War in Israel: Number of Hamas hostages rises to 199, army announces evacuation of communities near Lebanese border

The number of Americans killed by the terrorist attacks stands at 30, while 13 remain missing. Blinken returned to Tel Aviv and will meet with Netanhayu.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Daniel Hagari said that the number of Jewish hostages held by Hamas is up to 199. This figure does not include hostages of other nationalities who remain in the hands of the terrorist group. In addition, the army announced a plan to evacuate residents of 28 communities located within a 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) radius of the country's northern border. On the other hand, Secretary of State Antony Blinken returned to Israel and will meet with Benjamin Netanyahu to analyze the latest events. The official number of Americans killed by the Hamas attack has reached 30. Dozens of American citizens are being evacuated by sea.

Shin Bet director takes responsibility

Ronen Bar, head of the Shin Bet, took responsibility for failing to thwart the first attacks that the Hamas terror group perpetrated against Israel on October 7. "Despite a series of actions we carried out, unfortunately on Saturday we were unable to generate a sufficient warning that would allow the attack to be thwarted," he wrote in a letter sent to the Israeli intelligence agency and reported by The Times of Israel.

"As the one who heads the organization, the responsibility for this is mine. There will be time for investigations. Now we are fighting," Bar added.

299 Israeli soldiers killed

The IDF reported that 299 soldiers have now been killed by Hamas terrorists since the war began on October 7. The latest update confirmed the death of eight more fighters. Three of them were under the age of 23.

Herzog: "We are a nation that knows it has no other choice"

After the parliamentary session was suspended for 40 minutes due to the bombings near Jerusalem, Israeli President Isaac Herzog took the floor of the Knesset to praise the unity shown by Israelis in confronting Hamas terrorists:

The brutal attack by our enemies was directed at the Jewish people, but did not distinguish among blood. There is hardly a home in Israel where the ripples of the painful tragedy we experienced have not reached. The depth of our shared grief proves: We are all one Israeli nation. We have a wonderful nation, a nation that knows it has no other choice, has no other land, and has no other country.

Bombing in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem

At around 5 p.m., air raid alarms began to sound in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the IDF announced. Hamas terrorists began firing long-range missiles from the Gaza Strip at Israel's two largest cities.

No deaths or injuries have been reported so far. No material damage was reported.

Members of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) were taken to air raid shelters when the bombing began, causing the session being held in the Knesset to be postponed.

Joe Biden postponed a trip to Colorado

Joe Biden has postponed a trip to Colorado and will remain in Washington, D.C., to monitor and get up-to-the-minute developments on the war in Israel. The White House initially reported that the president would attend CS Wind, the largest wind tower manufacturing plant in the world located in the city of Pueblo, Colo.

A government official confirmed the news to Fox News, claiming that the trip "will be rescheduled" and that Biden "will remain at the White House to participate in national security meetings."

Israel has information about hostages but rules out an attack

Hagari noted that he has already informed the families of the 199 hostages that their loved ones are being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. He noted that among the hostages are a large number of children, women and the elderly. The spokesman pointed out that Israeli intelligence has gathered some information about the whereabouts of the kidnapped people and stressed that Israeli forces will not launch an attack that would put these hostages at risk. "We are making valiant efforts to try to understand where the hostages are in Gaza, and we have that information. We will not carry out an attack that endangers our people," he said.

U.S. citizens begin to leave Israel by sea

Dozens of American citizens began boarding boats in Haifa to leave Israel. The vessels will head to Cyprus, where the citizens will be able to get flights to the U.S.

Evacuation of 28 communities near the Lebanese border

In addition, the army announced a plan, approved by the Israeli Ministry of Defense, to evacuate 28 communities near the border with Lebanon after the launch of rockets by members of Hezbollah against Israeli territory. The residents will be placed in housing that will be paid for by the State of Israel. As noted in a statement, the program will be developed by local authorities together with the Ministries of the Interior and Defense.

Blinken back in Israel after his tour of the Middle East

On the other hand, Secretary of State Blinken will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu after his tour of surrounding countries to analyze the situation. Blinken insisted on the vision shared by the U.S., Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt to prevent the conflict from spreading to other countries, safeguard innocent lives and deliver help to those who need it in Gaza. The head of U.S. diplomacy once again blamed Hamas for the suffering of the Palestinians, pointing out that the terrorist group does not care what happens to their compatriots and pointed out that the U.S. is "actively working to ensure the people of Gaza can get out of harm's way and the assistance they need - food, water, medicine - can get in. Hamas does not care if Palestinians suffer."

30 Americans dead and 13 missing

On Sunday, the State Department raised the number of American deaths to 30, in addition to reporting that another 13 are missing. Several of these people are Hamas hostages, although the spokesman stressed that the number currently in custody is not known. "The U.S. government is working tirelessly to determine their whereabouts and collaborates with the Israeli government on all aspects of the hostage crisis including the sharing of information and the deployment of experts from across the U.S. government to advise the Israeli government on hostage recovery efforts," the spokesperson said.

Israel continues anti-terrorist operations

Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continue their anti-terrorist operations. In the last few hours, Israeli soldiers managed to seize a considerable arsenal from the terrorists, although they pointed out that it is barely 20% of the weapons that Hamas possesses. During the night, operations by the army, the Shin Bet (Israeli internal intelligence) and MGB made 40 arrests. Of them, 20 are active Hamas members, according to an IDF post.