Chanukah greetings to all who are celebrating.
On Day 70 of the war, the IDF death toll from the ground operation stands at 116. Yesterday was a particularly difficult day with news of the loss of 10 soldiers.
On 18.10.23, the IDF designated a humanitarian zone for civilians in the Gaza Strip. As at Wednesday, 116 rockets have been fired from the
humanitarian zone towards Israel with 38 of these rockets falling inside the Gaza Strip.Report here
As the IDF advances in Gaza, more evidence emerges of how Hamas is embedded within the civilian population and infrastructure. Lt. Col. Oz, from the Nahal’s 931st Brigade: We entered about 500 houses in Jabaliya. In 90% of them we found weapons, inside wardrobes, in the kitchen, in UNRWA sacks and under babies’ beds. There were grenades, weapons, guns Kalashnikovs, RPGs and many other weapons. We arrived at the mosque, which apparently looked innocent. When we broke the door on the third floor, we were surprised to discover an advanced combat space there: they built a training facility there, like we train in the bases, they managed to produce it in the mosque.Report here
IDF forces found combat equipment in a Gaza house and a collection of discharge papers indicating that an 8-year-old Palestinian cancer patient had received long-term medical treatment at the Safra Children’s Hospital in Israel, including chemotherapy and radiation treatments. A source familiar with the details said “This picture shows that while we are treating Gazan children and saving their lives – they (the Gazans) continue to amass weapons aimed at us.” Report here.
Meanwhile daily rocket barrages continue to be fired at Israeli civilians. A large fragment of a rocket fired from Gaza on Wednesday crashed through the ceiling of a supermarket in Ashdod while hundreds of people were inside. The customers had heeded the rocket warning of the IDF Home Front Command and were in the supermarket’s shelter at the time. No one was hurt. Embedded video of impact here
Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak resident Tal Chaimi and Tanzanian agricultural intern Joshua Mollel , who resided in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, were murdered by Gaza terrorists during and after the October 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel, authorities confirmed Wednesday. Their bodies are believed held by terrorists in the Strip. Report here
Hostages abducted into Gaza were drugged to keep them docile in captivity and subjected to psychological and sexual abuse according to the director of the psychiatric division of the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Centre. “One of the children, a girl, was given ketamine for a few weeks,” she continued, referring to a powerful dissociative anaesthetic known for giving the recipient a sense of detachment from their environment.Report here
A new report on the medical condition of the Israeli hostages who returned from Hamas captivity will be presented to the President of International Committee of the Red Cross. The report contains evidence of many infectious diseases that were found in the bodies of those who returned to Israel, as well as psychological abuse.Article here
Hezbollah claimed responsibility for several rocket and missile attacks from Lebanon on Tuesday. Meanwhile three rockets were also fired from Syria, apparently by an Iran-backed group.Report here
Rocket sirens sounded across Israel’s North on Thursday as rockets were launched towards Israeli communities near the Lebanon border. The IDF located and struck a Hezbollah terror cell attempting to launch anti-tank missiles. Report here
Meanwhile, Hamas has called on Palestinians living in Lebanon to join the “Vanguards of the Al-Aqsa Flood,” the name it chose for its barbaric invasion of Israeli communities near the Gaza border on Oct. 7. Reportedly, Hezbollah recently permitted the deployment of 400 Palestinians affiliated with Hamas along the border with Israel.
The announcement has drawn sharp criticism from many Lebanese, who fear that Hamas and its patrons in Tehran are seeking to drag Lebanon into a destructive war with Israel. Article here
The IDF continued operating in the West Bank city of Jenin on Wednesday as troops detained hundreds of suspects and seized weapons. Reservist troops and Border Police officers have scanned 400 buildings in the Jenin refugee camp.Israeli forces destroyed six labs used to manufacture explosive devices, along with numerous explosive devices, several tunnel shafts, and four war rooms used to observe IDF operations. Since Oct. 7, troops have arrested over 2,000 wanted Palestinians in the West Bank, including 1,100 affiliated with Hamas. Report here
White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby suggested Wednesday that some of the steps the Israeli military has taken to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza might go further than what the US would have done if it were in Israel’s place.Report here
President Joe Biden said (inter alia) on Tuesday “There’s a lot to do – a whole lot to do. First and foremost, do everything in our power to hold Hamas accountable. They’re animals. They’re animals. They exceeded anything that any other terrorist group has done in memory … But nobody, nobody, nobody on God’s green Earth can justify what Hamas did. They’re a brutal, ugly, inhumane people, and they have to be eliminated.” Briefing here
Judi Weinstein Haggai, 70, is currently the oldest person among those kidnapped by Hamas 2 months ago whose fate is unknown. 117 people are still being held by Hamas—along with the bodies of 20 people believed to have been killed in captivity. Article here
The United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday night passed by a large majority a resolution calling for an “immediate humanitarian cease-fire” in the Gaza Strip. The ten countries voting against were the US, Israel, Czech Republic, Micronesia, Paraguay, Papua New Guinea, Liberia, Nauru, Guatemala and Austria. Among the countries that abstained were Germany, Great Britain, Ukraine, Georgia, Argentina, Bulgaria, Hungary, the Netherlands, Panama, South Sudan, Togo, Tonga, Slovakia, Uruguay and Lithuania.Report here
A wartime opinion poll among Palestinians published Wednesday shows a dramatic rise in support for the Hamas terror group in the West Bank, with increased backing as well even in the devastated Gaza Strip, and an overwhelming rejection of P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas, with nearly 90% saying he must resign. The poll found that 72% of respondents believe Hamas was “correct” to launch its October 7 onslaught, with 82% in the West Bank and 57% in Gaza backing it.Report herePoll results here
Two months after Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7 and the murders, beheadings, and rapes – which Hamas terrorists themselves documented with body cameras and broadcast on social media – PA officials deny that any of this took place. In addition to denying the massacre as “stories and tales spun from the imagination” – some officials even accuse Israel of murdering and committing atrocities against its own citizens… Director of PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs with the rank of minister Qadura Fares has stated that Israel’s response to eradicate Hamas’ terror infrastructure in Gaza is “based on a lie,” and that Israelis “killed their civilians” on Oct. 7. More examples here
The lower house of the Swiss parliament has voted to cancel the funding it provides the UN agency for Palestinian refugees amid persistent accusations that the organization glorifies terror against Israel. The decision sees Switzerland move to cut some $21 million in annual funding from UNWRA. Switzerland was the ninth-biggest donor.Report here
Short video: Volunteers are rescuing Israel’s food lifeline while under constant Hamas attack. View here
Richard Kemp: Heavy fighting continues in the north and south of Gaza, both above ground and in Hamas’ extensive tunnel network, which is assessed to be even more extensive than the London Underground’s 250 miles… I was inside Gaza on Tuesday… I’ve been into those tunnels: they are heavily fortified, concrete-lined and with lighting, electric power and air supply. Over two decades they have been constructed using vast sums of money, including international aid that should have been spent on civilian infrastructure, and costing the lives of many Gazans including dozens of children sent underground to work on them… Tunnel entrances are mostly inside civilian houses, schools, hospitals and mosques. Whenever possible, the IDF avoids going into the tunnels and getting bogged down in fighting on Hamas’ terms. Yet the Israelis are entering the tunnels when necessary, to rescue hostages, gain intelligence from underground command posts, and target high-level terrorist leaders. (paywall) Article here
Israel Security Agency chief Ronan Bar recently wrote to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, saying, “We are determined to complete our mission in Gaza. All those who aspire to see a safer world should refrain from interfering or stopping us.”
” The UN was founded to ensure ‘never again,’ anywhere in the world. But on October 7, it returned in full force. Jews were brutally murdered, just for being Jews. The IDF is an army that operates in accordance with the highest moral principles. We do not act deliberately against civilians.”
“Reality forces us to act in a civilian environment. We are forced to do this by a terrorist organization that acts as a sovereign on the ground and kills civilians, Israelis and Gazans alike, from the first day it was founded…. Yahya Sinwar himself was sentenced to 5 life sentences in Israel for murdering Palestinians, not Jews. Gaza should be freed from Hamas, not from Israel. Hamas is ISIS.”
“I heard your statements regarding the recent events in Israel and Gaza, You set up a symmetry between the acts of cruelty and the violation of human rights between Israel and Hamas, and nothing could be further from the truth. Crimes against humanity and war crimes were committed against Israel, Israelis, and other nationalities.”
“War crimes were committed when Hamas used hospitals as combat headquarters and humanitarian aid as a cover for terrorist operations. The attempt to create a moral parallel between the terrorists of Hamas and the defence forces of the IDF is wrong and repulsive on a moral level. There is no way to balance when you compare acts of murder and torture of children and babies to the unfortunate but necessary suffering of civilians who are cynically used by Hamas as human shields.”
“This is not a war about ideology or religion, it is a fight between the good and the bad. Israel stands on the first line, as the last line of defence for the defence of the free world, standing between darkness and light, between barbarism and humanity. We are the protective layer between those who mourn death and those who worship it.” Article here
Editorial (Toronto Sun): Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday called for a “sustainable ceasefire” in Gaza – part of a growing international effort putting pressure on Israel – but not Hamas – to end the war in Gaza. The UN General Assembly ceasefire resolution that Canada voted for doesn’t even mention Hamas.
We disagree with any call for a ceasefire that simply gives Hamas an opportunity to reload. Hamas started this war through an unprovoked terrorist attack on Israel, murdering, raping and kidnapping civilians. Israel had every right to defend itself. It has every right to remove that threat to its security. Canada designated Hamas as a terrorist organization more than two decades ago. How can a terrorist organization be trusted to abide by a ceasefire? Editorial here
Richard Goldberg: no political party or governing authority that pledges to destroy Israel, promotes terrorism against Israel, or pushes economic warfare against Israel can be part of a post-Hamas Gaza. This principle excludes the Palestinian Authority (PA) from any role in Gaza.The PA pays people to carry out terror attacks against Israelis and promotes the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign of political and economic warfare against Israel. Article here
Russ Roberts: Iron Dome is amazing. It intercepts 90% of the rockets at risk of landing in an inhabited area. But this remarkable technology has lulled us into complacency. Every once in a while, Hamas launched rockets into Israel in an act of bravado that accomplished very little other than forcing Israel to incur the financial costs of keeping Iron Dome stocked with counter-rockets. The effectiveness of Iron Dome convinced us that Hamas was incapable of doing serious harm. We were wrong. Article here