War in the Middle East: Rocket attack on US troops in Iraq

203 empty chairs – Families set tables for missing hostages in Tel Aviv

10 a.m.: The families of the hostages in the Gaza Strip set a large Shabbat table in Tel Aviv on Saturday. There were 203 empty chairs around the table, representing the people held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. This is reported by the “Times of Israel”.

There was a note stuck on every chair that said “hostage.” The table was set with challah (traditional Jewish bread), wine, candles and cutlery. The hostages’ families want to increase pressure on the government after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to allow humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip via Egypt before the hostages’ release is secured.

Border opened – first aid deliveries begin in the Gaza Strip

9:28 a.m.: The first aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip have started. Some trucks drove from Egypt into the Palestinian area of ​​the Rafah crossing on Saturday, as seen in images on Egyptian television. Accordingly, goods from 20 trucks with medicines are to be delivered to the Gaza Strip. These are the first deliveries via Rafah since the war between Israel and the Islamist Hamas, which rules in the Gaza Strip, began two weeks ago. How long the border should remain open for aid deliveries initially remained unclear.

Recently, around 170 trucks carrying humanitarian supplies were piled up on the Egyptian side in front of the crossing. The trucks are ready and on “stand-by,” said a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Cairo on Saturday.

Warning sirens in Ashdod – Hamas continues to fire rockets into Israel

9:24 a.m.: Two weeks after the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, militant Palestinians continue to fire rockets from the coastal strip. Warning sirens wailed on Saturday in the Israeli port city of Ashdod, north of the Palestinian territory, the Israeli army said. There was initially no information on damage or injuries.

On Friday evening and the night of Saturday there were again rocket alarms in the border towns with the Gaza Strip, which are most frequently attacked. However, these towns were largely evacuated in order to protect the civilian population. There were also several rocket alarms in the coastal city of Ashkelon on Friday evening.

Highest warning level: Israel calls on citizens to leave Egypt and Jordan

8:58 a.m.: Israel has called on its citizens to immediately leave its Arab neighbors Egypt and Jordan for fear of reprisal attacks over the Gaza war. The Israeli Foreign Ministry published a corresponding recommendation from the National Security Staff on Saturday. The alert level for the countries has been increased to the highest warning level (high threat). This also includes the Sinai Peninsula, a popular tourism destination for many Israelis.

“In recent days there has been a further significant intensification of protests against Israel in various countries, especially in Arab states in the Middle East,” the statement said. There is also “hostility and violence against Israeli and Jewish symbols.” In addition, Islamist forces around the world have increased their rhetoric and called for global attacks on Israelis and Jews.

Israeli warplanes attack Hamas positions

7:16 a.m.: The Israeli Air Force continued its bombardment of the Islamist Hamas in the Gaza Strip on Saturday night. Warplanes attacked numerous Islamist positions throughout the coastal enclave, the Israeli military announced on Telegram this morning. These included command centers, launch pads for anti-tank missiles and Hamas’ strategic infrastructure that was used for terrorist purposes. Hamas sniper and observation posts located in multi-story buildings were also bombed.

Biden: Rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia a reason for Hamas attack

Saturday, October 21st, 4:48 a.m.: US President Joe Biden sees a possible rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia as “one of the reasons” for Hamas’ major attack on Israel two weeks ago. “One of the reasons Hamas took action against Israel was because they knew I wanted to sit down with the Saudis,” Biden said at a campaign event on Friday (local time). “The Saudis wanted to recognize Israel and unite the Middle East,” said the US President.

After Israel and Saudi Arabia had been hostile to each other for decades, signs of rapprochement had recently increased. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman said on US television channel Fox last month that Saudi Arabia and Israel were “getting closer every day” to normalizing their relations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said both countries were “on the threshold” of “historic peace.”

A week after Hamas’ major attack on Israel, Saudi Arabia announced that it would suspend talks on normalizing relations with Israel through US mediation.

Central Council of Muslims calls for peaceful demonstrations

11.40 p.m.: The Central Council of Muslims urges pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Germany to exercise restraint. “I am really very worried,” said the chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, Aiman ​​Mazyek, on Friday evening on the ARD “Tagesthemen”. Hatred, violence and anti-Semitism are currently being experienced on the streets. “At this point I condemn this very clearly,” emphasized Mazyek. “I also appeal to Muslims in particular to take part in demonstrations with restraint and to take a close look at who the operators are.”

An alternative, for example, is prayers for peace. However, it is also important that people who have lost relatives in the Gaza Strip, for example, can express their grief, said Mazyek.

Plan for Gaza war: Israel does not want responsibility for the area

9:56 p.m.: Israel has presented a plan for the Gaza war. The country wants to withdraw from responsibility for life in the coastal enclave after the “elimination of Hamas,” Defense Minister Joav Galant said on Friday. He did not say who would then take over the affairs in the Gaza Strip. According to reports, the war will deprive Hamas of its military and government capabilities.

The war itself was divided into three phases, Galant explained. “We are now in the first phase – a military campaign that currently includes attacks and later maneuvers with the aim of neutralizing terrorists and destroying Hamas infrastructure.” The second phase will therefore only involve low-level fighting Provide intensity to eliminate the last pockets of terror. The third is the creation of a “new security reality,” he said without giving further details.

IDF spokesman: War against Hamas will last “many more weeks”

9:15 p.m.: The Israeli army is preparing for the next phase of the war, IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said at a press conference on Friday. Hagari warned that Israel’s war against Hamas would “continue for many more weeks” and that “difficult times” lie ahead.

When asked about the return of the hostages kidnapped to the Gaza Strip, Hagari said the IDF would “exploit all options” to ensure their safe return.

Regarding the return of the two US hostages Judith and Natalie Raanan, Hagari says: “Hamas is trying to present itself to the world as if it had brought these hostages back for humanitarian reasons.” However, the terrorists are still holding women and children in the Gaza Strip .

Around 200 people are said to be still being held hostage in the Gaza Strip, including 30 children.

Netanyahu office confirms: Judith and Natalie are free

8:53 p.m.: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office has now confirmed that two US citizens, Judith Tai Raanan and her daughter Natalie Raanan, have been released by Hamas. They were kidnapped nearly two weeks ago during Hamas’ first attack on Israel. They were staying with relatives in Kibbutz Nahal Oz in southern Israel at the time of the attack.

The two women were handed over at the border and are currently on the way to an Israeli military base.

American women were visiting relatives

8:25 p.m.: The released Hamas hostages are Judith and her daughter Natalie. This is reported by “The Times of Israel”, citing a senior Israeli official. The two U.S. citizens were turned over to the International Red Cross, the official said.

The two live in Evanston, Illinois, near Chicago, and came to Israel for a relative’s 85th birthday and to celebrate the Jewish holidays. Her rabbi told her this.

The family was celebrating at a kibbutz about a mile from the Gaza border when Hamas’ war of aggression began, according to The Times of Israel. Daughter Natalie, 18, had recently graduated from high school.

Freed mother and daughter arrive in Egypt

7:55 p.m.: The two Hamas hostages, a mother and her daughter, have arrived in Egypt. This is reported by “The Times of Israel”, citing the Israeli television station “Channel 12”. The two are said to have dual citizenship, Israel and the USA. BBC also reports that a diplomat reported to its partner “CBS News” that the two US hostages had been released.

Israeli army says high-ranking Hamas engineer killed

7:38 p.m.: The Israeli army says it has killed a high-ranking Hamas engineer in the Gaza Strip. The IDF said Mahmoud Sabih led a unit that developed weapons for the terrorist group, including drones, and had “shared knowledge with other terrorist groups throughout the Middle East.”

Mother and daughter handed over to the Red Cross

7:19 p.m.: According to Channel 12, “Israeli sources” have confirmed that Hamas has released two hostages, a mother and her daughter. Hebrew media reports that the two were handed over to the Red Cross. According to the reports quoting Israeli officials, no compensation was offered by Israel. An official confirmation is still pending.

According to Hamas: Two US hostages released

6:53 p.m.: Hamas said it released two US hostages “for humanitarian reasons.” It is said to be about a mother and her daughter. Confirmation from Israel or the United States is currently pending.

Shops in Berlin-Neukölln show solidarity with Palestinians

Friday, October 20th, 6:48 p.m.: After several evenings of pro-Palestinian gatherings and outbreaks of violence, things initially remained quiet in Berlin-Neukölln on Friday evening. According to observations by a dpa reporter, the majority of the shops, bakeries and restaurants on Sonnenallee were closed. There were pieces of paper hanging on some windows with the heading “General Strike” in German, English and Arabic. It called for businesses to be closed and not to go to work or school as a sign of solidarity with Palestine. The police were present on the streets. There were few people out and about in the cool, rainy weather.

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