Israel at War Thursday, May 9 | Day 216

Israel at War

Thursday, May 9

Day 216

Yom Hazikaron, the Memorial Day for Israel’s fallen, will be marked for this first time since the October 7 attacks this coming Sunday night and Monday. Join the official ceremony in English live from Latrun on Sunday, May 12 at 12:50 pm here.





  • Based on new, concrete intelligence, the IDF has declared that the hostage Lior Rodaif, 61, from Nahal Oz, was killed on October 7 and his body was taken to Gaza. Thirty-eight hostages are now confirmed dead and held by Hamas. Authorities believe that it is likely that others have died, among the 132 hostages still in captivity.
  • On Monday, in a dramatic announcement, Hamas said that it had accepted a hostage deal. However, it soon became clear that the “deal” Hamas accepted, was not the agreement that had been negotiated with the US, Qatar, and Egypt. Many pointed out that the declaration was more of a publicity stunt, without real substance.
  • As a result, negotiations over a potential deal continue, with conflicting reports emerging on whether an agreement is close.
  • Israel’s Channel 12 reported yesterday on what it understood to be the main stumbling blocks and differences of opinion over a deal. It summarized these challenges as follows:
  • Israel is demanding that 33 live hostages be released in the first phase, while Hamas said it agrees to 18 “live or dead” hostages.
  • Israel is demanding that three hostages should be released every day, but Hamas will only agree to return three hostages a week.
  • Israel will agree to release 20 Palestinian prisoners for each hostage and 40 “serious” prisoners (usually meaning those convicted of murder) for each female soldier. Hamas, meanwhile, is demanding the release of 30 prisoners for each hostage and 50 “serious” prisoners for each female soldier.
  • Israel says it should have a right of veto over the identity of each prisoner it releases. Hamas refuses to accept this stipulation.
  • Israel says only Palestinian civilians should be able to return to the northern Gaza Strip. Hamas demands that all Palestinians be allowed north, including those who are armed.
  • Israel says it will not declare the end of the war once the deal is completed, while Hamas demands that Israel announce the end of the war before the end of phase one.


Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Activities


  • Israel told the US that its operation at the beginning of the week in Rafah was limited, implying it was not part of a larger impending operation to clear out Hamas. Israel sees Rafah as the last major enclave critical to defeating Hamas. The IDF claims that it has disbanded 20 of 24 Hamas battalions, while four of the remaining intact battalions and many Hamas senior leaders, as well as hostages, are believed to be in Rafah. According to military analysts, most of the weapons Hamas used to massacre Israelis on October 7 came through the Rafah crossing. 
  • The IDF reported that during the operation, the military eliminated 20 terrorists in the area, struck Hamas targets, and located several tunnel entrances.  
  • The IDF also established operational control of the Gazan side of the Rafah crossing, where special forces are currently scanning the area, after Israeli intelligence showed it was being used for terror purposes. The crossing is located some 1.8 miles from the Israeli border along the Philadelphi Corridor where weapons are frequently smuggled into Gaza from Egypt. 
  • See more about Rafah here.
  • Watch this CNN interview with U.S. Lt. General Mark Hertling on the strategic importance of destroying Hamas’s four battalions in Rafah. 


Humanitarian Aid


  • Even though Hamas fired 14 rockets at the Kerem Shalom, destroying one of the major truck crossing points for humanitarian aid and killing four Israelis there, the passage was reopened for aid traffic yesterday. In addition, the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, captured by the IDF two days ago, was opened today, allowing fuel trucks to enter Gaza.
  • The humanitarian sea port built by the US Army, with IDF assistance, off the Gazan shore, has now been completed at a cost of over $300 million. It will begin operations as soon as weather conditions at sea permit. Hundreds of US troops have spent weeks building the structure, which is aimed at easing the humanitarian crisis in the area.
  • See more figures on humanitarian aid here.


International Response


  • Yesterday, US President Joe Biden warned Israel that he will stop US weapons shipments earmarked for a Rafah offensive if the IDF embarks on a major military operation there. The President told CNN, “I’ve made it clear that if they go into Rafah… I’m not supplying the weapons that have historically been used to deal with Rafah.”
  • Earlier in the day, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told the Senate Appropriations Committee the US had already paused one shipment to Israel of payload munitions due to concerns over Rafah.
  • Nonetheless, Biden reiterated what he has repeated many times in recent weeks, and that is the US’ “ironclad” support and commitment to Israel’s security. Specifically, he told CNN, “We’re not walking away from Israel’s security. We’ve walked away from its ability to make war in those areas.”
  • Biden also said that what Israel has done so far in Rafah does not constitute a major military operation in that southern part of the enclave.
  • The semi-finals of the Eurovision Song Contest, the largest live-music event in the world, will take place tonight in Sweden. Winners are determined, in part, by international public voting. Despite calls for Israel to be dropped from this year’s line-up, Eden Golan will sing her new song Hurricane, and Federations urge everyone to support her entry. You can vote here.




  • While the number of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remains negligible on most days, rocket fire continues to emanate from Gaza.
  • In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets, triggering significant Israeli retaliations. The level of rocket attacks has increased in recent weeks.
  • 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. 


Stories of Heartbreak, Heroism, and Hope


  • A documentary one-hour film by Sheryl Sandberg about sexual violence committed against Israeli women on and after October 7 has been released; it is told through the stories of survivors, first responders, and released hostages. Click here for the full documentary #ScreamsBeforeSilence. 
  • Read the story of 21-year-old Shir Yaron, a lover of nature, travel, desserts, and extreme sports who was known for her creativity and gentle demeanor. She was planning a trip to South America with her good friend last November. But her plans were cut short by Hamas terrorists who murdered Shir at the Nova music festival when she tried to escape along with four other friends. A day later their bodies were discovered on the road; they were riddled with bullets from the attack. Her mother said, “She was my best friend, she was my daughter, a true princess, the pride of any mother.” 


On Campus


  • Last week, after months of leadership, advocacy, and lobbying by Jewish Federations, the US House passed the Antisemitism Awareness Act with an overwhelming bipartisan majority. This bill would require the Department of Education to utilize the IHRA definition of Antisemitism to determine more accurately what is and is not antisemitism. This comes amidst overwhelming antisemitism on campuses across the country. The bill now heads to the Senate. Please urge your Senator to support this bill by taking action here.




As it does every year on the country’s Independence Day, Israel’s Bureau of Statistics, released the following updated information:

  • The population of Israel is now 9.900 million:
  • 7.427 million Jews (73.2%)
  • 2.089 million Arabs (21.1%)
  • 564,000 others (5.7%)
  • Since last year’s Independence Day, Israel's population has grown by 189,000 (an increase of 1.9%). During this period, some 196,000 babies were born, about 37,000 immigrants arrived, and around 60,000 people died.
  • At the time of the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the population of Israel was 806,000. It has increased by a factor of more than 12 since then.
  • Since the State’s founding, over 3.4 million immigrants have arrived in Israel. Around 1.6 million (47.1%) of these people arrived since 1990.
  • According to the current rate of growth, by the next Independence Day, the population of Israel is expected to number more than 10 million.
  • At the end of 2022, about 45% of the world's total Jewish population lived in Israel. About 80% of the Jews in Israel are now Israeli-born (sabras). 


Further Reading



Jewish Federations Resources


Jewish Federations have collectively raised over $800 million and allocated more than $400 million for humanitarian needs and economic support in Israel since October 7. For an updated list of allocations, click here. Read this JTA Jewish Federations story: “The man allocating $800M in post-Oct. 7 donations to Israel on where the money goes.”

  • Jewish Federations' Backgrounders:

·      At-Risk Youth  

·      LGBQT Community

·      Young Children

·      Volunteers

·      Women

·      Pastoral Guidance

·      Bedouin Communities

·      Food Security

·      People with Disabilities

  • As part of the Second Line initiative, Jewish Federations are partnering with the Israel Ministry of Health, the Israel Trauma Coalition, and Birthright Israel to recruit qualified volunteers to provide both in-person and remote support to both affected populations and local mental health professionals in Israel. To apply, click here. For more information, contact Hannah Miller.

Resources: Readers can see links to resources, background, research and other information on the current war here; can access a Jewish Federations toolkit here, and can refer to the Community Mobilization Center Resource Hub for the latest talking points and tools. 

Details: For information on the latest overall numbers from the conflict, see here.

  • Volunteering: Read this updated Jewish Federations’ overview on the latest volunteering opportunities in Israel right now.
  • Read the latest communication from the Community Mobilization Center here.


Am Yisrael Chai!