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Gaza War Diary: 17-18 NOVEMBER 2023

Since the events of October 7, many in Israel have been avidly discussing the part religious observance played in deflecting some of the attacks. For example, the wide disparity between injuries suffered by villages who observed the Sabbath and Simchat Torah holiday, as opposed to secular villages that did not. The main difference was that in Sabbath-observant kibbutzim and moshavim, the gates were locked because no cars are allowed in or out, a desecration of the Sabbath. This prevented terrorists from entering at all, and subsequently there were zero injuries or casualties or kidnappings. This is true of Kibbutz Sa’ad, a religious kibbutz, even though detailed maps of the kibbutz with specific instructions to capture kindergartens and schools were found in the belongings of terrorists. They just never got in.

Stories also abound, perhaps some of them urban legends, about people who left the Nova Music Festival on Friday before the Sabbath because of promises to observe the Sabbath, a decision that subsequently saved their lives.

The family of rescued hostage, soldier Ori Megidish, was filmed before her rescue bringing a Torah scroll into her room where prayers were said, and her mother preforming the symbolic religious act of Hafrashat Challah with heartfelt prayers. Ori’s daring rescue deepened religious feeling in Israel. It has been reported that soldiers going into battle, secular and religious alike, are putting on tzitzit, a four-cornered fringed undershirt required for men by religious law. Sales of this item have doubled in Israel. Troops have also been filmed blowing the traditional shofar, or ram’s horn, before going into battle, reminiscent of practices during ancient Biblical times.

Hamas terrorists surrounding themselves with children.

After Shabbat, when we were able to view the news for the first time since Friday night, we became aware of perhaps the fiercest battle of the war now taking place between the IDF’s Battalion 36 against thousands of Hamas fighters in the Zeitun terrorist brigade. Photos have been taken of Hamas fighters cynically surrounding themselves with children to stave off IDF bomber attacks. What lowlifes! We pray for our soldiers safety and for a decisive victory. Death is too good for these Hamas beasts!

Our hearts are with all of those heartbroken families and the 25 thousand of their supporters who marched today from Tel Aviv to the home of our Prime Minister in Jerusalem. But one wonders what they are trying to accomplish and why this had to take place on the Sabbath.

Hamas uses human shields.

A few things: videos showing interrogations of jailed terrorists contain the following: “What was your purpose of kidnapping women, children and babies?” Their bloodcurdling answer: “To rape them.”

If this indeed was their intent, and not to use them as pawns in negotiations, and if many of the kidnappers were not Hamas terrorists, but opportunistic Gazans who decided to participate by aping the actions of ISIS who saw sex slaves and rape as a perk, can we be sure that Hamas even knows where most of the hostages are and if they are still alive? Strengthening this, is the information Qatar provided to the Russian hostage negotiators weeks ago, which said that Hamas doesn’t know where all the hostages are. Is the reluctance of that brute terrorist Sinwar to commit to specific numbers and categories of hostages in negotiations with Israel not a tactic at all, but the reality of the situation? Israel needs to clarify with proof of life before agreeing to any terms. The strength of the Israeli government’s stance can only be weakened by the understandable, yet perhaps completely misguided, effort of many Israelis with internal marches and rallies.

Shifa hospital: Despite finding huge weapons caches and tunnels in all the hospitals, including Shifa, at no time did Israel issue ultimatums demanding hospitals evacuate everyone. In fact, Israel provided medical supplies and assistance. The request to evacuate was made by the head of the Shifa hospital (we have the tape recorded conversation) in which he asked Israel to allow those sheltering there to leave. Israel agreed.

Israel’s sweep of the West Bank has found thousands of Gazans who entered Israel with work visas and permits to go for medical treatment and outstayed their legal time limits. One man for 20 years! These now constitute a fifth column, getting orders from Gazan Hamas operatives. Over 5,000 have been jailed, and many will be removed back to Gaza.

Perhaps because of the crucial battles in Gaza, our northern border is heating up, with many more attacks on Israel, and Israeli responses. Israeli residents of the North cannot go back home until Hezbollah is defeated.

On Thursday, I spent some time with my son and daughter in law. It was a very strengthening experience. My daughter in law Anat comes from a family of Holocaust survivors who participated in the War of Independence, her grandfather was the commander of the Neve Yaakov district and oversaw the evacuation by foot of the entire community to Jerusalem before it was destroyed by the Arab League. Her mother’s brother was a hero killed in Gush Etzion. Her father, Yossi, lost an arm as a bomb diffuser in the army. Anat has numerous family members in the army right now: her daughter, her brother, her nephews, her brothers-in-law. The men have left behind wives and many small children. How do you cope? I asked her. She said she is on several WhatsApp groups with her family and they are in touch constantly. “There is a lot of humor,” she says smiling sadly. She herself and the kids – except for the one serving in the army – also volunteer in picking vegetables. I left her feeling the strength of the Israeli people, and grateful to be part of my family and my nation. This really is a war against evil, and the IDF is God’s army.

Please pray for IDF soldiers. Please pray for our hostages who are still alive.

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8 comments on “Gaza War Diary: 17-18 NOVEMBER 2023”

  1. Harry

    I agree with the comments on how being religious is not going to save someone from Hamas. Millions of religious Jews were killed by the Nazis. Israel must fight until there is unconditional surrender by Hamas or nothing will change. Have enough faith Israel to get the job done.

  2. Chani

    I, along with many of my friends and family, have been doing everything in our power to bring am yisroel together as one.
    As I read your post, I physically began to feel sick.
    This separation of dati and ‘chiloni’ has got to stop. does the left and right in politics!
    I have lost so much respect for you. And I am certain you have now lost many fans of your books/ writings

  3. Daveed

    Kibbutz Alumim, about as religious as they come, underwent a horrific Hamas attack, with buildings burned. They suffered 19 killed and 8 kidnapped. We have all seen pictures of the Einsatzgruppen getting through locked gates, the Gaza fence, and sealed rooms. At Sa’ad, the only reason the members are alive is that an armed group of defenders attacked and killed the Nazi invaders.
    You owe your readers an explanation and correction.

    Daveed Shachar

  4. Ryan Keogh

    It’s very nice to hear that religious observance might have helped some people, but I surely hope that stories like that do not lead some people to believe that religious observance alone will keep them safe. History has shown that that is not the case. Also, Hamas was really stopped by a gate, with their cars and explosives? Either those are very strong gates, or Hamas can’t destroy a basic obstacle. I wonder what happens when they meet a
    Merkava . . .

  5. Sarah Ryan

    Why divide Jews into religious and non religious groups? If we are one, then one is what we are. A religious friend told me labels are for shirts, not Jews. I could ask why did the many religious Jews among the 6 million die if religious observance was the difference between life and death? I am disappointed you chose to make this distinction. All Israel and all Jews weep for the horrors suffered by the victims of Oct 7th. The less observant did not deserve to die.

  6. Betty

    Naomi, now is not the time to pit one Jew against another as in secular vs religious.
    No Jew deserves to die.
    We must stand united as Klal Yisroel
    Together as Jews we are strong, divided we fall.

  7. Jilly

    We are committed to praying for everyone. May Hashem bless you all with miracles, comfort, perfect peace and hope.

  8. Dawn Bartlett-Brown

    I am praying DAILY. For all of you.
    I look forward to your daily diary (although I know the events are horrendous…).
    I share it with my family and friends. They too, are praying.
    My daughter (18 years old) knows that this is the worst terror attack in her lifetime. Dear God, she has so many years to go..I PRAY that they’re peaceful for those of her generation.
    With much love,
    Dawn Bartlett-Brown and family

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