Friday, December 29, 2023

From Ian:

NYTs: ‘Screams Without Words’: How Hamas Weaponized Sexual Violence on Oct. 7

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At first, she was known simply as “the woman in the black dress.”

In a grainy video, you can see her, lying on her back, dress torn, legs spread, vagina exposed. Her face is burned beyond recognition and her right hand covers her eyes.

The video was shot in the early hours of Oct. 8 by a woman searching for a missing friend at the site of the rave in southern Israel where, the day before, Hamas terrorists massacred hundreds of young Israelis.

The video went viral, with thousands of people responding, desperate to know if the woman in the black dress was their missing friend, sister or daughter.

One family knew exactly who she was — Gal Abdush, mother of two from a working-class town in central Israel, who disappeared from the rave that night with her husband.

As the terrorists closed in on her, trapped on a highway in a line of cars of people trying to flee the party, she sent one final WhatsApp message to her family: “You don’t understand.”

Based largely on the video evidence — which was verified by The New York Times — Israeli police officials said they believed that Ms. Abdush was raped, and she has become a symbol of the horrors visited upon Israeli women and girls during the Oct. 7 attacks.

Israeli officials say that everywhere Hamas terrorists struck — the rave, the military bases along the Gaza border and the kibbutzim — they brutalized women.

A two-month investigation by The Times uncovered painful new details, establishing that the attacks against women were not isolated events but part of a broader pattern of gender-based violence on Oct. 7.

Relying on video footage, photographs, GPS data from mobile phones and interviews with more than 150 people, including witnesses, medical personnel, soldiers and rape counselors, The Times identified at least seven locations where Israeli women and girls appear to have been sexually assaulted or mutilated.

Four witnesses described in graphic detail seeing women raped and killed at two different places along Route 232, the same highway where Ms. Abdush’s half-naked body was found sprawled on the road at a third location.

And The Times interviewed several soldiers and volunteer medics who together described finding more than 30 bodies of women and girls in and around the rave site and in two kibbutzim in a similar state as Ms. Abdush’s — legs spread, clothes torn off, signs of abuse in their genital areas.

Many of the accounts are difficult to bear, and the visual evidence is disturbing to see.

The Times viewed photographs of one woman’s corpse that emergency responders discovered in the rubble of a besieged kibbutz with dozens of nails driven into her thighs and groin.

The Times also viewed a video, provided by the Israeli military, showing two dead Israeli soldiers at a base near Gaza who appeared to have been shot directly in their vaginas.

Hamas has denied Israel’s accusations of sexual violence. Israeli activists have been outraged that the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, and the agency U.N. Women did not acknowledge the many accusations until weeks after the attacks.

Investigators with Israel’s top national police unit, Lahav 433, have been steadily gathering evidence but they have not put a number on how many women were raped, saying that most are dead — and buried — and that they will never know. No survivors have spoken publicly.

The Israeli police have acknowledged that, during the shock and confusion of Oct. 7, the deadliest day in Israeli history, they were not focused on collecting semen samples from women’s bodies, requesting autopsies or closely examining crime scenes. At that moment, the authorities said, they were intent on repelling Hamas and identifying the dead.

A combination of chaos, enormous grief and Jewish religious duties meant that many bodies were buried as quickly as possible. Most were never examined, and in some cases, like at the rave scene, where more than 360 people were slaughtered in a few hours, the bodies were hauled away by the truckload.
Islamic Jihad terrorist admits to rape, NYT probes Hamas's sexual violence
A Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist captured in Gaza admitted during questioning that he participated in the massacre on October 7 and that his squad committed rape and then murdered victims during the massacre, KAN reported on Thursday.

Serious sexual offenses were part of the method Hamas and other terrorist groups utilized in the massacre on October 7. Lahav 433, Israel’s top national police unit, collected evidence of dozens of cases of sexual offenses and sexual abuse from investigations of the terrorists and the collection of survivor testimonies.

A survivor of the massacre recently testified to the police about a rape she saw with her own eyes, and her testimony was verified by another survivor who was close to her.

"I understand that he raped her, then they gave her to someone else. She was alive and finally, he shot her," said the survivor. Some of the terrorists said in their investigation that they received permission to abuse corpses, to create fear in Israeli society.

On Channel 11, testimonies were revealed that were provided to the Zman Emet (Real Time) show - two witnesses who saw and heard the atrocities and decided to speak about it now for the first time and openly. One of them, Raz, a discharged officer who participated in the Nova festival in Re'im, said: "A white car arrived and five terrorists exited out of it. They stood in a semi-circle around her, grabbing her by force so she wouldn't move. It happened 30 or 40 meters from us. There was a lot of movement...he raped her. I look and see that the girl is no longer moving, but the terrorist still continues to rape her. It was impossible to help her. I couldn't do anything. I wish I had a weapon and I could help," he said.

After Cohen's appearance on Channel 11, he gave evidence to the police, becoming the first witness to openly describe the acts of rape he witnessed on October 7.

Douglas Murray: Hamas’ philosophy: All civilians, all children are tools of war
The first thing that the outside world does not seem to know is that Hamas routinely uses civilian houses as weapon stores.

This is a complete flouting of the laws of war, including the Geneva conventions which mandate that armies must not use civilian sites for military use.

Major Y and other people on the ground I have spoken with say that they estimate about one in every two or three homes in Gaza they go into has military weaponry, including AK47s, grenades and rocket launchers.

And they routinely find entrances to Hamas’s terror tunnels inside civilian houses.

And not just anywhere, but most often in the children’s bedrooms and even under cots.

Indeed one member of the IDF I spoke with this week says that this is such a pattern that when they search a house they now go straight to the children’s bedrooms to uncover weapons caches and entrances to the tunnels.

They recently found an RPG underneath a baby’s crib.

Furthermore, Major Y says that every single mosque they go into has a Hamas weapons store.

As has every UN school that they go into. Again this violates every rule of war.

Hamas use places of worship — while pretending to be such “devout” Muslims — because they know the Israelis will not target their places of worship.

They use schools as arms dumps because they know that if Israel targets an empty school the world will go berserk.

It is a cynical tactic, that of course puts at risk the very Palestinians who Hamas pretend to be representing.

According to the Major, “every school and kindergarten we go into we find guns in the basement. In each one we found more than ten AK47s, machine guns and grenades.”

And that’s when Hamas terrorists are not there.

On the ground, amid the intense fighting in the south of Gaza, the major tells me the sort of things he has encountered.

On one occasion recently his unit spotted an old lady in a wheelchair alone on a street corner in the south of Gaza.

They approached the elderly lady “who looked like my grandmother” according to the major.

And as they approached her they were suddenly fired on by a Hamas terrorist.

He had placed himself under her wheelchair in order to fire on the Israeli soldiers.

This is the Hamas that pretends to care for Palestinians but would even use an elderly disabled Palestinian woman as a human shield.

Jonathan Tobin: Israel’s skeptics just don’t want it to win
The current war wasn’t caused by the Israeli “occupation” of Gaza simply because it wasn’t occupied on Oct. 6. The Israelis withdrew every settlement, settler and soldier from Gaza in the summer of 2005 in the vain hope that doing so would, if not give the Palestinians a chance to build their own state in peace, at least contain the conflict. Hamas’s objective on Oct. 7 was not advancing the two-state solution that its supposedly more moderate Fatah rivals have repeatedly rejected. It was in continuing and winning the Arabs’ century-old war on Zionism in which they hoped to roll back the clock, eliminate Israel and slaughter its population. And committing mass slaughter of the Jewish people remains popular among Palestinians, as their own polls show even after Oct. 7 and the subsequent consequences for the people of Gaza.

That’s why Netanyahu is right to speak of not just demilitarizing Gaza—something that will, whether Israelis like it or not, require the continued presence of the IDF there for the foreseeable future—but de-radicalizing the Palestinians. The experts worry about future radicalization of Palestinians caused by the current war. But they fail to explain how much more radicalized the Palestinians can become if the current generation is capable of not just carrying out the unspeakable atrocities of Oct. 7, but cheering them and holding them up as a “proud victory” for Palestinian nationalism.

Not a conventional insurgency
The IDF would be on a fool’s errand if the objective were, as it was in counterinsurgencies elsewhere, to win the “hearts and minds” of the Palestinians. But to frame the war in this context is a mistake. As much as Hamas will try to survive, and ultimately win, by guerilla warfare, the situation in Gaza is much more like that of Berlin in 1945 than it was to conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan. As the Palestinians have made clear, the war is not one of occupiers and the occupied, but an existential one between two nations. Hamas is no more or less an idea than the National Socialist Party of Adolf Hitler. And it can only be destroyed in the same manner that the Nazis were wiped off the map: by their complete military defeat and the realization on the part of the Palestinians that, like the Germans, they needed to abandon the delusions and the genocidal ideology of their leaders if they hope to have any semblance of a normal life. Palestinians must give up a conception of their national identity that is inextricably linked to hatred of Jews and denying them a state in their ancient homeland.

The realists who are claiming that Israel can’t win this war aren’t just pointing out the acknowledged difficulty of Israel’s military problem. They are really arguing that Israel shouldn’t be allowed to win because doing so will prove their formulations about imposing a two-state solution on the region was a disastrous and costly mistake.

At this point in the campaign, Israel remains a long way from victory, and even after it is achieved, Netanyahu’s goals of de-radicalization will take far longer than that. Should Biden succumb to the pressure from the antisemitic intersectional wing of his Democratic Party, and cut off the flow of arms and join the international community in condemning the war—steps that, thankfully, he has not taken, even as he speaks out of both sides of his mouth on the subject—then an Israeli victory will likely be impossible. But anyone who genuinely desires peace should be dismissing the tired repetition of failed policies by the likes of Haas and Friedman, and rooting for the Israeli prime minister’s objectives to be achieved. The only path to peace is to be found in a decisive end to the war in which the Palestinians will be forced to rethink their objectives. Anything else merely condemns both Jews and Arabs to another generation of bloody and futile conflict.
Seth Frantzman: Why is Hamas worried about the October 7 narrative of Iran, Hezbollah? - analysis
Concerns about reports that Hezbollah knew about October 7, however, are not the only Hamas denial this week. It also slammed Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps spokesman for comments suggesting that October 7 was revenge for the US killing of IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani. “Hamas denies the validity of the remarks,” the terrorist group said. Hamas claimed that the attack on October 7 was due to “the dangers that threaten al-Aqsa Mosque.” These statements show Hamas is now waging a war over perceptions of October 7. It wants to portray its commanders in Gaza as solely responsible and able to perform attacks without Iran’s coordinating hand. It wants to showcase that it is a fully Palestinian movement that doesn’t need to coordinate with Shi’ite Hezbollah. It also wants to show it is not the junior partner of the Iranian-backed “axis” in the region; rather, Hamas is trying to show it is the “decider.”

This may tie into discussions relating to its leadership in Doha and officials in Beirut and how they relate to Sinwar’s leadership in Gaza. It doesn’t imply that the various leaders of Hamas are at odds, but it does seem to imply that the Gaza leadership wants the reins. It also ties into other recent controversies, such as media claims that Hamas senior member Mousa Abu Marzouk had suggested the group could recognize Israel if Hamas came to lead the Palestinian Authority.

Furthermore, it ties into Sinwar’s letter this week to the Hamas “political” leadership abroad, his first statement since October 7, in which he bragged of Hamas’s defeating Israeli units in Gaza.
Alan Dershowitz: Iran Declared War on the United States
Iran has now engaged in a deliberate act of war — casus belli — on numerous occasions against the United States. Most recently it was responsible for critically injuring an American soldier.

Since Hamas' attack Oct. 7 attack on Israel, estimates run as high as 100 Iranian-backed attacks across the Mideast on U.S. bases, ships, and service personnel.

Iran has acted through its surrogates and proxies, including the Houthis, Iraqi militia, Hezbollah, and others.

Under the laws of war an act of war can be committed by the principal nation itself — which in this case is Iran, or surrogates acting on its behalf — with its approval or support.

There can be no doubt, both as a matter of law and military reality, that recent attacks on American troops, including the one that seriously injured a soldier, are attributable to Iran.

Indeed, the United States has so declared and has responded in what it believes is a proportional manner. Critics of the Biden administration believe this response has been insufficient.

Proportionality in responding to military attacks by attacking the attacking nation's military, does not require proportionality.

Under international law, as long as the attacks are directed at military targets, the attacked nation may use overwhelming and disproportionate force in order to deter or punish the attacking army.

International law also provides that the counterattack need not be directed specifically at those military targets that were involved in the initial attack.
Eleven top Iranian commanders killed in Damascus airport strike - report
Eleven leaders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were killed in an airstrike targeting Damascus International Airport on Thursday evening, Saudi media reported the following morning.

The commander of the Revolutionary Guards in eastern Syria, Nur Rashid, was injured in the airstrike, Saudi media channel Al-Hadath reported.

IRGC commanders were reportedly at the airport to meet with high-ranking delegates.

IRGC spokesman Sardar Ramzan Sharif denied on Friday reports that 11 of its leaders were killed in an airstrike in Damascus International Airport the night before, Iranian media quoted them as saying, as he said that such claims are "baseless." Other strikes on Syria this week, foreign media also claims were done by Israel

Syrian media also claimed on Thursday evening that Israel had targeted sites in southern Syria and near Damascus with airstrikes in two separate waves. Syrian air defenses were activated in the Damascus area during the strikes. The country's media quoted one Syrian military source as saying that the alleged airstrike carried out by Israel came from the "occupied Syrian Golan Heights."

Earlier this week, Iran vowed that Israel would "pay" for the killing of Sayyed Reza Mousavi, another IRGC commander who was killed by an alleged Israeli airstrike last Monday in the vicinity of Damascus.

Shortly after the strike that killed Mousavi occurred, footage on social media showed smoke near the Damascus airport, as Iranian proxies have often used the location.

South Africa urges ICJ to probe Israel, claims war against Hamas 'genocidal in character'
The International Court of Justice says South Africa has filed a motion to launch proceedings against Israel, claiming Israeli forces have violated the UN’s Genocide Convention during the war against the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group.

South Africa’s application to the Hague-based court charges that IDF operations against Hamas “are genocidal in character, as they are committed with the requisite specific intent… to destroy Palestinians in Gaza as a part of the broader Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group.”

“The conduct of Israel… in relation to Palestinians in Gaza, is in violation of its obligations under the Genocide Convention,” the application claims.
Israel slams 'blood libel' as South Africa turns to ICJ over Gaza 'war crimes'
South Africa on Friday asked the International Court of Justice in the Hague to start legal proceedings against Israel on grounds it has violated its obligations under the Genocide Convention in its war on Hamas in Gaza.

"South Africa is gravely concerned with the plight of civilians caught in the present Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip due to the indiscriminate use of force and forcible removal of inhabitants," the country's Department of International Relations and Cooperation has said.

The department cites the concern of Gazan civilians caught in the crossfire, and accuses Israel of "indiscriminate use of force and forcible removal of inhabitants." It also said that "there are ongoing reports of international crimes, such as crimes against humanity and war crimes, being committed as well as reports that acts meeting the threshold of genocide or related crimes as defined in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide."

South Africa states that they have repeatedly condemned all forms of violence and attacks against civilians, and have called for an immediate and permanent ceasefire. Israel's response to South Africa's accusation

The Israeli Foreign Ministry responded to South Africa's request to initiate legal proceedings against them based on committing genocide, Walla reported, stating that "Israel rejects with disgust South Africa's blood libel in its application to the ICJ.

"South Africa's claim lacks a factual and legal foundation and constitutes a vile and cheap exploitation of the court. South Africa cooperates with a terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of the State of Israel.

The terrorist organization Hamas, which commits war crimes, crimes against humanity, and attempted to commit genocide on October 7, is responsible for the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip when it uses them as human shields and steals humanitarian aid from them."

The Tikvah Podcast: Matti Friedman on Whether Israel Is Too Dependent on Technology
Israel is known for its advances in military technology, from the helmet-mounted displays of the newest fighter jets to the Iron Beam anti-missile defense system. (See this recent discussion with the military strategist and author Edward Luttwak about his new book on the subject, or this discussion with the entrepreneur Alon Arvatz about the cyber-specific dimension of Israeli defense.)

But as with everything, there are always tradeoffs to technology. Those tradeoffs are the concern of the Israeli writer Matti Friedman, who recently published an essay in the Atlantic called “Israel Is Dangerously Dependent on Technology.” Here, he speaks with Mosaic's editor Jonathan Silver about that essay, and the tradeoffs for Israeli planners and politicians that have recently arrived.
65 million files: The intel exposing Hamas tunnels
The Israel Defense Forces’ search for terror tunnels is being aided by a trove of intelligence seized by soldiers, namely 65 million digital files and a half-million physical documents, the IDF disclosed on Thursday.

Tasked with sorting through the intelligence finds is Amshat, a unit within the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate. Amshat is the Hebrew acronym for “Document and Technical Means Collection Unit.”

Laptops, flash drives, notebooks, maps, ledgers, bodycams and other items that soldiers find in Hamas tunnels, strongholds, hideouts, or on the bodies of terrorists eventually reach Amshat.

“The huge amount of material that comes in from the field generates many intelligence opportunities to help front-line soldiers,” explained Capt. (res.) S. of Amshat.

Among the documents found was a map of tunnel shafts seized by the 252nd Division in the residence of a company commander in the Beit Hanoun Battalion of Hamas in the northeast of the Gaza Strip. A key explaining the map was located and collected by the division at the residence of another operative.

When the research team collated the data, the important link between the map and the key was created—making it possible to locate and destroy tunnel shafts in the field.

In addition, a document was seized with the location of a hidden weapons stockpile in the Beit Hanoun area. After analyzing the document, Amshat was able to direct ground forces to the location of the armaments cache, which was destroyed.

What went wrong? Full IDF probe sheds new light on accidental killing of hostages
The IDF has completed its investigation into the tragedy in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shijaiyah earlier this month which ended with the fatal shooting of three Israeli hostages – Alon Shimriz, Yotam Haim and Samer Talalka – by an IDF force that suspected them of being terrorists.

Despite faults discovered at all levels, from the two maneuvering brigades involved that failed to share critical information, through the division above them and the Southern Command, up to the General Staff body established to address the hostages issue, Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi decided to adopt the command echelons' recommendation and not to take any action against those involved, at least not until the end of the war.

The findings reveal that 40 yards and two buildings with an open, but narrow angle between them, separated the 17th Battalion sniper from the three hostages he identified in the nearby street. He spotted them at 9:42 a.m. on a sunny Friday morning with good visibility from a house where the force was stationed.

However, the investigation disclosed that a tall tree, its branches and leaves partially obstructing the view, stood between the sniper – equipped with a Trijicon sight – and the three abductees.

The three were moving in an area designated "red" for the soldiers securing the house with the force, where the battalion commander, Lt. Col. L., was also present. This area was off-limits to Gazan civilians, and anyone seen there was immediately suspected by the soldiers of being a hostile terrorist.

The sniper fired at the three, killing two of them, and the third managed to escape off to the side, likely toward a nearby building. At this point, the sniper shouted "Terrorists!" and the battalion commander stopped him, but he did not leave the building to pursue the suspect as initially assessed by the IDF.

The battalion commander was prepared for further action while two other soldiers in the building, armed with standard weapons and a Negev machine gun, spotted the third hostage from their window.

They fatally shot him, despite his shouts in Hebrew, including his name. The military suspects the soldiers didn't hear the commander's "cease fire" orders or the hostage's pleas for help in Hebrew. Only upon exiting for a sweep and noting his Western appearance did the force decide to verify the identity of the bodies.

The military noted in the investigation the lack of control over the force in the building, as the third hostage's death could have been prevented if the officers inside had understood that the three were unarmed and not an immediate threat.

IDF admits Christmas Eve Gaza airstrike killed dozens of innocents - report
The extensive damage caused by Israel's airstrike on the Maghazi refugee camp in Gaza on Sunday night was a mistake, according to an IDF military official who spoke to KAN news on Thursday morning.

The official told KAN that, following an internal IAF investigation, it came out that the type of weaponry used did not match the nature of the mission. As a result, there was extensive collateral damage that did not need to occur and could have been avoided if the correct weaponry had been used.

Dozens of innocent civilians were killed in this strike, KAN said, adding a report that the IDF had expressed regret over the incident.

"A preliminary investigation revealed that during the attack, additional buildings were damaged adjacent to the targets that were [meant to be] attacked," the IDF Spokesperson's Unit reportedly told KAN. "[This] apparently resulted in harm to those not involved....The IDF regrets the harm to those not involved."

IDF Christmas Eve airstrike
The Israeli air strike that hit central Gaza's Maghazi refugee camp killed 70 people, according to Reuters citing Palestinian health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra on Sunday, who said the death toll was likely to climb.

"What is happening at the Maghazi camp is a massacre that is being committed on a crowded residential square," al-Qidra said.

The Israeli army on Sunday said it was reviewing the report of a Maghazi incident and was committed to minimizing harm to civilians, Reuters said. Israel responded that Hamas operates in densely populated areas and uses civilians as human shields, which Hamas denies.

"Despite the challenges posed by Hamas terrorists operating within civilian areas in Gaza, the IDF is committed to international law, including taking feasible steps to minimize harm to civilians," an Israeli army spokesperson said in a statement.

Hamas, which runs Gaza, issued a statement calling the air strike "a horrific massacre" and said it was "a new war crime."

IDF confirms three more soldiers killed in northern Gaza
Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson Major Doron Spielman has confirmed reports that three of its soldiers have been killed fighting Hamas in the north of the Gaza Strip.

It comes after the IDF announced the deaths of three soldiers in fighting the previous day.

The deaths of the three soldiers, aged between 22 and 32, bring Israel's military death toll to 167 through its ground offensive in Gaza.

"The conditions that these soldiers are fighting in, and again I was in Gaza yesterday, are really incredibly difficult," Mr Spielman told Sky News Australia.

"So these soldiers are performing incredibly well but unfortunately our sons and our daughters are at great risk."

The IDF Is Fighting a Two-Level War in Gaza, Making Military History
The fighting in Gaza is a war carried out on different levels. The top level is above ground and the bottom is a tunnel city with underground bases built over 15 years at great financial cost and with much sophistication. Control only above ground does not weaken the hold that Hamas has on Gaza and would not prevent it from renewing its military capabilities.

The underground infrastructure includes rocket launchers and rocket production facilities as well as command centers. Only destruction of the underground networks would achieve Israel's goal to eliminate Hamas - and for that the military needs time to complete the job.

But fighting in the underground complexes is a military first. The American forces in Vietnam did fight the Vietcong in tunnels and bunkers, but they were used to remain out of sight before striking and not as fortified military positions. Hamas constructed its tunnel networks to be used as positions from which to attack IDF troops while also providing protection from air raids. The fighting above ground will continue as long as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad forces remain organized inside their underground bases and are able to attack Israeli forces above ground.

The IDF has taken control of 60% of Gaza and is taking apart the Hamas infrastructure in the north. In Khan Yunis, the troops focus the fighting on intelligence-led targets. The IDF is fighting intensely where Hamas is still able to fight in an organized manner.
With air, sniper, tank fire, IDF eliminates dozens of terrorists in Gaza
In recent hours in Gaza, Israel Defense Forces troops eliminated dozens of terrorists via ground operations combined with aerial strikes and sniper and tank fire, the military announced on Friday.

During a critical engagement in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, an Israeli aircraft swiftly identified a terrorist armed with a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) advancing towards the troops. IDF tanks neutralized the threat, preventing the attack.

IDF troops also targeted terrorist infrastructure in Khan Yunis on Thursday, the IDF said. While dismantling the structures, Israeli troops saw a terrorist retrieving an RPG from a shaft. They responded with a barrage of grenades, eliminating him.

An IDF drone strike killed a terrorist who was some 325 feet from the Israeli soldiers, and an Israeli Air Force fighter jet struck a building, eliminating the terrorist cell inside.

The IDF also said on Friday that the Kfir infantry brigade has assisted operations in Khan Yunis, a Hamas stronghold, since last week, joining the 98th Division that was already active in the area. The two have destroyed many terrorist cells and recovered extensive weaponry and found many tunnels, the IDF said. The did so with artillery, air and armored assistance.

Weaponizing children
Israeli troops evaded a Hamas ambush ploy—a doll dressed in a snowsuit, meant to look like a child—and they also destroyed explosive-rigged buildings.

“Many weapons and tunnel shafts were located in the area,” the IDF said.

Soldiers from the local combat team also found weapons in a child’s bedroom—some hidden in a child’s bag—in a house. They discovered grenades, vests, cartridges and intelligence materials and located a laboratory used for the production of explosive devices.

In northern Gaza, IDF intelligence led forces to a residence on the outskirts of Jabalia belonging to a Hamas terrorist. There, troops found an array of weapons, Hamas military certifications and textbooks detailing IDF tactics.

The IDF’s 5th Brigade, part of the Gaza Division, and soldiers from the Armored and Combat Engineering Corps began operations in Khirbat Ikhza’a, a focal point of Hamas activity in the southern Gaza Strip.

The IDF said it is trying to gain control of Khirbat Ikhza’a—the staging area from which Hamas terrorists attacked Kibbutz Nir Oz on Oct. 7—and soldiers neutralized terrorists and destroyed significant terror infrastructure, including tunnel shafts and anti-tank missile launch posts.
On path to defeat: Is Hamas on the verge of collapsing in Gaza?
Since the beginning of the ground operation in late October, the IDF has rendered at least three Hamas battalions combat ineffective, the Institute for the Study of War said this week in a report on the fighting.

According to the analysis, which draws on open-source information from Hamas, Palestinians, Western media, and the IDF, at least eight battalions are degraded and at least 12 are currently under intense IDF pressure.

Hamas' order of battle in the Gaza Strip
The ISW categorized the combat capability of the battalions as "combat effective," "combat ineffective" (its ability to continue executing assigned missions seriously was impeded), and "degraded" (no longer able to complete its mission).

For instance, the Shuja'iyya Battalion is believed to be largely defeated (degraded). On Dec. 15, the IDF secured and destroyed the battalion's command and control center.

Of the five brigades covered in the report, two are categorized as degraded (North Brigade and Gaza Brigade) and three as combat effective (Central Brigade, Khan Younis Brigade, and Rafah Brigade). "Israeli ground forces first partially cleared the northern Gaza Strip before moving south after a seven-day cessation of fighting that ended on Dec. 1," the report explained.

The commander of the Central Brigade was killed in a strike in the Bureij refugee camp in mid-October. The commander of the North Brigade, Ahmed Ghandour, was killed in an IDF strike in mid-November.

Israel's objective is to destroy Hamas' governing and military capabilities to prevent a repeat of the Oct. 7 attack.

Daniel Greenfield: Frontpage Magazine’s Man of the Year: The IDF Soldier
In a year when the civilized world is stuck in a state of retreat, he is fighting back.

Under Biden’s leadership, America has been invaded by hordes of millions of migrants, and Europe continues to stagger under an endless wave of migration from the Muslim world. That’s why American and European cities are being torn apart by rioting mobs supporting Hamas.

But after Israel was invaded on Oct 7, it fought back. The men on the front lines are not the politicians or the generals, they’re among the 360,000 reservists activated in a nation with a Jewish population of 7 million who left behind their homes, families and jobs to go and fight.

The Israeli military was unprepared for both Oct 7 and a call-up of this size. The soldiers were fed, clothed, and equipped by the people. While the media reports on the fighting, the truly incredible unreported story is how civilian volunteers have become the supply and support (the ‘tooth-to-tail’) of the Israel Defense Forces or the IDF.

In a small country, volunteers have been bringing food every day, they have provided clothes, shipped in body armor and even showed up with washing machines on pickup trucks to do the laundry. Some civilian volunteers have been wounded and even killed while delivering food. Israeli housewives have formed the Baking Battalion to make cookies, a cooking school produces meals for the troops and restaurants operate free food trucks. Others have stepped in to harvest crops and run the shops of the reservists who have been called up to serve in Gaza.

When the government and the leaders failed, the ordinary Israeli stepped up.

Some armies call themselves the “people’s army”: IDF soldiers really are. They’ve gone into Gaza knowing that the country stands behind them, not as an ideal, but as an everyday reality. Israel is a small country and everyone knows someone who died, came under attack, is among the 200,000 who left their homes to be out of range of the terrorist attacks, or in the ranks of those who are fighting or who have already fallen in defense of their nation.
After Injuries in Wars and Terror Attacks, IDF Reservists Came to Fight Again
Among the stories of heroism that have come to light since Oct. 7 are the reservists who suffered severe injuries in the past, but despite the physical and mental scars, they did not think twice.

They put on uniforms and volunteered for reserve duty as soon as the war broke out.

Ben Atia, 42, a father of two, was a young soldier in 2000 when a Palestinian terrorist stabbed him in the neck and caused near-fatal injuries.

He says today, "I did not hesitate at all. Volunteering for the reserves is important to me....My younger brother is in Gaza. This is what we know: as long as we are alive, we stand up and contribute."

"I understand that I am not invincible. I know what will happen if I get injured, but that doesn't control me."

Moti Dahan, 41, a father of three, was mortally wounded in the Second Lebanon War from a mortar in southern Lebanon. Following that injury, Dahan underwent 17 surgeries on his leg and still has shrapnel in his body.

He says, "When I saw what was happening on Oct. 7, I immediately decided to return to the reserves....It was impossible to stop me....This is a war which needs all of us."

During his reserve service near Gaza, Dahan hears and sees the evacuation helicopters.

"Every helicopter like this that passes over me gives me chills. I understand that there is one person or more, whose life will no longer be the same."

"I myself visit the wounded and try to strengthen them as much as possible, and I hope that the fact that I am here, on duty, is also something that strengthens and conveys the message that there is life afterwards."
After 9 years, soldier who lost dog tag and wallet in 2014 Gaza war gets both back

Mounting tally of over 6,000 injured troops presents tough challenge for health system
Igor Tudoran spent just 12 hours inside the Gaza Strip before a missile slammed into his tank, leaving him with a life-altering injury.

“Even while I was still in the tank, I understood from the condition of my leg that I would lose it. But the question was how much of it I would lose,” he said, sitting on a bed in the hospital where he has been treated since he was wounded last month.

Tudoran, 27, a reservist who volunteered for duty after the devastating October 7 Hamas massacres in southern Israel which triggered the war, lost his right leg beneath the hip. He has kept up a positive attitude — but concedes that his hopes of becoming an electrician may no longer be possible.

Tudoran is part of a swelling number of wounded soldiers, a sizable and deeply traumatized segment of Israeli society whose struggles are emerging as a hidden cost of the war that will be felt acutely for years to come. Given the large numbers of wounded, advocates worry the country is not prepared to address their needs.

“I have never seen a scope like this and an intensity like this,” said Edan Kleiman, who heads the nonprofit Disabled Veterans Organization, which advocates for more than 50,000 soldiers wounded in this and earlier conflicts. “We must rehabilitate these people,” he said.

The Defense Ministry said in mid-December that over 6,000 members of the country’s security forces — including police and other agencies — have been wounded since Hamas terrorists stormed into southern Israel on October 7, killing some 1,200 people and taking over 240 people hostage — mostly civilians — amid horrific acts of brutality. Nearly 900 of those are soldiers wounded since Israel began its ground offensive in late October, in which troops have engaged in close combat with Hamas fighters in Gaza. More than 160 soldiers have been killed since the ground operation began.

“They add up,” said Yagil Levy, who teaches civil-military relations at the Open University, of the wounded. “There could be a long-term impact if we see a big rate of people with disabilities that Israel must rehabilitate, which can produce economic issues as well as social issues.”
‘US needs to let us win in our own way,’ mothers of IDF soldiers demand
“The demands that the U.S. administration is putting on our soldiers go far beyond what the Americans practiced after 9/11 and Pearl Harbor,” Mirit Hoffman, an English-language spokeswoman for Mothers of Combat Soldiers (Imahot HaLohamim in Hebrew), told JNS.

Founded during the 2014 Israel-Hamas war (“Operation Protective Edge”), Mothers of Combat Soldiers consists of 7,000 mothers and other supporters of Israel Defense Forces soldiers who oppose U.S. pressure that prioritizes the safety of Palestinians in Gaza and promotes increased humanitarian aid to them.

“This whole claim for humanitarian aid is a complete and utter joke. We know very well that it does not go to civilians,” Hoffman said. She noted that a Hamas terrorist last week shot and killed a Palestinian boy who had approached a stockpile of aid.

Earlier this month, a Palestinian woman went viral for telling an Al Jazeera reporter that Hamas was diverting humanitarian aid entering Gaza into its tunnel system for distribution to terrorists.

Also in December, IDF soldiers discovered more than 100 rockets hidden in UNRWA packages in a home in the northern Gaza Strip. In October, UNRWA reported that fuel and humanitarian aid were stolen from one of its compounds by truck drivers believed to be from the Hamas-run Ministry of Health. Moreover, U.N. and USAID sacks have been used by Hamas to construct terror tunnels in Gaza.

Nevertheless, the U.N. Security Council on Dec. 22 passed a resolution—the U.S. abstained instead of vetoing the motion—to speed and scale up humanitarian aid to the Strip.

“I don’t see the U.S. pushing Hamas to make sure the Red Cross visits our hostages,” said Hoffman. “In fact, I don’t see the U.S. pushing Hamas, or Iran and Qatar, which finance Hamas, to do anything.

“Then, they expect us to keep supplying fuel to Hamas, these Nazis, with food and electricity, prolonging the war and endangering the lives of our soldiers,” she added.

Over 15 IDF soldiers pronounced dead in Gaza without bodies
Since the outbreak of war with Hamas, the Military Rabbinate has pronounced 15 soldiers dead, despite their bodies being missing or held by Hamas.

The act is not unprecedented, but the quantity is. The motto heard in the rabbinate corridors is “zero errors and 100% certain identification,” which can be difficult even with a body and doubly so without one.

Pronouncing a person’s death is one of the most sensitive, religiously complex issues faced by the Military Rabbinate. The Chief Military Rabbi, currently Lt. Col. Rabbi Eyal Karim, is the only person authorized to pronounce a soldier dead. Behind each declaration is a thorough process of collecting and identifying remains in consultation with intelligence services, medical experts, forensic examiners, and video and photo analysis.

In the absence of a soldier’s remains, there are several bases on which a rabbi can pronounce him or her dead. One is information gleaned by intelligence services. An intercepted conversation, for example, might include a statement by the enemy that indicates the soldier was killed.

Another factor is the concept of “most,” i.e., what happens to most people who enter a certain combat situation. If a soldier finds himself in a scenario that most don’t survive, this can count towards pronouncing him dead. If the army. If a soldier is known to have lost a fatal quantity of blood, this can allow the rabbi to make a death pronouncement.

If all the experts come to the conclusion that a missing or abducted soldier has died, the verdict will be delivered to special teams in the Military Rabbinate made up of rabbis, doctors, and lawyers who confirm the finding. Then, the case is passed on to Rabbi Karim for the final decision.

Five IDF soldiers injured in car-ramming attack
Five Israeli soldiers were injured on Friday in a Palestinian car-ramming attack on the Route 60 highway, close to the Adorayim Junction, just north of the town of Otniel in Judea.

Magen David Adom emergency medical personnel treated the victims—one in serious condition and the others lightly to moderately injured—on the scene.

Israeli security forces shot and neutralized the terrorist.

On Thursday night, two Israelis were wounded in a Palestinian stabbing attack at the Mizmoriya checkpoint near Bethlehem, just south of Jerusalem.

Magen David Adom paramedics treated a 20-year-old woman in serious condition and a 25-year-old man in moderate condition at the scene. It evacuated them to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in the capital.

The terrorist was reportedly shot and neutralized, and the road to Jerusalem was briefly blocked following the attack.

Israel’s Kan News public broadcaster said the terrorist arrived by car from the direction of Jerusalem, got out of the vehicle and stabbed security officers guarding the checkpoint.

Palestinian news network accuses Israel of atrocities Hamas executed on Oct. 7
The Palestinian Quds News Network has released a video featuring unsubstantiated allegations against the Jewish state, mirroring atrocities committed by the Hamas terrorist organization during its attacks of the most brutal kind in southern Israel on Oct. 7, resulting in the murder of some 1,200 people.

Shared by Mario Nawfal, host of the online show “The Roundtable,” whose X account pumped out the propaganda to his 1.2 million followers, the video features an unnamed Palestinian man recounting numerous claims of atrocities committed by the Israel Defense Forces.

“We found a young boy. He has nothing to do with the factions or anything. They had put bombs in his stomach and exploded them,” he said. “An elderly man, they put bombs inside him and exploded them.”

The speaker also accused the IDF of conducting “field executions” of families nearby. He said a slaughter had occurred in a school and that “there are over 50 corpses that we couldn’t pull out.”
Brothers saved dozens at Nova, fighting terrorists with commander’s phoned-in advice
Two brothers saved dozens of lives during the massacre by Hamas terrorists at the Supernova music festival on October 7 by providing fire cover for escapees with weapons they found in a tank, while receiving instructions over the phone from an IDF officer. Some 360 of the 1,200 people killed in southern Israel that day were slaughtered at the outdoor festival.

According to a Channel 12 news report, rave attendees Daniel and Neria Sharabi fended off terrorists with firearms from the tank near the site of the massacre, also treating the wounded who were hiding with them.

With Daniel’s former IDF commander, Yoni Skariszewski, advising them by telephone, the brothers saved some 30 partygoers sheltering behind the tank amid the Hamas onslaught, the report said.

The Sharabi brothers were partying at Supernova when rocket sirens started blaring at 6:30 a.m. In a video captured by Neria, he and his friends Karin Journo and Yosef-Haim Ohana can be seen seeking shelter behind some parked cars, jokingly wondering why the terrorists in Gaza couldn’t wait until later to begin launching their missiles.

Neria told Channel 12 (Hebrew link) that they were ordered to disperse, and he left Karin — who had a broken leg prior to the event — and together with his cousin Shalev Yehoshua, went to retrieve his car. Minutes later, Karin was murdered.

The brothers said they began to hear gunfire and immediately realized from their army service that it was the sound of Kalashnikovs, rather than fire coming from Israeli military weapons.

Daniel was a combat medic during his service, and Neria served in the infantry.

Realizing this was no regular bout of rockets from Gaza, they fled toward the highway.

Daniel administered first aid to an injured woman, when he, Neria, Yosef, and Shalev were called upon by two soldiers, Sgt. First Class Itai Bausi and another identified only as Ben, to help them evacuate the wounded on a stretcher.

Soon, terrorists armed with automatic weapons stormed the scene in pickup trucks, firing incessantly.

Caroline Glick: "Humanitarian Aid" to HAMAS Must Stop!
Is the "humanitarian aid" being sent to Gaza reaching ordinary Gazans or being entirely stolen by Hamas? Has Israel gone too far to protect "innocent" Gazans and sacrificed its soldiers in the process.

Caroline interviews Chana Katan and Gal Carmeli two members of Mothers of Warriors who shared their stories and demands from the government. Mothers of Warriors is an organization of women who had or have children serving in Gaza and making demands that humanitarian aid be stopped.

It is ‘very important’ for Australians to ‘never forget’ the October 7 attack on Israel
Shadow Home Affairs Minister James Paterson says it is “very important” for all Australians to remember the October 7 attack on Israel.

Mr Paterson told Sky News Senior Reporter Caroline Marcus that Australians should “never forget” what happened.

“And that Hamas promises to repeat those atrocities again and again and again.

“It is of concern to me that at least one Australian has left our country to go and fight with Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon.

“I have no confidence that the Albanese government is on top of this issue and is dealing with this issue adequately.”

New York Times reveals details of sexual violence on Jewish women and girls by Hamas
New details about sexual violence perpetrated by Hamas on Jewish girls and women have been uncovered in a two-month investigation by the New York Times, published today, Sky News Senior Reporter Caroline Marcus says.

“This work represents a particularly significant piece of journalism … because it comes from a publication with a long history of anti-Israel bias,” Ms Marcus said.

The former opinion editor Bari Weiss – a Jewish centrist who quit in disgust in 2020 – has repeatedly called out her former masthead over this bias.

Ms Marcus said it is “just one reason” why the left-leaning newspaper is “such a favourite” among the woke crowd.

The New York Times recently attracted criticism for publishing an opinion piece written by the Hamas-appointed mayor of Gaza blaming Israel entirely for the mass devastation of the war.

Social cohesion under strain amid ‘confused messages’ from government on Israel-Hamas war
Social cohesion among Australians is being strained over “confused messages” coming out of different government ministers and departments on the Israel-Hamas war, Strategic Analysis Australia Director Michael Shoebridge says.

“Some of the confused messages out of different government ministers on the Israel-Hamas war have added to that problem,” Mr Shoebridge told Sky News host James Macpherson.

“Social cohesion is a huge asset to Australia, but that’s enabled by ensuring that every Australian acts in accordance with out laws.

“If you’ve got people protesting, shouting, from the river to the sea, which is saying Israel has no right to exist, Israelis should be exterminated, they’re committing an offence and they should be prosecuted under Australian law.

“To let that happen and do nothing, enables violence domestically, it doesn’t stop it.”

James Macpherson breaks down 'complete hypocrisy of the progressive left'
Sky News host James Macpherson has slammed the progressive left for exposing their "hypocrisy" on feminism after they initially refused to condemn Hamas' horrific acts on women and children during the October 7 terrorist attacks.

"It says so much about the world and none of it good," he told Sky News Senior Reporter Caroline Marcus.

"Anti-Semitism is as bad as it has ever been.

"It exposes the complete hypocrisy of the progressive left when it comes to feminism.

"Unfortunately, the left have decided you can understand the world through the prism of oppressor and oppressed."

The Israel Guys: Is Israel Equal to HAMAS? Barak Obama Seems to Think So. . . | Episode #6
Can we equate the struggle of the Jewish people with the struggle of the Palestinians? Can we justify within ourselves that a bus full of fathers, mothers, and children being blown up in Jerusalem is the same as an apartment complex collapsing and killing fathers, mothers, and children in Gaza? Can we equate rape, infanticide, and torture with Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes? Are rocks thrown at passing motorists displaying Israeli plates in Judea and Samaria the same as targeted killings of Jihadi terrorist leaders? Former President Barack Obama seems to think so, as do many of his supporters.

This entire idea of “moral equivalency”, or simply put - the idea that when Israel acts in self-defense, they must only respond “proportionally”, is a monstrous, ill-informed idea, and if not done away with, could very well be the downfall of the Western World, as we know it.

The Israel Guys: Joe Biden PRESSURES Israel to Demolish Farms in the WEST BANK
Another settlement showdown has hit the region North of Jerusalem. America’s response to that was pressure! Even while Israel is in the midst of a seven-front war. . .seems America wants to open an eighth front AGAINST the Jewish state.

Benjamin Netanyahu is a 'genocidal maniac,' Rashida Tlaib claims

Far-left 'Squad' member Rep. Rashida Tlaib sparks fury again by branding Netanyahu a 'genocidal maniac' and says she won't 'ever forget' colleagues who met with Israeli PM

Massive pro-Palestine protests erupt in New York City: HUNDREDS of demonstrators try to force their way into the World Trade Center as Times Square is taken over

NYC Palestinian restaurant owner says he's getting two death threats a MINUTE over 'From the river to the sea' slogan on menu that has been branded anti-Semitic - and has now updated it claiming it's a call for 'equality'

Buy the EoZ book, PROTOCOLS: Exposing Modern Antisemitism  today at Amazon!

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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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