Saturday, June 08, 2024

From Ian:

‘Operation Arnon’: How 4 hostages were freed from Hamas captivity in central Gaza
The Israel Defense Forces, Shin Bet security agency and Israel Police on Saturday morning carried out one of the most daring, complex, high-risk yet successful operations amid the war against Hamas, rescuing four hostages alive from the terror group’s captivity in the Gaza Strip. The mission was conducted in broad daylight and in an area where Israeli forces had not previously operated.

The operation to rescue Noa Argamani, 26, Almog Meir Jan, 21, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 41 was planned out weeks in advance, according to information seen by The Times of Israel. Known originally as “Seeds of Summer,” its name was changed after the event to “Operation Arnon” after Yamam officer Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora, who was critically wounded by Hamas fire amid the rescue of three of the hostages and later died of his wounds.

During the planning period, intelligence on the hostages’ locations was obtained and studied. Amid the war, Hamas has repeatedly moved hostages around Gaza, in an attempt to prevent Israeli rescue operations.

In the days leading up to the rescue, the police’s elite Yamam counter-terrorism unit drilled various models of the extraction from central Gaza’s Nuseirat, which military officials said were “similar to the Entebbe raid” of 1976, when Israeli commandos rescued more than 100 hostages in Uganda.

Also in the days before the mission, the military launched a new operation in eastern Bureij — to the east of Nuseirat — and in east Deir al-Balah — to the southeast of where the hostages were rescued — in an apparent feint to reduce Hamas’s defenses in Nuseirat.

And according to a diplomatic source, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant approved the operation on Thursday evening when a war cabinet and security cabinet meeting was canceled.

Simultaneous attacks
Ultimately, the raid was carried out Saturday morning, after the Shin Bet recommended it would be an optimal time to surprise the Hamas terrorists holding the four hostages captive. Previous hostage rescue operations in Gaza have taken place overnight.

At 11:00 a.m. the order was given to the Yamam and Shin Bet officers to raid two multi-story buildings in Nuseirat, where Hamas was holding the hostages.

Nuseirat is one of the few areas of Gaza where ground troops have not yet entered during the IDF’s ground offensive against the Hamas terror group.

The buildings were about 200 meters apart, and the decision to go for both simultaneously was due to the possibility that Hamas may murder the hostages after identifying the rescue operation at the other location.

Argamani was held by Hamas guards alone in the home of a Palestinian family, while the other three hostages were held at a separate home, also with guards. According to the IDF, Hamas pays such families to hold the hostages in their houses. (Meir Jan said on his release that he, Kozlov and Ziv were held together throughout their eight months in captivity, in a total of four homes, Channel 12 reported on Saturday night.)

Argamani’s rescue was described by military officials as relatively smooth considering the circumstances. But a major gun battle erupted at the home where Meir Jan, Kozlov, and Ziv were held.

Zamora, the commander of the rescue team at the second building, where the three hostages were being held, was critically wounded by Hamas fire and later died of his wounds. The Hamas guards were killed in the exchange.

Under fire, and stuck
A short while later, as the three hostages and Zamora were being extracted from Nuseirat, their vehicle came under fire, causing it to get stuck in Gaza. Other forces quickly reached the scene to rescue them, bringing them to a makeshift helipad in Gaza, from where they were airlifted to Tel Hashomer Hospital in central Israel.

Noa was similarly taken by helicopter to the hospital, shortly before the other three were extracted from Gaza.

According to the IDF, the rescue forces faced a massive amount of gunfire and RPG fire in Nuseirat, leading the ground troops and the Israeli Air Force to carry out major strikes in the area.

The strikes, targeting the areas from where Hamas operatives were opening fire, were aimed at protecting the rescue forces and the hostages.

Hamas’s government media office said at least 210 people were killed amid the operation.

The IDF acknowledged that it killed Palestinian civilians amid the fighting, but it placed the blame on Hamas for holding hostages and fighting in a dense civilian environment.

“We know about under 100 [Palestinian] casualties. I don’t know how many of them are terrorists,” IDF Spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a briefing with journalists, reported by Reuters.

Hamas operatives also fired anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli helicopters over the area amid the operation, without managing to score any hits.

Aside from Zamora, several more troops were slightly hurt by shrapnel amid the operation.
IDF rescues four hostages from Hamas captivity in daring Gaza operation
Ch.-Insp. Arnon Zamora, 36, the Yamam fighter who was wounded in Saturday's hostage rescue operation, succumbed to his wounds at the hospital, the Israel Police announced later Saturday.

The operation to free Aramani went off without much of a hitch, but the operation to free the other three hostages in a separate building around two meters away led to a significant exchange of gunfire in which Zamora was killed. Both buildings were around three to four stories high.

The operation started to be planned months ago, but was delayed a number of times to improve the exact intelligence about the whereabouts, risks, and security parameters related to rescuing the hostages.

At one point, the operation was going to be only to rescue Argamani, but at a later stage, it was decided to carry out a higher risk simultaneous operation in both locations, lest Hamas guards in the second location kill the other three hostages, hearing there was a nearby IDF attack, and not realizing that they were not part of the operation.

Part of the operation was also facilitated by the fact that the hostages were being held in civilian apartments above ground, as opposed to tunnels, where many other hostages are held.

On the other hand, the fact that some of those holding the hostages were not official members of Hamas but civilians who were paid to supervise them to better conceal their location created complications for the entire operation.

The operation was finally approved in principle by the war cabinet, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and National Unity party officials Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot (both former IDF chiefs) on Thursday night.

Around 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi and Shin Bet Director Ronen Bar ordered the operation to be executed from a joint operations command center, with the belief that in this specific case, an operation in broad daylight would achieve greater surprise, despite the additional risks of being seen more vividly in daylight than in a nighttime operation.

Further, after all four hostages were taken out of the locations they were being held and brought into a land escape vehicle, the vehicle got stuck.

At this point, the hostages were more exposed, and the entire operation could have ended in disaster with at least dozens of terrorists descending on the hostages and IDF rescue forces, with some of the terrorists armed with rocket-propelled grenades that could kill both the ground rescue forces and rescue helicopters.

In response, additional forces of IDF division 98 and the air force let loose a massive barrage of fire.

Any Hamas terrorists who tried to attack the hostages and initial IDF rescue force were killed, along with potentially civilians.

Because this part of the operation was not only unplanned, but occurred under tremendous time pressure and in a mixed terrorist-civilian area, the IDF still does not know the exact breakdown of Palestinian terrorists to Palestinian civilians killed.

However, both in this and some past instances, the IDF was suspicious that Hamas was inflating the numbers of civilians to cover up its embarrassing military losses and to try to tar Israel’s legitimacy globally.

Eventually the mix of reinforcements and rescue helicopters successfully evacuated the IDF forces and the hostages.

Incidentally, it turned out that much of the operations that Division 98 has been carrying out in central Gaza and Nuseirat since the middle of last week were part of an elaborate decoy to make the Hamas terrorists feel like the IDF was nearby but did not know where the hostages were while allowing security forces to clandestinely setup a close by rescue operation.

In a statement, Hagari said, "This operation was a success in rescuing and returning four hostages. We will continue to do everything to return the 120 hostages still held in Gaza. We are confident that we will reach you, and this operation will not end until you are returned home.”

He added, "We will not give up on a single hostage. I want to say that it is a great pride to see the security forces working together, shoulder to shoulder, in a vital operation: returning the hostages home. When the operation reached this level of intelligence and was approved [by the relevant bodies] ... only then were we permitted to proceed. Hamas intentionally hides the hostages in civilian neighborhoods."

World leaders praise IDF rescue of four hostages, call for deal
World leaders lauded the IDF rescue operation that saw the return of four hostages to Israel, as they called for a cease-fire deal that would see the return of the remaining 120 captives.

“We won’t stop working until all the hostages come home, and a ceasefire is reached; that is essential,” US President Joe Biden said during a joint press event in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron.

The French leader welcomed the rescue of the four captives and stressed that “We want to obtain the immediate liberation of hostages.” Encouraging a ceasefire along with a hostage deal

“We want to achieve an immediate ceasefire and open up the prospect of a political solution, which is the only one that can bring about a fair and lasting peace and meet the security concerns of both people,” Macron said.

France, he said, supports the three-phase hostage deal that US President Biden unveiled on May 31 but which Hamas has yet to accept.

“We are supporting the comprehensive proposal of the United States of America,” Macron said, as he explained that the humanitarian situation in Gaza was unacceptable” and called on Israel to ensure that all the crossing into the enclave were open for humanitarian aid.

“The United Nations Security Council has a role to play,” he added.

Further reactions from world leaders
Separately, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Hamas to accept the hostage deal, which he said would bring relief to both peoples.

“The only thing standing in the way of achieving this ceasefire is Hamas. It is time for them to accept the deal,” Blinken said.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wrote on X, “It is a huge relief to see hostages returned after their unimaginable ordeal and heartwarming to see the pictures of them reunited with their families.

“We will continue to strive towards an end to the fighting as well as safety and security for all,” he stated.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz wrote on X: “An important sign of hope – especially for the many families in Israel who still fear for their loved ones. Four hostages are now free. Hamas must finally release all hostages. The war must end,” he stated.\UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he had reached out to the families of two of the freed hostages in a message he posted on X.

“I just sent messages to the families of Noa Argamani and Shalomi Ziv, who I received last week, to express my relief that they and two other hostages are now free,” he wrote.

“I renew my appeal for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages and for an end to this war,” Guterres stated.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell wrote: “We share the relief of their families and call for the release of all the remaining hostages.” He urged the implementation of Biden’s hostage deal, stating that the “three-stage plan is the way forward to rescue all the hostages and end the suffering.”

But he also condemned the Palestinian deaths in Gaza that resulted from the rescue operation, with Hamas claiming 210 fatalities. “Reports from Gaza of another massacre of civilians are appalling. We condemn this in the strongest terms. The bloodbath must end immediately,” he wrote.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry also condemned the high fatality count from the operation and in Gaza on Saturday as the result of IDF military activity.

It stated that “These attacks resulted in the deaths of over 150 Palestinian civilians and the injury of hundreds more, constituting a blatant violation of all provisions of international law and international humanitarian law, as well as all values of humanity and human rights.”

'A hero of Israel': Counterterrorism Officer Arnon Zamora dies after rescuing hostages
Ch.-Insp. Arnon Zamora, 36, the National Counterterrorism Unit (Yamam) fighter who was fatally wounded in Saturday’s intense hostage rescue operation, succumbed to his wounds in hospital, the Israel Police announced.

He is survived by his wife and two children.

The Yamam unit of the Israel Police deals with counter-terrorism operations and has been active throughout the war.Tributes to Zamora’s “supreme bravery” poured in from the government and armed forces.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also commended Zamora for volunteering to fight on October 7.

“I salute Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora, commander in the elite Yamam Unit, who fell while leading a daring operation to rescue four hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. He lived and fell a hero,” Gallant said.

Tributes pour in
Zamora fought at Yad Mordechai, a battle that was instrumental in halting Hamas’s terrorist incursions into Israel.Foreign Minister Israel Katz also conveyed his condolences, paraphrasing King David’s lament for King Saul. "Your glory, Israel, is slain on your high places. How the mighty have fallen,” Katz said.

Border Police Commander Asst.-Ch. Barik Yitzhak also paid tribute to Zamora and the other Border Police fighters, saying, “The [identities of] IDF fighters cannot be exposed – but it is important that the people of Israel know that they have someone to trust – brave and valuable fighters who put the security of the state and the citizens of Israel first in their minds. On behalf of the Border Guard, I share in the family’s grief.”

The IDF said, “Arnon is a hero of Israel, a lover of the land, and a protector. He led the force that rescued the four abductees who returned to Israel from the heart of the Gaza Strip.”

Noa Argamani
Israeli hostage Noa Argamani rescued in time to see her terminally ill mother
Hours after being rescued from eight months captivity in Gaza, rescued hostage Noa Argamani arrived at a hospital in Tel Aviv to see her terminally ill mother.

Argamani, 26, was one of the most recognized faces among the hostages abducted by Hamas on Oct. 7. Harrowing footage of her being taken into Gaza on the back of a motorcycle, pleading for her life and reaching desperately towards her boyfriend being marched alongside her on foot circulated across the globe.

Argamani's boyfriend Avinatan Or is still in captivity.

Argamani was rescued on Saturday, along with three other hostages, in an operation by Israeli special forces from an apartment building in central Gaza.

"I'm so happy to be here," she said in a phone call with Israel's president upon her return, smiling and surrounded by friends and family.

She was later met with cheers upon arrival at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center where her mother, Liora, was being treated for terminal brain cancer.

Almog Meir Jan

Andrey Kozlov

Shlomi Ziv
Rescued Israeli hostage treated by nurse whose 22-year-old daughter died on Oct. 7
One of the Israeli hostages rescued from the Gaza Strip on Saturday was treated at the hospital by a nurse whose young daughter was murdered by Hamas on Oct. 7.

Shlomi Ziv, 41, was treated at the ‘Sheba’ Tel-HaShomer Medical Center by head nurse Mali Zender, whose 22-year-old daughter, Noa, was killed in a terror attack nine months ago, Israeli journalist Neria Kraus reported.

In one photo, Ziv was seen smiling at Zender, who immediately went to the hospital to help treat Ziv and the three other rescued hostages, Kraus wrote on X.

Ziv was working security at the Supernova music festival when Hamas descended on the desert rave in the early hours of Oct. 7.

Noa Zender was attending the festival, and was killed by the terror group. Her body was found five days later, according to the Times of Israel.

Noa’s sister, Hen, is a broadcaster with Israel’s Channel 13.

“We’re learning to come to terms with a new life, to deal with a new life, a life where our heart is broken, a life where there is an enormous hole at home,” the grieving sibling said during her first newscast after her sister’s funeral.

“She danced and enjoyed herself with people she loved at that party until her last moment,” Hen said of Noa.

Jews and supporters of Israel celebrate hostage rescue worldwide
Jews and supporters of Israel worldwide celebrated the IDF rescue of four hostages from Hamas captivity in Gaza on Saturday.

While many Jewish groups had not commented by Saturday night because of Shabbat observance, organizations that did issue statements expressed jubilation for the families of the former hostages Shlomi Ziv, Andrey Kozlov, Almog Meir Jan, and Noa Argamani and hope for those who still remain in the hands of Gazan terrorists.

“The four rescued hostages were abducted by Hamas terrorists on October 7 from the Nova music festival near the southern community of Re’im,” the World Jewish Congress said on social media. “Welcome home. We must do all that we can to save the remaining hostages and bring them home to their families or for proper burials.”

Pro-Israel NGO StandWithUs (SWU) shared videos of Israelis cheering across the country and outside the homes of former hostages as news spread about the successful “heroic rescue mission that safely brought home four hostages, following eight months of captivity.”

“Welcome home,” said SWU. “We’ve been waiting for you.”

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) said that it joined “Israel and Jews around the world in celebrating the heroic operation by the IDF,” and promised to continue to advocate for the release of the remaining 120 hostages.

Netanyahu urges Gantz not to bolt government in wake of successful hostage rescue
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday evening issued a plea for war cabinet minister Benny Gantz to set aside his plans to bolt the emergency government, as the war cabinet minister was widely expected to do so before the successful rescue of four living hostages from Gaza.

“This is the time for unity and not for division,” the premier wrote on X. “We must stay unified among ourselves in the face of the big tasks ahead of us. I call on Benny Gantz — don’t leave the emergency government. Don’t give up on unity.”

In a statement issued minutes later, Gantz responded that “alongside the justified joy in the achievement, we must remember that all the challenges Israel faces have remained as they were. Therefore, I tell the prime minister and the entire leadership — today, too, we must consider responsibly how it is best and possible to continue from here.”

Earlier in the day, Gantz canceled a news conference planned for the evening, during which he was expected to announce his National Unity party was leaving the government.

In a May 18 speech, Gantz issued an ultimatum to Netanyahu, demanding the premier present an agreed-upon vision for Gaza’s post-war governance. If Netanyahu failed to do so by June 8, the former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff threatened to pull his centrist party out of the government.

Gantz’s decision to delay his exit from the coalition came after the military’s surprise announcement Saturday afternoon that special forces operating in central Gaza’s Nuseirat refugee camp rescued four hostages kidnapped by Hamas terrorists on October 7 from the Supernova musical festival near Kibbutz Re’im: Noa Argamani, Almog Meir Jan, Andrey Kozlov, and Shlomi Ziv. Initial assessments found them to be in good condition, and they were taken for further evaluation at a hospital, where they were reunited with their families after eight months in captivity.

Shas party chairman Aryeh Deri, an observer in the war cabinet, also called on Gantz not to leave the emergency coalition, promising that the government “will continue to do everything to return all the hostages home.”

“This is not the time for elections,” he said, stating that “Israel is still in the middle of a challenging campaign in the south and in the north and internal unity among us is critical in the continuation of the war, on the frontlines and on the home front.”

Biden hails rescue of hostages, vows to ‘not stop working’ until they’re all freed
US President Joe Biden on Saturday welcomed the return of four Israeli hostages rescued alive in Gaza, as other world leaders also hailed their release from Hamas captivity.

Speaking at a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, Biden said he joined his host in welcoming the return of the hostages and vowed, “We won’t stop working until all the hostages come home and a ceasefire is reached.”

“That’s essential to happen,” he added.

The operation came as Biden has been pushing an Israeli proposal for a hostage-for-ceasefire with Hamas with the aim of ending the war triggered by the terror group’s October 7 onslaught, discussing the matter with Macron during their meeting in Paris.

Hamas has yet to formally respond to the proposal and reiterated its demand that any agreement end the fighting, a condition rejected by Israel, which has vowed to destroy Hamas.

“The United States is supporting all efforts to secure the release of hostages still held by Hamas, including American citizens,” US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement hailing the “daring” mission by the Israel Defense Forces.

The top Biden aide added that the four hostages “were taken from the Nova Music Festival on October 7, and Hamas filmed the horrific abduction of Ms. Argamani for the world to see,” referring to one of the most indelible images from the terror group’s devastating shock attack.

“Now they are safe and reunited with their families,” Sullivan said.

EU's Josep Borrell: Israel's rescue mission 'another massacre of Gazans'
European Union High Representative Josep Borrell called the hostage rescue operation carried out by Israeli security forces on Saturday morning "appalling" in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

The operation, carried out jointly by the IDF, Shin Bet and Border Police's National Counterterrorism unit Yamam, successfully rescued four hostages: Noa Argamani, Shlomi Ziv, Almog Meir Jan, and Andrey Kozlov. According to Palestinian officials, over 200 Palestinians were killed during the IDF operation.

Borrell referred to the operation as "another massacre of civilians," noting that the EU "condemns this in the strongest terms."

The EU representative further called on Israel to "end this bloodbath immediately" before calling for the Israeli-proposed ceasefire and hostage release plan introduced by US President Joe Biden to be implemented as the "way forward for an enduring ceasefire and to end the killing."

IDF Spokesperson Daniel Hagari said the operation took place in the heart of a residential neighborhood in Nuseirat where Hamas had kept the hostages in two separate apartment blocks.

"We know about under 100 (Palestinian) casualties. I don't know how many [of] them are terrorists," he said in a briefing with journalists.

CNN takes heat for saying Israeli hostages were ‘released’
CNN came in for sharp criticism Saturday after running a segment that said Israeli hostages rescued in the daring morning operation in Gaza had been released.

Network anchor Victor Blackwell and Ian Bremmer, founder of the Eurasia Group, were both discussing the dramatic mission to save the four hostages when the word “release” appeared in a chyron.

Critics pounced, pointing out that Hamas did not willingly release these hostages.

“Come on @CNN the four hostages were RESCUED not released. Do better,” said the account StopAntisemitism in a posting to X.

Yaari Cohen, an Israeli student called the chyron “disgusting, adding that the network “should be ashamed.”

Dave Rich: Hostage rescue: breaking with tradition
I don’t normally write about events in Israel and Palestine, but the rescue of four Israeli hostages from Gaza, freed from the terrorists of Hamas by the Israeli army, is too important a moment not to acknowledge - and I’ve been taken aback by the negative reaction to it from some commentators, which is why I’ve chosen to write about it.

Firstly, it is wonderful most of all, of course, for Noa Argamani, Almog Meir Jan, Andrey Kozlov, and Shlomi Ziv - and all of their families. It also restores, to some extent, the profound faith amongst Jews that Israel, for all its failings on October 7, and for all its flaws and errors since, will always treat the rescue and safety of Jews as its top priority. History tells us that we cannot truly rely on any other country or government to say the same. This is Israel’s raison d'être, and, while at times its political leaders have failed to live up to this purpose, the State of Israel is nothing without it.

While Jews are weeping with joy, there are some people - including prominent journalists and commentators - who are talking of today’s events not as a rescue but a “massacre”; not a targeted raid on a terrorist holdout but an “attack” on a refugee camp. I am no military expert, but I don’t think special forces embarking on a complex and dangerous operation would divert from their target to carry out random massacres of civilians. It’s an astonishing response.

I imagine it will be a few days before we know the true death toll, both civilian and combatant, from today’s rescue operation. It may well turn out that many Palestinian civilians lost their lives, and nothing illustrates the callous cynicism of Hamas more than hiding hostages amongst their own civilian population. But the idea that the Israeli army - indeed, any army - should refrain from rescuing those hostages because Hamas hides them amongst civilians is totally detached from reality. The first duty of any government is to protect its own people, and if my children were kidnapped by a terrorist group and held hostage in a foreign land, I would want the British army to do whatever was necessary to get them home.

Instead, I think some people are actually disappointed that Israel managed to free four hostages, all on their own, without needing the Americans or the Egyptians or the Qataris to do it for them. I know that many more hostages have been freed through negotiations than through force, and a deal is still the most likely way to get the rest of the hostages home. But still: some people seem to be irritated by today’s rescue, and their reaction is almost as staggering as the rescue itself.
Anti-Israel activists share conspiracies and massacre narrative after hostage rescue
Anti-Israel activists expressed dismay on social media at the news of the IDF rescue of four hostages from terrorists in Gaza on Saturday, claiming that the Israeli military had conducted a massacre of Palestinians disproportionate to the number freed them from Hamas captivity, and asserting that the IDF was aided by the US military, and assuring supporters that the operation wasn't a success because of the amount of previously and slain hostages.

The alleged casualty count fluctuated on Saturday on social media as anti-Israel commentators published responses to the raid, claiming around 80-200 Gazans had been killed as terrorists fought with IDF rescue units. Writer Mariam Barghouti claimed late Saturday that 210 had been killed and the casualty count was still rising.

"Israeli Shabak reporting that [the] Israeli army 'rescued' four of the Israeli hostages like it’s some achievement," Barghouti said on X. "It took 245 days, the slaughter of 40,000 Palestinians most of whom are children, the killing of 70 of the Israeli hostages by Israeli air strikes and at least 3 of them by direct field executions, and Israel is trying to sell this as [an] achievement. What a delusional regime that’s truly trying to find anything to justify its slaughter."

The social media account allegedly run by Lebanese commentator Sarah Abdallah claimed that "mostly women in children" were killed in the rescue operation.

"The media won’t tell you this but Israel just killed 150 Palestinians in Nuseirat refugee camp today," said the Abdallah account. "This is a massacre. Israel is committing the worst crimes in modern history, and Western regimes are calling it 'self-defense.'"

Analyst Omar Baddar described the rescue as worse than the deadliest mass-shootings in US history.

"If Hamas had killed 200+ Israelis today, that massacre would dominate all media coverage," said Baddar. "But Palestinian lives don’t matter, so the massacre is a footnote."

'We will not surrender': Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh fumes after Israel frees hostages
Shortly after Israeli forces freed hostages Noa Argamani, Andrey Kozlov, Shlomi Ziv, and Almog Meir on Saturday, Hamas published a statement from the terror organization’s leader, Ismail Haniyeh, in which the arch-terrorist asserted that Hamas would not surrender.

“Our people will not surrender, and the resistance will continue to defend our rights in the face of this criminal enemy,” Haniyeh reportedly said. “And if the occupation believes that it can impose its choices on us by force, it is delusional, and the movement will not agree to any agreement that does not achieve security for our people first and foremost.”

In the statement, the Hamas leader asserted that the Israeli military was engaging in massacres of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

“[Israel] continues the massacres against our people, children and women, the chapters of which are now taking place in Nuseirat and Deir al-Balah.”

Hamas INFILTRATES Israel and ATTACKS, also a CAR BOMBING in the Jordan Valley
A heavily armed Hamas unit just infiltrated Israel through a tunnel, we’ll get into a full breakdown on that. Plus a car full of explosives blew up in the Jordan Valley yesterday. Also, Israel bombed a UN school.

Disinformation, death toll & the 'day after' the war in Gaza – John Spencer on SpectatorTV
This weekend, war cabinet member Benny Gantz is expected to announce the withdrawal of his party from coalition government after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has failed to deliver an agreed strategy for the 'day after' the war in Gaza. Urban warfare expert John Spencer is joined by Ben Lazarus to discuss the's IDF offensive; the Hamas disinformation tactics and the disproportionate scrutiny on Israel.

FDD Morning Brief | feat. Eli Lake (Jun. 7)
FDD Senior Vice President Jon Schanzer delivers timely situational updates and analysis on headlines of the Middle East, followed by a conversation with Eli Lake, national security reporter at Bari Weiss' The Free Press, whose work has been closely covering the developments in the Middle East since 10/7 and Israel's war to dismantle Hamas.

John Fetterman tells Maher that near-death experience ‘freed’ him to speak out, says progressivism 'left me’
The liberal comedian then asked Fetterman whether his shift in various policies had anything to do with his recovery from his 2022 stroke, asking if his near-death experience had given him a "freedom."

"Absolutely," Fetterman responded. "There's a line from the first 'Batman,' Joker's like ‘I’ve been dead once already. It's very liberating.'"

"It's freeing in a way. And I just think after beating all of that, I just really [want to] be able to say the things that I have to really believe in and not be afraid of if there's any kind of blowback."

Maher then asked him to explain what he meant what he stated last year "I’m not a progressive, I'm just a regular Democrat" and how he separates himself from progressivism.

"I didn't leave the label, it left me on that," Fetterman said. "After what happened on October 7, I really knew that whole progressive stack would be blasted apart and there would not be any kind of way how the Democrats are going to be able to reply to that kind of response... And I really decided early on that I believe that was gonna be the right side with Israel throughout all of that…. Democrats would continue to peel away and kind of walk away from standing with Israel on that."

"How do you explain that, if you can," Maher interjected, "that the people who consider themselves the most liberal have abandoned Israel, which was always a liberal darling for the people who- the terrorist organization who outwardly say they want a genocide, who outwardly are on the one side who is against the two-state solution. Somehow, they wound up with them. Why do you think that is, and will this split the Democrat party?"

"Well, it does, because there's an appeal there," Fetterman responded. "I think you talked about that like last week. You really hit with the gender apartheid…. Some of the most progressive and left parts of the Democratic Party are standing for the kind of side that have kinds of organizations like Hamas or these kinds of nations that there are no rights for women and they certainly don't embrace the LGBTQ kinds of lifestyle."

"And even in Philadelphia, the Queers for Palestine blocked the Pride Parade in Philadelphia, and I never saw that on the Bingo card," Fetterman quipped.

Pro-Palestinian 'mob' traps students in site of cancelled university debate
Pro-Palestinian protesters at the University of Durham trapped students inside a building after a cancellation of a debate titled “This house believes Palestinian leadership is the biggest barrier to peace,” according to the university, media, and participant reports.

The University of Durham stressed to the Jerusalem Post that the event will be rescheduled.

Dr Shaid Mahmood Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Durham University, was reportedly behind the event’s cancellation, according to the Telegraph. The University of Durham denied this claim.

The debate would have featured a number of experts, including Natasha Hausdorff of UK Lawyers for Israel, investigative journalist David Collier, and Lance Forman, a former Brexit Party Member of the European Parliament. The pro-Palestinian side of the debate would have been represented by Chris Doyle, the director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding; Dr Peter Shambrook, a specialist Middle Eastern historian; and Mohab Ramadan, a Durham University undergraduate.

Forman wrote on X: "I’m in Durham tonight to debate 'Palestinian Leadership is the biggest barrier to peace.' Only the University just caved into a fascist mob and canceled the debate at the last minute. Free speech died in Durham tonight! They’re afraid of hearing the truth."

Hausdorff told the Telegraph that students attending the debate were locked inside by a “mob” of pro-Palestinian protesters, who formed a human chain around the building.

Hecklers Disrupt Kamala Harris on ‘Jimmy Kimmel’ Then It Got Ugly
Dave Rubin of “The Rubin Report” shares a DM clip of Kamala Harris having her appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” ruined by pro-Palestine protesters calling her a murderer

Belgian arts center apologizes for canceling Jewish school’s event over Gaza war
Following backlash, a city-funded events hall in the Belgian city of Antwerp apologized for canceling a Jewish school’s event over Israel’s actions.

Lana Willems, the director of Antwerp’s Monty Hall arts center, told The Times of Israel that she had apologized earlier this week for telling the Tachkemoni Jewish School that due to Israel’s “genocide,” as she termed it, her institution was canceling its June 27 booking at the center.

“I made errors in the initial communication with the school, for which I have explicitly apologized to them,” Willems said.

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, director of the European Jewish Association, called on the city government to terminate subsidies to the Monty Hall, citing what he said was its director’s “racism and antisemitism.”

In her email to Tachkemoni, Willems wrote: “We look with horror at the genocide that is currently taking place in Gaza. We also work closely with several Palestinian artists who are also suffering from the occupation. For these reasons, we cannot currently respond to a rental request from an organization for which we see links with present-day Israel.”

Queried by The Times of Israel, she responded in an email: “I established falsely and prematurely a connection between the school and the Israeli government, with which we do not want to cooperate, or any organization associated with it.”

Willems added that she had invited the school to schedule an alternative date, adding: “We will take into account the needs of the students and the Palestinian artists” at Monty Hall. She did not reply to follow-up questions on what those needs might be.

The cancellation in Antwerp is one of multiple cases in which artistic and other institutions in Europe canceled or tried to cancel events or projects associated with Israel, over its ongoing war on Hamas following the terror group’s October 7 onslaught in southern Israel.

PragerU booted from Google’s Play Store for ‘violating hate speech policy’
PragerU, a Conservative non-profit advocacy group and media organization, announced on Friday that it had been kicked off Google’s Play Store - preventing Android users from downloading the application.

The media group shared a screenshot indicating that they had been kicked off the platform for “violating hate speech policy.”

More specifically, PragerU was removed for “content asserting that a protected group is inhuman, inferior, or worthy of being hated,” which PragerU connected to the recently released short documentary Dear Infidels: A Warning to America.

The documentary is self-reportedly about individuals who escaped the oppressive Islamic regimes in the Middle East, and has gained over 42 million views on X.

PragerU's documentary featured Ayman Abu Suboh (later Dor Shachar), a Palestinian who escaped to Israel from Gaza and the oppression of Hamas and later converted to Judaism, Sophia Salma Khalifa, an Arab Muslim born in Israel who moved to the US, and a number of US military members.

“This is not PragerU’s first time battling Big Tech censorship,” the group claimed, “as the non-profit has notoriously sued Google and YouTube in the past for restricting over 200 videos, including videos on the Ten Commandments, which continue to be restricted by YouTube today.”

Russian national assaults police officer, threatens to murder Jews on Temple Mount
The state attorney's office on Tuesday filed an indictment against Murad Yashiv, a 30-year-old Russian citizen and professional boxer who was accused of assaulting and injuring a police officer on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

This follows his violent attack of a police officer in May, after he visited the Temple Mount and opposed the entry of Jews there.

According to the indictment, at noon on May 27, Yashiv arrived at the plaza of the mosques on the Temple Mount and noticed a group of Jewish tourists touring the Mount. One of the policemen who was guarding the group noticed the accused glancing and aroused his suspicion, finally turning towards him and asking him of his actions. The accused responded and said that only Muslims are allowed to enter the Mount and added that the Jews should be excluded from the compound.

In response to this statement and for fear of disturbing public order, the policeman asked Yashiv to accompany him outside the compound and there he conducted a search of his belongings. At one point, the accused turned towards the policeman and began to threaten him, saying, "Wait until you get to Russia, we will take care of you there,” and in response, the policeman grabbed the accused by his shirt and asked him "What did you say" and the accused continued to threaten: "Putin will take care of everyone, and I will take care of slaughtering you.”

After the exchange, Yashiv began to hit the policeman forcefully, punching the policeman in the head, who fell to the ground and lost consciousness. While he lay on the ground, Yashiv tried to continue hitting him in the face, but surrounding policemen noticed the incident came to the aid of the policeman and took control of the attacker who tried to punch and attack them as well.

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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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