Monday, March 11, 2024

From Ian:

Israel destroying Hamas amid international fury and skepticism
In his State of the Union address Thursday, President Joe Biden spent 90 seconds supporting Israel and blaming Hamas for the atrocities it committed on Oct. 7 as well as for the war that followed. "Israel has a right to go after Hamas," Biden said.

But then he spent 180 seconds focusing on Palestinians "under bombardment" or experiencing "displacement," and the need for a two-state solution.

He failed to mention the hundreds of thousands of Israelis under bombardment and the tens of thousands who have been displaced as a result of ongoing Hamas and Hizbullah attacks.

While Israel is under pressure to ensure humanitarian aid delivery to Palestinians, it is plowing forward in its war against Hamas.

Jacob Olidort, director of research for the Gemunder Center for Defense & Strategy at JINSA, said that skepticism regarding Israel's military operation to eliminate Hamas "ignores the visceral commitment Israel has, in light of the horrors of Oct. 7, not only to eliminate the terrorists and their infrastructure in Gaza, but also to institute long-overdue deradicalization efforts" with regard to both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

Former Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat explained that Israel "cannot compromise on achieving the goals it defined for this war in full, since any failure to do so could expose Israel to an existential threat from its enemies."

"The results of the war are the only thing that can prevent this. The deterrence that crashed on Oct. 7 will not be restored if it can be argued that Israel failed to achieve its goals."

As for the day after Israel destroys Hamas, Ben-Shabbat said, "The young people of Gaza, who make up half of the population, were born into the reality of Hamas, were educated on its ideas, absorbed it in schools, mosques, squares and through its media. The young terrorists fighting us today are the same children who spent time in Hamas summer camps."

Contrary to what some in the West believe, Hamas didn't "kidnap the population" but rather won broad political support and backing from Gaza's Palestinian public, he said.

He emphasized that Israel must ensure that the demilitarization of Gaza and freedom of action for the IDF there are basic conditions in any future reality.
The Day After the Gaza War - in Israel
Since Hamas' Oct. 7 attack, Israel has found itself in a multifront war for the first time in nearly 60 years. It is fighting in Gaza, countering armed groups in the West Bank, and facing missile strikes from Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen.

Moreover, Israel must also take more far-reaching steps to avoid another Oct. 7. It must ramp up defense spending and reinforce its borders. Any arrangement for governing Palestinian areas will have to include strong provisions to prevent the emergence of a remilitarized Palestinian territory. The longer-term objective of a two-state solution is currently perceived as unfeasible and even detached from reality by most Israelis.

After five months of fighting in Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces have made impressive progress. The territory is one of the most complex combat zones in the world, with an intricate urban landscape and an enemy that is operating within the civilian population, using an extensive network of tunnels and underground facilities. Nonetheless, IDF forces have been able to dismantle the nerve centers and organizational structures of Hamas in Gaza City and Khan Yunis and significantly degrade terrorist infrastructure in other areas.

They have also established a security buffer zone between Gaza and Israeli territory to largely neutralize the immediate ground threat to the towns and villages near Gaza, allowing residents to return to their homes.

Realizing these objectives has come at a high cost to the population of Gaza, and the humanitarian situation has raised pressure on Israel to limit its operations. Yet, calls for Israel to stand down are premature. Israel cannot bring an end to the conflict in Gaza as long as Israeli hostages are held captive there.

Israel has no interest in occupying or assuming full responsibility for Gaza. But as long as Gaza remains militarized and attacks against Israeli territory persist, Israel will be compelled to maintain overriding security control. Israel's efforts to dismantle Hamas will require a long-term commitment.
WSJ Editorial: Biden Draws an Odd "Red Line" for Israel
President Biden beat up Israel's leaders in his State of the Union speech and has criticized its war strategy in Gaza with regularity. Biden wants fewer civilian casualties in Gaza, but so does Israel since the diplomatic consequences fall on the Jewish state, not on Hamas. That's why Israel has held off on its Rafah campaign until it can put together a plan to let civilians find refuge to the city's north.

Israel can't avoid a Rafah campaign if it wants to achieve its war aim of destroying Hamas. Surely Biden knows this. The U.S. didn't let ISIS retain its stronghold in Mosul in Iraq, and the siege of that city also had unintended civilian casualties.

There are costs to this White House strategy toward Israel - not least its message to Hamas and its backers in Iran that their strategy of putting civilians in harm's way is working politically. Why agree to a hostage swap if their current strategy is driving a wedge between Israel and the U.S.?

Biden's red-line threats don't help Israel or his political standing at home. The best way he can help himself politically is to let Israel win the war as rapidly as possible.
U.S. Gaza Aid Policy Prolongs the Return of Israeli Captives
The airdropping of aid to Gaza - and soon, also the special pier - will not advance the release of the Israeli captives. It will only make their release that much harder. Increasing civilian aid to Gaza provides more and more oxygen to Hamas, delays a real uprising of the residents there against Hamas, and achieves the opposite of what Biden says he desires. From Hamas' perspective, the aid gives more legitimacy for the continuation of its existence as the ruling power in Gaza and a toughening of its stance on the captives issue.

If the U.S. had a Middle Eastern mindset rather than a Western one, it would make clear that the condition for "saving the starving residents of Gaza" is the swift end of Hamas, both militarily and in civilian life, and the release of all captives. Instead, Biden puts the well-being of Gaza's residents, many of whom have been involved in terrorism over the years, before the well-being of the captives. This encourages Hamas to raise the price for their release ever higher.

In World War II against the Nazis, the Allies did not consider airdropping humanitarian aid to the German population. These are new standards set specifically for Israel, and a distortion of any logic aimed at defeating an enemy like Hamas. The U.S. itself has never acted this way in its wars.

The same flawed Western logic applies to the issue of the month of Ramadan and Israel's entry into Rafah. Instead of making it clear that Israel, with American backing, will not hesitate to turn Ramadan from the "glorious month of Islamic victories" into the month of its defeat, the U.S. has opted to be considerate of Muslim sensitivities.

Fighting Doesn't Stop during Ramadan: Look at Egypt and Syria's 1973 Ramadan War against Israel
There is an idea that it is wrong to fight an Islamic country during the holy month of Ramadan, which this year started Sunday. It's nonsense: Look at Egypt and Syria's 1973 Ramadan War against Israel or Iran's 1982 Operation Ramadan against Iraq. The taboo is a weapon.

For more than a month, the Biden administration has set the start of Ramadan as the deadline for a deal to release Israeli hostages and stop the war. "There's got to be a ceasefire because of Ramadan," the president said Tuesday. The president no longer speaks about defeating Hamas, let alone destroying it. Victory is off his list of priorities - and Israelis worry that Biden is the most pro-Israel member of his administration.

The administration misread Israel. Its pressure tactics have allowed Netanyahu to rally even his rivals around his positions on Rafah and against unilateral U.S. recognition of a Palestinian state, an idea Israelis find criminally insane right now. The prime minister's chief opponent, Benny Gantz, has publicly agreed with him on both. Israel is united on the questions that matter, and it has the will to outlast the Biden administration.

Micah Goodman, a leading Israeli public intellectual, said in an interview, "America is speaking about its own traumas in Iraq and Afghanistan when it says that asymmetric wars are unwinnable. We have a different experience." He cites 2002's Operation Defensive Shield, which broke the Second Intifada and helped end suicide bombings. That, too, had been deemed impossible. "We have the determination and capacity to win," he said.
JCPA: Sinwar's Ramadan Jihad Dream: Will the "Al Aqsa Flood" Reach Jerusalem?
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar is hoping that the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which begins this week, will see an upsurge in violence against Israel. This is why Sinwar is reluctant to move forward with negotiations for the release of the Israeli hostages. Sinwar and the Hamas "tunnel leadership" in Gaza have not lost hope that other Arabs and Muslims will join Hamas in its fight against Israel.

Hamas' branding of the Oct. 7 massacre as the "al Aqsa Flood" followed Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat's similar branding of the "al Aqsa Intifada" that began in 2000. At the time, Palestinian propaganda advertised the Second Intifada as a duty to defend Islamic holy sites, a still-popular theme in Palestinian media. Sinwar views himself as a great Muslim warrior who successfully planned an invasion of Israel.

Hamas leaders have not concealed their disappointment with their failure to ignite a multi-front confrontation with Israel. Hamas supporters have mocked Hizbullah for firing anti-tank missiles at the same Israeli military outpost for the past four months, indicating that Hizbullah is not serious about an all-out war with Israel.

Hamas is also disappointed with the lack of enthusiasm for a renewed intifada in the West Bank. Though there have been sporadic terrorist attacks in the West Bank and the Jerusalem area, their intensity is not significantly different from those of the past few years. Moreover, the vast majority of Israel's Arab citizens have refrained from acts of violence and displays of support for Hamas' terrorism.

There was no repeat of the May 2021 riots that erupted in mixed cities inside Israel for several reasons. First, more than 20 Arab Muslims were killed during Hamas' murder spree, and several members of the Bedouin community were kidnapped. Second, Arab Israelis were shocked by the magnitude of the savagery and barbarism perpetrated by Hamas and emphasized that Hamas did not represent the values of Islam or Arab culture. Third, the Arabs did not want to repeat the mistake of May 2021, which provided an excuse for some in Israel to label them as a fifth column.

Amid Biden barbs, Netanyahu navigates his own balancing act
Netanyahu’s coalition may seem as rickety as it has been since the war began, but the Biden administration’s criticisms highlight where he is strongest.

In light of the increasingly critical comments from Washington, Gantz sought in his visit to the White House to better communicate Israel’s position in the war than Netanyahu and other Israeli officials had managed. Gantz, who is polling as the person most likely to replace the prime minister, may have hoped to have received a warm welcome from the Biden administration, which had already started publicly blaming Netanyahu.

Instead, the former defense minister was read the riot act by Harris and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan over the shambolic, and at times disastrous, distribution of humanitarian aid to Gaza, as well as Israel’s plan to attack Hamas’ last stronghold in Rafah.

Over the weekend, Biden and Harris gave interviews in which they tried to draw a distinction between Netanyahu’s position on the war and Israelis more broadly, amid reports that the administration was trying to create a wedge between the prime minister and the people and, perhaps, even bring about an early election.

Yet the meetings with Gantz, in which there was little daylight with Netanyahu on Rafah and humanitarian aid, as well as the short-term infeasibility of the Palestinian Authority governing Gaza, should have clued the Biden administration into the fact that Netanyahu’s positions are broadly popular at home.

An Israel Democracy Institute survey conducted on Feb. 28-March 4 and published on Sunday found that 64.5% of Israelis support the IDF “expand[ing] its military operations into Rafah,” while only 21% oppose it. When narrowing the sample to Israeli Jews, 74% support entering Rafah, while 12% oppose it.

In addition, 55% of Israelis and 62% of Israeli Jews think that Gantz’s party should remain in the coalition – which runs counter to calls for Netanyahu’s ouster and an early election at this point.

In an interview with Politico on Sunday, Netanyahu noted that “the overwhelming majority of Israelis…support the action that we’re taking to destroy the remaining terrorist battalions of Hamas. They say that once we destroy Hamas, the last thing we should do is put in charge of Gaza, the Palestinian Authority that educates its children towards terrorism and pays for terrorism… The attempt to say that my policies are my private policies that are not supported by most Israelis is false. The vast majority are united as never before. And they understand what’s good for Israel.”

And even before Biden and Harris’ comments, Israelis began to suspect that the administration’s support was on the decline. Only 40% of Israelis surveyed in the IDI poll said that the Jewish state can rely on the U.S. fully or to a large extent. Another poll conducted by the Jewish People Policy Institute last week and provided to Jewish Insider found that 70% of Jewish Israelis believe that Biden supports Israel less now than at the beginning of the war.

JPPI President Yedidia Stern said that “even those Israelis who do not express trust in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s leadership – around 70% according to previous surveys – also do not support proposals made by the U.S. administration regarding the way the war should be conducted — operating in Rafa for instance — or regarding the ‘day after,’ the two-state solution for example, and see such proposals as an expression of a decline in President Biden’s support for Israel.”

In Gaza, as elsewhere, aid missions are dangerous for soldiers
In 2003, in the early stages of the Allied invasion of Iraq, American journalist P.J. O’Rourke joined a Kuwait Red Crescent aid convoy on a journey to the southeastern Iraqi city of Safwan.

The convoy, he wrote in The Atlantic, stopped in the countryside instead of entering the city itself because the previous convoy to Safwan had been looted in what he called “a riot.”

Standing on top of one of the aid trucks, O’Rourke described in great detail the chaos on the ground as the workers tried to distribute the packages.

“Below, a couple of hundred shoving, shouldering, kneeing, kicking Iraqi men and boys were grabbing at boxes of food,” he wrote.

“Every person in the mob seemed to be arguing with every other person. Giving in to impulses to push themselves forward and push others away, shouting Iraqis were propelled in circles. A short, plump, bald man sank in the roil. A small boy, red-faced and crying, was crushed between two bellowing fat men. An old man was trampled trying to join the fray.”

The Iraqis, said O’Rourke, weren’t starving. Still, every time the truck doors were opened, “everything went to hell.”

British troops stood nearby, trying to stay out of the way. But when fights broke out in the crowd, they had to intervene to force the combatants apart.

Then things got worse. Gangs arrived from the city on forklifts, old pickups, taxis, and bicycles, and took control of the trucks.

“In a few minutes one squad of looters had seventeen aid boxes,” writes O’Rourke. “The box throwers were dancing and singing in the back of the tractor-trailer.”

The British forces quickly cleared the road, and the aid trucks hurried back to Kuwait, with some of the looters still inside.

Many of the duties soldiers are tasked with in war come with great peril. But handing out humanitarian aid to civilians is not generally seen as one of the more dangerous missions — at least by those who have never been asked to do so.
Diplomatic source to 'Post': Gaza maritime route was Netanyahu’s idea
The plan for a maritime route to Gaza via Cyprus to provide humanitarian assistance for Palestinians was initiated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in collaboration with U.S. President Joe Biden, a senior diplomatic source told the Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

The source said that on Oct. 22, two weeks following the war's outbreak, Netanyahu discussed with President Biden the concept of "delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza via the sea, contingent on an Israeli inspection in Cyprus. On Oct. 31, Prime Minister Netanyahu outlined this strategy to Cypriot President Christodoulides." The matter was revisited on Jan.19 during a dialogue between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Biden. Israel has welcomed Biden's announcement to build a temporary port.
Rubio on floating Gaza pier: ‘Real concern’ Hamas will grab any aid
Everyone wants there to be help for innocent civilians caught up in conflict. “I think it’s important to understand the reason why aid can’t get to them,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said of Gaza civilians on Sunday.

Rubio appeared alongside Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) on the CBS show “Face the Nation” with Margaret Brennan.

“Hamas has built this extensive system of tunnels. I don’t care if they got a great deal on the concrete. It’s expensive to build this extensive system of tunnels,” Rubio said. “That’s millions of dollars that could have gone to create an economy, to feed people, to build hospitals and serve civilians. They didn’t do it.”

Rubio added that there is a “real concern” and “very legitimate reason to believe that any aid that goes in there will be grabbed by Hamas and used for their purposes at the expense of the civilian population.”

“Hamas has a track record of zero when it comes to caring about the lives of civilians or society in general. They’re entirely on the war footing. It’s all they do,” Rubio said. “I think there’s good reason to believe that any additional aid would go directly to Hamas and would be controlled by them.”

Gaza Pier Pressure | How the US Military Builds a Pier | Joint Logistics Over the Sea (JLOTS)
A Pier for Gaza

What's Going on With Shipping?

In this episode, Sal Mercogliano - maritime historian at Campbell University (@campbelledu) and former merchant mariner - discusses the planned deployment of the Joint Logistics Over The Shore capability to Gaza to construct a pier to aid in the flow of aid into the region.

00:00 Introduction
03:59 Geography of Gaza
06:10 First shipments by sea
07:24 Joint Logistics Over The Shore JLOTS
09:10 Floating Pier
13:05 Pier Options Ashore
16:48 Ship to Shore Connectors
23:03 Historical Examples - WWII & Vietnam
25:09 Where Are Marine, Navy & Army Assets
27:37 Conclusion

Canada says it will join effort to get aid to Gaza through humanitarian sea corridor
Canada will join an international effort to deliver humanitarian assistance to Gaza by sea, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced on Sunday, as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians continue to go hungry.

Joly issued a statement saying Canada will join the international coalition that is working together to increase the flow of aid to Gaza through a humanitarian sea corridor originating from Cyprus. Further details have not yet been released.

The announcement came following a meeting between Joly and her counterpart in the United Arab Emirates, Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed.

“We discussed the need to increase the amount of humanitarian aid reaching Gaza through all means possible,” Joly said Sunday on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“I committed that Canada will join the coalition to do just that through a humanitarian sea corridor.”

On Friday, the UAE, along with the European Commission, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Cyprus, the United Kingdom and the United States jointly announced their intent to open a maritime corridor.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are going hungry after five months of war, and the push for aid comes as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins Monday in much of the world.

The opening of the sea corridor, along with airdrops by the U.S., Jordan and others, reflected growing alarm over Gaza’s deadly humanitarian crisis and a new willingness to bypass Israeli control over land shipments.

But aid officials say air and sea deliveries can’t make up for a shortage of land routes. The number of aid trucks entering Gaza daily are far below the 500 entering before the war.

A ship belonging to Spanish aid group Open Arms and carrying 200 tons of food aid was expected to make a pilot voyage to test the corridor “as soon as possible” but not Sunday, said spokesperson Linda Roth with partner organization World Central Kitchen. There was no explanation after Cyprus’s president had said it would leave Sunday.

Israel has said it welcomes the sea deliveries and would inspect Gaza-bound cargo before it leaves a staging area in nearby Cyprus. Israel’s defense minister Yoav Gallant reviewed prep work off the Gaza coast on Sunday.

Hamas-linked website warns Palestinians against cooperating with Israel to secure aid convoys
A Hamas-linked website warns Palestinian individuals or groups against cooperating with Israel to provide security for aid convoys amid the spiraling humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Those who do will be treated as collaborators and be handled with an iron fist, the Hamas Al-Majd security website says, quoting a security official in Palestinian terror forces.

The warning comes in response to reports that Israel is considering arming some Palestinian individuals or clans in Gaza to provide security protection for aid convoys into the enclave as part of wider planning for humanitarian supplies after the fighting ends.

“The occupation’s attempt to communicate with the leaders and clans of some families to operate within the Gaza Strip is considered direct collaboration with the occupation and is a betrayal of the nation that we will not tolerate,” the Hamas-linked website says, quoting the official.

“The occupation’s (Israel) efforts to establish bodies to manage Gaza are a ‘failed conspiracy’ that will not materialize.”
Italy nabs Palestinian terror cell plotting attacks
Police in Italy arrested three Palestinians on terrorism charges, the country’s La Repubblica daily reported on Monday. The migrants are believed to have been part of a cell plotting attacks “on foreign soil.”

The suspected terrorists lived in the central city of L’Aquila, some 75 miles northeast of Rome, and had all received temporary residency permits for humanitarian reasons, the newspaper said.

According to Italian investigators, the cell was linked to the “Tulkarm Battalion-Rapid Response,” a Samaria-based terrorist group that has been active since 2023. The organization consists of gunmen from Fatah and Islamic Jihad and has carried out numerous attacks, including on Bat Hefer, a village east of Netanya that borders the Green Line.

The Tulkarm group has links to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, an armed “militia” of Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction, which is recognized as a terrorist group by the European Union.

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi on Monday hailed the arrest of the “dangerous terrorists” in a post on X while thanking law enforcement agencies for the “important achievement.”

In Ramadan statement, Biden cites Hamas data, says ‘appalling resurgence’ of US anti-Muslim hate
The U.S. president also said that Washington will “continue working non-stop to establish an immediate and sustained ceasefire for at least six weeks as part of a deal that releases hostages” and that it will push for a “two-state solution,” which he called “the only path toward an enduring peace.”

In the United States, Biden said that there has been “an appalling resurgence of hate and violence toward Muslim Americans.”

“Islamophobia has absolutely no place in the United States, a country founded on freedom of worship and built on the contributions of immigrants, including Muslim immigrants,” he stated. “No one should ever fear being targeted at school, at work, on the street, or in their community because of their background or beliefs.”

“To Muslims across our country, please know that you are deeply valued members of our American family,” he added. “To those who are grieving during this time of war, I hear you, I see you and I pray you find solace in your faith, family, and community.”

The president drew criticism for his statement.

“Not only is Biden using Hamas talking points but he’s using Hamas statistics. The Jews have officially been abandoned by this White House,” wrote Dovid Margolin, senior editor at Chabad.”

“Biden administration working very hard to recapture the CAIR, Code Pink, JVP demographic,” wrote Alberto Miguel Fernandez, a former U.S. State Department official and current vice president at the Middle East Media Research Institute.

“Biden’s Ramadan  message is all about Gaza and ‘Islamophobia.’ Of course,” he added. “This is pandering. But completely predictable. While a majority of Americans are pro-Israel, here Biden seeks to appeal to a very specific single (or dual) issue demographic he needs to win back and hopefully energize before November.”

Biden, Kamala Send Ramadan Message Empathizing With Hamas Supporters
To commemorate the Islamic period of Ramadan, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris reached out to Muslims to express sympathy for the pain they’re feeling at having failed to kill all the Jews.

“The sacred month is a time for reflection and renewal. This year, it comes at a moment of immense pain. The war in Gaza has inflicted terrible suffering on the Palestinian people,” Biden messaged those Muslims who are deeply upset at their failure to wipe out the Jews in the months since Oct 7.

While Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis and other Islamic terrorist groups have tried hard, Biden acknowledged that they had fallen short of their highest aspirations.

“As Muslims gather around the world over the coming days and weeks to break their fast, the suffering of the Palestinian people will be front of mind for many. It is front of mind for me,” he added, assuring Muslims who are very unhappy that since Oct 7, more Islamic terrorists than Jews have been killed in the fighting.

“To Muslims across our country, please know that you are deeply valued members of our American family,” Biden also assured Muslims worried that their blatant support for terrorism might have alienated some Americans. “To those who are grieving during this time of war, I hear you, I see you.”

Netanyahu alludes to operation which sees Hamas number three possibly killed
Marwan Issa, deputy to Mohammed Deif and number three of Hamas's high command, was targeted by an Israeli airstrike on Saturday.

The IDF cleared the event for publication on Monday morning.

In a video published later on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alluded to the IDF operation.

"We are on our way to complete victory," he said, adding, "We have already killed number four in the Hamas; three, two, and one are on the way."

"We will reach everyone," he concluded.

Number four to which Netayanahu alluded is Saleh al-arouri, who was killed in January in an alleged drone strike in Lebanon.

Issa was reportedly hiding in Nusirat, in central Gaza, at the time of the strike, and it is unclear whether the Hamas leader was killed in the event.

Maariv, citing Palestinian sources, reported that Hamas was concerned about the status of the terror chief.

Hizbullah Remains Undeterred despite Endless Skirmishes with IDF
Hizbullah has been vocal about the damage it claims to inflict on Israel daily, despite the extensive destruction its operations have caused in southern Lebanon.

Hizbullah publicly acknowledges 241 of its members have fallen, while the IDF suggests the actual casualty figure is more than 300.

The IDF has relentlessly targeted numerous Hizbullah installations, employing aerial strikes from planes and drones as well as artillery, focusing on command posts, military structures, ammunition depots, rocket launch sites, and surveillance outposts.

Tens of thousands of residents of southern Lebanon have abandoned their villages amid an increasingly dire economic crisis in a country already on the brink.

A member of the Lebanese Forces party's Central Council, which opposes Hizbullah, recently stated that 520 houses had been completely destroyed and 3,300 had been damaged.

Thousands blow shofars to call for the release of the hostages
In an emotionally and sonically charged display of solidarity with the 134 hostages still held in Gaza, thousands of people all over the world blew shofars and whistles on Sunday afternoon as a rallying cry for their release.

Leading a group of celebrities at the flagship event, which coincided with Mother’s Day, was actress Dame Maureen Lipman, who said: “Today, I’m a mother, actor, aunt and grandmother and since October 7, a hostage.”

She called on the Jewish community and its supporters to “fight back” against the “marching fools [and[ campus twits, who don’t know which river or sea they are talking about…As Jews, we are used to keeping our heads down, [but] we need to call out the BBC, Ken Loach and Chomsky.”

Before blowing a shofar, Lipman said she was blowing a shofar for the hostages and for “the safe return of civility”.

Clutching a bag with photos of her four grandchildren on it, a visibly emotional Vanessa Feltz told supporters outside St John’s Wood Synagogue in north-west London: “Today our hearts are linked to the hearts and souls of the mothers and grandmothers [of hostages], who will have been emotionally tormented for 155 days as we celebrate Mother’s Day with our children.”

She read out the names of the mothers their children still held captive, including Liora Argamani, mother of Noa Argamani, 26. “The last thing she heard her daughter say was: ‘Please don’t kill me.’”
Hostage freed in November recalls ‘first hug’ with brother and partner rescued later
Clara Marman, 62, who was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists on October 7 and released in a late-November temporary truce, spoke about the first moments of family reunion after her partner and her brother were rescued from Gaza by Israeli special forces last month.

“Our first hug — all five of us together — reminded me of our hug in the safe room [on October 7] when they came to kidnap us,” Marman told Channel 12 in a report aired Saturday, recalling the day Hamas terrorists rampaged through southern Israeli communities, killing some 1,200 people and dragging another 253 back to Gaza, mostly civilians. Marman and four other members of her extended family were hiding together in her safe room when Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak was invaded.

Marman’s sister Gabriela Leimberg, 59, and 17-year-old niece Mia Leimberg were also released on November 28 as part of the temporary ceasefire deal. Her partner Norberto Louis Har, 70, and brother Fernando Marman, 60, were released by Israeli forces from Hamas captivity during a raid in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 12.

“We’re all back and we’re all in relatively good condition. Of course, we’re still recovering,” Marman told Channel 12.

“My happiness can’t be complete until all of the hostages are free,” she added.

Marman said that the families whose relatives are still held by Hamas in Gaza are “completely broken,” specifically mentioning the 19 women still held by terror groups.

A United Nations report on Hamas’s sex crimes against Israeli civilians during the October 7 attacks presented last week found “clear and convincing” evidence that hostages currently held captive are still facing such abuse.
Freed Hamas hostage Mia Schem attends Elton John’s Oscars party in stunning gown
Mia Schem, the 21-year-old Israeli French tattoo artist who was freed by Hamas, attended Elton John’s party for the Oscars on Sunday night.

Schem, who still wears a cast after being shot in the arm during the Oct. 7 terrorist attack, was photographed at the annual 32nd Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party.

She wore an elegant white gown adorned with a yellow rhinestone pin to raise awareness for the Israelis still being held captive in Gaza, according to the Times of Israel.

The young woman arrived in the US last week along with at least 17 relatives of hostages to attend President Biden’s State of the Union address.

Schem, who was the guest of House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), underwent surgery after she was kidnapped during the Nova festival massacre.

She made headlines during her captivity when she was forced to appear in a Hamas propaganda video and praise her captors for treating her injured arm.
Israelis displaced by terror attacks receive thousands of pounds of donated food with blogger's help
Like so many other people in Jerusalem, Danielle Renov knew something was wrong on Oct. 7, 2023.

There were sirens blaring — "siren after siren," she said — which, while not an uncommon occurrence, definitely was not the norm.

It was only after that day ended and Renov and her family could turn on their phones again that they began to understand the scope of the horror that had occurred in southern Israel.

"And it was just extremely devastating," Renov, a food and lifestyle blogger born in New York, told Fox News Digital in an interview.

Within days of the terrorist attack on Israelis, thousands of people moved to Renov's neighborhood in Jerusalem. They went into unoccupied apartments as well as into hotels.

Jerusalem "experienced an adrenaline rush," said Renov. "There was an immediate need to help these people, to find clothing for them, find toys for them, books for little kids, strollers and bottles and formula and diapers and, you know — really basic human needs that needed to be met."

Danielle Renov, the well-known author of the food blog "Peas, Love & Carrots," started a fundraiser to help feed Israeli families displaced by the Oct. 7 terror attacks. At right, one of the thank-you notes she's received. (Fox News/Peas, Love & Carrots)

Raised on Long Island, Renov moved to Israel 17 years ago with her husband. She writes for her own website "Peas, Love & Carrots" and is the author of "Peas, Love & Carrots: The Cookbook," published in 2020.

Realizing that these thousands of new neighbors needed help, she began to assist in the best way she knew how: with food.
Sara Netanyahu appeals to mother of Qatar emir for hostage release
Sara Netanyahu on Monday sent a personal letter to the mother of the Emir of Qatar on the occasion of the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on the behest of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.

“Ramadan, a time for compassion and generosity, reminds us of the strength we hold when we come together to uphold the values of peace and humanity,” Netanyahu wrote in her appeal to Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al-Missned.

“It is in this spirit of unity and shared human values that I wish to address a matter of great urgency and importance—the plight of the Israelis abducted and held by Hamas in Gaza,” the letter continued.

“Woman to woman it’s imperative to address that among the hostages, 19 women are enduring unimaginable hardships. Reports of sexual abuse and rape are horrifying, and such acts against women cannot be ignored or tolerated. It is a call to action that transcends political boundaries and speaks to our shared humanity and values,” Sara Netanyahu wrote.

The prime minister’s wife added: “I urge you, in the spirit of Ramadan to leverage your significant influence to work towards the release of the Israeli hostages.”

Head of UN probe into UNRWA ‘neutrality’ in Israel to amass evidence
Former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna arrived in Israel on Monday as part of an investigation she is leading into the neutrality of UNRWA.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres established the investigative committee in early February following Jerusalem’s revelations that UNRWA employees participated in the Hamas-led massacre of Oct. 7 and that many members of terrorist groups in Gaza are on the U.N. agency’s payroll.

Colonna met with Foreign Ministry Director-General Kobi Blitstein. She will be presented with intelligence material “indicating the extent and depth of the involvement of Hamas operatives in the agency,” the ministry in Jerusalem said.

She will be shown information about the terrorist activities of UNRWA employees, the storing and launching of rockets at UNRWA facilities in the Gaza Strip and the locations of Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror tunnels underneath and near UNRWA facilities.

In addition, Israeli officials will provide examples of incitement to violence against Jews and Israel and antisemitic content prevalent at UNRWA schools and summer camps over the years and the failure of UNRWA representatives to act on the evidence.

Douglas Murray: A holy war with Iran is looming
Douglas Murray joins James Heale to discuss the conflict between Israel and Hamas. The war, he says, is just a prelude for a wider clash between the West and Iran. What will that wider conflict look like? What does Tehran want? Can the West stop the despotic mullahs?

The Commentary Magazine Podcast: Joe Balaam
Hosted by Abe Greenwald, Christine Rosen, John Podhoretz & Matthew Continetti
Eli Lake joins today’s podcast to discuss the world’s now-most-prominent “AsAJew,” the writer-director Jonathan Glazer, who “refuted” his “Jewishness” on the Oscar podcast on Sunday night. What did he mean? And what does what he said reveal about the nature of progressive Jewry and the fact they elevate their own self-infatuated politics over the safety and history of the Jewish people? Then we turn to the continuing mystery of Joe Biden clearly wanting to separate himself from Israel but then contradicting and undermining his own efforts at distance in a manner that reminds us of the Biblical character Balaam. How?

The Israel Guys: BREAKING: Joe Biden Threatens Israel to Stop the War in Gaza
A Humanitarian Aid drop in Gaza kills five Palestinians, and no one bats an eye, because it is OK for other militaries to accidentally kill Palestinian civilians, but when Israel does it, it is considered genocide. Joe Biden says that Israel will cross a “red line” if they carry out an operation in the last Hamas stronghold in Gaza. The US is sending a military ship to the Mediterranean to deliver aid to Gaza and Hamas just might have big plans for Ramadan.

‘Why is no one pressuring Hamas?: The Australian’s Foreign Editor
The Australian's Foreign Editor Greg Sheridan questions why Hamas isn’t being put under the same pressure as Israel to cease fighting.

Mr Sheridan joined Sky News Australia host Andrew Bolt to discuss the media’s coverage of the Israel – Hamas war.

“The suffering of the people in Gaza is real, every civilized human being wants that to stop,” he said.

“But the responsibility for it, both causing it and continuing it, rests with Hamas.

“Why isn’t anyone putting them under any pressure?”

‘That is not leadership’: James Paterson urges Prime Minister to visit Israel
Shadow Home Affairs Minister James Paterson has accused Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of displaying “weakness” by not travelling to Israel.

An Australian delegation of politicians, business leaders and journalists are in Israel touring the October 7 massacre sites.

It comes as Israel prepares to wipe out Hamas terrorists in Rafah and end military action in Gaza.

Mr Paterson said the Prime Minister’s failure to visit Israel is a “great source of disappointment” for the Australian Jewish community.

“I fear it is because he would fear a domestic political backlash but that is not leadership,” he told Sky News Australia.

“Leadership is doing the right thing, leadership is standing up for our values, standing up for our interests and the Prime Minister should come here at the earliest opportunity.”

Growing pressure on Israel due to civilian death toll in Gaza
There is growing pressure in relation to the civilian death toll in Gaza, with calls for a ceasefire during the period of Ramadan.

According to Gaza Health Authorities, more than 30,000 people have been killed in the region since the October 7 attacks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “there is international pressure and it’s growing but … we need to stand together against the attempts to stop the war, including Rafah the last Hamas stronghold”.

“Whoever tells us not to act in Rafah is telling us to lose the war and that will not happen.”

Sky News Australia was joined by Nationals Senate Leader Bridget McKenzie to discuss the war in Gaza.

Buyers Remorse - Jewish community turning on Allegra Spender - Outsiders, Sky News
The Outsiders report on the news that two Jewish organisations have scrapped planned appearances by Allegra Spender after the Teals disgraceful letter on funding UNRWA.

Rowan Dean highlighted the concern that the Teals want your money to fund the murderers and rapists of Jews.

Matisyahu on CNN Newsroom, March 10, 2024

Police arrest man for protesting against Hamas. He explains what happened in this full interview.
Jonathan Sacerdoti interviews Niyak Ghorbani after the Police in London arrested him for protesting AGAINST Hamas and terrorism.

Oscars ceremony is DELAYED by anti-Israel protests: Stars including Ariana Grande have to walk
The Oscars ceremony was delayed by five minutes as Hollywood's biggest stars were forced to abandon their vehicles and walk to the venue after pro-Palestine protesters blocked their route.

Video posted to X, formerly Twitter, showed activists blocking the roads leading to the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles where the 96th Academy Awards are being held on Sunday.

Protesters were seen at the intersection of Highland Avenue and De Longpre Avenue, prompting a line of black Escalades to stop dead in their tracks.

One protestor displayed a sign reading 'The Oscars sponsored by baby killers,' while another sign read 'Hollywood's silence is violence.'

Singer-songwriter Ariana Grande took to Instagram, posting a faceless photo of her diamond-encrusted necklace and frilly pink dress with the caption 'traffic.'

Advocates linked arms and took up a chant, calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Los Angeles Police Department officers ran towards the scene, where protestors shouted and beat drums.

Riot police ushered protestors away from the intersection, apprehending some and letting others go. As the demonstrators continued to chant, stalled vehicles began to pass through.

Production staffers and publicists on the red carpet expressed a 'growing sense of anxiety' due to the gridlock, Variety reported.

Hordes of celebrities made an appearance as the Oscars pre-show drew to a close. The ceremony itself began five minutes late.

Brendan O'Neill: The Disgusting Defacement of Lord Balfour's Painting
Not content with traipsing through the streets every other weekend to holler their hatred for Israel, now "pro-Palestine" activists are taking aim at art. Witness the fevered attack on the painting of Lord Balfour at Cambridge University - an act of petulant, self-satisfied philistinism that will do precisely nothing to help people in Gaza.

The slashing of the painting was carried out by a member of a group called Palestine Action. She walked up to the 1914 portrait and sprayed it with red paint before wielding her knife to cut it to shreds. Why target Balfour? Because he played a key role in creating the modern state of Israel. And to the manically Israelophobic, there are few sins as grave as that.

There was something deeply unsettling about this Taliban-style assault on a piece of art. An individual, under the spell of some kind of fear or animus, using violence to try to cleanse the world of a sinful image. It feels like a Red Guard-style effort to scrub "the problematic" from public view. Such wanton cultural vandalism is the rage of the entitled, destroying art in the name of "saving Palestine." It's the theater of self-righteousness.

The slashing of that painting was not merely a performative assault on a Dead White European Male. It was also a noisy, violent signal that anyone involved in the creation of Israel is evil and deserves erasure from public life. It was a clamorous declaration of intolerance towards anyone who helped to found or who supports this allegedly evil state. What will no doubt be justified as an anti-imperial act was in truth an imperious expression of haughty English disgust for a tiny state overseas.

Some seem to be in the grip of a kind of Palestine mania. Their feverish obsession with Israel and the idea that it is a "uniquely murderous" entity belongs less to the realm of reason than to the sphere of moral delirium. Why does Israel-Palestine induce in some people more wrath and more emotion than anything else happening in the world right now? I know why I think it does.
On the Defacing of a Portrait of Lord Balfour
Another disturbing event took place in Britain last week, although one less directly threatening to Jews’ physical safety. Following the example of some climate protesters who have taken to vandalizing cherished pieces of art in recent years, a woman slashed and spraypainted a portrait of Lord Arthur Balfour, the author of the 1917 declaration, hanging in Cambridge University.

In response, the editors of the New York Sun took the moment as an occasion to look back at the statesman, whose deeds will outlive his portrait, and to recount his 1906 meeting with the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann:

Balfour was then running for Parliament. They fell into a conversation about Theodor Herzl and a plan to settle Jews in Uganda. “Mr. Balfour,” Weizmann, a chemist by trade, said, “supposing I were to offer you Paris instead of London, would you take it?”

Balfour replied: “But, Dr. Weizmann, we have London.”

“That is true,” Weizmann responded. “But we had Jerusalem when London was a marsh.”

Balfour leaned back and eyed the chemist. Then he said: “Are there many Jews who think like you?”

That’s when Weizmann uttered the immortal words: “I believe I speak the mind of millions.”

Balfour . . . was the subject of 140 portraits. The one destroyed today was by Philip Alexius de László, one of the greatest portrait painters of his time. We pray that his painting will be restored and protected for centuries to come. And that Balfour’s family, heirs, and admirers will be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Despite vandalism and protests, NY gallery Pace showcases Israeli artist as planned
Around 30 anti-Israel protesters briefly disrupted the opening of a solo exhibition dedicated to Israeli artist Michal Rovner’s ongoing series, “Pragim,” at the global headquarters of blue chip art gallery Pace on March 7 before being escorted outside by gallery staff.

The incident follows acts of vandalism surrounding Pace’s promotion of Rovner. About a month prior, on the night between Friday, January 26, and Saturday, January 27, the gallery in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood was defaced, tagged with graffiti and plastered with anti-Israel posters.

“We charge Pace Gallery and Zionist Michal Rovner with: genocide epistemicide plundering looting incitement dehumanization historical revisionism,” read one of the posters pasted onto 540 West 25th Street in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. “Intifada” and “Free Gaza” were also sprayed onto the building’s facade alongside spatters of red paint resembling blood.

“The vandalism was extensive enough to necessitate the gallery’s closure,” Pace announced in a statement on January 27. “We are a gallery that consists of a community of artists and employees, many of whom are actively engaged in socio-political issues and attuned to global events. With this diversity comes divergent viewpoints. In cases of disagreement, we remain committed to supporting meaningful civil discourse.”

“Pragim” is now on view at Pace through April 18.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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


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