IDF death toll rises amid rumours of foreign hostage release and revival of the PA

IDF death toll rises amid rumours of foreign hostage release and revival of the PA

Ground offensive makes deep gains but at a cost; Hamas suggests release is imminent; US Secretary Blinken to visit the region again.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that a “revitalised” Palestinian Authority should retake control of Gaza if Israel succeeds in its goal of toppling Hamas, but that regional partners and international agencies could play an interim role.

“At some point, what would make the most sense would be for an effective and revitalized Palestinian Authority to have governance and ultimately security responsibility for Gaza,” Blinken told the Senate hearing.

Hours after the hearing — which included repeated interruptions by several dozen of far-left protesters calling for a ceasefire — an Israeli official confirmed that Blinken will arrive in Tel Aviv on Friday for his second visit since the Hamas terror group launched its deadly shock assault over three weeks ago.

The IDF is reported to have moved deep inside Gaza, with heavy fighting taking a toll.

The Israeli army announced on Wednesday that ten soldiers were killed in two separate incidents in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, bringing the total number of soldiers killed in Gaza to 16.

According to the IDF, 11 of the soldiers were killed when their armoured personnel carrier was struck by an anti-tank missile, while an explosive charge killed two, while two other soldiers were killed by another anti-tank missile. On Wednesday, an IDF reservist was killed by mortar fire near Be’eri.

The combined stages of the current invasion and the expected later stages of insurgency and lower-grade fighting may take several months. While to date, the IDF and top political officials have talked about an invasion lasting more than weeks, and other processes lasting a couple of months or more, the impression now is that it will take longer.

This will probably not mean several months of intense fighting like now, but rather a combination of strategies, followed by months of fighting an insurgency after the initial stage.

The military’s endeavours also include a hunt of hostages like the successful rescue of soldier Ori Megedish on Monday, while international efforts are taking place to secure release of some hostages, potentially foreign nationals.

The release of any foreign hostages, if it happens, isn’t part of any declared deal between Israel and Hamas but may be a product of understandings reached during a visit to Qatar by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian on Tuesday.

Alternatively, it might reflect an “exchange of gestures” following the expected opening of the Rafah crossing to admit injured Gazans into Egypt for medical care.

Hamas will release several foreign hostages in the “coming days,” Abu Obaida, spokesman of the terror group’s armed wing said on Tuesday.

“We have no desire to hold them in Gaza,” he explained in a video on the group’s Telegram account on Tuesday. Abu Obaida said that Ori Megidish, an Israeli soldier who was rescued a day earlier by ground forces in Gaza, had not been a Hamas captive “but in the hands of a private individual or other unknown parties.”

READ MORE
Blinken to visit Israel on Friday, says ‘revitalized’ PA should govern Gaza after war (Times of Israel)

Combined stages of Gaza war to take several months; thousands of Hamas terrorists killed (Jerusalem Post)

16 Israeli Soldiers Killed Since Start of Gaza Ground Operation, IDF Confirms (Haaretz)

Hamas Says It Will Free non-Israeli Hostages ‘Within Days’ (Haaretz)

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Photo: Armoured vehicles of the IDF are seen during their ground operations at a location given as Gaza on Wednesday (IDF/Reuters)