War in Gaza Roundup: Hostage Crises, The Looming Offensive in Rafah and Yerushalayim Marathon

The fight to free the remaining 134 Hostages from Hamas continues, ast the war countinues in Gaza with important events happeing this week, including Humanitarian aid, the Yerushalayim Marathon and the The Looming Rafah Offensive

By FrumNews.com, with experts from Mrs. Bruria Efune’s daily war summary

Hostage Crises:

The fight to free the remaining 134 Hostages from Hamas continues.

The Wall Street Journal quoted unnamed Egyptian officials and a Hamas official as saying that Qatar has threatened to expel Hamas leaders who are staying in Qatar if they cannot convince the Hamas military leaders inside Gaza to agree to a hostage release deal.

Husam Badran, a senior Hamas official residing in Qatar, denied this and claimed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to blame for not accepting Hamas’s demands. Hamas’s demands, according to Badran, include a permanent ceasefire, complete withdrawal of Israeli troops, and return of residents to Northern Gaza.

Badran also claimed that many hostages are being held by other terrorist organizations inside Gaza, such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and this makes it difficult to locate them.

In a rare public statement, the Mossad announced that Mossad Director David Barnea met on Friday with CIA Director William Burns to discuss the negotiations for a hostage deal.

In the Mossad’s words: “At this stage, Hamas is holding to its position as if it was uninterested in a deal and is striving to ignite the region during Ramadan at the expense of the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip. It should be emphasized that the contacts and cooperation with the mediators are ongoing in an effort to narrow the gaps and advance agreements.”

While Hamas is clearly losing militarily, it appears that they believe that worldwide pressure will save them, and Israel’s maneuver into Rafah during Ramadan will greatly assist in that by bringing increased civilian casualties. Hamas is also hoping that Ramadan will inspire Arabs to riot in Yerushalayim, and Yehuda and Shomron, increasing tensions further.

Our Fallen Heroes

As FrumNews.com reported this week, six IDF soldiers were killed defending the Yidden of Eretz Yisroel fighting Hamas in Gaza in the past week.

The fallen Kedoshim were named as:

– Sgt. Dolev Malka, 19, from Shlomi in Northern Israel

– Sgt. Afik Tery, 19, from Rechovot

– Sgt. Inon Yitzhak, 19, from Mitzpe Ramon

– Sgt. Major (res.) Dennis Yekimov from Beersheba

– Major (res.) Amishar Ben David

– Sgt. David Sasson

The total number of IDF Soldiers killed in the ground offensive against Hamas terrorist in Gaza has unfortunately risen to 247.

Hashem Yikom Damam

The Looming Rafah Offensive

Israel’s looming offensive against Hamas in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, referred to by Netanyahu as “the last Hamas stronghold,” has ruffled feathers in the White House.

This week, President Joe Biden pushed back on a planned military operation in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, saying that “a military operation in Rafah should not proceed without a credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the more than one million people sheltering there.”

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi and the head of the Shin Bet Ronen Bar met today and approved battle plans for the continuation of the war in Gaza. It is not yet known if this plans include the anticipated maneuver into Rafah.

International Updates

Benny Gantz, war cabinet minister, took a controversial trip to the U.S., which was seen in Israel as a slight at Netanyahu.

The US has not publicly framed the meetings with Gantz as a slight at Netanyahu. But a US official speaking on condition of anonymity says the administration is not bothered by the perception that the meetings with Gantz send a message of its displeasure over Netanyahu’s handling of the war.

Humanitarian aid

US Central Command (CENTCOM) announced on Motzei Shabbos that a US Army Vessel has departed Joint Base Langley-Eustis en route to the Eastern Mediterranean.

The vessel will provide humanitarian aid to Gaza by sea, according to the statement. After President Biden announced during the State of the Union that the US would provide humanitarian assistance.

A port is being built with approval and cooperation with Israel, and any goods delivered through it will first be inspected by Israel, possibly in nearby Cyprus.

Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, Eli Cohen, who first initiated the idea of a maritime corridor between Cyprus and Gaza, told Israel Hayom that “any entry into Gaza by sea must be coordinated with Israel and undergo a full security check from the point of departure. Also, of course, aid should be humanitarian only. The creation of the humanitarian maritime corridor under Israeli security control will help to completely disconnect Israel economically from Gaza. The corridor, which will be subject to Israeli security inspection, will allow the continuation of the military operation until the complete collapse of the Hamas regime.”

“No US boots will be on the ground. A temporary pier will enable a massive increase in the amount of humanitarian assistance getting into the Gaza every day,” Biden said during the State of the Union.

Besson, which is a logistics support vessel, departed “less than 36 hours after President Biden announced the US would provide humanitarian assistance to Gaza by sea,” CENTCOM said, adding the vessel is “carrying the first equipment to establish a temporary pier to deliver vital humanitarian supplies.”

CENTCOM and the Royal Jordanian Air Force also conducted a combined humanitarian assistance airdrop into Gaza throughout the week.

On Friday, in an airdrop mission in Gaza, several parachutes failed to deploy, resulting in the crash landing of some boxes, which killed a few Gazans. CENTCOM claims that it was not U.S. drops that resulted in the deaths.

In a rare admission, the UN’s OCHA division was forced to report that “In February, there was a significant scale-up in humanitarian efforts… a 48% increase in the overall number of coordinated humanitarian missions facilitated by the Israeli authorities across Gaza.”

Yerushalayim Marathon

Despite the war, the 13th annual marathon in Yerushalayim took place on Friday with 40,000 runners, with a remarkable 15,000 IDF soldiers joining the race.

The Yerushalayim marathon included four races: a full marathon (42.2 km), a half-marathon (21.1 km), a 10 km race, a 5 km race, a Family Race (1.7 km), and a Community Race (800 m). The marathon routes passed through fascinating historical sites that shed light on Yerushalayim’s 3,000 years of history.

Israeli Melkamu Jember, 33, won the marathon at 2:35:39, while Noah Berkman, placed first among women participants with a time of 2:55:42.

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