Thursday, July 04, 2024

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: Can Israel afford to stand up to America?
Against this dire backdrop, Netanyahu is going to America in three weeks’ time to address Congress. Among the many who loathe and distrust him, there is nervousness and criticism that he may make a bad situation even worse by criticizing Biden so close to the presidential election.

There are fears that he may repeat what such people believe was the harmful result he achieved when he addressed Congress in 2015 in an attempt to head off President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Obama outfoxed him by some fancy Beltway footwork and the deal was duly done. Netanyahu’s critics say that he therefore achieved nothing but bad blood with Obama. The same fears are being expressed over the likely effect on Biden of this month’s visit.

But this is to get things back to front. In both cases, Netanyahu decided to address Congress because an already virulently hostile administration posed such a danger to Israel that he could not remain silent.

In 2015, he had a moral duty to lay out for Congress and the American people the dire consequences of Obama’s Iran deal. That warning has been amply borne out. In 2024, Netanyahu has a moral duty to explain to Congress and the American people the dire consequences of the Biden administration’s appeasement of Iran, why Israel is fighting a war for its survival unlike any other since its foundation and that the seven-front war against it is merely the opening shot in Iran’s war against America and the West.

What Netanyahu’s critics fail to acknowledge is that he is a supremely cautious politician. He rarely airs his grievances with the U.S. in public. When he does so, it signifies desperation. It’s because he feels he has no other option.

That’s why he addressed Congress in 2015. It’s why he outed the Biden administration for holding up the delivery of weapons essential to the war effort. And it’s why he’s beating a lonely path back to Congress once again.

His intended audience isn’t just U.S. lawmakers. It isn’t just the American people. It’s also the Arab and Muslim world, which is watching carefully and where the stakes for Israel are very high.

For what inspires aggression and war in the Middle East is above all the perception of weakness. If Israel is seen to be bullied into surrender by the Biden administration, the Arab and Muslim world will smell that weakness. The Arabs may accordingly retreat from their recent historic overtures of friendship or Iran will move in for the kill. It is therefore essential that Israel is seen to be standing up to America.

As the former Israeli diplomat Yoram Ettinger has observed, the State Department has systematically pressured Israel to act against its own security requirements ever since 1948.

And it never learns from experience. The Obama-Biden strategy of appeasement empowered Iran, created the conditions for the Oct. 7 pogrom and is leading the free world to catastrophe.

As Ettinger has said, the question is not how Israel can afford to stand up to America. It’s how can Israel afford not to.
Jonathan Tobin: Reaffirm our belief in the promise of America
Seeing the forces dedicated to tearing down the belief system that underpinned ideas about American exceptionalism that served as the foundation for Jewish acceptance, they now worry about their future on these shores. Liberal writer Franklin Foer spoke for many when he pondered whether “The Golden Age of American Jews Is Ending” in a gloomy piece in The Atlantic that mixed realism with partisan point-scoring (which undermined its credibility).

Antisemitism is not merely on the rise; it has become a daily occurrence. These days, left-wing versions of the neo-Nazi “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., back in August 2017 focus on support for Hamas, and demonizing Israel and the Jews. And so, despair about America is understandable. That’s especially true when considering that appeasing the forces behind these despicable provocations and acts of violence, if not open support for them, has a powerful constituency in mainstream politics and the media.

The context of this struggle is one in which contempt for traditional American civic culture is implicit in the left’s new secular religion.

The Times continues its ideological assault on the 1776 paradigm with pre-July 4 articles questioning not just exceptionalism but the whole idea of America being a “city on a hill” that is the last, best hope of mankind. And if that isn’t enough, it also trashed the celebratory aspects of the holiday since the fireworks that John Adams envisioned as an annual event in a letter to his wife Abigail, annoys pets and are too closely associated with gun rights. The liberal elites who run the paper may think that no celebration of newer holidays like Pride month or Juneteenth is too lavish, yet on the Fourth of July, it wants everyone to stop driving trucks, eating meat and supposedly harming nature by firing off a few bottle rockets. That is merely the lighter side of a problem more serious than most of us could have believed a few years ago.

The long march of the progressives through U.S. institutions has led to a situation where tolerance and even permission for antisemitism is a feature and not a bug of this belief system. But as much as Jews have rightly focused on this new seemingly respectable version of antisemitism, it is merely one aspect of a worldview that is just as hostile to traditional notions about American liberty and the core beliefs of Western civilization from which the spirit of 1776 sprang.

American history is replete with failures and open breaches of the principles of the founders—of which the most prominent was the decision to tolerate slavery until a civil war that cost the lives of 750,000 Americans ended the practice. The ideals of the declaration were often honored in their breach, but they remained the aspirational touchstone of the long arc of progress through which liberty eventually expanded to the point where its words have been given full expression.

Nevertheless, if we are to remain locked in the ideological dead-end of woke ideology, not only will that progress unravel amid the racial and ethnic quotas mandated by “equity” that ends the hope of equality and a color-blind society. We will find ourselves living in a nation where Jews are forced to see this as not an exceptional nation but just one more failed attempt at building a home in the Diaspora.
Big Lies About Israel
For months, Israel has refuted libelous claims of famine in Gaza, as international organizations -- especially the UN and the EU, the International Court of Justice and mainstream media alongside NGOs such as Human Rights Watch -- pushed the false, malicious narrative that Israel was causing famine in Gaza and even using it as a "weapon of war." Israel might have saved itself the effort. No one was listening.

In May, the World Food Programme (WFP) of the UN claimed, without a shred of evidence, that there was a "full blown famine" in Gaza.

Now, it turns out, it was all a big lie. There was no famine, there is no famine and Israel has not been using hunger as a "weapon of war." In its report published on June 4, the UN's IPC [Integrated Food Security Phase Classification] concluded that famine was no longer even "plausible" and had no "supporting evidence."

By comparison, more than three million children in Sudan are acutely malnourished, and a quarter of a million more are likely to die in the coming months. By the UN's own admission, the war in Sudan is "the war the world has either forgotten or ignored." The irony of that statement has clearly been lost on the UN, which is probably the main reason that Sudan – and other conflict spots – is ignored: the UN focuses almost all its resources on Israel and Gaza.

The "made-up" famine is just the latest in a long row of fabrications demonizing Israel's military operations in Gaza, which over the last months have been exposed as lies yet have received zero coverage in the media.

In early May, the UN effectively admitted that Hamas's casualty figures were untrustworthy...

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres led the incitement against Israel, as the UN almost always does.

Overall, 18 million people in Sudan face starvation.

Benjamin Netanyahu's 4th of July message to the American people
On this Fourth of July, I want to thank the American people for being true to their birthright, the Spirit of 1776, and wish them a happy and blessed Independence Day. Through thick and thin, for the past nine months, Israel has deeply appreciated vital American support. In these times of national crisis, as the people of Israel fight a seven-front war for our national survival against Iran and its terror proxies, it is heartening to know that far from standing alone, we have the support of the greatest democracy the world has ever known. Character is revealed in times of crisis. In the face of Hamas’s savagery on October 7, the people of Israel connected to the deepest foundations of our national being. As one, we rose to fight our enemies with the heroism, determination, and resilience that characterized our heroes from the days of Joshua and the Maccabees, passed down across time to the warriors of the modern State of Israel.

What makes the US-Israel relationship a stellar duo
America stands with Israel because Americans are similarly moved by the legacy of their forefathers. At their base, Israel and America are guided by the same twin insights. Freedom is the most precious gift humanity will ever know. And freedom isn’t free. You have to be willing to fight for it.

Israelis saw on October 7 what it would mean if we ever lost our freedom. We understood this is not a war of choice but a war for survival. Americans saw the atrocities of October 7, and they understood the stakes as well, not just for Israel but for the free world as a whole. Israel, a peace-loving democracy and America’s closest ally in the Middle East, was invaded by an army of jihadists bent on annihilation and subjugation. The same forces attacked America on September 11. Standing with Israel came naturally and immediately for Americans. They understood that for this march of murder and tyranny to end, Israel must win this war.

‘More in a mood of solemn reflection than unbridled festivity,’ US ambassador to Israel says on July 4
Jack Lew, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, offered the following remarks—lightly edited for style—at the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on Wednesday, ahead of American Independence Day on July 4.

Good evening, distinguished friends and colleagues. It is a pleasure for my wife Ruth and I to welcome our friends President Isaac Herzog and Israel’s first lady, Mrs. Michal Herzog. We are also honored to welcome so many distinguished guests, including Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz and speaker Amir Ohana. We are delighted to have you join us tonight to mark the 248th anniversary of the United States.

We celebrate the independence of the United States, and with it the birth of democratic traditions that are so central to the shared values that bind our two nations.

We gather today more in a mood of solemn reflection than unbridled festivity—but with undiminished delight in the freedom that Independence Day represents. At the same time, we are painfully aware that not far from here, in Gaza, 120 hostages are still captive after 270 days in the hands of brutal terrorists.

As we celebrate freedom and democracy, this is not a time, this year, for fireworks and spirited parties. I know we are accustomed to grander celebrations that are not fitting here and now, while so many Israelis are displaced and mobilized, and as we anguish over the fate of the hostages. For so many reasons, I fervently hope that next year will again be a time for more spirited celebration.

Since the start of November, I have been privileged to represent the United States in Israel, and at every moment the shattering impact of Oct. 7 remains very close. Showing remarkable resilience, sacrifice and determination, the people of Israel have restored an appearance of life going on as usual. But no conversation is ever more than a split second removed from the ongoing trauma.

Israel has been part of my life from my earliest memories. Serving as the U.S. ambassador to Israel is always a great honor, but especially at such a critical time, when security assistance and diplomatic support from the United States is more vital than ever.

American by the Grace of God
“I believe in American exceptionalism,” Barack Obama told a reporter in 2009, “just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”

To Obama’s mind, America was exceptional precisely because it was smart enough and soulful enough to recognize that it wasn’t. But to paraphrase that masterful document of American political theory, Pixar’s The Incredibles, if everyone is exceptional then nothing is exceptional, especially not America.

We disagree.

America is more special than other countries. Moreover, it has withstood greater crises than these, and each time, a divine hand has guided it onward to greatness.

But the only way this will happen is by understanding that grace, while freely given, is nevertheless contingent—it is decidedly not an entitlement. It requires a fundamental transformation in accordance with the rules of the house, and so it comes with an inherent warning against precisely the sort of exploitations we’re seeing these days from our fellow Americans.

We immigrants have been invited into this great house, but ungrateful guests can and should be asked to leave. Grace is an act of adoption, the incorporation into a familial bond that is not yours by birthright, not a license to demolish the very foundations on which we all stand.

As students of the Bible and of Hebrew, we are inspired by the fact that the Hebrew name for America is Artzot Ha’Brit, or the lands of the covenant. Ours is a covenantal nation, which means that each generation must renew the covenant with the Almighty and be found worthy anew of the promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our predecessors did so by repelling the British, ending slavery, and preserving our legacy of freedom and equality. It’s now our turn to do the same. As we stand by the barbecue soon and enjoy our bounties, then, we’ll do so with the three words on our lips that had inspired immigrants since the dawn of our national sojourn: God bless America.

On 48th anniversary of the Entebbe rescue, Israelis still wrestle with rescuing hostages
Rabin pressed the IDF chief of staff, Mordechai “Motta” Gur, asking if Israel had a viable military option for saving the hostages. Working on it, but not yet, was the gist of the general’s reply.

The prime minister adjourned the meeting, but only after raising the possibility of negotiating with the terrorists. What the others in the room didn’t know is that Rabin had previously determined what he would do in such a situation. Later that night, over a drink, Avner wrote, Rabin shared his thinking: “When it comes to negotiating with terrorists, I long ago made a decision of principle, well before I became prime minister, that if a situation were ever to arise when terrorists would be holding our people hostage on foreign soil and we were faced with an ultimatum either to free killers in our custody or let our own people be killed, I would, in the absence of a military option, give in to the terrorists. I would free killers to save our people.”

The next day, with the terrorists threatening to begin executing hostages and still no military plan, Rabin informed a group of top ministers and advisers of his decision to move forward with negotiations. “If we are unable to rescue them by force, we have no moral right to abandon them,” the prime minister said. “We must exchange them for terrorists held here in our jails in Israel. Our negotiations will be in earnest, not a tactical ruse to gain time. And we will keep our side of any deal we strike.”

Peres immediately objected, saying it would mark the first time Israel would “free prisoners who have murdered innocent civilians.”

“If we give in to the hijackers’ demand and release terrorists, everyone will understand us but no one will respect us,” Peres said. “If, on the other hand, we conduct a military operation to free the hostages, it is possible that no one will understand us, but everyone will respect us, depending, of course, on the outcome of the operation.”

Rabin shot back that without a plan, there was no choice. “You know as well as I do that the relatives of the hostages are stalking us day and night,” Rabin continued. “They are beside themselves with fear, clamoring for us to make an exchange, and for good reason.”

Peres relented and voted with the others on the ministerial committee in support of opening negotiations.

The next morning Rabin received the unanimous support of the full cabinet and then informed the Knesset Foreign Affairs Committee, which included opposition leader Menachem Begin.

Begin quickly caucused with several members of his party. “Who knows better than me what it means to take a stand on a matter of principle,” said Begin, who spent time in a Soviet gulag before immigrating to Palestine and then living for several years on the run from British authorities. “One of my principles is not to negotiate with terrorists. But when Jewish lives are at stake every principle must go by the board. We must rescue our brethren from execution.”

Next Begin, who just five years later as prime minister would order a surprise strike on Iraq’s nuclear reactor, let Rabin know that absent a credible military rescue plan he had the opposition’s support for negotiations.

Soon after, however, the IDF produced its plan, shifting the calculus for Rabin and the other political leaders in support of a military option – even with the risk of casualties, among both the hostages and the Israeli soldiers sent to rescue them.

“If we have a military option,” the prime minister said, “we have to take it, even if the price is heavy, rather than give in to the terrorists.”

In 2024, no comparable rescue plan appears to be on the table, but the contours of the debate are similar: Some believe that negotiating with terrorists is succumbing to blackmail and argue Israel must press for a decisive military victory over Hamas. Others insist that in the interest of saving Israeli lives, even once unthinkable deals must be on the table.

It was Peres, then president of Israel, who expressed the anguish of such choices when he signed off ceremonially on the deal that freed Shalit in 2011. “My decision in this matter to exercise my authority in no way pardons or forgives these murderers and criminals,” he said. “I do not forgive and forget. The sense of loss will never be erased. The heroism of the victims will not be forgotten.”

Netanyahu and Biden speak as Hamas drops upfront end of war demand
Hamas has dropped its demand for an upfront pledge that Israel ends the war, a move that prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to send a team led by Mossad Director David Barnea to participate in further negotiations for a deal, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Netanyahu spoke with US President Joe Biden and informed him that Israel would participate in talks based on the latest draft of the deal which Israel received on Wednesday. It's a proposal that deals with the release of the remaining 120 hostages and the issue of a Gaza ceasefire.

The terror group is still expected to demand a permanent ceasefire, possibly even before the completion of phase one, but would allow that first phase of the three-phase deal to get underway without such a pledge.

It’s a key shift in the group’s position that has sparked cautious hope that the deadlock that greeted the proposal Biden unveiled on May 31, may now finally have been broken, allowing for closure of the deal.

Multiple top defense officials call the new pending negotiations the closest Israel has been to achieving a hostage deal with Hamas, since the November agreement which saw the release of 105 of the 251 hostages seized during the Hamas-led invasion of Israel on October 7, 2023.

An Israeli government source said that “Netanyahu approved sending out the negotiating delegation regarding the hostages after preliminary discussions took place.”

Netanyahu reiterated to Biden the principles Israel upholds, “chief among them Israel's commitment to ending the war only after achieving all of its goals,” the Prime Minister’s Office stated.

The security cabinet met on Thursday night to further discuss the issue.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant: 'We are closer to a deal than we have ever been'
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said "we are closer to a deal than we ever have been," according to Yaron Avraham on 103FM on Thursday.

This is a statement he has not heard from an Israeli official up to this point, Avraham stated.

Avraham argued that this indicates the mindset of some officials who believe a deal is possible with Hamas and, at the very least, bring about the first phase of the outline.

MK Gadi Eisenkot made a similar statement earlier on Thursday.

"We are in the closest place to a deal in the last nine months. The prices will be very high, but Israel can afford to stop the war for four months and as long as necessary. This is not the end of the war," Eisenkot said.

Eisenkot remains skeptical
Eisenkot, however, still remained sceptical over whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would make the decision to end the war with a deal.

Earlier, Netanyahu sent a team led by Mossad Director David Barnea to participate in further negotiations for a deal after Hamas dropped its demand for an upfront pledge that Israel ends the war.

Francesca Albanese, 'one of the most dangerous antisemites' - UN Watch's Hillel Neuer
UN Watch's Hillel Neuer speaks to Nicole Zedeck after calling on the UN to terminate the mandate of Francesca Albanese, who is accused of using funds provided by pro-Hamas groups for a trip to Australia and New Zealand.

IDF to stay in Philadelphi Corridor
The Israel Defense Forces is preparing to shift in the coming weeks from high-intensity warfare to targeted operations the Gaza Strip, a transition it calls moving from Stage B to C. The Israeli military plans, however, on continuing to hold the 8.7-mile (14-kilometer) Philadelphi Corridor, which runs along the Gaza-Egypt border.

This continued Israeli control of the border will be critical in preventing the resurgence of Hamas’s smuggling operation and will help dampen the Iran-backed terror army’s hopes to rebuild itself.

Richard Goldberg, senior adviser at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told JNS, “History would repeat itself the minute the IDF abandons the Philadelphi Corridor, with Hamas rebuilding its smuggling operations. Egypt was obviously complicit in the Hamas tunneling operation and cannot be trusted with the border.

“The U.N. which is pro-Hamas, is not an option. That leaves the IDF to continue destroying all existing tunnel infrastructure and interdict future tunneling and other smuggling attempts.”

The Philadelphi Corridor, which Israel seized as part of its Rafah offensive, has historically been the route for Hamas to smuggle weapons and contraband from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. By maintaining a presence in this corridor, the IDF aims to ensure that Hamas is unable to rebuild its terror capabilities.

The Philadelphi Corridor has been a focal point for years, turning into a smuggling zone even before Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005, and evolving into a monstrous network of tunnels in the years that followed.

The network of tunnels facilitated the flow of arms, explosives and other contraband, bolstering Hamas’s massive military infrastructure throughout Gaza.

The tunnels sneaking under the Philadelphi Corridor also enabled the transfer of luxury goods, cigarettes and other materials for the Gazan black market, all of which was taxed by Hamas, feeding its war chest.

Two IDF soldiers die in northern Gaza battles
Two Israel Defense Forces soldiers were killed fighting the Hamas terrorist organization in the northern Gaza Strip, the military says.

The death of Capt. Elay Elisha Lugasi, 21, a team commander in the 7th “Storm from the Golan” Armored Brigade’s 75th Battalion from Kiryat Shmona, was announced by the army late Wednesday.

Lugasi died during a raid in the Shuja’iyya neighborhood, the Hamas terrorist stronghold in Gaza City that the IDF conquered in December but which has since seen a resurgence in hostile activities.

Lugasi, an only child, was wounded while fighting in the coastal enclave some three months ago but insisted on returning to the front as soon as possible.

Three more troops of the 75th Battalion were seriously wounded in the same incident in which Lugasi was killed, the IDF said, adding that they were evacuated for treatment and their families were informed.

On Thursday morning, the IDF made public the death of Capt. Roy Miller, 21, a platoon commander in the Givati Infantry Brigade’s Rotem Battalion from Herzliya, during a separate incident in northern Gaza.

The slain soldier’s mother, Ariella, eulogized her son in remarks to Ynet: “The soldiers of the platoon, from religious homes, entered Gaza singing ‘Ani Ma’amin‘ [‘I Believe’]. His soldiers, like most of the fighters, both religious and secular, wear patches of the Temple and the Messiah, thereby introducing holiness into the impure Gaza and purifying it.

“We are not a conquering nation—we are returning home. We must learn from the pure soldiers the meaning of unity, a shared destiny and strong faith in the Creator of the world,” added Ariella Miller.

IDF announces Major (Res.) Itay Galea killed in northern Israel
Major (Res.) Itay Galea, 38, from Ramat Gan, and a Deputy Company Commander in the 8679th Unit of the 679th Brigade, was killed in northern Israel.

Galea was scheduled to begin operational duty in the North the following week. He and another soldier arrived at Camp Jordan in the Golan Heights as an advance force, and the tank they were in was hit by an anti-tank missile, army radio reported.

Thursday experienced some of the most heavy rocket fire from Hezbollah since the start of the war.

Hezbollah claims to have fired over 200 rockets and 20 drones on Israel's North, both in the Galilee and in the Golan. Cities fired on included Acre and Nahariya.

New Jersey honors US citizen who fell fighting Hamas on Oct. 7
“The good ones go first. Itay will stay with us until our last breath,” Oren Glisko, the father of IDF Staff Sgt. Itay Glisko, told JNS on Tuesday.

Last week, the State of New Jersey honored Itay, 20, an American citizen serving in the IDF’s Golani Brigade who was killed by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7.

Sarri Singer, the daughter of state Senator Robert Singer (R-30), delivered the official proclamation in person to the Glisko family’s home in Yokneam in northern Israel.

“This legislature hereby salutes the memory of Itay Ofek Glisko, pays tribute to his valiant service, and extends sincere sympathy and profound condolences to all who mourn his passing,” the proclamation reads.

“Be it further resolved, that a duly authenticated copy of this resolution, signed by the Senate president and the assembly speaker and attested by the Senate secretary and the assembly clerk, be transmitted to the family of Staff Sergeant Itay Ofek Glisko,” it adds.

Oren Glisko said that the proclamation “shows that America cares and shares our grief. As long as we speak about him, he remains somehow alive.”

Itay’s mother, Liat, told JNS that the decision to honor her son raises awareness of those lost in the war.

“The document is a document. But Sarri came, sat with us, cried with us and got to know Itay through us. That’s what’s important. We want the story of Itay and his name to be known all over the United States,” said Liat.

Almost 300 IDF soldiers were killed on Oct. 7. A total of 674 troops have fallen on all fronts since the Hamas-led massacre.

Seth Frantzman: Hezbollah’s message in its large ‘retaliatory’ attacks
The message from Hezbollah is clear from its attacks. It used drones in many incidents on Wednesday between 10 a.m. and noon, targeting an increasingly large area between the Sea of Galilee and Metulla. This included numerous sirens in the Golan and also in the Huleh valley, and communities that overlook the Huleh such as Shamir and Gonen. It also included Katzrin in the Golan. At 11:23 a.m., the area of Hezbollah attacks expanded to target Nahariya, and communities along the coast as well as further inland.

Hezbollah’s message is clear. It has a large enough drone and missile arsenal to chose where and when to attack. It is increasing its use of drones because drones can be precise and effective and also cause set off sirens over wide areas. Hezbollah can then achieve a multi-pronged list of what it sees as “successes.”

It can target with precision, and force civilians areas into shelters. Hezbollah often relies on Israeli media to bolster its sense of accomplishment and sometimes seeks to launder news through foreign media and re-report its own “success” via Al-Mayadeen to make its claims seem more legitimate.

The point here is that Hezbollah’s claims alone do not make them true, but it thinks it makes it seem more accurate if it can get others to re-report its claims. Therefore the increase in attacks in retaliation for the killing of the commander will also be waged online and on media. For instance Al-Mayadeen reported that Israel’s Haaretz had said there are “difficult days” ahead now after the killing of Nasser in Lebanon. It remains to be seen if this is something Hezbollah actually has in store at the moment or if the retaliation will subside after a day.
Hezbollah drone and rocket barrage pounds Golan, Galilee
Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon launched a massive rocket and drone assault on northern Israel on Thursday morning, scoring hits on structures in the Galilee and Golan Heights.

The initial phase of the combined attack lasted around 40 minutes, after which renewed air-raid sirens sounded in the Western Galilee, including in the cities of Acre and Nahariya.

The Israel Defense Forces confirmed that it detected “suspicious aerial targets and launches that crossed [into Israel] from Lebanon,” adding that the attack included some 200 rockets and 20 suicide drones.

The army stated IDF air-defense personnel and Israeli Air Force fighter jets managed to successfully intercept an undisclosed number of projectiles.

In response to the attacks, artillery forces and IAF jets attacked rocket and drone launching positions in Southern Lebanon, the military said.

BBC: Hamas faces growing public dissent as Gaza war erodes support
Open criticism of Hamas has been growing in Gaza, both on the streets and online.

Some have publicly criticised Hamas for hiding the hostages in apartments near a busy marketplace, or for firing rockets from civilian areas.

Residents have told the BBC that swearing and cursing against the Hamas leadership is now common in the markets, and that some drivers of donkey carts have even nicknamed their animals after the Hamas leader in Gaza - Yahya Sinwar - urging the donkeys forward with shouts of "Yallah, Sinwar!"

“People say things like, ‘Hamas has destroyed us’ or even call on God to take their lives,” one man said.

“They ask what the 7 October attacks were for - some say they were a gift to Israel.”

Some are even urging their leaders to agree a ceasefire with Israel.

There are still those in Gaza fiercely loyal to Hamas and after years of repressive control, it’s difficult to know how far the group is losing support, or how far existing opponents feel more able to speak their mind.

But a senior Hamas official privately acknowledged to the BBC, months ago, that they were losing support as a result of the war.

And even some on the group’s own payroll are wavering.

One senior Hamas government employee told the BBC that the Hamas attacks were “a crazy, uncalculated leap”.

He asked that we concealed his identity.

“I know from my work with the Hamas government that it prepared well for the attack militarily, but it neglected the home front,” he said.

“They did not build any safe shelters for people, they did not reserve enough food, fuel and medical supplies. If my family and I survive this war, I will leave Gaza, the first chance I get.”

There was opposition to Hamas long before the war, though much of it remained hidden for fear of reprisals.

‘Sick individual’: Douglas Murray blasts Roger Waters’ anti-Israel comments
Author Douglas Murray has branded former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters a “sick individual” following his anti-Israel comments during an interview with broadcaster Piers Morgan.

Waters tried to claim Israel lied about women being raped by Hamas on October 7 before being refuted by Mr Morgan.

“I think there is a very clear reason why some of these people do want to deny the rapes, to deny the murder of children under seven and it's because if they faced up to it, they would have to ask a question of their own side and of themselves which they don't want to ask,” Mr Murray told Sky News Australia host Rita Panahi.

“Which is: Am I sure we are the good guys? Am I sure?”

Inside the Battleground City of Northern Israel | The Quad Interviews
"Metula is surrounded by a hostile border at 72% of its fence."

Liat Cohen-Raviv, founder of a civilian forum for the north of Israel, discusses the situation in Metula, a border town with Lebanon that has been heavily affected by shelling. Since the conflict escalated, Metula has become a closed army area, with most residents evacuated. Cohen-Raviv while highlighting the challenges faced by the community stresses that Oct. 7th provides a tremendous opportunity to rebuild the one of the most important and underdeveloped areas of Israel.

00:00 Introduction to Liat Cohen-Raviv and Metula
01:07 Description of Metula and its Current Situation
06:36 The Displaced People of Israel
09:05 The Challenges Faced by the North of Israel
11:42 Opportunity for Positive Change in the North

Israel Advocacy Movement: Visiting the war torn Israel-Lebanon border

The Israel Guys: Netanyahu Just Claimed That Israel Is Nearing the End of the War With Hamas
The New York Times just ran a headline that says that Israeli Generals, Low on Munitions, are pushing for a ceasefire in Gaza. The problem is, it’s false. Israel is still going strong in Gaza with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even claiming that the IDF is nearing the ‘end stage’ in the war against Hamas. Hamas is almost destroyed, and for good reason, they are scared.

Caroline Glick: Michael Rapaport: I'm Not Voting for Biden
Journalist and author Caroline Glick interviews actor and comedian Michael Rapaport who since Oct. 7 has been outspoken about his support for Israel and for a return of the hostages.

In this far-reaching interview, Rapaport describes his journey to becoming an Oct. 8th Jew, why he almost quit Hollywood, what he loves about the Israeli people and being Jewish, and ultimately why he has fallen out of love with Joe Biden.

This is an interview you don't want to miss!

00:00 Revealing True Character: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
06:20 Michael Rapaport: An Important Voice for Israel and Jewish Rights
07:20 Reflecting on Jewish Identity and the Rise of Anti-Semitism
09:17 Love for Israel: Appreciating Resilience and Acknowledging Flaws
29:36 Facing Threats and Cancellations
35:19 The Impact of Political Correctness
43:25 Support for Israel and Jewish Identity
49:13 Presidential Politics and Voting
52:06 Demanding Justice and Closure
55:02 Taking Action and Educating Yourself

Concern over alleged Ambassador dressing down on Hezbollah
The Zionist Federation of Australia has expressed concern at unconfirmed reports that Australia has told Israel it will not back it in a war with Hezbollah.

The Daily Telegraph reported on Thursday morning that Israeli Ambassador Amir Maimon was summoned to meet with Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Tim Watts, who told the envoy Australia would not support the Jewish state in a war with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“We were surprised by this unconfirmed report, given Hezbollah is a proscribed terrorist organisation, clearly the aggressor in this situation, and has caused the internal displacement of 60,000 Israelis due to its illegal attacks and threats of invasion,” ZFA President Jeremy Leibler said.

“The US has said it will back Israel for these very reasons. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken recently noted that Israel has lost sovereignty in its north, with people unable to return to their homes. He gets it.

“The situation is quite clear. An Iranian funded and trained proxy, which is banned in Australia because it’s a terrorist organisation, is carrying out daily missile attacks against civilians, leading to tens of thousands of those civilians being displaced from their homes for most of a year,” Leibler continued.

“We would expect all Western governments to place real pressure on Iran and Hezbollah, and this includes by fulling backing Israel’s right to defend its people and its sovereignty.”

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein noted that Hezbollah is proscribed as a terrorist group in Australia and since October has fired “many thousands of rockets, anti-tank missiles, mortars and drones at Israel”.

“Israel has the right to prevent this ongoing terrorist aggression by force if necessary, just as any country has the right to defend itself against terrorism. If it is accurate that our Government informed Israel that it will not support its exercise of this universal right it would show an appalling lack of principle,” he said.

“We understand the desire to avoid further conflict, but if we are berating and threatening our democratic ally as it exercises its right to self-defence, this can only give succour to the terrorists attacking it, and is therefore contrary not only to basic self-defence principles and morality, but would also be contrary to our national interest.”
Labor ‘dresses down’ Israeli ambassador over Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon
Sky News host Danica De Giorgio says the Labor government has told Israel’s ambassador to not expect support if they go to war against Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon.

“These protesters are emboldened by the Labor government … it has been allowed to go on for so long it is now impossible to crack down,” she said.

“Israel desperately fights for its own survival … Australia has told the ambassador, well, do not expect our support.”

Andrew Wallace MP: Government has lost control of extremist and antisemitic elements
Today, radical left-wing protestors breached parliamentary security and led an abhorrent protest from the top of Australian Parliament House.

Shouts like “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free” and “Sovereignty Was Never Ceded” echoed across the Parliamentary Lawn as radicals clad with balaclavas and keffiyehs made a delusional equivocation between Israel, Australian Indigenous issues and Australia’s peacekeeping and military operations abroad.

This is a shameful display. It’s vile. And it’s illegal.

This was an attack on the Jewish people and the people of Israel, at a time when antisemitism has reached levels we have not seen since we stood on the threshold of Hitler’s Holocaust.

It was an attack on our parliamentary democracy, disrupting the important work of parliament while families contend with crises in Australia’s economy, society, and national security.

It was an assault on the memory of those who have paid the ultimate price to protect Australia’s security and sovereignty, and to preserve peace in the global rules-based order.

In the conflicts of Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and East Timor, Australian servicemen and women stood up to the tyranny of communism, Islamic extremism, and dictatorship. They purchased our freedom with their sacrifice, and that is a debt we cannot repay.

This extremist behaviour is made possible by a government which has been slow to act on antisemitism and virulent hate of extremists on the far-left and far-right.

It’s not just virulent; it’s viral, and it’s infected our campuses, communities, social media and now our Parliament.

I call on the Federal Labor Government to legislate for a Judicial Inquiry into Antisemitism on Australia’s University Campuses.

I call on the Federal Labor Government to step back from its unqualified support for a Two State Solution, without acknowledging how the war in Gaza actually started, after the atrocities of October 7, 2023.

Australian politics ‘just got more dangerous’ as Senator Payman sits for an independent seat
Sky News host Andrew Bolt says Australian politics “just got more dangerous” as Senator Fatima Payman looks to sit as an independent senator.

“Muslim Senator Fatima Payman today quit Labor, the party that got her elected, and she will now sit as an independent for now,” Mr Bolt said.

“Australian politics just got more dangerous.”

Australian senator wears genocidal slogan at Midwinter Ball
Independent senator Lidia Thorpe sparked outrage with her choice of attire, a dress bearing the genocidal slogan “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” at Canberra’s annual Midwinter Ball.

The dress, worn at Australia's Parliament House on Wednesday night, featured a phrase that has previously been condemned in the Senate by Labor and the Coalition as a call for the abolition of Israel. Thorpe also carried a bag inscribed with “love harder.”

Earlier in June, a motion led by the Greens to recognise Palestinian statehood amid the Israel-Hamas conflict was narrowly defeated. Labor senator Fatima Payman, who voted in favour alongside Thorpe and independent senator David Pocock, faced suspension from Labor’s parliamentary caucus.

The Midwinter Ball, an event where politicians and corporate leaders gather to celebrate journalism and raise funds for charity, has increasingly become a platform for political messaging.
Four arrested after terror supporters occupy roof of Australian parliament
Australian police arrested four pro-Palestinian protesters on Thursday after they briefly occupied the roof of the national parliament in Canberra with anti-Israel banners.

Video and photos of the demonstration shared on social media showed the intruders unfurling a black banner with the genocidal slogan, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” as well as a sign charging Australians with genocide since British colonization in 1788.

Another flag featured the inverted red triangle, the symbol seen in Hamas propaganda videos when its terrorists murder Israelis.

“We will not forget, we will not forgive and we will continue to resist,” one protestor exclaimed through a megaphone, accusing the Israeli government of committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

The roof rally lasted for around an hour before the handful of participants were led away by waiting police forces.

All four were arrested and charged with trespassing and have been barred from entering parliament grounds for two years, a spokesperson for the Australian Capital Territory Police subsequently told reporters.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese condemned the protest, which took place on the last day of the parliamentary session before a six-week recess.

“Those responsible should feel the full force of the law. Peaceful protest has an important place in our society, but this was not a peaceful protest,” stated Albanese.

Milton Dick, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Australia’s lower house, announced he had ordered a probe into the security breach.
'Extremely troubling': Pro-Palestine protesters scale Parliament House to display banners
Manager of Opposition Business Paul Fletcher says it is the actions of the pro-Palestine protesters who scaled Canberra's Parliament House to display banners are "extremely troubling".

"It's also very troubling that we are seeing these kind of sentiments being expressed," he told Sky News Australia.

"The question needs to be asked - is that because it's being encouraged by at least some politicians in this place?"

‘Disgraceful’: Pro-Palestine protesters descend on Canberra spilling ‘meaningless gibberish’
Sky News host Chris Kenny discusses the “disgraceful” protests in Canberra today and the “meaningless gibberish” spilled.

“Here on the other side of the world from the Middle East in a blessed peaceful, prosperous and free country, Australian politics and society is being fractured because of events in and around Israel and Gaza,” Mr Kenny said.

“The barbaric atrocities of Hamas … are having exactly the impact their leaders and backers had hoped.”

Iranian-born Norwegian man found guilty of terror attack at Oslo LGBTQ festival
An Iranian-born Norwegian man was found guilty of terrorism on Thursday in a 2022 attack on an LGBTQ+ festival in Oslo and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Two people were killed and nine were seriously wounded in the shooting at three locations, chiefly outside the London Pub, a popular gay bar, on June 25, 2022.

The Oslo District Court said Zaniar Matapour shot 10 rounds with a machine gun and eight shots with a handgun into the crowd. It said Matapour had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State group and “has been radicalized for several years.”

His 30-year sentence was the highest penalty in Norway since terror legislation was changed in 2015.

Matapour can request parole after 20 years but can only be released if he is deemed no longer dangerous.

Prosecutor Aud Kinsarvik Gravรฅs called it “the right outcome” and “a historically severe punishment.” Matapour’s lawyer, Marius Dietrichson, said it was “a severe punishment” and that they have not yet decided whether to appeal.

Espen Evjenth, who was hit by a bullet in the forehead at the London Pub, told the Norwegian news agency NTB that it was “a great relief.”

Extensive video material of the attack had been presented in court. The verdict was not read in court but sent out electronically. Matapour would have the verdict read to him in prison, the court said.

Matapour was overpowered by bystanders after the attack and arrested. Following the attack, a Pride parade was canceled, with police saying they could not guarantee security.

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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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