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IDF Claims Half of Hamas Battalions Destroyed in Rafah as US Pressures Israel to Avoid Major War with Hezbollah

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JERUSALEM, Israel – As Hezbollah terrorists seriously escalated projectile attacks on northern Israel over the last week, the Biden administration is urging the Jewish nation not to strike back so hard that it leads to all-out war. The admonition comes as Israel claims it has destroyed half of the Hamas fighting forces in Rafah.

Amos Hochstein, a senior advisor to President Joe Biden, met Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in an attempt to persuade Israel to trust diplomacy and not engage in a large scale war with Hezbollah.

It is impossible, however, according to Israelis who live there, to put up with near-daily shellings that have forced some 100,000 citizens from their homes in northern Israel for the better part of a year.

Res. Major Shadi Khaloul, an Aramaen Christian Israeli who serves in the Israel Defense Forces Reserves, questions whether Hochstein understands what he's dealing with in the Middle East. He contends the struggle is over ideology, not land.

"So how can diplomacy work when you are talking about a regime that is exporting (an) ideology that is calling for submission (to) their values – for their Islamic Sharia?" he asked. Khaloul added that Hezbollah knows Israel is a Jewish democratic state. "And representing the Western world values is not actually, for them, an entity that has a right to exist in this region because it's opposite to their values."

Khaloul told CBN News time is of the essence when waging war.

"Actually, the earlier we do it, the more chances we have to win this war. If we delay this conflict, they will be ready and get ready to destroy Israel and then move on to other countries in Europe. So we should not we should not allow this to happen," Khaloul declared. "But at the end of this war, I am sure after destroying this evil, we will have peace in the Middle East with our Arab neighbors."

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In a similar case during this war, the U.S. and others tried to persuade Israel not to invade Rafah in Gaza for months, saying it was unlikely to help defeat Hamas.

But Israeli forces claim they've now largely demolished two of the four Hamas battalions in Rafah and have seriously degraded the other two. 

The IDF has also captured hundreds of rockets in Rafah. 

One of the most galling conditions of life in Israel for years now has been the terrorists' ability to fire thousands of rockets into Israeli territory – so much so that the nearby Israeli town of Sderot became known as the bomb shelter capital of the world.

Israeli media headlines 

According to Israeli media reports, a new document shows the country's military and intelligence officials knew weeks in advance of Hamas's plan to invade Israel and kidnap 200 to 250 Israelis.

Officials believed their defenses were strong enough to prevent such an invasion. The attack last October proved them wrong, and the invading terrorists did indeed take some 250 hostages that day.

Some Hamas supporters have tried to deny the range and depth of rape and sexual abuse committed by Hamas on October 7th – violent acts the terrorists themselves captured on Go-Pros and fed to the world.  

Yet, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris pointed out this week that's exactly what happened and is likely still happening to hostages held in Gaza.

"I just met with Amit, a survivor who has bravely come forward with her account of sexual violence while she was held captive by Hamas," Harris said Monday. "These testimonies, I fear, will only increase as more hostages are released."

Harris was speaking at an event marking "International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict."

Analysts have pointed out Hamas deliberately raped and abused Israeli women to create such terror in the Jewish nation. The Jews, they believe, will all flee – a tactic used, sadly, throughout history by warriors against women.

"To exert dominance and power over their bodies, and to humiliate and terrorize and subdue entire populations," Harris noted.

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About The Author

Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel fulltime for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN – first as a graduate student in Journalism; then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91; and now with the Middle East Bureau of CBN News in Jerusalem since 2009. As a correspondent for CBN News, Julie has covered Israel’s wars with Gaza, rocket attacks on Israeli communities, stories on the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and