More than a week into the war, I think it’s time to share some updates. On Saturday morning, the 7th of October, Hamas broke from the Gaza Strip into Israel and committed a massacre in the Israeli kibbutzim and towns in the Gaza Envelope. Whole families – including babies, children, and elderly people – were murdered and brutally butchered. Children, women, and elderly people were kidnapped into the Gaza Strip. There are many families who do not know the fate of their loved ones, even after more than seven days from the event. In this post, I’ll share the facts that we know until today and will try to update on a regular basis. I will also share some ways you can support Israel in this difficult time.
In general – I would not recommend visiting Israel this month (December). This war may take some time. Some people say a month or two. If you have a trip planned, I would wait a few weeks to see how things are developing.
What happened on Saturday morning (7 October 2023)?
Saturday morning was one of our holiest holidays, the Simchat Torah holiday, which comes at the end of Sukkot. At 6:30 AM, hundreds of Hamas terrorists and vicious citizens of Gaza broke down the border fence and penetrated into Israel on Jeeps, motorcycles, paragliders, and through the sea on boats and by scuba diving. They started by attacking the bases next to the border and then continued to their real destinations – the civilian kibbutzim and towns in the Gaza Envelope and beyond. They were equipped with detailed maps that showed each town they entered, dozens of weapons of all sorts – including RPGs – and supplies of food, as they planned to stay in Israel for a long time and penetrate even deeper into the country. They had no mercy in the civilian areas – killed families, burned houses, and kidnapped Israelis and non-Israelis into Gaza Strip.
In response to the attack, Israel launched airstrikes in Gaza and sent soldiers to protect the civilian areas near the border. It took over five days to cleanse the civilian areas from terrorists, and we are still not sure if they are not hiding somewhere and waiting for another opportunity to harm us. We have also shut the flow of water and electricity to the Gaza Strip in order to put pressure on Hamas. Israel will most likely enter Gaza Strip in order to find our captives and return them home. Israel has also emphasized that it plans to “destroy Hamas,” so that the Israeli people will no longer have to sit next to terrorists.
Here’s a video telling this story of Kibbutz Be’eri, one of the kibbutzim that was attacked:
And here’s a testimony of a survivor from the music festival, where over 200 were murdered:
What is the current situation in Israel?
The information below is updated to the 1st of December at 8 AM Israel time. The information is all based on reports from the IDF, news channels, and testimonies of survivors.
Here are the latest updates from the war:
- Israel entered the Gaza Strip on the 28th of October, and ground operation is in progress. Israel is working to cleanse Hamas from northern Gaza, and is expanding its operations to the south, working to free Israeli hostages.
- The temporary ceasefire has stopped after 7 days. During the ceasefire, 105 Israeli and foreign hostages have been freed, most of them children and elderly women.
- 140 hostages are still held in Gaza.
- 200 Palestinian prisoners were released from the Israeli prisoners as part of the ceasefire deal. Those prisoners include people who have thrown rocks, stabbed, and murdered Israelis.
- 66 Israeli soldiers have fallen in Gaza.
- Since 21 October, hundreds of aid trucks have entered Gaza through the Rafah border crossing to support the Gazans who have evacuated from the northern part of Gaza.
- Around 330 thousand Israelis have evacuated from their houses in the south and in the north due to the war.
On the Israeli side
There are currently more than 1,400 Israelis dead, most of them civilians and most of them dead from the attack on Saturday morning. The bodies have been butchered badly by the terrorists of Hamas. Reports and witnesses say that some have been burned alive, some have been beheaded – including babies – and some were brutally mutilated. It is challenging to identify hundreds of bodies that have completely lost their form, and there are still hundreds missing.
There have been casualties on the days after the Saturday attack. Several IDF soldiers have died due to encounters with terrorists inside Israel as well as hits near the borders with Gaza and Lebanon. 62 Israeli soldiers have fallen during operation in Gaza.
On the Gazan side
On the Gazan side, there have been casualties from the airstrikes. According to reports from Gaza, there are over 10,000 dead there (based on the reports of the Gazan Ministry of Health, which is run by Hamas). The Israeli air force is targeting Hamas targets in Gaza, but unfortunately, those targets are usually positioned in civilian areas since Hamas prefers working from densely populated areas and jeopardizing their own people. Israel is sending warnings to civilians in Gaza before striking their area and is asking them to evacuate to the south of Gaza Strip so that we can attack Hamas targets in the north. Since October 21st, Israel has been permitting the entrance of humanitarian aid to southern Gaza to support the people who are evacuating from the northern part of Gaza.
There has been a claim that Israel bombed a hospital in Gaza on the 17th of October. This has been checked by the IDF and the Israeli government. According to their investigation, there had been NO Israeli airstrike at the hospital. The explosion was caused by a rocket shot by the Islamic Jihad, which exploded in midair and fell in the parking lot of the hospital. It is not the first time that Hamas blames Israel for striking civilians. You can read about another time in the book “Son of Hamas,” written by the son of one of the leaders of Hamas. They use the death of their civilians for propaganda, even if they are the ones who kill them.
More about the hospital event in the video below:
As of now, the Israeli government has informed the families of 240 hostages in Gaza. Those include babies, young children, civilian men and women, elderly people – some of them Holocaust survivors – and soldiers. Some are injured, some require special treatment, some are sick people, some are autistic. Right now, the Israeli people do not know the fate of those hostages, because Hamas does not allow the Red Cross to meet the hostages. Many are probably dead, but we hope that some have managed to survive. Their families are worried sick. From what I understand, some are being held by Hamas, some by the Islamic Jihad, and some by Gazan civilians who took active part in the attack.
- 16 October – Hamas has published a video showing one of the hostages, Mia Shem, showing that they are treating her wounded arm. In the video, Mia said she was taken care of and requested to return home as soon as possible. We do not know when this video was shot and if it was shot under threats.
- 21 October – Two hostages with US citizenship were freed from captivity – a mother and her teenage daughter. Some say it is thanks to efforts done by Qatar and the USA.
- 23 October – Two more hostages were freed, this time two elderly women with Israeli citizenship. One of those released was Yocheved Lifshitz, 85 years old, a peace activist, who raised a lot of criticism in Israel when she shook the hand of the Hamas operative who released her and later said in a press conference that they were treated well while in captivity. I don’t think this criticism is in place. She has the right to say whatever she wants. Maybe they were kind to her in captivity, but we know what they did before that, and the fact that they kidnapped an elderly woman is also not in their favor.
- 30 October – Israeli forces have rescued an Israeli soldier, Uri Megidish, who has been held captive by Hamas in Gaza since the 7th of October. She has returned to her family safely. In parallel, Hamas has published a video showing three hostages, one of them calling to Benjamin Netanyahu to do everything he can to release them.
- The bodies of 2 hostages were found in the Gaza Strip and returned to Israel – Judith Weiss and Noa Marciano.
- 24-30 November – During a temporary ceasefire, 105 Israeli and foreign hostages were freed from captivity in Gaza. Most of them children and elderly women.
Listen to the words of Rachel, the mother of Hersh, who is held captive in Gaza:
Rockets on Israel
Since Saturday, Hamas has not stopped firing rockets towards civilian areas in Israel. Many people have been injured and killed while trying to find shelter. The rockets have reached the Gaza Envelope, Ashkelon, Be’er Sheva, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and other cities in these areas. In the last days, Hezbollah has also joined the event and is firing rockets toward bases and towns along the border with Lebanon and in the Upper Galilee. There have also been some rockets that fell in the Golan Heights.
Yemen has also launched several rockets towards Eilat, but Israel was able to blow those rockets before they reached their destination.
The situation in the north
Right now, Hezbollah has not officially declared joining the war. However, there have been rockets that were fired from Lebanon toward Israeli bases and towns. There have also been casualties. Right now, Israel does not want to open a second front in the north, although we know for sure that Hezbollah had a part in the attack on Saturday.
How is life in Israel today?
So, Israel is at war, but how is life away from the frontline?
People in Israel are trying to get back to their lives, but everyone is still a bit shaken. An important thing to understand is that in Israel, people see each other as family, even if you don’t really know one another. So, when more than 1,000 people were killed in one day – that was a big shock for us, and even a month later, there are still people who feel in constant grief, pain, and fear of existence.
Many people are volunteering around the country – sending packages to soldiers, helping the people who were evacuated from the south, and even helping the farmers in the agricultural fields because many foreign workers who used to work there have fled the country. So many people are volunteering that many places have stopped their volunteer recruitment. There are enough people.
Many people are serving in the army now, but those who are not volunteering and not serving are slowly-slowly getting back to their regular jobs. Many are working from home because they fear driving to work and getting caught by the rocket siren somewhere.
There are now more people on the streets, but not all places are open. Many restaurants, shops, and attractions are left closed either because it’s not profitable to open right now or because all the workers have been called to reserve army duty.
That’s our life right now in Israel. We’re staying strong.
How can you support Israel?
The people of Israel are amazing and have launched many fundraisers in order to help the people who need help. I will include only a few of the options because the list is endless.
Talk about it
First of all, the best and easiest way you can support our fight against this terror attack and the Hamas terrorists is by talking about it and spreading the word. Talk to your friends and family members, share the stories with them, and loudly say NO to terrorism. There are plenty of videos and content you can share, that are constantly shared in various accounts such as Israel’s account on Instagram, Hananya Naftali’s Instagram, and Yoseph Hadad’s Instagram. Of course, those people also have accounts on other social media platforms. Just search for them!
Believe me, we appreciate everyone who shares our voice around the world! It is heartwarming and very supportive.
Donate to the people of the kibbutzim who were attacked
As mentioned, many kibbutzim were attacked on that dreadful Saturday morning. 23 kibbutzim have suffered from this attack. Many of them were evacuated and destroyed. The Kibbutzim Movement has launched an emergency fundraiser to support the people in those kibbutzim and provide them with essential needs, temporary lodging, and mental health support.
For more info and possible ways to donate, please check out the fundraising page on JGive.
Donate food to the people of the Gaza Envelope
The Leket Israel association launched a fundraiser that will help provide the residents of the Gaza Envelope and Southern Israel with essential food in this difficult time of war. For more information, please check out their fundraising page on JGive.
Will keep you posted!