Israel-Hamas War – Week 7 November 19-25, 2023

We present here a diary of reported news from Israel and elsewhere about the Israel-Hamas war of 2023, known in Israel as Swords of Iron. Our sources include the IDF Spokesman, Israeli Kan TV/radio service, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office on Twitter/X (@IsraeliPM) and other sources considered reliable…

Saturday November 25, 2023 (Day 50 of the Israel-Hamas war):

  • Next tranche: Israel received the names of the second tranche of 13 hostages to be released today by Hamas. After delay and drama, the second tranche were released and reached Israel around midnight Israel time. One is in a serious condition (wishing her well).
  • Humanitarian aid: Today, the UN is delivering over 50 trucks containing humanitarian aid (food, water, shelter and medical supplies) to the northern Gaza Strip and to shelters that have not yet been evacuated. The aid is delivered through the evacuation corridor in coordination with Israel (IDF X/Twitter). This is apparently part of 200 aid supply trucks to Gaza today (Kan news).
  • 7pm delay: Contrary to earlier reports, Hamas has delayed the release of the second batch of hostages, perhaps until midnight, claiming Israel has breached the ceasefire agreement. Israel denies this. Apparently the ceasefire calls for 200 aid trucks per day and allegedly only around 70 trucks have entered so far. Egypt says the number is higher and Israel says the Rafah crossing is small. It may also be Hamas wants to see more trucks in Northern Gaza. Also, Hamas is demanding the longest jailed Palestinians be released first. Israel has threatened to resume the war if the second batch of hostages are not released.
  • LBC News (UK) Israeli correspondent suggested the Hamas leadership surrender, to end the war.
  • Ceasefire: The ceasefire is holding, the first 13 Israeli hostages are back in Israel. They are not back home as their homes were largely destroyed on October 7.
  • What’s next? Ynet reported a Qatari delegation in an executive jet landed today at Ben Gurion airport. A flight app at the time revealed three executive jets and a US Air Force plane in the area. The Qataris said today they want to see the ceasefire become permanent (Kan). Is something cooking?
  • Aid: 200 trucks carrying humanitarian aid were transferred on Nov 24 to international organizations working in the Gaza Strip via the Rafah Crossing. This was approved by Israel as part of the humanitarian pause and the framework for the release of the hostages (IDF X/Twitter)
  • West Bank Fake News: “The reality is that there is no part of the West Bank that is not touched & controlled by Israel” said Adam Bouloukos, Director of UNWRA Affairs, West Bank. “settler violence & Israeli military incursions have increased enormously over the last month & there has been a near total lockdown in the West Bank” (UNWRA X/Twitter). Correction: No mention of Arab terror incidents on the West Bank that caused the tension, no mention of the Oslo Accords that set up the Palestinian Authority in the 1990s and by agreement split the West Bank into different areas including Ramallah, the PA capital, where it is forbidden for Israelis to visit. The Trump “Deal of the Century” proposed to give the PA more land. but the PA turned down the deal.
  • Lebanon: The Israel-Lebanon border is quiet, apart from one tit for tat incident on Nov 24 (Kan Radio)
  • Shipping incident: An Israeli owned cargo ship was attacked in the Indian ocean by an Iranian Shahed-136 kamikaze drone, apparently of the just before the first hostage release yesterday evening (Kan radio quoting AP).
  • President Biden: “Over the coming days we expect that dozens more hostages will be returned to their families, including American citizens. We will not stop until all hostages are released by Hamas” (X/Twitter @POTUS).
  • Cameron of Britain: “It is a huge relief to see hostages returned today. My thoughts are with all of those families who have been going through unimaginable trauma, especially those still waiting for their loved ones to come home” (X/Twitter)
  • Spain and Belgium? The Israeli PM’s Office reported via X/Twitter on Nov 23, 2023,that “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met today, at the Prime Minister’s Knesset office, with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.” But things apparently did not go well. A later X/Twitter tweet by the Israeli PM’s office reads: “Prime Minister Netanyahu strongly condemns the comments by the prime ministers of Belgium and Spain, who did not place total responsibility on Hamas for the crimes against humanity it perpetrated: massacring Israeli citizens and using Palestinians as human shields.”
  • Third tranche of hostages for release? As of 2am Nov 26, Israel has not received a third tranche list names of hostages for release (IDF Spokesman on CNN).

Friday November 24, 2023

  • The Ceasefire and hostage release: The ceasefire/pause began at 7am. There were initially a few sirens in the South of Israel, then quiet. At around 4pm Hamas handed over 13 Israeli hostages – women and children – to the Red Cross inside Gaza. At around 7pm they were met by Israeli representatives inside Egypt and flown into Israel. . Then Israel released 39 Palestinian prisoners (i.e, terrorists caught after stabbings, throwing molotov cocktails or rocks) from the Ofer IDF base to the Red Cross. The Ofer base is near Jerusalem and the released prisoners all returned to homes in East Jerusalem or on the West Bank.
  • Back from death: One of the 13 released Israelis had been pronounced dead only 5 days earlier by Islamic Jihad.
  • Remaining hostages: Children of 10 months and 3 years old remain with other hostages in (under) Gaza. There are apparently around 225 remaining Israeli hostages in Gaza and 6,000 Palestinian terrorist prisoners in Israel. (based on Kan News reports)
  • Quiet: Israeli radio (Kan) interviewed an IDF soldier inside Gaza (08.50am, Nov 24) The ceasefire is holding. What are the soldiers doing? Caring for pets in Gaza that survived the war so far. By contrast, on October 7 Hamas killed Israeli pets, not only people in awful circumstances, according to this soldier.
  • Shifa: Before the ceasefire the IDF destroyed the military tunnel system underneath the Shifa hospital, but is unlikely to destroy the hotel itself (Kan news)
  • Displaced Gaza residents tried to return to their homes in North Gaza within 15 minutes after the ceasefire began. The IDF turned them back with tear gas, none were shot and killed contrary to reports that two were killed (Kan news).
  • Treatment: The released hostages receive top treatment: reception by the IDF and initial medical review, transfer to hospital in Central Israel for treatment a day meeting with family, post hospital welfare. The IDF supply earplugs to keep out noise and cell phones (Kan news)
  • After the war? The Egyptian President Al-Sisi talked today about the day after the war. He said Egypt is prepared to guarantee that Gaza would stay demilitarised. But can he deliver? Perhaps, he proposes to add NATO to the task. Would Israel agree to be diluted down? Or is NATO better than the UN? (Kan news)

Thursday November 23, 2023

  • Delay: The ceasefire has been postponed, no names have been exchanged of people for release, while final details are still being sorted out. There are hopes the first round of hostage releases might take place a day later on Friday Nov 24, 2023. In the meantime, the IDF is continuing the war with Hamas (Kan radio and others)
  • Happy: Hamas leadership are euphoric following the announcement of the ceasefire (humanitarian pause) as they believe they can survive and continue to rule. In retaliation, PM Netanyahu has ordered their assassination (Kan TV and radio)
  • Arrests: The IDF has arrested the Director and other doctors of the Shifa hospital. This follows the discovery of a labyrinth of well equipped military tunnels under the hospital and evidence that some hostages apparently left there (Jerusalem Post and others).
  • Hezbollah: The ceasefire would not cover Hezbollah and the Israel-Lebanon border, where skirmishes continue.
  • Affected women & children: “We all know what kind of shocking gender-based violence was inflicted on women by Hamas terrorists, but the world’s women’s organizations remain silent….Hamas holds dozens of Israeli children hostage. Where are the protests on campus?” (President Isaac Herzog on X/Twitter)
  • Ceasefire back on apparently: The Qatari Foreign Ministry announced that the ceasefire is to begin tomorrow Friday Nov 24 at 7am local time and the first batch of 13 women and children will be handed over at 4pm. Relatives of the 13 and the other hostages have been updated. Given the unexpected delay, Israelis want to know whether the Red Cross will visit the other hostages, as mentioned by PM Netanyahu yesterday Nov 22.
  • Hamas preparations: The IDF found a book written before the war detailing how it would be (and was) conducted. Deceptive tricks to “put the Israelis to sleep” included: demos by the border, Hamas military exercises that Israel got used to, pretend negotiations with the Israeli PM’s office about the possible return of Israeli bodies from past campaigns.
  • The end? Qatar and Hamas apparently expect the ceasefire will be prolonged indefinitely and the was may effectively be over. PM Netanyahu and the IDF spokesman said today there will be more stages in the war. The Shifa hospital tunnels will be destroyed (Kan/TV Press conference).

Wednesday November 22, 2023

  • Ceasefire/Pause: A hostage release agreement brokered by Qatar, the US and Egypt was approved by the Israeli Cabinet overnight November 21-22, 2023 by a majority of 35-3 ministers.
  • It calls for the release of Israeli hostages in return for a ceasefire/pause in the Israel-Hamas war for 4 days starting Thursday Nov 22, 2023.
  • 50 Israelis are to be released, and 150 Hamas terrorists not guilty of murder are to be released. The 50 Israelis consist of 30 children, 8 mothers and 12 other adult women.
  • This is not all the Israeli hostages currently thought to total around 238.
  • An extra day’s pause will be added for every additional group of 10 hostages released.
  • Not over: The Israeli Cabinet and Israeli PM Netanyahu emphasized the war is not over until all the Israeli objectives are achieved – release of all the hostages and toppling of Hamas.
  • President Biden said: I welcome the deal to secure the release of hostages taken by the terrorist group Hamas during its brutal assault against Israel on October 7th.  Today’s deal should bring home additional American hostages, and I will not stop until they are all released (White House website).
  • For further details of the ceasfire visit:
  • What will the end of the war look like? If General Macarthur’s experience in Japan in 1945 is any example, unconditional surrender followed by great change all possible here. Read how at:
  • Waiting for first names: Tonight Hamas and Israel are due to exchange names of people to be released tomorrow. In Israel, no announcement will be made to relatives or the Press until hostages are actually released. This is to avoid raising any wrong hopes (Kan and others).
  • An IDF Conference Call: of all commanders was held tonight to update and coordinate the ceasefire arrangements (IDF Spokesman on TV).
  • What if there’s an infringement such as a missile attack on Israel? It seems the IDF will attempt to neutralize the shooters before deciding whether to continue with the ceasefire (Kan radio).
  • Shifa Hospital: Israeli journalists from the Jerusalem Post, Kan and others, today toured the large well equipped Hamas military headquarters below the Shifa hospital in Gaza, behind a heavy metal door that had to be blown open. Among other things they saw a bag commemorating the Kibbutz Reeim 60th anniversary a few days before October 7, proving that hostages had been held there. They saw English lessons for children on a board. They also saw many kinds of weapons, bathroom facilities and a tunnel network leading to adjoining locations – to be destroyed soon. For a graphic account see:
  • Cars: Due to the lack of body parts or remains of many of those killed in the October 7 massacre, the ZAKA organization for rescue and recovery has recommended burying the cars of those who were killed in them (
  • Defense Minister Gallant commented: Hamas understands only force. That’s how the ceasefire was reached. After the ceasefire, a clause says the war will continue to help cause Hamas to release the rest of the hostages they hold (Televised press conference).
  • War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz commented: The Jewish people has long term stamina, it survived the Holocaust, it will survive this. Tens of thousands of Lebanese have become displaced because of the Hamas actions (Televised press conference).
  • Sinwar, Hamas leader: will he try to stretch out the ceasefire? PM Netanyahu replied he probably will. Qatar might be asked to help.

Tuesday November 21, 2023

  • Situation: The ground campaign in Gaza continues. Skirmishes continue on the Israel-Lebanon border. Friction continues on the West Bank. Hamas missile attacks into Southern and Central Israel continue.
  • Ceasefire? The Israeli Cabinet is scheduled to meet at 8pm local time to discuss a possible hostage release deal. Foreign press speculation raises the possibility of a deal to release only around 50-70 hostages out of an assumed total of 240 hostages held by Hamas, plus a 4-6 day ceasefire. Nothing is final yet, details are awaited.
  • The White House website carries Biden’s Washington Post article of Nov 18. Aside from calling for a revitalized Palestinian Authority, Biden clarifies the present situation: “Today, nearly 100 aid trucks enter Gaza from Egypt each day, and we continue working to increase the flow of assistance manyfold. I’ve also advocated for humanitarian pauses in the conflict to permit civilians to depart areas of active fighting and to help ensure that aid reaches those in need. Israel took the additional step to create two humanitarian corridors and implement daily four-hour pauses in the fighting in northern Gaza to allow Palestinian civilians to flee to safer areas in the south.
    This stands in stark opposition to Hamas’s terrorist strategy: hide among Palestinian civilians. Use children and innocents as human shields. Position terrorist tunnels beneath hospitals, schools, mosques and residential buildings. Maximize the death and suffering of innocent people — Israeli and Palestinian. If Hamas cared at all for Palestinian lives, it would release all the hostages, give up arms, and surrender the leaders and those responsible for Oct. 7.” (
  • What goals should the world aim for when the Gaza War ends? We discussed this with Dr Reuven Gal, Ex-Head of Psychology at the IDF. Here’s how to give peace a chance:

Monday November 20, 2023:

  • Situation: The ground campaign in Gaza continues. Skirmishes continue on the Israel-Lebanon border. Friction continues on the West Bank. Hamas missile attacks into Southern and Central Israel continue.
  • Ceasefire? Speculation continues that a hostage release deal may be in the offing, but for only around 50 hostages out of an assumed total of 240 hostages held by Hamas. Many Israelis, including some of the relatives of hostages, think it preferable to hold out for the release of a far larger number rather than agree to the release of some but not others.
  • More on Shifa: The IDF Spokesman said the IDF found 55 meters of tunnel under the Shifa hospital. Arab TV interviews with Hamas representatives indicate that tunnels are for military purposes only not civilian protection. Hijacked cars of Israelis were spotted parked outside Shifa hospital (Kan /IDF).
  • How they did it: Israel has taken over 300 Hamas prisoners. Among other things, they told the IDF that dozens of Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists freely circulated round Shifa hospital in medical attire (Kan radio)
  • Female hostage murdered: Pathological examination of the deceased body of female hostage recently returned to Israel revealed she died not from illness but from several bullet holes (Kan radio).
  • Crime bill: A bill is proposed in the Knesset to treat the crimes committed by Hamas as Nazi crimes punishable by death. Relatives of hostages objected vigorously to any discussion of such a proposal, saying this must wait until after the war (Kan news and others).
  • Embassy use: IDF soldiers encountered “inappropriate activity” at an embassy in Gaza (Kan Reshet Bet soldier interviewed)
  • Deceased: Updated list of Israelis who died due to October 7:
  • Babies evacuated: The IDF helped facilitate the safe evacuation of newborn babies from the Shifa Hospital to receive medical treatment in Egypt.  IDF teams on the ground assisted UN teams in the evacuation using incubators provided by Israel m(IDF X/Twitter).
  • Children: As the world celebrates World Childrens’ Day, around 40 children are being held as hostages in Gaza (IDF X/Twitter and others). A Unicef representative is of course concerned about Palestinian child casualties (as human shields) but admitted she has not visited the Israeli children held hostage or those who died on October 7 (Kan radio). Comment: The Israeli attitude is not to rely on less than impartial international bodies.

Sunday November 19, 2023:

  • Situation: The ground campaign in Gaza continues. Skirmishes continue on the Israel-Lebanon border. Friction continues on the West Bank. Hamas missile attacks into Southern and Central Israel continue. But heavy rain dampened things today?
  • Ceasefire? Is there a partial deal on the way for the release of some of the hostages? PM Netanyahu said not now at a televised press conference yesterday evening. Overnight the Washington Post thought otherwise. The Qatari PM reportedly said minor obstacles remain. Time will tell. (Kan TV & radio and others)
  • Hijack: Yemen Houthis hijacked a cargo ship in the Red Sea, the Bahamas-flagged Galaxy Leader, which was leased by a British company partly owned by Israeli Rami Unger to a Japanese company. Its crew are not Israelis (Jerusalem Post and others). PM Netanyahu said “This is another act of Iranian terrorism and constitutes a leap forward in Iran’s aggression against the citizens of the free world,” (X/Twitter)
  • Rimal: IDF troops operated in the residences of senior Hamas officials. The residences-turned terrorist strongholds were embedded within civilian buildings in the classy Rimal neighborhood (IDF X/Twitter).
  • Unwra: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said: I am deeply shocked that 2 UNWRA schools were struck in less than 24 hours in Gaza. Dozens of people – many women & children – were killed & injured as they were seeking safety in UN premises. (Guterres X/Twitter). Comment: He did not respond to criticism from PM Netanyahu and others that the schools indoctrinate children with Hamas propaganda and weapons etc. are stored at UN schools.
  • Afterwards: President Biden called for a “revitalized Palestinian Authority” (PA) to govern Gaza after the war (
  • Unfortunately for Biden, the PA Foreign Ministry issued a statement sent to foreign ministries worldwide saying the massacre on October 7 was caused by helicopters of the IDF attacking Israelis at the Nova music festival at Re’im i.e. the Israelis massacred themselves.
  • This was too much. PM Netanyahu issued a strong statement saying that the PA cannot rule Gaza as it denied the October 7 holocaust, pays terrorists and incites terrorism in schools. “My goal is that the day after we destroy Hamas, any future civil administration in Gaza does not deny the massacre, does not educate its children to become terrorists, does not pay for terrorists, and does not tell its children that their ultimate goal in life is to see the destruction and dissolution of the State of Israel. That’s not acceptable and that is not the way to achieve peace.”(Israeli PM X/Twitter).
  • The PA then mysteriously deleted the public version of their report denying the October 7 massacre (Kan Radio, Ynet, and others).
  • Shifa: The IDF spokesman, Daniel Hagari, at a televised press conference showed footage of a tunnel under the Shifa hospital, and security camera footage of injured hostages from Nepal and Thailand being wheeled into the Shifa hospital by armed Hamas terrorists for medical treatment before being taken away into captivity, Their whereabouts are presently unknown according to Hagari. Hamas issued a denial saying the tunnel in the future could have been anywhere and wasn’t under the Shifa hospital
  • Murder: Hagari went on to say that according to IDF intelligence, including a pathologist report, a female IDF hostage, Noa Marciano, was injured but not killed by an Israeli air attack on a Hamas commander, but Hamas subsequently murdered her with deadly blows at the Shifa hospital. The intelligence source was not revealed but will apparently be checked by other Western intelligence agencies.