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Israel Update 14.3.24

HAMAS CASUALTY FIGURES CHALLENGED

 

Professor Wyner of the dept of Statistics and Data Science at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School analysed data and concluded that Hamas is disseminating fictitious casualty figures in the Gaza war. He wrote:“The numbers are not real…The casualties are not overwhelmingly women and children, and the majority may be Hamas fighters.” He also concluded that the total civilian casualty count is likely to be extremely overstated and by historical standards of urban warfare, where combatants are embedded above and below into civilian population centres, this is a remarkable and successful effort to prevent unnecessary loss of life while fighting an implacable enemy that protects itself with civilian shields. Article hereReport here

 

 

TERROR ATTACKS

A member of Israel’s security forces in his 50s was stabbed and critically wounded in a terror attack at a petrol station in southern Israel today, Thursday. The assailant, an Israeli citizen originally from the Gaza Strip, was shot dead by the victim. Another man, 65, was treated for minor injuries at the scene. Report here

 

A Palestinian aged 15 stabbed two soldiers at a checkpoint near Jerusalem on Wednesday. Both victims were hospitalized with light injuries and the assailant was neutralised. Report here

AID FOR GAZA

 

The Hamas Al-Majd security website on Monday warned Palestinian individuals or groups against cooperating with Israel to provide security for aid convoys. Those who did would be treated as collaborators, the site said. Report here

 

Hamas executed the leader of the Doghmush clan in northern Gaza today, Thursday after reports alleged that Israel had contacted him in an attempt to get his family to oversee the distribution of aid. Report here

 

The pace of humanitarian aid entering Gaza is at an all-time high. Hundreds of trucks are delivering supplies from the south and east, as well as a new passage opened by the IDF from the north. This is in addition to dozens of aid airdrops… Although life in Gaza is indeed very difficult, with hundreds of thousands of refugees losing their homes and facing a long road to recovery, there is no mass starvation. There is no genocide. There is a harsh reality, initiated by a massive Palestinian slaughter of Israeli families.Article here

The U.S. military plans to build a floating pier off the Gaza coast to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Gazans.

 

Israel’s Defence Minister Gallant said that the plan…would help toward Israel’s goal of toppling Hamas. “The process is designed to bring aid directly to the residents and thus continue the collapse of Hamas’ rule in Gaza,” he said.

The U.S. initiative will allow the unloading of large quantities of humanitarian aid, ten times larger than the quantities currently arriving in Gaza by truck, most of which are plundered. The offshore pier may ensure that the aid directly reaches the aid organizations without the mediation of Hamas and crime families.Reports herehereand here

(Currently)  Israel and foreign countries bring food and aid into Gaza. Then gangs take the supplies at gunpoint, and a significant portion of the population is left unable to afford necessities. Hamas controls an enormous amount of food and aid. If it had allowed the citizens of Gaza to have access to this aid, the situation would have been very different – but they want their citizens to starve because it helps them create their false narrative. Article here

 

 

ISRAEL’S WAR AGAINST HAMAS

 

After over 5 months’ fighting, rocket attacks against southern Israel from Gaza continue sporadically. Recently Gazans fired several rockets at Sderot and nearby Israeli communities.Report here

The IDF continues to operate across the length of Gaza Strip. According to the IDF, in the Hamad neighbourhood in western Khan Yunis, the IDF has killed “approximately one hundred terrorists”. According to an IDF Lieutenant Colonel, the upscale neighbourhood where terrorists hide in luxury homes “looks nice but is actually one big battlefield”. In one incident, a terrorist used his family members as human shields. The IDF fighters identified a woman and two children raising their hands, with the barrel of the terrorist’s gun behind them. The forces managed to eliminate the terrorist, with the woman only lightly injured. Report here

HOSTAGES

 

A senior Biden administration official said last week “There could be at least a six-week ceasefire today if Hamas would agree to release a defined category of vulnerable hostages, including women, the elderly, the sick and the wounded. The onus right now is on Hamas.” Report here

Israeli Arab Ali Ziadna, who has family members held hostage in Gaza, confronted the  Palestinian Ambassador to the UN on Monday asking him  “Why did they kidnap my family? What crime did they commit that Hamas kidnapped them? They have been in the tunnels for 5 months, and for what? On what basis? They returned the Thai workers without a deal and the Muslims who are like me and you are left in the tunnels hungry and in pain.” Report here

NORTHERN FRONT (LEBANON)

 

Israeli communities continue to suffer daily bombardment including:

 

A barrage of at least 100 rockets was launched by Hizbullah at northern Israel on Tuesday.Report here

 

Heavy rocket barrages from Lebanon were fired toward a dozen communities in northern Israel Sunday morning. Of 35 rocket launches towards Israeli territory, several were intercepted by air defencesReport here

Hizbullah has been vocal about the damage it claims to inflict on Israel daily, despite the extensive destruction its operations have caused in southern Lebanon where the IDF has targeted numerous Hizbullah installations, employing aerial strikes from planes and drones as well as artillery, focusing on command posts, military structures, ammunition depots, rocket launch sites, and surveillance outposts.
Tens of thousands of residents of southern Lebanon have abandoned their villages amid an increasingly dire economic crisis in a country already on the brink.
A member of the Lebanese Forces party’s Central Council, which opposes Hizbullah, recently stated that 520 houses had been completely destroyed and 3,300 had been damaged. Article here

 

 

EASTERN FRONT

 

After shots were fired toward an IDF guardpost near Homesh, as the soldiers pursued the shooters, a bomb was detonated, wounding seven of them.Report here (paywall)

 

Israeli Defence Minister Gallant on Monday warned of a strong Iranian push to smuggle weapons into the West Bank to fuel terrorist attacks during Ramadan. Report here

 

COUNTER TERRORISM

 

The IDF and Israel Security Agency successfully eliminated a terrorist in the northern West Bank who was planning an imminent major attack in the Tel Aviv area and was preparing to cross into Israeli territory armed with a firearm and explosives.  The Israel Security Agency has thwarted over 250 imminent terror attacks since the beginning of the year and remains on high alert.Report here

 

The Israel Police and Israel Security Agency reported uncovering a terrorist cell in northern Israel planning to carry out attacks on behalf of Hamas. 13 Israeli Arabs, were apprehended. Some suspects were involved in a firebombing attack on Kibbutz Eshbal during the May 2021 Gaza war. Firearms, ammunition and bulletproof vests were seized. One suspect was in contact with Hamas operatives in Gaza, who provided him with instructions for manufacturing explosives. Report here

 

INTERNATIONAL COUNTER TERRORISM

 

Italian police arrested three Palestinians in l’Aquila, 120 km. northeast of Rome, who had set up a cell linked to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and were planning attacks in an unspecified country. Report here

 Peruvian police captured an Iranian member of the Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, and a Peruvian national who were planning an attack on an Israeli national at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting later this year.Report here

 

AFRICA

 

Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Wednesday thanked the incoming ambassadors of three African countries, Equatorial Guinea, Burundi and Eswatini, for their diplomatic support in thwarting a recent effort to oust Israel from the African Union.Report here

GERMANY

 

The German government will cease funding six Palestinian NGOs that were declared terrorist organizations in 2021 by Israel. The groups had close ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Report here

 

HOLLAND

 

Dutch King Willem-Alexander defied calls by an alliance of over 200 Dutch mosques and attended the opening of a new Holocaust museum in Amsterdam alongside Israel’s President Isaac Herzog on Sunday…The museum will also be the first in the country to explore how the involvement of Dutch officials under Nazi-installed laws led to 3/4 of Dutch Jews being murdered by the Nazis – the largest proportion of any European country. A group of anti-Israel protesters demonstrated outside the museum on the day of its opening.Report here

 

 

SPORT

Last weekend one of the Israeli Olympic Bobsled & Skeleton Federation bobsled teams achieved a first by concluding the North America cup circuit of 8 races, on the podium, 3rd overall for the season.Report here

 

The Israeli team won division 2 of the AFL International’s 2024 Harmony Cup in Melbourne.Report here

Israeli judoka Baruch Shmailov won silver at the Austrian Grand Prix.Photo here

Israeli soccer player Liel Abada has suffered a difficult 5 months at Celtic. Now he gets a new start at  Charlotte FC  in the USA.Report here

 

THE OSCARS

 

Several celebrities including Billie Eilish and Mark Ruffalo  wore red-hand pins that signify a demand for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, (with no demand for release of hostages or cessation of rockets or other hostilities). The symbol had become identified with the horrific lynching of two Israelis by a Palestinian mob in October 2000. Article here

Israel govt tweet

 

Former Hamas hostage Mia Schem was invited to Elton John’s Oscars party. She is in  the US to share her experiences in Hamas captivity and to campaign for the release of the 134 remaining hostages. She still wears a thick black cast after being shot in the arm by Hamas terrorists. Report here

 

Howard Jacobson’s critique of Jonathan Glazer’s “abject Oscars speech”Article here

COMMENT & OPINION

Bernard-Henri Levy: Those crying out against genocide are the same people who call for the birth of a Palestine from the Jordan River to the sea that would involve an ethnic cleansing purging the entire region of all Jewish presence…A small, fragile, and threatened country, confronted with the most sadistic mass terror attack in modern history, responds like any other democracy would have in its place, and, in fact, like the U.S. did when invading Afghanistan after Sept. 11…
“Ceasefire now!” is a solution that would hand victory to Hamas; prolong the hold of a Muslim Brotherhood death cult on a population that serves as its guinea pig in a horrific experiment; and see the aura of the terror cult and its backers grow beyond Gaza, with all the cataclysmic consequences that one can imagine, both throughout the Middle East and in Europe.
Does anyone care about peace and justice enough to demand an end to this war in the only way it can actually end – with the defeat of Hamas? Article here

 

Matthew d’Ancona: It is too seldom reported that Hamas remains utterly committed to the annihilation of Israel. Hamas deliberately constructed the warrens and public buildings of Gaza in such a way as to put as many civilians as possible in harm’s way. The terrible death toll is a direct consequence of Hamas strategy…no Israeli government can countenance an enduring ceasefire until this Islamist death cult has been destroyed as a viable military force. It will take time. It is a bleak task, forced upon the Israelis by what happened to them on Oct. 7. There will be no peace until Hamas is indeed dismantled. Article here

Bret Stephens: This is the fifth major war that Hamas has provoked since it seized power in Gaza in 2007. After each war, Hamas’ capabilities have grown stronger and its ambitions bolder. At some point this had to end; for Israelis, Oct. 7 was that point.
Whenever Israel’s critics lecture the country on better calibrating its use of force, they don’t have any concrete suggestions. The reality of urban warfare is that it’s exceptionally costly and difficult. The U.S. spent nine months helping Iraqi forces flatten the city of Mosul to defeat ISIS, with results that looked even worse than Gaza does today. I don’t remember calls for “Ceasefire Now” then.
Israel is fighting a war it didn’t seek, against an enemy sworn to its destruction and holding scores of its citizens hostage. Around 200,000 Israelis are living as refugees inside their own country because its borders aren’t secure. No country can tolerate that. There should be more public pressure on Hamas to surrender than on Israel to save Hamas from the consequences of its actions. (paywall) Article here

WSJ Editorial: President Biden beat up Israel’s leaders in his State of the Union speech and has criticized its war strategy in Gaza with regularity…Israel can’t avoid a Rafah campaign if it wants to achieve its war aim of destroying Hamas. Surely Biden knows this. The U.S. didn’t let ISIS retain its stronghold in Mosul in Iraq, and the siege of that city also had unintended civilian casualties.
There are costs to this White House strategy toward Israel – not least its message to Hamas and its backers in Iran that their strategy of putting civilians in harm’s way is working politically. Why agree to a hostage swap if their current strategy is driving a wedge between Israel and the U.S.?
Biden’s red-line threats don’t help Israel or his political standing at home. The best way he can help himself politically is to let Israel win the war as rapidly as possible.(paywall)  Article here

 

Robert Satloff : An aspect of Ramadan that has been a tradition through the ages is the holy month as a time for war. There is a history of Muslim armies waging war during Ramadan.
This makes it ironic that some well-meaning non-Muslims are calling on Israel to suspend its military operations against the Islamist extremists of Hamas out of respect for Ramadan.
The 1973 Arab-Israeli war is widely known in the Arab world as the Ramadan War, when Egypt and Syria attacked Israel on Yom Kippur.

…The Washington Institute’s Patrick Clawson noted: “Modern proposals for Ramadan ceasefires by secular governments – the Soviets in Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein when fighting the Islamic Republic of Iran – were uniformly rejected by the Islamist side, which usually intensified fighting during Ramadan.”

Article here

Fraser Myers: On Saturday in London, Met. police officers wrestled an exiled Iranian dissident to the ground, arrested him and seized the banner he was waving. On it were three words in large type: ‘Hamas is terrorist.’Article here

Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin: After five months of fighting in Gaza, the IDF has made impressive progress. The territory is one of the most complex combat zones in the world, with an intricate urban landscape and an enemy that is operating within the civilian population, using an extensive network of tunnels and underground facilities. Nonetheless, IDF forces have been able to dismantle the nerve centres and organizational structures of Hamas in Gaza City and Khan Yunis and significantly degrade terrorist infrastructure in other areas.

They have also established a security buffer zone between Gaza and Israeli territory to largely neutralize the immediate ground threat to the towns and villages near Gaza, allowing residents to return to their homes.

Realizing these objectives has come at a high cost to the population of Gaza, and the humanitarian situation has raised pressure on Israel to limit its operations. Yet, calls for Israel to stand down are premature. Israel cannot bring an end to the conflict in Gaza as long as Israeli hostages are held captive there. Article here

 

 

Bassam Tawil: Instead of distancing themselves from Hamas, especially in the aftermath of the massacre of Israelis on Oct. 7, PA leaders in the West Bank continue to view the terror group as a key and legitimate actor in the Palestinian political landscape. This is why PA President Mahmoud Abbas never condemned the massacre…The PA has so far shown no signs that it is serious about embarking on any plan to reform its political, economic and security institutions.Article here

 

 

Gerard Baker: What does Israel have to do to be allowed by the rest of the world to defend itself? The insistent effort by some governments, officials and much of the media in the U.S. and Europe to get the Jewish state to relent against enemies that actively seek to destroy it gives rise to the suspicion that for too many of them, perhaps Israel doesn’t deserve the right to exist at all. Fortunately, Israel doesn’t need the West’s permission to save itself.Article here (paywall)

 

 

Israel Kasnett: In his (recent) State of the Union address Thursday, President Biden spent 90 seconds supporting Israel and blaming Hamas for the atrocities it committed on Oct. 7 as well as for the war that followed. But then he spent 180 seconds focusing on Palestinians “under bombardment” or experiencing “displacement,” and the need for a two-state solution.
He failed to mention the hundreds of thousands of Israelis under bombardment and the tens of thousands who have been displaced as a result of ongoing Hamas and Hizbullah attacks….

Former Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat explained that Israel “cannot compromise on achieving the goals it defined for this war in full, since any failure to do so could expose Israel to an existential threat from its enemies.”
He added “The young people of Gaza, who make up half of the population, were born into the reality of Hamas, were educated on its ideas, absorbed it in schools, mosques, squares and through its media. The young terrorists fighting us today are the same children who spent time in Hamas summer camps.”
Contrary to what some in the West believe, Hamas didn’t “kidnap the population” but rather won broad political support and backing from Gaza’s Palestinian public. Article here

 

Nadav Shragai: Increasing civilian aid to Gaza provides more and more oxygen to Hamas, delays a real uprising of the residents there against Hamas, and achieves the opposite of what Biden says he desires. If the U.S. had a Middle Eastern mindset rather than a Western one, it would make clear that the condition for “saving the starving residents of Gaza” is the swift end of Hamas, both militarily and in civilian life, and the release of all captives. Instead, Biden puts the well-being of Gaza’s residents, many of whom have been involved in terrorism over the years, before the well-being of the captives. This encourages Hamas to raise the price for their release ever higher.
In World War II against the Nazis, the Allies did not consider airdropping humanitarian aid to the German population. These are new standards set specifically for Israel, and a distortion of any logic aimed at defeating an enemy like Hamas. The U.S. itself has never acted this way in its wars.Article here