Wednesday, December 27, 2023

From Ian:

Qanta Ahmed: I Saw the Children Hamas Beheaded With My Own Eyes. Shame on Queen Rania
Back in New York City, Israeli criminal prosecutor Ayelet Razin Bet Or shared with me evidence compiled in Israel's ongoing investigation into Hamas' crimes. Michal Yaniv, Head of Foreign Affairs on Israel's National Security Council, provided me testimonies recorded by Israeli security officials.

One account, far from unusual, is especially harrowing: A woman who survived the Nova music festival in Re'im witnessed a young woman encircled by Hamas, stripped naked, violated, and manhandled by multiple Hamas terrorists as they gang raped her, repositioning her by the waist and hips, moving from one rapist to the other.

Shuddering at the memory, covering her face, with difficulty, the eyewitness continued: One terrorist pulled the woman's long hair, forcibly arching her neck backwards, fully exposing her naked torso, only to sever both her breasts from her chest with his commando knife. Her entire torso fell backwards, slackened in agony. She may have fainted, though she lived through the mutilation. The disembodied breasts fell to the ground, where terrorists casually played with them.

Sergeant Major Natah Katz from the IDF Rabbinical Unit at the Shura base near Ramle described to me cadavers he received with breasts and genitals hacked off, one with a knife impaled directly into the vagina. The mutilation of sexual organs and breasts, "seemed to be an obsession," he recalled. Dr. Chen Kugel, head of Israel's National Forensic Center has confirmed to me the same.

Indeed, Hamas arrived with orders to mass rape: Phrasebooks belonging to Hamas found in the Re'im area listed phonetic Hebrew commands in Arabic "Take your clothes off!"; " Spread your legs!'; "Get down!" Terabytes of their own video data confirm Hamas raped, amputated breasts, mutilated women's genitals, and committed systematic sexual crimes on both the living and the dead. Necrophilia has been explicitly reported.

Despite all of this, almost two months would pass before the U.N. denounced the October 7 sexual violence during hearings. Congressional and Senate Hearings must urgently follow.

Silence ensures Islamist antisemitism overrides human morality. Silence also grants open season for Hamas to continue these obscene crimes with impunity, as they likely still do this hour upon the remaining 129 hostages in captivity.

Genocidal rape has no context. Contextualization is contemptibly antisemitic and pure misogyny, if not open Islamist sympathy.

Repudiation must reverberate globally. In the meantime, I will not rest until Congress, the Senate, and the U.N. speak in unison on the international humanitarian values protecting women, for only then can the decapitated screams of the tiny girl in Abu Kabir can at last be granted silence.
The world’s foremost rabbinic authority on declaring death grapples with Oct. 7 horrors
Rabbi Yaakov Ruzah’s eyes are privy to unspeakable horrors. Horrors that can shake even a man like Ruzah, the world’s foremost rabbinic authority on the laws of death and mourning.

“What I saw after October 7, I haven’t seen in my entire career,” says Ruzah as he sits at his living room table in Bat Yam, a city just south of Tel Aviv, where he serves pro bono as chief rabbi.

“You saw how they purposely desecrated bodies, you saw bodies of babies… you never see babies like this… It is very difficult. I am managing to hold on, but there are people around me who are not able to deal with it,” he says.

As the supreme halachic authority on death, Ruzah wears two hats, one civilian and one military. During his five-decade military career, he has risen to the rank of colonel and serves as the IDF chief rabbi’s adviser on matters related to death and body identification.

As chairman of the Chief Rabbinate’s Dignity of the Deceased Council and as former rabbi of Abu Kabir’s National Center for Forensic Medicine, he is responsible for all non-military personnel murdered in the October 7 massacre.

Judaism has developed a robust and intricate legal system for determining death, even when there is no corpse. A Jewish people that is no stranger to horror and the hostility of host nations — pagan, Christian or Muslim — has seen pogroms, blood libels, the Crusades, auto-da-fés, and the Holocaust. Throughout this bloody history, sages have generated hundreds of legal precedents codifying responses to nearly every imaginable atrocity.

Yet even this rich legal tradition, developed over the ages in exile under repressive and extreme conditions, has come up short, says Ruzah.

“The slaughter of October 7 revived halachic rulings dormant for centuries. And some of the cases that arose were totally unprecedented” in the corpus of Jewish law, he says.

What should be done, for instance, with the cars in which dozens of victims were shot to death? Judaism’s unique sensitivities surrounding the bodies of deceased people dictated that all remains should be removed from the cars.

But for Ruzah that was not enough.

“Even if we manage to remove all of the remains, there is something not right about selling cars in which Jews were massacred for scrap metal so that the insurance companies could get back some of their money.”

Ruzah’s halachic ruling, still pending Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau’s affirmation, is to bury the cars. The resulting mound would become a monument to the victims.
Denying Israel’s right to exist condemns Palestinians to another generation of suffering
How can you expect calls for a ceasefire to be heard if you do not recognize the right to exist of those doing the fighting? Peace depends on the hope of coexistence. It's logical to conclude that the repeated failures of Palestinian leaders to reach a deal for their own state are inextricably linked to a refusal to consider true coexistence. Accepting a two-state solution means accepting Israel, and for some that cannot happen.

The two-state solution is little more than wispy Western fantasy that Israel no longer believes in and Palestinians never believed in. Undermining Israel's right to exist means it has no right to defend itself, which renders everything it does an act of evil.

The implications of this are profound, not least because what happens over there has a measurable aftershock around the world. In my part of London, social media mums lead calls for mass walkouts by primary school children in support of Palestine. Jewish children open their atlases to find Israel has been scribbled out by their classmates. Inculcating political militancy in nine-year-olds will lead to more and more antisemitism. To pretend otherwise is gross deceit.

Some of the pro-Palestinian movement is motivated by a desire for peace and to protect the rights of Palestinians, yet this fervor does not extend to any other conflict or region anywhere else on the planet. Why would this be?

"From the river to the sea" is not merely an expression of solidarity. It is a call for the obliteration of Israel and its inhabitants. Israel can hardly be expected to listen to, let alone negotiate with, another party that plots its destruction. Spare us the moral and intellectual hypocrisy of calling for the protection of one people and the destruction of another. It's not a peace movement if what you really want is war with a different result.

IDF lawyer to 'Post': Why the Israel-Hamas war is like no other - exclusive
No one has ever fought a war with an enemy so deeply entrenched in their civilian population, who so systematically abuses international law – as the IDF faces with Hamas, a senior IDF legal official told The Jerusalem Post.

Fighting Hamas now, when it has topped its prior use of civilians and civilian locations as human shields, is “incredibly complex” and “a new kind of case study” for the challenge of winning a war while limiting harm to civilians.

Part of the IDF’s international law department’s ability to stay on top of the vast number of legal questions regularly coming up is a jump in staff during wartime.

The operational legal advisers branch is available 24/7 and includes about three dozen full-time legal advisers, plus over 100 reservists – a significant growth from where it was a decade ago, even during wartime.

If, at one point, international law legal advisers remained at headquarters and then moved closer to the frontlines at Northern, Southern, and Central Command headquarters, they now also serve at division-level headquarters, closer to the action and real-time developments.

These legal advisers also work closely with the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, and the Justice Ministry.

A common refrain from critics of Israel is that the IDF is killing far more civilians in this war than it did in prior rounds of conflict, which proves it is committing war crimes.

Why is the civilian casualty rate in Gaza so high?
Without endorsing specific figures, the legal adviser said there were multiple, complex reasons why the civilian casualty rate may be much higher now than in the past, none of which, though, should lead to criminal allegations.

He explained that the IDF simply does not yet know all the specific circumstances that make up the large civilian casualty estimates.

If the IDF estimate of 8,000 Hamas terrorists killed is accurate (and it does have some level of uncertainty), and the total number of Palestinian casualties put out by the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry of 20,000 is accurate (this figure has a lot of uncertainty), then the IDF would have killed close to 12,000 Palestinian civilians, when compared to over 1,000 out of around 2,100, back in 2014, during the last ground invasion of Gaza.

In percentages, that would mean 60% of those killed were civilians, compared to 40% fighters, whereas in 2014, it was about 50/50.

According to the legal official, the first condition necessary is more time to paint a clearer understanding of why so many died, what the mistakes were, and what could be classified as collateral damage – given the presence of an important target, the IDF was trying to kill or destroy.
IDF lawyer to 'Post': We comply with int'l law because of duty to democracy
Another special category of cases in this war is hospitals. Although medical centers have special protections under the laws of war, their status can change – again due to the question of proportionality.For example, if the IDF only takes over a facility but does not fire at it, the official was skeptical as to whether there could be a basis to begin a criminal inquiry.

In other words, the very fact that the IDF chose not to attack Shifa actively would negate any case of criminality for indirectly caused deaths from the general negative impact on the hospital’s functionality caused by having been surrounded.

At the level of disrupting its functionality, Hamas would be blamed for using it as a military command center and weapons depot, and the IDF would be justified in taking it over, especially if it did not actively fire on the facility or anyone within it.

One area where the IDF has not given much of a legal rationale for its actions was the early days of the war when it blocked Gaza’s access to water. Blocking access to fuel could have a basis to directly weaken Hamas’s war-making efforts, but blocking access to water would potentially be a grave violation of humanitarian obligations to Gazan civilians.

The official said, “You need to remember that only 10% of Gaza’s water supply comes from Israel.” He noted that, when Hamas rockets damaged the pipes that delivered water, Israel worked to fix them quickly, which provided significant amounts of water to Gaza civilians.

The official concluded, “We comply with international law because of our commitment to democracy.”

Is Gaza Really the World’s ‘Largest Open Air Prison’?
Even as America increasingly highlights humanitarian suffering in Gaza, planning for the “day after” there will require re-examination of past misconceptions, such as calling the Strip the world’s “largest open air prison.”

That moniker, often promoted in press accounts and pushed hard by the Qatari-owned pan-Arab network Al Jazeera, led to unprecedented foreign aid to the Palestinian territories. While Arabs in Syria, Yemen, Sudan, the Sahel, and other war-besieged territories were clamoring for outside help, Gaza received lopsided attention.

“Suddenly we discovered that Gaza, which is inhabited by 2 million people, has 36 hospitals,” Hoda Jannat writes on his widely followed X Arab-language account. “There are Arab countries with 30 million citizens that do not have this number of hospitals.”

The writer notes that before the war, Israel supplied water, electricity, gas, and fuel to Gaza, while no other Arab country enjoys such outside aid. Gaza, he adds, was lavished with cash, including $30 million a month from Qatar, $120 million a month from the United Nations Relief and Work Agency, $50 million a month from the European Union, and $30 million a month from America.

“There are Arab countries drowning in debt and cannot find anyone to help them even with one million dollars,” the writer notes. Contrary to widely held belief, he adds, Gaza was not besieged: goods came in, residents were traveling through Egypt to other countries, and outsiders came in.

“Suddenly we discovered that Gaza was living better than many Arab countries, and its people were living better than many Arab peoples,” Hoda Jannat concludes. A “programmed lie,” he argues, clouded people’s minds, pushed by “Muslim Brotherhood media” — a reference to Al Jazeera.
The United Nations Completely Failed in Lebanon
Furthermore, a limited U.N. mandate and dependence on the LAF are not the only reasons that Hezbollah managed to dig its heels in the south despite the presence of thousands of peacekeepers.

“Over the years, Hezbollah systematically dismantled 1701; it neutered UNIFIL by bullying its troops or physically attacking them while it entrenched itself in civilian locations, and as the Lebanese state became weaker it enhanced its dominance over the Lebanese Armed Forces,” added Conricus, the IDF spokesperson.

The U.N. secretary-general’s report this year acknowledged several attacks against its peacekeepers, but did so without directly blaming Hezbollah. It is widely understood that Hezbollah controls southern Lebanon—and that nothing happens there, certainly when it concerns UNIFIL’s peacekeepers, without Hezbollah’s knowledge or orders.

Israelis also suspect that the more than 10,000 peacekeepers from 47 nations who were expected to demilitarize southern Lebanon are deterred by such attacks and lack the will to challenge Hezbollah, especially when they are not fighting for their own country but rather in a distant conflict far away from their homelands.

Sarit Zehavi, the founder and president of Alma Research and Education Center, an Israeli think tank, lives about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the border with Lebanon. “The UNIFIL says they don’t have the mandate. Let’s say a solution is found and they have a new mandate that authorizes them to go home to home and take out Hezbollah’s rockets. Will they do it? They won’t, because Hezbollah will kill them,” she told Foreign Policy over the phone from Upper Galilee, a region near the border. “The Lebanese army won’t do it because Hezbollah are his brothers and sisters,” she added. “We have only one option.”

Members of the Israeli government say the goal is to end Hezbollah’s presence and destroy its infrastructure on the border and at this stage, Israel is trying to achieve this through diplomatic channels.

“We are turning to every normal country, be it the United States, France, Arab countries—anyone who could somehow influence the situation and has some influence in Lebanon,” Yuli Edelstein, the chairman of the Israeli parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, told news agency Reuters.

U.S. energy envoy Amos Hochstein is reportedly proposing a deal to resolve long-standing territorial differences on the Israeli-Lebanese border and achieve peace. But Hezbollah has ruled out any deal, for now. Naim Qassem, the deputy chief of the group, said the Lebanese front would remain open as long as the aggression against the Gaza Strip continues. Lebanese experts interpret this as at least a partial willingness to talk once the endgame in Gaza is clearer and talk of a more sustainable deal between Israelis and Palestinians is being discussed.

“What Hezbollah will do comes down to one question—what does Iran want?” said Sami Nader, a Lebanese political expert. “In my view, Iran wants a seat at the table whenever final settlement is being discussed.”

UNIFIL, meanwhile, says it hasn’t failed and takes some of the credit for 17 years of relative quiet on the border. “This accomplishment is due to the work of peacekeepers—in particular, our liaison and coordination mechanisms that have helped de-escalate a number of situations over the years, but also the commitment of the parties,” Kandice Ardiel, the mission’s deputy chief of strategic communications and public information, told Foreign Policy via WhatsApp.

UNIFIL has undoubtedly had an important mediating role in compensating for the lack of diplomatic relations between Israel and Lebanon. But both the Israelis and the Lebanese feel that the relative quiet of the past decade and a half was due not to UNIFIL’s successes, but rather Israel and Hezbollah’s aversion to a full-scale war in the face of its failures. Now, Israel says it has been compelled to rethink that stance.
‘No stone unturned’: Comptroller vows wide probe into government’s October 7 failures
State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman said his office would “leave no stone unturned” in its investigation into the multiple failures that occurred before, during, and after the Hamas terror group’s October 7 massacre, as he laid out the parameters of the gargantuan probe Wednesday.

Englman said his office will look into all aspects of the “multi-system failures,” including examining those with “personal responsibility” for the “failures on all levels – policy, military and civilian.” The probe will make up the lion’s share of the agency’s activities over 2024, he said, indicating that it will supersede quarterly reports on other aspects of the state’s functioning.

Among the issues to be reviewed by the comptroller’s office are the conduct of the government’s security cabinet; the conduct of policymakers and the military on October 7 itself; intelligence preparedness before October 7; the defense posture on the Gaza border before the Hamas invasion; the preparedness of the civilian security squads in the Gaza border region before the war; the funding of Hamas; and the lack of equipment for IDF soldiers, he said.

His office will also study the government’s actions following the outbreak of war, including how civilians from the south and north were relocated; the evacuation of the injured and the collection and identification of the bodies of the victims; the right of those harmed in the attack and their ability to access those rights; and the government’s public diplomacy activities.

On economic concerns related to the war, Englman and the State Comptroller’s Office will also examine the process of formulating the recently approved supplementary budget for war expenses, as well as the implementation of financial assistance programs for those affected by the war.

He will also review state preparedness for cyberattacks and the management of digital information used for dealing with evacuees.

Englman said the government’s functioning will be examined in the period before the October 7 atrocities committed by Hamas, on the day itself, and in the time since.
Erdoğan proclaims Netanyahu ‘no different’ than Hitler
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “no different” than Adolf Hitler due to Israel’s prosecution of the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“We watched Israel’s Nazi camps. What kind of job is this?” asked Erdoğan during a speech, according to a Channel 12 translation. “They talk about Hitler in a strange way. What is the difference between them and Hitler? They will make us miss Hitler even more,” he continued.

“The voice that stands with the oppressed is the voice of the Muslim Turks,” added Erdoğan.

In a statement shared by Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu slammed the Turkish leader for his support of “Hamas-ISIS, which committed crimes against humanity.

“Erdoğan, who is committing genocide against the Kurds, who holds a world record for imprisoning journalists who oppose his rule, is the last person who can preach morality to us,” stated the premier.

“The IDF is the most moral army and the world, which is fighting and destroying the most abhorrent terrorist organization in the world,” added Netanyahu.

US rejects Israeli request for vital Apache attack helicopters
The United States has rejected an Israeli request for Apache attack helicopters to help its forces fight Hamas during the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip, but the answer may not be final, Ynet reported Tuesday.

The IDF asked the Pentagon if it could purchase the choppers a few weeks ago, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also pressed his American counterpart, Lloyd Austin, for them, when the Secretary of Defense visited Israel last week, said the news site.

“Security sources” told Ynet that Israel is not taking “no” for an answer and that the Americans have not put a decisive kibosh on the acquisition.

The IAF currently has only 48 of these aircraft, which are being flown around the clock to support troops in Gaza and conduct airstrikes to deter Hezbollah terrorists in the north. They are so vitally needed that overage pilots in their fifties have been called out of retirement to fly combat missions so that the regular pilots and active reservists can rest a little more.

There is one squadron each of the AH-64A and D varieties, which have already been decommissioned in the U.S. as their Boeing manufacturer has gone on to produce the faster, stronger, AH-64E that has improved avionics, radar and other systems. The IAF has mulled for years whether to invest in the E version or wait for an even more advanced attack helicopter that won’t be on sale until the early 2030s.

The decision to go with 20 of the currently available Apache E’s was reportedly made in May, but none had yet been ordered. At the time, the idea was not to add another squadron but replace the oldest aircraft, for which it is very difficult to find spare parts anymore. Considering current circumstances, the phase-out may be drawn out over a longer period of time.

Israel is a specialist in upgrading its air fleet, both jets and helicopters, considering their steep cost. It has overhauled its Apaches over their decades of service with new radar and other systems. At least a quarter of its fleet also now boasts the most advanced, Spike precision missile system, designed by leading Israeli defense company Rafael. This system allows the pilot to fire at targets up to 30 kilometers away.

The war has proven that the IDF cannot simply rely on its large fleet of drones and unmanned aerial vehicles, which had taken over much of the surveillance and even operational support duties in recent years that helicopters had done in the past.
Caroline Glick interview: US REFUSE to supply helicopters to Israel?

October 7 massacre was retaliation for Soleimani killing, Iran says - report
The October 7 massacre in southern Israel was a response to the 2020 assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qassem Soleimani, according to Al Jazeera citing an IRGC statement on Wednesday morning.

The rest of the IRGC statement addressed the assassination of a senior IRGC adviser in Damascus on Monday, which local security sources and Iranian state media claimed was carried out by Israel.

The assassination was "an act of terrorism," according to the IRGC statement as cited by Haaretz.

Hamas rejected Iran's statement, saying:

"Hamas denies the validity of the remarks given by the spokesperson of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Brigadier General Ramadan Sharif, regarding the operation of the Flood of al-Aqsa and its motives.

"We have repeatedly confirmed the motives and reasons for the operation of the Flood of al-Aqsa, and foremost are the dangers that threaten al-Aqsa Mosque.

"We also confirm that all acts of Palestinian resistance come in response to the Zionist occupation and its ongoing aggression against our people and our holy sites." IDF statement after Damascus assassination

"I will not comment on various actions we take. The IDF is working together with other security organizations throughout the Middle East, within the borders of the state, around the borders of the state," Herzi Halevi told reporters near Gaza when asked about the strike.

"We take whatever action necessary to make it very clear that we are very determined to defend the country, are willing to go far," Chief of the General Staff Halevi said.

IDF expands ground offensive into Gaza’s central urban camps
Israeli forces on Tuesday expanded the ground campaign into urban refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip, and are continuing to fight in Khan Yunis in the south.

“The IDF forces are fighting in the Gaza Strip in Khan Yunis, and we have expanded the fighting to the area called the ‘central camps,'” IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said during a press briefing on Tuesday night.

“We are operating in Khan Yunis with new methods and with a different force composition in the face of the challenge, and the same is true in the central camps. We will continue to adapt the operation, the method and the composition of the forces according to the operational needs,” he continued.

On Tuesday, forces from the IDF’s 36th Division launched an attack on terror infrastructure in the al-Bureij camp in central Gaza, which the army described as an “established Hamas terror nest.”

During the operation, Israeli forces located a tunnel shaft leading to a wide underground route and a Hamas training complex containing many weapons. A tunnel shaft was discovered in the al-Bureij camp, in Gaza. Credit: IDF.

The ground offensive in the central camps comes about a month after an Israeli air strike killed Ayman Nofal, the commander of Hamas’s Central Brigade.

With regard to Shejaia, Division 36 commander Brig. Gen. Dado Bar Khalifa said, “The fighting in Shejaia was difficult and complex and we managed to achieve significant achievements during it. Shejaia will no longer be a terror center for Hamas.”

Mossad agent explains: How Hamas funneled millions for Gaza terrorism
Hamas could not have developed its capabilities to the extent that it did without the billions of dollars it received from around the world, according to Dr. Udi Levy, former head of the Mossad's Economic Warfare Division and currently a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Institute of Strategy and Security. For more stories from The Media Line go to In an interview with The Media Line, Levy explains that his unit alerted the Israeli government in 2014 about Hamas' significant financial support, primarily from Qatar, after more than a decade of monitoring its financial activities.

He notes that the government, led then and now by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, adopted a policy of permitting this influx of funds, believing it would temporarily ease the security tensions between Israel and Hamas.

Without substantial funding, particularly from Qatar, Levy says, Hamas could not have constructed extensive tunnel networks, acquired numerous rockets, and, crucially, paid its personnel.

Military defeat insufficient to stop Hamas
Levy warns that military defeat alone is insufficient against groups like Hamas; halting their funding is crucial for victory.

While the war has weakened Hamas' financial system, the group continues to have sources of income. He reveals that substantial funds are still accessible to the group in Turkish banks and that humanitarian aid intended for Gaza is being diverted to the organization.

This is not solely an Israel-Palestinian issue, Levy says, but a global concern. He cautions that if the global community does not halt funding to radical groups, liberal Western nations may soon discover they have inadvertently allowed terrorist ideologies to proliferate within their own borders.

Druze village's restaurant goes kosher to provide free food to IDF soldiers, evacuees
In a touching display of solidarity, Noor, a local restaurant in the Druze village of Julis in Northern Israel, has become a kosher establishment. The restaurant has made the move to provide free pre-packaged meals for IDF soldiers and evacuees during the ongoing war.

Noor, which opened only a year ago, is making history as the first kosher establishment in the northern village of Julis. Asma, the owner of Noor, has enthusiastically embraced the new concept, aiming to provide a diverse range of services to both regular patrons and new visitors.

In a post on social media, local resident Mansoor Khanjar shared the news: “Noor Restaurant is changing its concept: from a non-kosher restaurant to a kosher one! In a fortunate turn of events, we have received kosher certification, and from now on, all soldiers will enjoy kosher Druze cuisine.”

UTJ deputy minister helps process
The conversion process was not without its challenges, and Asma sought assistance from Deputy Minister Uri Maklev of United Torah Judaism, a haredi party in the current government. The deputy minister’s office promptly engaged with the chief rabbinate, facilitating all the necessary procedures to ensure a smooth transition to a kosher establishment.

Maklev visited Noor upon the successful completion of the transformation. Asma thanked Maklev for his prompt assistance. “We asked to kasher the place for the benefit of the soldiers. We will happily replace the entire menu so that we can feed our kosher-observant soldiers,” she said, “This is a historic move, and it will be credited to you.”Noor welcomes patrons seven days a week, presenting a diverse menu featuring kosher meat dishes and an array of genuine Druze culinary delights. Conveniently situated a short distance from the village center, the establishment provides easy accessibility for visitors.

The welcoming atmosphere of Julis is emphasized in Khanjar’s post: “We look forward to enjoying the company of both our regular and special guests who come to dine with us. Julis welcomes you with love. Come visit our beautiful village!”

'You haven't done anything wrong': Mother of slain Israeli hostage meets troops involved
Iris Haim, the mother of Israeli hostage Yotam Haim who was mistakenly shot by IDF soldiers operating in Gaza in a friendly fire incident, said that despite the tremendous tragedy, she doesn’t blame anyone in the incident.

"There’s no contradiction between the fact that I’m in pain and grieving and the fact that I don't blame anyone in the incident. There’s no one to blame here," she said in an interview with Ynet. "I also don't use the word 'forgive' because you haven't done anything wrong in my eyes. You haven't done anything intentionally, you didn’t mean to cause harm, you didn't mean it."

Iris — who has previously said in a public recording that not only does she not harbor anger toward the soldiers who opened fire at her son, but also embraces them and has invited them to visit her home — explained in the interview that, while anger is a completely normal emotion to feel, she believes it is useless. "The question should be whether it pushes us forward. It doesn't for me, so I don't use it," she said.

Since the tragedy, Iris said she’s trying to positively influence others through her personal story and decided to speak out when her son was still held captive by Hamas, during the initial stages of the IDF’s ground operation in the Gaza Strip.

"Suddenly I realized that soldiers were going to be there, and the implication was that they might also be killed, and unfortunately, I wasn’t mistaken. It was very important for me to place myself and the mothers of the captives, or the hostages in general, along with the soldiers – not as something separate, that somehow makes us, the mothers, as the only ones who mattered in this."

She said she posted a video at that time addressing the mothers of the IDF soldiers: "This video reached many people from different sectors, who heard me addressing all mothers in Israel and saying, You and I are the same.' You’re fighting for my son – but my son is also a part of that, it's not that he or the hostages stand out. I only spoke for myself. I think at this point, people started to want to hear that more."
'I gave it all, I have no regrets': The letter a fallen IDF soldier left for his parents
Sergeant First Class (res.) Joseph Gitarts wrote in a letter his parents received after his death: 'I lived a good and interesting life, I wasn't afraid of death; I made this choice myself and followed it through to the end; I fell with honor for the sake of my people, I have no regrets'

"I could have chosen not to come here and hide. But that goes against everything I believe in and value – and the person I consider myself to be. Therefore, I had no choice, and I would do the same thing if I could choose again." This is what Sergeant First Class (res.) Joseph Gitarts, 25, from Tel Aviv, who was killed in Gaza on Monday, wrote to his parents.

The sealed letter that Gitarts wrote before he was called to the reserves to fight in Gaza, anticipating the tragic scenario that has now unfolded, began with an attempt to console his parents.

"Dear Mom and Dad, I love you very much. Everything is as it should be. I chose this path myself. I've lived a good and interesting life. Nevertheless, I have never been afraid of death. I made this choice myself and followed it through to the end. I fell with honor for the sake of my people. I have no regrets."

"I love you very much and am proud that you are my parents. You gave me so much. I had a very interesting, rich, happy and unique life. My death only underscores that. You are surely in great pain, but you will overcome it. I really wish for that. Both of you have many people close to you who will support you. Please find something positive in all of this. Be with your grandchildren. Help Israel. I'm okay," he also wrote in the letter.

Gitarts, a soldier in the 7029 Armored Battalion of the 179th Brigade, fell on Monday in a southern Gaza Strip battle after he was hit by an anti-tank missile. In recent years, he conducted scientific work in the field of medicine and computer science, and in the past year, he began developing a startup in the field.

The total number of IDF casualties in the war stands at 491, with 158 of them dying since the beginning of the ground offensive in Gaza.

IDF reservist who died fighting in Gaza auditioned to be Israel’s Eurovision entry
An IDF reservist has been killed in Gaza just weeks after successfully auditioning on a TV show which picks Israel’s submission for the Eurovision Song Contest.

Shaul Greenglick, 26, was killed in the northern part of the Strip on Tuesday.

Greenglick had performed on ‘Israel's Rising Star’ on December 3 while on leave from his mobilisation in Israel’s war against Hamas.

He sang Hanan Ben Ari’s hit ‘Blind Bat’ dressed in army fatigues and lieutenant's stripes.

The 26-year-old successfully passed through to the next round of the selection process but dropped out to focus on fighting in the IDF.

Greenglick said in a post on Facebook on December 14: "I imagined this year differently, as a year of aspiration and of living my dreams.

"Now I'm living an old dream, of fighting for the country .... A new, different dream will have to wait a bit."

One of the judges, Keren Peles, told Greenglick on the stage: "I'm happy to see you wearing a uniform, because it's reassuring that someone like you is in uniform. I would be happy to see you representing Israel at Eurovision."

Paying tribute, Assi Azar, the host of the program, wrote: "Dear Shaul fell in Gaza. We met only twice, in the interview before the audition for The Rising Star and at the audition itself. These were short meetings, but you didn't need more than that to feel the magic in him.

“He was a smiling man. The kind of person you immediately want to be your friend. He was a singer with grace, with kind eyes. And now he is gone. I would like to send my condolences, on behalf of myself and the entire production team, to his family.

“Our hearts are all filled with sorrow. I wish this nightmare would end already. May his memory be blessed."

Northern towns rocked by heaviest Hezbollah barrages since outbreak of war

Lebanese-Australian, Hezbollah brother killed in Israeli airstrike US intercepts over a dozen Houthi drones, missiles; IDF intercepts drone toward Eilat

Israel grants initial approval for Cyprus-Gaza humanitarian corridor

‘Heart-wrenching’ how badly Oct. 7 survivors want to share aftermath, says media delegation
Shai DeLuca, a Canadian-Israeli interior designer, won a defamation suit on Dec. 22 against an anti-Israel Toronto restaurant owner who called him a terrorist and killer. “As much as this was my personal suit against Foodbenders, and Kim Hawkins, the win is a collective win and belongs to the Jewish community as a whole,” he told JNS.

“What we are witnessing—the trampling through the streets of Western countries—is reminiscent of Europe in the 1930s. Instead of ‘Sieg Heil,’ we’re hearing calls for ‘intifada.’ I lived through the second intifada,” said DeLuca, a veteran of the Israel Defense Forces. “We are listening to calls for the murder of Jews. In public. Boldly. Loudly. And unapologetically.”

While the defamation incident occurred in July 2020, well before Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel, DeLuca thinks that “the current resurgence of hate marches” and “vile, racist, xenophobic hate we are seeing today” mirrors the restaurateur’s attacks on him.

“In the words of Menachem Begin, ‘I am not a Jew with trembling knees.’ I am a proud Israeli Jew,” he said. “I wear my Zionism proudly on my sleeve, as does the majority of Jews worldwide.” The court’s precedent has “made Jews a little safer in Canada, and I hope I have empowered others to stand tall in the face of such hate,” he added.

Before Oct. 7, DeLuca’s posts on Instagram, where he has nearly 90,000 followers, often addressed Israel and antisemitism in a sea of posts about interior design, DeLuca’s husband and their dog. But since Hamas brutally attacked Israel, DeLuca’s social-media posts have focused overwhelmingly on Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Jewish philanthropist hosts 260 Nahal Oz residents for Vienna vacation

‘They want them gone’: Hamas trying to ‘wipe’ out all Jewish people
Former Speaker of the House Bronwyn Bishop says Hamas wants to push every Israeli out of Gaza and “wipe” out all Jewish people.

“If you look at the world population now there is 16.5 million Jews in the entire world,” Ms Bishop told Sky News contributor Gary Hardgrave.

“There are 2.3 billion Muslims in the world.

“When they say ‘this is all we got’ and when they say ‘the river to the sea’ – they mean push the Jews out and wipe them off – they want them gone.

“You can see what that statement means and you can see what they are fighting for.”

Israelis are ‘no longer capable’ of differentiating Hamas’ political arm from military one
IDF Reservist Nimrod Vromen says Israelis are “no longer capable” of differentiating Hamas’ political arm from its military one.

Mr Vromen sat with Sky News host Caroline Marcus to discuss Hamas’ growing control over Gaza over time and why Israel aims to eradicate Hamas.

“Since … Sinwar took over in the Gaza Strip, they have been completely one and the same,” he said.

“In reality, they have been one and the same because the political arm also and the social arm manage their education system and radicalised them so heavily against Israel.

“So at this point after the trauma of October 7th, it’s difficult for me to see how any voting constituency in Israel suppose a solution whereby Hamas still exists.”

Hamas's fellow travellers are deluded if they think they're marching for peace
There are those who believe that Hamas must have been driven to commit Oct. 7’s pogrom against Israeli Jews by an existential despair caused by the blockade of Gaza — a blockade that is entirely the result of Hamas’s penchant for using all of the Palestinians’ money to acquire materials with which to slaughter Jews. Hamas’s western apologists could start by acquainting themselves with an English translation of the group’s 1988 foundational covenant. In case they are still in any doubt about the jihadists’ paranoid and genocidal commitments, they could then visit the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) website and listen to the speeches delivered by Hamas’s politicians, fighters and clerics.

On MEMRI’s website, they can watch a Hamas leader in Lebanon, Abd Al-Hadi, announce that one of the goals of the Oct. 7 pogrom was to kill the Abraham Accords. Or they can watch another Hamas leader explaining that the tunnels they have built are to protect jihadists, not shelter Palestinian civilians from Israeli bombardment. Or they can watch Hamas official Ghazi Hamad warning that Oct. 7th was only a warm-up. And if they pay attention, they will find that Hamas is still an enemy of peace and negotiation, and still committed to killing all the Jews it can find and bringing the maximum of war and immiseration upon the Palestinians.

If the fellow travellers’ sympathy for genocidal rejectionism is not yet diminished, they could browse the textbooks given to Gazan schoolchildren (often at UNRWA schools), from which they learn to believe in the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” hate Jews, deny the Holocaust and aspire to martyrdom. Alternatively, they could watch the footage that Hamas fighters themselves recorded on Oct. 7 as they conducted their murderous assault, in which bestial crimes are accompanied by exclamations of “God is great.”

Admittedly, this cure won’t work on everyone. Some will complain — indeed they are already doing so — that the videos that Hamas made for its own followers are, somehow, Israeli propaganda, and they will spread doubt about the atrocities the videos do and don’t depict. Nevertheless, the more clarity that we can give people about what they are marching for, the greater the chance that they will one day be inclined to ask themselves if it really has anything at all to do with peace.

Six pro-Palestinian protesters charged over Christmas Day rampage through NYC

Pro-Palestinian protests at Christmas time is ‘disgraceful’
Sky News contributor Teena McQueen says it is “disgraceful” that pro-Palestinians are protesting during Christmas time.

Ms McQueen told Sky News Senior Reporter Caroline Marcus that people want to have a “joyous” time.

“But I’m happy to say they are getting very little response.

“It’s so frustrating and I’m just sick of the Palestinian flags everywhere.

“It has to come to a stop.”

Footage reveals men tearing down Israeli hostage posters in Melbourne
Australia is recording a staggering increase in anti-Semitic incidents and a shocking incident has now been caught on camera.

Sky News senior reporter Caroline Marcus says footage has emerged of two young men tearing down posters of Israeli hostages kidnapped by Hamas.

The footage was filmed on Wednesday morning in the Melbourne suburb of Prahran.

The woman filming the pair asked what they were doing, to which one of the men replied, "Just cleaning up the community from bull****”.

Ms Marcus said, “There can be no doubt whatsoever now that Hamas kidnapped 240 hostages – most of them Jews”.

“More than half, Israel says, remain in captivity.

“So this cannot honestly be about any genuine denial hostages weren't taken.

“What it says is that some in the community can't even bring themselves to see the humanity in Jews - even Jewish babies.”

‘Doctors Against Genocide’ cancels protest at US Holocaust Museum after uproar

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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