Wednesday, April 03, 2024

From Ian:

Iran Is Winning the War
Weakness in Washington: Advantage Iran
Do Joe Biden and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin signal fearsome intent when they fire missiles at Iranian proxies while telling Tehran the United States has no desire to escalate? When Secretary of State Tony Blinken says to Iran, “we would like to see them tell the Houthis to stop,” do you think Iran feels the heat?

The questions answer themselves.

Amazingly, some senior Biden administration officials give the impression that the supreme leader’s supposed fatwa banning nukes just might be real—despite the history of Ali Khamenei driving the country’s once-clandestine nuclear-weapons project. Nothing about the Islamic Republic’s “peaceful” nuclear research since 2002, when the weapons program was first publicly revealed, makes sense unless one assumes the supreme leader’s original objective remains.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the regime currently has enough 60 percent enriched uranium for three nuclear weapons, which could rapidly be spun up to 90 percent, the ideal bomb-grade. The stockpile of 20 percent uranium would allow for several more. As it stands now, according to the Institute for Science and International Security, which closely monitors the Iranian nuclear program, Tehran could produce bomb-grade uranium for one weapon in seven days; one month would give enough for six bombs; five months would allow for 12 weapons.

Washington went through a similar experience with North Korea. There, U.S. officials wanted to believe that there was a chance that Pyongyang could be bought off short of a nuclear test, and if it couldn’t, then nuclearization was better than risking war on the peninsula.

Barring some monumental miscalculation by Tehran, Biden surely will be no more bold against the Islamic Republic than George W. Bush was against North Korea. The president’s recent decision to release $10 billion held in escrow for Iraq’s electricity payments to Iran, combined with the not-so-secret indirect talks between U.S. and Iranian officials in Oman, strongly suggest that the White House is trying hard to appease Tehran. Washington wants the clerical regime to halt its proxy attacks on U.S. forces and its atomic advance short of a fissile test—at least before the November election.

So What Can Be Done?
Americans and Israelis have for decades shied away from militarily punishing the mullahs for their malevolence. This hesitancy—an unwillingness to escalate—has fed an Islamist appetite for violence. But diplomacy and its euphemisms, sanctions, and whack-a-mole retaliatory strikes have run their course. And what Jerusalem is doing right now—beating back Iran’s proxies—will become a lot dicier once Tehran goes nuclear. Jerusalem might be obliged to accept as permanent a low-level, bloody duel with Iranian proxies. An insoluble Palestinian problem will gnaw at Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, and possibly from within Israel itself. Khamenei’s vision for destroying the “Zionist colonial settler-state”—an approach that will surely survive his death—is to erode Israeli happiness and foreign investment, not a catastrophic nuclear confrontation. Iranian nuclear weapons, the ultimate check on Israel and the United States, are a means to that end.

We are way past time pretending that any other avenue than military action against Iran has a chance of checking an Islamist nuclear-threshold state that is close to dominating the Middle East. The Biden administration’s preferred path—encouraging regime change in Israel, pining for a two-state solution, and importuning the Saudi crown prince to recognize Israel (while granting more sanctions relief to Iran and quietly sending emissaries to Oman)—is guaranteed to make a bad situation worse. As everyone in the Middle East knows, and as the Israelis momentarily forgot before October 7, hard power is the only coin of the realm.
Col. Richard Kemp: What happens if Israel does not go into Rafah? Look at Afghanistan
There is no doubting Israel’s spectacular military success so far in Gaza. I have been on the ground inside the Strip several times since the war began, and have seen first hand the remarkable combat actions of the IDF.

They have all but taken apart Hamas as a coherent fighting organisation, while doing everything in their power to minimise civilian casualties and working round the clock to get humanitarian aid to the Gazan population, which I have also witnessed.

Despite all this, the IDF has not yet accomplished its mission in Gaza: to destroy Hamas’s ability to threaten Israel and govern the Gaza Strip and to rescue the hostages. To achieve that, the IDF must launch a major offensive against the four Hamas battalions in Rafah. Focused now on its own survival, Hamas is determined to prevent that from happening and increasingly the international community seems intent on helping them.

That was underlined this week when the UN Security Council demanded a ceasefire in Gaza, which Britain supported and the US failed to veto. That historically shameful resolution was the culmination of a decades-long propaganda campaign under which Israel is an illegitimate entity. As the narrative goes, whatever is done to Israel, including the October 7 massacre, it had it coming; and whatever Israel does in its own defence, including finishing off Hamas in Rafah, it is wrong and uniquely evil.

Many supposed military experts say Israel should not mount an offensive in Rafah. I have not heard any of them put forward a single viable alternative. The White House is apparently recommending a strategy based on pinpoint, clinical strikes into the city, targeting Hamas leaders. Their template seems to be US special forces operations in Afghanistan, and we all know how that ultimately worked out. The Taliban survived, gained strength and eventually re-conquered the country. Under Taliban rule, Isis in Afghanistan has launched multiple global terrorist attacks including last week’s massacre in Moscow, according to US intelligence. A salutary lesson for those who think Israel does not need to finish off Hamas in Gaza.

In any case, in a heavily defended area like Rafah, no military operations can be “clinical”. In February, Operation Golden Hand showed us the necessity for overwhelming violence to enable special forces to extricate a single Israeli hostage from Rafah. The rescue mission had to be backed up by air strikes which reportedly killed dozens of people to enable the withdrawal of the hostage and the rescuers. Left intact, the Hamas battalions in Rafah will fight furiously against any “pinpoint” raids, which will not achieve the level of surprise of Operation Golden Hand if they become part of a series of such operations.
The Rafah conundrum: Crafting an effective strategy to crush Hamas
On Monday, the Israeli and U.S. national security advisors, along with other senior officials, had a video call in which they discussed the IDF’s current plans to evacuate civilians from Rafah, the city on the southern tip of Gaza where Hamas’s military strength is now concentrated. Israeli television reported that the American participants rejected the plan, and that their reaction was “harsh.” But, absent a Hamas surrender, one way or another the IDF will have to find have to find a way to deal with the terrorists in the city.

Amos Yadlin and Udi Evental explain that such an operation is necessary to eliminate the four Hamas battalions in Rafah, to kill or capture the group’s other leaders, and if possible to free the remaining hostages. There is yet another reason, which, Yadlin and Evental claim, is “far more important,” namely

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. Without thoroughly addressing this issue, the smuggling tunnels will enable Hamas to reap profits, receive assistance from its supporters in the Muslim world, and ultimately restore its military capacity and resume its military buildup.

It should also be emphasized that complete Israeli control in Rafah does not guarantee the success of blocking the smuggling tunnels and effectively monitoring the Rafah crossing (and the adjacent Saladin Gate). These objectives depend, in part, on effective action by Egyptian forces on the other side of the border, who rake in profits from the smuggling and conduct a policy of calibrating pressures vis-à-vis Gaza.

They go on to explain how Jerusalem might deal with this diplomatic and military conundrum:

[T]he threat of an extensive operation in Rafah serves as leverage vis-à-vis Hamas in the context of a hostage deal. The IDF should take advantage of the Ramadan period to start to evacuate civilians and amass forces along the outskirts of Rafah.

JPost Editorial: The precision strike in Syria was an important proof of Israel's strength
The IDF rarely confirms a strike on foreign soil, but the confirmation almost doesn’t matter. The strikes that killed Mohammad Reza Zahedi – that Iran blames Israel for – are several in a list of precision strikes. They are moves that allow the Jewish state to reassert its military capabilities unofficially, sending a signal to the rest of the world – particularly the Arab world – that it is as strong as it ever was, and is back to its lethal best.

This is particularly necessary and of great relevance since October 7, when the IDF failed so miserably in stopping the Hamas infiltrations into Israel. This reverberated powerfully among Israel’s civilian society and also in the region.

The reassertion of control also comes as Israel faces blunders and challenges from its international allies over its ongoing Gaza operations.

For other Arab countries who also oppose Iran, October 7 was a signal that Israel, Iran’s most steadfast regional opponent, was not able to effectively withstand and repel attacks by Iran’s proxies.

The war between Israel and Iran’s proxies has been going on for years and it remains at simmering point, with invisible redlines drawn that, once crossed, would send the region into a completely different reality.

The IDF has shown it hasn't just recovered from October 7, but is stronger than ever
In the wake of October 7, many countries in the region that had looked to Israel to provide security and defense capabilities in the Middle East were likely shocked to see it unable to defend its own border. However, in the months since, the IDF has shown that it does have the ability to not only defeat Hamas, but also to carry out operations on other fronts.

Iran has sought to expand the Gaza war by pushing its proxies to attack Israel on seven different fronts. The IDF’s use of precision strikes to eliminate targets both near and far has shown that Israel continues to be a formidable fighting force on a global scale.

Strikes on crucial command and control nodes, often without inflicting collateral damage, illustrates that the IDF has not only recovered from October 7 but is pushing the envelope even further.

Blame terrorists, not Israelis, for the suffering in Gaza
Hamas is at it again. The genocidal terrorist group continues to use hospitals and other civilian centers to stage and carry out attacks. Hamas can sow death and destruction thanks to media outlets that provide these killers with essential cover. Some reporters even celebrate the group’s crimes.

Hamas’ strategy of using human shields isn’t a secret. Even the United Nations, hardly a pro-Israel source, has quietly admitted as much. A 2015 internal investigation found that U.N. Relief and Works Agency schools were used by Hamas to “hide weapons” and “launch attacks” during the 2014 Israel-Hamas War. During the 2021 war, the group was infamously caught using the building that housed Associated Press offices for operations — a war crime that was obfuscated by news outlets such as The Washington Post.

Last November, the Israeli military published footage showing Hamas using tunnels built into both Sheikh Hamad Hospital and Indonesian Hospital in Gaza City.

By using civilian population centers to plan and launch attacks, Hamas hopes to deter Israeli strikes. And by increasing the risk of civilian deaths, Hamas hopes to turn world opinion against Israel.

In November, the Israel Defense Forces carried out an operation at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, which functioned as a headquarters for Hamas. And many legacy media outlets, including The Washington Post, cast doubt on the IDF’s claims that Hamas was using the hospital for this purpose. Yet evidence that Hamas uses Shifa has long been in the public domain.

In 2014, the Post itself noted that the hospital “has become a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices.”

As far back as 2006, PBS aired a documentary showing “how gunmen roam the hospital, intimidate the staff, and deny them access to protected locations within the building.”

Evidence of the hospital’s dual use was compiled in a 2014 Tablet magazine essay, “Top Secret Hamas Command Bunker in Gaza Revealed: And Why Reporters Won’t Talk About It.”

The IDF spent several days — delays caused by caution on the IDF’s part and gunbattles with Hamas — to take the hospital. Subsequently, weapons and tunnels were found. So was footage showing that hostages taken by Hamas were brought to the hospitals.

Indeed, Hamas itself has admitted that it uses hospitals.
Hard to punish Hamas due to Arab nations’ fears, Thomas-Greenfield says
Interviewing Linda Thomas-Greenfield on his eponymous show, Don Lemon asked the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations why it is so hard to punish Hamas.

“I can’t answer that question,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “I ask that question regularly in the council: Why can’t we call out Hamas? The Israelis ask that question regularly.”

The U.S. envoy said that her suspicion is that “there’s tremendous fear on the part of the Palestinians, who are being held hostage in a sense by Hamas, who are hiding behind civilians and civilian infrastructure.”

“I know that as we look at the protests on the streets in the Arab world, there’s a sense that the countries in the region fear those protests and don’t want to provide any fuel to those protests,” Thomas-Greenfield added.

Lemon later asked the U.S. envoy to respond to Francesca Albanese, a U.N. special rapporteur, who said that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that the threshold indicating the commission of the crime of genocide against Palestinians as a group in Gaza has been met.”

“We don’t agree with that. Let me be clear,” she responded.

Thomas-Greenfield added that she didn’t want “to get ahead” of the case before the International Court of Justice, the principal U.N. judicial arm in The Hague.

“In the meantime, we are continuing to press the Israelis to take into account civilian casualties as they carry out their efforts to end Hamas’s carnage, their threats to the existence of the Israeli people,” Thomas-Greenfield added.
Yahya Sinwar's story: From deterred Hamas leader to gambling mass murderer
In contrast, Hezbollah Chief Hassan Nasrallah, who Hayman said replaced Soleimani as Iran’s chief regional strategist dealing with Israel more than Soleimani’s official replacement, Esmail Ghaani, knew Hamas and Gaza much better than the Iranians did.

According to Hayman, Nasrallah worked on “bringing Iran to Gaza” – meaning investing more of the Islamic Republic’s anti-Israel attention on Hamas, and moving Hezbollah and Syria into more of a backup threat.

This empowered Sinwar in terms of resources, weapons, and gave him the feeling that he could rely on other Iranian proxies to step in big time if he started a larger conflict with Israel.

Another turning point for Sinwar, noted Hayman, was the May 2021 Gaza conflict.

If Israel concluded that the conflict deterred Sinwar from 2021 until October 2023, Hayman said that Sinwar seemed to have reached the opposite conclusions.

Despite significant Hamas losses inflicted by the Israeli air force and the unimpressive performance of other fronts. Hayman maintained that Sinwar saw it as a success on all fronts.

He was enthralled by the reaction of Palestinians in the West Bank, Israeli Arabs, and Hezbollah’s involvement, showing that he, Sinwar, could activate four fronts at once against Israel, said Hayman.

In other words, Sinwar viewed it as a warm-up and given a large enough operation against Israel, he believed he could inflame all of these fronts against Israel in a much more serious way.

Although Hamas has gotten some support from some of these fronts, and also from the Yemeni Houthis, essentially their support fell far short of what he expected.

But Hayman said that Israel should have been ready for the possibility that Sinwar would try a poor but dangerous gamble, instead of assuming he would act rationally, according to Israeli or Western terms.

Next, Hayman said that Sinwar concluded after the May 2021 Gaza conflict that the Palestinian Authority, however weak, was still too strong for him to take over in the West Bank.

All of this shifted Sinwar toward the idea of a high-stakes invasion over incremental provocation against Israel. But the final decision to launch the attack required additional turning points.

Hayman said that Sinwar suspected that the IDF itself might be preparing various operations against its adversaries after the high holidays, so a preemptive attack would switch the element of surprise to him.
Ismail Haniyeh: Hamas won't back down from hostage deal demands
Hamas is sticking to its original ceasefire and hostage negotiations demands that Israel must halt all military operations in the Gaza Strip, Hamas leader abroad, Ismail Haniyeh, said in a Wednesday speech, according to Arab media sources.

Speaking on International Quds (Jerusalem) Day, Haniyeh said, "We are adhering to our demands for a permanent ceasefire, a comprehensive withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, and the return of the displaced."

Haniyeh said that the Islamist movement at war with Israel was sticking to its conditions for a ceasefire in Gaza, including an Israeli military withdrawal.

"We are committed to our demands: the permanent ceasefire, comprehensive and complete withdrawal of the enemy out of the Gaza Strip, the return of all displaced people to their homes, allowing all aid needed for our people in Gaza, rebuilding the Strip, lifting the blockade and achieving an honorable prisoner exchange deal."

The exchange he referred to would be a release of Palestinian security prisoners from Israeli jails in exchange for Israeli hostages being held by militants in Gaza since October 7.

State Department Hosted Qatari Official Who Praised Hamas Terrorism
The State Department last month held high-level talks with a Qatari delegation that included an official who has praised Hamas terrorists and called for missile strikes on Israel.

Majed Muhammad Al-Ansari, the spokesman for Qatar's foreign ministry and an adviser to its prime minister, joined a high-level delegation for a March meeting with senior State Department officials. Al-Ansari, a one-time newspaper columnist, "expressed total support for armed struggle against Israel and for massive rocket attacks on it" as recently as 2021, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), a watchdog group that tracks extremist rhetoric.

Al-Ansari was photographed standing next to Bill Russo, an assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of Global Public Affairs. The Qatari official’s participation in high-level diplomatic talks with the United States signals that Doha’s ongoing support for Hamas—whose senior leadership lives in the country—is not viewed as an obstacle to the U.S.-Qatar relationship. The Biden administration continues to rely on Qatar to ink a hostage negotiation deal between Hamas and Israel, even as Doha’s neutrality in the conflict is questioned on Capitol Hill.

Al-Ansari, in a 2021 column published after a spate of missile attacks by Hamas, celebrated "victory" over "the Zionist enemy," Israel, and said that armed resistance against the Jewish state is the only way to ensure "the disappearance of the occupation," according to a translation of the article by MEMRI.

The Qatari diplomat went on to express hope that he lives long enough to witness "the liberation of Al-Aqsa Mosque and all the blessed land," referring to the Muslim landmark in Jerusalem.

Discussing the May 2021 conflict between Israel and Hamas, Al-Ansari wrote, "the entity [Israel] was entirely under the threat of the Palestinian missiles. Even the interior [the Arab citizens of Israel] joined the confrontation against the occupier, and the international arenas were set ablaze with discourse against the aggression, adopting the narrative that described the Tel Aviv regime as an apartheid regime."

"The entity," he added, "was in a state of great political embarrassment, and was forced to end its aggression with no compromise on the part of the Palestinians."

Al-Ansari declared the "victory celebration in this latest battle" as a sign of "continued progress toward victory in the struggle, since there is a great difference between resistance with stones and bare chests and resistance in which 3,000 missiles are launched into the entity's cities in 10 days."
Palestinian Authority submits bid for full UN membership
The Palestinian Authority submitted a request on Tuesday for the United Nations Security Council to vote this month on accepting the entity as a full member.

In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, P.A. U.N. envoy Riyad Mansour asked that an application submitted in 2011 be reconsidered. Another supporting letter was sent to Maltese diplomat Vanessa Frazier, who is currently serving as president of the 15-member council. That letter included the names of 140 countries that have recognized a Palestinian state.

However, the United States is expected to block the bid due to Washington’s long-standing policy that U.N. membership will only come as a result of a negotiated bilateral agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Our position has not changed,” U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood told reporters Tuesday, as quoted by the Associated Press.

It was reported in February, however, that the Biden administration was considering unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state, which if true would mark a major foreign policy shift.

Mansour said on Monday that he hoped the U.N. Security Council will make a decision at an April 18 meeting on the Middle East, and Frazier told reporters on Monday that the council’s standing committee for new members, which includes all 15 UNSC members, is expected to meet privately to consider the application.

Dem Rep. Smith: ‘No Incentive’ for Hamas to Agree to Ceasefire, U.N. Won’t Condemn Them in Resolution Biden Let Pass
On Tuesday’s “CNN News Central,” House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) stated that the unintentional deaths of World Central Kitchen employees by an Israeli airstrike shows that it’s crucial to get a ceasefire, but Hamas won’t agree to one and “part of the problem here is Hamas has been unaccountable in all of this. They have no incentive at this point.” Because “they seem to think that they’re winning the PR campaign. The U.N. refuses to even condemn Hamas while calling for a ceasefire” in a resolution the U.S. let pass “So, what’s going to force Hamas to accept that ceasefire at this point?” And he hopes “some pressure will be exerted on Hamas to accept what has been on the table for weeks now.”

Smith said that the incident “really underscores how important it is to get a ceasefire at this point in the conflict, something that the Biden administration has been trying to negotiate for several months now, and in the last, I don’t know, three, four weeks, there has been a clear offer on the table to exchange Palestinian prisoners for the Israeli hostages and get an extended ceasefire lasting over a month that Hamas has rejected. And it’s really — it’s hard for Israel to agree to a ceasefire without the release of the hostages. So, we need to get that agreement and Hamas needs to agree to what was put on the table. And then the second point is the need to increase humanitarian assistance in Gaza. I was there just a couple of weeks ago at the Rafah crossing and met with Israeli leadership, including the prime minister, and the lack of humanitarian assistance getting into Gaza is a major problem. It’s something that Israel needs to step up and increase, without question. But this incident, this tragic, terrible incident illustrates how hard that is to do while the fighting is going on. Now, even if the fighting continues, humanitarian assistance needs to increase, but we need to get a ceasefire to make sure that the humanitarian assistance can get in without these types of tragedies happening.”

IDF says more terrorists killed in recent al-Shifa hospital raid than in any other operation
The IDF has killed more Hamas militants in the recent operation in Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital than in any other single operation since the war began, according to the IDF’s chief spokesperson Daniel Hagari.

The operation – which began on 18 March and ended on April 1 – reportedly killed some 200 terrorists from Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad faction and took more than 900 captive including senior commanders. Israeli troops also seized weapons and millions in US and Jordanian currencies from inside the hospital, according to the IDF.

Thousands of Palestinians who had sought refuge in al-Shifa hospital were forced to evacuate through a checkpoint to shelters south of the hospital, while Israeli special forces conducted room-to-room searches. CCTV footage and video from inside showed firefights erupting as terrorists had barricaded themselves in the maternity ward and emergency rooms. Other Hamas members, according to the IDF, fired mortars at the hospital and Israeli troops from outside.

The al-Shifa raid is the second time the hospital has been targeted after a previous much larger raid in November last year. Before being able to enter the hospital that time, the IDF sent some 100,000 troops supported by heavy air and artillery strikes. The latest raid, which resulted in the deaths of three Israeli soldiers, was made up of a much smaller force not much more than a single brigade, about 1000 troops.

The IDF has claimed the latest raid was necessary because Hamas had returned to the hospital, which they say is being used as a command centre and sits atop a vast network of tunnels, making it a legitimate military target. Unable to match with IDF technology and firepower, a fragmented Hamas operates in smaller cells and deploys guerrilla tactics.

Four police officers injured in terror ramming in Israel
Four Israel Police officers were injured overnight Tuesday in a vehicular assault close to the Kochav Yair Junction in central Israel.

Magen David Adom emergency medics treated the victims on the scene, one of whom was seriously hurt. Another was moderately wounded and the other two sustained light wounds.

The officers had been operating a makeshift checkpoint geared towards catching car thieves, according to police.

The terrorist, identified as a 26-year-old resident of the adjacent Arab Israeli town of Tira, then drove to the nearby Eliyahu Crossing that leads to Judea and Samaria.

He attempted to stab security guards there, who responded by fatally shooting him.

Gallant: IDF expanding attacks on Hezbollah, readiness for war
The Israel Defense Forces is working to increase its readiness for a possible war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Wednesday.

He added that the military is expanding its operations against the Iran-backed terrorist organization.

“We do not wish for a war in Lebanon. I can tell you that such a war would be a difficult challenge for the State of Israel—however, it would be a catastrophe for Hezbollah and Lebanon,” Gallant told military and local political officials following a homefront preparedness drill in Haifa.

As part of Wednesday’s exercise, security services, local officials in Israel’s north and government ministries prepared for a quick transition from routine to emergency, according to a readout from Gallant’s office.

“We need to be prepared and ready for every scenario and threat, against close enemies and distant enemies,” he said at the drill.

“The message I want to convey to the public: Preparedness and vigilance in all areas. This is essential for us to know how to prepare in case something happens, either at the enemy’s initiative or at our own initiative,” continued the defense minister.

“If, God forbid, it’ll come to such a campaign, we need to minimize the number of casualties and damage to our territory while we maximize the damage to their side,” he said.

Gallant noted that while Israel prefers “an agreement that will result in the removal of the [Hezbollah] threat,” the Jewish state needs to “prepare for the possibility of [using] force in Lebanon, which can also take into account the scenario we are describing here, which is a scenario of war.”

IDF says UN peacekeepers in Lebanon were hit by Hezbollah roadside bomb
A group of UN peacekeepers wounded in a blast Lebanese officials blamed on Israel in southern Lebanon’s Rmeish on Saturday were hit by a Hezbollah roadside bomb, according to the IDF.

Shortly after the March 30 incident, the IDF denied carrying out any strikes in the Rmeish area. Hezbollah-linked media and security sources speaking to Reuters had claimed that the IDF carried out a drone strike on a vehicle with four UN employees.

The IDF’s Arabic-language spokesman, Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee, says that according to the latest information available to the military, the UN peacekeepers were wounded by “an explosive device that had been planted by Hezbollah in the area.”

According to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, the four observers were carrying out a foot patrol, and were not in a vehicle as the initial reports suggested. UNTSO said they were wounded after a “shell exploded near their location.”

Aid worker tragedy overshadows IDF efforts to protect humanitarian routes
Monday night’s unintentional Israeli drone strike on a World Central Kitchen aid convoy traveling along the Gaza coast, in which seven aid workers were killed, risks overshadowing a series of recent steps by the Israeli military to facilitate the flow of aid into the Strip.

Following the tragic incident, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held an assessment with Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi on Tuesday, together with senior members of the defense establishment. Gallant referred to the tragic nature of the incident and emphasized the importance of conducting a thorough, professional investigation, which will be followed by the implementation of lessons learned.

“The minister reflected on the complex environment in which IDF troops are required to operate on a daily basis and acknowledged the importance of strengthening coordination mechanisms with key partners,” according to a statement from his office.

In addition to ordering a team to be set up immediately to investigate the incident, Gallant instructed the defense establishment to establish a joint situation room between the IDF’s Southern Command and the international aid organizations to better coordinate the distribution of humanitarian goods in Gaza. He also ordered the IDF to support distribution mechanisms by allocating appropriate resources and to brief international organizations and partners on the details of the incident and subsequent actions being taken.

In recent months, the IDF has worked closely with WCK to distribute aid to Gazans. Earlier in the war, the organization came to the assistance of Israelis after the Oct. 7 mass murder assault. Indeed, according to IDF Spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, “they were one of the first NGOs here.” The work done by the organization “is critical; they are on the frontlines of humanity,” he said on Tuesday, adding, “We will get to the bottom of this and we will share our findings transparently.”
Biden Uses Aid Tragedy to Blame Israel for Civilian Deaths; Hamas Off the Hook
President Joe Biden issued a statement late Tuesday in response to the accidental killing of seven aid workers in Gaza by an Israel airstrike, blaming Israel for aid distribution problems and claiming Israel is not doing enough to protect civilians.

Biden’s statement barely mentioned Hamas — neither its tactic of using civilians as human shields, nor its practice of stealing humanitarian aid. (The tragic airstrike was targeting an armed Hamas member who was not present.)

In his statement, Biden said (emphasis added):

I am outraged and heartbroken by the deaths of seven humanitarian workers from World Central Kitchen, including one American, in Gaza yesterday. They were providing food to hungry civilians in the middle of a war. They were brave and selfless. Their deaths are a tragedy.

Israel has pledged to conduct a thorough investigation into why the aid workers’ vehicles were hit by airstrikes. That investigation must be swift, it must bring accountability, and its findings must be made public.

Even more tragically, this is not a stand-alone incident. This conflict has been one of the worst in recent memory in terms of how many aid workers have been killed. This is a major reason why distributing humanitarian aid in Gaza has been so difficult – because Israel has not done enough to protect aid workers trying to deliver desperately needed help to civilians. Incidents like yesterday’s simply should not happen. Israel has also not done enough to protect civilians. The United States has repeatedly urged Israel to deconflict their military operations against Hamas with humanitarian operations, in order to avoid civilian casualties.

In 2021, the U.S. military killed ten civilians in Kabul, Afghanistan, in a drone attack. The Biden administration claimed that the strike had been “righteous,” but later admitted that it had made a terrible mistake.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken could not tell Congress at the time whether the person who had been killed — along with seven children — had been a civilian aid worker or a terrorist.

The Commentary Magazine Podcast: The Israel Pile-On
Hosted by Abe Greenwald, Christine Rosen, John Podhoretz & Matthew Continetti
Today’s podcast takes up the question of the Biden administration’s problematic response to the tragic strike on a food aid convoy in Gaza—something for which Israel took immediate responsibility and for which it apologized wholeheartedly at the highest levels with little effect on the condemnations that continue to pour on its head. Meanwhile, Biden’s polling continues to suggest a loss in November with no changes in strategy from Biden or his people. Give a listen.

Ceasefire now would be a ‘victory’ for Hamas: Alan Dershowitz
Lawyer and author Alan Dershowitz says Hamas “cannot emerge” from October 7 with a “victory”.

Mr Dershowitz sat down with Sky News host Sharri Markson to discuss the Israel-Hamas war and the steep rise in anti-Semitism globally.

“A ceasefire now would be a victory for Hamas and an invitation for them to keep their promise to do it over and over and over again,” Mr Dershowitz told Sky News host Sharri Markson.

“Right now, it’s winning ... it’s turning world opinion against Israel.

“If Hamas wins in Israel, they are coming to a theatre near you.”

Israeli strike on Gaza aid workers a ‘tragic accident’: Greg Sheridan
The Australian’s Foreign Editor Greg Sheridan says it has to be believed an Israeli strike which killed aid workers in Gaza was a “tragic accident”.

Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom was one of seven aid workers killed during an Israeli air strike in Gaza.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong expects Israel to ensure there is a “full, transparent investigation” and “full accountability” after their attack.

“To have done this intentionally would be a heinous war crime – Israel doesn’t do that,” Mr Sheridan said.

“It would be unspeakably stupid because nothing has damaged Israel more politically and strategically since the beginning of hostilities.”

Hamas ‘ultimately’ the reason for aid worker deaths in Gaza
GXO Strategies Director Cameron Milner has questioned why Labor politicians aren’t “jumping up and down” over the 100 hostages still being held in Gaza.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong expects Israel to ensure there is a “full, transparent investigation” and “full accountability” after their attack in Gaza killed Australian Zomi Frankcom.

Israel has admitted the attack on the vehicles belonging to the World Central Kitchen was a tragic mistake, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying Israel will do everything for this not to happen again.

“Hamas is using civilian infrastructure, they are using school and hospitals to shoot from,” Mr Milner told Sky News host Andrew Bolt.

“It was awful there was a tragic loss of life but Hamas are the reason for the person’s death, ultimately.”

"Will You Give ANY Condemnation Of Hamas?" Israel-Palestine Debate | Abby Martin vs Emily Schrader
Piers Morgan Uncensored is joined by American journalist Abby Martin and American-Israeli journalist Emily Shrader to discuss the conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.

The pair discuss with Piers Morgan whether what's happened is genocide before debating the death figures on both sides and how this war can ever come to an end.

Editor’s note: This debate was recorded before the reports of seven aid workers being killed in an Israeli air strike.

00:00 - Introduction
02:20 - Does what’s happened in Gaza constitutes genocide?
04:54 - “There is a certain degree of complicity with many of the population”
05:30 - “You’re using that poll to make innocent people guilty”
09:17 - Abby calls Emily a "paid propagandist for the Israeli government”
12:00 - Genocide in Gaza: The UN, the ICJ and America
15:00 - Gaza and Palestinian suffering
17:50 - Piers asks Abby if she condemns Hamas
20:05 - “I don’t accept that 13,000 children have been killed"
22:01 - “Nothing that Hamas did on Oct 7 matches what Israel did”
22:20 - “Killing civilians is wrong”
28:50 - "It’s not laughable, is it?"
29:14 - How does this war end?
30:10 - “The best and brightest of Palestinian society have been destroyed”
31:38 - Should Hamas stay in power when this is over?
32:30 - Should Netanyahu remain in power after the war?
34:30 - Is a two state solution the answer?

Noa Tishby on why the world loves Hamas and hates Israel

The beauty influencer speaking out for Israel: Ashley Bakshi | Israel-Hamas War
Visegrad24 presents an in-depth series covering the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. This comprehensive series features on-the-ground interviews, bringing firsthand insights from a diverse range of voices, including politicians, professors, journalists, experts and influencers.

Our guest today: Ashley Waxman Bakshi is an Israeli influencer with more than 300,000 followers on Instagram and another 200,000 on YouTube.

Her fans typically subscribe for daily makeup tips, fashion advice and parenting stories of raising four kids. Since October 7th, she has refocused her content on Israel advocacy.

00:00 - Introduction
03:00 - Influencers and politics
05:57 - Israel advocacy
08:55 - Young Westerners turning against Israel
13:20 - Social media and algorithms
15:58 - The left and Israel
20:10 - American reaction to Oct. 7th
24:00 - Geopolitics and ideological allies
28:20 - People in the West Bank and Gaza

Queers for Palestine Protester Aghast that Muslim Woman Hates Gays
Dave Rubin of “The Rubin Report” shares a DM clip of a “Queers for Palestine” protester being asked to leave a pro-Palestine protest by a Muslim woman.

Why can’t the Met admit that swastikas are anti-Semitic?
The officer’s plea for ‘context’ brings to mind a similar incident back in October. When a mob of Hizb ut-Tahrir members descended on London, calling for Muslim armies to wage ‘Jihad! Jihad! Jihad!’ against Israel, the Met Police did nothing and then made excuses for the Islamists. ‘The word jihad has a number of meanings’, the Metropolitan Police tweeted from its official X account. Apparently, anyone who might have been alarmed by this call to wage a holy war just didn’t understand the context.

Now, here at spiked, we believe that nobody should be criminalised for expressing their views, no matter how repugnant they might be. Freedom of expression means nothing if it does not extend to the bigoted and hateful – and that includes those marchers waving swastikas or chanting for ‘jihad’. Nevertheless, the two-tiered policing of hate is now impossible to ignore, and it reflects an alarming blindspot where anti-Semitism is concerned.

It seems the same officers who would happily break down your door for tweeting a spicy meme about the trans debate will either ignore or actively downplay very obvious examples of anti-Semitism. Worse still, those who are challenging anti-Semitism have often found themselves in the crosshairs. Last month, we had the absurd spectacle of a man being arrested after holding up a sign calling Hamas a ‘terrorist’ organisation. He was rounded on by a group of Hamas fanboys, but the Met decided to arrest him instead of the baying mob. Back in October, volunteers with the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism were also threatened with arrest over some mobile billboards displaying images of the children who were kidnapped by Hamas. Supposedly, drawing attention to Hamas’s anti-Semitic crimes would constitute a ‘breach of the peace’.

This is where the scandal of two-tiered policing has brought us. We have the police bending over backwards to protect the feelings of Islamists and anti-Semites, while dismissing and downplaying any hatred that’s directed at London’s Jews. The Met really cannot go on like this.
Anti-Israel activists fling horse manure, attack Toronto police with pole
Several pro-Palestinian activists were arrested after allegedly attacking Toronto Police with a flag pole and horse manure at a Saturday demonstration, with law enforcement announcing Tuesday they were seeking another man for assaulting an officer.

At a Land Day demonstration organized by several NGOs, protesters were alleged by the Toronto Police Service on Sunday to have been “physically aggressive towards officers” when they attempted to arrest a driver and seize his vehicle while it was in motion, because demonstrators were in the bed of the truck.

Assia Rami, 24, was charged with assault of a police officer with a weapon for allegedly throwing horse manure at police. Celeste Xiaoying Furlotte-Bois, 27, faces the same charge for allegedly using a flagpole to “spear” an officer.

Police said Tuesday that they were requesting the public’s assistance with identifying another man who assaulted an officer then fled the scene. Four men were arrested

Four men were arrested for breach of the peace, but three were later released unconditionally. The fourth protester was wanted on an unrelated warrant and transferred to Ontario Provincial Police

The Pro-Palestinian organizations alleged that the police had used unnecessary force against protesters. Palestinian Youth Movement Toronto and Toronto 4 Palestine held a press conference on Monday and said that four protesters had to go to the hospital and others had concussion symptoms.

“Some of the tactics employed by the police included rushing attendees, choking them, shoving them to the ground, and riding horses into the crowd leading to the hospitalization of many,” PYM Toronto and Irish 4 Palestine said Sunday.
Throwing horse dung at police isn't free speech
Pro-Hamas supporters are up in arms after Toronto police finally started to crackdown on demonstrators attending these hate-filled rallies.

At least six people were arrested at a weekend protest, say police, including one woman for allegedly flinging horse manure at officers and another woman accused of using a flagpole as a “spear.”

Accusations by protesters that police used excessive force seem a little overblown if one of them was acting like a modern day Don Quixote. One protester even made the unhinged suggestion, without evidence, that “Toronto Police tried to kill Palestinians in broad daylight!”

The arrests do not mean the death of free speech, or the end of the demonstrations.

They might, however, signal that police will take a tougher line with protesters breaking the law and intimidating Jews and Jewish neighbourhoods, a particularly odious tactic with these demonstrators.

From the very start, these rallies have always had an element of celebrating the Hamas attacks on Israel on Oct. 7 when 1,200 people were killed, women raped and murdered, and more than 250 hostages taken.

An estimated 130 hostages are still in captivity, an on-going war crime by Hamas that is a main impediment to getting a ceasefire in Gaza where civilians are being killed and suffering.

Rallies in support of Hamas began in Canada within hours of the terrorists’ horrific attacks becoming public. These rallies were not protesting conditions in Gaza, they were openly celebrating mass murder and gang rape.

The rallies quickly became widespread and just as quickly was the rise in antisemitism in this country with Jewish businesses being targeted in the most appalling way. Jewish schools have been attacked — one with gunfire — and Jewish institutions firebombed, including a synagogue, a deli and a community centre.

Jewish neighbourhoods have been particularly targeted by protesters which must be frightening and intimidating to the residents.

As police and demonstrators were confronting each other at the weekend in Toronto, in another part of the city the leader of a pro-Palestinian march thought it entirely appropriate to use a sound system to broadcast that Jews should be targeted at their place of worship.

In a tweet, the man can clearly be heard saying, “Whether it’s on the street. Whether it’s at work. Or whether it’s in your place of worship. It could be at a synagogue. Everyone will be held accountable.”

What being “held accountable” means is debatable, but not up for discussion is the deliberate targeting of Jews and synagogues. That sounds like a hate crime.
Pro-Palestinian medics blockade entrance to NHS England's headquarters and demand health service cancels contract with firm they claim supplies tech to Israel's military
Pro-Palestinian medics have blockaded the entrance to NHS England's base as they call for a contract to be scrapped with a firm they say supplies technology to Israel's armed forces.

Protests against software company Palantir Technologies UK have been staged this morning at the health service's headquarters in Waterloo, central London.

It comes amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, following the militant group's October 7 terror attacks last year.

US tech giant Palantir was awarded a £330million contract by NHS England to create a new data management system called the Federated Data Platform.

Campaigners say the company specialises in AI-powered military and surveillance technology and data analytics, and has provided military and surveillance technology to the Israeli government for many years.

Amnesty International has previously accused Palantir of being involved in 'serious human rights abuses' and said NHS England should have rejected the link-up.

Palantir is said to have supplied technology to governments allowing them to spy on citizens, while also working with former US president Donald Trump's administration to enforce anti-immigration rules.

The platform provided to NHS England is aimed at helping individual health service trusts as well as the NHS’s 42 integrated care systems share data to improve care.

Supporters say it brings together real-time data on how many beds hospitals have, as well as the size of waiting lists for planned care and staff rosters.

Palantir's chairman and co-founder is US billionaire Peter Thiel who also helped set up PayPal.

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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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