War cabinet sworn in with a majority of 64 to 4; Netanyahu: ‘This is truly a war for our home and it must end with one thing, a decisive victory with the crushing and eradication of Hamas, which is the Islamic State’

Israeli forces bombardeed the northern Gaza Strip with airstrikes on Thursday night, strking resdences used by Hamas terror operatives and Hamas operational buildings. The bombardment comes ahead of Hamas’ announced a worldwide “Day of Rage” that calls on Hamas supporters in Israel and around the world to attack Israelis and Jews in reaction to Operation Swords of Iron.

On Thursday evening, The Daily Telegraph and CNN published the photo of photo of an Israeli baby murdered by Hamas. The photo that was distributed by Israel’s Foreign Ministry has shocked the world. The Foreign Ministry wrote in a statement accompanying the photo that “This is the hardest picture we’ve ever published. As we write this, our hands are shaking. But we need each and every one of you to know- this happened.” The photo shows a baby covered in blood who was murdered by Hamas terrorists; two other photos of babies who were burned to death also were distributed.

Huwara pizzeria’s ad featuring a Holocaust survivor who was kidnapped into Gaza

Also on Thursday night, the IDF sealed off a pizzeria in the West Bank village of Huwara that posted an ad mocking an Israeli citizen and Holocaust survivor who was abducted to the Gaza Strip.

Earlier on Thursday, with a majority of 64 to only 4 opponents, the Knesset approved the establishment of an emergency unity government to manage the Gaza war.

National Unity Chairman Benny Gantz and four other members of his faction – former IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot, Gideon Sa’ar, Yifat Shasha-Biton, and Hili Trooper – will join the government as ministers without portfolio.

National Unity chief Benny Gantz sworn in as minister
(Photo: Knesset Channel)

The Knesset also approved the appointment of Uriel Buso from Shas as health minister, replacing Moshe Arbel, who will remain interior minister.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke before a special session of the Knesset plenum during which he announced the Cabinet’s decision to declare war on Hamas and sought the parliament’s approval for the establishment of the emergency government.

He opened his remarks by talking about his earlier evening meeting with soldiers from the 98th Brigade and noted that the soldiers told him, “Mr. Prime Minister, we must fight and destroy [Hamas].” According to him, he has never seen such a fighting spirit before.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking before Knesset
(Photo: Rafi Kotz)

Netanyahu noted that the battle spirit and unity following Hamas’s monstrous terror attack “binds us into an iron fist – and it is this fist that will shatter Hamas into pieces.” According to him, “The unity of the people is a force multiplier, and the emergency government we are establishing today out of national responsibility, conveys a message of immense strength, both externally and internally.”

Netanyahu added that the comparison between Hamas and Islamic State was not a messaging strategy. “It’s simply an undeniable truth. Hamas is IS. And the world, which was shocked by IS and Al-Qaeda after September 11, formed an international coalition to eradicate this blight. No one said, ‘Let’s go meet with representatives of IS or Al-Qaeda.’ No one said, ‘Let’s allow them a presence in our country.’ Therefore, I said today: There is no such representation. We do not meet with them. And if there are countries that maintain their presence, they should remove them. Expel them.”

The prime minister reiterated that the goal of the war was the eradication of Hamas. “This is truly a war for our home. And it must end with one thing, a decisive victory. And with the crushing and eradication of Hamas. Hamas, which is IS,” he said. “All of us, without exception, are guided by one goal: to obliterate evil, to crush cruelty, to eliminate fanaticism, to annihilate IS.”

IDF commandos fighting Hamas terrorists in Israeli border towns
(Photo: IDF Spokesperon’s Unit)

Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana voiced a similar sentiment at the opening of the plenary session. “The purpose of this special discussion is to employ all means, in this case – forming a unity government for the emergency – to lead the IDF and security forces to victory, ensuring triumph for the State of Israel and the unified Israeli people in their struggle against terrorist organizations, over the darkness, evil and profound cruelty they bring with them.”

He added, “There is a time and place for everything. We are embarking on a war whose duration we do not know – but we do know with absolute certainty that it must end with the victory of light over darkness. There is no other option.”

Earlier, Air Force Commander Tomer Bar promised to eliminate all the terrorists who participated in Hamas’s massacre of Israeli civilians on Saturday. “We have a lot of work until the organization is eradicated, he said.

“We have a list of everyone who participated in these heinous crimes against our family and against the residents of the border area, and we will reach them – you know the Air Force and the IDF. We continue to strike forcefully. We are monitoring all arenas and protecting all residents.”

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said on Thursday Israel will hunt down Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahiya Sinwar, as well as the entire leadership of the terrorist group.

Speaking from the Gaza Strip border in his first media appearance since hostilities began over the weekend, Herzi Halevi asserted that the military recognizes the gravity of the situation and he vowed that all those responsible for the terror organization’s actions, specifically the brutal attack on the residents of southern Israel, will be decisively struck.

“The responsibility for Israel’s security was placed on our shoulders and we failed,” he said. “But now it’s time to fight the war.”

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi
(Photo: IDF)
Destruction in Gaza in the wake of Israeli strikes

Speaking in a joint press conference from Tel Aviv earlier Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken for Washington’s support of Israel’s right to defend itself in the face of Hamas’ attack. “Hamas is ISIS, and just as ISIS was crushed, so will Hamas be crushed,” the premier said.

Reiterating President Joe Biden’s promise that the United States will stand by Israel, Blinken said “You may be strong enough, on your own, to defend yourselves, but as long as America exists, you will never ever have to. We will always be there by your side.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deliver remarks on Thursday
(Photo: GPO)

As the two were making their remarks, Syrian media reported strikes on the Damascus International Airport and the airfield in Aleppo, which it attributed to Israel.

Earlier, the mayor of the southern city of Sderot called on Netanyahu to immediately move to evacuate residents of the city for at least 10 days to areas outside the immediate range of rockets from Gaza. “I receive calls from residents all day, begging to be evacuated,” he said.

Alon Davidi addressed reporters amid renewed rocket attacks on the city, injuring at least four residents, two of them seriously. Sderot is within mortar fire range and has been heavily bombarded by rockets since the early hours of Saturday when Hamas terrorists initiated their deadly assault

After no rocket launches were recorded overnight, Hamas fired rockets toward the Gaza border area and central Israel, targeting the northern Sharon Plains, parts of the West Bank and communities surrounding the Gaza border.

Rocket fire on Sderot
(Photo: Meir Turgeman)

The IDF has reported that 222 families of soldiers have so far been notified of their death, and 97 families have been informed that their relatives were captured and taken to Gaza.

Israel conducted extensive strikes on the Gaza Strip during overnight and into the morning hours.

Srikes on Gaza
(Photo: Mahmud Hams / AFP)

IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Daniel Hagari on Thursday morning conceded for the first time that there had been intelligence of a pending Hamas attack before the murderous invasion into bases and communities along the Gaza border but said the information was not concrete. “There were some indications, but nothing that could have warned of an attack at that scope, he said in an early morning briefing.

Rocket falls in open area in northern Sharon Plains

Education Minister Yoav Kisch said on Thursday that he as a member of the government shares in the responsibility for the tragic events since Saturday’s murderous Hamas attack. Speaking to Ynet Kisch said the families impacted, must be heard. He was the first member of the government to assume responsibility for the events.

Education Minister Yoav Kisch
(Photo: Shmulik Dudapur)

Germany said it would suspend all development aid to the Palestinian Territories pending the completion of a review to ensure it best serves regional peace and Israel’s security, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told legislators. “Our yardstick will be whether and how these projects best serve peace in the region and the security of Israel,” he said. “Until that review is complete we will not make available any new development cooperation resources.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday that it was in touch with both Hamas and Israeli authorities about hostages taken by Hamas terrorists, during Saturday’s deadly incursion. “As a neutral intermediary we stand ready to conduct humanitarian visits; facilitate communication between hostages and family members; and facilitate any eventual release,” said Fabrizio Carboni, ICRC regional director, who called for their immediate release.

The UN said thousands of homes in Gaza have already been destroyed. At least 2,540 housing units have become uninhabitable and 22,850 others were damaged in the Israeli air strikes. Gaza sewage system surviving a million Gazans was also disabled.

Aftermath of an IDF strike on Khan Yunis
(Photo: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters)

X, formerly Twitter, CEO Linda Yaccarino said the platform removed hundreds of Hamas-affiliated sites. “Every day we’re reminded of our global responsibility to protect the public conversation by ensuring everyone has access to real-time information and safeguarding the platform for all our users,” she said

Israeli forces clashed with armed terrorists in the Jenin refugee camp and arrested suspected Hamas members. Earlier Palestinian media said early on Thursday that Palestinian Authority security forces clashed with militants at the Jenin refugee camp and that IDF forces were sent in as reinforcement for the PA.

Palestinian Authority security forces clash with militants in Jenin
(Photo: X)

Following Al-Jazeera’s report of 33 fatalities across the Gaza Strip within two hours, the Palestinian Health Ministry reported overnight Thursday that 51 people were killed in Gaza City within one hour due to IDF airstrikes, alongside 281 injuries.

IDF strikes Gaza
(Photo: Mahmud Hams / AFP)

According to the ministry’s latest update, the total death toll in the Gaza Strip has eclipsed 1,200 since the outbreak of the conflict, with over 5,600 injured.

U.S. Secretary is expected to arrive Thursday and meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Issac Herzog as well as ministers in the government. Blinken will meet family members of Israelis abducted by Hamas to the Gaza Strip. A senior official said other foreign dignitaries were also expected to visit.

Meanwhile, the IDF struck the Gaza City neighborhoods of Sabra, Al-Zaytoun, Al-Nafaq and Tel Al-Hawa, as well as other locations throughout the Palestinian enclave. Palestinian media outlets reported that at least five people have been killed in an airstrike on Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. The IDF has been targeting the homes of high-ranking Hamas officials of all levels in recent days.

On Wednesday, Arab foreign ministers condemned Israel’s complete blockade of Gaza and urgently demanded the entry of aid into the enclave. Israel enforced a “complete siege,” severing essential supplies, including water and electricity, after a massive assault by Hamas militants on Saturday.

IDF strike in the Gaza Strip
(Photo: AP / Fatima Shbair)

Meeting in Cairo, the ministers demanded Israel lift the blockade, promptly dispatch essential aid, and adhere to international law obligations toward Palestinians.

In light of the blockade Israel has imposed on the Hamas-ruled enclave during the conflict, UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated, “Life-saving supplies, including fuel, food and water, must be allowed into Gaza. We need rapid and unhindered humanitarian access now.”

Earlier, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, reported that since the beginning of the conflict, 220,000 people have been displaced from their homes and are staying in 88 of the organization’s schools. According to the statement, half a million people have stopped receiving essential food aid because the organization has had to close all 14 of its food distribution centers in the Gaza Strip.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres
(Photo: AP)

On Wednesday, the Gaza Strip experienced a total power outage after its sole power plant ceased operations, citing a depletion of diesel fuel reserves. Israel has imposed a complete siege on Gaza, severing all power and fuel supplies to the territory.

Earlier, Prison Authority chief Katy Perry directed prisons holding Palestinian terrorists to cut electricity for all security prisoners after they were placed on lockdown and confined to their cells following Saturday’s Hamas attack.

Perry stated that all access to media and means of communication must be blocked to prevent any potential guidance or instructions for terrorist activities from being delivered by the incarcerated Palestinian terrorists.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Blinken was en route to Israel early Thursday and was scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

As reported by Ynetnews