allies that if they do not cease their atrocities in Gaza, Iran cannot simply remain an observer,” he said, Iranian state media reported.“If the scope of the war expands, significant damages will also be inflicted upon America,” Amir-Abdollahian added.

Tens of thousands in Morocco demonstrated their solidarity with Palestinians, the biggest demonstration in the country since its normalization of diplomatic relations with Israel in 2020. According to AFP: 'Crowds stretching for two kilometres (more than a mile) marched through the capital Rabat in the mass rally called by an alliance of Islamist parties and a leftwing coalition.

'“The people will liberate Palestine,” demonstrators chanted while others waved huge Palestinian flags, donned keffiyehs and voiced “unconditional support for resistance to the occupation.”

'“We apologise to the people of Gaza because we can’t do more than protest,” said university professor Sheherazade Bekkari, 50, who had travelled more than 200 kilometres from Fez with her children to join the protest.

'“Down with Zionism,” read some placards, while others declared that “Hamas is Palestine.”

Some protesters in Morocco stamped on Israeli and American flags while decrying US support for Israel, while placard denounced “terrorism regardless of its perpetrators”. There also were prayers against “tyranny and oppression.” “The people want to abolish normalization” some protesters chanted, as well as the slogan “Against occupation, against normalization”.

According to the IDF, 600,000+ Gazans have relocated southward as evacuations continue. An IDF spokesperson said Israel is prepared to fight on two fronts and even more if required, adding that Hezbollah is worsening the situation on the Lebanon border in attempts to hinder the Gaza counteroffensive.

The spokesperson also said Israel had informed the families of 155 captives currently held by Hamas.

During his weekly address at St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis called for humanitarian corridors to aid Gazans fleeing the Israeli siege, while also demanding the release of hostages held by Hamas. The pope said: 

“I forcefully ask that children, the sick, the elderly and women, and all civilians do not become the victims of the conflict …

May humanitarian rights be respected, above all in Gaza, where it is urgent and necessary to guarantee humanitarian corridors to help the entire population…

So many have already died. Please, no more spilling of innocent blood either in the Holy Land or in Ukraine or anywhere else. Enough! Wars are always a defeat, always.”

On Oct. 13, Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin offer to mediate in the conflict and called Hamas’s attack on Israeli citizens “inhuman”. “It is the right of those who are attacked to defend themselves, but even legitimate defense must respect the parameter of proportionality,” Parolin said.

Secretary of State Blinken predicted that the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza will reopen. This followed his multi-country tour of the region. Blinken said the US is working with the UN, Egypt and Israel to get assistance to those in need. Blinken said that in Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, that everyone is determined to stop the Israel-Hamas war from spilling over: "What I’ve heard from virtually every partner was a determination, a shared view, that we have to do everything possible to make sure this doesn’t spread to other places." He is headed back to Israel. 

The US Senate leader, Chuck Schumer, is currently in Tel Aviv where he is leading a bipartisan visit with other senators to pledge support to Israel.

“These are two necessary tasks – eliminating the threat of Hamas once and for all and freeing hostages,” Schumer said in a press conference, adding that he plans to speak with president Joe Biden next week to emphasize the need to support families of hostages still held by Hamas.

Schumer went on to say that he told Israeli leaders that “it was really important, and it’s difficult, we know it’s difficult, but still we have to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza”.

“As Senate majority leader and as I mentioned, highest-ranking Jewish leader in American history, I’m doing everything in my power to ensure the Senate delivers the support Israel really needs to accomplish these military, intelligence and humanitarian goals. We will not just talk. We will act. We will work to move this aid through the Senate ASAP,” Schumer added.

President Biden spoke to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, tweeting: "I assured him that we’re working with partners in the region to ensure humanitarian supplies reach civilians in Gaza and to prevent the conflict from widening." Biden reiterated his condemnation of Hamas terrorism, saying Hamas “does not stand for the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and self-determination”.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is in Tel Aviv where he is leading a bipartisan visit with other senators. “These are two necessary tasks – eliminating the threat of Hamas once and for all and freeing hostages,” Schumer said in a press conference. He said he will speak with President Biden next week to emphasize the need to support families of hostages still held by Hamas. Schumer said he told Israeli leaders that “it was really important, and it’s difficult, we know it’s difficult, but still we have to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza”. He said, "As Senate majority leader and as I mentioned, highest-ranking Jewish leader in American history, I’m doing everything in my power to ensure the Senate delivers the support Israel really needs to accomplish these military, intelligence and humanitarian goals. We will not just talk. We will act. We will work to move this aid through the Senate ASAP."

Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was among faith leaders calling on Israel to reverse evacuation orders applied to hospitals and healthcare facilities within Gaza. Welby said four staff members at an Anglican hospital in Gaza were injured. Welby said in a statement: "Hospitals and patients in Gaza are in grave danger. The seriously ill and injured patients at the Anglican-run Ahli hospital – and other healthcare facilities in northern Gaza – cannot be safely evacuated. They are running low on medical supplies. They are facing catastrophe. The Ahli hospital was hit by Israeli rocket fire last night, with four staff injured in the blast. Other hospitals have also been hit. I appeal for the evacuation order on hospitals in northern Gaza to be reversed – and for health facilities, health workers, patients and civilians to be protected. The evil and barbaric terror attacks on Israelis by Hamas were a blasphemous outrage. But the civilians of Gaza are not responsible for the crimes of Hamas.

Please continue to pray for all innocent people, Israeli and Palestinian, who are caught up in the terrible violence in the Holy Land."

4:10 pm

Israeli PM Netanyahu promised to “dismantle” Hamas, whom he described as “bloodthirsty monsters” at the first cabinet meeting of the new national emergency government in Tel Aviv. The meeting started with a moment of silence for Israeli victims of Hamas terrorism. “We are working around the clock, as a team and a united front. The unity among us gives a clear message to the nation, the enemy and the world. I have seen our amazing soldiers who are now on the frontline. They know that the entire nation is behind them. They understand the scope of the mission. They are ready to take action at any time in order to defeat the bloodthirsty monsters who have risen against us to destroy us. Hamas thought that we would come apart – we will dismantle Hamas,” he said

IDF confirmed that there are 126 Israeli hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza. Hamas claims that 13 have been killed in Israeli airstrikes. Hamas also said that foreigners were among those killed, without specifying their nationalities. The IDF reported that 279+ of its soldiers have been since Oct. 7: the day Hamas launched its cross-border assault on southern Israel. Since then, 1,300+ Israelis have been killed and at least 3,400 wounded in total.

Israeli strikes on Gaza have killed at least 2,329 Palestinians, with more than 9,714 wounded. In addition at least 53 people have been reported killed in the West Bank, with more than 1,100 wounded. According to authorities in Gaza, thousands of lives are at risk in Gaza if hospitals there exhaust food, fuel and supplies. Israel cut food, electricity and water to the enclave.

The World Health Organization (WHO) director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus repeated his claim that Israeli evacuation orders are a “death sentence” to those receiving medical care. In a message posted to social media, he said the health situation in Gaza “dire”, adding, “Attacks on health care are causing additional deaths and injuries. Evacuation orders by Israel to hospitals are practically impossible to implement and are a death sentence for the sick and injured. Health workers are staying by their patients’ sides. WHO calls on Israel to protect health facilities, health workers, patients, and civilians, and to immediately reverse evacuation orders to hospitals.”

Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi told Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Israel's retaliation exceeds self-defense and amounted to collective punishment. In televised comments during a meeting with Blinken in Cairo today, the Egyptian leader deplored targeting of any civilians in the conflict. However, Egyptian has turned down any plan to admit beleaguered Palestinians "to the detriment of other countries” and that Egypt’s own security. Palestinians should stay put, according to Egypt, which is reportedly seeking to secure aid. At present, dozens of trucks bearing aid are waiting at the Rafah crossing from Egypt into Gaza. 

The Egyptian Red Crescent, World Health Organization and other NGOs and volunteer groups remain poised to deliver aid through the Rafah crossing from Egypt into Gaza.

Fire has been exchanged over the blue line that has acted as the boundary between Lebanon and Israel since 2000. The Israel Defence Forces at one point claimed to have intercepted five out of nine rockets fired, and said they had struck back at Hezbollah targets. One person was reported killed in an Israeli village along with three people being wounded.

The White House national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said in a CNN interview on Sunday that Israeli officials had informed him that water pipes in southern Gaza had been turned back on.

The US Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, said on social media that a bipartisan group of senators visiting Israel had to be rushed to a shelter in Tel Aviv on Sunday to wait out a rocket attack warning.

Blinken will travel to Israel again on Monday for further consultations with Israeli leaders after visiting the country five days ago.

Israel’s communications minister has said he is seeking a possible closure of Al Jazeera’s local bureau and accused the Qatari news station of pro-Hamas incitement and of exposing Israeli soldiers to potential attack from Gaza. Shloma Karhi said the proposal to shut Al Jazeera had been vetted by Israeli security officials and was being examined by legal experts. He would bring it to the cabinet later in the day, he said. Al Jazeera and the government in Doha had no immediate comment.

The Jerusalem Post reported earlier that Iran had sent a private message to Israel through the UN that it could intervene if Israel continues its military campaign in Gaza.The EU is to convene an emergency meeting of its member states to discuss the consequences of the deteriorating situation in Israel and Palestine. Sending out an invitation for a summit on Tuesday, the European Council president, Charles Michel, said if the EU was “not careful” the conflict could “feed extremism” across Europe.

Ireland’s deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister Micheál Martin has urged Israel to give another think to its evacuation order to Gaza's north.

4:01 PM
Leaders of the EU 27 member states issued a position statement on the Middle East, following various contradictory statements from the leadership. “The European Union condemns in the strongest possible terms Hamas and its brutal and indiscriminate terrorist attacks across Israel and deeply deplores the loss of lives,” the European Council said. “We strongly emphasise Israel’s right to defend itself in line with humanitarian and international law in the face of such violent and indiscriminate attacks,” the leaders said, adding: “We reiterate the importance to ensure the protection of all civilians at all times in line with international humanitarian law.”

“We call on Hamas to immediately release all hostages without any precondition. We reiterate the importance of the provision of urgent humanitarian aid and stand ready to continue supporting those civilians most in need in Gaza in coordination with partners, ensuring that such assistance is not abused by terrorist organisations. It is crucial to prevent regional escalation.”

Israel's foreign ministry issued a statement calling on the Vatican "be more attentive to the suffering to Israelis.” The Israeli FM called for the Vatican to clearly condemn terrorism committed against Israelis, while it reiterated Israel's right to self-defense. Earlier on Sunday, Pope Francis had called for humanitarian corridors to be opened to Gazan refugees fleeing Israeli bombing campaigns. 

10:45 am
IDF said that it has killed on Ali Qadi, the Hamas commander who led last week’s invasion into Israel that killed over 1,400 Israeli civilians. Ali Qadi was the commander of the Hamas ‘Nukhba’ (elite) commando force.

10:39 am
A Hamas terrorist in Israeli custody confesses on video to what Hamas terrorists did to Israelis during the Oct. 7 attack. They killed elderly women, children, elderly and men indiscriminately. They were beheaded and their heads put on display. Women were abducted, raped and killed. Babies were also raped and killed. The video was distributed on Twitter.

In San Francisco, California, shop windows were smeared with painted messages reading, "Kill a settler", "Death to Israel", and "Death to Zionism." 

Death to Israel San Francisco

7:37 am
There are sirens in the Tel Aviv area, with Reuters reporting that the Israeli military is warning of possible incoming rockets.

Egypt is negotiating with other countries over the delivery of aid to Gaza, according to a statement issued by the Egyptian president’s office. According to Egypt, its own national security is paramount and it rejects any plan to displace Palestinians. Egypt is calling for an international summit to discuss the crisi in Gaza and the future of Palestinians. Gaza remains sealed off by Egypt and Israel, the latter of which has also cut supplies of water and electrical power.

Trucks bearing aid to Gaza are waiting at the Rafah crossing from Egypt into Gaza. Egypt has closed its border at Rafah

Sirens sounded in Tel Aviv as the IDF warned of incoming missiles.

'Restraint' for Israel

The Scottish National Party is backing a UN ceasefire demand. Scotland’s first minister and SNP leader Humza Yousaf called for restraint in the war. His mother-in-law and father-in-law are Palestinians stranded in Gaza. The SNP and the UN are calling for an immediate ceasefire and urgent humanitarian and medical aid to Gaza.

The SNP said it “unequivocally” condemned the terrorist attacks by Hamas on Israel, called for the unconditional release of its hostages, and “recognizes the right of Israel to protect itself from terror”.

The SNP  “supports the United Nation’s call for a humanitarian corridor, protected by a ceasefire, to be agreed to allow people to leave and civilian supplies, including food, fuel, water and medical supplies, to reach those who cannot leave. Conference calls on the UK government to support the United Nation’s call for a humanitarian corridor and to commit supplies and aid to mitigate the human tragedy unfolding in Gaza. [Conference] reaffirms support for a two-state solution which recognises the right of both the state of Israel and the state of Palestine to exist and prosper, and which respects international law and the human rights of those in the region.”

Psalms for the IDF

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation announced that large signs have been displayed at the Western Wall of the Temple in Jerusalem with the “Mi Shebeirach” prayer for IDF troops and security, as well as a prayer for return of hostages and missing persons.

It states that Psalms are being prayed for IDF success and that family members of Israelis killed or taken hostage can have their names included in the Psalms recitation.

Pope Francis asked for the establishment of humanitarian corridors to help those under siege in Gaza, speaking to crowds at St Peter’s Square in Rome. Renewing an earlier appeal, he said, “I strongly ask that the children, the sick, the elderly, women and all civilians do not become victims of the conflict.” “Humanitarian right must be respected, above all in Gaza.” He called for a day of prayer and fasting for peace in the Middle East on Tuesday, Oct. 17.

UK foreign secretary James Cleverly said on Oct. 15 that the IDF should display “discipline” and avoid mass casualties after Hamas terrorists killed, raped, burned, and abducted hundreds of Israeli civilians in an unprecedented attack on Oct. 7. He told Sky News: Cleverly told Sky News: “Restraint, discipline – these are the hallmarks of the Israeli Defense Force that I want to see. And indeed, those are the hallmarks of a high-functioning military organization, which the IDF is, in stark contrast to the terrorist atrocities perpetrated by Hamas. I’ve said, maintain that clear distinction: Israel seeks to avoid civilian casualties; Hamas seeks civilians in order to target.”

Cleverly told the BBC that the UK has been lobbying Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing to allow Gazans to escape and aid to flow into Gaza. There are British nationals among those in Gaza, he confirmed, and added that it would not be “an unreasonable estimate” to suggest that 10 Britons had been taken hostage by Hamas.

6:05 am
The anticipated ground invasion of the Gaza Strip has reportedly been delayed from this weekend to next week due to severe weather in the region that makes it difficult for aircraft to operate in support of ground troops. Tens of thousands of Israeli troops are assembled at Israel's border and are expected to invade Gaza and seize Gaza City.

5:46 am
Speaking at a law enforcement conference in San Diego on Oct. 14, FBI Director Christopher Wray said domestic threats have increased due to the "heightened environment," while calling for increased vigilance and cooperation on the part of police nationwide. “History has been witness to antisemitic and other forms of violent extremism for far too long,” he said. “Whether that be from foreign terrorist organizations, or those inspired by them, or domestic violent extremists motivated by their own racial animus, the targeting of a community because of their faith is completely unacceptable.” He warned against "lone actors who may take inspiration from recent events to commit violence of their own."  He reiterated part of a statement the FBI released on Oct. 9., which said that the agency had no specific evidence that Hamas posed a threat to the homeland.

5:40 am
Carrier Strike Group 2 (CSG-2) led by the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), consisting of 1 Ticonderoga-Class Cruiser as well as 3 Arleigh Burke-Class Guided-Missile Destroyers, left Norfolk, Virginia and are headed to the Eastern Mediterranean to link up with Carrier Strike Group 12 (CSG-12) led by the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) and Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) alongside several other Ships from various Allied Navies which are already in region.

5:30 am
In Israel, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower strike group is steaming to the Med, which has the intention “to deter hostile actions against Israel or any efforts toward widening this war following Hamas’s attack”. This underscores, he said, the US "ironclad commitment to Israel’s security and our resolve to deter any state or non-state actor seeking to escalate this war”. The US has already sent munitions to Israel and warned other countries not to escalate the conflict.

The World Health Organization condemned Israel’s order to evacuate 22 hospitals in northern Gaza that are treating more than 2,000 inpatients. Moving that many patients to southern Gaza, “where health facilities are already running at maximum capacity and unable to absorb a dramatic rise in the number patients, could be tantamount to a death sentence”, the WHO said.

Iran threatens

Iran has warned of “far-reaching consequences” if Israel’s “war crimes and genocide” are not stopped immediately. On Saturday, the permanent mission of Iran to the United Nations added: “The responsibility of which lies with the UN, the security council and the states steering the council toward a dead end.”

Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian met Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Doha, Qatar. Hamas said the two had agreed to continue cooperation to achieve Hamas’s goals. Earlier, Haniyeh said in a televised speech that “there will be no migration from Gaza to Egypt” in the wake of Israel’s order to evacuate, and that Egypt “welcomes the Palestinian people, but not on the basis of migration or an exodus”.

US president Joe Biden spoke separately with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas on Oct. 14. Netanyahu’s office said that the prime minister told Biden that “unity and determination” were needed to achieve Israel’s goal of defeating Hamas. Meanwhile, Abbas’s office said Abbas told Biden he rejected the displacement of Palestinians from Gaza as thousands fled amid deadly Israeli airstrikes.

Russia has asked the United Nations security council to vote on Monday on a draft resolution on the Israel-Hamas conflict that calls for a humanitarian ceasefire and condemns violence against civilians and all acts of terrorism.

Israel strikes Syria

The Syrian defense ministry confirmed Israel’s bombed its airport in Aleppo on the night of Oct 14, putting it out of commission. “The Israeli enemy carried out an air attack from the direction of the Mediterranean Sea, west of Latakia, targeting Aleppo international airport, which led to material damage to the airport and it being out of service,” Reuters reports the ministry saying.

The IDF stated on Oct. 14 that it fired back at Syrian areas from which two rockets were launched towards Israeli territory and fell into open areas. The military also said it fired an interceptor towards a “suspicious target” that crossed into Israeli territory from Lebanon but did not provide any additional details.

The European Council chief has called on a virtual summit with EU leaders next week to discuss the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. “It is of utmost importance that the European Council, in line with the treaties and our values, sets our common position and establishes a clear unified course of action that reflects the complexity of the unfolding situation,” said Charles Michel, president of the European Council.

October 15, 2023

Topic tags:
Israel Iran United States Lebanon Hamas terrorism security NATO EU Palestine Hezbollah