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Israel Forms Emergency Unity Government to Better Fight Hamas

Written by on October 11, 2023

The latest:

  • Israel forms national unity government to fight Hamas
  • Israel deploys 300,000 troops near Gaza, with Israeli and militant forces continuing to launch missiles at each other
  • US says 22 Americans killed in Hamas attacks
  • Hamas media say electricity out in Palestinian enclave
  • Israel says 1,200 killed in Hamas raid; Gaza says 1,055 killed in retaliatory strikes


Israel said Wednesday it has formed an emergency war-time unity government to fight Hamas militants, at the same time massing 300,000 troops near Gaza for what could be a ground invasion of the Palestinian enclave.

At the White House, President Joe Biden reaffirmed Washington’s support for Israel and assured a group of Jewish leaders that his administration was “working on every aspect of the hostage crisis in Israel.”

Reports say some Americans may be among them — a fact that ties Washington inextricably to the conflict. Biden refused to identify specific efforts to recover the hostages, saying, “If I told you, I wouldn’t be able to get them home.”

He said the U.S. is sending ammunition, interceptors and fighter jets to the region, along with significant naval resources.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu created a war cabinet with former defense chief Benny Gantz, a centrist opposition National Unity Party leader, along with current Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, so they could solely focus on combating Hamas after its shock attack on Israel last Saturday.

The unusual arrangement, with other Cabinet members from Netanyahu’s right-wing government apparently remaining in place, pieces together a degree of unity after years of bitterly divisive politics.

Netanyahu has vowed to topple Hamas rule in Gaza, the densely populated strip of territory along the Mediterranean Sea, so that the militants can no longer threaten Israel.

From Tel Aviv, Yossi Yonah, a former member of the Israeli Knesset, told Alhurra, the U.S. government’s Arabic language satellite TV channel, “The goals (of forming this government) are clear, but I can say the first goal is to continue the strong attacks against Hamas and its supporters in Gaza Strip. There is also a clear option, which is that Israel may carry out ground invasion in Gaza to completely bring down Hamas movement.

The toll has been staggering in five days of fighting, with Israel saying that 1,200 of its citizens and foreign nationals, including 22 Americans, have been killed inside Israel and another 2,700 wounded. In Washington, the White House said another 17 Americans are unaccounted for.

Palestinian officials say that 1,055 of its people have been killed in retaliatory strikes by Israel and nearly 5,200 wounded. A ground invasion of Gaza would surely increase the death toll on both sides.

Biden said he spoke with Netanyahu earlier on Wednesday, the fourth call between the two leaders in recent days. In an undated call with Netanyahu and Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Biden said they asked him, ‘Why do you feel so deeply about this?’

“It’s not about the region,” Biden said. “I truly believe, were there no Israel, no Jew in the world will be ultimately safe. It’s the only ultimate guarantee. The only ultimate guarantee.”

He added, “I think we have a chance to end this in a way that makes it very difficult for it to be repeated.”

Militants in Gaza are holding an estimated 150 hostages it grabbed in Israel — soldiers, men, women, children and older adults. Their fate is largely unknown, with their relatives pleading in television interviews for their release.

Meanwhile, Hamas continued to fire rockets at Israel on Wednesday, including a heavy barrage at the southern town of Ashkelon, which is a short distance north of the Gaza border. Israeli airstrikes continued to rain down on Gaza.

Israel stopped sending food, water, fuel and medicine into Gaza, home to 2.3 million Palestinians. The sole remaining access from Egypt was closed Tuesday after Israeli airstrikes hit near the border crossing.

Gaza’s only power plant ran out of fuel Wednesday afternoon, leaving only generators to power the territory — but they also run on fuel that is in short supply.

The U.N.’s World Health Organization said that it has run out of supplies at seven hospitals. Doctors Without Borders said surgical equipment, antibiotics, fuel and other supplies were running out at two hospitals it runs in Gaza.

In one, “We consumed three weeks’ worth of emergency stock in three days, partly due to 50 patients coming in at once,” Matthias Kannes, the aid group’s Gaza mission chief, said Wednesday. He said the territory’s biggest hospital, Al-Shifa, only has enough fuel for three days.

In a video message early Wednesday, Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus defended Israeli airstrikes that have destroyed residential buildings, saying those sites are legitimate military targets because Hamas intentionally locates its operations in civilian building.

Ofir Gendelman, a former spokesman for Netanyahu, told Alhurra, “If Hamas didn’t attack Israel last Saturday, we wouldn’t have seen such devastation and destruction. Hamas wanted to destroy Israel, but it is actually destroying Gaza Strip. It alone bears the responsibility of what is going on the ground.”

The United Nations says more than 263,000 people have fled their homes in the Gaza Strip since the fighting began, and that the number is expected to rise.

A man reacts outside a burning collapsed building following Israeli bombardment in Gaza City, Oct. 11, 2023.
A man reacts outside a burning collapsed building following Israeli bombardment in Gaza City, Oct. 11, 2023.

Conricus said 360,000 Israeli reservists were preparing to carry out the mission of making sure “Hamas at the end of this war won’t have any military capabilities by which they can threaten or kill Israeli civilians.”

Another spokesperson, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told reporters that 169 Israeli soldiers have been killed, and that the military has contacted the families of 60 soldiers who were abducted by Hamas fighters and taken to Gaza.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters that a small group of U.S. special forces is working with the Israeli military to assist with planning and intelligence in the Israeli counteroperation against Hamas.

“We also have the ability to rapidly deploy other resources into the region,” Austin said.

The U.S. also sent a carrier strike group to the eastern Mediterranean, which Conricus said Wednesday brought a message of deterrence to ensure the conflict with Hamas does not expand into a regional war.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is traveling Wednesday to Israel to bring a “message of solidarity and support,” the State Department said.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters that Blinken wants to hear from Israeli leaders “about the situation on the ground and how we can continue to best support them in their fight against the terrorists who launched these horrific attacks.”


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