Tuesday, January 09, 2024

01/09 Links Pt1: Israel’s Thankless, But Essential, Role in the World; Israeli lawmakers ponder UNRWA overhaul; Record number of Americans think Israel isn’t getting enough US support

From Ian:

Seth Mandel: Israel’s Thankless, But Essential, Role in the World
Hezbollah has signaled its reluctance to widen the war—but, crucially, it has not actually stopped attacking Israel. Which means it wants to continue its torment of Israeli civilians but without getting its clock properly cleaned for doing so. In addition, the most recent Hezbollah casualty was reportedly responsible for the missile attack that damaged Israel’s air traffic control base in Meron over the weekend. It was a retaliatory strike, it was “surgical,” it was successful. Yet it still gets a thumbs-down from the cheap seats.

It’s almost as if much of the criticism of Israel’s self-defense is pretextual.

Nobody argues that Hamas commanders involved in Oct. 7 are inappropriate targets. A surgical strike taking out such figures without causing “disproportionate” civilian harm (I put the word in quotes because the people using it generally don’t know what it means in relation to armed conflict) is basically Israel waiting tables for the spectators of the world, taking orders and fulfilling them. And the most common response is akin to “the food here is terrible and the portions are too small.”

There is also no ambiguity regarding Hezbollah’s culpability. Like Hamas, Hezbollah is extremely proud of every act of violence it can muster.

“Hezbollah stated on Tuesday that they sent an attack drone to target the IDF’s Northern Command base near Safed,” the Jerusalem Post reports. The piece goes on: “Sirens alerting residents to a possible unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) intrusion sounded in the northern city of Safed and across northern Israel on Tuesday morning. UAV warnings were sounded in Dishon; Yiftah; Malkia; Mevuot Hermon Regional Council; Ramot Naftali; Avivim; Bar’am and Yir’on. Rocket sirens also sounded in northern Israel shortly afterward, including in Malkia and Ramot Naftali, communities that had just received aircraft intrusion alerts.”

If Iran and Hezbollah are trying to avoid a wider war, they have a funny way of showing it. What’s actually being tested here is not Iran’s restraint but Israel’s. And yet we never hear demands that Israel’s displaced northern residents be able to go back to their homes and live in peace. That would require pacifying the north, deterring drone incursions that seek to bomb Israeli territory, and scrambling Hamas’s ability to pull its Lebanese brothers-in-arms into a land war.

What the world wants from Israel is what it always wants from Israel: for the Jewish state to take risks nobody else will but from which everyone will benefit, and to do it all with the beneficiaries taunting the IDF from behind their MacBooks.

“You’re welcome” is all Israel should say to the hypocrites and ingrates that hold Jewish life to be so cheap. And even that is more polite than Israel’s critics deserve.
How Hamas Changed Israel's Security Doctrine
Few thought that Israel would still be on full war footing three months after Oct. 7, with no clear end in sight.

However, this is not a sign of failure. Instead, it is a sign of trying to defeat a well-entrenched enemy - one indifferent to the plight and well-being of their own people - while trying to spare the lives of the kidnapped hostages and IDF soldiers, minimize civilian casualties on the other side, and retain international legitimacy.

Few would have imagined that Israel would have been able to continue its war in Gaza at a very high level of intensity for three months without the world stepping in and imposing a ceasefire.

When the war began, there was much talk about how the diplomatic clock was ticking. Yet the savagery of the Hamas attacks, coupled with an understanding at least at the governmental level in the U.S., Britain, and Germany, has given Israel the time it needs to methodically dismantle Hamas' military capabilities inside Gaza.

In recent years, Israel's security doctrine has been a passive one based on deterrence, the idea being that Israel could live with ideologies on its borders preaching Israel's destruction out of a belief that these organizations would never act on their ideology, knowing full well that if they did, they would incur the substantial wrath of the Israeli army.

Hamas proved this assumption false, showing on Oct. 7 that it was in no way deterred by Israel. This has led to a change in Israel's security doctrine.

Israel is no longer willing to tolerate bloodthirsty terrorist organizations with significant military capabilities living within spitting distance of its civilian communities.

This is also clear in Israel's policy now toward Hizbullah.
Good terrorists versus bad terrorists
We are supposed to believe that overnight the PA has changed its spots. After all, Abbas wears a suit. Op-ed.

No more is it between good and bad. Now, for 2024 and beyond, it’s between bad and worse.

Take your pick. For instance, between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, which is better, which is worse?

Which terrorists, in other words, should get to run Gaza, “the day after?” Biden and his people prefer the PA…the lesser of two evils.

In fact, according to their view, there is nothing evil about the PA, because? Because they say so. and they will decide what is best for Israel.

Biden and his people are on this in a big way. Every day they pressure Israel to give it up for Mahmood Abbas and his PA. After all, he is not quite as rotten as Yahya Sinwar.

Therefore, pronto, a two-state solution, with the understanding that these Arabs are peace-loving, just folks like the rest of us.

So goes the sales pitch, as concocted by the Biden Administration and leftists everywhere. As they sold Hamas before Oct 7…you know, good people, live and let live people, if just given the chance…which even conned numbers of Israelis… so too now the PA gets laundered and cleansed, and purified, and never mind Abbas’s five-year Second Intifada, 2000 to 2005,

Never mind the murdering of thousands of Israeli civilians, and the suicide bombings, the stone-throwing, the car-ramming, the incitements.

Israelis were and are safe nowhere. Certainly not under the Abbas/PA pay to slay system. In his schools, kids are being taught to become martyrs for Islam.
Egypt denies Israeli request for greater oversight on Gaza borders
Egypt has rejected a proposal by Israel for greater Israeli oversight over the buffer zone on the Egypt-Gaza border and is prioritizing efforts to broker a ceasefire before working on post-war arrangements, three Egyptian security sources said.

Egypt shares a 13km (8 mile) border with Gaza which is the only border of the Palestinian coastal enclave not directly controlled by Israel. Along with Qatar, Egypt has also played a leading role in talks to broker a new ceasefire in Gaza and secure a deal for the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

The Egyptian sources said that during those talks Israel had approached Egypt about securing the Philadelphi Corridor, a narrow buffer zone along the border, as part of Israeli plans to prevent future attacks.

The current conflict began on Oct. 7 when Hamas launched an incursion during which Israel said 1,200 people were killed and some 240 hostages captured.

Israel has retaliated with an offensive that has killed more than 23,000 people, according to Gaza officials, and driven most of the territory's 2.3 million people from their homes.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said joint monitoring Philadelphi Corridor with Egypt was among issues that have been discussed by the countries.

Asked if Egypt had refused, the Israeli official said: "I'm not aware of that."

Egypt's state-linked Al Qahera News cited an anonymous source on Monday as saying that recent reports of planned cooperation between Egypt and Israel on the corridor were false.

The head of Egypt's State Information Service did not respond to a request for comment.

The Egyptian sources said that Israeli officials did not discuss control of the corridor during the current ceasefire talks, but instead asked to participate in monitoring the area, including by sharing usage of new monitoring technology Israel would procure.

Egyptian negotiators rejected the idea, but Egypt has bolstered the physical barriers on its side of the border, the sources said.

Egypt is prioritizing reaching a new ceasefire agreement as the necessary foundation for discussions about post-war Gaza, including securing the corridor, the sources added.

As Israel faces charges at The Hague, a Cornell expert in genocide weighs in
As Israel prepares to defend itself in the International Court of Justice in the Hague against South Africa’s charges of genocide on Thursday, Menachem Rosensaft has some thoughts.

“The word genocide is used willy-nilly by people all over the world, but genocide, as it has evolved since 1948 when the genocide convention was first adopted by the UN General Assembly, is a legal concept. And whatever else Israel is doing, and has done, it is not intending to destroy the Palestinian people; either on the West Bank or in Gaza,” said Rosensaft, who is a legal expert on genocide.

In short, it’s a specious charge, Rosensaft said in a Zoom interview from his Manhattan apartment. It’s also a perfect example of the type of legal case Rosensaft will be teaching this semester at Cornell University in a new course: “Antisemitism in the Courts and in Jurisprudence.”

The course, which will be offered in two sections, one for Cornell Law School students and one for undergraduates, is a survey of how antisemitism manifests in modern history and how it has been handled in the courts. Among the topics the students will study are the 1894 conviction of the French Jewish officer Alfred Dreyfus, the 1913 blood libel against Mendel Beilis, whom the Russians charged with killing a Christian child so he could bake the blood into matzah, and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Now an adjunct professor at Cornell Law School, Rosensaft, the son of Holocaust survivors, has dedicated his life to the study and teaching of genocide and antisemitism.

He has served in various roles at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and was most recently the general counsel for the World Jewish Congress. A co-founder of the International Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, Rosensaft was also one of five American Jews who met with Yasser Arafat and other senior leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization in December 1988.

Rosensaft conceived of the idea for the course this summer. He originally planned to introduce it in 2025, but then came the October 7 massacre, in which thousands of Hamas-led terrorists brutally murdered 1,200 people in southern Israel — most of them civilians — and kidnapped roughly 240 more to the Gaza Strip.

The attack was characterized by unimaginable cruelty: the terrorists indiscriminately tortured, brutalized, disfigured and dismembered the victims. Entire families were killed together, many burned alive in their homes.

Days after the onslaught, anti-Israel and antisemitic protests erupted in cities and on university campuses worldwide. Cornell University was no exception.

In late October, an undergraduate student allegedly threatened to kill Jewish students. After the student was arrested, the university asked Rosensaft if he could offer a course on antisemitism now rather than wait until the spring of 2025.
How will ICJ rule on Gaza genocide case? Ex-IDF int'l law chief talks to 'Post'
Former IDF international law division head Col. (res.) Daniel Reisner told the Jerusalem Post in an interview on Tuesday that it is unclear how the International Court of Justice will rule on genocide charges against Israel due to politicization against the Jewish state.

He noted that there are 15 judges who all receive joint approval from the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly, but that there is also a quota system where each region: Western countries, eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and others – get a set number of judges, who serve one set nine-year term.

“Some are among the best international legal scholars in the world. Some are not the best. There is inconsistency in the level of legal expertise of the ICJ judges, but generally speaking it is the most respected international forum in the world,” said Reisner, who currently is a partner at the huge Herzog, Fox & Neeman law firm.

He said that, “Because the judges are all political appointees, one from each country, they are all political appointees in the truest sense of word. As a result, regarding ICJ rulings historically, if there is a dispute in which the countries [from which the judges come from] don’t have a strong agenda, the court comes up with ultra professional and ultra exacting, high level, sophisticated rulings.”

“However, if the judges’ [home] countries have strong feelings, suddenly the judges come up with made-up legal rules,” he warned.

One example, Reisner gave was the ICJ’s 2004 advisory ruling in which it declared Israel’s West Bank security barrier illegal.

“The majority of the court said that Israel doesn’t have the right to self-defense because there is no right of self-defense” for a party which is occupying another’s territory, he recalled.

Next, he said, “The general position of respectable international lawyers was this was at best a laughable legal statement, if not worse, but an ICJ ruling is not something you can laugh away.”

Reisner said there were three separate components to what the court is being asked to rule on.

“This week there will be oral discussions concerning the provisional measures requirements which South Africa requested, the most important of which is the cessation of Israel’s military activities,” he stated.

Moreover, “this discussion is without getting to the legal merits. There is no assumption that there is a genocide,” but rather only that South Africa must try to convince the court that if it does not order a cessation of military activities, that additional irreversible harm will be caused which are connected to the genocide allegations.

‘Grotesque lie’: South Africa accusing Israel of genocide is an ‘inversion of reality’
Spiked Online Chief Political Writer Brendan O’Neill says South Africa’s “grotesque lie” of accusing Israel of genocide is an “inversion of reality”.

The International Court of Justice is set to begin hearings later this week after South Africa filed a case against Israel, where they accused Israel of violating the Genocide Convention in its war on Hamas.

“It is a grotesque lie to accuse Israel of genocide and actually it’s even worse than that – we’re witnessing an inversion of reality,” Mr O’Neill told Sky News host Caleb Bond.

“It was Israel that was attacked by a genocidal terror organisation on the 7th of October and yet it is Israel that has now been accused of genocide.

“It was Israel that was subjected to this fascistic assault, and yet it is now Israel that has been likened to the fascists.

“It was the people of Southern Israel who were subjected to the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust, and yet everywhere you look, it is Israel that is being compared to the architects of the Holocaust.”

Blinken in Tel Aviv, IDF mothers protest US interference in war

A group composed of some 7,000 mothers of Israeli soldiers fighting in the Gaza Strip held up huge posters depicting the children of senior U.S. officials as IDF recruits during a protest in front of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s Tel Aviv hotel on Tuesday.

The message: What if it were your children fighting in the Gaza Strip? Would you continue to demand the resupply of the enemy?

The group behind the protest, Imahot HaLohamim (“Mothers of Combat Soldiers”) is demanding an end to U.S. pressure on Israel.

“Our message is very simple. Our soldiers’ lives have to come first and foremost, and be prioritized over those of enemy civilians,” Mirit Hoffman, the group’s spokesperson, told JNS.

Since the war’s start, the U.S. has insisted Israel permit humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip. President Joe Biden promised during an October visit to Israel that aid would cease if it was found that Hamas had diverted it for its purposes.

It’s a promise that has not been kept. The U.S. has instead doubled down, demanding that aid increase, including the entry of fuel, something that Israel at first categorically refused to allow.

“Every time Blinken comes, he brings more and more demands that endanger our soldiers,” said Hoffman, who has a son and a son-in-law fighting in Gaza.

“It’s a total double standard. The demands that the U.S. administration put on our soldiers goes far beyond what America practiced after 9/11, or Pearl Harbor,” she said, adding, “We know the supplies go to Hamas. Hamas is telling everybody that it goes to Hamas. It’s not even a secret.”

“The U.S. is supposed to be our ally. I’m sorry, but actions speak way louder than words. Coming and shaking our hands and then putting the most ridiculous pressure on our government and endangering our soldiers—that’s not what allies do,” Hoffman said.
Blinken will land in Israel today as part of his regional tour

Caroline Glick: Israel Needs to Start Fighting to Win Against Hezbollah and Hamas
Hezbollah attacks army base in a major escalation of the conflict, back peddling in the war against Hamas and the rift between the army and the leadership grows wider

Caroline Glick: Major in Reserves: This Time We Must Demand Complete Victory in Gaza
This week, Caroline Glick spoke with Major in Reserves and founder of Courage for Israel Gilad Ach. Courage for Israel is a group of reserve soldiers that are demanding from the government that they do not stop the war in Gaza until Hamas is completely destroyed.

They discuss
- the breaking of morale amongst veteran soldiers who feel that they have been fighting Hamas for decades because of government indecision
- what complete victory in Gaza looks like
- the disconnect between the wholly dedicated soldiers on the ground and the Israeli leadership at the top.

A visit to the heart of cruelty: Israel Hayom gets access to Hamas' secret rocket factory
In a large industrial shed, the soldiers show dozens of industrial melting, molding, and engraving machines for metal. Large baskets there contain tens of thousands of unassembled mortar shells, with fuses nearby. At the far end of the shed, there is a large shaft with an elevator. Most production was done underground, where the finished products of terror were readied for shipment.

In an adjacent structure are dozens of long-range missiles nearly ready for use, lacking only the warhead and camouflage paint. This building too has a huge shaft leading to an underground production space. "The room below is huge. Only finished products did they bring above ground in order to transfer to the launch pits," says Lt. Col. Ohad Moyal, commander of the Golani reconnaissance battalion.

The terrorists did not relinquish the expansive industrial complex easily. "We saw hard fighting here. They shot, blew up shafts, and set ambushes. Ultimately they don't have the capacity to stand against a force like ours over time, but they continued producing weapons up till the last moment, just as we were meters away from them," says Moyal.

A cursory examination of the compound itself shows why all of Israel's air power did not suffice to paralyze Hamas' industry of terror and death. Huge bomb craters gape on the grounds from IAF strikes preceding the ground offensive. But despite the heavy bombardment, which likely damaged certain infrastructures and even missile launch pits, nearby plants, in civilian buildings, and underground, continued churning out thousands of mortar shells and rockets. "Production at this facility could only be stopped as we did, from the ground, meter after meter, shed after shed," says Moyal as we pass by a blast crater nearby.

The cruelty in Hamas' design
Exiting one of the compound's buildings, Salah al-Din Road is clearly visible. A civilian building situated right on the road itself was damaged in the fighting, with a hole breached in the wall. Through the hole, a clothing store is clearly visible. Neat rows of hangars and women's dresses appear through the dusty air of the ruined refugee camp. In an adjacent building is the local headquarters of a cellphone company. The upper floors evidently served for residence.

The Hamas "Military Production" plant did not operate behind fences, but right in a neighborhood where civilians lived daily life. Chilling evidence of Hamas waging battle among Gaza's population and its factories of death. The terror effort was attached to civilian society's buildings in order to try preventing harm to its facilities, or exact so heavy a civilian toll as to compel Israel to halt the operation.

This linkage between terror infrastructure and the local populace forced the IDF to operate meticulously and carefully, and the fear of terrorists remaining in shafts or explosives still detonating sometimes sends random spurts of gunfire echoing sporadically. Forces in the field still have much work ahead dismantling infrastructure so it cannot serve Hamas again. It took Hamas years to build its subterranean plants and huge workshops, including the tunneling infrastructure connecting them. Now the fate of these facilities is to disappear in the blink of an eye.

Israeli fire led to death of six soldiers in Gaza blast, three more killed - IDF
Nine IDF soldiers were killed in three incidents in Gaza on Monday, with eight soldiers wounded.

Six of the killed soldiers and most of the wounded came from an incident with explosive material near the partially underground and partially above-ground Hamas rocket manufacturing factory uncovered by the IDF at al-Bureij in central Gaza.

Israeli fire on a Gaza utility pole caused the blast inside a terror tunnel that led to the death of six IDF fighters on Tuesday, as per new details published on Tuesday evening by Israeli media.

A truck was bringing explosive material to soldiers operating near the partially underground and partially above-ground Hamas rocket manufacturing factory uncovered by the IDF at al-Bureij in central Gaza.

Israeli forces were going to use it to explode and destroy aspects of the Hamas manufacturing facility.

The incident, in which six soldiers were killed and a number wounded, occurred after an Israeli tank fired at what it identified as a suspicious terrorist target during operations across the Strip.

The tank fired two shells, one hitting its target and the other landing on the utility pole, causing an explosion around thirty minutes before planned and killing the soldiers.

There was another incident in Khan Yunis in which two soldiers died and a third incident elsewhere in which another soldier died.

Hezbollah attacks IDF Northern Command HQ in Safed
Hezbollah attacked the IDF’s Northern Command headquarters in the Upper Galilee city of Safed with several drones on Tuesday.

The military said that there were no casualties or damage from the attack and that the base was functioning as usual following the attack. However, Hebrew media reported minor infrastructure damage to the base.

In a statement, the terrorist group said it was in response to the alleged Israeli assassinations of Radwan Force commando unit commander Jawad al-Tawil in Southern Lebanon and the killing last week of Hamas terror chief Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut.

The IDF said that artillery fired at the source of the attack.

The Iranian-backed Shi’ite terrorist group on Saturday fired some 40 rockets into Israel in an “initial response” to the al-Arouri assassination.

The salvo triggered rocket alert sirens in 90 communities across northern Israel, although the military said that only the Mount Meron area was targeted.

There were no reports of injuries from that attack.
Hezbollah Attacks Israel Using Kamikaze Drones
Expert Analysis
“Drones are among several Hezbollah threats that have increased in recent years. Hezbollah has used drones frequently to target Israel after the Hamas attack on October 7. It is essential that Hezbollah be deterred and prevented from continuing attacks on northern Israel.” — Seth J. Frantzman, FDD Adjunct Fellow

“Israel appears to be weighing the safety of its civilians against the cost of war with Hezbollah. So far, neither side wants an all-out war. However, the terror regime is rolling the dice with every rocket, drone, or antitank missile it fires towards Israel. One Hezbollah miscalculation could tip the scales, change the Israeli calculus, and result in a war that would have dire consequences for Lebanon and Israel.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

Israel Responds to Increased Hezbollah Attacks
IDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said on January 8, in response to Hezbollah threats against Israel, that “we responded with fire to areas from which launches were identified toward Israeli territory.” Hezbollah has carried out daily attacks against Israel since October 7, when Hamas attacked southern Israel and massacred 1,200 people. Hezbollah’s attacks have forced more than 80,000 Israelis to evacuate border communities in northern Israel. “As we have stated since the beginning of the war, we will not tolerate a threat near the northern border. We said it, and we mean it,” Hagari said.

“Hezbollah’s ongoing terrorist activity and attacks against Israel violate UN Security Council Resolution 1701,” the IDF reiterated on January 9. The resolution is supposed to disarm Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Instead, Hezbollah has increased its armed presence and threats.

Hezbollah Drone Threats
Hezbollah has been using kamikaze drones to threaten Israel in recent attacks, including the attack on January 9 that targeted the Israeli city of Safed and IDF Northern Command. The Alma Research and Education Center, which tracks threats to northern Israel, estimated in 2021 that Hezbollah had approximately 2,000 unmanned aerial vehicles. The IDF said on January 7 and 8 that there were “hostile aircraft,” a term for drones, that infiltrated northern Israel near border communities. Iranian-backed terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis, have increasingly used drones to carry out attacks.
Hezbollah chiefs, head of drone operations killed in Israeli strike on car
Three senior members of Hezbollah were killed in an Israeli UAV attack on a vehicle in southern Lebanon, the IDF confirmed on Tuesday evening.

Two sources who spoke to Reuters said that the attack, which took place in Ghandouriyeh, was a targeted drone strike on a vehicle. As per Israeli media, one of those killed in the drone strike is the terrorist responsible for the organization's drone operations.

Hassan Abeid al-Hussein Ismail, the head of Hezbollah's drone operations in southern Lebanon, was reportedly responsible for the assaults of hostile UAVs into northern Israeli towns since October 7.

The targeted killing took Hezbollah's total number of casualties up to 158, as per the terror organization.

Israeli lawmakers ponder UNRWA overhaul
The Knesset on Tuesday held a special discussion on the future of Israel’s relations with UNRWA, amid mounting national and international concern over the agency’s connection with Palestinian terrorism.

The parliamentary meeting comes amid a groundswell of reports on the close ties to terrorists of employees of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, including an eyewitness account of an UNRWA schoolteacher holding an Israeli hostage in the basement of his Gaza home and the discovery of missiles and other weapons hidden among UNRWA relief supplies.

“If we want to change the reality on the ground, it starts with UNRWA,” said MK Sharren Haskel (National Unity), who chaired the meeting of the Knesset Caucus on UNRWA and for Change of Policy in UNRWA. “There is an understanding that what was before cannot continue.”

The two-hour meeting, held under the rubric of “The Day After: UNRWA,” included academics, ambassadors, lawmakers, and officials from the Foreign and Defense ministries. They discussed options from pressing for reform, the establishment of an international supervisory board to monitor aid donations, and terminating all cooperation with the agency.

“UNRWA is a weaponized organization of the Iranian regime,” said Dan Diker, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. “It has become a major machinery of terror for the Iranian regime.”

“Any alternative would be better than UNRWA,” said Dr. Einat Wilf, an author and former member of Knesset.

‘Americans are pissed off,’ Sen. Ernst tells Qatari leaders in Doha
A group of senators and House members who visited Doha this weekend pressed Qatari leaders to take stronger action to help free hostages who remain in Hamas custody, warning that a failure to do so could jeopardize the relationship between Washington and Doha, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) told Jewish Insider following her return from the region.

The lawmakers’ trip, which also included stops in Israel, Egypt and Bahrain, was focused primarily on the plight of the hostages still being held by Hamas. Ernst was joined by Sen. Ted Budd (R-NC) and Reps. Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Ann Wagner (R-MO), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Donald Norcross (D-NJ).

Ernst described the conversation with Qatar’s prime minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, as “a difficult one,” during which each of the lawmakers emphasized the need for Qatar to “use whatever leverage they have” with Hamas to free the hostages “in order maintain” the kingdom’s relationship with the U.S.

“I literally told him, ‘Americans are pissed off,’” Ernst said. “They have hosted Hamas in Qatar — sometimes at the behest of various administrations along the way. But these are terrorists. They murdered Americans. They are holding Americans… [Qatar needs] to leverage those ties to get our Americans back.”

She said that the message was delivered “loud and clear” to the Qataris. “I reminded him that the focus of our trip was on our hostages. And he did seem to feel that, and I feel that he heard that,” the Iowa senator said.

But asked whether she expects to see a change in behavior from Qatar after delivering this message, Ernst said, “I don’t know how this will transpire.”

She said the group had spoken about the hostage crisis with the other Arab leaders during the trip, including those in Egypt and Bahrain.

Going into the trip, Ernst said she and other members of the delegation were “fired up” about news last week that the U.S. had quietly agreed to keep a critical U.S. airbase in Qatar for an additional 10 years. Ernst and other lawmakers have been pushing for the U.S. to increase pressure on Qatar over its Hamas ties.

Israeli Man Pleads for His Release in Latest Gaza Hostage Video
Elad Katzir, an Israeli farmer held hostage in Gaza for over three months, was seen pleading for his freedom in a video posted online by Palestinian terror group Islamic Jihad on Monday.

Hamas, which rules Gaza, and its smaller ally Islamic Jihad have periodically released videos of hostages taken during Hamas’ Oct. 7 cross-border rampage into southern Israel.

“I was close to dying more than once, it’s a miracle I’m still alive,” Katzir said, a black and yellow Islamic Jihad flag hung from a wall behind him. “I want to tell my family that I love them very much and I miss them very much,” he said, before pausing to choke back tears.

Typically, hostage videos have been filmed in front of a wall in poor lighting, with captives reciting calls for their release. The men, like Katzir in the latest video, often have full beards. The Israeli military has said the videos amount to “psychological terror.”

More than 130 hostages remain in Gaza, most believed to be in Hamas hands, after more than 100 were released during a short-lived truce in late November.

Israel says it will press on with its devastating military offensive in Gaza until Hamas is wiped out, all captives are freed, and the Palestinian enclave poses no more security threat. Hamas has said it will free no more hostages at least until Israel halts the war.

Katzir, 47, was snatched by terrorists from the agricultural kibbutz of Nir Oz. His father was killed in his home there during Hamas’ incursion and his mother was also taken hostage. She was among those later freed during the truce. Katzir appeared in a similar video from captivity last month.
Gaza hostage: 'Hamas terrorist touched, tortured female soldier beside me'
Aviva Siegel, released from Hamas captivity as part of a prisoner exchange deal, testified on Tuesday at the first conference of the Kidnapped Persons Caucus held in the Knesset. In her testimony, she said: "I met another kidnapped woman, and sorry for the language, but the son of a bitch [Hamas terrorist] touched her. They didn't let me embrace her; they wouldn't let me embrace her. There was another female soldier there. They tortured her beside me, and I am a witness to it, a witness to what happened there. It's unbearable."

"The entire purpose of this caucus stems from the strong desire to bring them home," said Knesset member Shelly Tal Meron (Yesh Atid) at the caucus conference.

"To hear their families, to hear the testimonies of those returning from captivity, and the need to bring this issue to the forefront. To shock the world, to show what is happening here, what an entire country is going through, and mainly the 136 families who cannot continue their lives for one more moment as they lived - and want their loved ones at home."

At the weekly rally in the Kidnapped Persons Square on Saturday night, the testimony of 17-year-old Agam Goldstein, who was also released from Hamas captivity, was screened. In her testimony, Goldstein recounted the abuse experienced by women in captivity: "A door opened, and six girls were waiting, and suddenly we realized that there were girls who had been alone. Many girls suffer severe sexual assaults; they have very severe and complex injuries that are not treated. They either bandaged themselves, or we helped them bandage." She added: "I can't even imagine their situation, what hope they are clinging to."

Investigation into October 7th sexual violence
Last week, the investigation of Unit 105 regarding the acts of rape, abuse, and sexual crimes committed by Hamas on October 7th was opened. Sex crimes investigator Chief Inspector Tzofit Tzioni-Levy, who is leading the investigation, said: "There are first-hand testimonies of sexual offenses from people who have seen it with their own eyes and heard with their own ears. ZAKA personnel and people on the ground found handcuffed corpses of men and women, dismembered and naked bodies, and mutilation of sexual organs," explained Tzioni-Levy. "We are here in Unit 105 for this reason, to respond to every hero and heroine who was harmed."

Munder family member tells his family’s tragic story
Itay Raviv, a family member of Ohad, Keren, and Ruti who were released, Abraham who’s still in Gaza, and Roee who was murdered on October 7th

New Hamas footage shows how terrorists breached Israeli border unchecked on October 7

Couple Moves Back to Ravaged Kibbutz Three Months After Oct. 7 Massacre

Call Me Back PodCast: Growing tensions between Hamas Leaders — with Dr. Matt Levitt
Hosted by Dan Senor
What do Israelis know about the political tensions within Hamas’s leadership? About their decision-makers, their motives, their processes, and Hamas’s internal disagreements and rivalries? Matt Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Ehud Yaari of Israel’s Channel 12 news set out to try to answer these questions. Are tensions heating up between Hamas’s internal and and external leaders?

Dr. Matthew Levitt. Matt is the director of the Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He served as deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. During his tenure at Treasury, he played a central role in efforts to protect the U.S. financial system from abuse and to deny terrorists, weapons proliferators, and other rogue actors the ability to finance threats to U.S. national security. He later served as a counterterrorism advisor to the special envoy for Middle East regional security. Previously, Matt was a counterterrorism intelligence analyst at the FBI, where he provided tactical and strategic analytical support for counterterrorism operations, focusing on fundraising and logistical support networks for Middle Eastern terrorist groups. He is the author of several books and monographs, including Hamas: Politics, Charity and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad (Yale University Press, 2006), and Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God (Georgetown University Press, 2013). He is the host of the podcast series, Breaking Hezbollah’s Golden Rule.

Washington Institute for Near East Policy paper discussed in this episode:

The Commentary Magazine Podcast: The Protesting-Crime Connection
Hosted by Abe Greenwald, Christine Rosen, John Podhoretz & Matthew Continetti

Today’s podcast finds a connection between the pro-Palestinian protests closing bridges and tunnels and inconveniencing hundreds of thousands of people and the kinds of petty shoplifting that make going to stores in urban centers more and more hellish. What’s the connection? And why should kids take the SAT?

Bethany Mandel On Displaced Israeli Citizens & Lloyd Austin In Intensive Care

Record number of Americans think Israel isn’t getting enough US support — poll
A record share of the United States public thinks that the US government is not doing enough to support Israel in the ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza, a Gallup poll conducted between December 1 and December 20 has found.

At the same time, however, the poll, published Friday, found that Americans view Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu more unfavorably than ever.

When asked by Gallup if they believe that the US is giving adequate support to Israel, 38 percent of respondents said that Israel receives the right amount of support.

An additional 36% of people said Israel is getting too much support, while 24% said it isn’t getting enough.

According to Gallup, which has been asking the same question periodically since 2001, the 24% who say that the US isn’t doing enough for Israel is the highest figure it has ever recorded.

When asked whether the US is giving adequate support to Palestinians, 31% said there was too much support, 33% said they were receiving the right amount, and 33% said they weren’t receiving enough support.

Megyn Kelly: Notably Absent From Golden Globes - Support For Israel After Terror Attack, with Maureen Callahan
Megyn Kelly is joined by Maureen Callahan, Daily Mail columnist, to discuss the lack of Israel or hostages support at the Golden Globes last night, the cowardice from the celebrities that are afraid to take a stance that may get backlash, and more.

Jew and Palestinian debate Gaza
Joseph (Zionist) and Tareq (Palestinian) debated the Israel/Gaza war. We want to thank Tareq for joining us and trying to find common ground and discuss the conflict with us.

Police arrest anti-Israel agitators as Biden arrives at Dallas airport
A group of anti-Israel activists attempted to block an entrance at Dallas’s Love Field Airport on Monday night, calling for a ceasefire in the war against the Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip and the release of Palestinian prisoners, timed to the arrival of U.S. President Joe Biden aboard Air Force One.

Police arrested 13 people in the protest co-organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement, a group associated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Youth movement spokesperson Nashwa Abdelwahed said the demonstrators had put “their body on the line to stand up for the Palestinian people” and claimed that “Biden has essentially been aiding and abetting Israel’s war crimes.”

The United States has supported Israel in its war against Hamas since the terrorist attacks on Oct. 7.

“We’re not going to let any of these politicians rest, including Biden, while Palestinians have no justice,” said Abdelwahed.

SEIU Leader Participated in Palestinian Protest That Shut Down Brooklyn Bridge
A chief negotiator for the Service Employees International Union's national office who accused Israel of committing "genocide" protested the Jewish state alongside his radical wife and violent communist son, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

Larry Alcoff, a 20-year veteran of the SEIU who has led high-profile labor negotiations in Chicago and Washington, D.C., has been an outspoken opponent of Israel on social media since Hamas's Oct. 7 massacre. Alcoff was joined by his wife Linda and son Jose at an Oct. 28 pro-Palestinian march that forced the temporary closure of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. During the march, Linda Alcoff wore a sticker reading, "Zionist donors and trustees, hands off our universities." Jose Alcoff, a known communist and leader of the radical Antifa movement, has advocated for the violent overthrow of the government and was charged with felony assault in 2019.

The Alcoffs have plenty of allies within the SEIU. Several of the labor union's leaders expressed solidarity with Hamas in the immediate aftermath of the Oct. 7 attacks, the Wall Street Journal reported. And Starbucks Workers United, an SEIU affiliate, expressed "Solidarity with Palestine" in a deleted social media post showing Hamas bulldozers that broke into Israeli territory on Oct. 7. Starbucks threatened the union with legal action following a Free Beacon report on the union's anti-Israel rhetoric.

SEIU Connecticut State Council executive director Kooper Caraway tendered his resignation shortly after saying during a protest in Connecticut that corporate America and the federal government "want us to think [Hamas] are enemies of working class people."

"But they are not," Caraway said. "Our comrades are in Gaza," he added as he denounced capitalism.

The SEIU said in a statement announcing Caraway's resignation that it "unequivocally condemns the horrific terrorist attack by Hamas." But the union has remained silent on Larry Alcoff's anti-Israel activism.
NYPD makes 325 arrests after anti-Israel protesters block bridges, tunnel
New York City has been a hotbed of anti-Israel protesters since Oct. 7 and the Hamas terrorist attacks that murdered 1,200 people and took more than 250 men, women and children hostage. Demonstrations were particularly disruptive over the holidays.

On Monday morning, anti-Israel activists organized in groups large enough to shut down the Brooklyn Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and the Holland Tunnel for several hours. The New York Police Department and the Port Authority Police arrested a total of 325 people.

John Chell, the NYPD Chief of Patrol, said that many protesters would receive misdemeanor charges and a ticket to appear in court. Of those arrested, 120 went into custody for stopping traffic at the lower level of the Holland Tunnel, a key connection between Manhattan and New Jersey.

Previous anti-Israel protests to impair those seeking to travel include a Jan. 1 effort to stop passengers from reaching their flights at the John F. Kennedy International Airport, where the release of balloons there, a federal crime, has led to an FBI investigation. Other sites of disruption over the past few months have been at Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station and Grand Central Station, both in Midtown Manhattan.
Wild video captures irate NYC driver getting out of car to shove anti-Israel protesters: ‘You’re disrupting traffic, idiots!’

Seattle officials, Coast Guard allowed 'ceasefire' agitators to shut down major bridge, snarling traffic for hours

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