War Day 142: Hamas Dig Tunnels to Egypt, IDF Find Rocket in Fridge

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War Summary, Day One Hundred and Forty-Two: Civilians in Gaza report that Hamas terrorists are very busy digging tunnels to Egypt to prepare for the escape of their higher-ups, IDF troops raided a medical lab where they found a rocket launcher and long-range rocket hidden in a refrigerator, and pressure mounts for Israel to cease-fire before the month of Ramadan.

By Mrs. Bruria Efune

War Summary, Day One Hundred and Forty-Two:

134 held captive in Gaza.
112 hostages freed.
11 hostage bodies rescued.
33 hostages confirmed murdered in Gaza.
1,400+ Israelis murdered.
240 fallen soldiers in the battle in Gaza.
6 fallen soldiers in Northern Israel.
3 fallen soldiers in Judea & Samaria.
14,900 injured.
13,350 rockets fired at Israel.
186,000 Israelis displaced from their homes.
1 Jewish nation united in prayer, charity, and good deeds.

Hostage Updates:

After months of uncertainty, the IDF announced that Sgt. Oz Daniel, 19, was killed by Hamas on October 7th, before his body was abducted to Gaza. His death was declared by the chief rabbi, based on findings and newly discovered intelligence. While his body remains in Gaza, these findings allow Oz Daniel’s family to mourn and sit shiva according to Jewish law.

Aside from the search for the hostages who are still alive, specialized IDF troops have been searching for evidence of those who were killed, in order to bring closure to their families, and allow them to mourn.

In response to reports that Hamas may be backing down from some of their impossible demands after seeing that the IDF is intent on entering Rafah, Israel has decided to send a negotiating team to Qatar on Monday, to renew talks for the release of the hostages. The team will be arriving with instructions from Prime Minister Netanyahu to “be tougher on negotiations.” According to reports, Netanyahu also directed that they should condition negotiation progress on Hamas telling which of the hostages are alive.

A hostage deal will likely mean a pause in fire during the month of Ramadan. There are also still talks of terrorists being released in exchange for hostages, although a lower number than Hamas earlier demanded. Unconfirmed reports say that Israel may condition their release on the terrorists being banned from returning to Gaza or anywhere near Israel.

In an interview with CBS News, Netanyahu said: “After we start an operation in Rafah, the war in Gaza will end in a few weeks. But it is impossible to leave Hamas’s last stronghold without dealing with it. If we achieve a hostage deal, the operation in Rafah will be delayed a little, but if there is no deal, we will take action in Rafah.”

Gaza Front Updates:

No rockets were successfully fired from Gaza onto Israeli civilians today.

The IDF nannounced the names of two soldiers who fell in battle in Gaza:
Staff Sgt. Nerya Belete, 21, from Shavei Shomron
Staff Sgt. Ido Eli Zrihen, 20, from Jerusalem

The IDF is primarily fighting on ground in Zeitoun in Gaza City, Central Gaza, and East and West Khan Younis. The airfare also carried out airstrikes in multiple locations today, specifically targeting Hamas’s air unit, which includes drones and rocket launchers.

In Zeitoun, the IDF is operating based on intelligence findings to eliminate strong Hamas holdouts.

The IDF has previously been in some areas of Central Gaza, but not yet all. These areas are challenging as they are heavily populated with displaced Gaza civilians, who Hamas is hiding in between.

In East Khan Younis, the IDF advanced into the suburbs of Abasan al-Jadida and Abasan al-Kabira, where they have already eliminated many terrorists. In one building in this area, troops raided a medical lab, where they found a rocket launcher and long-range rocket hidden in a refrigerator.

As Gaza civilians evacuate from areas where heavy combat is taking place, many Hamas terrorists are attempting to disguise themselves as civilians and evacuate with them. The IDF has developed methods for identifying the terrorists, and today caught group of them attempting to flee Khan Younis.

The IDF is carrying out far less airstrikes than in the earlier days of the war. There are many reasons for this, including that many significant targets were already struck, and the north of Gaza had more targets than the south, but some reports indicate that it is also to preserve ammunition in case of a shortage, especially with a possible large-scale incursion into Lebanon ahead.

The battles now have a lot more close-quarters combat, with IDF troops entering buildings to search for terrorists and terror infrastructure. These raids allow troops to locate more intelligence materials and do a more thorough job, but also puts them at much greater risk of coming across traps or getting caught in gun battles in cramped quarters.

According to reports from civilians in Rafah, Hamas terrorists are very busy digging tunnels to Egypt, to prepare for the escape of their higher-ups. The tunnels go as deep as 20 meters, and are designed to be able to suddenly open up at the other end. The Hamas leadership plan to surrender to Egypt, who they hope will be merciful on them, and allow them to leave for other countries.

The Prime Minister’s Office announced that at the War Cabinet meeting this evening, the IDF presented the plan for evacuating the population from the combat zones in Gaza—particularly in Central Gaza and Rafah, and the operational plans for the war’s continuation. In addition, a plan for the supply of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip was approved in a way that would prevent the looting that occurred in the north of the Gaza Strip and in other areas.

IDF spokesman, Brigadier General Daniel Hagari, published an article in the Wall Street Journal, in which he describes how Hamas uses civilians as human shields, and stated that the IDF’s goal is to return the hostages home and ensure that the October 7th massacre does not ever happen again. He summarizes: Hamas massacred Israeli citizens – to hide behind Gazan citizens.

After the US asked Israel to launch a probe into the death of Hind Rajab, a 6-year-old girl from Gaza who locals accuse the IDF in her death, it was found that the IDF was not operating anywhere near the area during her death.

Gaza Humanitarian Efforts Updates:

The IDF released an extended list of UNRWA employees who took part in the October 7th massacre along with their jobs UNRWA.

For the first time since the beginning of the war, the IDF transferred humanitarian aid to Gaza directly from Israeli territory, rather than through Egypt. The aid was transferred to Northern Gaza, where humanitarian organizations have not been reaching.

Civilians in Gaza report that Hamas leaders are living comfortably and securely as they’ve taken most humanitarian aid for themselves, and selling the remainder at high prices.

245 trucks carrying humanitarian aid were inspected and transferred to the Gaza Strip today (Feb.25). 154 were inspected and transferred via Kerem Shalom and 91 via Nitzana.

Northern Front Updates:

Hezbollah continued firing heavily on communities in Israel’s far north, some missiles were intercepted, and others fell in open areas and farms where agricultural equipment and farm property were damaged.

The IDF continued to respond by attacking Hezbollah targets in Southern Lebanon, including on buildings where Hezbollah terrorists were seen, and a truck which was likely carrying ammunition.

Hezbollah announced their 214th casualty from Israeli airstrikes.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant says that the IDF will soon be increasing firepower against Hezbollah, even if there will be a temporary ceasefire in Gaza. Gallant taunted Hezbollah, saying they are “unable to find replacements for the commanders we are eliminating.”

Gallant addressed the 80,000 Israelis from the north who were forced to evacuate their homes due to Hezbollah fire, and said that the goal is to bring security for them to be able to return home. He summarized: “The goal is simple – to push Hezbollah back to where it should be. Either by agreement, or we will do it by force.”

Negotiations haven’t shown any results yet. As of now, Israel is requesting that Hezbollah move north of the Litani River (about 29 kilometers from Israel’s border), in compliance with UN Resolution 1701. France has proposed that Hezbollah move just 10 km from Israel’s border. Hezbollah’s response is that they won’t stop firing until a complete ceasefire in Gaza, and refuse to respect resolution 1701.

There is currently very little to no worldwide awareness of Hezbollah’s deadly attacks on Israel, and their frightening capabilities. Israelis are bracing for an intensive war both in effect, and in public outcry.

Judea and Samaria Updates:

IDF, Shin Bet, and Border Police arrested 12 wanted persons throughout Judea and Samaria overnight for their association with terrorist groups. In the last few days, an engineering operation to thwart and prevent terrorism in the Etzion area was completed.

According to unconfirmed reports and leaks, the Palestinian Authority, under President Mahmoud Abbas, is preparing to establish a technocrat government, in response to requests from the Biden administration, and in an effort to win them an independent state.

On Shabbat, U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken returned to the U.S. policy of pre-1978, and said that the Israeli communities Judea and Samaria are illegal. His statement also overturned the Trump-era “Pompeo Doctrine,” which recognized that Judea and Samaria are the homeland of the Jewish people. Blinken’s actions are all part of an effort to unilaterally force a Palestinian State.

In response, U.S. Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, said. “The Jewish people have a historic and legal right to live in the land of Israel including in Judea and Samaria – the biblical heartland.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel from the Trump-Pompeo years, David Friedman, also wrote, “Blinken is 100% wrong. I researched this for over a year with many State Department lawyers. There is nothing illegal about Jews living in their biblical homeland. Indeed, Undersecretary of State Eugene Rostow, also the Dean of the Yale Law School (who negotiated UNSCR 242), stated that Israel has the best legal claim to Judea and Samaria. For Blinken to announce this in the middle of a war and when the Jewish Sabbath already has begun in Israel is unconscionable.”

International Updates:

Hundreds of thousands of protesters in Brazil took to the streets of Sao Paulo, in order to demonstrate in favor of former president Jair Bolsonaro and against current president Lula da Silva. Multiple Israeli flags were seen at the demonstration, and Bolsanaro held the Israeli flag up high in defiance of Lula’s anti-Semitic comments.

General Updates:

Ahead of Purim, the Ministry of Education has requested of schools to direct the students to dress up with sensitivity to the ongoing war, and not wear any costume that may cause panic.

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