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Israel Update 16.5.24

THE WAR ON ISRAEL’S NORTH – HEZBOLLAH ATTACKS

 

While the world is focussed on the Gaza war, communities in northern Israel suffer near-daily attacks from Lebanon. Some 60,000 residents continue to endure over 7 months of evacuation from their homes.

 

Among recent attacks this past week:

An Israeli civilian was killed and five soldiers were wounded from anti-tank missiles fired from Lebanon towards Kibbutz Adamit on Tuesday. Anti-tank missiles and rockets were also fired at the Upper Galilee, causing fires. Ten launches were detected from Lebanon toward the Golan Heights. Report here (paywall)Report here

 

 

On Wednesday, Hizbullah launched two kamikaze drones toward an IDF base west of Tiberias, the deepest Hizbullah strike since the start of the war in October. One drone exploded  causing damage but no casualties. The IDF shot down the second drone. Earlier on Wednesday, 60 rockets were fired toward the Kiryat Shmona and Meron areas.

Hamas in Lebanon had claimed responsibility for at least some of the rockets, though it appeared that many of their rockets misfired and even injured local Lebanese individuals and possibly killed one. Report here

 

 

On Friday Hezbollah fired a barrage of 35 rockets at Kiryat Shmona sparking fires in the surrounding areas. Around 15 of the projectiles were downed by Iron Dome, while others struck the city, damaging property including buildings and vehicles.  Report here

 

And

The IDF Home Front Command has cancelled Lag B’Omer celebrations at Mount Meron (5 miles from Lebanese border) later this month. Report here

 

Meanwhile, at dozens of evacuated communities in Israel’s north, the responsibility for observing Memorial Day (Yom HaZikaron) fell this year to a handful of remaining residents, most of them from the local emergency and security teams including reserve soldiers who, for weeks on end, have been guarding their largely empty communities while their families and neighbours remain in temporary housing farther south. Report here

 

 

UN WOMEN & CHILDREN GAZA CASUALTY FIGURES ALMOST HALVED

 

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has revised its child fatality figure from the Gaza war sharply downward, reporting more than 14,500 deaths on May 6 but 7,797 on May 8.

The Hamas ministry counts all those under the age of 18 as children, while commentators note that a not-insignificant number of combatants are in their teens.

OCHA also revised downward its figure for women fatalities from more than 9,500 deaths to 4,959 deaths.
The Gaza Ministry of Health had admitted it did not have names for more than 10,000 of the individuals it claimed to be deceased.Report hereReport here

 

 

ISRAEL’S WAR AGAINST HAMAS

 

Five Israeli soldiers were killed and several wounded as fierce battles raged across the Gaza Strip on Friday, while Hamas fired 14 rockets from Rafah at Beersheba (the first since December) hitting a playground and injuring a woman. The IDF destroyed the launch sites. Secondary explosions were detected, testifying to the presence of additional weapons stored there. An IDF soldier was killed during fighting on Tuesday, the first fatality in the IDF’s push into Rafah. Five Israeli soldiers were killed and another seven were wounded, including three seriously, in an incident of so-called friendly fire in northern Gaza on Wednesday.

278 Israeli soldiers have been killed in the Gaza Strip during Israel’s ground offensive against Hamas, which began in late October. Another 1,712 soldiers have been wounded. Reports hereherehere

 

A rocket launched from Gaza struck an unoccupied apartment in Ashkelon early Sunday, causing significant damage and wounding three. Air defence systems successfully intercepted another rocket. Report here

 

The IDF Spokesman in Arabic, Lt.-Col. Avichay Adraee, published a message on Saturday calling on the residents of additional neighbourhoods in eastern Rafah to evacuate to sheltered areas near Khan Yunis. During the fighting in eastern Rafah, offensive tunnels were found heading towards the Israeli border.Report here

 

While the eyes of the world are focused on Rafah, where the IDF has begun a limited and targeted ground operation, Hamas is retaking sections of Gaza left unattended. To the south of the Netzarim corridor, a 3-km. strip of land dividing northern and southern Gaza, the IDF has identified a build-up of hundreds of Hamas operatives. There is almost daily mortar fire toward IDF forces in the corridor.
Thousands of Hamas operatives have returned in recent weeks to impose their control over the population that returned to Khan Yunis. Article here

 

 

The IDF is employing unmanned robotic D9 “Panda” bulldozers in Gaza, which execute complex and lengthy engineering tasks without human involvement, – all without risking human lives and in any weather condition and visibility. Report here

 

 

Gen. (ret.) Mark Milley, former Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently recently defended Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza at a national security panel in Washington. “Israel has a right to defend itself. They were the ones who were attacked, brutally…   “It was stuff that was not even a hair’s breadth removed from what the Nazis did. And if you take the math and do 1,200 and apply it to the US, that’d be 50,000-100,000 people dead in a morning. Can you imagine what we would do?”

Report here

 

 

HAMAS & UNWRA

 

 

Hamas terrorists used UN vehicles and UNWRA’s central logistics compound as cover in Rafah on Saturday. In IDF video footage, several terrorists and gunfire can be seen very close to UN marked vehicles near UNRWA’s logistics warehouse compound, which is a central point for the distribution of aid on UNRWA’s behalf in the Gaza Strip.

Israel called on the UN to conduct an urgent investigation. Video here

 

 

US CAMPUS “PROTESTS”

 

 

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has slammed the pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel protest movement at American colleges, saying that much of the student protesters’ knowledge of the conflict came from “willfully false… incredibly slanted, pro-Hamas, anti-Israel” propaganda.Report here

 

 

 

BUSINESS

 

The first branch of UK-based fast-food and coffee chain Pret A Manger  is set to open at the Tel Aviv Port by the end of the year. Report here

 

IRAN

 

Jordan has foiled an Iranian plot to smuggle weapons into the kingdom to help opponents of the ruling monarchy carry out acts of sabotage to destabilize Jordan, The weapons were sent by Iranian-backed militias in Syria to a cell of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan that has links to Hamas.Report here

 

 

Reportedly, clandestine negotiations have taken place between the Iranian regime and military rulers in Niger to export 300 tons of yellowcake uranium from mines operated by the French group Orano for $56 million, triggering alarm in both Washington and Paris. Report here

 

DOUGLAS MURRAY’S ACCEPTANCE SPEECH AT THE ALEXANDER HAMILTON AWARDS 2024

 

Scroll past Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s introduction. Long but worth reading in full.

Closing paragraph: I want to thank the Manhattan Institute and you for this deep honour, but I want to dedicate it to the people of Israel of all ages, who, in the face of absolute death cults—in the face of people who most people in this country have no idea of, can’t imagine what these people are capable of—I want to dedicate my acceptance of this award to the people of Israel, who, in the face of death, choose life. Thank you. Speech here Video here

 

SPORT

 

 

Israeli national team goalkeeper Daniel Peretz made his Bundesliga debut for German giants Bayern Munich on Sunday evening, coinciding with the eve of Israel’s Memorial Day, and paid tribute to Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. Report here

 

Asaf Yasur won gold at the European Para-Taekwondo championships. Both his arms were amputated below the elbow after an accident when he was 13. Photo hereInfo here

 

Gefen Primo won gold at the (judo) Grand Slam event in Kazakhstan.  Video here

 

Wheelchair  tennis player Caroline Tabib won bronze at the Slovenian Open Championships. Photo here

 

Amy Rafaeli and Yonatan Fridman won a bronze medal at the Acrobatic Gymnastics World Cup in Bulgaria.  video here

 

 

 

EUROVISION

 

 

Israel’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest received the maximum 12 points from the (public) televoters in the following countries/groups: Rest of the World, Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Israel also received 10 points from televoters in Albania, Austria, Cyprus, Czechia, Ireland, Moldova, and Slovenia.

Overall, Israel finished in fifth place, while coming second in the televote.Report here Report here

Opinion:Stephen Pollard: Eurovision’s message to the Israel haters: the world does not share your bigotry. Article here

 

 

COMMENT & OPINION

 

Frida Ghitis: Claims that Israel has been committing a genocide of Palestinians date to long before Oct. 7.
Yet the population of Gaza was estimated to be less than 400,000 when Israel captured the territory from Egypt in a war against multiple Arab countries in 1967. It’s now estimated at 2 million.Population growth of almost 600% would make it the most inept genocide in the history of the world.Article here

 

 

The US as mediator

 

Roger Zakheim: On Oct. 7, Hamas murdered (inter alia) more than 40 Americans, and five Americans are still being held captive more than 200 days later…For more than seven months, U.S. officials have treated the Gaza war as if it were a conflict between state actors, employing shuttle diplomacy and negotiating with both sides. They have indulged in the conceit that you can negotiate with a terrorist organization by treating it as an equal party. Yet the mediator approach has applied equal, if not more, pressure on U.S. ally Israel to make concessions than it has on Hamas, the original aggressors…
It is long overdue for the U.S. to shift the paradigm…For starters, the Treasury Department should aggressively target sanctions on entities that fund and fuel Hamas…the Central Bank of Iran…(and)  Qatari and Turkish entities that support and aid the terrorist organization… Shifting to a more aggressive stance would also send a powerful signal to Hamas’ leadership that the U.S. will hold Hamas directly responsible for how it treats American citizens. (paywall) Article here

 

 

Rafah

 

WSJ Editorial: Secretary of State Blinken said on Sunday that Israel’s taking Rafah won’t achieve anything…(but) Any plan to replace Hamas depends on victory in its last Gaza stronghold. The truth is that the war isn’t over, and Hamas will win if it keeps control of Rafah and its people…Israel has already evacuated some 400,000 Gazans and won much of eastern Rafah while keeping civilian casualties low. Advancing only a few neighbourhoods at a time, Israel has been faster and more effective at getting civilians to safety than the U.S. expected. Editorial here (paywall)

 

Bassam Tawil: The Egyptians have good reason to be angry with the presence of the IDF at the Rafah border crossing. Arab and Western media outlets have reported that since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in October 2023, Palestinians who want to leave Gaza through the Rafah terminal are being compelled to bribe Egyptian officials with thousands of dollars…Hala Consulting and Tourism Services, a company owned by an influential Egyptian businessman and ally of President el-Sisi, is making $2 million a day from Palestinians fleeing Gaza, the UK-based Middle East Eye reported…In the past three months alone, the company is estimated to have made a minimum of $118 million from desperate Palestinians trying to leave Gaza.
One can understand why Egypt strongly opposes having the IDF stationed at the border crossing: the millions of dollars they have been receiving may disappear.Article here

 

 

Bassem Eid: It is crucial to differentiate between a sovereign nation’s right to defend its citizens and terrorist acts that target innocent civilians…As a Palestinian dedicated to human rights, I urge the international community to recognize the necessity of Israel’s operation in Rafah, not as an act of aggression, but as a defence against terrorism and a step towards freeing innocent people from the tyranny of Hamas. .Article here

 

 

Media Bias

 

British journalist Tom Gross writes: Please watch this clip, in which the spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres admits that the UN has almost halved the number of Palestinian women and child casualties in Gaza from the numbers claimed by Hamas’ so-called “Gaza health ministry.” View here

These bogus Hamas numbers led Israel being referred to the International Criminal Court on trumped up “genocide” charges, and were even repeated by Joe Biden in his State of the Union address in March.

Why are the New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, CNN and BBC continuing to repeat Hamas propaganda figures? Why are they not informing their audiences that the UN admitted last week that the figures they have been claiming for casualties in Gaza over the last seven months are wrong?

 

 

Josh Levs: For decades, many news organizations have framed their coverage of the Middle East with an anti-Israel bias…as a journalist at NPR and CNN, I saw these rules in action.
Take the term “occupation.” As the CIA World Factbook explains, there are numerous “occupied” territories around the world. Meanwhile, Israel left Gaza in 2005. And the Palestinian Authority wrote to the UN last year that the “Israeli occupation” period ended in 1994. Yet news organizations still describe Gaza and the West Bank as “the occupied territories.” In that phrase, the word “the” indicates that there is one, and only one, “occupation” on Earth to be concerned about.
…News agencies have insisted in dozens of reports that, until the Trump administration, the U.S. consistently considered any and all settlements in the West Bank to be illegal under international law. But in making this claim, they ignored the fact that President Ronald Reagan said the exact opposite – and no presidential administration contradicted him for decades until 2016.
This is the kind of bias that today’s young people were raised on.  Article here

 

 

Matti Friedman: During my time in the press, we were expected to tiptoe politely around Islam’s two billion adherents and pretend the region’s key story was a group of six million Jews oppressing a minority, the Palestinians, who only wanted a peaceful state beside Israel. Because this was mostly fictional, my colleagues and I were forced into increasingly ludicrous contortions as we built emotional superstructures over events that had never happened and buried much of what was actually happening.
We were instructed not to cover Israel’s rejected peace offer of late 2008, or the way Hamas followed Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza by methodically wiring the territory like a suicide bomber, building a system of tunnels under the entire civilian landscape and condemning vast numbers to death in the holy war they promised was coming.Article here

 

 

VIDEO

 

Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan’s impassioned 22 minute speech at the UN General Assembly, where he voices a powerful critique of the UN’s stance on Israel and its policies towards Palestinian statehood. In his address, Erdan highlights the Jewish people’s recent observance of Passover, drawing parallels between historical struggles and current challenges, particularly emphasizing the unresolved issues of Israeli hostages held by Hamas. Erdan criticizes the UN for its perceived indifference to Israeli security and its failure to condemn acts of terrorism by Hamas. The speech escalates as Erdan condemns the UN for not focusing on global conflicts with greater humanitarian crises, suggesting a disproportionate focus on Israel. He calls for a re-evaluation of the UN’s effectiveness and its approach to international diplomacy, urging global leaders to stand against antisemitism and support genuine peace initiatives. Video here