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Israel Update 25.4.24

Chag Pesach Sameach to all currently celebrating Passover..

HOSTAGES

 

 

A group of hostage families held an open Q&A panel in Tel Aviv’s Hostages Square on Tuesday night to mark 200 days of captivity for their loved ones held by Hamas in Gaza.Report here

 

 

US President Joe Biden led a joint statement from the leaders of 18 countries with citizens being held hostage by Hamas calling for their immediate release. Report here

 

 

On Wednesday the Hamas terror group released a propaganda video of Hersh Goldberg-Polin, held captive since October 7. His family gave permission to the media to use the video embedded here

 

ISRAEL’S WAR AGAINST HAMAS

 

Hamas officials in Gaza claimed to discover a mass grave at a hospital that was the target of a recent IDF raid.
In reponse Israeli army spokesman Major Nadav Shoshani wrote “Misinformation is circulating regarding a mass grave that was discovered at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis. The grave in question was dug – by Gazans – a few months ago. This fact is corroborated by social media documentation uploaded by Gazans at the time of the burial…Any attempt to blame Israel for burying civilians in mass graves is categorically false and a mere example of a disinformation campaign.”
The IDF said forces searching for Israeli hostages had examined bodies previously buried by Palestinians near Nasser Hospital and had returned the bodies to where they were buried after they were examined. Report here

 

 

After six intense months, most Hamas battalions have been degraded and are scattered. Thousands of its members have been killed.
Yet in northern Gaza, 4,000 to 5,000 fighters have held out, an Israeli military intelligence official said. Report here (paywall)

 

 

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has 3 sisters who are Israeli citizens living in Tel Sheva, Israel. One sister was indicted on Sunday for supporting the terror group and cheering on its October 7 attack. Police said that during a raid on the suspect’s home officers found documents, media, telephones and other evidence linking her to “serious security offenses.”as well as hundreds of thousands of shekels in cash. Report here

 

 

 The Iron Sting, developed at Elbit Systems, is the world’s only mortar munition that becomes a target-guided missile, so that its impact is lethal and smart and reaches the precision level of a room in a house.In this article, the women behind the new weapon, which is now being used in Gaza, are interviewed. Article here

 

 

GAZA SEEN FROM ARAB SOURCES

 

  On April 19, 2024, Hizbullah’s Al-Manar TV reported from the food market in Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza, where a local resident explained that “all food supplies are in the market now.”
A second resident said, “Today, there are vegetables. There are canned goods. Things have improved greatly.” Report here

 

A Fatah-run Awdah TV anchor reported that throughout the Gaza war, Hamas has attacked and killed aid workers in order to control aid distribution, stolen the food and water for itself, and caused food prices to skyrocket. Report here (may not work)

 

NORTHERN BORDER- HEZBOLLAH ATTACKS

 

 

A reservist officer, Maj.  Dor Zimel, 27, critically wounded in the Hezbollah drone and missile attack on a border community last week has succumbed to his wounds,. Another 13 soldiers and four civilians were wounded in the attack, during which Hezbollah launched two anti-tank missiles and an explosive-laden drone from Lebanon. Report here

 

Two top Hezbollah operatives were killed in Israeli airstrikes in southern Lebanon on Tuesday, as explosive-laden drones launched by the terror group were intercepted by air defences over Israel’s northern coast. Report here

 

A barrage of some 35 rockets were fired from Lebanon at  Ein Zeitim near Safed on Monday evening as Jewish Israelis began the Passover Seder meal. Report here

 

 

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Wednesday that the IDF had killed half of Hizbullah’s commanders in southern Lebanon and carried out a large wave of strikes against weapon depots and other Hizbullah assets. The strikes came hours after the terror group fired anti-tank missiles at a community in northern Israel… Since Oct. 8, Hizbullah-led forces have attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the border on a near-daily basis. Gallant said Israel’s main goal in the north was to return tens of thousands of Israelis displaced by Hezbollah’s daily attacks to their homes Report here

 

 

 Mount Hermon’s Israeli recreation area drew 400,000 visitors in the winter of 2022-23. This is the first time that the ski area, which opened in the winter of 1968-69 after Israel captured the area from Syria in 1967,  has missed an entire season. As a consequence, the entire economy there is suffering, affecting not just the 300 Hermon employees but also the hotels, restaurants, sports shops, roadside vendors and other tourist-dependant businesses. Report here

 

 

AFTERMATH OF IRANIAN ATTACK ON ISRAEL APRIL 13

 

 

Soroka Hospital reported an improvement on Saturday in the condition of a seven-year-old girl who was seriously wounded by shrapnel during the Iranian missile and drone attack.  Amina Hassouna was breathing on her own according to the hospital, which still listed her in serious condition. Despite her slight improvement, she remained in pediatric intensive care.Report here

 

 

President Biden and his national-security team watched with mounting alarm on April 13 as monitors in the White House Situation Room showed 30, then 60, then over 100 Iranian ballistic missiles streaking toward Israel. Iranian cruise missiles and a swarm of drones were already in the air, timed to arrive at the same time as the missiles. The scale of Tehran’s direct attack on Israel matched U.S. spy agencies’ worst-case scenarios…
When the attack began Saturday night, U.S. officials in the Situation Room and at the Pentagon tracked the three waves of weapons that left Iranian airspace, crossing Iraq and Jordan, racing toward Israel. The scale of the barrage was a shock; administration officials said “This was on the high end of what we were anticipating,”.
No one had ever tried to intercept so many ballistic missiles at once. Washington thought its and Israeli forces could handle 50 ballistic missiles, but more than 100 was unknown territory. Israel’s Arrow system intercepted most of the ballistic missiles, while two American destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean downed several others. Report here (paywall)

ISRAEL’S RESPONSE TO IRANIAN ATTACK

 

 

An Israeli weapon deployed in a retaliatory strike against Iran on Friday damaged a defence system responsible for detecting and destroying aerial threats near Natanz, a central Iranian city critical to the country’s secret nuclear weapons programme. The strike, the Western officials said, was calculated to deliver a message to Iran that Israel could bypass Iran’s defence systems undetected and paralyze them, using a fraction of the fire power Iran had deployed when it launched hundreds of drones and missiles at Israel…
Israel’s use of drones launched from inside Iran and a missile that it could not detect was intended to give Iran a taste of what a larger-scale attack might look like. The attack was calibrated to make Iran think twice before launching a direct attack on Israel in the future.  Report here (paywall)

 

The Israeli strike overnight Thursday-Friday last week on Iranian air defences near the Natanz nuclear site used a high-tech missile that was able to evade Iran’s radar systems, in a move “calibrated to make Iran think twice” before launching another direct attack on Israel Two unnamed Western officials were  cited as saying that the missile aimed to show Tehran that Israel is able to dodge and neutralize its defences. Two Iranian officials said the strike hit a Russian-made S-300 air defence system. Report here

 

COUNTER TERRORISM

 

 

On Sunday, the IDF said it had concluded  a 50-hour-long operation in near Tulkarem during which troops killed 14 gunmen in clashes, detained 15 wanted Palestinians, discovered and destroyed dozens of explosives, and captured weapons. Nine IDF soldiers and one Border Police officer were hurt during the clashes. Report here

 

IDF soldiers shot and killed two Palestinian attackers who opened fire on and tried to stab troops near Hebron on Sunday. Report here

 

TERROR ATTACK

 

Three people were lightly wounded in a car-ramming terror attack at two separate locations in Jerusalem on Monday morning. The two alleged perpetrators, Palestinian teenagers, were captured after a brief manhunt. A makeshift submachine gun found at one scene attested to the deadly turn the attack could have taken had the weapon not apparently jammed. Report here

 

 

THE UK

 

Leader of the House of Commons  Penny Mordaunt MP wrote:
Ten days ago we had gone to bed with the news that an armada of drones and missiles were already in the air, due to strike Israel. Yet by morning the Israelis emerged to find virtually no damage to their country. Pretty much all of the 300 weapons had been intercepted and destroyed.
Iran had done its worst and Israel had done its best. It had stood up to the determined and deluded leadership of its bigger undemocratic bullying neighbour and survived. It should be celebrated by all democracy-loving countries. Britain has been right to stand alongside our ally.
Israel’s ability to defend itself, and later its targeted and limited response against Iran, showcased its capabilities. You don’t have to be a big country to be a powerful one. Israel has just under 10 million people. There are lessons to be learned by how such a small nation can mount such a formidable defence. Strength is a choice.  Article here

 

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY (PA)

 

 

 Over recent years, many members of the PA security forces have turned their weapons on Israeli security forces and even initiated shooting attacks against Israelis.
After their death, they have frequently been revealed to belong to Palestinian terror organizations such as the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades – the military wing of Fatah, the political party led by PA President Mahmoud Abbas. The PA pays benefits to the families of terrorists killed in the course of such action. Report here

 

 

THE US

 

 

After a long delay, the U.S. House of Representatives on Saturday voted to approve $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. The House voted to approve assistance to Israel by 366 to 58. The legislation includes $13 billion for Israeli defensive activities and $3.6 billion in security assistance. The measure includes replenishing U.S. stockpiles and supporting U.S. operations in the region. $4 billion is for replenishing Israel’s Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defence systems, as well as $1.2 billion for the Iron Beam laser defence system, currently under development.

Thanking the US, Israeli President Isaac Herzog said: “When the U.S. is strong, Israel is stronger; when Israel is strong, the U.S. is more secure.” Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said that at a time when Israel is facing threats on several fronts, the U.S. showed “unwavering support.” Report here (paywall) and here (paywall)

 

 

WOMEN IN THE IDF

 

 Brig.-Gen. Yael Grossman, commander of the IDF’s LOTEM intelligence division, is one of seven female IDF officers holding that rank. LOTEM is involved in cyber defence, ensuring the reliability of communications in tunnel warfare, and supporting precision firepower targeting. She recently described how artificial intelligence has helped the IDF to manage its firepower and force distribution at whole new levels during the war with Hamas. Report here

 

 

NETFLIX

 

 

“Bros,” is an Israeli dark comedy streaming on Netflix. It is the first fully Hebrew and Israeli original production for Netflix and follows Pini and Nisso, inseparable childhood friends, co-owners of a local Jerusalem bar and die-hard fans of football team Beitar Jerusalem.Report here

 

 

COMMENT & OPINION

 

Iran

 

Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser: The presumed Israeli attack on Iran clarified to the Iranians that whereas we are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them. Nobody wants to see an escalation, so the strike was conducted in a way that didn’t have to lead to escalation.Article here

 

 

David Ignatius: Israeli deterrence is usually about massive use of offensive military force, but this time was different…When the Israeli response (to the Iranian attack) came early Friday, it was muted, sending a message that it can penetrate Iranian air defences and hit strategic targets when it chooses.
…Israel is behaving like the leader of a regional coalition against Iran. In its measured response, it appeared to be weighing the interests of its allies in this coalition – Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Jordan – which all provided quiet help…After absorbing Iran’s missile assault so deftly, Israel is seen at once as a victim of attack and a master of high-tech defence. Article here (paywall)

 

 

Wall St Journal Editorial: The rulers in Tehran know they were able to cross a red line by attacking Israel directly… Israel and its friends had to expend considerable resources to intercept nearly all of the more than 300 missiles and drones in that attack. And Iran is paying no significant price for it.
The new sanctions announced by the U.S. this week are largely meaningless. They target Iranians involved in the missile program who don’t have foreign bank accounts. Iran retains the ability to strike Israel, either on its own or via proxies, at the time of its choosing. Most important, it will also continue to make secret progress on its nuclear-weapons program.
The G-7 foreign ministers called on Iran on Friday “to stop the continuing uranium enrichment activities reported by [the IAEA] that have no credible civil justification and pose significant proliferative risks. Tehran must reverse this trend and engage in serious dialogue.” You can imagine the smiles with which those “must reverse” and “engage in serious dialogue” commands were received in Tehran. Article here (paywall)

 

 

Allister Heath: If the U.S. was serious, it would announce that the mullahs in Tehran are an existential menace to civilized nations. It would declare that no country can shoot hundreds of drones and missiles at one of its neighbours with impunity, that no government can go on funding terrorism, rape, torture and murder on an industrial scale. It would understand the need to deter other rogue states through a show of strength.
It would state that the Iranian regime must be treated like a global pariah, that all of its proxies must be destroyed, and that, above all, it will never be allowed to get anywhere near nuclear weapons. It would put together a coalition including as many of Iran’s Arab neighbours as possible. It would impose extreme sanctions. It would allow Israel to finish off Hamas. It would help hit Hizbullah. If all else fails, it would use American military power to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations.  Article here (paywall)

 

 

Ronen Bergman: Israel abandoned plans for a much more extensive counterstrike on Iran after concerted diplomatic pressure from the U.S. and other foreign allies, (instead) opting for a more limited strike on Friday that avoided significant damage, diminishing the likelihood of an escalation, at least for now.
Instead of sending fighter jets into Iranian airspace, Israel fired a small number of missiles from aircraft positioned several hundred miles west of it…One missile on Friday hit an antiaircraft battery in a strategically important part of central Iran, while another exploded in midair. An Israeli official said the Israel Air Force intentionally destroyed the second missile once it became clear that the first had reached its target, to avoid causing too much damage. Article here (paywall)

 

 

Michael Oren: Historians writing years from now about the Middle East will likely cite the role of the policies of those in Washington who sought to appease Iran at almost any price and ignore its serial aggressions. In 2009, Obama became the first president to refer to Tehran’s regime as the Islamic Republic of Iran – legitimizing the oppressive theocracy – and stood aside while that republic’s thugs beat and shot hundreds of Iranian citizens protesting for their freedom… Since the start of the war against Hamas, Iranian proxies have launched more than 170 attacks against U.S. military bases in Iraq, Syria, and Jordan, and all but blocked international shipping through the strategically crucial Bab al-Mandeb Strait. Still, the U.S. refrained from retaliating against Iran directly, or even holding it publicly responsible. Historians will survey this inexplicable record and wonder how the U.S. not only allowed Iran to repeatedly assault its citizens, soldiers and allies, but consistently rewarded it for doing so.
While Israel is grateful for the vital assistance it received in intercepting Iran’s missile and drone onslaught, nothing substantial in the U.S. position toward Iran has changed. The Iranians will see this direct attack on Israel as a victory for their ability to continue threatening Israel. Either America stands up boldly against Iran and joins Israel in deterring it, or Iran emerges from this conflict once again unpunished, undiminished, and ready to inflict yet more damage. Article here

 

 

Qatar

 

Bassam Tawil: The idea that Qatar has been acting as a mediator in the negotiations between Israel and Hamas for the release of Israeli hostages is laughable. Qatar has actually long been staunchly aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an offshoot. Qatar has long hosted Hamas leaders and allowed the terrorist group to set up an office in Doha….If the Qataris had wanted to end the war in Gaza, they could have summoned the leaders of Hamas and issued an ultimatum to them to release the hostages or face deportation from the country. The Qataris are not doing so because their goal is to keep Hamas in power. “The Qataris are the No. 1 country in the world that finances terrorism, more than Iran,” said Dr. Udi Levy, a former senior official of Israel’s Mossad.  Article here

 

Gaza

 

Liel Leibovitz:  To support a measured response against Hamas isn’t to spare the people of Gaza; it’s merely to condemn them to decades more of suffering inflicted by the same monsters who repeatedly send women and children into the line of fire to serve as human shields. Article here

 

 

Alan M. Dershowitz: On Oct. 7, the civilians who followed the terrorists into Israel captured a nurse named Nili Margalit, forcibly transporting her to Gaza after murdering other Israelis. In Gaza, they displayed her to the “jubilant crowds” of civilians who cheered her civilian kidnappers. Other Gazan civilians permitted their homes to be used to hide and launch rockets, while others helped to hide hostages.
Among the so-called innocent “civilians” who Hamas claims have been killed by Israel, there are thousands of guilty and complicit civilians without whose assistance Hamas could not have succeeded… All in all, the number of absolutely innocent Gazans is a fraction of those claimed by Israel’s enemies. A thorough and objective investigation will show that Israel has killed far fewer innocent civilians than any nation in the history of fighting terrorism in urban areas. Article here

 

 

ANTI-ISRAEL CAMPAIGNS AT AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES

 

Seth Mandel: The protests at Columbia University highlight a key difference between protests of generations past and the current demonstrations: While both cheer America’s enemies, the 2024 version is undeniably pro-war. The warmongers are those who have for six months cheered rabidly for war. “Never forget the 7th of October,” they shouted at Jews at Columbia. “That will happen not one more time, not five more times, not 10 more times, not 100 more times, not 1,000 more times, not 10,000….The 7th of October is going to be every day for you.”
This kind of enthusiasm for the biggest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, complete with sexual torture and the dismemberment of young children, highlights these protestors’ uncontrollable urge for the war to go on forever. “Iran, you make us proud!” they cheered after the Islamic Republic launched hundreds of ballistic missiles and drones from its territory aimed at Israel. Article here

 

 

John McWhorter: In the music humanities class I teach at Columbia University, the surrounding noise is infuriated chanting from protesters outside the building, including lusty chanting of “From the river to the sea.” I thought about what would have happened if protesters were instead chanting anti-Black slogans. They would have lasted roughly five minutes before masses of students shouted them down and drove them off the campus. Chants like that would have been condemned as a grave rupture of civilized exchange and branded as a form of violence. Why do so many people think that weekslong campus protests against Israel’s very existence are nevertheless permissible?…Calling all this peaceful stretches the use of the word rather implausibly. It’s an odd kind of peace when a local rabbi urges Jewish students to go home as soon as possible, and it starts to feel normal to see posters and clothing portraying Hamas as heroes. Article here (paywall)

 

 

Mia Raskin (American MBA student at a college which has just passed  Boycott, Divestment &  Sanctions (BDS) legislation against Israel) blog post here