Saturday, December 30, 2023

12/30 Links: Kids in Israel Feel Connected to Their Country; Douglas Murray, Col. Richard Kemp explain uphill battle for Israel; How Hamas weaponises victimhood

From Ian:

Kids in Israel Feel Connected to Their Country
On Wednesday, Sammy Jackman, an immigrant from Britain, eulogized his beloved son, Efraim, who was killed in battle in Gaza. He described his ambition and drive, his love for family, his high standards and unwillingness to compromise, and the way he gave his all for the army, his country and his people. He said: "Only in Israel can you raise children like this." It's true.

Kids are educated to give of themselves to society at large. This spirit of volunteerism pushes them to serve as counselors in youth movements, to run camps for the physically disabled, to visit the elderly, and to organize all kinds of group activities to help their communities. This tough spirit fosters independence and idealism. That's what happens when you give 18-year-olds guns and tell them they are responsible for each other's lives.

The so-called "Tik-Tok generation" in Israel was able to put down their screens in a matter of moments and get out there to protect their people and their country. They have shown little sign of the entitlement, coddling, or failure to take responsibility that plague many of their counterparts in other countries.
Douglas Murray, Col. Richard Kemp explain uphill battle for Israel
RESPONDING TO the issue of the hostages, Murray said that he was genuinely shocked by “the lack of empathy for Israel internationally.”

A glaring example, he said, was the tearing down of posters of the hostages around the world. “If you put up a poster of a missing cat or dog in your neighborhood, you would not expect anyone to rip it down,” he asserted.

“And if anyone did rip it down, you would think that person was subhuman. This wasn’t dogs or cats. These were Jewish children. In city after city, sociopaths tore down these posters. This lack of empathy has been there since [Oct. 7].”

Addressing the tragic incident in which three hostages were mistakenly killed by Israeli troops, Murray said: “The media treats it as more evidence of the brutality of the Israeli soldiers – ‘they even kill their own!’

“Imagine the lives of those soldiers who shot those three hostages, how they must have felt. And yet, instead of recognizing what a tragedy that is for everybody involved, they use it as a weapon against Israel! That really has slightly startled me.”

When asked by the moderator about “the day after,” Kemp said: “The IDF has no option whatsoever, apart from to stay in control of Gaza from now on. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks; it doesn’t matter what President Biden might want to happen.

“What is absolutely certain is that the IDF must maintain security control of Gaza. It means either a permanent IDF presence inside the whole of Gaza, or it means the creation of a one- or two-mile buffer zone on the inside of the Gaza border that no one is allowed to go into and that the IDF can police.”

About the general population of Gaza, Kemp said: ”The reality in Gaza is that the vast majority of allegedly innocent civilians support Hamas. Even when they see the horrors that Hamas has brought on them, they still support Hamas. And there will be efforts to have a Hamas 2.”

Murray concurred that it is a “very bleak necessity” for Israel to stay in Gaza. For how long? “Call me a pessimist,” Kemp said, “but I would say forever.”

Both Kemp and Murray spend time visiting the wounded in hospitals. On a recent visit, Murray met a farmer from a border kibbutz who had lost his wife, son, and both his legs in the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack. He told Murray: “I have been a leftist all my life. I now want to look out on nothing but potato fields from here to the Mediterranean.”

Commented Murray: “Who can risk living beside these people? Nobody else in the world would be expected to have to put up with that. I think you should have the right to live in peace and know that the border you have does not contain genocidal maniacs on the other side who want to kill you.”
Kenyan reverend: UN ‘obsessed’ with Hamas war, ‘hates Jews’
A prominent reverend from Kenya, who also directs the Israel Allies Foundation African office, has accused the United Nations of having “an obsession with antisemitism.”

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post via WhatsApp a few days after he returned to his country from a solidarity mission in Israel, Rev. Dennis Nthumbi said that “the war against Hamas has exposed the decay in the UN and its moral rot that has led to the molestation of its statutes.”

He accused the UN of becoming so preoccupied with the Israel-Hamas conflict “because it hates Jews” that it has failed to offer a response to real genocides – one in his area – namely the genocides of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar in Southeast Asia and the Masalit civilians in Sudan.

“The UN is no longer useful,” Nthumbi said. “Abolish it. All sane member nations should either demand a refund or a leadership change.”

He also accused the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) of “running an education system that is enshrined on the principles of jihadism” with an objective of “churning out child terrorists” and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) of disregarding the slaughter of Israeli children on October 7.

Nthumbi is a senior, though unofficial, adviser to Kenya’s president, William Ruto, whom he accompanied on a mission to Israel in May. Both Ruto and Nthumbi are devout Christians who believe their biblical obligation is to support Israel.

David Schwimmer slams survivor orgs. for not believing Israelis were brutalized on Oct. 7
Actor David Schwimmer, known for his role as Ross Geller on the hit 90’s sitcom ‘Friends,’ slammed organizations and individuals who “refuse to believe” the testimonies of the Jewish survivors of Hamas’s assault on southern Israel on October 7.

Schwimmer’s statements came on his Friday post to his 8.3 million followers on the social media platform, Instagram. His message castigating those who, despite the abundant evidence, continue to doubt the testimonies of Israeli survivors, captioned a screenshot of the recent New York Times article documenting cases of sexual assault and rape experienced by Israeli women during Hamas’s attacks.

“I served on the Board of Directors for The Rape Foundation for almost 20 years, and have been an advocate for child and adult survivors of sexual violence for almost 30,” Schwimmer wrote. He goes on to share how, during his time doing this work, he has encountered “the most incredible and courageous people” who survived “the most horrific conditions imaginable” and have been able to go on to lead normal lives after receiving proper treatment and care.

He continued to highlight that, regardless of an individual’s identity, such as their age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, education, or economic status, “One crucial aspect I learned early on about the healing process, and for justice to be served by the criminal offenders, is that the survivor be BELIEVED,” Schwimmer added.

However, he noted, despite his experiences with organizations that work for the benefit of survivors of rape and sexual assault, many yet “refuse to believe” that people in Israel were assaulted by Hamas terrorists.

Schwimmer: "Where is their outrage?"
“Where is their outrage?” Schwimmer wrote. “In the weeks and months that followed, it became clear that their activism, their advocacy, is conditional. They’ll fight like hell for ALL victims of sexual violence — unless they’re Jews.”

He goes on to suggest that denial of Hamas’s crimes against Israelis is a method of “avoiding compassion and personal responsibility,” but stated that he hopes the New York Times article will bring such people to admit their error and confront unconscious biases.

“Because — as they know better than most — their refusal to believe the survivors have RE-TRAUMATIZED them, as well as their families, friends, and those of us who did believe them,” Schwimmer emphasized. “But they can use their voice now. And it would be great to know who the real allies are.”
West Point: The Path to October 7: How Iran Built Up and Managed a Palestinian ‘Axis of Resistance’
Abstract: Since October 7, in the wake of the “al-Aqsa Flood” terrorist attacks by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and other Palestinian factions from across the ideological spectrum, Iran’s aid to and strategic management of these groups has taken on a new level of relevance. The methods Iran has used to cultivate and maintain influence and control over disparate Palestinian groups follows the same pragmatic carrot-and-stick formula it has used across the Middle East with other proxies, with incentives that include financial aid, weapons, and training. The use of sticks was particularly important in Tehran’s restoration of influence over Hamas and PIJ after the Syrian civil war drove a wedge between Palestinian groups and Iran. The withholding of funds and a divide-and-rule approach helped Tehran get these groups back in line. More generally, Iran has worked to create and leverage splinter groups, particularly from the Palestinian Authority’s dominant Fatah Movement, to grow its influence in Gaza and the West Bank. Tehran has also strived to build influence among leftist Palestinian groups to create a broad coalition of partners. And it uses umbrella groups and joint operations rooms to try to bolster the unity and coherence of its Palestinian network.

It is possible that Iran was surprised by the catastrophic success of the October 7 attacks. Tehran may not have expected the attacks to have dealt as deadly a blow to Israel as they did. However, there is little doubt that Iran’s financial aid, structuring of its proxies into more cohesive armed factions and then into umbrella organizations, and assistance through the supply of weapons increased the deadliness and extremism of its Palestinian proxies. It is also quite clear that without Iranian assistance and nurturing, these groups would not have been in a position to strike Israel, as they did on October 7 with as much success as they showed.

Armed capabilities supplied by Iran, such as a variety of UAV designs, rockets, demolition charges, and other munitions, were smuggled into Gaza and used to deadly effect in the October 7 attack in which Israeli vehicles, buildings, civilian houses, and observation posts were all targeted.212 Iranian assistance allowed its Palestinian proxies to amass the firepower, messaging know-how, and much of the hi-tech equipment necessary to carry out and propagandize the attack. Financial aid provided by Iran did more than keep Hamas operating as a governing body in Gaza; it was also directly piped into Hamas’ terror and military apparatus.213

Training provided to Hamas fighters and the other proxies also honed their abilities to execute the October 7 attacks. As PFLP-GC secretary general Talal Naji told Iran’s al-Alam in August 2021, “Sometimes the training took place in the Islamic Republic of Iran, sometimes in Syria, and sometimes in Lebanon with the brothers in Hezbollah who are waging jihad.” While it is currently unknown how Hamas or fighters from other groups traveled to Iran, Lebanon, and Syria, it can be assumed to be via the wide network of Gaza’s smuggling tunnels,214 by sea,t or from flights Gazans could take originating outside of Israel.215

Naji also stressed that “as you know, we are an axis, an axis of resistance. [IRGC-QF commander Qassem Soleimani] used to supervise himself,” adding that Iranian-supplied weapons, such as the Russian-made laser-guided Kornet anti-tank missile, strengthened their capabilities.216 u

Iran allows for a level of autonomy among its proxies, but as this article has outlined, Tehran has moved to punish insufficiently obedient groups, allowing them to wither on the vine, or has engineered splinters to weaken them or pressure them into line.

Hamas’ takeover of Gaza served as the means for Iran to absorb splintered factions of Fatah into its orbit. Even if those factions could not be fully controlled, creating a reliance on Iran’s weapons, money, and other forms of political support facilitated their reformation into Iran’s umbrella. By cultivating ties with militant factions with differences with Abbas’ Fatah, Iran was able to recruit manpower to its “Axis of Resistance” and create a pressure point within Fatah. Furthermore, the continued presence of Fatah splinter fighters in Gaza has given Iran leverage to ensure the obedience of Hamas and PIJ. Small and less popular groups such as the PFLP, PFLP-GC, and DFLP were cultivated by Iran as part of a larger umbrella of Tehran-aligned groups, but likely simultaneously served other roles, including countering the Palestinian Authority and if necessary to put pressure on Hamas and PIJ.

As the Israeli offensive continues in Gaza, it is possible some armed Palestinian groups may be forced to shift their center of gravity to Lebanon. This would expose them to even deeper Iranian influence. On December 4, 2023, Hamas’ Lebanon section released a statement calling for the creation and recruitment for the Vanguards of the al-Aqsa Flood (Taliy’ah Tufan al-Aqsa), a group focused on “resisting [Israeli] occupation.”217 Given any armed activities by Hamas in Lebanon would have to be coordinated with Lebanese Hezbollah, these activities would also be subject to a degree of control by the Iranian decision makers that exert influence over Hezbollah. As previously seen with the PFLP, DFLP, and PFLP-GC, groups dependent on using Lebanon or Syria as staging areas have only become more beholden to their masters in Damascus or Tehran.

Even if Hamas and PIJ are militarily defeated in Gaza in the months ahead, Iran would still have many options to work with in both Gaza and the West Bank. As Eurasia Group’s Ian Bremmer stated in an October 31 piece, “The war is radicalizing far more Palestinians than Hamas propaganda ever could.”218 Iran will likely attempt to rebuild its network in Gaza from newly radicalized Palestinians, including among leftist actors, Islamists, and smaller factions they can more strongly control.

In this scenario, it should be expected that Iran will also continue to splinter off groups from Fatah/the Palestinian Authority. On November 5, a mysterious group claiming to represent members within the Palestinian Authority-affiliated security services emerged. Called the Sons of Abu Jandal, the group demanded that Mahmoud Abbas and the PA security forces engage in violence against Israel or revolt against Abbas.219 While no link to Iran has yet been established and the group has since gone quiet, it is these types of splinters that have been exploited by Tehran in the past.

In the months ahead, it is likely that Iran will continue to use the carrots (e.g., funding) and sticks (e.g., fostering splinter groups) in order to maintain and deepen control over its Palestinian “Axis of Resistance.” As Israel’s military campaign in Gaza puts these groups under increasing pressure, Iran’s leverage will only grow. Given Iran has aimed to provide support to a wide range of new and well-established groups, particularly those with more violent dispositions, the radicalizing effect of the war on Palestinians provides fertile terrain for Tehran.
IDF had no plan for responding to a Hamas attack of October 7’s magnitude – NY Times
The Israel Defense Forces’ lack of a plan to handle a massive Hamas assault on the country contributed to its slow and inefficient response to the October 7 attacks, The New York Times reported Saturday, in a story focused on the military’s operational failures as the attack unfolded.

The investigative report was based on interviews with current and former soldiers, officers and officials, some of whom spoke anonymously.

“There was no defense plan for a surprise attack,” Amir Avivi, a former deputy head of the Gaza Division, told the paper, while former national security adviser Yaakov Amidror added: “The army does not prepare itself for things it thinks are impossible.”

Much has been written of the Israeli intelligence failures that enabled Hamas to catch Israel by complete surprise in its brutal onslaught on southern Israel, which saw terrorists kill some 1,200 people, most of them civilians slaughtered in their home communities and at an outdoor music festival amid vicious atrocities — rapes, executions, the burning of people alive — and kidnap around 240 others. But another aspect under scrutiny is its lackluster and sluggish response to the attack once it began in the early hours of October 7, with multiple failures of defensive strategies and command and control systems enabling terrorists to rampage through communities for long hours, murdering and pillaging.

The New York Times report paints a picture of a military that for too long on the day failed to understand the scale of the attack, sending teams that were ill-equipped to deal with a mass assault. As the military grappled with the unfathomable situation playing out in southern Israel, the first troop deployment occurred at 7:43 a.m. — over an hour into the Hamas invasion — when orders were issued for all emergency forces to move south.

The report also highlighted Hamas’s attack on the IDF’s Gaza Division base at Re’im as key to the assault’s success. With gunmen raiding the base, the besieged soldiers and commanders found themselves trying to defend it instead of leading the larger combat effort.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Yom Tov Samia, a former head of the military’s Southern Command, decried the untenable concentration of the division command as well as the command centers for both Gaza brigades at the same base, meaning that a single effective assault by Hamas terrorists crippled the entire command structure responsible for coordinating all military activity in the region.

“In the same camp, you had all three of them — in the same location… What a mistake. What a mistake,” he said.

The report noted that military intelligence was aware of a long-time Hamas goal to take out this central base, but the IDF did not believe the terror group was capable of mounting such an effort.

Lacking clear directives or orders, many units as well as reservist soldiers resorted to using TV news and apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram to glean information on targets and locations in need of assistance.
Israel Discusses Plan to Remove UN Palestinian Refugee Agency Accused of Terror Support From Gaza: Report
An UNRWA aid truck at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Photo: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has initiated a plan to remove the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) — the global organization’s agency dedicated solely to the refugees and descendants of Palestinians who fled during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence — from Gaza at the end of the year, according to Israel’s Channel 12.

The plan, laid out in three stages in general terms, would consist of first compiling concrete evidence of the agency’s activity with Hamas terrorists, followed by the scaling down of its work in Gaza in areas such as education, health care, and food security. Finally, according to the Israeli report, UNRWA would be rooted out completely, with its current powers put in the hands of the entity that would take over Gaza after the completion of Israel’s military campaign and the defeat of Hamas.

It is unclear how Gaza will be governed after the current Israel-Hamas war concludes. Israel has said its goal is to wipe out the Palestinian terror group from the coastal enclave bordering the Jewish state’s south.

Israel and allied activists, along with some governments outside the Jewish state, have long expressed concern that UNRWA is promoting antisemitism and terrorism.

A report published last month by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), an independent research group, found that at least 14 teachers at UNRWA-run schools had praised the Oct. 7 pogrom carried out by Hamas terrorists in southern Israel.

During the onslaught, Hamas-led terrorists murdered 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapped 240 others as hostages.

Another UNRWA teacher was separately accused by an Israeli journalist of having held one of the hostages, depriving him of food and medical attention. For its part, UNRWA has strongly denied that there is any basis to that claim.

Other reports have accused the UN agency of promoting incitement against Israel and Jews. For example, a 2023 joint report by Impact-se and UN Watch, a Geneva-based NGO that works to counter anti-Israel bias at the UN, found that UNRWA employees had created classroom material celebrating the firebombing of a Jewish bus as a “barbecue party,” encouraging students to pursue jihad and martyrdom, erasing Israel from maps, and encouraging students to “liberate the homeland” with “their blood,” among other examples of incitement to radicalism.
Qatar deal could see release of up to 50 hostages, prolonged ceasefire in Gaza
Israel's security cabinet discussed on Thursday a Qatari proposal that would see the release of more hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. The proposal is still in its early stages as of Friday.

According to the proposal's outline, the first phase will include a humanitarian exchange deal that will include the release of 40-50 hostages in exchange for a complete ceasefire of a few weeks, according to three senior Israeli officials.

The second phase is expected to be more complex, its details are not yet completely clear, but the direction is to arrange a withdrawal of IDF troops from the area. Hamas 'agrees in principle' to restart hostage release negotiation

Despite the cabinet discussing the proposal, neither Israel nor Hamas have yet responded to the offer. However, a report from Walla! stated that the Hamas terror organization "agrees in principle" to resume such negotiations.

Senior Israeli officials said that this is only an initial message and Israel hopes to get clarification on it at the end of the week, the Walla! report said.

However, one official said that it was a positive development because, for the first time since the previous agreement, Hamas is signaling that it is ready to resume negotiations. "We have moved from a frozen standstill to just a very cold situation," said the official.

Another senior Israeli official said that Israel has not yet received a detailed proposal from the Qataris and is waiting to hear more details. "In any case, the gaps are still big," he said.
How Hamas weaponises victimhood
This has even led to terrorism being rendered as an understandable response to ‘oppression’ by psychologically disturbed and traumatised victims. In the aftermath of al-Qaeda’s attack on the Twin Towers in 2001, a journalist turned psychotherapist argued in the Guardian that ‘long-term, deep-set and unconscious trauma can do much to explain, for example, why 9/11 happened [and] why young Palestinians are killing themselves in suicide bombings’.

This has since become a commonplace argument, routinely deployed to explain away Islamist terrorism. And not just among avowed identitarians. Over the past two decades, policymakers and counter-terrorism experts throughout the West have increasingly interpreted terrorism in psychological and even therapeutic terms. Atrocities committed by so-called lone-wolf terrorists on the streets of Berlin, Paris and London have frequently been attributed to poor mental health. Even Prevent, the British government’s long-standing counter-terrorism strategy, rests, in part, on an idea of ‘radicalisation’ that conceives of terrorism as a psychological problem.

This therapeutic framing of terroristic violence is fundamentally flawed. In 2016, the Royal College of Psychiatrists published a paper that questioned the Prevent counter-terrorism strategy. Pointedly, it argued that ‘“radicalisation” is not a mental illness’. But such warnings have been to no avail.

Worse still, over the past two decades, Western political and cultural elites have projected their therapeutic and identitarian obsessions on to the domain of international politics. In doing so, they have helped to globalise assumptions around identity politics and victimhood.

The ease with which Hamas has used Western identity politics to justify its atrocities should serve as a wake-up call. It exposes just how much of a threat identity politics poses to a civilised society.

Until now, identity politics had mainly served as an instrument for shutting down discussion and shrinking the space available for the exercise of free speech. But as we learned in 2023, identity politics is underwriting the violent brutality of groups like Hamas. It has turned mass murder into a form of therapy for the supposedly oppressed. We underestimate its dangers at our peril.

Why He Stopped Supporting the Oslo "Peace" Process
Islam & Middle East expert Dr. Mordechai Kedar is one of the clearest voices of reason and intellect regarding our enemies, because he understands the cultural background and reality of the Arab/Muslim world.

When the Oslo "peace" process was introduced back in the early 1990's Dr. Kedar hoped that it would bring peace. But, very quickly, thanks to his pro-"peace" activities, he woke up to realize that it was never about peace.

Facing a new year and a post-Oct. 7 world order
The “End of the Innocence” documentary, which recounts the horrific day and its aftermath, also documents denials, distortions and hypocrisy from the United Nations, feminist groups and political leaders around the globe.

In Gaza, alarming discoveries have been made by the Israel Defence Forces — stockpiles of weapons hidden in schools operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Over the years, UNRWA, based in East Jerusalem, has poured billions of dollars into Gaza, inadvertently providing cover to Hamas as it plotted its war against Israel, built tunnels and concealed weapons. This week, Israel finally announced that it would bar some UN officials from entering the country.

Even Canada finds itself entangled. While many nations reconsider their support for UNRWA, Canada has allocated an additional $10 million on top of the $30+ million donated annually. This potentially implicates us in inadvertently supporting terrorists, as Hamas is alleged to be diverting new supplies from the agency.

Fireworks will soon ring in the New Year in cities around the world. Crowds and well-wishers will line the streets. But the future for nations that believe in democracy and international order looks less than bright as the West faces off against China, Russia and Islamic fundamentalism.

We can still steer this course right. It’s not too late to reinitiate The Abraham Accords and strengthen strategic alliances with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and others. Such a move would undermine the forces of evil and bring light to this world.

The clock stopped precisely at 6:28 a.m. on Oct. 7. Everything following that day of infamy represents a new understanding of world order. This is more than just a Middle East conflict; the world is on the brink. The barbarians are at the gate. The will of the good must prevail over evil.

Dennis Ross: The Limits of U.S. Influence over Israel
The high death toll among Palestinian civilians in Israel's war with Hamas has triggered repeated calls for placing conditions on American assistance to the Jewish state. The reality is that U.S. aid to Israel has never been a blank check. We have often used military assistance as a way to achieve our own policy goals - to encourage Israel to take risks for peace or to help deter American enemies in the Middle East.

But because Israel is a democracy, its policy choices are often shaped and determined by public opinion, and history shows that if Israeli voters think the U.S. is making unreasonable demands, it will reject them, regardless of the costs.

Israel lives in a tough neighborhood, with enemies who call for its eradication. Jewish and Israeli history make it clear that such calls need to be taken seriously, because the unimaginable can happen; Hamas' Oct. 7 attack demonstrated that dire reality once again.

U.S. strategic cooperation with Israel is not simply a favor to Israel. It serves American geopolitical interests while also channeling much of the aid back to the U.S. defense industry. Israel has developed and shared critical new military technologies, whether "active armor" to protect tanks or the Arrow and Iron Dome anti-missile defense systems. Moreover, the two countries share intelligence since the forces that threaten Israel usually also threaten the U.S.

Threatening to withhold U.S. aid unless Israel changes its policies would only have the effect of making the Israelis feel they must go it alone. As one senior Israeli official recently told me, "If America says you have to stop or we will cut you off, we will fight with our fingernails if we have to - we have no choice."

Today, with Israelis united in wartime and still traumatized by the Hamas attack, trying to force them to accept a Palestinian state would backfire. Making assistance to Israel conditional on certain policies won't build American influence or further American interests.

U.S. Approves Emergency Sale of Munitions to Israel Amid Hamas Conflict

Seth Frantzman: IDF 'Ghost' unit uses new tech to fight Hamas in Gaza
Israel’s new multi-dimensional ‘Ghost’ unit is active in Gaza fighting terrorists using the latest technology. Earlier this week, The Jerusalem Post had a chance to spend an afternoon with the unit, on the border of Gaza and also inside Gaza in Jabalya as the unit conducts its mission against terrorists. In Jabalya, the soldiers had taken over several buildings where they were monitoring the neighborhood and collecting information using drones and other new technologies. The unit directed a tank to neutralize a threat in a building and used precision mortars against the enemy.

The multi-dimensional unit was created in 2019 as part of the IDF’s larger plan, known as Momentum, to bring more technology to frontline forces. This meant knitting together infantry units with combat engineers, armored units and also the air force, so that all these forces could work seamlessly together and bring the most amount of effective firepower to the front as fast as possible.

The Ghost unit is part of the 99th division, which combines these elements. In 2020 the new multi-dimensional unit was deployed to the northern border. In 2022 the unit trained with other elements of the 99th division in Tze’elim for the kind of warfare they are facing now in Gaza.

Members of the unit fell during the October 7 attack on Israel. Col. Roi Levy, the commander of the Ghost unit was killed in battle near Reim. Members of the unit also helped liberate Kibbutz Beeri from terrorists. The unit has lost three other members in battles since the Hamas attack on that dark Shabbat.

Now the Ghosts have been able to bring the fight to the enemy inside Gaza. The IDF said on December 24 that in Jabalya, “soldiers, in cooperation with the Multidimensional Unit and the Yahalom Unit, exposed a strategic tunnel network that served as Hamas' northern headquarters in Gaza.”

The IDF also said on December 18 that the multi-dimensional unit helped uncover a terrorist cash stash in a house in Jabalya. This included around 5 million NIS. The 99th division has also eliminated hundreds of terrorists.
IDF: Troops raze Gaza City hideout belonging to Sinwar, large tunnel system below it
The IDF said Friday that its troops had located and demolished a hideout apartment belonging to Hamas’s Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar in the north of the enclave along with a large tunnel system underneath it.

The IDF has claimed to be closing in on Sinwar for weeks, but the terror chief continues to evade capture, robbing Israel of the morale-boosting operational victory it has sought since the war began three months ago.

The hideout apartment was located Friday on the outskirts of Gaza City by the 14th Reserve Armored Brigade. It was later investigated by the elite Yahalom combat engineering unit, which found a tunnel shaft.

The IDF said it found significant evidence in the apartment that led to its conclusion that Sinwar had used it as a hideout.

The tunnel shaft was some 20 meters deep, and led to a 218-meter-long tunnel with several branches, according to the IDF.

The underground passages featured electricity, air filtration systems, plumbing, resting and prayer rooms, and other equipment aimed at allowing senior Hamas members to remain hidden for long periods.

IDF arrests Hamas terrorists hiding among civilians in Gaza school

40% of the Fallen in Gaza Graduated from Religious Zionist Schools

IDF names two more fallen soldiers in Gaza battles, five wounded

19 Iran-linked Terrorists Killed in Alleged Israeli Strikes in Eastern Syria

IDF strikes Lebanon after Hezbollah rocket fire, reportedly targets Syria’s Aleppo

Women of the Middle East United Against the Global Terror of the Islamic Republic of Iran
As women of the Middle East, we stand united against the global threat of terrorism of the Islamic Republic of Iran and all its proxies. It is this same terror that is claiming the lives of Israeli women, Iranian women, and is leading to the deaths of Palestinian women in Gaza as well.

The complete lack of regard for innocent life has been demonstrated by the Islamic Republic of Iran since 1979, and is now being exported throughout the Middle East.

In the Islamic Republic, Iranian women, including some of the undersigned names, have experienced the terror of the morality police first hand. We have seen the kidnapping, assault, and murder of Iranian women and girls for decades, including the gassing of thousands of Iranian school girls to silence dissent, and the murder of Mahsa Amini, Nika Shakarami, Armita Gerawand, by the regime in Iran.

We have witnessed the regime repurposing ambulances, schools, and even religious sites as tools for their terrorist activities. We have seen how the regime steals resources from the Iranian people and exports them to terror proxies in the Middle East.

In Israel, Islamic regime proxy Hamas documented themselves brutalizing, kidnapping, and murdering Israeli women and girls on October 7th, and dragged the bodies of victims through the streets of Gaza in celebration. One of the victims was Iranian-Israeli Shirel Haeimpour.

Hamas has also blocked humanitarian corridors for the Gazans, preventing Palestinians from exiting to safety, has used ambulances for terrorist activities, and has stolen fuel, electricity, water, and humanitarian aid from the people of Gaza.

The tactics of Hamas and the tactics of the Islamic Republic of Iran are the same, because it is the Islamic Republic which funds, trains, and supports Hamas with $100 million dollars per year.

The hatred, misogyny, sexual crimes as a method, and disregard for human life disproportionately impacts women and children, which is why the call for freedom from the Iranian people, is also a call for freedom through the entire region. As women of the Middle East, we will not be silent in the face of such evil.

We call on world leaders to:

Acknowledge and condemn the links between Hamas and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization and take action against their activities.

For Mahsa, for Nika, for Armita, for Shirel. For the women of Iran, Israel, and Gaza:

Women, Life, Freedom.


Nova music festival survivor reunites with man who saved her life as she admits she’s safer in Israel than US
A Jewish New Yorker who survived Hamas’ attack on the Nova Music Festival reunited with the man who saved her life — but admits she’s still nervous in the US.

Natalie Sanandaji, 28, of Long Island, returned to Israel for the first time last week since surviving the Oct. 7 massacre to reunite with Israeli hero Moshe Sati.

Sati, alongside his son, saved more than 100 festival-goers by driving into the terrorist attack and carting people out of the festival grounds by the truckload more than 10 times.

“Not many people would do what he did,” Sanandaji told The Post Thursday after landing back in New York. “He was honestly one of the kindest souls I’ve ever met.”

Sanandaji only learned Sati’s name recently as the chaos and the dire need to get to safety preoccupied her at the time of the attack and rescue.

Upon her return to Israel, one of her friend’s fathers found out who he was and sent Sati’s number to her. Then they arranged a meeting.

“I’m very lucky that he is who is he and he was there that day to save me,” Sanandaji said. “He’s the guy in his hometown that anytime someone needs help, they always come to him and he always says yes. He doesn’t think twice, it’s just who he is.”

London Billboards of Hamas Hostages Return After Being Removed Due to Threats, Complaints

Global antisemitism shows how the West has failed to stand up for its own values
On Wednesday's episode of The Ezra Levant Show, Ezra was joined by Joel Pollak, senior editor-at-large of, to discuss the ongoing Israel-Hamas war and whether there is still hope for the Israel-Palestine peace process. Ezra and Joel discussed how the war has facilitated perhaps the greatest wave of global antisemitism since the Holocaust, with targeting of the diaspora Jewish community being used as leverage against Israel and its Western supporters.

New Jersey man inspired by Oct. 7 charged with trying to join Somalia’s al-Shabaab
A New Jersey man inspired by Hamas’s October 7 terror onslaught attempted to join the al-Shabaab terror group to harm the United States, a federal court in New York announced on Friday.

Karrem Nasr, a US citizen from Lawrenceville, New Jersey, traveled from Egypt to Kenya in an attempt to join and train with al-Shabaab, the US Southern District of New York said in a statement. Al-Shabaab is a Somali jihadist group designated as a terrorist organization by the United States.

Nasr, 23, was taken into custody in Nairobi on Dec. 14 and transported to the United States on Thursday. He will appear in federal court later Friday, the statement said.

He was charged with attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, which has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The defendant “devoted himself to waging violent jihad against America and its allies” in order to “execute his jihadist mission of death and destruction,” US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.

“Nasr was prepared to kill and be killed to support the jihadist cause, and in his own words, he described America as ‘evil,’” Williams said.

Al-Shabaab has used assassinations, improvised explosives, suicide bombings, rockets and more to target the Somali government, civilians and foreigners, including those from the United States and United Nations organizations. The group has targeted US citizens at home and abroad since the State Department designated the organization as a terror group in 2008.

North Korean regime makes people chant Palestinian slogans. Do they know which river and which sea?

Why did the Red Cross refuse to meet with us?
Mirjana Spoljaric suggested that Israel must negotiate with Hamas to arrange Red Cross (ICRC) access to the hostages. "Israel must work out with Hamas our lack of access to hostages," she has the gall to say. Clearly the ICRC learned nothing from their disgraceful response to the Holocaust, because this would be like a statement that the Nazis and the Jews should discuss how the Red Cross should respond to the concentration camps.

We can recognize evil when we see it, can the ICRC not recognize evil? Have they learned nothing from their mistakes?

As the representative of the organization that claims it has the insights to create and oversee the rules of armed conflict this is a disgraceful response from a disgraceful woman. How can we take this woman seriously? At a minimum, she could have condemned the October 7th massacre and the taking of civilian hostages, upholding the most basic aspect of the Geneva Conventions. Instead she chose to do nothing for over 2 months and then hide behind the derisive fantasy of moral equivalence. Why would anyone ever give a donation to support such obfuscation where real work is needed?

The Red Cross wrote the Geneva Conventions and strongly criticizes those they feel are breaking them. Where is their criticism of the Hamas for the massacres of October 7th? We have only heard silence.

Where is their demand to access the hostages? We have heard no demands, just excuses. I will share with you another insight.

CAMERA’s 2023 Highlights A Year of Impact and Advocacy
As we reflect on the challenges and triumphs of 2023, a year marked by both achievements and heartbreaks, we extend our deepest gratitude to our supporters. Your unwavering dedication and commitment have been vital in helping us attain remarkable milestones in promoting accurate and fair reporting on Israel and the Middle East. Here’s a snapshot of our key achievements this year:

Global Media Influence
Over 300 Corrections: CAMERA set a record, prompting more than 300 corrections in leading news outlets across the globe.
International Influence: We participated in interviews and educational sessions in the US, UK, Israel, and India, gaining growing international support for our mission.
Vast Publishing: We authored and published over 1,000 columns, combined with a strong social media presence, reaching millions.
UK Leadership Collaboration: We met with Jewish and pro-Israel leaders in London to strategize against institutional anti-Israel bias and antisemitism in Britain.
Policy Influence: A CAMERA Arabic report prompted a French parliamentary hearing and the dismissal of antisemitic journalists from France 24 News due to CAMERA’s research.
Media Coverage: CAMERA articles and insights were featured in prominent national outlets like the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, and FOX News.
Photojournalists in the service of Hamas in the Gaza Strip
Hamas operates affiliated media outlets in the Gaza Strip, along with an array of prominent correspondents whose professional activities are used to convey messages and reports to the residents and others in the Gaza Strip and abroad. Some, such as Hassan Aslih, Ashraf Abu Amra, Anas al-Sharif work independently and others, such as Islam Badr and Hani al-Sha’er work for foreign media outlets as well as for Hamas.

This report analyzes a group of five of the most prominent journalists currently working in Gaza. They enjoy extensive media exposure, are known in the streets of Gaza and are followed by many on their social media. They also have personal relations with the Hamas leadership and are invited to cover special events such as conferences, rallies, demonstrations and weapons displays. They also enjoy benefits, apparently provided by the Hamas government, such as first-class flights to the hajj in Saudi Arabia and expensive medical treatment abroad.

Hassan Aslih flies first class to Saudi Arabia and reports his safe arrival at Jeddah Airport (Hassan Aslih’s Telegram channel, June 13, 2023)
The correspondents also work for foreign media outlets such as CNN, AP, Reuters and al-Anadolu News, as well as for international channels such as al-Jazeera and al-Arabi TV from Qatar. Some of them, such as Hassan Aslih and Hani al-Sha’er, reported on site during the October 7, 2023 attack and massacre, entering Israeli territory in civilian clothes and without the required PRESS vests.

During the war in Gaza they benefit from exclusive coverage in combat zones, such as the northern Gaza Strip. For example, Anas al-Sharif and Islam Badr, who come from Jabaliya, are the only media personnel who report to the local and international media on events in the area. Thus they help Hamas by disseminating the information it wants to show the public in the Gaza Strip and beyond, including the image of governance, lively commercial activity and a large presence of residents remaining in the region after they had been asked to evacuate to the south of the Gaza Strip.

Hassan Aslih
Hassan Abdel Fattah Aslih is a freelance photojournalist from Khan Yunis, he is in his forties, married with children (aqrawataelam website, May 11, 2023). He began working in communications at the end of 2009 (Hassan Aslih’s X account, October 12, 2020). He photographs for AP and CNN, and in recent months, he has been serving as the general manager of the news site Alam24, which began operating in the Gaza Strip in November 2022 (Alam24 website Telegram channel, July 10, 2023). Aslih’s Facebook page has 102,000, his X account has 319,800 followers, his Telegram channel has 581,000 subscribers, one Instagram account has 450,000 followers and another has 178,000 followers, and a threads account with 42,700 followers.

Aslih is considered a prominent journalist in the Gaza Strip and has connections with senior Hamas terrorists, including Yahya al-Sinwar, head of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip, and there is a famous photo which shows al-Sinwar kissing him (January 2020). He regularly covers events in the Gaza Strip and as well as news from the Israeli media related to the Gaza Strip. He has covered of the launch of incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip into Israel, activity at the border crossings and the funerals of senior Palestinian figures.

McDonald’s Malaysia Sues Anti-Israel Group Over Israel boycott
McDonald’s Malaysia has initiated legal action against BDS Malaysia, an anti-Israel group, seeking $1.3 million in damages over the group’s calls for boycotting companies allegedly supporting Israel.

In a statement released on Friday, the fast food giant clarified that the civil lawsuit against BDS Malaysia aimed to safeguard their “rights and interests in accordance with the law.”

Addressing the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, McDonald’s emphasized its non-endorsement and non-support of the current situation. The statement highlighted the importance of basing decisions to boycott on factual information rather than unfounded allegations.

According to documents viewed by AFP, McDonald’s is pursuing six million ringgit in damages, alleging defamation by BDS Malaysia.

Responding to the lawsuit, BDS Malaysia refuted the defamation claims through a social media post on platform X, denying any wrongdoing.

Argentine President Javier Milei speaks at Jewish sports tournament’s opening ceremony
Newly-elected Argentine President Javier Milei spoke on Thursday at the opening ceremony of the Pan American Maccabi Games, an international tournament for Jewish athletes.

Over 10,000 people attended the two-hour event at Movistar Arena in Buenos Aires, located in the city’s Villa Crespo neighborhood, which is traditionally associated with the local Jewish community.

A handful of countries from outside of North and South America sent athlete delegations, including Australia, Great Britain, France and Zimbabwe. Israel’s delegation — pared down in size due to the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attacks — received a special welcome.

“I want a warm greeting to all the Jewish people and in particular to those who have family or loved ones near the front lines,” said Milei, referencing the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. His comments drew multiple standing ovations. “I accompany you in this difficult moment and I want to ratify at this moment my unalterable commitment to the state of Israel and to the Jewish people in their fight against Islamic terrorism, for peace and freedom.”

He also referenced the Hanukkah story, as he did in his inauguration speech, and added some words in Hebrew.

“Many times I have said that I did not come to guide lambs, but to awaken lions. I see in the Maccabean Games this spirit of excellence and courage,” he said. “Because of that, I say to the athletes ‘Chazak ve’ematz’ [‘be strong and courageous’].”

The ceremony included a somber prayer in memory of those killed on Oct. 7, led by Romina Schvalb from Kibbutz Nir Oz. Her brother-in-law, Ruben Engel, was killed in the Hamas attacks.

Other prominent attendees included Argentine Vice President Victoria Villaruel; the U.S. and Israeli ambassadors to Argentina, Marc Stanley and Eyal Sela; and the mayor of Buenos Aires, Jorge Macri.

Brave IDF dog Mikey who saved many lives, has ‘miracle’ recovery after being hit by a Hamas grenade

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