Israel girds for ‘long war’ as death toll from Hamas attack passes 1,300

The IDF has hit some 2,700 targets in the Strip, including 136 command centers and 40 underground facilities.

Rockets are fired from Gaza towards Israel, in the southern Gaza Strip, Oct. 10, 2023. Photo by Atia Mohammed/Flash90.

By Joshua Marks

Four Israelis were wounded, including one critically, in a rocket attack on Sderot on late Thursday morning.

The Sderot municipality said that another two victims were seriously wounded and another person was in moderate condition.

Terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired a salvo of rockets at central Israel earlier Thursday morning, triggering sirens around Netanya and in Ariel in Judea and Samaria, as Israel’s “Operation Swords of Iron” entered its sixth day.

The Israeli Air Force continued to pound Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip overnight Thursday in response to Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror assault, which left at least 1,300 people dead and more than 3,000 wounded.

The IDF also reported rocket sirens sounding in Kibbutz Nahal Oz near the Gaza Strip on Thursday morning and an Iron Dome interception over Kfar Yona, east of Netanya.

According to the head of the IDF Home Front Command, the relatively slow rate of rocket fire from the Strip indicated that Hamas was preparing for a lengthy conflict.

“We have identified the behavior of Hamas, which realizes that it is entering a long war,” said Maj. Gen. Rafi Milo.

“Hamas is managing the fire in a way that is meant for weeks [of fighting], and they dropped to a rate of fire to around 200-400 rockets per day,” he added.

Hamas’s elite “Nukhba” commandos were targeted in a series of airstrikes overnight Wednesday, and a number of operational command centers were hit, according to the IDF. The Nukhba terrorists were one of the leading forces that infiltrated Israeli communities on the morning of Oct. 7—going on a murderous rampage and taking at least 100 hostages back to Gaza.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad claim to be holding 130 hostages, with some reports estimating at least 200 are held in the Gaza Strip.

On Thursday, the IDF named another 31 soldiers killed since Saturday, bringing the toll of slain soldiers to 220.

Since the operation began, the IDF has hit some 2,700 targets in the Strip, including 136 command centers and 40 underground facilities, according to the military.

Muhammad Abu Shamla, a senior operative in Hamas’s Rafah Brigade, was also killed during Israel’s overnight strikes, according to the IDF, which said that his home had been used to store naval weapons designated for terrorist attacks.

Reports from the coastal enclave indicated that at least 51 terrorists were killed and another 281 injured in the Israeli aerial attacks early Thursday.

Hamas frees hostages

Avital Aldjem, a resident of Kibbutz Holit, and her friend’s two children were released from Gaza back to Israel on Wednesday by Hamas, according to footage provided by the Al Jazeera network.

IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Avihai Adraee dismissed the gesture as propaganda, vowing that Israel’s strikes would not let up.

“After the whole world saw the ugly face of the barbaric organization that executed hundreds of innocent children and women in a terrible massacre, Hamas publishes a propaganda video [via] its trumpet. It is worse than Islamic State and we will continue to strike in it powerfully, without stopping,” he said.

The IDF on Thursday confirmed that soldiers found an Islamic State flag with a terrorist who was killed during an assault on Kibbutz Sufa near the Gaza border, publishing a picture of troops holding up the flag.

The Islamic State flag found on the corpse of a Hamas terrorist in Kibbutz Sufa on Oct. 7. Credit: IDF.

“The brutality of Hamas, the blood-thirstiness brings to mind the worst rampages of ISIS,” U.S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told a press conference on Thursday that the military has so far notified the families of 97 hostages being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“We will settle accounts with everyone who was involved in this difficult event. Those who give refuge to terrorists take a great risk. To the residents of Gaza: Anyone who approaches the fence will be killed,” Hagari said.

“Hamas is unable to function: it is in anarchy and chaos,” he added about the ongoing Israeli aerial attacks on Gaza.

“We are destroying Hamas’s ability to function as a sovereign; it is no longer managing to administer Gaza. Hamas is in anarchy and chaos and we need to increase this.”

Clashes in Jenin

Violent clashes took place between Israeli security personnel and Palestinian terrorists in Jenin in Samaria overnight Wednesday. The IDF sent in reinforcements after the fighting escalated.

Also on Wednesday, two unarmed Gazans were captured by Israeli forces at the Beersheva Airfield, also known as the Teyman Airfield. They were transferred to the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) for further investigation.

Tensions in the north

Tensions are also high in the north of Israel, where the IDF has reinforced towns and villages with reserve forces. The military’s Northern Command is to be bolstered further this week, according to the IDF.

Air-raid sirens blared across the north on Wednesday night amid claims of drones and paragliders crossing the border from Lebanon.

Alerts were set off in cities including ​​Haifa, Tiberias, Beit She’an, Kiryat Shmona, Metula, Nahariya and Safed.

Simultaneously, a telephone message from IDF Home Front Command warning of a large-scale, country-wide attack sent millions of Israelis rushing to bomb shelters.

Minutes later, the IDF said “human error” was to blame for the erroneous alert.

Some 90 minutes after the alert in the north, the military said that a penetration of Israeli airspace from Lebanon had been “ruled out.”

The IDF also announced that a long-range rocket had been fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel’s north, which hit in an open area in the Carmel region near Haifa, causing no damage.

U.S. reiterates support

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department raised its travel warning for Israel to Level 3, calling on American citizens to “reconsider travel” to the country. The Gaza travel warning remained at Level 4, indicating that U.S. citizens should not enter the Hamas-ruled territory.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel on Thursday, where he was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog and other senior officials.

Blinken will also meet with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas on Friday.

Biden spoke by phone on Wednesday with Netanyahu—their fourth conversation since the Hamas terrorist attack.

Netanyahu thanked Biden “for his powerful words of support, following their previous conversation yesterday, and for his unequivocal support for the State of Israel,” according to a readout of the call from Israel’s Government Press Office.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris discussed “ongoing U.S. support for Israel as Israel defends itself and protects its people,” according to a White House statement. “The leaders agreed to stay in regular contact in the face of an unprecedented and appalling assault by Hamas terrorists.”

“This has brought to the surface scars of antisemitism and genocide,” Biden said after the phone call. “There’s no excuse for terrorism. We are committed to the safety and security of Israel and the Jewish people.”

Biden also spoke with President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday. “The president stressed his condemnation of Hamas’s terror and his warning against anyone who might seek to exploit the current situation,” according to the White House. “The two leaders also discussed the importance of ensuring humanitarian assistance reaches those in need.”

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