Operation Iron Swords Update 5/2

As anti-Israel protests are escalating across college campuses in the United States, the protests have become increasingly antisemitic and have made many Jewish students feel unsafe. Please see the Jewish Federations statement on how these protests are an affront to the civil rights of Jewish students, share our Instagram post on what colleges should be doing, and read the letter to Northwestern signed by alum who head three major Jewish organizations, including Eric Fingerhut. 


Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Activities

  • For several weeks now, IDF activity in Gaza has remained at a lower level, without major battles taking place. Troops are still active in many locations in the Strip and continue to engage terrorists and destroy Hamas infrastructure.
  • Nonetheless, Israeli political and military leaders insist they are ready to launch an attack into the city of Rafah, where Hamas’s last remaining strong presence and capabilities remain. Israel has also been preparing to facilitate and assist a mass civilian exodus from the city by assembling aid, temporary accommodations, and more. The US government says it is strongly opposed to a Rafah incursion before all necessary preparations are made to ensure the safety of civilians.



  • As has happened for many months, rumors continue to circulate that a possible hostage deal is close. According to numerous reports, Israel has continued to soften its approach and lower demands, while Hamas remains firm in its position. Osama Hamdan, a Hamas official based in Lebanon, told the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar TV today, “Our position on the current negotiating paper is negative.”
  • Media sources suggest that the proposal now on the table involves the release of 33 of the 133 hostages being held. In return, Israel would free 40 terrorists (including many who are serving sentences for murder) in exchange for each of the female soldiers to be released, as well as 10 terrorists in exchange for each Israeli civilian. The deal is also purported to involve a halt to all fighting for an extended period, opening Gaza’s north for evacuees to return, and other conditions
  • Protestors in Israel continue to demonstrate regularly, calling on the government to show even greater flexibility and a willingness to compromise to reach a deal. This morning, a major Tel Aviv thoroughfare – the Ayalon Freeway – was blocked during peak hour traffic by demonstrators.

Humanitarian Aid

  • On Wednesday Israel reopened the sole crossing on the northern edge of the Gaza Strip for the first time since it was attacked by Hamas on October 7, allowing aid trucks to pass through the Erez checkpoint following US demands to do more to get aid into the Strip.
  • According to the Pentagon, the temporary pier being constructed by the US military to increase humanitarian aid deliveries to Gaza is more than halfway complete.
  • Massive quantities of aid continue flowing into the Gaza Strip amidst continuing reports of a looming humanitarian disaster. See more on humanitarian aid here.



  • In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets, triggering significant Israeli retaliations. Yesterday, more than 20 rockets were fired at towns that were almost entirely evacuated. At the same time, the IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi toured the region, met troops on the ground, and spoke about Israel’s readiness to launch an all-out offensive against Hezbollah if needed.
  • The number of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remains negligible on most days, due to Hamas’s significantly diminished capabilities. 

In the Red Sea, the US, the UK, and Israel continue to defend against attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Similarly, the US military continues to strike at pro-Iranian targets in Syria and Iraq. 

International Response

  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is currently in Israel and has met with President Isaac Herzog, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and others. In his meeting with Blinken, Herzog expressed concerns about arrest warrants against Israeli political and military officials that might be issued by the International Criminal Court and urged Israel’s allies to reject such efforts. Herzog said using an international and legal forum to undermine Israel’s legitimate war to destroy Hamas and fight against terrorism would present “a clear and present danger to democracies and free and peace-loving nations who pursue the norm of international law.” See more about the Blinken visit here

Israeli media has reported that a possible normalization treaty between Israel and Saudi Arabia may be closer than many had thought, with the possibility that a draft agreement will be revealed in the coming weeks. Talk about the prospects of such a treaty could be designed to incentivize the Israeli government to move forward with a deal on an extended ceasefire in Gaza.

Stories of Heartbreak, Heroism, and Hope

  • Former Facebook COO and author of “Lean In,” Sheryl Sandberg has produced a film dealing with the sexual violence committed against Israeli women on and after October 7. Sandberg speaks to survivors, first responders, and released hostages in the landmark movie. See here for the full documentary, #ScreamsBeforeSilence. 
  • Read the story of 64-year-old Keith Siegel, a US immigrant from North Carolina who built his life on Kibbutz Kfar Aza together with his wife, Aviva. A father of four and grandfather of five, Keith is described by loved ones as the salt of the earth – a modest man who enjoys the simple pleasures of life including camping trips, time spent in nature, and visits with family. Keith and Aviva were violently forced out of their home by Hamas terrorists on October 7 and abducted into Gaza.  Aviva was released in the November hostage deal and has been a fierce advocate for the return of her husband and all the remaining hostages.  Last week, Hamas published a propaganda video showing Keith alive in Gaza. “I feel like I'm broken up into pieces,” Aviva said after seeing the footage.
  • Read  the story of 24-year-old Elyakim Liebman from Kiryat Arba, known by his friends and family as “Elyak.” A foodie who loves cooking for others, Elyakim had just begun working as a cook in a Tel Aviv restaurant before October 7. That morning, he was working as a security guard at the Nova music festival, where he and his friend Eitan Mor rescued many of the partygoers.  Rather than escaping, Elyakim returned to the festival to save additional people, when he was abducted by terrorists along with his friend. Described as a young man with a loving heart, friends, and family share that they are not surprised that Elyakim endangered his own life to save others. His parents and seven siblings are eagerly awaiting his return home.


Add Comment