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Israel Update 21.2.24

TERROR ATTACK

Two Israelis were murdered on Friday and four others were injured, two seriously, in a terror shooting attack on a bus stop near Gedera. A passing civilian shot and killed the terrorist.

Report hereand here

 

ISRAEL’S WAR AGAINST HAMAS

 

 

The IDF has been operating in Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis, filtering out terrorists, many of whom are disguised in medical staff uniforms. The forces located medicine with the names and pictures of Israeli hostages held by Hamas – which was never delivered.
Over last weekend, IDF soldiers faced resistance from terrorists barricaded inside the hospital and came under rocket fire from within the compound. Armed terrorists emerged from the hospital and opened fire on the soldiers. Other terrorists fled the hospital unarmed, ran to nearby homes, where they armed themselves with rifles and machine guns to attack Israeli forces. After 12 hours of fierce fighting, soldiers reportedly eliminated 16 terrorists on hospital grounds.
Inside the hospital, soldiers located large quantities of weapons. A car stolen from Kibbutz Nir Oz was found in the hospital complex. An IDF commander said, “The hospital, which was supposed to serve as a humanitarian shelter, was found to be a battleground filled with weapons, communication infrastructure, and Hamas operatives.”  Report here

 

The IDF notified the hospital in advance and took measures to minimize harm to civilians, hospital staff and medical equipment. Many Gazan hospitals have dual uses. They have tunnels under them into which terrorists can enter. Hamas has established command centres in or under hospitals, and has used them for hiding weapons and firing missiles into Israel or against military forces.
Although hospitals are considered protected under international humanitarian law, if they are used by a party to a conflict for “acts harmful to an enemy” they are no longer protected. Hamas’ cynical use of hospitals has turned them into valid military targets. Israel has to enter them in order to destroy Hamas infrastructure and communications abilities, confiscate weapons, and to look for hostages.article here (paywall)

 

 

 

The IDF said Monday that troops have killed 12,000 Hamas gunmen since Oct. 7, Thousands of Hamas operatives are believed to have been seriously wounded. Report here

 

 

The Israeli army is expanding a road across central Gaza to facilitate its military operations.
The corridor south of Gaza City stretches 5 miles from the Israeli border to the coast and will allow Israel’s military to continue to move quickly along a secure route, even after most troops pull out. Israeli officials say they have no intention to permanently occupy Gaza but plan to maintain “security control” there for an indefinite period. (paywall) Report here

 

 

Interior Minister Moshe Arbel on Wednesday granted resident status to Hamid Abu Ar’ar, father of 9 from a Negev Bedouin village and former Gaza resident, who risked his life to save dozens of IDF soldiers on October 7. Report here

 

 

FAILURE OF THE UN

 

 

The Israel Defence Ministry’s liaison unit to the Palestinians said last Thursday that the UN was not keeping up with the flow of humanitarian aid inspected by Israel that is waiting to be picked up and distributed in Gaza.
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories  posted photos on X of “the contents of 500 trucks of humanitarian aid on the Gazan side of Kerem Shalom, AFTER Israeli inspection, waiting to be picked up.”Report here

 

 

UNWRA

 

 

Israeli Defence Minister Gallant said Friday that Israel has intelligence that more than 30 UNRWA employees actively participated in the Oct. 7 murder spree, assisting in the kidnapping of civilians and soldiers. He presented data that 1,468 of its employees are active in terrorist organizations in Gaza.Report here

 

 

New footage recently uncovered shows UNRWA employee Faisal Ali Mussalem Al Naami, 45, abducting a body from the entrance to Kibbutz Be’eri on Oct. 7, where the bodies of three men who were shot dead were lying outside their car.Report here

 

 

 

NORTHERN FRONT

 

 

The French newspaper Liberation claimed Sunday that Hizbullah has been digging hundreds of kilometres of underground tunnels in Lebanon for over 30 years, some of them reaching depths of 40-80 metres, using North Korean technology. The report noted that the tunnels are more complex and dangerous than those in Gaza. Report here

 

A drone launched by Hizbullah in Lebanon crashed into the yard of a home in Bustan HaGalil near Acre on Tuesday.  Hizbullah claimed a series of attacks on northern Israel throughout Tuesday. Report here

 

A house in Metulla was hit by an anti-tank missile fired from Lebanon today Wednesday.Report here

 

Hizbullah fired at least 25 missiles at the northern city of Kiryat Shmona last Thursday evening. Several buildings and vehicles were damaged in the barrage. Report here (paywall)

An explosive-laden Hizbullah  drone struck an open field near Arbel in the Lower Galilee, 30 km. south of the border with Lebanon. Report here

 

(Israel has responded with airstrikes to these Hezbollah provocations)

EASTERN FRONT

 

Three Palestinian gunmen were killed and 14 terror suspects were detained by Israeli troops in Jenin on Tuesday night. IDF troops also seized weapons and located explosive devices planted under roads in Jenin. The IDF has intensified near-daily raids across the West Bank in the aftermath of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, in operations aimed at dismantling Palestinian terror groups. Report here

 

AFRICAN UNION

 

 Israel has thwarted an effort by South Africa and Algeria to deprive it of observer status in the African Union. The initiative to oust Israel from the AU, as well as the effort to have it cut off relations with Israel and accuse it of genocide, all failed in a weekend vote at the AU annual conference in Ethiopia, as a coalition of African states formed to oppose the move.Report here

 

SPORT

Israel Premier Tech rider Ethan Vernon won the opening stage of the Le Tour des Alpes-Maritimes. (cycling)Report here.

 

At the European Weightlifting Championships, Nicole Rubanovich won 3 medals, bronze for the snatch, silver for the clean and jerk and silver for the all-round. Celia Gold won a silver medal at the European Weightlifting Championships.Report here

 

Following the boos directed at Israeli swimmer Anastasia Gorbenko after winning an historic silver medal in the 400m Individual Medley at the World Swimming Championships held in Qatar, the Israeli swimmer received support from Yazen Al Bawwab, who also participated in the championship representing the Palestinian national team who said that “he has no problem with the presence of swimmers from Israel in the competition. When we compete, we are all the same.” Report here

and see comment: Swimming champion captures Israel’s spirit.Article here

 

Israeli runner Gashau Ayale set a new (Israel) national marathon record when he came third in the Seville Marathon and also qualified for the Paris Olympics. Report here

Ten-man Maccabi Haifa held Gent to a 1-1 draw in the second leg of their playoff to advance to the Europa Conference League round of 16 on a 2-1 aggregate score.Report here

 

From Follow Israel Sport: At the Kickboxing European Cup in Zagreb, Yulia Sachkov won gold, Deniz Serebyanikov and  Karolina Chorny and won gold while David Chorny won bronze.

COMMENT & OPINION

 

Col. Richard Kemp: Just a few short months ago, the West claimed to stand united with Israel as it launched a war of self-defence after the atrocities of Oct. 7. Now even Jerusalem’s closest allies seem to want to stop the conflict in Gaza before the IDF have achieved their objective of the destruction of Hamas…The new U.S. draft UN Security Council resolution on the war in Gaza calls for a “temporary” ceasefire “as soon as practicable.” The danger is that it really wants to impose a “peace” deal that would leave Hamas partially intact and end up solving nothing. What the U.S. seems incapable of recognizing is that the Israeli people can accept no solution to the current conflict that leaves the country in a weaker position than it occupied on Oct. 6.
Israel did not want the conflict. It was the necessary response to the shocking crimes of Oct. 7…that Israel rightly wants to ensure can never happen again. If the IDF does not move forward with its plans, Israel knows that it will only be a matter of time before we see another conflict in Gaza, as well as emboldened terrorists in the West Bank and on its northern border. Worse, the terrorists would know that the U.S. would never allow Israel to truly defeat them.(paywall) Article here

 

 

Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper: Israel’s war objective – the elimination of Gaza’s Hamas regime – is essential. Leaving the job unfinished, with Hamas tolerated and its actions contained, has been tried, and it has failed. The Israeli people cannot be reasonably asked to return to the pre-war status quo.

I say to Israel’s friends, stop asking it to stop short of victory. Instead, bring pressure to bear on Hamas, directly and through its allies and partners, to force its capitulation.

A two-state solution will not magically take root now for the same reason it has not happened since 1947 – it is rejected by way too many Palestinians. The core problem is not Israel.

Generations of Palestinians have been inculcated to reject the right of a Jewish state to exist on any piece of the land of the former Mandate for Palestine. We must stop pretending that a two-state solution can be pursued in the face of the continued propagation of such a view. Article here

 

 Yaakov Katz: The U.S., UK and Europe all are warning Israel not to go into Rafah, even though Israeli hostages were rescued there last week – and despite knowing that destroying the Hamas infrastructure there is key to ensuring that it will not be able to rebuild. Instead of asking why two Israelis were being held in Rafah, the media was more focused on claims by a terrorist organization that people had been killed during the rescue operation.

The Western media continue to lap up the falsehoods and fabrications that Hamas regularly spins. This is evidence of moral bankruptcy. There is something seriously wrong when people are willing to accept lies by a murderous terrorist group over claims made by a democratic, liberal, progressive country. How does it make sense that people think it’s normal for hostages to be held against their will and that a country shouldn’t do what is necessary to get its people back?

Most of the condemnations today come from the U.S., the UK and Europe. They don’t come from Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, or Saudi Arabia. Why do you think that is? The answer is that these Arab countries want Israel to succeed in removing Hamas, while the other countries appear to want Israel to fail. Article here

John Spencer:

( chair of urban warfare studies at the Modern War Institute at West Point.)

As a basic principle of the international law of armed conflict attacks against civilian sites are prohibited, unless those sites are used for military purposes…if a hospital is used for “interference, direct or indirect, in military operations, such as the use of a hospital as a shelter for able-bodied combatants or fugitives, as an arms or ammunition store, as a military observation post, or as a centre for liaison with combat forces,” such uses can lead to a hospital losing its protected status.

Because of all the special protections surrounding hospitals, they have increasingly been used for military purposes by combatants such as al-Qaeda, Islamic State, and especially Hamas, who do not follow the laws of war and intentionally shield themselves behind protected objects and groups. As a result, the U.S. and many other countries have recently had to conduct operations against enemy forces in hospitals.

…in almost every hospital the IDF has arrived at, it has uncovered and published military use by Hamas, which purposefully and systematically developed a strategy to use Gaza’s hospitals for military purposes. Hamas exploits the laws of war and public sensitivity to both hamper the IDF’s actions and invite international condemnation.

To date, Israel has followed the rules when interacting with hospitals. It has provided warning before acting and has gone beyond the requirements of the law. It has facilitated evacuation, provided its own supplies to the hospital, and helped provide alternative medical facilities until the ones being searched can restore full activities. Israel has refrained from attacking hospitals from the air, even where it would be lawful to do so, and has left hospitals as quickly as possible, allowing them to resume full operations. Article here

 

 

Isaac Schorr: It is completely unreasonable to believe the terrorists of Hamas on the matter of how many people Israel has killed. Yet that is precisely what the media and everyone else does. The Hamas figure is not a fact: it is terrorist propaganda. As the renowned military historian Lord Andrew Roberts noted in the House of Lords earlier this month, we would not believe Vladimir Putin or ISIS on casualties inflicted by their enemies: there is no reason to treat the rapists, torturers and murderers of Hamas any differently.
Roberts went on to point out that it’s estimated that more than 9,000 of the dead were not innocent civilians but active Hamas fighters – and even Hamas admits that its dead fighters are included in the total. If one then accepts the Hamas-concocted death toll for the sake of argument and makes allowance for the fact that Hamas and its allies are also killing Gazans, the IDF are killing less than two civilians for every Hamas fighter they take out.
Roberts said, “I speak as a military historian. Less than 2:1 is an astonishingly low ratio for modern urban warfare where the terrorists routinely use civilians as human shields. It is a testament to the professionalism, ethics and values of the IDF.” The UN has assessed that a more normal ratio in urban combat would be 9:1. There is probably no other army in the world which could operate in Gaza as surgically as the IDF is doing.
Students of history and statecraft understand that evil on the scale of Hamas must be wholly destroyed, rather than tolerated. They are able to distinguish between the bombs that fell on Dresden and those that fell on London. (paywall) Article here

Amb. Michael Oren: Another country, struck by the type and immensity of the atrocities committed against Israel on Oct. 7, would likely have responded with vastly greater force and inflicted far greater numbers of civilian casualties.

 The IDF takes unprecedented measures to warn civilians of impending actions and to evacuate them from combat zones. It’s why Israel has maintained the lowest combatant-to-civilian casualty rate in modern warfare – as Hamas’ own statistics show. How, then, can the Biden administration accuse Israel of “indiscriminately bombing” Gaza and of reacting “over the top” to the events of Oct. 7?…the accusations they level at Israel do far more than insult our soldiers. They fundamentally endanger our security.
By asserting that Israel is violating international humanitarian law, our American ally is bolstering those who accuse us of committing war crimes and perpetrating genocide. The next time Israel faces these charges in an international court, statements by the U.S. president and the secretary of state will be Exhibit A for the prosecution. That evidence, moreover, would be demonstrably false. Israel’s efforts to reduce civilian casualties, often at the expense of our own soldiers’ safety, are well-documented.
Outrage at the civilian casualties must be directed at those who cynically engineer them. Hamas’ goal is to brand Israel as a war criminal. That is precisely the objective served by accusations of “over the top” reactions and indiscriminate bombing. Article here

 

Amb. Dror Eydar: Complete victory over Hamas in Gaza is a categorical existential imperative. It must resonate among our haters and enemies lest they consider executing a similar massacre in the future. From this perspective, there is no choice but to eliminate Hamas as a military force.

Our enemies cry out “genocide” because they know that the lie will be accepted in the West, especially among diehard critics of Israel and even more so among antisemites. (What kind of genocide is it when the Arab population between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River grows from year to year?)

…Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005 was an attempt to implement a “two-state solution.” Israel withdrew down to the last inch and the result was that Gaza became the biggest terrorist fortress ever erected.

Shortly after the disengagement got underway, the idea was raised of a similar plan in Judea and Samaria that would have seen a unilateral withdrawal from most of the territory. Had this plan materialized, everything we experienced with Gaza would have paled in comparison to what would have happened from the hills of Judea and Samaria, hundreds of metres above Israel’s large population centres. Article here

 

Seth Mandel:  Buried in a long and detailed briefing by Israeli Defence Minister Gallant were important descriptions of Hamas activity that, via repetition, have lost their ability to command headlines.

An IDF operation at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis uncovered the following:
Vehicles used by Hamas terrorists during the October 7 slaughter;
Vehicles of October 7 victims stolen by Hamas;
Hamas terrorists involved in October 7;
Hamas members dressed as medical staff;
Weapons and explosives;
Medicine intended and marked for hostages but withheld from them.

The military released a video of the medications, which clearly showed the names of the hostages they were intended for and, for some, a clear picture of the hostage next to the name. The medicine was sent through European intermediaries and then to Egypt, crossing into Gaza at Rafah. Some of the intended recipients are still being held by Hamas—in need of the medication that Hamas kept for itself. Article here