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Israel Update 4.4.24

IRAN

 

Gen. Mohamad Reza Zahedi the boss of Hizbullah, the Iranian proxy that has fired 3,500 rockets, unprovoked, on Israel’s north since Oct. 7, was among at least three senior commanders and four officers in the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, overseeing Iran’s covert operations in the Middle East, who were killed on Monday when Israeli planes struck a building next to the Iranian Embassy in Damascus.

Iran has sought to expand the Gaza war by pushing its proxies to attack Israel on seven different fronts. The message here is that Iran is starting to pay a higher price for its involvement in attacks against Israel carried out through its proxies.

Reports here here and here (paywalls)

 

 

 

Israel’s Security Cabinet is meeting today Thursday amid concerns that an Iranian attack was imminent soon after the IDF said it was suspending weekend leaves for troops in combat units. On Wednesday, the military said it was calling up reserve forces to bolster deployment of the IDF aerial defence systems and today that decision was extended to reservists serving in the military intelligence and in the Home Front command. Report here

 

 

TRAGIC WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN INCIDENT

 

 

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi said Wednesday that the incident in which 7 World Central Kitchen (WCK) volunteers were accidentally killed  “was a mistake that followed a misidentification – at night during a war in very complex conditions. It shouldn’t have happened.”
“… The IDF works closely with WCK and greatly appreciates the important work that they do….I want to be very clear; the strike wasn’t carried out with the intention of harming WCK aid workers….This incident was a grave mistake. Israel is at war with Hamas, not with the people of Gaza….We are sorry for the unintentional harm to the members of WCK.”
“An independent body will investigate the incident thoroughly….We will share, in full transparency, the findings of the investigation…We see great importance in our continued delivery of humanitarian aid.”  Report here

 

 

 

In recent months, the IDF had worked closely with WCK to distribute aid to Gazans. The organization came to the assistance of Israelis after the Oct. 7 mass murder.
IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Tuesday, “… Their work “is critical….We will get to the bottom of this.”
The IDF has been taking an expanded role in the humanitarian effort in Gaza, increasingly protecting routes used by aid convoys, with an emphasis on northern Gaza, where convoys faced looting by Hamas and criminal gangs…
The IDF has also helped coordinate the construction of six field hospitals in Gaza, built by Egypt, the UAE, Jordan and aid organizations, and is examining ways to build another two. Article here

 

And see Comment & Opinion section below.

 

 

AID TO GAZA

 

 

Social media posts in the past week have noted food price drops in Gaza’s markets prompted by the increased and protected flow of aid and food into the territory.Report here

 

 

COGAT, the Israel Defence Ministry body responsible for civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories, on Friday contested a recent UN-backed report that said famine was imminent in Gaza, saying “the report contains multiple factual and methodological flaws.”… It argued (inter alia) that  the report grossly underestimated the amount of water available per person per day (claiming over 20 litres versus the report’s assessment of less than 1).
COGAT has tracked reports in Palestinian media “every day” of “food markets filled with food of all types and kinds” in various parts of Gaza, including its north.

“Even at the height of hostilities, in a war that was forced upon it, Israel places no limits on the amount of aid that can enter Gaza, and absolutely does not limit the entrance of food…”Report here

 

 

COGAT, blasted the UN on Saturday evening for failing to facilitate the introduction of aid to Gaza.”Again, the content of 400 trucks worth is waiting to be picked up and distributed from the Gazan side of [the Kerem Shalom crossing] after Israeli inspection…UNRWA and UN aid agencies lack the logistic capacity for performing their jobs.” Report here

 

 

 Israel has obtained Hamas members’ testimonies admitting that Palestinians who lost their lives in the Gaza aid trucks disaster on Feb. 29 were killed by overcrowding and not by IDF gunfire. Report here

 

 

ISRAELI CIVILIANS UNDER CONTINUING ATTACK

 

A snapshot of some of today’s attacks:

This morning (Thursday)

In the North, Hezbollah rockets attacked Keshet

In the South, Hamas rockets attacked Sderot, Ibim & Nir Am.

(information from Israel Realtime: link here)

Several projectiles were fired from Lebanon at the Western Galilee Thursday afternoon damaging a home in Shlomi. Report here

 

ISRAEL’S WAR AGAINST HAMAS

 

 

 

The chief of the Military Intelligence Directorate Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva warned the IDF  “I have told you more than once that it is not certain that the worst is behind us, and we have complex days ahead of us”. Report here

 

 

IDF forces left Gaza City’s Shifa hospital on Monday, after 2 weeks. The operation concluded with the elimination of 200 terrorists and the arrest of 500 terrorists, including senior figures and commanders. Numerous military intelligence reports related to Israeli hostages were found in the hospital, alongside new footage of atrocities from Oct. 7, filmed by the terrorists themselves. Three IDF soldiers were killed in the operation and another eight were injured. Report here

 

 

Lt.-Col. Avichai Adraee, the IDF spokesperson in Arabic, revealed an official Hamas document recovered by Israeli soldiers in Gaza, stating that  about 11% of the rocket launches toward Israel since Oct. 7 fell within Gaza, resulting in the deaths of Gaza civilians.
Another document shows that despite Hamas knowing that Gazan civilians were killed as a result of the failed rocket launches, the report issued by the Gaza  Ministry of Health claimed that they were killed as a result of an Israeli attack. Report here

 

 

Israel believes it has dismantled Hamas’ main command and control structure in central and northern Gaza but pockets of “guerrilla” resistance remain. Months of urban warfare has pushed Hamas out of major strongholds and its forces are now scattered. According to an IDF source “Its units have been eradicated and they don’t have a central command and control”…What remains of the senior leadership team is now in Rafah, the only remaining urban centre that the IDF’s ground teams have not reached. Report here (paywall)

 

 

Since Hamas terrorists breached the Gaza border fence on Oct. 7, an estimated 5,000 dogs have made their way into Israeli communities, causing harm to livestock and, in some instances, attacking people.Dozens of calves have fallen victim to these dogs. At the same time, animal welfare advocates are making efforts to rescue these dogs from the Gaza border region, with the aim of providing them a nurturing environment in Israeli homes. Report here

THE US 

 

 

White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby said Wednesday: ” No country should have to live next door to a threat that is truly genocidal, as Hamas has been….Israel is going to continue to have American support for the fight that they’re in to eliminate the threat from Hamas….
And maybe not everybody believes that they’re living next to a genocidal threat, but they are…No country should have to live like that. No country should have to be attacked, like they were on the 7th of October, with 1,200 people slaughtered.” Press briefing

 

 

 

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Monday: “Hamas should not be operating out of hospitals – we have said that over and over again – and putting civilians at risk. That’s what we’re seeing….This just points to how challenging Israel’s military operation is because Hamas has intentionally embedded themselves into civilian infrastructure, into these hospitals….” Press briefing

 

 

 

State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Monday: “I don’t know why I don’t hear more people calling on Hamas to stop going into hospitals. You shouldn’t have to clear Hamas from a hospital once, let alone twice….Israel has said what they tried to do is protect patients and not operate in places when there are patients, to evacuate people from the hospital, and only operate in a way that would impact the Hamas fighters that were there… There shouldn’t be terrorists in a hospital at all…. Do not believe that this attack was on the hospital. The attack was on the Hamas fighters that are hiding inside a hospital…. there were Hamas fighters hiding in al-Shifa Hospital – again, not for the first time.” Press Briefing

 

 

 

THE UK

 

 

British Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron is “losing focus” on the threat posed to Israel by Hamas, Lord Pannick has suggested, as he urged the Government to face up to the “political and military reality” in the region. Lord Pannick said he was concerned that recent decisions and statements by the Foreign Office demonstrated a “failure to recognize that Israel really has no other option than to continue the war against Hamas.” Report here(paywall)

EASTERN FRONT

 

 

On Sunday, a terrorist from Hebron wielding two knives stabbed three Israelis in Gan Yavne, wounding them severely. Lidor Levy, one of the three victims, died from his wounds today Thursday, Report here

 

 

A wave of attacks perpetrated by individuals linked with Palestinian security forces is becoming a growing concern, including two attacks in March 2024.
Since 2020, 78 members of PA security bodies have either executed or been implicated in attacks against Israelis.
From the onset of 2024, 10 such individuals have been killed.
The relative freedom of these personnel to carry weapons and navigate the West Bank provides them with an advantage in executing more lethal attacks.
Moreover, each assailant is incentivized with thousands of dollars in return for shooting at Israeli communities or passing Israeli vehicles. Report here

 

 

A drone, apparently launched from Iraq, struck a building in a naval base in Eilat on Monday. The Islamic Resistance of Iraq, a coalition of Iran-backed paramilitary groups, claimed that it had fired on Israel.Report here

 

 

COMMENT & OPINION

 

 

Col. Richard Kemp: The deaths of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers were a terrible tragedy. We can only admire the courage and humanity of these men and women, and others like them who work to alleviate the suffering of the civilian population, while knowing they could be killed or seriously wounded in a war zone where by definition nowhere can be safe…The IDF has accepted direct responsibility for these deaths and initiated an independent investigation. Knowing the ethos of the IDF and its strict adherence to the laws of war, it is unthinkable that the action was deliberately intended to kill aid workers. Those who point to the prominent vehicle markings have presumably never observed drone optics at night.

Unfortunately, nightmares like this occur frequently in the fog of war. During President Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, a U.S. drone strike in Kabul mistakenly killed an aid worker and nine members of his family including seven children.

In October 2015, a U.S. gunship attacked a hospital in Kunduz operated by Doctors Without Borders in which 42 staff and patients were killed and many wounded.

Three soldiers from my own regiment were killed by a U.S. air strike in Afghanistan in August 2007 due to human error by both the American strike commander and the British ground controller.

While lessons will be learned by the IDF to help them avoid repetition, the unfortunate reality of war is that other tragic incidents will re-occur during this and other conflicts around the world, especially where terrorists use human shields. Article here

 

 

 

ElderofZiyon blog: (The IDF) has gone beyond what other Western armies have done to minimize civilian loss of life in urban warfare. Never before Hamas has an enemy relied on civilian deaths as a major part of their strategy.

The US, UK and other Western powers have killed tens of thousands of civilians over the past two decades during wars. No one accused them of targeting civilians deliberately even though they killed thousands of civilians in  much less challenging environments.

Over 9,000 civilians were killed by the US-led coalition in Iraq between 2003-2005.

In July 2008, the US hit an Afghan wedding party, thinking they were a large number of terrorists. 47 Afghan civilians were killed including the bride. And in November, a similar airstrike at a wedding killed 37 civilians, mostly women and children.

Between 86 and 147 Afghan civilians were killed in another 2009 US airstrike. 

In September 2012, a US drone shot at a truck in Yemen, killing 12 civilians, including three children and a pregnant woman.

In 2015, the US fired over 200 shells at a hospital building in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing 42 patients and staff. Days later, it admitted the mistake, saying that it had intelligence that the Taliban were in the building.

In March 2017 , the US dropped a 500-pound bomb on a building where about 50 people were sheltering in ISIS-controlled Syria.

In 2018, the US Army shot a Hellfire missile at a mother and daughter in Somalia, and when one tried to flee, it hit them again, killing them. .

In 2021, a US drone shot and killed 10 civilians in Kabul, including an aid worker and seven children.  It wasn’t a split second decision – they watched the vehicle for eight hours without considering that perhaps the people they were watching were innocent.

Last May, the US announced the killing of an Al Qaeda leader – but the victim was really a 56-year old former bricklayer.

As recently as February of this year, US airstrikes in Iraq killed civilians report here

In nearly all of these cases, the US didn’t admit their mistakes until weeks or months later, if ever, and only when pressured would they release any results of investigations…

There is one other difference between US and Israeli airstrikes. US citizens are not directly threatened by terrorists in the Middle East, but the spouses and parents of Israeli soldiers are only a minute away from being killed by a rocket or a terrorist every day. A mistake in the other direction, allowing a terrorist to live, can have devastating consequences for the people who live, work or study only a couple of hours drive away…

Hamas started this war, Hamas benefits from the deaths of aid workers, and Hamas is the party ultimately responsible for their deaths. Defeating the terrorists is the moral thing to do, and that cannot always be done as antiseptically as everyone would like.  Article here

 

 

 

Brendan O’Neill:  David Cameron has got some front. The Foreign Secretary is haranguing Israel over its tragic unintentional killing of seven aid workers in Gaza, and yet he oversaw a war in which such ‘friendly fire’ horrors were commonplace. In fact, more than seven people were slain in accidental bombings under Cameron’s watch.

It was the Libya intervention of 2011. In that Nato-led excursion, in which Cameron, then prime minister, was an enthusiastic partner, numerous Libyans died as a result of misaimed bombs…Their number included not only anti-Gaddafi rebels but also ambulance workers.

Yet now Cameron is on his high horse over Israel’s bombing of trucks carrying volunteers from the World Central Kitchen. He is demanding a ‘full, transparent explanation of what happened’. Fine. Three of the dead were British nationals, so it makes perfect sense Britain wants answers. But you would think a former PM who was involved in wars in which other accidents happened would understand that ‘friendly fire’, sadly, is all but inevitable in bloody conflict.

This is not to downplay the horror of what happened in Gaza on Monday. That civilians were killed while trying to help people, while trying to deliver food, is horrendous. It is fitting that the Israeli president Isaac Herzog has apologised for the bombings, and that the Israeli government has promised to get to the bottom of what happened…

Vast numbers of civilians have been killed by accident by the US in recent years. At…a wedding party in 2004, this time in Iraq, 11 women and 14 children were killed by American fire. Was there a ‘full, transparent explanation’ for that calamity?

Across social media, the cry goes up: Israel did this on purpose. It seems Israel is the only state not allowed to make mistakes. Where us decent Westerners kill friends in error, Israel does it intentionally, with malice at its heart. The double standards are staggering. It is hypocritical and ridiculous for the citizens of nations that have accidentally killed far more people than Israel to now lecture Israel…

Indeed, it strikes me that something larger is at work here. It seems that some in the West are seeking to launder their reputations through attacking Israel. From Cameron to Biden, powerful men who have been involved in wars far more horrific and far less justified than Israel’s war on Hamas, are now pontificating against the Jewish State. Article here (paywall)

Matthew Hennessey: On Tuesday a news alert said, “Israel has taken responsibility for a strike that has killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers in Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu said it was unintentional.”
War is hell. Everyone knows that. Accidents are bound to happen, and when they do, political spinmeisters step forward to deny, deflect, delay and distract. Not here. Israel has taken responsibility. …Often lied about, Israel nevertheless respects the rules of war. It fights with precision and restrains its soldiers to protect the innocent. It provides food and aid to its enemy. It owns up to its mistakes.Article here (paywall)

 

 

 

OTHER COMMENT & OPINION

 

 

Ian Austin: How is it possible to say Israel has the right to defend itself after the Oct. 7 atrocities, but threaten to ban arms sales… Given the size of Israel, the Oct. 7 atrocities would equate to the slaughter of 10,000 British citizens. What would people in Britain expect if 2,500 British kids were murdered at Glastonbury or if 1,800 people were kidnapped by Islamist terrorists who had declared war on the UK?
Responsibility for the situation in Gaza lies with Hamas who deliberately provoked this war. Imposing a ceasefire now would allow the terrorists the opportunity to repeat the atrocities. Hamas is completely opposed to any peace process. They are determined to destroy Israel and also murder Palestinians who believe in negotiations and coexistence. This is why, instead of threatening to ban arms exports, the UK should be doing everything possible to help Israel win the war as quickly as possible. Article here

 

 

William Daroff: The plight of the hostages captured by Hamas on Oct. 7 has outraged the Israeli public and the global Jewish diaspora. But where is the rest of the world?
When Boko Haram, the radical militant West African group, abducted hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls, the world spoke up. Countries around the world jumped into action to rescue them. When the Kremlin wrongfully imprisoned American basketball player Brittney Griner, her case became a cause celebre on social media. A wave of emotion swept the U.S. during the Iranian hostage crisis (1979-81). But the silence for the Israeli hostages in Gaza is deafening outside the Jewish community.Article here

 

 

 

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin and Col. (ret.) Udi Evental:
Israel has several important military objectives in the Rafah area and cannot exclude it from the campaign in Gaza. First, the goal of dismantling Hamas’ military capabilities requires targeting the four battalions of its Rafah Brigade, which are still intact.
Far more important is the need to cut off the smuggling routes from the Sinai, aboveground and primarily underground, along the Egypt-Gaza border (the “Philadelphi” route). This smuggling activity has enabled Hamas to amass an enormous quantity of weaponry..    Finally, Hamas commanders and leaders are hiding among the population in Rafah and in the tunnels below the city, and Israeli hostages are being held there.Article here