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Israel Update 20.6.24

HEZBOLLAH WAR ON ISRAEL

 

 

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Wednesday that nowhere in Israel would be safe if a full-fledged war breaks out, while also threatening Cyprus and other parts of the Mediterranean. He said that “an invasion of the Galilee remains on the table if the confrontation escalates.” Reports hereand here

 

 

Braving Hezbollah’s drones and rockets, the few remaining northern residents brace for war. Like dozens of other border communities, Eilon is now populated only by a handful of undeterred civilians and some 20 local men like Ben Lulu, whose reserves service is to guard the infrastructure of their once-vibrant community… Beyond the fear of an onslaught by Hezbollah terrorists, who, unchecked, could reach Eilon within eight minutes on motorcycles, there are the rockets and drones that cruise over Eilon and other border communities frequently and brazenly. They make locals like Ben Lulu realize that Hezbollah can not only rain down indiscriminate fire, but also may target and blow up their homes or families with pinpoint precision. Report here

 

 

BBC INTERVIEWS FORMER HOSTAGE

 

 

An Israeli peace activist who was seized from her home on 7 October and held hostage for 53 days in Gaza has told the BBC how her ordeal destroyed her belief that peace is possible between Palestinians and Israelis. In her first UK interview since being freed in November, Ada Sagi, 75, also told Emma Barnett on Radio 4’s Today programme how she was held in an apartment by paid guards, and that Hamas kept her in a hospital before her release.Article here

 

EXTRACT: Interviewer Emma Barnett: “Just to be clear, a hospital was being used to house hostages…hospital infrastructure is being used by Hamas…”

(Barnett has since been criticised for referring to the armed infiltrators  and kidnappers as “ men working for Hamas” and not terrorists)

 Listen here (recommended)

If link doesn’t work try https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0j52x9s

GAZA WAR

 

On Sunday Israel mourned the loss of eleven IDF soldiers who were killed in 3 separate incidents, fighting in Gaza. Report here

 

A Middle East expert and senior researcher, Dr. Harel Horev said that  (recent) evidence reinforces the assessment that (Hamas leader) Sinwar does not want a deal yet because he wants to bring Israel to its knees by increasing internal pressure regarding the hostages and increasing external pressure that will destroy Israel’s international standing. Report here

 

 

Biden administration officials increasingly doubt that Israel and Hamas will reach a comprehensive ceasefire deal under the current framework proposed by the US President. Top Biden administration officials are now publicly blaming Hamas for creating obstacles to peace.Report here

 

 

The IDF has been fighting in Rafah for over 40 days, advancing slowly amid many booby-trapped houses, concealed passageways, and surveillance cameras. The IDF estimates it has 70% control of the area. So far, at least 550 terrorists have been eliminated and rocket fire from Rafah toward Israel has significantly decreased. More than 200 tunnel shafts and 35 tunnels, some extending into Egypt, have been discovered. The fighting is progressing in planned phases, executed by the IDF according to a detailed strategy. Report here

 

 

Israel is close to achieving its goals in the Gaza city it says was Hamas’s final stronghold, according to Israeli officials and analysts. This raises the possibility that months of major military operations might soon give way to a new, less-intense phase of the conflict.
A complete end to the war is not in sight. Hamas still holds Israeli hostages. The Israel Defense Forces said it has destroyed most of Hamas’s 24 battalions, but lone fighters and small groups are still launching rockets into Israel and targeting troops in areas of Gaza under Israel’s control.
What comes next is a slower-tempo, targeted campaign of raids to keep Hamas from regrouping according to Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former director general of  Strategic Affairs .  Article here (paywall)

 

 

Nahal Brigade Commander Col. Yair Zuckerman spoke about the extent to which Hamas has integrated itself into the (Rafah) civilian area. “There is almost no home without a tunnel.” Homes are boobytrapped with wired explosives that can be detonated at a distance…soldiers have found caches of weapons, rocket-propelled grenades, and long-range rockets. Report here

 

 

NON-EXISTENT GAZA “FAMINE”

 

 

The UN Famine Review Committee published a report on Monday which said there is not enough reliable information to endorse a famine classification for northern Gaza. Report here (paywall)

 

 

Columbia University Professors Awi Federgruen and Ran Kivetz have analyzed available data and conducted research whose “findings demonstrate that sufficient amounts of food are being supplied into Gaza,”  They add that it is “a myth that Israel is responsible for famine in Gaza.” arguing that the International Criminal Court and UN have joined Hamas in blaming Israel for a “famine that never was, hoping to stop the war [in Gaza].”Report here

 

 

GAZA – AID.

 

 

US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf said “I wouldn’t say there is sufficient humanitarian aid going into Gaza — but it is not because Israel is trying to impede it,” She said a series of factors are responsible, including a breakdown in security apparatuses needed for the distribution of aid once it enters Gaza. Report here

 

 

More than 1,000 truckloads of aid were piled up at the Gazan side of the Kerem Shalom Israeli border crossing on Monday, a day after Israel implemented a humanitarian pause in fighting to help increase the flow of aid into Gaza. UN officials say that people are looting trucks when they reach Gaza, making it unsafe for their employees to deliver aid.Report here (paywall)

 

 

There are significant gaps between the data presented on the UN dashboard and the data collected and published by COGAT-the IDF Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.                                                                                                                                              According to COGAT, after an in-depth review, it is clear that the UN data presents an incomplete picture of aid going into Gaza, and there is significant underreporting.
UNRWA does not have the capabilities to be collecting and presenting the aid data. UNWRA’s methodology is deeply flawed and their data is missing significant humanitarian aid. This contributes to a distortion between the reality on the ground and the widely accepted reports. Report here

 

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY ADMINISTERED AREA

 

In videos posted on Telegram on June 16, 2024, children in Tulkarm are seen celebrating the first day of Eid Al-Adha, the “Festival of Sacrifice,” by brandishing weapons and wearing headbands of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.Report & video here

 

 

FRANCE

 

 

On Tuesday, the Paris Commercial Court struck down restrictions requested by the French Defence Ministry on Israeli companies at the Eurosatory 2024 defence trade show. The Ministry last month ordered Coges Event to ban the Israeli defence industry from exhibiting saying that “the conditions are no longer right to host Israeli companies at the Paris show, given that the French president is calling for the cessation of IDF operations in Rafah.” The event is taking place June 17-21. 74 Israeli firms had been due to participate.

A separate ruling from the Bobigny District Court over the weekend, that organizers of the exhibition must ban anyone working for or representing Israeli firms from participating, was not directly addressed by Tuesday’s decision… Coges President wrote that the organization thinks the court’s ruling “goes beyond the government’s decision taken two weeks ago,” as the latter prevented Israeli firms from exhibiting at the fair, while the former bans their representatives from entering. Reports herehereand here

 

 

2024 EUROPEAN AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS

 

Israeli swimmers have won gold medals in 3 events:

The women’s 4×200 freestyle relay

The mixed 400 m relay

The women’s 400 m individual medley

Result herehereand here

Watch Anastasia Gorbenko win her individual medley  gold medal View here

If link doesn’t work try  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w88jZwY747Y

 

COMMENT & OPINION

 

Hezbollah’s War against Northern Israel 

 

Former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren said the U.S. needs to give Israel full backing to “do what it needs to do” to neutralize the Hizbullah threat. The administration is pressing Israel not to respond to Hizbullah in a more robust fashion.
“But the situation is simply intolerable,” Oren said. “What’s happening is that Hizbullah is realizing Israel’s worst nightmare which is a war of creeping attrition, where every day the rocket fires are advancing southward, but Hizbullah is not giving us a clear trigger that we can respond to….We cannot play by Hizbullah’s rules here, we have to break out of this. It would be extremely important if we had America’s backing.”

Article here

 

 

 

The BBC News website published a report by a Beirut-based BBC Arabic correspondent about her UNIFIL-escorted trip to two villages in southern Lebanon which ignored the UNIFIL’ s 18 -year-long failure to enforce the terms of UN Security Council resolution 1701   which bars Hizballah from maintaining a military presence south of the Litani river, some 30 kms north of the border with Israel. Article here

 

 

And re the same report Seth J Frantzman: This BBC report is symbolic in that it …refuses to fully uncover how Hezbollah has destroyed the lives of villages like this one. The illegal terrorist group has harmed these beautiful areas by using them in the war on Israel, a fact that the international community conveniently ignores. Article here

 

 

Gaza War

 

 

David Horowitz: As the US says and the partially published terms indicate, there is an Israeli proposal on the table that would end the war for the return of all hostages. Hamas just doesn’t want it. Article here

 

 

 

Con Coughlin: It is now becoming increasingly evident that it is the fanaticism of Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas terrorist mastermind behind the Oct. 7 atrocities, that is thwarting peace efforts. Sinwar once boasted of strangling one suspected Palestinian collaborator to death with his bare hands.
Sinwar’s sole ambition has been to ensure that Hamas survives in Gaza once hostilities have ended…Any ceasefire deal that enables Hamas to maintain any vestige of control in Gaza would be seen as rewarding its leaders for committing gross acts of terrorism. Western policymakers should understand that Hamas, not Israel, is the real obstacle to achieving a lasting peace in Gaza.    Article here (paywall)

 

 

Arsen Ostrovsky and John Spencer: The four Israeli hostages rescued from Gaza last week were held captive by Palestinian civilians in their homes in central Gaza – including a journalist with bylines in Al Jazeera and his physician father. Let’s get something straight from the outset: When you take hostages, you risk death. The moral and legal responsibility for any casualties resulting from the operation to free the hostages rests fully with Hamas and those holding hostages captive.
If you are a journalist or physician holding hostages, you are no longer a “civilian.” The Geneva Convention makes it unequivocally clear that civilians lose that protection when they take direct part in the hostilities. In other words, when you hold hostages captive, you become a legitimate military target. Article here

 

 

Jennifer Rubin: Any civilian death is regrettable, but in this scenario, Hamas is solely responsible for the casualties resulting from the (hostages’) rescue mission.To the extent civilians become participants – including hostage-holding – they lose the protection of international law. Article here (paywall)

 

 

Jason Willick: Israel has a political and strategic need to finish off Hamas as a fighting force in Gaza. Hamas has an existential need to survive to fight another day. The Biden administration appears to have been labouring for months on the assumption that this contradiction can be papered over with sufficiently elaborate diplomacy. The result has been a predictably failed cycle of ceasefire back and forths.
It’s time for President Biden to stop trying to bridge unbridgeable gaps. His anguished diplomatic straddling has reached the end of the line. Biden can make a hostage deal come sooner if he stops dangling the possibility of increasingly favourable terms for the terrorist group. Article here (paywall)

 

 

Josh Feldman: The Jewish state can secure its existence in the Middle East only if the forces that wish to destroy it are deterred. But if Israel loses the war in Gaza, (Israeli philosopher) Micah Goodman explained, “the Middle East loses its fear” of Israel. In other words, “if there is no victory, there is no survival.” And no amount of international pressure or outrage can convince Israelis to sacrifice their very existence.
If Israelis feel they are being forced to choose between international opprobrium and death, they’ll choose the former without thinking twice. Perhaps more than any other nation, Israelis understand that nobody else can be trusted to secure the Jewish state’s existence. Israelis have learned to believe their enemies’ threats, and not to rely on their friends’ promises.
In 2004, U.S. President George W. Bush promised Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that should Israel pull out of Gaza, “the United States will lead efforts…[to] prevent the areas from which Israel has withdrawn from posing a threat.” That promise was not kept. Article here

 

 

Bassam Tawil: On the eve of Hamas’s Oct. 7, 2023, attack on Israel, Israeli authorities had issued permits to work in Israel to 18,500 Palestinians from Gaza and were discussing increasing the number of permits.
The Oct. 7 atrocities serve as a reminder that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not about improving the living conditions of the Palestinians or strengthening their economy. Article here

 

 

Dr. Rafael Medoff : UN officials and Western media have criticized Israel’s rescue of four hostages from Gaza. But in 1976, there was criticism of Israel’s rescue of hostages from Entebbe too when Israel’s P.M was Yitzhak Rabin.
The Organization of African Unity accused Israel of “wanton aggression” and demanded reparations for damage to the airport in Uganda.
The Soviet and Chinese governments denounced “Zionist aggression.”
UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim charged that Israel had committed a “serious violation of the sovereignty” of Uganda.
U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger informed Israel’s ambassador in Washington that because the Israelis had used U.S. equipment in the raid, “we will have to put a temporary freeze on military shipments.” Article here

 

 

French ban on Israel at  Defence Trade Show

 

Robert Williams: This is the same French government…so obsessed with appearing inclusive and non-discriminatory that it recently supported a bill that outlaws discrimination based on hair texture, length, colour or style.

Meanwhile, the French government did not think it necessary to ban the participation of China, presently indulging in two genocides – against Tibetans and against Uyghurs – from participating in Eurosatory. Article here