Israel Update - November 1, 2023

The Latest:

  • More than three weeks into Israel’s War with Hamas, 13 Israeli soldiers were confirmed killed in heavy fighting in Gaza.

  • Long-range rockets fired at Israel by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen were intercepted over the Red Sea.

  • Full details on these developments and more are below.

Key Resources from Jewish Federations

  • Refer to the Community Mobilization Center Resource Hub for the latest talking points, tools and resources to help you speak up for Israel. 

  • JDC will hold an Israel Emergency Briefing, with Col. (Ret.) Miri Eisin, media commentator and director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at Reichman University in Herzliya, for an overview of the situation on the ground and the issues facing Israel’s society. The call will also feature speakers from the JDC team in Israel about their efforts to support those affected by the war. Today, Wednesday, November 1st, at 12:00 PM (ET). Register here.

  • Member of the Security Cabinet, Minister Benny Gantz, has sent this special video message to our Jewish communities.

  • This site shows a map of the October 7 massacre, with a red dot for every person killed and a black dot for every person abducted by Hamas. Clicking on any dot will show the name and picture (if available) of the victim, along with their age and last known location.

  • For full details about the home front and military operations, see this update. And for information on the latest overall numbers from the conflict, see here.

  • Additional resources can be found at the end of this update.

Israel Defence Forces Operations
The ground operation into Gaza appears to have expanded considerably, with heavy clashes against Hamas reported. Thirteen Israeli soldiers have been confirmed dead. Commenting on the heavy losses, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We are in a difficult war. It will be a long war. We have important achievements in it, but also painful losses. We know that each of our soldiers is a whole world. The entire nation of Israel embraces you, the families, from the bottom of our hearts. We are all with you in your time of great sorrow. Our soldiers fell in an unjust war—the war for our home. I promise you, citizens of Israel: We will complete the job. We will continue until victory.”
Among the IDF soldiers killed in Gaza yesterday, eight from the Givati Infantry Brigade were in a single APC (Armored Personnel Carrier) that was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). One of them, Second Lieutenant Pedayah Marc, lost his father in a terror attack on their family car seven years ago. Pedayah, 13 years old at the time, was injured along with his mother. His uncle was among those murdered in Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7. See photos and details of some of the fallen here.

Overnight, ground forces directed the Air Force to strike a building in Jabaliya where a number of Hamas operatives were gathered. The IDF says the multi-story building was “located near a school, medical center, and government offices.”

Another operation involved airstrikes and ground forces taking control of a compound that the IDF said was used by Hamas’s Central Jabaliya Battalion (see graphic here). Several buildings in the area were destroyed, and the IDF said they were brought down when Hamas terror tunnels beneath them collapsed following airstrikes targeting the head of the battalion and terror infrastructure. Some 50 terrorists were reported killed during the mission. See video here and photos here. And watch the IDF Chief of Staff Hertzl Halevi at a command center here.

Among those Hamas members killed was the terrorist Ibrahim Biari. Since the entry of IDF soldiers into the Gaza Strip, Biari has been in charge of all fighting in the northern Gaza Strip. He was also involved in sending terrorists to the attack at the Ashdod port in 2004, in which 13 Israelis were murdered, and was responsible for directing rocket fire at Israel for two decades.

According to the IDF, since the beginning of the war, some 11,000 sites belonging to Hamas and other terror groups have been hit.

Read this piece for background on Israel’s ground invasion, and listen here to the radio message by the Head of IDF Southern Command to soldiers about to enter Gaza.

The IDF has significantly bolstered the Red Sea area with Navy missile boats, following several missile and drone attacks by Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen. See photos here and video here. The military says it has several layers of air defenses in the area to protect against Houthi attacks. The US military is also deployed in the Red Sea region and intercepted a number of missiles and drones heading for Israel from Yemen two weeks ago.

The Houthi strikes from Yemen, located more than 1,000 miles from Israel, included an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), two cruise missiles, and a ballistic surface-to-surface missile. The cruise missiles, flying more or less at the speed of a jet plane, are relatively easy to intercept given the lengthy flight time. The UAV, slower than a cruise missile, is similarly easy to detect and stop. However, the ballistic missiles supplied to the Houthis by Iran are a far more significant challenge. Yesterday, the ballistic missile was intercepted by Israel’s Arrow, a long-range missile designed to intercept ballistic missiles when their trajectory takes them outside the earth’s atmosphere. It is designed to intercept incoming ballistic missiles and detonate them far enough from the earth so as not to cause any damage should they be carrying chemical, biological, or nuclear warheads. It is not known whether the Arrow intercepted the Houthi missile inside or outside the atmosphere. This was the first operational use of the Arrow, which was jointly developed by Israel and the United States. Read more about the Houthi threat here.

Israel’s National Security Advisor, Tzachi Hanegbi, clarified Israel’s goals in the war yesterday. In his remarks, he said, “The operational goal that was defined for the IDF is unequivocal: to destroy the military and governing capabilities of Hamas and Islamic Jihad so that there will no longer be a threat to the citizens of Israel from the Gaza Strip... All of the terms of the past are gone and have dissipated. There are no more 'rounds', 'operations', or other amorphous terms such as'strengthening deterrence', 'exacting a price', or 'etching in their consciousness'. The massacre of October 7th dissolved the illusion that we are facing an enemy that would not dare to risk its own absolute destruction."

The Home Front
The government has released more information about the tragic aftermath of the October 7 massacres. It was announced that:

  • 20 children (aged less than 18) lost both of their parents.

  • A further 18 young people aged 18–25 lost both parents.

  • 96 children lost one parent.

  • Kibbutz Nir-Oz was one of the communities that were devastated on October 7. Of the 400 residents, 25 were killed and 75 were taken hostage. All but six houses in the Kibbutz were burned down or demolished by the terrorists. Despite the devastation, the Kibbutz treasurer sent a letter yesterday to all the suppliers the Kibbutz had worked with, apologizing that the Kibbutz’ computers burned down and all their files were gone, and asking suppliers to send him copies of the invoices they had sent over the last two months so that the Kibbutz can ensure that suppliers are paid as soon as possible.

The level of rocket fire from Gaza remains low compared to the early days of the war, but there has been a barrage against Tel Aviv and the center every day. Many have noted that, for reasons unknown, many rockets are fired “on the hour.”

In the north, Hezbollah continues to attack along the Lebanese border area, including mortar shells toward Rosh Hanikra, rockets near Moshav Elkosh, and three anti-tank missiles fired towards Biranit. No injuries were reported. Late in the afternoon, there were shots fired at army positions on the border, and two mortars launched from Lebanon landed in open areas near Tel-Hai College. The IDF is continuously retaliating.

International Response
International ResponseFor the first time since October 7, Egypt is allowing some people to leave Gaza. Those holding foreign passports, as well as a number of severely wounded, are being granted permission to cross the Gaza border into Egypt starting today.

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Jack Lew to be the next U.S. ambassador to Israel, despite opposition to President Joe Biden’s nominee by Republican senators over Lew’s defense of the Obama-era Iran nuclear agreement. Lew served as Treasury Secretary under President Obama. The United States has been without a confirmed ambassador for Israel since the summer, when Thomas Nides departed the role. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he will return to Israel this Friday, his second visit since fighting began.

According to The New York Times, U.S. commandos are in Israel to help with efforts to locate hostages held in Gaza. The report quotes Assistant Secretary of Defense Christopher P. Maier, telling a Washington conference: “We’re actively helping the Israelis to do a number of things.” He says the main task is to assist in the work to “identify hostages, including American hostages. It’s really our responsibility to do so.” The Times claims that several dozen US Special Operations forces have been sent, in addition to a team that was already in Israel for training. The report also says that several Western countries have secretly moved special forces closer to Israel to help with the potential rescue of hostages or for large-scale evacuations from Israel or Lebanon if the fighting widens.

Nearly 2,500 Holocaust survivors and their descendants sent President Joe Biden a letter thanking him for supporting Israel following the terrorist massacre Hamas carried out on October 7th. Read more.

Despite many in the Muslim world taking an anti-Israel stance in the current war, Dr. Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi, chairman of the Defense, Interior, and Foreign Affairs Committee of the United Arab Emirates Federal National Council, said that the Abraham Accords, which brought normalization of relations between Israel and his country, were not at risk. "This is the third war in Gaza. Whenever there is something happening in Gaza, people come to us and ask, ‘What do you think of the Abraham Accords. Are you going to change?’ (But) the Accords are our future. It is not an agreement between two governments, but a platform that we believe should transform the region, where everyone will enjoy security, stability, and prosperity.” And see this post.

The Israel Foreign Affairs Ministry presented extremely graphic video footage of the atrocities done by Hamas on October 7 to approximately 70 ambassadors on Tuesday. The images have not been shared publicly but have been screened for journalists and others.

Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu held a series of conversations with world leaders yesterday, including Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Prime Minister Netanyahu updated the leaders on the war and thanked them for their unreserved support for the State of Israel. The Prime Minister said that “Israel's war against Hamas-ISIS is also the war of the entire enlightened world.”

Read here some background on European views of the Gaza War.

Efforts on the Ground
Israelis of all stripes have come together to support soldiers and bolster morale in the country, many sharing inspiring tales. See what these volunteers have accomplished.

See this video of one rabbi’s initiative to help soldiers with their laundry. The rabbi built a truck with multiple washing machines and dryers connected to water and a generator. He is able to turn up to the fields at the front and give the reservists the chance to wash their uniforms and more. much-needed, and appreciated service for the troops.

In a seemingly illogical twist, many Israeli news broadcasts are advising people to take a break from watching them, in order to help with their mental health. Watch here.

Read this article on how Israelis are being uncharacteristically polite and kind.

Watch this video compilation of fighting women soldiers, featuring some who have undertaken heroic missions in the past few weeks.

Other Resources

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