Tuesday, April 02, 2024

From Ian:

Palestinian terrorism is not about self-determination
At its core, Palestinian terrorism against Israel has nothing to do with high-minded, law-based principles of statehood or national self-determination. As a pragmatic tactic of terror, such principles merely disguise relentless criminality usefully sanitizing darkly primal objectives.

Israel must first examine Palestinian violence against the innocent in terms of the wider human need to belong. This compelling need can be expressed harmlessly, as in sports hysteria and rock concerts, or perniciously, as in jihadist terror. Further, the Hamas murders of Israeli noncombatants on October 7, 2023, went far beyond the pernicious. Prima facie, they were conspicuously barbarous and patently inexcusable.

What does this candid assessment suggest about the seemingly authentic Palestinian demand for a “two-state solution?” Above all, it reveals a demand that is based upon deliberate misinformation and orchestrated subterfuge. Not only would a Palestinian state fail to inhibit or halt Palestinian terrorism, it would render such grievous wrongdoings increasingly likely and still more injurious.

In explaining these many-sided security matters, analytic thinking and philosophy will deserve pride of place. Long ago, Aristotle understood that “man is a social animal.” Typically, the seminal Greek thinker recognized that even “normal” individuals can feel empty and insignificant apart from tangible membership in the “mass.”

Aristotle’s reasoning endures. Sometimes that “mass” is the state. Sometimes it is the tribe. Sometimes the faith (always the “one true faith”). In the case of Palestinian terror violence, it is the aspiring state.

Details aside, whatever the “mass” claims at a particular historical moment, it is an unquenchable craving for belonging that threatens to produce the catastrophic downfall of individual responsibility and correlative triumphs of collective criminality.

In jihadist-centered parts of the Middle East – and this includes places that harbor the Shiite Hezbollah as well as the Sunni Hamas/Fatah/Islamic Jihad – belonging is generally determinative. Unless millions can finally temper the all-consuming psychological desire to belong, all military, legal, and political schemes to control virulent terrorism will fail.
Col. Kemp: Iran is at war with the West, but only Israel is fighting back
Tehran claims that the air strikes which killed Iranian military commanders in Damascus on Monday were “Israel’s latest war crime against a foreign mission with diplomatic immunity”. They were nothing of the sort.

The target was, in fact, widely reported to have been an Iranian command centre coordinating military action against Israel, adjacent to the Iranian consulate. This would not, then, make the strikes a breach of the Vienna Convention, as those ever eager to condemn Jerusalem have suggested. Israel is perfectly entitled to hit military facilities in another country that is engaged in active hostilities.

Nor was this a major escalation by Israel, however, as many others have argued. It was merely the latest move in a war that Tehran itself has launched against Israel and the West.

Indeed, it may well turn out to be the most significant strategic setback for Iran since the US took out Qasem Soleimani, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commander, in 2020. The main target of Monday’s attack, IRGC brigadier general Mohammad Reza Zahedi, was believed to be the principal interlocutor between Syria, Tehran and its terrorist proxy Hezbollah. With decades of experience in this clandestine world, he will not be easily replaced.

The flow of arms to Hezbollah could well now be further impeded. Since October 7, that terror group has launched regular missile strikes against Israelis near the Lebanese border, as a consequence of which nearly 100,000 civilians have been evacuated. Do Jerusalem’s critics really expect it to sit back and let those attacks continue?

But the real question is why it only seems to be the Israelis who are taking the Iranian threat seriously. It’s not as if Iran has only been targeting Israel. Iranian proxies have attacked international shipping in the Red Sea and Iranian-backed militias have launched more than 150 strikes against US forces in Syria, Iraq and Jordan since October 7 alone.
Arsen Ostrovsky and Richard Kemp: Israel's Attack on Rafah Must Proceed. Here's Why
In 1944, as the Allies were preparing for the D-Day landings in Normandy, it is unfathomable that anyone sought to pressure British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt to halt the landings and enter a ceasefire agreement with Nazi Germany. Yet that is exactly what the international community is seeking to do with Israel, in pressuring the Jewish state to enter a one-sided ceasefire with Hamas and avert a necessary operation in Rafah.

Although the perpetrators may have changed 80 years later, Hamas' monstrous savagery and agenda is no different to the Nazis. And just as Normandy was a pivotal turning point in World War II, putting the Allies on a decisive path toward victory, so too can be an IDF operation in Rafah, the last remaining Hamas stronghold in southern Gaza.

Yet since its establishment in 1948, the Jewish state has been the only democracy repeatedly denied the right to achieve total victory against enemies who have time and again initiated wars and now pogroms too, seeking no less than its very annihilation.

This week, for the first time, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution calling for a unilateral ceasefire in Gaza, following the United States' decision to abstain from the vote. Meantime, both the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and British Foreign Secretary David Cameron, have been exerting overwhelming pressure on Israel to avoid a ground operation in Rafah.

However, any leader's primary duty is, first and foremost, to defend their nation. In Israel's case, this follows in response to the most heinous massacre perpetrated against the Jewish people since the Holocaust, and one in which 134 people, including children, elderly people, and women, suffering horrific ongoing sexual abuse at the hands of their Hamas captors, remain hostage in Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Israel "will not compromise on less than total victory over Hamas."

"Victory" in this sense includes destroying Hamas's military and governing capability to ensure there can never be a repeat of Oct. 7, that Hamas cannot constitute a threat to Israel, and the return of all hostages.

It is currently estimated that up to 60 percent of Hamas' 30,000-strong terrorist force in Gaza has been either eliminated, severely wounded or arrested by IDF forces since Oct. 7, while at least 20 of their 24 battalions have been dismantled, with the remaining 4 battalions still present in Rafah. Israel is also operating on the working assumption that Hamas is holding hostages captive in Rafah as well.

Simply put, the IDF cannot complete its military aims, without a full ground incursion into Rafah, to take out the remaining Hamas battalions. Those who are seeking to pressure Israel to refrain from entering Rafah are denying the Jewish state the decisive victory it has every right to pursue against Hamas after the pogrom of Oct. 7.

Caroline Glick: The Biden administration’s war against the government of Israel
The war rages in the Gaza Strip, northern Israel, Lebanon, Eilat and on the streets of Israel’s cities as Iran’s Palestinian, Lebanese, Syrian, Iraqi and Yemeni proxies maintain and escalate their operations against the Jewish state. Unmoved by this state of affairs, Israel’s far left is reinstating the anti-government riots that occurred regularly through the first three-quarters of 2023.

The newest round of leftist political violence began officially on Saturday night in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the first of what has been billed as four days of protests. As was the case in the anti-government protests before Hamas’s invasion of and one-day holocaust in southern Israel on Oct. 7, in the current round, demonstrations are followed by riots in which a few dozen participate.

As before, riots feature bonfires along major traffic arteries, assaults on police and ultra-Orthodox Jews, threats to murder Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and storming police barricades protecting the premier’s home.

They also involve massive exaggerations of the number of protesters. On Sunday night in Jerusalem, for instance, organizers proclaimed the participation of 100,000 protesters. But aerial photographs of the event indicate that at most, a tenth of that number showed up.

Before Oct. 7, rioters demanded the overthrow of the government due to its “anti-democratic” policies or its “corruption.” The new rallying cry is to free the hostages.

On Saturday night, relatives of 10 of the 134 hostages declared, “To return our loved ones, we have decided to work in the service of Hamas. We are demanding that the Israeli government accept the organization’s demands immediately. If not—we will burn the country down.”

Obviously, if the families get their way, Hamas will demand that Israel cease to exist in exchange for the hostages. Given that their demand causes harm to their loved ones, why are the organizers putting them up to this?

To be sure, there are a number of reasons this is happening. But perhaps the main one was revealed on March 17 by riot leader Ami Dror in a WhatsApp group chat with his colleagues. The communication, which Dror authenticated in an interview with Channel 14, was first reported on X by a poster who operates under the handle, Arbelu the Tuna Hunter.

In that communication, Dror told his colleagues that the White House was asking them to reinstate the riots.

Based on what he referred to as a conversation with his contacts in the White House, Dror set out in granular detail the White House’s four-part plan to overthrow the government. The components involved actions on the ground in Gaza; the use of the U.N. Security Council; extortion of government ministers; and mass protests.

Dror called his report: “An important update from the American administration.”
Despite war’s challenges, Abraham Accords Peace Institute CEO optimistic about the region’s future
Since Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7, Israel’s relations with Arab states have been under significant stress, with leaders across the region criticizing to varying degrees Israel’s war effort while expressing support for the Palestinian cause.

Yet, unlike in the Second Intifada or early-aughts rounds of fighting against Hamas in Gaza, no Arab countries have cut relations with Israel since the start of the war nearly six months ago.

As the Abraham Accords Peace Institute (AAPI) states in its 2023 Annual Report, provided exclusively to Jewish Insider ahead of its publication on Tuesday, Israel’s 2020 normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, plus Kosovo and prior peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt, “survived, and diplomatic and trade relations have continued.”

Among the positive developments reported by the AAPI, an organization founded by Jared Kushner, son-in-law and former senior advisor to former President Donald Trump, in 2023: a meeting between Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Emirati President Mohammad bin Zayed (MBZ) in the UAE in November, as well as then-Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen’s visit to Bahrain in September. The India-Middle East-Europe Corridor initiative was announced in September, with plans to connect East Asia to Europe via the Gulf and Israel.

In an economic boost, a UAE-Israel free trade deal went into effect in April. Trade between Israel and Abraham Accords signatories, as well as with Jordan and Egypt increased 16% in 2023, surpassing $4 billion; measuring only the months before the Hamas attack on Israel, trade grew 24%.

After Oct. 7, “despite tensions and disagreements, the leaderships of the Abraham Accords countries affirmed their continued commitment to these historic agreements,” the report reads. “Accords countries were able to leverage the trust built with Israel over the previous years to coordinate humanitarian and medical aid to Gaza.”

However, the report points out, “the war had a strongly negative impact on regional public opinion towards Israel, while also slowing progress towards Israel-Saudi normalization.”

The CEO of the Abraham Accords Peace Institute, Aryeh Lightstone, is acutely aware of the challenges the war in Gaza poses to Israel’s relations – open and secret – in the region.

However, in an interview with JI, Lightstone, the Trump administration’s special envoy for economic normalization and senior adviser to former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, explained why there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic and how the Abraham Accords can still serve as an example and a platform for advancing peace in the Middle East.

Pence: Israel has ‘no choice but to invade Rafah’
Former Vice President Mike Pence backed a potential Israeli incursion into Rafah and called for the country to destroy Hamas amid growing pressure from the Biden administration and some congressional Democrats to seek a more surgical approach to taking the terror group’s final stronghold in southern Gaza.

Speaking at the Hudson Institute’s annual Hertog Forum on Monday evening, Pence took aim at the Biden administration and isolationists within the GOP for criticizing the war effort in Gaza. He also urged Israeli leaders to ignore the critiques and instead focus on taking out Hamas.

“Whatever position the current administration or voices in my own party take, here’s the reality: Israel has no choice but to invade Rafah and to hunt down and destroy Hamas once and for all,” Pence said. “The war should end when Israel’s military goals are achieved, and not a moment sooner. And I believe the American people will stand with Israel in that fight.”

“Instead of demanding arbitrary limitations on Israel’s military response, I believe our president should make it clear that Iran will pay a steep price if it continues to attempt to escalate the violence through its proxies in Gaza, Yemen, Lebanon and in Syria,” he added. “I welcome reports today that Israel struck an arms depot run by Hezbollah, on the outskirts of Damascus. And let me be clear, America should fully support Israel’s effort to secure her northern border from Hezbollah.”

The former vice president’s comments come as Israel faces increasing pressure from the Biden administration to seek alternatives to a full-scale invasion of Rafah, the southern Gazan city where some 1.3 million Palestinians have evacuated.

Scores of Democrats have called for a temporary cease-fire amid reports of starvation and disease outbreaks in the enclave, with some warning that a ground offensive in Rafah would lead to more suffering. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has maintained that going into Rafah is necessary to complete the IDF’s mission, while President Joe Biden has said he would not cut off military aid to Israel if Netanyahu goes through with an incursion as expected.

Pence also used his address to call on the president to impose a federal ban on laws promoting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement targeting Israel.

Noah Rothman: The Second Battle for Shifa Hospital Shows Israel Will Accept Only Victory
Those who camouflage their hostility toward Israel’s objectives in its defensive war against Hamas as little more than antipathy toward Benjamin Netanyahu must be frustrated today. The dubious claim that Israel is conducting a cruel war devoid of respect for human life is being rebutted today by one of the Israeli prime minister’s foremost domestic opponents.

In a Monday morning statement, former Israeli prime minister and current center-right opposition figure Naftali Bennett called the two-week operation to once again clear terrorist elements from Gaza’s Shifa Hospital an “amazing battlefield achievement.” Indeed, with roughly 200 Hamas fighters killed, another 500 captured, and 6,000 civilians evacuated without a single noncombatant fatality, the outcome was “unprecedented in urban warfare,” as Bennett put it. “These results undermine the false claim that the IDF is targeting civilians,” he said. “If we didn’t care about innocent lives, we’d have simply bombed the whole complex, without risking [the] lives of our own fighters.”

The war Hamas inaugurated on October 7, 2023, has now seen two battles to liberate Gaza’s largest hospital network from terrorist control. The first began late last year and concluded with an impressive IDF operation that cleared out the hospital while preserving the ongoing medical services Shifa provided Gaza’s civilians. The second wrapped up on Monday morning following a two-week operation in which only two IDF soldiers were killed, culminating in the seizure of a trove of weaponry and intelligence as well as the neutralization of the hospital as a terrorist command-and-control node.

Western media outlets don’t paint quite the rosy portrait of this operation that Bennett did. Israel’s pacification of the Shifa complex left “a wasteland of destroyed buildings and Palestinian bodies scattered in the dirt,” Reuters’ report began. That could be said of any military operation, the purpose of which is to defeat an armed opposition and deprive it of defensive infrastructure.

Hamas-run institutions told Reuters that there was no armed presence in the hospital, a claim lent at least some undue credibility by the New York Times. “The Israeli troops left destruction in and around the hospital complex after a two-week battle with what it said were Palestinian militants,” the Times report’s summary read. Who else would the IDF have engaged in combat for two weeks but “militants?”

The credibility of Israel’s side of the story is further bolstered by the granular detail brought to bear by an IDF spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari. He discussed the degree to which the Israeli military targeted Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters in the hospital, the planning and execution of the raid, the circumstances that led the IDF to target infrastructure to break terrorist resistance (destruction wrought both by Israeli ordnance and Hamas mortar fire), and its efforts to withdraw civilians from the line of fire. That level of disclosure has not been matched by Hamas spokespeople. They maintain that the facility was entirely civilian in nature, and allege that the IDF summarily executed those Palestinians whom it did not torture.

The desire in Western media to erect elaborate moral equivalences between Hamas and PIJ on the one hand and the Israelis on the other is further complicated by the very fact of the second battle for Shifa Hospital. How did terrorist elements reoccupy the facility in the first place after they were ejected by the IDF in early January? It all happened out in the open.
Exclusive: Renown Urban Warfare Expert John Spencer Warns ‘World Playing into Hamas’s Strategy’
October 7 was not a mere terror attack but a “full-scale invasion” of Israel by an enemy state, according to retired United States Army Major and urban and subterranean warfare expert John Spencer, who warned of setting a dangerous precedent if Hamas is allowed to survive, while slamming countries who are “playing [right] into Hamas’s strategy” by attempting to halt Israel’s operations in Gaza aimed at destroying the terror group’s capabilities.

In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, Spencer, a world-renowned expert on urban combat who serves as chair of urban warfare studies at the Modern War Institute (MWI) at West Point and who recently returned from a visit to Israel’s front lines, offered his perspective on the current conflict.

October 7: A “Full-Scale Invasion”
“It’s been a big part of my research,” he began, emphasizing the importance of understanding the ground realities in the Jewish state. Contrary to popular narratives, he described the events of October 7 not as mere terrorist attacks but as a “full-scale invasion,” involving division-sized military forces from Gaza.

“If you count the three waves of terrorists or civilians who turned themselves into combatants in the invasion, it was over 4,000 Gazans from Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and others,” he explained, underlining the scale and preparedness of the attackers.

“They had a plan,” he added, noting that “over four thousand rockets were launched” during the invasion.

While a terrorist “raid” would normally see a strike and a “planned withdrawal,” he explained, the October 7 attackers “had much greater plans of reaching other military bases, Tel Aviv, [and even] Jerusalem” and remaining in those areas.

Though the plan’s extent was “halted, through the police and the local rapid-response teams,” Spencer insisted that “by every definition, it was a full-scale invasion of Israel by another country with a plan to cause massive damage.”

Debunking the notion of incidental harm, Spencer, a founding member of the International Working Group on Subterranean Warfare, highlighted the invasion’s calculated brutality, especially towards civilians.

“The biggest thing that I think I’ve learned, not just from watching the video of the Hamas footage, but from walking the ground, is how methodically planned out the attack of civilians was,” he said. “They breached the border wall at 22 different locations and there were 20 different attack sites.”

“So once they crossed the border, they moved to these selected areas and then began systematically sealing them off and killing civilians,” he added.

According to Spencer, the strategic choice to inflict mass civilian casualties speaks volumes of the attackers’ intentions, noting that Hamas “Meticulously and precisely targeted urban areas, with the intention of killing as many civilians as possible.”

“It wasn’t incidental as some people, like disinformation agents, have been trying to push out,” he said, adding that Hamas “prevented support from arriving to the civilians so they could prolong methodically killing them house-to-house.”

“That was a big part of learning about what happened,” he explained.

Crafting an Effective Strategy to Crush Hamas
Israel has several important military objectives in the Rafah area and cannot exclude it from the campaign in Gaza. First, the goal of dismantling Hamas' military capabilities requires targeting the four battalions of its Rafah Brigade, which are still intact.

Far more important is the need to cut off the smuggling routes from the Sinai, aboveground and primarily underground, along the Egypt-Gaza border (the "Philadelphi" route). This smuggling activity has enabled Hamas to amass an enormous quantity of weaponry, which the citizens of Israel and IDF forces have encountered in the war.

Finally, Hamas commanders and leaders are hiding among the population in Rafah and in the tunnels below the city, and Israeli hostages are being held there. In any case, it will be imperative to destroy tunnels and strike a severe blow to the remaining Hamas battalions. These battalions are not among Hamas' most stalwart forces, prompting suggestions that Israel, or even Egypt, issue an ultimatum demanding their surrender before initiating an operation.
Gallant: IDF will ‘soon address’ last Hamas brigade in Rafah
The Israel Defense Forces will soon attack the last Hamas terror brigade in the Gaza Strip’s southernmost city of Rafah, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday.

Gallant said Hamas has ceased to function as a terrorist group in “most parts” of Gaza. “Their commanders are hiding in tunnels, they have lost command and control capabilities, the battalion frameworks in most parts of the Strip have ceased to function.

“The Hamas brigade in Rafah, however, is still standing, with its four battalions. We will address this soon,” said Gallant, according to a Defense Ministry readout shared with the press.

The ministry said Gallant provided committee members with a briefing focused on “the IDF’s progress in fighting and dismantling Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the various efforts to ensure the return of the hostages held by Hamas, and the IDF’s counterterrorism operations.”

Vowing to bring home all 134 hostages held by Hamas, Gallant explained that the IDF and the political echelon regard the persistent military pressure on the terrorist group as the “main and most significant element” contributing to their eventual release.

“The advanced stage we have reached in dismantling Hamas and the information that we have gained from terrorists empower us at the negotiation table and enable us to make difficult decisions,” he said.

Many of the hostages still in the hands of Hamas in Gaza after 178 days are believed to be held in Rafah. Two captives were rescued from the city by Israeli special forces in a daring operation earlier this year.

Gallant on Tuesday also stressed that Israel is “currently in a multi-front war; we see evidence of this every day, including over the last few days.

“We operate everywhere, every day, in order to prevent our enemies from gaining strength and to make it clear to anyone who threatens us, all over the Middle East, that the price for such action will be a big one,” the minister warned.

Seth Frantzman: Israel's killing of IRGC's Zahedi marks ends of an era for Iranian commanders
Zahedi will be hard for Iran to replace
Saleh al-Arouri, a key Hamas commander who was residing in Lebanon, was killed in January. Wissam Tawil, a Hezbollah member was also killed. Ali Abed Akhsan Naim, the deputy commander of Hezbollah’s rocket and missile unit was killed in Lebanon in late March.

Iran and its proxies will have a hard time replacing these men. This is because many of them had decades of experience working in their various capacities. They also were key nodes in Iran’s network that links Iran to militias in Iraq and Syria and then links Iran’s network in Damascus to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Iran has armed Hezbollah over the years with various types of weapons, from missiles to anti-tank missiles, to drones and precision guided munitions.

Iran relies heavily on its network of senior commanders who know one another. It operates in a sense like a mafia in the region, establishing various miniature versions of the IRGC in several countries and creating proxy networks. These rely on key individuals. Without those individuals some of these networks are thrown into chaos. That doesn’t mean the networks don’t continue to possess weapons and create threats. However, it does change their cohesion.

Iran has been seeking to knit together all these groups in various years. Tehran describes this as uniting various “arenas” or fronts against Israel. In all, there are at least seven fronts that Iran wants to operationalize against Israel. This week the unity was on display as an Iraqi militia launched a drone at Eilat, and also as Hezbollah continued its threats against Israel and as Iran sought to destabilize Jordan with protests and also sought clashes in the West Bank with the Palestinian Security Forces.

Iran has sought to smuggle weapons to the West Bank in the last years. This illustrates that Iran continues to manage various fronts against Israel even as it takes losses in other places. The loss of Zahedi is important for Tehran and its nexus in the region and his missing presence at meetings and in other affairs will be felt for years.
Israel's killing of Zahedi: Taking the fight to the Iranian head of the octopus
This is not the first time that an Iranian officer has been targeted since the beginning of the war, but it is the highest-ranking Iranian officer, and his assassination sends a message to Iran and Hezbollah both of Israel’s intent and capabilities.

The capabilities are clear. The ability to hit this building in a precision strike in full daylight in the middle of Damascus when Iran’s chief officer in charge of operations in Lebanon and Syria is meeting with his deputy and top officers shows that Israel’s intelligence services -- if Israel did indeed carry out the attack -- -- remain razor-sharp.

That is something important for Israelis to see, as well as Israel’s enemies, who both may have concluded following the colossal intelligence failure that preceded October 7 that the country’s intelligence capabilities are no longer what they once were. This type of attack shows that conclusion to be false. For Israelis this helps restore their confidence, while for Israel’s enemies, this reinforces deterrence.

The attack also sends a clear signal of intent that Israel is willing to do what Bennett called for some six years ago: take the fight directly to the Iranians, to the head of the octopus.

In the 10 years that Israel has been engaged in military action in Syria to keep Iran from becoming entrenched there and keep it from turning the Syrian Golan Heights into a launching pad for attacks against Israelis similar to what Hezbollah has done in southern Lebanon, Israel has taken pains to refrain from killing Iranian officers.

It has targeted numerous sites -- including weapons convoys and depots -- but for the most part was careful not to kill IRGC operatives.

That reticence ended with October 7 and Iran’s active involvement in trying to hit at Israel from numerous different directions: from the north through Hezbollah in Lebanon, from the east using Iranian-backed militias in Iraq (responsible for a drone attack on a naval base in Eilat on Sunday), and from the south via the Houthis.

Since December, Iran has admitted that more than 10 IRGC officers have been killed by alleged Israeli strikes in Syria.

The most prominent was the killing on December 23 in a Damascus suburb of Seyed Radhi Mousavi, in charge of the IRGC’s logistics and military coordination in the Levant, meaning the transfer of Iranian weapons to Syrian and Hezbollah. In January, five IRGC officers were killed in a strike in Damascus, including the Quds deputy intelligence head in Syria.

Monday’s strike on Zahedi sends the message that no one -- even the most significant Iranian military official in the region -- is immune, and that Israel’s policy now is to extract a heavy price from Iran itself, and not only from its proxies, for continued attacks on Israel
'Preparing strikes on Israeli embassies': The coming Iranian response to Syria strike
Hezi Simantov, a commentator and correspondent for Arab affairs of 'News 13', spoke Tuesday morning with Nissim Mashal and Anat Davidov on 103FM about the assassination of the senior Iranian Mohammad Reza Zahedi, commander of the Quds Force in Syria and Lebanon, and the expected consequences.

First of all, according to the reports from Syria and Iran, the Israeli Air Force allegedly attacked a building adjacent to the Iranian embassy in Damascus, where several senior Iranian officials were located, among them Mohammad Reza Zahedi, who is actually the deputy commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards in Syria and Lebanon,” Simantov began.

“A very senior member of the Iranian hierarchy, he managed the entire operation of smuggling weapons from Syria to Lebanon. He was a very senior person who can be said to have given Israel a lot of headaches in the last twenty years for all his exploits in his involvement in terrorism. This is the most senior Iranian who has been eliminated so far since October 7 on Syrian soil," he continued.

"This is a severe and painful blow to the Iranian regime, a matter in which the Iranians are more inclined to take revenge against Israel. We have already eliminated several of their senior officials since October 7 on Syrian soil. This is the period when Iran wants to show that it is leading the axis of resistance.

UNSC to discuss alleged Israeli strike on top Quds Force commander in Syria
The United Nations Security Council is set to meet on Tuesday afternoon to discuss an airstrike in Damascus on Monday afternoon that killed seven members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including the top Iranian commander in Syria.

Iran and others are blaming the strike, which targeted a building next to the Iranian embassy, on Israel. Jerusalem has not claimed responsibility for the attack.

In a letter to the council president and U.N. secretary-general, Zahra Ershadi, Iran’s U.N. envoy, called the attack a “flagrant violation of fundamental norms and principles of international law,” referring to it as a “terrorist attack” that violated conventions against firing on diplomatic facilities.

The strike, which reportedly flattened a building in the diplomatic compound, killed IRGC commander Mohammad Reza Zahedi and his deputy, Mohammad Haj Rahimi.

Zahedi served in IRGC’s Quds Force, which is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, and was reportedly responsible for a wide range of operations in Syria and Lebanon, including liaising with Iranian militias and proxy forces, including Hezbollah.

Iran promised a harsh response to the strike.

Israel acknowledges killing 7 aid charity workers in ‘tragic, unintentional’ airstrike
Facing searing criticism on Tuesday, Israel acknowledged mistakenly carrying out an airstrike that killed seven staff members of a US-based charity group who were unloading food brought by sea to the war-torn Gaza Strip.

The group World Central Kitchen said it was pausing operations after a “targeted Israeli strike” at around midnight between Monday and Tuesday killed three British and four other staffers — an Australian, a Palestinian, a Pole and a US-Canadian.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged a “tragic” and “unintentional” incident and vowed to “do everything” to prevent a recurrence.

The Israeli military promised to investigate the incident “at the highest levels.”

A Haaretz report on Tuesday afternoon said the IAF had fired three missiles in quick succession at three vehicles.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said in an English-language statement that he had spoken to WCK founder Chef Jose Anders, “and expressed the deepest condolences of the Israel Defense Forces to the families and the entire World Central Kitchen family.”

He added that the IDF had expressed “sincere sorrow to our allied nations who have been doing and continue to do so much to assist those in need. We have been reviewing the incident at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of what happened and how it happened,” he said.

“We will get to the bottom of this and we will share our findings transparently,” Hagari added.
Netanyahu confirms IDF unintentional strike on aid workers
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday confirmed that an unintentional IDF strike killed seven aid workers in the Gaza Strip the previous night.

“Unfortunately, in the last day there was a tragic case of our forces unintentionally hitting innocent people in the Gaza Strip,” the premier said in a video message announcing his release from Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem following successful hernia surgery.

“It happens in war, we are thoroughly investigating it, we are in contact with the governments and we will do everything so that this thing does not happen again,” Netanyahu continued.

The IDF took full responsibility for the incident.

The World Central Kitchen NGO said on Tuesday morning that members of its staff were killed in a strike on their vehicles in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip. According to the organization, the strike occurred after the aid workers had assisted in delivering food and other supplies to northern Gaza that had arrived hours earlier by ship from Cyprus.

“Last night, an incident took place in Gaza that resulted in the tragic death of World Central Kitchen employees as they fulfilled their vital mission of bringing food to people in need,” IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said in a video announcement in English on Tuesday.

Ryan McBeth: How did the IDF Strike World Central Kitchen?
On or about 2300 HRS on April 1st, 2024, an IDF drone struck three vehicles that were on a convoy moving from one leased warehouse to another leased warehouse as they drove up Al Rashid Road. The departure location, destination and route were all deconflicted with the IDF prior to the convoy movement. It is possible that the drone cameras did not see the WSK logo on the vehicles due to the darkness and using an IR sensor.

Mistakes happen during war, but this could have been prevented by issuing NGOs IR strobes that would follow a new pattern issued by the IDF every day.

UK summons Israeli envoy over death of World Central Kitchen aid workers
The United Kingdom summoned Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely in London to protest the IDF airstrike that killed seven humanitarian workers from the World Central Kitchen, including three British citizens.

“I set out the government’s unequivocal condemnation of the appalling killing” and “requested a quick and transparent investigation, shared with the international community, and full accountability,” Minister for Development and Africa Andrew Mitchell said.

The United Kingdom has been one of Israel’s staunch allies since the start of the Gaza war on October 7, but on Tuesday it joined the international community in lashing out at the government for failing to put in place a proper distribution system for humanitarian assistance.

“I reiterated the need for Israel to put in place an effective deconfliction mechanism immediately and urgently to scale up humanitarian access. We need to see an immediate humanitarian pause, to get aid in and the hostages out, then progress towards a sustainable ceasefire,” Mitchell stressed.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak posted on X that Israel must explain “how this tragic incident happened,” adding that “all our thoughts are with the families of those killed.”
Hamas famine narrative evaporates as Gaza food prices slashed
The Popular Resistance Committees, a coalition composed of Hamas and other terrorist groups, recently announced price drops for food in the Gaza Strip.

Gazan merchants said, “An average family can now buy products for a hearty meal with 100 shekels [$27.15], compared to 200 shekels required for such a meal just a few days ago,” Ynet reported.

The news is in line with a report issued last week by the Israeli Defense Ministry’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit, which has been coordinating aid for Gaza.

According to COGAT’s latest statistics, 205 aid trucks were inspected and sent into the Gaza Strip on Sunday.

Also on Sunday, 232 packages with “hundreds and thousands of meals” were airdropped over Gaza’s north.

In addition, tankers of cooking gas and fuel for essential infrastructure were delivered.

Twenty-one bakeries are operating in Gaza, providing more than 2 million breads, rolls and pita breads a day, COGAT said.

In recent weeks, Hamas, the United Nations, international relief groups and others accused Israel of placing Gazans at risk for imminent starvation. The allegations were quickly picked up by Western media.

The storm over the impending food shortage reached a climax with the issuance of a March 18 report by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) multi-partner initiative claiming that 578,000 Gazans were facing “acute food insecurity.”

COGAT released a report on March 29 refuting the IPC’s assertions, noting, “In recent months between 150 and 200 trucks are admitted per day, most of which are food trucks. This is an 80% spike in comparison to the daily average food trucks that entered Gaza pre-October 7.

“The report alleges that the amount of water is less than 1 liter per day per person,” COGAT said, but based on its assessment “the daily average quantity of water [is] over 20 liters of drinking and cooking water per person per day.”

‘We will not forget you’: Emotional Braverman offers support to Oct 7 survivors
Suella Braverman breaks down in tears amid the ruins of burnt-out houses in Kfar Aza as she surveys the carnage wrought by Hamas on Oct 7.

Amir Zini is telling the former home secretary how his son Nirel died as he attempted to flee with his girlfriend through the window of their safe room but was gunned down. His corpse was badly burned. His head was missing, presumed to have been taken back to Gaza as a macabre trophy.

“How does a parent begin to grieve for the loss of a child killed with such brutality?” asks Mrs Braverman.

This is the first day of her four-day tour of Israel, undertaken to better understand what has been happening here over the past six months and as a platform to give her backing to its citizens.

The first leg is a trip to the Gaza envelope, the part of southern Israel that surrounds the Gaza Strip and suffered at the hands of Hamas terrorists. The background rumble of Israeli artillery is a near constant.

Mrs Braverman is perhaps the toughest of the current Right-wing Conservatives, not known for her compassionate side. She once declared that her dream was to see a Telegraph front page with a “plane taking off to Rwanda”. But the horrors of Oct 7 make her cry.

She tells Nira Shpak, a 57-year-old grandmother who spent 22 hours in Kfar Aza hiding from marauding gunmen: “You have friends, you have allies around the world, and we will not forget you.”

Another kibbutz house, bullet-riddled, has been turned into a shrine for a dead son by his grieving parents. “An unspeakable tragedy,” Mrs Braverman writes in the visitors’ book at its entrance. “A heart-breaking waste of life. We will never forget the pain you have endured, and we work to support Israel and the Jewish peoples around the world. With prayers, love and solidarity.”

In the aftermath of the attack, Mrs Shpak, a reservist colonel in the Israel Defense Forces, went house to house identifying the dead.

A few doors from where Nirel Zini’s burnt corpse was discovered, she found the headless body of Aviad Edri. His head was found 300 yards away, in a field and with a knife next to it, dropped before it could be taken to Gaza. Six of the 64 people murdered in the kibbutz were decapitated.

Mrs Braverman has become one of Israel’s staunchest defenders. After she arrived in Tel Aviv on Sunday night, a British citizen approached her and thanked her for her support.
6 months on, families of US hostages in Gaza stuck in 'ambiguous trauma'
Families of U.S. citizens being held hostage by Hamas since its brutal terror attack in southern Israel six months ago expressed frustration this week that mediation talks keep stalling and have failed to bring their loved ones home. Some also said they are disappointed that political interests seem to be a higher priority than saving lives.

"We live in a different galaxy, all of us families and every day is a decision to get up and pretend to be a human," Rachel Goldberg-Polin, mother of Hersh Goldberg-Polin, 23, who was kidnapped by Hamas from a music festival taking place near the border with Gaza on Oct. 7, told Fox News Digital in an interview.

The Chicago-born mother of three, who moved to Israel with her husband, Jon, and their children in 2008, said, "We run to the ends of the Earth, and we work as hard as we can, and we talk to everyone possible to try to flip the stone that's going to bring our loved ones home."

"We're in a constant state of trauma, terror, agony, angst, misery, it's constant. There's never one second of not feeling trauma," said Goldberg-Polin, who last heard from her son minutes before his arm was blown off by terrorists.

Grisly footage shows him grasping his bloody arm while being loaded into a truck along with several other hostages before being driven into captivity in Gaza. Since then, there have been no signs he is still alive nor any that he is among the dead.

Goldberg-Polin said it was impossible to describe the feeling of being stuck in such "ambiguous trauma." She also expressed hope that those negotiating for her son’s release "would do what is right for the people, even if it isn’t always right for them."

"I want to pray and be optimistic and hopeful that our leaders will be leaders," she said. "Being a leader means doing what’s right for the people, even if it isn't always right for the leaders. It requires a lot of courage and selflessness and tenacity and bravery, and that's what I wish for the leaders of all these different entities that are trying to lean in."
Israel demands to know condition of Gaza hostages in new ceasefire proposal
Israel reportedly drafted new proposals for a hostage deal, according to the Saudi state-owned al-Arabiya channel on Tuesday.

According to sources, Israel offered to create three safe corridors in northern Gaza to enable Palestinians to return to their homes in stages.

In addition, Israel allegedly required that it be notified via mediators of the situation of the hostages detained in Hamas captivity.

The delegation of Mossad, Shin Bet, and IDF officials who went to Cairo for hostage release and ceasefire negotiations was set to return to Israel on Tuesday afternoon, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office.

As part of the talks, the mediators formulated a new proposal to present to Hamas.

"Israel expects the mediators to work harder with Hamas to promote negotiations in favor of a deal," said the PMO.
‘Every girl there is sexually harassed’: Freed captives beg MKs for hostage deal
The Knesset’s women’s rights committee held an emotional session on Tuesday on the situation of female hostages held by terror groups in Gaza since October 7, attended by two released abductees along with family members of those still held captive.

“Every girl there is sexually harassed in one way or another. It doesn’t matter how you try to spin it. As a citizen, on October 7 I didn’t understand why no one came to rescue me in a matter of hours; so did all the women who are [in Gaza],” said Maya Regev, who was released on November 25 as part of a temporary ceasefire deal brokered by Qatar and the United States between Hamas and Israel.

“Every day there is an emergency, every minute is important,” she added tearfully, lamenting a six-week Knesset recess slated to run from April 7 to May 19. “Hearing that [lawmakers] are going on recess, what will the [hostages] do there? Sit and wait for the Knesset and the government to return to their comfortable chairs and decide what to do? I personally could not believe it.”

Regev was kidnapped on October 7 from the Supernova music festival along with her brother Itay, who was also released during the November truce. “I came back after 50 days and I’m still dealing with issues. I don’t want to describe what they’ve been going through through there for 179 days.”

While no ministers attended the session of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, Regev called on the MKs present to push for a hostage release deal. “Your job is to bring them back home, to the country that has already disappointed us once,” she said. “Another day and another and another and we go on vacation. We need your help. All the families here are crying out every day. How does this make sense?”

It is believed that 130 hostages are still held in Gaza of the 253 abducted on October 7, when thousands of Hamas-led terrorists burst across the border into Israel, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and committing wholesale atrocities including sexual assault.

New York set to host spring exhibit on Nova music festival massacre
Later this month, a poignant exhibition commemorating the tragic terrorist assault at the Nova Music Festival in southern Israel is set to debut in New York City, as revealed by organizers last week.

Following a successful 10-week stint in Tel Aviv, the installation, entitled “Nova: Oct. 7 6:29 AM, The Moment Music Stood Still,” will be accessible to the public, although specifics regarding the exact date and venue are yet to be disclosed.

The title “6:29 AM” denotes the harrowing moment when militants from Hamas infiltrated the festival grounds, unleashing chaos and claiming the lives of 370 individuals attending the concert, while also abducting numerous others to the Gaza Strip.

Crafted as a grand-scale tribute, the installation incorporates artifacts salvaged from the site of the music festival carnage, such as charred vehicles, bullet-pocked restroom stalls, remnants of festival decorations, and personal effects left behind by victims.

Moreover, the exhibit will feature a “healing tent,” serving as a beacon of hope with its overarching message of resilience encapsulated in the slogan “we will dance again.” Survivors of the brutal attack are expected to be present at the exhibition, as reported by Billboard magazine.

Nova co-founder Omri Sassi, in December when the exhibit was first announced, described it as a medium to momentarily transport visitors back to the traumatic events through a blend of video screenings showcasing exclusive footage from the Nova party, artistic projections, and other immersive elements.

The initiative was spearheaded by the producers of the Nova Music Festival, with notable Jewish record executive Scooter Braun instrumental in bringing it to New York. Braun, reflecting on his visit to Israel in December where he engaged with survivors and witnessed the exhibit’s impact in Tel Aviv, emphasized the universal relevance of the tragedy, emphasizing, “People need to understand it could have been any of us, at any festival,” in an Instagram post announcing the exhibition’s forthcoming debut in New York.

Why an Oct 7 Memorial Needs Warning Signs and Guards
Today, I visited a memorial to the victims of the Islamic terrorist attacks of Oct 7.

One thing that struck me when looking at the rows of Israeli, American, and the flags of 29 other countries whose citizens fell victim to the Hamas attacks were the warning signs.

And the guards.

In the middle of a public park in a wealthy area of Los Angeles County, the rows of flags wouldn’t be safe unless there were warning signs about video surveillance and legal prohibitions against vandalism and a number of armed guards (whom I did not film) to back them up.

What does it say about the current culture of leftist lawlessness and the Islamist invasions of major cities, that this is what it takes to keep a memorial to the fallen that includes multiple American flags and those of much of the world (including Russia and China) safe from those who would vandalize and destroy them?

The Commentary Magazine Podcast: The Unforgivable and the Forgivable
Hosted by Abe Greenwald, Christine Rosen, John Podhoretz & Matthew Continetti
Today we discuss unforgivable acts of Jew-hatred—including a riot outside a synagogue where money was being raised to help a Jewish burial society—and forgivable tragic events that occur during war. There is a difference. A big difference. Also, a beautiful statement by a grieving Israeli father and Donald Trump’s very good day in and out of court.
‘I doubt much can be hoped for’: Andrew Bolt says Israel-Hamas talks will ‘not’ reach peace deal
Sky News host Andrew Bolt doubts “much can be hoped for” from Hamas and Israel’s meeting in Egypt and “certainly not a long-term peace deal”.

Nearly six months since Hamas attacked Israel, representatives will meet in Egypt on Sunday to discuss a potential ceasefire.

“It’s nearly six months since Hamas did attack Israel, starting this war,” Mr Bolt said.

“The war since has devastated Gaza – the Palestinian territory run by Hamas.

“I doubt much can be hoped for from these talks, certainly not a long-term peace deal.”

The Israel Guys: Israeli Secret Police ARREST Top Hamas Leader’s Sister in Daring Raid
Unfortunately, there was yet another terror attack this week. This time a stabbing attack in Gan Yavne. When will the world wake up and say enough is enough. That enough Jewish blood has been shed and Israel has the right to defend themselves?

The top Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh’s sister, was arrested by Israeli security forces on suspicion of being involved in terrorist activities.

Stick around to the end of the show for an epic video of the Israeli Air Force taking out Hezbollah terror targets in Lebanon.

Suella Braverman says she's 'ashamed' by surging anti-Semitism in Britain and denounces 'hate marches' - as ex-Home Secretary accuses UK of 'backsliding' on its support for Israel
Suella Braverman said that she is 'ashamed' of the surge in anti-Semitism in Britain, as she blasted the government for 'backsliding' on its support for Israel.

The former Home Secretary slammed the Foreign Office for being in the grip of a 'pro-Palestine' sentiment and pleaded that this was 'not a time for walking away' from Israel.

Mrs Braverman took a swing at Lord Cameron, who reportedly told Israeli officials that he will halt arms sales if Hamas prisoners are not allowed visits from the Red Cross, saying that now was the time 'for strengthening our support for Israel'.

The Tory MP for Fareham said that was 'disappointed about the UK stance regarding the resolution at the UN Security Council last week,' in an interview with The Telegraph.

The UK's decision to help pass the resolution was also criticised by several Tory MPs, including former Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers, who said that she was 'alarmed' by the UK's position as one of 14 members on the council to vote in favour of an immediate ceasefire last week.
Huge counter-protest for Israel drowns out ‘intifada revolution’ calls in Teaneck
Approximately 100 pro-Hamas protesters were bused on Monday to the largest synagogue in Teaneck, N.J., to protest an 8 p.m. event featuring firsthand accounts of the Oct. 7 atrocities that took place in southern Israel by ZAKA volunteers—Israel’s search, rescue and ritual burial organization.

A poster circulated called ZAKA’s version of events false and sought to “demand accountability for false claims that fuel Gaza genocide.”

While organizations including AMP (American Muslims for Palestine) and WOL (Without Our Lifetime) were involved in planning and executing the protest outside of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun, publicity from the perspective of the Palestinian protesters served an opposing purpose; it galvanized the local Jewish community into action. The Rabbinical Council of Bergen County (RCBC) teamed up with the Bergen County Jewish Action Committee (BCJAC) to encourage residents to show up to support and protect the community event.

From 6:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m., more than 1,000 counterprotesters sang, played loud Israeli music, waved Israeli and American flags and shouted “Bring Them Home”—referring to the 134 hostages still being held captive by Hamas in Gaza since Oct. 7—largely drowning out the voice of the protesters while the event went on as planned inside.

Chana Shields of the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County (BCJAC) said “these attacks on our synagogues have to end. Full stop.”

She added that they “are nothing more than an attack on Jews and our religious freedoms. ZAKA is a humanitarian organization that collects body parts and human remains after terror attacks and disasters, composed of Jewish and Muslim volunteers who make sure burial is handled according to religious practices. What kind of person opposes that?”

“ZAKA’s work is the epitome of compassion, a true testament to the goodness in humanity,” said BCJAC trustee Aviva Angel. “When our synagogue, a place that champions such kindness, is attacked, it’s an affront to everything we believe in, including our cherished right to religious freedom. Teaneck is a community built on support, unity and respect for all. An act against these core values is unacceptable.”

NYC Land Day Protesters to Hamas: 'Strike, strike Tel Aviv!'
Pro-Palestinian protesters called on Hamas to strike Tel Aviv and displayed pro-terrorist signs at a Land Day demonstration in New York on Saturday.

"Abu Ubaida, our beloved," chanted the crowd led by Within Our Lifetime (WOL) organizer Abdullah Akl. "Strike, Strike Tel Aviv."

The chant harkens back to slogans used during the first Gulf War calling on then-Iraq leader to strike Tel Aviv with Scud missiles.

WOL leader Nerdeen Kiswani explained to followers at the protests that Gazan terrorist organizations had specifically mentioned the demonstrations by supporters in New York City.

"They are leading the fight for freedom," said Kiswani. 'The least we can do is elevate this fight and bring their message to the world."

In the videos posted of the protest by WOL, signs at the Zucotti Park and city hall demonstrations can be seen proclaiming "victory to the Palestinian resistance," and a banner extolling Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine secretary general Ahmad Sa'adat. Another banner called for resistance "by any means necessary.

"There is only one solution, Intifada revolution," Akl said in another chant he led.

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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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