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Israel Update 11.4.24

HOSTAGES

Hamas has told international mediators that it does not have 40 living Israeli hostages needed for the first phase of a ceasefire deal, ( involving women excluding Israeli soldiers, children and the elderly)  according to an Israeli official, raising fears that more hostages may be dead than are publicly known.Report here

 

 

ISRAEL’S WAR AGAINST HAMAS

 

 

The Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health admitted  on April 6 that it had “incomplete data” for 11,371 of the 33,091 Palestinian fatalities it claims to have documented.Article here

 

The natural mortality rate in the West Bank and Gaza, according to World Bank data, stands at 0.4%. Applied to the six months since the war began, this would mean 4,400 individuals died in circumstances unrelated to the war, to Israel or to the conflict. However, they are counted by Hamas as war victims. From Oct. 7 until the end of the 2023, 12,000 rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza. Around 3,000 of the rockets landed on the Gazan civilian population and are likely to have caused many civilian casualties in Gaza.Article here

 

 

The spokesperson for the Islamic Jihad’s political office in Gaza, confessed during his interrogation that Hamas and other terror organizations use all hospitals in Gaza as military bases because they have internet and electricity there 24/7, the IDF revealed on Monday. He also admitted that they use hospital ambulances for transporting senior, wanted individuals.Report here

 

 

Hamas largely rejected a U.S. plan for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza, mediators said Wednesday. The dismissal reflects Hamas’ growing confidence that diplomatic and domestic pressure on Israel to end the war gives the U.S.-designated terrorist group the upper hand in negotiations. Report here (paywall)

 

 

With the Israeli military’s departure from southern Gaza over the weekend, active fighting there receded on Monday to its lowest ebb since a brief truce with Hamas in November…Analysts said the war had entered a new phase, one in which Israel would continue to mount small-scale operations across Gaza to prevent Hamas’ resurgence.Report here (paywall)

 

 

Defence Minister Gallant said Sunday: “The withdrawal of the troops from Khan Yunis was carried out after Hamas ceased to function as a military organization in the city. The forces left to prepare for the operation in Rafah.” IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said Sunday, “The war in Gaza continues, and we are far from stopping.”…Senior IDF officers said the decision to withdraw its forces from southern Gaza was decided on strictly operational reasons, based on the security situation in the area, and not due to American demands. Report hereReport here(paywall)

 

Three sons of  Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh were killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. The IDF confirmed carrying out the attack, describing the  sons as terrorist operatives in Hamas’ armed wing. Report here

 

 

AID TO GAZA

 

Israeli Defense Minister Gallant on Wednesday cited major initiatives to increase the flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza.Report here

 

From former Israeli Government spokesman Eylon Levy:

Daily food trucks entering Gaza:

September 2023 (before Hamas declared war): 73

7 April 2024: 258

8 April 2024: 330

9 April 2024: 371

Humanitarian aid is surging into Gaza. The UN needs to do a better job distributing it.

@EylonALevy

 

 

NORTHERN FRONT

 

 

A Reuters report on how Hezbollah attacks have displaced 60,000 Israelis from their homes in Northern Israel.

Many homes and farms have been destroyed by guided anti-tank missiles launched from within Lebanon. The airstrikes, shelling and rockets have marked the worst fighting on the Israel-Lebanese front in almost two decades.  The problem with returning home is not just the missiles that have so far killed at least 18 people, soldiers and civilians.

It is the danger of Hezbollah carrying out a similar attack to that of Hamas. Hezbollah had been signalling it was preparing such an assault for years.

A senior Israeli official said”If anything, Hezbollah is more of a border threat than Hamas was,”, because its attack plan has twice as many elite fighters penetrating far deeper into Israel. It is a danger Israel cannot accept. Its leaders are intent on pushing Hezbollah back from the border.  Article here

 

 

 

Among ongoing attacks, on Wednesday  a rocket fired from Lebanon at Kiryat Shmona, was intercepted by Iron Dome as United Nations peacekeepers stationed along border warned that the ongoing violence between Israel and terror group Hezbollah could dangerously escalate. But they  did not mention Hezbollah’s violations of UN Resolution 1701, which requires that the group’s armed wing not be allowed to operate in southern Lebanon. Report here

SOUTHERN FRONT

 

 

For the first time, Israel intercepted a drone that had entered its airspace near  Eilat by using a naval C-Dome interceptor missile launched from a Sa’ar 6-class corvette. Report here

 

 

TERROR ATTACK

 

 

Two Israelis were wounded in a shooting attack on a bus and another vehicle near a  Junction in the northern West Bank on Sunday. Report here

 

 

COUNTER TERRORISM

 

 

Jerusalem police thwarted an attempt to blow up the light rail and arrested four suspects who made multiple pipe bombs and placed them in a station. The suspects have been linked to other incidents of planting explosive devices and of stone throwing.Report here

 

 

JORDAN

 

 

Incitement of the Jordanian public by Hamas has enraged the Jordanian establishment. Jordan perceives that the incitement is carried out in the service of Iran, which seeks to overthrow the Jordanian regime and open up another front against Israel in Jordan. In recent months, there have been growing concerns in Jordan regarding subversive Iranian action.. Articles in the Jordanian press stated that the protests in Jordan are the product of a plot by Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood against the kingdom. Report here

 

 

 

Recent large demonstrations underscore the vulnerability of the Hashemite monarchy amidst the growing influence of the Iran-led resistance axis. This axis, including Hamas, seeks to undermine Jordan’s peace agreement with Israel and disrupt its gas deal with Israel, potentially transforming the Jordan-Israel border into a new battleground.Article here

 

 

LAST WEEK’S WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN INCIDENT   

 

 

The BBC’s Middle East Bureau Chief stated in an interview on Friday 5 April on The World at One, having viewed drone footage of the incident, that stickers bearing the WCK logo on the vehicles were not visible in the dark. BBC vehicles have for 25 years displayed fluorescent stickers but that was not the case here.

 At approximately 12 minutes into the recording:Listen here

 

 

The IDF drone operators who caused the deaths of seven workers of the World Central Kitchen gave the orders to fire under the impression that the vehicles they were tracking had been commandeered by gunmen…There was a breakdown in communications between different levels of the Israeli military, meaning details of the convoy were unknown to the drone operators… While the vehicles targeted had large WCK logos on their roofs, the IDF said these were not visible at night on the infrared cameras used by the drones.
A source of complexity was that the Toyota pickup trucks involved, are characteristically used by Hamas and were not typically used by aid workers. Report here (paywall)

and see Comment & Opinion below

 

 

IRAN

 

Iran is operating a clandestine smuggling route across the Middle East, employing intelligence operatives, militants and criminal gangs to deliver weapons, , including antitank missiles and rocket-propelled grenades, to Palestinians in the West Bank.. The goal, as described by three Iranian officials, is to foment unrest against Israel by flooding the enclave with weapons.Article here (paywall)

 

The U.S. has transferred to Ukraine Iranian weapons seized while being shipped to Houthis in Yemen.Report here

 

 

“I think by now everybody understands the problem is not Gaza. The problem is Iran. Iran is behind all of this,” former head of Israeli Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin said recently. “Iran is enjoying the fact that Israel was diverted toward a front in Gaza. Most of the world is ignoring the fact that Iran continues to advance to a nuclear weapon.”
While Israel has spent years combating Iranian efforts to transfer weapons to Hizbullah and entrench itself in Syria, prior to Oct. 7 it was careful not to target Iranians, said Yadlin. However, when “Iran launched its proxies against Israel from Lebanon, from Syria, from Yemen, from Iraq, Israel changed the policy and “took off the gloves.” Article here

 

On Saturday night, Iranian soccer fans in Tehran’s Aryamehr Stadium were asked to observe a minute of silence in honour of Revolutionary Guard General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, who was killed in an airstrike in Damascus. Instead, spectators began booing and blowing air horns.Report here (paywall)

 

 

Iran’s currency, the rial, reached another historic low on Saturday, dropping to 653,000 per U.S. dollar, marking a nearly 30% decline since January.Report here

 

 

INDONESIA

 

 

The world’s largest Muslim country has reportedly agreed to normalise relations with Israel as part of a deal to enable Indonesia to join the OECD. Report here

BULGARIA

 

 

The Bulgarian police discovered a hidden weapons cache linked to four Hamas members, all Lebanese nationals, who were arrested in Germany and the Netherlands before Xmas.
They are suspected of planning to attack Israeli individuals and institutions in Europe under instructions from a terror group in Lebanon. Another weapons cache probably located in Poland hasn’t been discovered. Report here

 

 

SPORT

 

Out of many recent Israeli international successes internationally, these stand out:

 

Ariel Elkin an Israeli racing car driver finished in third place in his debut US Formula 4 Race. Then on the podium, instead of holding aloft his trophy, instead he proudly displayed his helmet, covered with photos of the hostages. Report & video here

 

Rhythmic gymnast Daniela Munits won a gold medal with her routine with the ball at the World Cup in Greece. View 1 min 49 sec video here

 

Shelly Bobritsky and Ariel Nassee won a gold medal at the Artistic Swimming World Cup in Beijing.Photo here

 

 

 

COMMENT & OPINION – WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN INCIDENT

 

 

Richard Littlejohn: When British or U.S. troops accidentally kill innocent civilians, journalists or aid workers, it’s “friendly fire” in the heat of battle. When Israel does likewise, it’s a deliberate war crime. The double-standards are nauseating.
Shifa hospital, used as a base by both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the groups behind the Oct. 7 massacre, lies in ruins after two weeks of intense fighting. But who the hell does anyone think the Israelis have been fighting – cancer patients? Maternity ward orderlies? It’s as if Hamas has been written out of the script entirely…Hamas are our enemies, too, the kissing cousins of the nutjobs who blew up Manchester Arena, the London Transport network, and have committed countless other terrorist atrocities in Europe. The courageous aid workers killed in Gaza would still be alive had it not been for the slaughter of 1,200 innocents on Oct. 7. Israel is being blamed, but Hamas has their blood on its hands.Article here (paywall)

 

 

Wall St Journal Editorial    Many people who should know better seem to have forgotten that errors are a tragic and inevitable part of war. Secretary of State Antony Blinken threatened, “If we don’t see the changes we need to see” from Israel, “there will be a change in our policy.”
The message Hamas will take away is clear: Keep rejecting hostage deals, do whatever you can to worsen the humanitarian catastrophe, and watch Mr. Biden blame and pressure Israel to compromise on its war aims. Rather than hold Hamas accountable and demand at every opportunity that it release the hostages, including five Americans, Mr. Biden places the full burden on Israel. He puts Israel on trial each day from Washington lecterns, undermining support for its war effort.Editorial here (paywall)

 

Jonathan S. Tobin:While the deaths of the aid workers were the result of a terrible blunder, the firestorm of criticism aimed at Israel since the incident isn’t really about their tragic fate. The claim that Israel has engaged in an “indiscriminate” bombing campaign or is “over the top,” as President Biden has claimed, simply isn’t true.
Mistakes in war always happen as U.S. wars proved. On his first day in office in January 2009, President Barack Obama ordered drone strikes in Waziristan, Pakistan, which led to the deaths of as many as 20 civilians. 540 strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq killed more than 300 civilians during his two terms in office, a number that might be underestimated since the strikes were conducted in areas where reporting casualties was not as organized as it is in Gaza.
Obama would later joke that he had discovered in the White House that “it turns out that I’m really good at killing people,” though no one in the press assumed that he was deliberately slaughtering civilians Article here

 

 

 OTHER COMMENT & OPINION

 

 

Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson:

If you want an example of the death wish of Western civilization, I give you the current proposal from members of the British establishment that this country should ban arms sales to Israel. We are being asked to mount a total moral repudiation of Israel – when that country recently suffered the biggest and most horrifying massacre of Jewish people since World War II; and when 130 hostages, including, for heaven’s sake, a baby, are being kept in dungeons in Gaza by their jihadi captors.

What has come over us? We are willing the military defeat of Israel and the victory of Hamas. So let’s just remind ourselves what this war is about, and why Israel has been forced to act. Israel has no choice but to defend itself because the charter and aim of Hamas is to destroy Israel, and indeed to liquidate the entire Jewish people.

Hamas is actively using the death and suffering of their own citizens to rally international opinion against Israel – and we are falling for it. I do not for one minute deny the immense suffering of the people of Gaza. I just ask you to consider who is really to blame for it.

In all our grief about what is happening on the ground in Gaza, we should not forget the essential moral difference between Hamas and Israel. Israel is sending warnings of its attacks. Israel is trying to use precision munitions. Israel is trying to winkle out the Hamas terrorists, while doing its best to spare the surrounding population. Israel is trying to minimize casualties. Hamas is trying to maximize them – including on their own side.

They think they can succeed in their objective: to deprive Israel of Western support and make it impossible for the Israelis to complete their mission. If Britain and the U.S. crumble, then the Israelis will be prevented from getting into Rafah and achieving their objective: of finishing Hamas as a military force in Gaza. Above all, the rest of the world will see that we did not have the guts or the strategic patience to stick up for a democracy; and that we were willing to let the jihadis win.

Is that really what you want, all you legal experts who say that Israel’s actions now necessitate an arms embargo? Do you want to hand victory to a bunch of murderers and rapists? That is insane. That is shameful.Article here (paywall)

David Frost: Israelis rightly point out that Hamas fighters sheltering behind civilians is a clear violation of the laws of war. So is taking hostages. So is building tunnels under mosques. So is firing rockets from hospitals. What is Israel supposed to do: just let that happen? Instead, it is reacting in the only way possible, by doing everything it can to comply with international law, and accepting the losses that come with bitter urban fighting in which Hamas is quite happy for civilians to be casualties.
Israel must not just be allowed, but enabled, to win this war. That’s because it’s in our own national interest that it does so. Our rivals around the world see international relations not in terms of law but of power. If Western countries don’t have the stomach to face down our enemies – and Islamist extremism, in the form of Hamas or anything else, is definitely our enemy – others will calibrate their actions accordingly. The end of Hamas would be a real blow to Iran and its allies, and a real win for the West – if we can just let Israel finish the job.Article here (paywall)

 

 

 

Prof. Eyal Zisser: Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar does not mind that negotiations are taking place – in his view they increase pressure on Israel from within and abroad. But it appears that he does not want a deal, rather Israel’s surrender to all his demands: a ceasefire and end to the war; IDF withdrawal: the return of Gazan refugees to their homes; the wholesale release of prisoners from Israeli jails; and ultimately guarantees and assurances for his safety and that of his men after the fighting ends.
Israel has shown a willingness to be flexible in its positions and make compromises and concessions – only to have Hamas keep hardening its stance, unwilling to make any compromise…Sinwar does not care about the residents of Gaza. For him, they are…expendable for the cause.Article here

 

 

 

Charles Moore: The help we get from the Israelis is greater than what we give them. We have a deep level of trust and technological synergy in intelligence. Do we want to break that trust? By breaking our arms trade with Israel, we would be sending a signal to other clients that when they get into difficult situations, we are ready to drop them.
To resist the power of evil, it is sometimes absolutely necessary to use lethal force. Unfortunately, it is not the case, particularly when fighting people such as Hamas who have no scruples about murdering civilians or using them as human shields, that lethal force can always be neatly contained. If our societies cannot accept this, our own armies will be reduced to toothless peace-keeping forces and there will be precious little peace for them to keep. Article here (paywall)

 

 

 

Ruth Marcus: Israelis, of all political persuasions, feel besieged and misunderstood.
To visit the sites of the Oct. 7 atrocities, as well as to speak with survivors, feels as gut-wrenching as visiting a concentration camp, but it’s as though the Holocaust were only months in the past, and the enemy as yet undefeated.
It is to meet with a farmer who displays the broken chair, stashed in a Kfar Aza safe room, that saved his family. On Oct. 7, the farmer’s son jammed the chair under the handle of the door of the safe room, designed to protect against rocket attacks, not terrorists in the house.
This provides essential context about the degree to which Israelis experienced Oct. 7 as a threat to their existence and continue to believe their country will remain in peril if the enterprise of destroying Hamas’ military capabilities is left unfinished.
Tens of thousands of Israelis are still displaced from their homes near Gaza and the border with Lebanon.Article here

 

 

 

Col. Richard Kemp: But the real question is why it only seems to be the Israelis who are taking the Iranian threat seriously. Iranian proxies have attacked international shipping in the Red Sea and Iranian-backed militias have launched more than 150 strikes against U.S. forces in Syria, Iraq and Jordan since Oct. 7.
Tehran is a major weapons supplier to Russia in its war against Ukraine. Since the Iranian revolution in 1979, Tehran has ordered hundreds of terrorist attacks and assassinations in more than 40 countries. Meanwhile, Tehran is on the verge of acquiring a nuclear capability.
The response by the U.S. and its allies to all of this has been pitiful. Indeed, they have actively encouraged Iranian aggression by failing to respond in kind. Instead of appeasing Iran, our countries should stand by our Israeli ally in its vital defensive action, and maybe even consider taking a leaf out of its book. Article here(paywall)

 

 

 

 Gerard Baker: Israel is battling, above all else, for its own survival. In a hostile region, it is also the sole standard-bearer of individual freedom and tolerant pluralism. There is no historical evidence that appeasing enemies committed to our extinction ever keeps us safe. If Israel can somehow be bullied into forgoing victory over this enemy, our own capacity to wage wars inflicted on us will be dramatically diminished, setting a standard no nation taking necessary measures to protect itself would ever be able to meet, a standard to which our enemies will certainly never hold themselves.

In World War II, the British political and military leadership decided on a strategy called “dehousing” German civilians: bombing cities to a level of destruction that would demoralize their inhabitants and make them turn on their Nazi government. The British people tolerated this morally doubtful approach because they had fresh in their minds the memory of the Blitz, when the Nazis successfully “dehoused” many British citizens. Israel suffered an atrocity on Oct. 7 comparable to the Blitz, yet has worked with restraint to limit inevitable civilian losses. If it can’t even be allowed to do that, we are placing impossible shackles on the fighting ability of democratic nations. Article here (paywall)