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Israel Update 15.2.24

RESCUE OF  TWO HOSTAGES

 

 

In the early hours of Monday morning, Israeli security forces successfully rescued Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, who were kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak on Oct. 7, from the second floor of a building in Rafah, Gaza. Report here

 

 

 

The family members of the two hostages said that they “ate mostly pita bread and white cheese, and were hungry for days.” And “they lost at least half of their body weight.”Report here

 

 

 

The two rescued hostages said that they received some medication while in captivity, but not the specific medicine they needed, contrary to the agreement for the transfer of medication brokered by Qatar and France. Report here

 

 

 

More details of the rescue: a key aspect of such operations is not just breaching the building and rescuing the hostages but also ensuring a safe retreat back across the border to Israel. To that end, an order was given to direct heavy bombardments of Hamas military sites, command centres and police facilities. The terrorists tried to regroup and call for backup but were unsuccessful. A vehicle used by the terrorists to pursue the forces was attacked from the air. Report here

 

ISRAEL’S WAR AGAINST HAMAS

 

 

Gaza-based journalist Jehad Saftawi said on Tuesday that the Hamas terrorist organization indeed uses civilians as human shields. “Hamas terrorists used my family and hundreds of our neighbours as human shields. Hamas continues to hold the people of Gaza captive,” Saftawi posted on X. “There should be no reconstruction of my family’s home while a stockpile of weapons lies underneath.(and see Time  article in “Comment & Opinion below) Report here

 

 

 

The IDF has launched a targeted operation within a Gaza hospital. The IDF spokeman said “We have credible intelligence from a number of sources, including from released hostages, indicating that Hamas held hostages at the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis and that there may be bodies of our hostages in the facility. ” Report here

 

 

 

 

Embedded video in this report  shows Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar’s  tunnel living quarters including at 2 min 04 sec the safe containing large quantities of dollars and shekels.  Report here

 

 

 

Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi said Tuesday. “In the past decades, there has not been an army that manoeuvered in an area that is urban and dense, with high [buildings] and [tunnels] below the surface of the ground. IDF soldiers are dealing with this with great success and the military achievements are extraordinary.”…
He added that the IDF would work to evacuate civilians from Rafah before it launched its offensive there. He said he appreciated other countries’ advice on the challenge, but that the IDF has shown that it is capable of targeting enemy forces in such complex environments. Report here

 

 

 

 

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Tuesday: “We continue to support Israel’s right to ensure that the October 7th attacks cannot be repeated… Hamas has been very clear about what their goals are, and they have not changed since October 7th. They want to continue to launch terrorist attacks. They are committed to the full-scale destruction of Israel, and we want to see Israel be able to answer that. We want to see Israel be able to answer the attacks from Hizbullah in the north. We want to see Israel be able to deter attacks from Iran and malign activities from Iran, which continues to fund other proxies that are hostile to the State of Israel.”  Press briefing here

 

 

 

 

Israel is proposing the creation of 15 tent cities of 25,000 tents each across south-western Gaza as part of an evacuation plan to be funded by the U.S. and its Arab Gulf partners ahead of an impending invasion of Rafah in southern Gaza, the last bastion of Hamas. Israeli officials say they must carry out a ground offensive in Rafah to eradicate Hamas.(paywall) Report here

 

 

 

THE NORTHERN FRONT

 

 

Hizbullah daily attacks on Israel’s northern communities continue including these:

 

 

An Israeli soldier was killed and eight others were wounded as a barrage of at least 11 Grad rockets fired from Lebanon slammed into Safed and an army base on Wednesday. Report here

 

 

 

Two Israelis – a mother, 47, and her son, 15 – were seriously wounded by anti-tank guided missile fire from Lebanon in the northern Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona on Tuesday.  Report here

 

UNWRA

 

 

 

Hamas hid its data centre and server farm, complete with an electrical room, industrial battery power banks and living quarters for Hamas terrorists operating the computer servers, beneath the headquarters of the UNRWA Palestinian refugee agency in Gaza City.  Col. Benny Aharon said, “There is no doubt that UNRWA staff knew that [Hamas] was digging a massive tunnel beneath them… UNRWA provides cover for Hamas, UNRWA knows exactly what is happening underground, and UNRWA uses its budget to fund some of Hamas’ military capabilities, this is for certain.” The IDF said electrical cables leading from the UN building were providing power to the Hamas infrastructure belowground. Report here

 

 

 

AL-JAZEERA “JOURNALISTS”

 

 

 

Evidence obtained from a laptop found in Gaza revealed that Al-Jazeera reporter Mohammed Wishah held a senior role in the terrorist group’s anti-tank unit, including photographs of him teaching young jihadis how to fire anti-tank missiles and making incendiary devices.

Another Al Jazeera journalist, Ismail Abu Omar, accompanied Hamas terrorists into Israel on Oct 7; in footage that Omar himself posted online he can be seen inside Kibbutz Nir Oz praising the Hamas terrorists carrying out the atrocities. He also boasted that Palestinian children would “play with their heads” in reference to massacred Israeli civilians. Report here

THE UN

 

 

UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese tweeted, “The victims of 7/10 were not killed because of their Judaism, but in response to Israel’s oppression.” In response, the Israel foreign and interior ministries have announced that she will not be allowed into Israel. Report here

 

 

 

UN Relief Chief Martin Griffiths told a representative from Sky News on Wednesday that he did not consider Hamas to be a terrorist group.  Report here

 

 

 

BEDOUIN COMMUNITY

 

 

 

Although military service for members of the Bedouin tribes in Israel is not mandatory, more than 1,500 are presently serving in the IDF.
On Monday, 13 civilian Bedouin who saved men, women, and children while being fired at by genocidal Hamas killers were honoured in Jerusalem. Report here

 

 

 

EASTERN FRONT

 

 

 

Omar Fayed, one of the heads of Hamas’ military infrastructure in Jenin, was arrested by Israeli security forces on Tuesday. Fayed has been involved in a number of recent shooting attacks on IDF soldiers and was planning further attacks. Report here

 

 

 

HOUTHI THREAT

 

 

 

The disruption of maritime trade in the Red Sea by Houthi militants has prompted Israeli freight and logistics firms to switch to alternative overland routes to transport goods from the Far East to Israel via Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Report here

 

 

 

HAMAS SPIES ARRESTED

 

 

 

 Rami Habiballah, an Arab Israeli resident was arrested together with two accomplices after taking photos of a military site and recruiting other operatives at the direction of Hamas.  He sent a photo of a military site near his residence and its exact location, in order for Hamas to fire rockets at the sensitive area. Report here

 

 

 

REBUILDING GAZA?

 

 

Palestinian exile Mohammed Dahlan, 62, an adviser to the president of the UAE, has outlined a plan under which a new and independent Palestinian leader could rebuild Gaza under the protection of an Arab peacekeeping force…Dahlan said, “The main Arab countries are really very keen to settle this conflict – not the war, the whole conflict.” (paywall) article here

EUROVISION

 

 

Celebrities and Hollywood luminaries including Helen Mirren and Liev Schreiber have signed a letter of support for Israel appearing in this year’s Eurovision amid a wave of calls for the country to be barred from competing. The letter reads in part: “We have been shocked and disappointed to see some members of the entertainment community calling for Israel to be banished from the Contest for responding to the greatest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.” Report here

 

 

 

COMMENT & OPINION

 

 

 

Jehad al-Saftawi: They (Hamas) have…obliterated the chances of a successful Palestinian state alongside Israel. Hamas began destroying my family home in 2013 when they built tunnels beneath it.
Gazans deserve a Palestinian government which supports its citizens’ interests, not terrorists carrying out their own plans.Hamas is not fighting Israel. They’re destroying Gaza. Article here

 

 

 

John Spencer (chair of urban warfare studies at the Modern War Institute): Everyone wants to compare Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza to other battles or wars. Israel is fighting a defensive war predominately in urban areas. Israel is a military that follows the laws of war, takes steps to prevent civilian casualties, facing 30,000 defenders in 400+ miles of tunnels and embedded in civilian areas and populations across multiple cities. The defenders use human shields.
The defenders (Hamas) held over 200 (now 136) civilian hostages including babies, launches thousands of rockets (+12k so far) at civilian populated areas of Israel, and the war is occurring within a few miles from Israel. There is no historical comparison to these contextual variables.
Comparisons do not show there is a way to defeat a dug-in enemy defender without destruction even while implementing all precautions and limits on the use of force required by the laws of war. Article here

 

 

 

Wall St Journal Editorial: The diplomatic pressure on Israel to stay out of Rafah, Hamas’ final stronghold, has become enormous…  (Israel has) already said that civilians will be evacuated from Rafah before Israel advances. Safe zones and a corridor out are being designated.
There’s no defeating Hamas and freeing the hostages without turning to Rafah…Once Rafah falls, Israel’s fighting can shift to a lower-intensity, mopping-up phase, bringing the war to an end. Rafah is Hamas’ last stand as a governing force, so expect it to pull every political lever to stop Israel. The question is why the Biden Administration is co-operating. (paywall) Article here

Danielle Pletka: It is beyond ironic that the vile attacks of Oct. 7 have revived the notion of a two-state solution…The one question no one has bothered to ask is, Is it good for the Palestinians? And the short answer is, no. The fate of the Palestinians is of little genuine interest to their putative champions. To be “pro-Palestinian” has come to mean little more than to be anti-Israel.    The PLO maintained its death grip on the reins of the Palestinian cause by insisting that no Palestinian move into permanent housing or demand equal rights in the Arab lands they occupied, thereby creating permanent stateless “refugees.” How was this about the betterment of Palestinian lives? (After Oslo) In the West Bank and Gaza, we saw corruption, declining levels of education, collapsing economic security, Islamist indoctrination, murder, kidnapping, and crime – all at the hands of the PLO in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza, from which Israel withdrew in 2005. Right now, the Palestinian people are pawns, props in a local, regional, and global game that puts their real interests last. Article here

 

 

 

 

James Shotter (visiting Israel): The signs of national resolve are everywhere. Israelis have flocked to enroll in the country’s biggest ever mobilization. Businesses have donated huge amounts of food and equipment to soldiers in Gaza. The biggest reason for the continuing widespread support for the war is the deep sense of insecurity that Hamas’ Oct. 7 assault – which killed about 1,200 people – has triggered in Israel. (paywall) Article here

 

 

(Col) Richard Kemp: David Cameron has virtually called on Israel to surrender to Hamas as it prepares to destroy the terrorist group in Rafah.  For that is surely the meaning of his words on Monday: “What we want is an immediate pause in the fighting and we want that pause to lead to a ceasefire”. That’s also exactly what Hamas want, and has demanded from Israel — an end to the war that it (Hamas) is catastrophically losing.

Would Cameron have called for a ceasefire as Allied troops were poised to cross the Rhine in March 1945? By that time millions of German civilians had been killed in the fighting and it was a certainty that many more would die as the war proceeded towards unconditional German surrender.

Of course Israel cannot halt its offensive now any more than the Allies could then, and Cameron must know that – just as Blinken knows it. .. Those who demand that Israel stops fighting fail to understand that would make a full-scale war in the north more likely. If they really want to end the bloodshed in the region, and to increase the prospects of diplomatic success against Hizballah, they should be calling on Hamas to hand over the hostages and surrender unconditionally, not giving them hope by condemning Israel’s future prosecution of the war.(paywall)Article here

 

 

 

Dr. Michael Milshtein: The strong, violent urges exhibited by Palestinians against Israelis as a whole on Oct. 7, and the lack of criticism and all-around disregard for the brutal massacres, going as far as to argue that they had never taken place, have led many Israelis to wonder whether this is a burning animosity rooted deep within the Palestinian collective mindset…They are…realizing that there is an enormous gap between the two communities with regard to moral values, truth, human life, and the ability to be empathetic toward others…In the hearts and minds of the Israeli collective, the war has led to the assumption that Palestinian independence poses an existential threat to Israel since it has now been proven that the extensive freedom enjoyed by Gazans following the Israeli disengagement in 2005 was primarily utilized to accelerate a violent struggle. Article here

 

 

 

JPost Editorial:  Instead of putting pressure on Israel to stop its campaign, the U.S. and the rest of the world should be upping pressure on Hamas to release the hostages. Those countries so concerned with the civilians in Rafah should be working with Israel to provide safe passage and shelter for them so that the IDF can do its job.Article here

 

 

 

 

Prof. Gil Troy: Hamas attacks. Israel counterattacks justifiably. Hamas terrorists hide behind defences they built by stealing humanitarian aid, exposing their women and children to make propaganda points – and the world buys it.

Nor has Israel behaved in an “over-the-top” way or “dehumanized” Palestinians – as President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken unfairly charged.

Both Blinken and Biden supported the Iraq War and the other post-9/11 wars which killed over 400,000 civilians. I wonder if either believes America “dehumanized” the Germans or the Japanese during World War II. America has never apologized for any disproportionate deaths in wartime. Apparently, I missed the lectures describing the times America stopped short of winning to please an ally or provided humanitarian aid during wartime – for the enemy to steal. Article here

 

 

 

 

Wall St Journal Editorial: For how much longer will UNRWA try the ostrich defence? The UN’s forever-refugee agency for Palestinians claims it had no idea Hamas was operating a key tunnel underneath UNRWA headquarters in Gaza. On Saturday Israel exposed the tunnel, which includes one of Hamas’ most valuable intelligence assets, a data centre linked to the electricity in the UNRWA building above.
UNRWA’s function is to prevent Palestinians from moving on with their lives. It blocks resettlement and state building, keeping third- and fourth-generation refugees waiting in terrorist-incubating camps for an eventual return after the destruction of Israel. The day after the Gaza war will be a brighter one if UNRWA and Hamas exit the stage together.(paywall) Article here

 

 Gadi Taub : We now know exactly what our would-be neighbours have in mind for us. We see that a majority of Palestinians support Hamas and are well pleased by its massacres… The Palestinian leadership has manipulated their Israeli counterparts, as well as all mediators (including American mediators), with fake negotiations intended to extract temporary benefits, and to buy time, in preparation for the larger goal of eradicating all traces of Jewish sovereignty between the river and the sea. Article here

 

VOICES FROM GAZA

 

 

 

 An ongoing series of short clips in which Gazans tell of their hardships during the ongoing war, started on Oct. 7 by Hamas. In the conversations, Gazans lash out at Hamas for sacrificing the civilian population to pursue its terror goals, hoarding humanitarian aid, causing the death of their loved ones, and destroying Gaza’s future. View here