Two Israeli hostages held by Hamas were released on Monday, Al-Monitor has learned. Qatar and Egypt have been engaged in mediation efforts with Hamas since Oct. 7.
Rina Bassist, Ezgi Akin, Beatrice Farhat, Elizabeth Hagedorn, Adam Lucente, Jack Dutton, Jared Szuba and Al-Monitor’s contributors on the ground in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel contributed to this blog.
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Monday, Oct. 23, 2023
10:00 pm: US warns Iran as doubts grow about Israel's abilities in Gaza war
A Pentagon official speaking on condition of anonymity to reporters on Monday acknowledged that top American military officers with experience in counterterrorism operations in urban environments have been advising the IDF. News of the advisory mission comes as doubts have grown among senior American military officials about the IDF’s capability to successfully launch and sustain a mechanized ground invasion of Gaza to eradicate Hamas, Al-Monitor has learned. Jared Szuba reports.
5:00 pm: Is Hezbollah heading for open conflict with Israel?
Cross-border exchanges between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah have been gaining pace as Israel battles Hamas militants in Gaza. But does the powerful Lebanese movement really seek to enter open conflict with Israel? Read more.
1:01 pm: Bank of Israel leaves interest rates unchanged, citing Hamas war
Israel’s central bank kept interest rates unchanged on Monday as the war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip continues, creating economic uncertainty in the country, Adam Lucente reports. The Bank of Israel decided to keep interest rates at 4.75%, citing the effects of the war.
12:50 pm: Israeli army says it intercepted two drones from Lebanon
The Israeli army said on Monday that it intercepted two drones launched from Lebanon across its border, in the first such incident since the conflict started on Oct. 7. The Israeli army reported that a projectile was fired from Lebanon toward a military post near Misgav Am, setting off sirens in the northern city of Kiryat Shmona. Later, it said it carried out strikes targeting missile launchers in southern Lebanon.
Lebanon’s official National News Agency reported Israeli strikes against several towns in southern Lebanon, including Kfarchouba.
12:30 pm: Israeli official says Hamas might release 50 hostages
Hamas might release some hostages today, a senior Israeli source told Haaretz. However, the source added that negotiations are complex and that the deal has not “matured” yet. This comes after an IDF source told the New York Times that talks between the United States, Qatar and Hamas could soon lead to the release of 50 hostages of foreign nationalities.
12:00 pm: Turkey says it didn’t 'order' Hamas’ Haniyeh to leave country
A Turkish official said Monday that Ankara did not “order” Hamas’ political head Ismail Haniyeh and his entourage to leave Turkey. The statement came in reaction to Al-Monitor’s Fehim Tastekin reporting Sunday that Haniyeh and Hamas members with him were in Turkey during the militant group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, and that an annoyed Ankara “kindly asked” them to leave the country. Footage had circulated on social media showing Haniyeh and others prostrating themselves in a “prayer of gratitude” while watching news of the incursion on television. Read the full article here.
11:00 am: Israel prepares for ‘prolonged’ invasion of Gaza
Israel expects a “prolonged” Gaza ground war that would target Hamas commandos and bases. The operation will go deep into Hama’s underground tunnel infrastructure on an undecided timeline. Lilach Shoval writes from Israel.
5:50 am: Third convoy enters Gaza via Rafah crossing
A third convoy of aid trucks has crossed the Rafah border crossing into Gaza, which is under intense Israeli bombardment, Reuters reported. A total of 34 aid trucks entered the besieged enclave on Saturday and Sunday, the first delivery of much needed humanitarian assistance since the escalation erupted two weeks ago.
5:44 am: Israeli army intercepts suspicious aircraft coming from Lebanon
The Israeli army said in a post on X that it downed a suspicious target that crossed into Israeli airspace from southern Lebanon. There has been no comment from the Lebanese side yet. The Iran-backed Hezbollah has been engaged in intense cross-border fire with Israel since Oct. 7.
1:38 am: Israel strikes over 320 Hamas/Islamic Jihad targets in last 24 hours
The Israeli army has struck and destroyed over 320 Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror targets in the last 24 hours, the IDF and Shin Bet said in a joint statement. Targets included Hamas tunnels, headquarters where Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad assailants were hiding and mortar and anti-tank launchers. IDF spokesperson Jonathan Cornicus said that absent the surrender of Hamas and return of all the hostages, Israel will have to enter the Gaza Strip.
The Thai Foreign Ministry updated its counts to 30 of its nationals killed by Hamas and 19 kidnapped.
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