[Updates will be posted here as they come in, the initial story will remain below.]
[UPDATE Friday, November 24 9:03am]
The first 13 hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza after being brutally abducted from Israel on October 7th have been released and are now in the hands of the Red Cross, where they will be handed over to Egyptian authorities at the Rafah crossing.
From Egypt, the former hostages will be handed over to the IDF.
If the cease-fire holds, Hamas is expected to release approximately 50 hostages in total.
On their end, Israel will release 150 Palestinian prisoners held for terror offenses, all of them women and minors. 39 of those are being freed today.
In addition to the 13 Israeli hostages who were just released, state-run media in Egypt is reporting that the Egyptian government has negotiated the separate release of 12 Thai hostages who were also being held by Hamas.
[UPDATE Tuesday, November 21 8:15pm]
Israel’s cabinet has approved a deal that would see the release of at least 50 women and children who are being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza, according to an Israeli government statement, in what is expected to result in the first sustained pause in fighting since the war began.
See the statement from the Israeli government below:
The Government of Israel is obligated to return home all of the hostages. Tonight, the Government has approved the outline of the first stage of achieving this goal, according to which at least 50 hostages – women and children – will be released over four days, during which a pause in the fighting will be held. The release of every additional ten hostages will result in one additional day in the pause.
The Government of Israel, the IDF and the security services will continue the war in order to return home all of the hostages, complete the elimination of Hamas and ensure that there will be no new threat to the State of Israel from Gaza.
[UPDATE Motzei Shabbos, October 28]
Eretz Yisroel over Shabbos expanded its ground operation in Gaza, sending in tanks and infantry backed by massive strikes from the air and sea.
Israel’s defense minister said that “the ground shook in Gaza” and that the war against the territory’s Hamas rulers had entered a new stage.
Israel knocked out communications for 2.3 million in Gaza as tanks arrived and the bombing stepped up.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a war for Israel’s existence, and said “Never again is now.”
[UPDATE 10:25 AM, Wednesday] New Jersey Assemblyman Ned Thomson Urges Lawmakers to Return to Trenton for Vote on Pro-Israel Resolution:
In a statement, state Assemblyman Ned Thomson says he is calling on lawmakers to return to Trenton to vote on a resolution he is introducing that urges the federal government to rescind grants made by the State Department to the Phoenix Center for Research and Field Studies- a group with ties to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, two known terrorist organizations.
“In the wake of these horrific acts of terrorism, it is imperative that we reaffirm our support for Israel. I am echoing Congressman Smith’s call for these State Department funds to be rescinded and am calling on every lawmaker in this state to do the same.
We must return to Trenton for a special session to send the message that New Jersey stands with Israel and supports the nation’s right to defend itself from terrorism. With an unidentified number of New Jerseyans and Americans currently stranded overseas with no way to get home, the time for action is upon us,” Thomson said.
[UPDATE 9:03 AM, Wednesday] New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Senate President Nick Scutari, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Senate Minority Leader Anthony Bucco, and Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio released the following joint statement condemning the ongoing terrorist attacks in Israel:
“New Jersey stands with the people of Israel in the wake of Hamas’ unspeakable acts of brutality against innocent civilians. We are united across party lines in the fight against terrorism and are praying for the victims, their families, and the people of the region.”
[UPDATE 1:23 PM, Tuesday] New Jersey state Senator Bob Singer calls on the Legislature to immediately return to Trenton to pass a resolution supporting Israel and the Jewish people:
State Senators Joe Pennacchio and Bob Singer condemned the terrorist attacks launched by Hamas into Israel over the weekend and called on New Jersey legislators to immediately return to Trenton to pass a resolution supporting Israel and the Jewish people.
“Israel is the home for all Jewish people throughout the world. It breaks my heart to see the senseless violence that has erupted in Israel after visiting the country just a few weeks ago. We must condemn the unjust violence against Israel and offer our unwavering support for our Jewish communities during this difficult time,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “The atrocities being committed by Hamas Terrorists against innocent women and children are horrible. Everyone has a right to exist in peace. The Senate should return to Trenton immediately to pass a resolution to show that we stand in solidarity with Israel and the Jewish People.”
Senator Pennacchio and Senator Singer announced that they would be drafting a resolution that shows support for Israel in the wake of ongoing terrorist attacks in the Middle Eastern nation.
“As the representative for the largest Jewish community in the State, I find the terrorist attacks in Israel to be incredibly abhorrent. The Jewish community deserves the Legislature’s unwavering support in the wake of this horrific violence,” said Singer (R-30). “My heart breaks for the families impacted by this global atrocity. It is necessary now, more than ever, for the Legislature to stand in solidarity with our Jewish communities. The Senate must reconvene in Trenton to pass our resolution and condemn Hamas for their violence against Israel.”
[UPDATE 6:13 PM, Monday] Booker Calls for Congressional Action in Wake of Hamas Attacks Against Israel
U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is calling on Congress to immediately pass additional security assistance to Israel, confirm key diplomatic and military appointments, and boost resources for programs that support the security of nonprofits that may be at increased risk here at home in the wake of violence in Israel.
“The harrowing images coming out of Israel and the rising toll of confirmed deaths and number of civilians being held hostage by Hamas — including American citizens — are devastating,” said Senator Booker. “We must do all we can to support the people of Israel who are facing unimaginable pain, innocent Palestinian civilians who are also victims of violence, and American families who have lost or are missing loved ones.
Booker continued, “In the wake of Hamas’ unprecedented and ongoing attacks and acts of terror, it is critical that Congress act quickly to pass additional security funding for our ally Israel, including Iron Dome replenishment.
“Additionally, the Senate must swiftly confirm nominees to key diplomatic roles in the region that have been stalled, including ambassador roles in Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Oman, and Kuwait; the State Department’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism; and USAID’s Assistant Administrator for the Middle East. The unreasonable obstruction in the Senate holding up more than 300 US military nominees, including top officers who would command US forces in the Middle East, must end. At a time when hostilities abroad are escalating, America can ill-afford to have our military readiness and capability compromised in any way.
“We also cannot ignore the rise in antisemitism or threats to American religious communities, and we must take extra precaution here at home to ensure their safety and security. That is why Congress should increase funding for the Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which provides important resources to safeguard nonprofits that are at an increased risk of violence, including houses of worship and religious-affiliated groups across the country.”
Assemblyman Thomson Statement on Hamas Terrorist Attacks on Israel
My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Israel and the families of those who lost loved ones to the senseless terrorist attack carried out by Hamas terrorists this week. With the news of hostages and wounded unfolding, it is imperative that America and the State of New Jersey stand with our ally and provide whatever resources Israel needs. My support of the people of Israel’s right to defend themselves against acts of terrorism is unwavering, and an attack on Israel is an attack on America and the international community. Our alliance with Israel is a storied one, rooted in the preservation of democracy and the rights of people to live and worship without the threat of violence. Terrorism is a scourge that can be given no refuge and must not be met with the political hedging that gives it the oxygen it needs to grow. I am calling on Governor Murphy and the federal government to immediately allocate whatever resources the people of Israel need in the wake of this horrific attack. Given that this attack was carried out during the Sukkot holiday while thousands of our fellow New Jerseyans and Americans were visiting family and friends in Israel, Governor Murphy and President Biden must denounce these Hamas terrorists and take action immediately. My office stands ready to assist families trying to locate loved ones in any way we can.
[UPDATE 9:42 AM Monday] More information and videos for American students in Eretz Yisroel – Chaim V’Chessed. https://chaimvchessed.com/webinars/gaza-war/
Statement from the OU:
The horrors experienced in Israel these past days are indescribable.
Our hearts are broken by the grief of the hundreds of families who have suffered the losses of loved ones, by the pain of the thousands wounded, and by the trauma of entire communities whose sense of security has been upended. We share in the agony of the hostages and their families as they find themselves in the hands of hate-filled captors who do not behave as people.
What can we say? What can we do?
We must pray to G-d. Everyone as an individual and every community should recite with frequency and intensity Psalms 20, 83, 121, 130 and 142.
We must show support financially. Many responsible organizations are raising funds that will provide for real needs. Give wisely and generously.
We must show support personally. Reach out to your family and friends in Israel – even those who you are not regularly in contact with – and share words of care, support, and concern.
We must show support communally. Join your community’s rally for Israel and your shul or community’s Tehillim gatherings.
Finally, we must draw strength and hope by reminding ourselves of who we are, replaying in our minds and on our lips the words – the value statements – we sang over and over again on Simchas Torah.
ברוך הוא אלקינו שבראנו לכבודו והבדילנו מן התועים. Blessed is our G-d Who created us to bring Him honor, distinguishing us from those who are so lost that they act like animals and bring no honor to G-d.
תורת ד’ תמימה משיבת נפש. Hashem’s Torah is perfect, restoring the soul.
עוצו עצה ותופר דברו דבר ולא יקום כי עמנו א-ל. Enemies of the Jews: Hatch your scheme – it will be foiled; share your plan – it will fail. G-d is with us.
אחינו כל בית ישראל הנתונים בצרה ובשביה. Our brothers and sisters throughout the whole house of Israel who are in distress or captivity, may Hashem have compassion on them and lead them from distress to relief, from darkness to light, and from oppression to freedom.
אני מאמין באמונה שלימה בביאת המשיח: I believe completely in the coming of the Moshiach, and though he may delay – and there may be much pain and suffering during that delay – we await his coming every day.
We must always draw strength from who we are, from the magnificent Torah values that we celebrate, and from the strength and care that we provide each other.
בצפיה לישועה קרובה, with hope for imminent salvation,
Rabbi Moshe Hauer
Executive Vice President
Rabbi Dr. Josh Joseph
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
[UPDATE 11:29 PM] According to sources on the ground, there are over 1,500 killed R”L, and thousands injured.
[UPDATE 10:05 PM] Lakewood and Jackson Police have increased patrols in response to the war in Eretz Yisroel.
UPDATE: Multiple Shuls in the Lakewood area are gathering this evening for Tehillim https://t.co/36yENwSzr8
— The Lakewood Scoop (@LakewoodScoop) October 9, 2023
[UPDATE 9:46 PM] In a closed door briefing this evening, several members of Congress were told that four Americans have been killed in the attacks in Israel but the death toll is expected to rise.
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, who was in Israel on a Congressional trip when the attacks began, has left the country safely but says he is “shaken, angered, and brokenhearted by the hundreds killed, the thousands injured, those taken hostage, and all who are directly affected by these sickening terrorist attacks.”
Statement from New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith on the War in Israel:
In response to the Hamas attack on Israel this morning, in which dozens of civilians were reported killed and hundreds injured, Rep. Chris Smith (R-Manchester), Co-Chair of the Israel Allies Caucus, issued the following statement:
“I stand in absolute solidarity with Israel—with the family and friends of innocent people mercilessly slaughtered and with the entire nation under threat. And I call on President Biden to unequivocally condemn not only Hamas but its sponsor Iran—with actions as well as words.
This means the President needs to make major changes in personnel and policy. Just last month the Administration unfroze $6 billion in Iranian funds, and just last week we learned that the Administration is staffed by agents of an Iranian spy ring. Iran is praising Hamas’s monstrous crime.
Last week I asked Secretary Blinken to revoke State Department grants to an organization in Gaza that openly supports terror—I have not received any answer.”
Statement from Governor Murphy on Terrorist Attacks in Israel:
“Tammy and I are sickened by the videos and images of Hamas terrorists attacking, killing, and kidnapping innocent Israel civilians in an unprecedented coordinated series of terrorist attacks during Shabbat and the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah. Over just a few hours, dozens of civilians, including women and children, were killed or kidnapped and hundreds more were injured by thousands of rockets launched from Gaza.
“The world must unequivocally condemn terrorism against innocent civilians. Just like
any country, the State of Israel has a right to defend itself and rescue hostages who have been kidnapped.
“As a state with one of the largest Jewish and Israeli American communities in the world, today’s news is especially hard to fathom. As Governor, I stand with the people of Israel in this dark hour in a united show of resolve against terrorism. I have stood with Israel since the first day of my Administration and have proudly visited four times as Governor. It is a country we hold dear to our hearts, sharing an unbreakable bond with New Jersey.
“Tammy and I deeply share the pain that so many are feeling today in Israel, New Jersey, and across the world. We are praying for all the victims, their families, and the people of the region, who deserve peace and security.”
Statement from Attorney General Matt Platkin Regarding Precautions Being Taken in New Jersey in Response to the Attacks in Israel:
As we worry about loved ones abroad, we know that members of our Jewish community throughout the country, and here in New Jersey, are worried for their safety as they continue to celebrate the High Holidays.
I have been in communication with the 21 County Prosecutors and law enforcement leaders across the state. While there is no credible threat to safety, law enforcement will be increasing patrols in sensitive areas – particularly houses of worship for both the Jewish and Islamic faiths – and taking other steps out of an abundance of caution. We also call upon New Jersey residents to be extra vigilant, and if you see suspicious activity please report it to your local authorities without delay.
I am also communicating with leaders in our Jewish community so that we can work together to keep New Jersey safe. Last month, I convened a statewide meeting with members of law enforcement and leaders from the Jewish faith, as well as the interfaith community, to ensure that sacred Jewish observances could occur without interruption from those fueled by hate. While it is always our hope that the High Holidays can be celebrated freely and openly without fear, the reality is that growing extremism and antisemitism across the country requires that we remain vigilant and focused on combating hate at what is a joyous time for the Jewish community.
As one of the most diverse states in the nation, New Jersey has proven time and time again that our differences make us stronger and we can thrive in a community where differences are celebrated and not feared. Today, more than ever, we recognize that where there is hate against one, there is hate against everyone. It is up to each of us to ensure that our state is not home to hate, intolerance or violence.
Original story below:
Eretz Yisroel is at war, and Klal Yisroel is in mourning after hundreds of Yidden were killed over Yom Tov in the worst attack in decades.
The attack began when Hamas launched thousands of rockets against Eretz Yisroel.
After sending approximately 5,000 rockets, approximately 1,000 terrorists infiltrated the borders via ground and sea and began to murder Yidden R”L for hours.
Over 2,000 are wounded, and hundreds – including elderly and children – were taken hostage R’L.
Israel is retaliating and has promised to strike Hamas in the worst it has seen.
Israel is requesting precision-guided bombs and additional interceptors for the Iron Dome from the US, according to an Israeli military official and a US defense official. The request comes as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has promised the US will move security assistance to Israel as soon as today.
The following is from Chaim V’Chessed:
This story will be updated.