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Israel Update 13.6.24

HEZBOLLAH’S  WAR ON ISRAEL

 

 

After Hezbollah fired some 80 rockets at northern Israeli communities throughout Tuesday, the terror group announced the death of a senior commander in an alleged Israeli airstrike on Tuesday night.

Hezbollah launched some 215 rockets and several more missiles and drones at northern Israel on Wednesday, the largest attack carried out by Hezbollah during ongoing fighting on the Lebanon border. For the first time in the current conflict, Tiberias was targeted as well as Safed and Rosh Pinah, sending tens of thousands of people to shelters, as Jewish Israelis celebrated the Shavuot (Pentecost) holiday.

Report here Report here

 

At the time of writing, (Thursday afternoon) sirens wail incessantly across northern Israel as Hezbollah fires multiple rocket and drone barrages; at least 4 people have been injured and brush fires rage in at least 15 locations. Reports hereherehere

HOSTAGE RESCUE

 

 

Saturday’s operation to rescue Israeli hostages from central Gaza’s Nuseirat is considered one of the most complex hostage rescue missions ever by the IDF. The hostages were held in civilian areas, above ground. Noa Argamani on the first floor of one building, while Andrey Kozlov, Shlomi Ziv and Almog Meir Jan were held on the third floor of another building, hundreds of yards apart, alongside Gazan families. Hamas frequently moved the four hostages from one apartment to another. Report here

 

 

Border Police counter-terrorism Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora, 36, was fatally wounded by Hamas fire on Saturday while breaching a building where three of the four Israeli hostages were being held.He is survived by his wife and two children. On Oct. 7, he led a battle against Hamas near Yad Mordechai, killing dozens of terrorists and preventing them from infiltrating the kibbutz. Later, he was involved in fighting at the Nahal Oz base and in Kibbutz Be’eri. Report here

 

 

In an interview with the BBC, former IDF Spokesperson Lt.-Col. (ret.) Jonathan Conricus said “The whole civilian issue here really needs to be analyzed impartially and understood….The Israeli hostages were held and jailed by Palestinian civilians in a Palestinian civilian area….What was the role of the surrounding community and the hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinians who, for sure, were aware of the fact that the Israeli hostages were being held in their midst?”
Interviewer: Would there have been a warning to those civilians to get out on time?
Conricus: “For sure, we cannot anticipate for Israel to be warning ahead of a raid to save hostages, because then, what the terrorists would do is to kill the hostages and that would defeat the purpose, so of course we cannot expect that.”
“There was a significant firefight. According to testimony of Israeli soldiers, there were RPGs, rockets, heavy machine gun fire, grenades being thrown, and I think we cannot rule out that at least some of the alleged Palestinian casualties were the result of reckless Palestinian fire.”
“The bottom line here…is that, again, just like we saw in Rafah three months ago, Israeli civilians were held hostage by Palestinian civilians…. We have the complicity of Palestinian civilians.” Tweet here 

 

 

The three male hostages had been held captive in the home of journalist Abdallah Aljamal, 36, who was killed along with his physician father, Dr. Ahmed Aljamal, 74, The Aljazeera website listed Abdallah as a reporter for the site and he published almost daily articles in English in the Palestine Chronicle. Report here

 

 

The doctor in charge of the hostages’ medical treatment said they were beaten while in Hamas captivity. “It was a harsh, harsh experience, with a lot of abuse, almost every day,” said Dr. Itai Pessach of Sheba Medical Centre “Every hour, both physical, mental, and other types, and that is something that is beyond comprehension.” He said the eight months spent in captivity “left a significant mark on their health” and they are all malnourished. “They had no protein, so their muscles are extremely wasted; there is damage to some other body systems because of that….There have been periods where they got almost no food whatsoever.” They are in a worse physical and psychological state than initially believed and are  constantly seeking each other out, indicating their continued need to lean on each other for support. Andrey Kozlov told his parents that for two months, they were tied up by their hands and feet.

Report hereReport here and hereand here

 

 

A team of American hostage recovery officials stationed in Israel assisted the Israeli military’s successful effort to rescue four captives on Saturday by providing intelligence and other logistical support. While Israel has its own intelligence, the U.S. and Britain have been able to provide intelligence from the air and cyberspace that Israel cannot collect on its own.

The RAF has conducted over 250 intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance  sorties near Gaza since December 3, 2023, according a Canadian research consultant who tracks planes.Report here Report here (paywall)report here

 

 

The Israel Police published body camera footage of its Counterterrorism Unit rescuing three of the hostages under heavy fire. View video embedded here

 

 

THE WAR AGAINST HAMAS

 

 

Four IDF soldiers were killed in Rafah on Monday and six others were hurt when an explosive device detonated in a building they had entered, causing its collapse. Report here

 

 

 

One problem in Gaza is that Hamas systematically uses hospitals and schools and there is a second systematic issue, the decision by NGOs   and UN staff working there to never mention Hamas and not to monitor facilities for the presence of Hamas. When hundreds of men come into a building and take over part of it, if the men don’t wear uniforms, they are not even called an “armed group.” Analysis here

 

 

Last week the IDF  announced it discovered a weapons factory in Rafah with dozens of weapons ready for use. In addition, nearby the IDF used a drone to find a boobytrapped house which contained dozens of mortars. Report here

 

Israeli reserve soldiers are saying that Biden’s diplomacy is actually dragging out the Gaza war… By restraining Israel, they said, Biden is preventing it from defeating or deterring its genocidal enemies. Israelis are overwhelmingly grateful for U.S. military and diplomatic support. But more than eight months into the Gaza war, IDF reservists’ frustration with the Biden administration reflects growing awareness in Israel of a conflict between Washington’s imagined Middle East and the brutal reality. “What we need to do is come to a conclusion quickly, but we need to come to a positive conclusion for us so we don’t face the same thing a decade from now,” said  a military intelligence reservist. Another reservist said, “The people of Israel want to defeat Hamas, want to bring back the hostages, and want to go all in. But for some reason we’re dragging our feet in the sand in Gaza. The only explanation I have is that Biden is holding us back.”
Kobi Michael, a researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said the Americans “are normalizing Hamas and keeping Hamas as the sovereign power in Gaza. This will give encouragement to the Iranian axis and create huge challenges for Israel on all the other fronts.” Michael argued that no Israeli leader could leave Hamas in control of Gaza. U.S. pressure “doesn’t mean Israel won’t successfully end the war in Gaza, but it means the war will be much more complicated and difficult.”  Report here

 

 

CO-OPERATION

 

Earlier this week, IDF Chief of Staff General Hertzi Halevi met in Bahrain with his counterparts from several Arab armies to discuss regional security co-operation under  the auspices of the Commander of the U.S. Central Command, General Eric Kurilla.  The meeting was a sign that the military dialogue and co-operation between Israel and the Arab countries continues under the central command of the US Army. As well as Kurilla and Halevi, senior generals from Bahrain, the UAE, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt also participated.Report here

 

 

RECOVERY

 

 

A seven-year-old Bedouin girl who was seriously injured in a massive Iranian missile attack on Israel in mid-April spoke last week in front of a television camera, her first public appearance since her hospitalization. Report here

 

 

SPORT

 

 

Guy Sasson  won his first tennis Grand Slam title in the wheelchair Quad category at the French Open.Report here

 

 

Archer Roy Dror won the Croatian Grand Prix. Photos here

 

 

The Israeli delegation to the European Athletics Championships in Rome celebrated a major achievement on Sunday after the marathon team won the silver medal in the team half marathon event. Results here

 

 

Artistic swimmers Shelly Bobritsky and Ariel Nassee won bronze in the free duet exercise at the European Championships in Belgrade, Israel’s first European medal in duet.Results here

 

 

Adam Maraana is the first Arab-Israeli to represent Israel at the Olympics since 1976 and the first to do so in swimming. The 20-year-old will compete in the 100m backstroke. Report here

 

COMMENT & OPINION

 

Hostage Rescue

 

 

DTel Editorial

 

The ultimate success of her (Noa’s) rescue alongside three other hostages is a stunning triumph for the IDF, and a stinging rebuke to the country’s critics. Had calls for a unilateral end to Israeli military operations been heeded, it is frighteningly plausible that these four people would never have been freed.
Israel’s dogged commitment to rescuing the hostages and destroying Hamas stand in marked contrast to the weakness of the West in supporting its efforts. All too often, the libels spread by Hamas have been allowed to pass effectively unchallenged, while Israel’s military operations have been subjected to a level of scrutiny that is all but impossible to satisfy. Editorial here (paywall)

 

 

 

WSJ Editorial: Professional anti-Israel voices, UN officials and the EU foreign-policy chief rushed to attack Israel. How dare Israel rescue its own citizens. Didn’t it know there would be casualties?
Haters of Israel will blame it and excuse Hamas every time, and the media are easily manipulated into playing along. The Hamas casualty figure is likely inflated, and it includes the terrorists killed trying to stop the rescue as well as those who hid the hostages.
Hamas started the war with a massacre, took these hostages and hid them in a crowded civilian area. Then, when Israel came to free them, Hamas responded with heavy fire, including RPGs – yet people are condemning Israel. It makes us wonder if the West has lost the moral discernment and instinct for self-preservation needed to defend itself in a world of killers. (paywall) Editorial here

 

 

@DavidM_Friedman

To those lamenting the loss of life in Israel’s miraculous rescue of four Israeli hostages, ask yourselves this question: why did the rescue team come under an intense barrage of fire, both inside the buildings housing the hostages and as they were trying to escape, if this was a “civilian” location? Tweet here

 

 

Nadav Shragai: Hamas kept all seven hostages that the IDF has so far rescued in “civilian” residential apartments. Many of the neighbours knew. Thousands of the “uninvolved” demonstrated on the eve of the Oct. 7 massacre right next to the fence, buried explosives along it, and marked weak points.
During the massacre itself, thousands of the “uninvolved” arrived in the area around Gaza to complete the job of murder, looting, and arson. They danced like madmen around the trucks with the kidnapped children, women, elderly, and youths, chanting “Death to the Jews.”
The “uninvolved” assisted Hamas in moving rockets to hiding places. “Uninvolved” teachers taught Gazan children that it is a religious duty to kill Jews, and “uninvolved” mothers declared they were proud to send their children to battle to become martyrs.
During the war, IDF soldiers found that in thousands of homes of “uninvolved” families, weapons were buried, rockets were hidden, or tunnels were dug. Hundreds of thousands of Gazans voted for Hamas in 2006, whose charter called for the destruction of the Jews and the State of Israel. Article here

 

 

Bassam Tawil: The rescue of four Israeli hostages on June 8 has confirmed that Palestinian civilians were, and continue to be, complicit in the crimes carried out by Hamas. If regimes such as Hamas do not want their civilians killed during hostage rescue operations, they should not start unprovoked wars to begin with, then complain when they are hit back. They also should not take hostages, then hide them among the civilian population. Article here

 

 

Jonathan A Greenblatt: The Hard Bigotry of No Expectations: Why don’t the Israel critics ask how ordinary Gazans could look the other way as innocent men and women are held hostage in their midst.? Article here

 

 

David Israel: At that point (in the BBC interview) Humphrey asked why the IDF did not issue a warning that it was coming, to keep the number of civilian deaths down. If you are a student of human behaviour, you cannot but feel deep admiration for Conricus, who did not use any one of the varieties of proper responses to her idiocy, but instead explained with admirable patience, as one would a small child…the value in keeping such an operation secret. Article here

 

Hezbollah’s war on Israel’s North

 

Matti Friedman: As I write, fires ignited by Hezbollah rockets rage in forests and fields across the north. The images of the blazes seem to symbolize the wildfire that began here on October 7, and which feels like it’s burning out of control in Israel and beyond.

With Israeli and international focus on the fighting in Gaza, and without sending in a single soldier, Hezbollah has successfully moved Israel’s northern border a few miles south. Israel’s military has been picking off Hezbollah fighters and commanders with air strikes, but this hasn’t calmed things down, and no one knows when Israelis who live in the north will be able to return home. Article here

 

Criticism of US Policy

 

 

Bret Stephens: His (Biden’s) style of governance is to manage threats, not defeat them. He believes Israel has a right to protect itself. But his previous insistence that Hamas has to be defeated has given way to a U.S.-backed ceasefire resolution that effectively ensures Hamas’s survival.
He has vowed that Iran will never get nuclear weapons. But in the face of Iran’s refusal to give international inspectors access to its nuclear facilities, the U.S. worked to soften a diplomatic censure.
The Gaza ceasefire…merely punts a problem that needs to be solved: Hamas’s continued grip over the territory. It begins with a six-week pause in the fighting that might lead to the release of some Israeli hostages in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.
But it risks falling apart because no Israeli government will retreat from all of Gaza while Hamas retains power, and Hamas won’t release all the hostages or meet the deal’s other terms while Israeli forces remain there. Article here (paywall)

 

 

Jim Geraghty: It would be nice if Hamas could be cajoled, pressured or bribed into releasing the remaining Israeli hostages. But there’s little sign that will work. The problem is not an insufficient number of Israeli concessions. The problem is that there is little sign Hamas is willing to give up its best remaining bargaining chips.
In April, when a potential pause in fighting and an exchange of Palestinian prisoners in Israel for 40 women or sick or elderly men being held hostage was being negotiated, Hamas said it didn’t have 40 hostages who matched that description. Nor is there reason to think that if Hamas agreed to a ceasefire, it would last very long. Hamas broke ceasefires with Israel in 2003, 2007, and 2008. Hamas broke at least nine short-lived truces in 2014.
The Biden administration, and much of the world, are sitting and waiting for Hamas – a U.S.-designated terrorist organization – to suddenly have a change of heart and become much more reasonable negotiators. These are the same guys who still regularly promise to “bring annihilation upon the Jews.” How many different times and ways does Hamas have to say it? Article here (paywall)

 

 

Elie Kirshenbaum: Last week, the Biden administration, along with 16 other countries, called for Israel to end the war in Gaza without completing its objectives and effectively to enter into a ceasefire agreement with Hamas that would pave the way to a Palestinian state, which would be the ultimate award for the horrific war crimes committed by Hamas in Israel on Oct. 7, 2023.
The joint statement not only insults Israel and undermines its efforts to achieve victory against Hamas in Gaza, but also emboldens the other enemies of Israel and the Western world who are watching what Israel does to eliminate the threat posed by Hamas. Ending the war with Hamas still governing Gaza would send the message that the crimes of Oct. 7 are allowed to go unpunished.
The U.S.-led Marshall Plan to rehabilitate Western Europe after WWII was conditioned on the total de-radicalization of German and Italian society. The international community should expect no less of Gaza.
The statement makes a moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas. It calls “on the leaders of Israel as well as Hamas to make whatever final compromises are necessary to close this deal.” In other words, Israel and Hamas are fighting senselessly like two schoolboys in the playground. This is not a democratic ally of the West fighting a just war against a barbaric terrorist organization. It’s just hotheads who are going at it and need to be held back by the cooler heads in the neighbourhood.
This attitude by countries who are supposed to be Israel’s friends and allies can only encourage Iran and its proxies to continue to pursue their policy of aggression against Israel and Israeli targets in the West. Article here