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Israel Update 23.5.24

MORE EVIDENCE OF HAMAS ABUSE OF HOSTAGES

 

 

The IDF on Sunday released a video clip found by troops in Gaza, showing 8-year-old Ella Elyakim who was abducted to Gaza by Hamas on 7/10 and later released in a hostage deal. The 8year-old was made to repeat her lines over and over, and forced to wear clothes which were not hers, until her captors were satisfied. Report here

 

 

 

A 3 minute video depicting female IDF observers being kidnapped from their IDF’s Nahal Oz base into the Gaza Strip on 7/10 was released on last night. The families of the kidnapped soldiers released the video to highlight the ongoing nightmare of their loved ones. The footage shows some of  the violent, humiliating treatment to which they have been subjected.

Warning: The video embedded in this article contains graphic material that may be disturbing.Report here

 

 

 

ISRAEL UNDER CONTINUED ATTACK FROM THE NORTH & SOUTH

 

I am unable to cover all these near-daily attacks, which go largely unreported outside Israel. A few examples:

Today, Thursday, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for a barrage of some 45 rockets targeting the Upper Galilee.Report here

 

Hizbullah drone and rocket attacks on Israel surged on Saturday. Israel responded with airstrikes and artillery fire on sites in southern Lebanon. At the same time, ten rockets were launched from Gaza at Ashkelon on Saturday. Half were intercepted and the rest crashed in unpopulated areas. Report here

 

 

 

ISRAEL’S WAR AGAINST HAMAS

 

The IDF has successfully evacuated approximately 950,000 Gazan civilians from Rafah in just two weeks since May 6. The large-scale evacuation is part of the ongoing Israeli military operations aimed at dismantling Hamas’ control in the region.Report here

 

 

Israeli Defence Minister Gallant said that the IDF operation in Rafah was about making sure “the faucet to Hamas is closed,” which would end its major cross-border capability to resupply itself with weapons.Report here

 

 

In a cemetery in Eastern Rafah, troops found launchers and numerous weapons.Report here

 

 

Ghassan Khatib, a former Palestinian minister and peace negotiator, said Gazans were asking two questions (of Hamas) “First, why did you not expect this terrible reaction on the public of Gaza. Second, why did you not prepare? Why do you have enough ammunition to keep fighting until now but you don’t have enough medicine; why do you have bunkers for the fighters and you don’t have bunkers for the civilians?” (paywall) Article here

 

 

 

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT (ICC)

 

 

On Monday the ICC prosecutor Karim Khan announced that he is seeking arrest warrants not only against Hamas officials Sinwar, Al-Masri and Haniyeh but also against Israel’s PM Netanyahu and Defence Minister Gallant. Report here

 

 

Among international negative reactions:

 

President Biden: “The ICC prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders is outrageous. And let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence – none – between Israel and Hamas.”

 

A British government spokesman said the ICC does not have jurisdiction over either Israel or Hamas, because Israel is not a party to the court’s underlying treaty and Palestine is not a state. “We do not believe that seeking warrants will help get hostages out, get aid in, or deliver a sustainable ceasefire. This remains the UK’s priority.”

Italy’s FM said “”It is completely unacceptable that Hamas and Israel are put on the same level — the leaders of the terrorist group that started the war in Gaza by massacring innocent citizens and the leaders of the government elected by the people of Israel”  Briefings/Reports herehereherehere

 

 

President Isaac Herzog said “Any attempt to draw parallels between these atrocious terrorists and a democratically elected government of Israel – working to fulfill its duty to defend and protect its citizens entirely in adherence to the principles of international law – is outrageous..”Report here

 

Extracts from Israel’s MFA response:

Prosecutor Khan’s decision is morally twisted. Israel is the victim of Hamas’ crimes, an organization that flies the destruction of Israel as its flag, that perpetrated crimes against humanity and acts of genocide on October 7, committed the most heinous sexual crimes the world has seen, continues to attack Israeli citizens, and is currently holding 128 men and women as hostages.

Hamas has committed all these war crimes, and to add insult to injury, uses the residents of Gaza as instruments of war and as human shields.

Israel is operating in Gaza in order to defend its citizens, free the hostages, and remove Hamas’ reign of terror so that it does not continue to threaten the security of Israel’s citizens; all this is being carried out in accordance with international law and its humanitarian obligations.

Prosecutor Khan’s accusations are baseless, unfounded, distort international law, trample the rules of the court itself, and harm every democratic country that defends itself and fights terrorism. MFA statement here

 

 

HIZBULLAH THREAT ON NORTHERN BORDER

 

 

 

Hizbullah’s Radwan Force, comprised of thousands of highly trained fighters with advanced weaponry, was primarily established for a large-scale invasion of Israel and the capture of communities in the Galilee. Despite various reports, most of these forces remain near the border… According to Tal Be’eri of the Alma Research and Education Center, “We estimate that the Radwan Force, if desired, could still operationally implement a limited invasion plan in the north….” Report here

 

 

UNWRA –The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees

 

 

UNRWA’s former general counsel James Lindsay told the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee: “UNRWA’s leadership is incompetent and wilfully obstructionist regarding some fundamental reforms. UNRWA has made no serious efforts to avoid hiring terrorists and their supporters from a labour pool that is significantly supportive of terrorists.”
“It would not be surprising to learn that as many as half of UNRWA’s employees were Hamas supporters – of whom some likely would be Hamas members – which is not that different from what the Israeli government alleged….It is simply not true that UNRWA is ‘irreplaceable.’…Report here

 

 

GAZA AID

 

 

A veteran Israeli expert for Arab affairs estimated that Hamas has earned at least $500 million from confiscated humanitarian aid since the beginning of the Gaza war.”We are financing Hamas.”Post here

 

 

 

Trucks carrying aid for Gaza rolled across a newly built U.S. pier for the first time on Friday. On Saturday, only five truckloads made it to the warehouse after 11 others were cleaned out by Palestinians during the journey. Meanwhile street vendors in Gaza, were selling entire aid parcels  still emblazoned with the flags of their donating countries and meant to be distributed for free.(paywall) Article hereReport here (paywall) Report here

 

 

In an article on Wednesday holding Israel responsible for the reported food shortage in Rafah, the Associated Press (AP) concealed that it is Egypt – not Israel – that has forced the shutdown of the Rafah border crossing, thereby stopping the flow of aid through that point. AP  covered up Egypt’s closure of the Rafah crossing…At no point did AP clearly report that Egypt closed the crossing at the expense of Palestinian civilians. Even state-controlled Egyptian television reported that Egypt refused to coordinate with Israel on the transfer of aid.
Israeli Foreign Minister Katz said Tuesday that there was a “need to persuade Egypt to reopen the Rafah crossing to allow the continued delivery of international humanitarian aid to Gaza….The key to preventing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza is now in the hands of our Egyptian friends.” In contrast, Reuters published an article on May 11 titled, “Egypt Refuses to Coordinate with Israel on Entry of Aid from Rafah Crossing.” Article here

 

“JOURNALISTS”

 

 

1/3 of the Palestinian journalists listed by the Committee to Protect Journalists as being killed in the war in Gaza were employed by terrorist groups. Out of 100 Palestinian journalists on the list on May 17, 33 worked for Hamas-affiliated media, while two worked for Palestinian Islamic Jihad outlets.Report here

 

 

“PALESTINIAN STATE”

 

Norway, Ireland, and Spain announced Wednesday that they would unilaterally recognize a State of Palestine.Report here

 

 

Salman Rushdie, has said that it was “strange” that progressive youth would support a “fascist terrorist group” like Hamas adding “If there were a Palestinian state now, it would be run by Hamas and we would have a Taliban-like state – a satellite state of Iran. Is this what the progressive movements of the Western Left want to create?” He thought protesters should at least hold the terror group responsible for the war too. “It all started with them [Hamas]” Article here

 

 

 

INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE (ICJ)

 

 

The Israeli delegation to the ICJ concluded its arguments before the panel of judges on Friday. South Africa had applied to the Court requesting provisional orders to deny Israel its legitimate right to protect its citizens. Israel highlighted South Africa’s distorted claims, which ignore the Hamas terrorist organization that continues to attack Israel and to hold 132 hostages, and present a false picture regarding the situation on the ground.
Israeli Deputy Attorney General Dr. Gilad Noam said: “South Africa is not interested in truth, law or justice. Just this week it hosted a delegation of senior Hamas members. There was no mention there of the return of the hostages or the cessation of Hamas’ cynical exploitation of hospitals and UN facilities.” Briefing here

And see Neville Teller article in Comment & Opinion below.

 

EUROVISION POSTSCRIPT

 

 

Veteran French actress Brigitte Bardot sent a handwritten congratulatory letter to the Israeli entrant Eden Golan writing: “I congratulate the wonderful Eden Golan.  Marvellous, talented courageous1 What a fine example she has given to the world!  What dignity! Bravo!    Photo of note here

 

 

SPORT

 

Football (soccer)

 

Robbie Keane has enjoyed league title success in his first season as a manager after Maccabi Tel-Aviv were crowned champions of Israel. His team have won 24, drawn 7 and lost just 3 of their 34 matches and will now enter the Champions League qualifiers. Article here

 

Israel’s SC Dimona and Shimshon Tel Aviv have set a world record for the longest-ever penalty shootout with 56 kicks in a semifinal promotion playoff in the third-tier league. Dimona won the shootout 23-22 in a game that took over three hours to complete instead of the usual 90 minutes. Report here.

 

Dance sport

 

Liana Odikadze and Alexei Korovchenko won first place in the Open Latin competition in Tbilisi. Photo here

 

 

Special Olympics

 

In last weekend’s European Triathlon Open competition held in Slovakia,, in the CAT C M heat, Ron Beck (Israel) finished first with a time of 1:11:46.Report here Photo here

 

 

Olympics

 

Jamal Abdoul-Magid, a Sudanese refugee, who received a visa to stay in Israel for humanitarian reasons, will be competing in the Olympic 5,000 metres race alongside another refugee who lives and trains in Israel, Eritrean runner Tachlowini Melake.  Jamal said “I feel that I represent Israel. Despite belonging to the Refugee Olympic Team, I felt part of the Israeli team at the competitions. The attitude of the team toward me is great.”Article here

 

 

 

COMMENT & OPINION

 

Recognition of “Palestine”

 

 

JPost Editorial: Recognition of statehood is not merely a diplomatic gesture; it carries profound symbolic and practical implications.  To respond to this carnage by recognizing “Palestine” as a state is an affront to justice and human decency. By recognizing Palestine now,   Ireland, Norway and Spain are effectively sending a message that the international community is willing to overlook or even excuse acts of terror when perpetrated against Israelis. A two-state solution cannot be achieved by legitimizing entities that engage in and support terrorism. It can only be done through sincere and peaceful negotiations, which Hamas has repeatedly shown no interest in pursuing. … The timing of this recognition is particularly troubling. It comes just months after Hamas’s brutal invasion and during the ongoing war in Gaza, which has caused immense suffering to both Israelis and Palestinians. By recognizing Palestine now, these European nations are effectively rewarding the very tactics that led to such widespread devastation.Editorial here

 

 

Brendan O’Neill: Whatever subjective spin the three PMs put on their heedless act of global virtue-signalling, the objective consequence is the legitimation of Hamas. Indeed, Hamas has warmly welcomed  their recognition of Palestine, describing it as ‘an important step towards affirming our right to our land’. I’m not into guilt by association, but seriously – when an army of anti-Semites starts singing your praises, you’ve messed up. Article here

 

 

 

Stephen Pollard: Hamas (which is committed to the elimination of Jews) now has direct causal evidence to show to Palestinians that terrorism works. Hamas murdered Jews and a few months later, bingo: the Irish, the Spanish and the Norwegians all fall into line… All three countries have long been in the vanguard of support for Palestine, mostly because it is costless and bolsters their domestic support. It’s also frivolous showboating. Try asking any of these countries what the borders are of this supposed Palestinian state and you’ll get no response, because there is no state to recognize and there are no agreed borders. (paywall) Article here

 

 

 

Israel’s legal duty to defeat Hamas

 

Former U.S. Justice Department Office of Special Investigations director Eli Rosenbaum states that “Israel has a legal obligation under international law as a signatory of the [1948] Genocide Convention. The treaty obligates all signatory nations not just not to commit genocide and punish it, but to prevent it, in Israel’s case by stopping the genocidal intent of Hamas… The accusation of genocide by Israel during the war is an “obscene falsehood,” according to Rosenbaum. The crime of genocide requires not just an outcome of mass death over the course of war but the intent “to destroy a population in whole or in part. It is not simply a matter of casualty numbers.” He noted that in World War II, aerial bombing by the British Royal Air Force and the U.S. Army Air Force “killed somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 people. No one would say that the Allies committed genocide against Germans. That’s just absurd. Germany started a war.”

He said that on the contrary, (Israeli) genocidal intent was disproven “because of the extensive measures they’ve taken to try to protect civilians, despite the best efforts of Hamas to maximize civilian casualties in Gaza. Israel is taking measures to protect civilian life in Gaza that no military has ever taken in any war. It causes Israeli casualties.”

“In addition to the fact that the accusations are fundamentally false, I think they’re also racist….The unstated assumption is that thousands of men in Gaza who took part in these attacks, for some reason can’t be held to even minimal standards of decent and humane conduct with respect to other innocent human beings….Every single death in Gaza of Palestinians and hostages is the doing of Hamas. They are responsible, morally and legally, for all of those deaths.”Article here

 

 

The International Criminal Court (ICC)

 

 

D.Tel Editorial: The ICC prosecutor’s decision to seek arrest warrants for Israel’s PM and defence minister makes a mockery of both the institution and the laws it claims to uphold. Israel is engaged in an existential struggle against a foe which hides among the civilian population. IDF soldiers have gone to extraordinary lengths to minimize non-combatant casualties, often at greater risk to their own lives.
Hamas, in contrast, initiated this conflict by slaughtering innocent civilians on Israeli soil. Its leader, Yahya Sinwar, has made clear his intention to “wipe out” the world’s only Jewish state.
The court has, in a single moment, willfully sabotaged any right to be considered a fair and impartial arbitrator of justice, undoing decades of work. This ideologically motivated ruling will not hasten the end of the conflict or expedite a ceasefire.(paywall) Editorial here

 

 

 

Alan Dershowitz: the ICC is precluded by the Rome Statute which created the court, which severely limited its jurisdiction by the rule of complementarity. This rule expressly denies the ICC the authority to be the primary investigator or prosecutor of any individual in a state that is willing and able to conduct a genuine investigation of that person…Thus the ICC simply has no authority to investigate or prosecute any alleged crime that can and will be investigated by Israeli authorities. To do so would be to violate its own charter and place itself above its own law.
Israel’s judicial system is among the best in the world and its Supreme Court is among the most highly regarded of any Western democracy. Its judicial system has put soldiers and civilians on trial and even prosecuted political leaders, including three prime ministers and one president. Since Israel is willing and able to investigate and prosecute any allegations of war crimes, the ICC is precluded from initiating an investigation against Israel. Article here

 

 

 

Daily Mail Comment: It’s true that Israel has exacted a heavy price in Gaza, but its sole aim is to stop such abominations as the Oct. 7 massacre happening again. This is not a “war crime,” it’s simply war. It’s easy for puffed-up ICC lawyers to pronounce judgment, but they are not the ones Hamas wants to exterminate. Comment here

 

 

Ben-Dror Yemini: ICC in the service of terror…When the war on terror caused the death of half a million people, 70% of them innocent civilians, who was responsible, Osama Bin Laden or George Bush and Barak Obama? When the U.S. destroyed 70% of the buildings in Mosul and Raqqa, who was responsible, the U.S. or ISIS? The answers are clear, until it comes to Israel.Article here

 

 

Letter to the DTel Editor:

 

SIR – International arrest warrants have been requested for Israelis defending their nation against a murderous terrorist organisation.

No such warrants have been issued for anyone for the slaughter of more than 300,000 innocent civilians in Syria. It’s often said justice is blind, but two-faced?

D.P. Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex (paywall) Letters to the Editor here

 

 

The International Court of Justice at the Hague (ICJ)

 

 

Neville Teller: Judge Joan Donaghue presiding judge in the ICJ during the hearing of South Africa’s case against Israel in January clarified the judgment…(all) the court decided was that the Palestinians had a plausible case to be protected from genocide; and that South Africa had the right to pursue that claim in the court. That is, doubtless, why the court ordered Israel to take special care to avoid infringing those rights.

“It then looked at the facts as well,” continued Donoghue, “but it did not decide – and this is something where I’m correcting what’s often said in the media – it did not decide that the claim of genocide was plausible… The shorthand that often appears, that there is a plausible case of genocide is not what the court decided.” Article here

 

 

Gaza

 

WSJ Editorial: Remember Rafah? For months, the Biden Administration bitterly opposed an Israeli invasion of Hamas’s last stronghold in Gaza.
The mantra was that Israel had “no credible plan” to evacuate the city’s 1.3 million civilians. That was the justification for the President’s arms embargo.
Yet the Israelis went ahead anyway, and two weeks later they have safely evacuated an estimated 950,000 people.
“This Administration never supports anything we do until we do it,” a senior Israeli official said early this month.
To win Mr. Biden’s consent, the Israelis first had to advance and succeed. But the delay his opposition caused has dragged out the war. (paywall) Editorial here

 

 

DTel Editorial: It has been clear for many months that the civilian casualty statistics issued by Hamas-controlled organizations in Gaza are highly suspect. Now the UN has adjusted its own figures. But the readiness of politicians, activists and media organizations to accept Hamas’ figures uncritically has added fuel to the fire of the terrorists’ propaganda war…The lies have fallen on fertile ground among groups who are often ignorant not just about the cause of the current conflict, but about the history of Israel itself. Israelis are not “settler-colonizers” committing genocide in Gaza. They are a free people defending themselves against terrorists. (paywall) Editorial here

 

 

Jake Wallis Simons: Earlier this month, the UN halved its assessment of the numbers of women and children killed in Gaza. For months, the UN has trusted figures produced by the same savages who butchered Israeli women and children on Oct. 7. Two decades after our invasion of Iraq, death tolls remain intensely disputed, ranging enormously from 100,000 to 600,000. Yet we’re expected to believe that Hamas has the professionalism to provide statistics within hours, reliable to the single digit.
Statisticians have debunked the data. Yet the narrative remains unchanged, even by President Biden… Gazan civilians are barred from the safety of the tunnels, even though the whole population would fit inside them. Hamas’ leaders have been doing their best to get their people killed on camera, then fabricated the figures. They have been doing so to brainwash the international media, political leaders, celebrities and the protesters on our streets, to believe the lie of Israeli “genocide.”(paywall) Article here

 

 

Other comment articles:

 

 

 

An interview with French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy:
“Israel’s allies are saying: Jews are allowed to be strong, but not too strong. To defend themselves – but only up to a point. What country would allow its citizens to be attacked like that? None! And yet Israel is being asked to restrain itself. There’s no limit to the double standards. The problem with Hamas is that it’s not a normal, rational enemy, and yet we in the West keep trying to treat it as one.”
“I’ve been saying from the start that the way to win in Gaza is to go through Rafah. Hamas must be dismantled for Israel’s future, but also for the future of the Palestinians. Israel and the Palestinians must be liberated from Hamas. The world needs a Hamas-free space – from the river to the sea.”
“Israel’s victory is a victory for freedom, for democracy, for everything right and just, whereas a Hamas victory is a victory for barbarism, for terror, for murder and rape…Today, it seems, no one understands that Israel is waging a war of existence.”  Interview here

 

 

 

Danny Cohen (former head of BBC-TV):Since the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on Israel, BBC Arabic has been forced to make 80 corrections to its reporting. Mistakes don’t happen 80 times…The BBC continues to employ people who actually celebrated the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks, including Sally Nabil and Sanaa Khouri…If any other publicly funded organization supported terrorist sympathizers, the outcry would be enormous.(paywall) Article here

 

 

 

A Simple Test to Check “Criticism of Israel” for Antisemitism written by a Roman Catholic American retired army officer.

(Conclusion) If you want to commit genocide, you do not warn civilians to seek safe shelter before you engage the combatants in their midst. You’re upset about the pictures of a levelled Gaza? Have you seen what the U.S. military did to Fallujah?

When you know that Israel is the freest, most liberal state in the region; when you know that war is hell and civilians die in all wars; when you know that the IDF engages in state-of-the-art mitigation measures to protect innocent civilians; and you still engage in the blood libelish lies of “Israel is committing genocide,” the only logical conclusion is that this is due to Jew-hatred. Article here

 

 

Eugene Kontorovich: Hamas’s grisly terror raid on Oct. 7 has proved to be the single most stunningly successful act in gaining support for the Palestinian cause across the Western world. One might think that a campaign of unrepentant killing, torture, rape, and hostage-taking would be disqualifying. But in Washington, Hamas’s ongoing crimes have resulted in much of the weight of the U.S. government being brought to bear on advancing the cause of Palestinian statehood…  The specific identity of the perpetrators of gruesome violence does not account for Western advocacy on their behalf. That is explained only by the specific identity of the victims: Jews. This is the common thread that ties together support for Palestinian barbarism abroad and for antisemitic mobs at home. Article here