Monday, July 08, 2024

From Ian:

Israel helped avert a famine in Gaza but gets no credit
Once the IPC issued its warnings, influential leaders began to insist that a famine in Gaza had already begun. Samantha Power, the Biden Cabinet member who runs the U.S. Agency for International Development, testified before Congress that she had received credible reports of famine setting in. Cindy McCain, head of the U.N.’s World Food Programme and wife of late Sen. John McCain, announced in early May that Gaza was already enduring a “full-blown famine.”

Ironically, a surge of aid into Gaza had already begun by the time Power and McCain made their assertions. Israeli government data show this to be the case, but so do records kept by the U.N., a rare point of agreement between bitter opponents. Since the war began, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, the body charged with aiding Palestinians, has made public how many truckloads of goods enter the Gaza Strip. In February, that figure fell to 2,874 truckloads, or fewer than 100 per day. That figure rose to 4,993 in March and 5,671 in April, close to 190 loads per day. There is no good U.N. data for May or June because fighting in southern Gaza disrupted its monitoring efforts. Israel contends the surge continued.

By the end of May, it was clear to those in Gaza that there was no famine, even in northern Gaza, where the IPC projected that conditions would be the worst. Yet a typical headline read, “Access to aid in Gaza was dire. Now, it’s worse.”

On June 25, the IPC released the main conclusions from its updated assessment — the full report is not yet available. The IPC presented facts but cloaked them in language that ensured the media would see only misery, not a catastrophe averted.

In terms of the IPC scale, the percentage of Gaza residents in Phase 5 has fallen from 30% to 15%, despite the IPC’s projection in March that it would increase to 50%. Likewise, the percentage in Phase 4, a rung below famine, declined from 40% to 29%. It would be an understatement to say that the IPC did not emphasize the inaccuracy of its forecast or seek to explain what had changed. Rather, it summarized its findings as follows: “Risk of Famine as 495,000 people face catastrophic acute food insecurity.”

The IPC’s findings received extensive media coverage, as they did in March. And that coverage dutifully echoed the IPC’s message. A sample of headlines includes “High risk of famine persists across Gaza, global hunger monitor says” from Reuters, “Half-million Gazans face ‘catastrophic’ hunger levels, U.N.-backed report says” from the Washington Post, and “Famine will loom over Gaza as long as conflict rages, report warns” from Politico.

In late May, when the surge of aid into Gaza was already having a substantial impact, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court sought warrants for the arrest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. The first of their alleged war crimes is “starvation of civilians as a method of warfare.”

No effort may be sufficient to get the ICC or the various arms of the U.N. to treat Israel fairly. But it is essential for Americans, from the president on down, to see through the critics’ sleight-of-hand, lest we abandon a loyal ally in its time of greatest need.
Dem Senator Turned Lobbyist Tom Daschle Pressed Biden Admin To Support Infrastructure Projects in Hamas-Controlled Gaza, Emails Show
Tom Daschle, the former Democratic Senate leader who now heads his own lobbying shop, sought the Biden administration's help to pour massive amounts of infrastructure resources into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, internal State Department emails obtained by the Washington Free Beacon show. The effort would occur in collaboration with both Qatar's Hamas-friendly government and Israel's then left-leaning government, the former leader said.

Daschle—who represented South Dakota in the upper chamber for 18 years and led the Senate Democratic Caucus from 1995 to 2005—wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken's chief of staff in October 2021 to ask for Blinken's help transferring goods into Gaza. His email was subsequently "tasked" to the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs "for appropriate action" and forwarded to officials throughout the building.

"I understand that Tony [Blinken] will be having a bilateral meeting with Israeli FM Lapid," Daschle wrote, referring to Yair Lapid, who served as foreign minister at the time. "We are part of a U.S.-based consortium, which has been working with the governments of Qatar and Israel on infrastructure investments in Gaza and the U.S." The initiative, Daschle said, had broad support inside Israel's government.

"Lapid is aware and very supportive of this effort, as it fits neatly with his new vision for Gaza, which has infrastructure development in Gaza at its core," Daschle wrote. "If Tony were willing to raise this issue, FM Lapid could elaborate on its tremendous potential. As this seems to align with what they are planning to discuss, and Minister Lapid has specifically raised it with our team."

"I realize time is short," Daschle added, "but we would be happy to brief you, him, or someone on the staff."

The email sheds new light on the scope and key players behind the Biden administration’s early efforts to pour what would ultimately become hundreds of millions of dollars into Hamas-controlled areas of the Gaza Strip. The policy, the full extent of which has never been clarified, is the subject of significant domestic and international criticism in the wake of the Iran-backed terror group’s Oct. 7 terrorist attack against Israel. The funding projects, critics say, allowed Hamas to steal aid resources and bolster its military capabilities ahead of last year’s attack.

The emails were first obtained through a Freedom of Information Act Request by the America First Legal Foundation, a watchdog group that is suing the State Department over allegations it engaged in an "illegal and dangerous $1.5 billion terrorism subsidy program for the Palestinians." At least four pages describing Daschle's proposal—titled, "U.S, Israel, Qatar Strategic Initiative"—were fully redacted by the State Department, which declined to clarify if any action was ultimately taken in regards to Daschle’s request for support, or if U.S. officials pursued any of the proposals laid out.

Daschle did not respond to a request for comment.

Daschle’s note was designated "for appropriate handling" and quickly forwarded throughout the State Department and to several senior Blinken aides, including Hady Amr, now the Biden administration's special representative for Palestinian affairs.

"I wanted you to be aware of the email that Tom Daschle sent to [Blinken chief of staff] Suzy George about an infrastructure investment project in Gaza," one internal email states.

Hamas leaders in Gaza plead for terror chiefs to accept ceasefire deal
Israel’s nine-month offensive in response to Hamas’s attack on Oct. 7 has likely influenced the terrorist organization to ease its demands in ceasefire negotiations, according to several officials in the Middle East and the U.S., the Associated Press reports.

Over the weekend, Hamas appeared to drop its longstanding insistence that Israel commit to ending the war as part of any ceasefire agreement. This change has sparked renewed optimism for progress in internationally-mediated talks.

Recent internal communications viewed by AP reveal messages signed by several senior Hamas figures in Gaza urging the organization’s political leadership in Qatar, where Hamas’s top leader Ismail Haniyeh is based, to accept the ceasefire proposal put forward by President Joe Biden.

These messages, shared by a Middle Eastern official speaking anonymously, detail Hamas’s heavy losses and dire conditions in Gaza, possibly explaining its softened stance in ceasefire talks.

The intelligence official showed AP a transcript of the communications in Arabic from May and June but declined to share specific details about how the information was obtained or the raw form of the communications.

While it remains unclear whether this internal pressure influenced Hamas’s flexibility, the messages suggest divisions within the group and a readiness among top members to reach a deal quickly. This is despite the supposed reluctance of Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s top official in Gaza, who has been in hiding since the war began and is believed to be sheltering in a tunnel.

Two U.S. officials, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Americans are aware of internal divisions within Hamas. They suggested that these divisions, the destruction in Gaza, and pressure from mediators Egypt and Qatar could have been factors in Hamas’s softening its demands for a deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that military pressure, including the ongoing two-month offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, “is what has led Hamas to enter negotiations.”
IDF chief shown results of probe into October 7 fighting at Kibbutz Be’eri
The results of an Israel Defense Forces probe into the onslaught and battle on October 7 in the border community of Kibbutz Be’eri, during which tanks shelled a house where Hamas was holding hostages, was presented to Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi on Monday.

The probe is due to be presented to residents of Be’eri on Thursday and later to the public, according to the IDF.

Be’eri was the hardest-hit community in Hamas’s October 7 onslaught, during which some 3,000 terrorists stormed across the border and massacred close to 1,200 people in their homes and at a music festival in southern Israel, taking another 251 hostage to Gaza.

At least 126 people were killed in the kibbutz, including 16 IDF soldiers, and a further 19 people were killed at an intersection just outside Be’eri.

The presentation of the highly detailed probe to Halevi on Monday lasted several hours, according to a military source. The fighting at Be’eri, one of the largest Gaza-border communities, included numerous incidents and many different Israeli units were involved.

The probe, carried out by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein, a former commander of the Gaza Division, covered all aspects of the fighting in the kibbutz that day, including the incident at Pessi Cohen’s house.

As the IDF fought to regain control of the Gaza border communities, Brig. Gen. Barak Hiram, the commander of the IDF’s 99th Division, ordered a tank to fire on Cohen’s home, where terrorists were holding 14 hostages.

The tank fired two shells toward the house. Of the 14 people who had been held hostage, 13 were killed in the intense firefight between Israeli troops and the Hamas terrorists. It remains unclear how many of the 13 were harmed by the tank fire, although at least one of them, 68-year-old Adi Dagan, was said to have been killed by shrapnel.

The probe was expected to provide a high level of detail into the incident at Cohen’s house, according to information seen by The Times of Israel.
Katz to press for action against Iran at DC NATO summit
Foreign Minister Israel Katz departed for Washington on Sunday night to represent Jerusalem at a NATO summit marking the 75th anniversary of the military alliance.

While the title of the conference, which takes place from Tuesday until Thursday, is “Ukraine and transatlantic security,” Katz said before departing that he would bring attention to the Iranian threat.

“I am going to Washington tonight to represent the State of Israel with one clear goal: to warn dozens of leaders and foreign ministers that they must stand up now with full force and determination against Iran,” he said, according to the ICE news portal.

“The Iranian drones and missiles that are attacking Ukraine and threatening Europe are the same Iranian drones and missiles that tried to hit Israel on April 14. We have a common enemy and that is the Iranian regime,” he said.

Katz also discussed the recent elections in Iran, urging the international community to increase pressure on the mullahs, after reformist Masoud Pezeshkian won the Islamic Republic’s second-round presidential vote.

“The Iranian people sent a clear message of demand for change and resistance to the ayatollah regime through the elections—and precisely now the Western world needs to impose severe sanctions on Iran, increase the pressure on the Iranian regime, demand the cancellation of the nuclear program, [that Iran] stop supporting the terrorist organizations, and call the [Islamic] Revolutionary Guards by their real name—the biggest terrorist organization in the world,” he added.
Israel should indict Iran at ICJ for plotting to destroy the Jewish state
South Africa’s case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, in which it alleges that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza, is based mostly on rhetoric by the prime minister, ministers, MKs, and even singers that Pretoria claims prove “genocidal intent.”

Statements attributed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on this matter were erroneous since they were mistranslated from Hebrew. But that is beside the point. If intentions constitute evidence – and the ICJ considers them seriously – Israel should long ago have filed a complaint against Iran, considering its declarations of intent, plans, and actions to destroy Israel.

Here is some recent evidence: Amir Saeid Iravani, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, threatened in late June that if Israel embarks on a “full-scale military aggression” in Lebanon against Hezbollah, “an obliterating war will ensue. All options, including the full involvement of all Resistance Fronts, are on the table.”

In 2017, Iran placed a digital clock in Tehran’s Palestine Square counting down the days to the destruction of Israel. The target date on the clock is January 1, 2040. It followed a statement made in 2015 by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei: “There will be nothing left of Israel by 2040.”

This is just one of countless declarations calling for Israel’s destruction by Iran’s leaders, presidents, ministers, parliamentarians, heads of the Revolutionary Guards, and senior military officers. They frequently state that “Israel must be wiped off the map.”

The intention to destroy Israel is not mere rhetoric. In addition to activating Hezbollah, the pro-Iranian militias in Syria and Iraq, and the Houthis in Yemen, Iran directly attacked Israel on the night between April 13-14, 2024. The Iranian military fired some 110-130 ballistic missiles, about 185 drones, and 36 cruise missiles at Israel. In recent months, it has also significantly accelerated its nuclear weapons program.
Labour set to reverse pro-Israel stance on ICC arrest warrants for Netanyahu
The newly elected Labour government in the United Kingdom is expected to abandon a bid to delay the International Criminal Court's (ICC) decision on whether to issue an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over alleged war crimes in Gaza, according to reporting from The Guardian.

The previous Conservative government had secretly filed a challenge on June 10, questioning the ICC's jurisdiction over Israeli nationals in relation to alleged war crimes in Gaza. However, Labour officials have now briefed that the party continues to believe the ICC, based in The Hague, does have jurisdiction over Gaza.

This reversal could have far-reaching implications for the ICC's ongoing investigation, potentially clearing the way for the court to issue arrest warrant. The ICC's pre-trial chamber had given the UK until July 12 to submit its full claim, but sources indicate it is now highly unlikely that the new government will proceed with the challenge.

The previous government, under Rishi Sunak, joined Israel in fighting against the chief prosecutors of the court Karim Khan after he submitted an application to have the court issue an arrest warrant for Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant over the Gaza War for alleged war crimes, along with Hamas leaders.

Foreign Secretary David Lammy announced plans to review several key issues, including future funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and the legal advice given to the previous government regarding UK arms sales to Israel. Lammy stated, "We did raise issues about the funding of the dispatch box, and real concerns that did not want the situation where the UK was contributing to tremendous hardship already in Gaza."

Addressing concerns about Labour's position and its impact on Muslim voter support, Lammy emphasized the party's commitment to international humanitarian law. He said, "I have been crystal clear on the international humanitarian law. There will be no resiling from that, because it's important that we are all seen to uphold the rules-based order at a time particularly when authoritarian states are discarding it."

Prime Minister Keir Starmer, in a phone call with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday, affirmed his belief in the Palestinians' "undeniable right to a Palestinian state." Starmer discussed the "ongoing suffering and devastating loss of life" in Gaza with Abbas, signaling a potential shift in the UK's approach to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Seth Frantzman: Rafah through the eyes of int’l journalists
Many of the reporters who came on the trip are veteran journalists who know what war looks like. Therefore, it is important to see Rafah through their eyes because most of Gaza has not been accessible to foreign journalists or Israeli journalists for a while now.

Additionally, that is important since this will affect perceptions regarding Israel’s ongoing war. Foreign journalists see the destruction and the war differently than some of the Israeli accounts describing this same situation for a variety of reasons – one of which may be the fact that some journalists who have been to Rafah have also covered fighting in Syria or Ukraine.

For instance, CNN’s account by Jeremy Diamond noted, “Israel has repeatedly described its ground operation in Rafah as ‘limited.’ But in this neighborhood in southern Rafah, the destruction looks almost identical to what I’ve seen in northern Gaza, in central Gaza, and in Khan Yunis through the limited prism of trips into Gaza with the Israeli military.” While the IDF told CNN that they have found tunnels in Rafah, including tunnels that run in the direction of the Egyptian border, so far more details on whether these were used for smuggling remain unclear.

The Associated Press also visited Rafah and observed that “two months ago, before Israeli troops invaded Rafah, the city sheltered most of Gaza’s more than 2 million people. Today it is a dust-covered ghost town. “The Israeli military invited reporters into Rafah on Wednesday, the first time international media visited Gaza’s southernmost city since it was invaded on May 6. Israel has barred international journalists from entering Gaza independently since the Hamas attack on October 7 that sparked the war.”

In the same report, the AP also detailed that “abandoned, bullet-ridden apartment buildings have blasted out walls and shattered windows. Bedrooms and kitchens are visible from roads dotted with rubble piles that tower over the Israeli military vehicles passing by. Very few civilians remain.” It added that “Israel says it has nearly defeated Hamas’s forces in Rafah – an area identified earlier this year as the militant group’s last stronghold in Gaza.”

Both NBC and Fox News reports included footage with gunfire detected in the background. In particular, NBC’s Matt Bradley spoke about a “highway of tunnels” underneath Rafah.

Trey Yingst from Fox News described being in Rafah, where “fighting rages on.” He also noted that there are still thousands of “militants” in Gaza and that there are questions about the day after in that region.“It is impossible to put into words the scale of the destruction in Rafah. The pictures captured by CBS News’ camera speak for themselves. It has been made a wasteland,” CBS reported.

“Apart from a line of empty aid trucks and their drivers, the only people seen in Rafah were IDF forces. A few stray cats and an emaciated dog roamed around the rubble, looking sorry for themselves. CBS News heard significant small arms fire during the visit, most of it seemingly from IDF troops still operating in the city,” it described.

What is more, CBS reporter Holly Williams provided a report from Rafah in which she showed a tunnel that was unearthed. “The neighborhood we saw is shattered and unlivable. There is destruction on a scale that is impossible to adequately put into words,” she said. Williams also showed footage from Rafah that she described as a “wasteland.”

IDF lieutenant in Rafah: Hamas is completely 'weary and demoralized'
Lt. Oriel Mashiach, commander of the Sabar Battalion in the Givati Brigade, provided some insight to Maariv on Sunday into the combat operations in Rafah: "We are conducting very intense combat. Rafah is devoid of civilians, and what we see are the terrorists.

"We encounter a weary and demoralized enemy," he emphasized. "We have full control of the area and it seems the enemy struggles to fight. We face individuals who move independently. They operate on their own, tired and exhausted; some surrender upon seeing us, while others engage in suicidal actions."

Lieutenant Mashiach and his Givati soldiers have been fighting since October 7. However, he stressed that "Every soldier understands the mission and its significance. Our mission is to bring the hostages home. This burns in every soldier. We will continue the mission until we complete it, however long it takes."

"Hamas has learned IDF tactics and attempt to ambush buildings," he added on Hamas's operations in Rafah. "But we study the enemy well. Through investigations after each battle, every activity, we learn a lot from attack to attack, do our homework, and operate in such a way that missions are carried out to protect our soldiers."

Dealing a severe blow to the terrorist group
The IDF's ongoing operations in Gaza have significantly weakened Hamas's military wing, prompting intense combat in Rafah as Israeli forces dismantle infrastructure and adapt to enemy tactics.

The IDF estimated that Hamas's military wing suffered a particularly severe blow in the nine months of fighting, with many of its units disbanded and destroyed. This is one of the factors affecting Yahya Sinwar's conduct in negotiating a ceasefire and the return of the captives.
Hamas' triple-decker tunnels for smuggling: IDF finds jaw-dropping maze on Gaza-Egypt border
In a startling revelation, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have uncovered an extensive network of multi-level tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border, showcasing Hamas's advanced underground infrastructure. This discovery, which includes tunnels with three different levels, has taken Israeli security forces by surprise.

An exclusive report by Israel Hayom sheds light on a recent IDF operation that has exposed dozens of tunnels crossing from Gaza into Egypt. Among these, several were found to have up to three underground levels, a discovery that has surprised Israeli military and security establishments. These tunnels, described as "Hamas' oxygen pipeline," have allowed the group to significantly enhance its capabilities over the years since the IDF's withdrawal from the area.

The sophisticated infrastructure developed undetected, not only under Israeli surveillance but also despite Egyptian border control efforts. This network has played a crucial role in Hamas's transformation into a formidable fighting force.

The IDF is expanding its search perimeter around the corridor, operating under the assumption that more tunnels remain hidden. An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to Israel Hayom the discovery of three-story tunnels extending from Gaza into Egyptian territory. The army's efforts to locate additional passages are ongoing.
Seth Frantzman: What two months of Hamas use of UN sites tells us
On Monday, July 8, the IDF said that it had begun an operation in Gaza City targeting terrorists and terrorist infrastructure. UNRWA's headquarters was among the sites targeted. Hamas and other terrorist groups have systematically used UN facilities throughout the war in Gaza. They have hidden in them and used tunnels underneath them, and their armed terrorists have been present at schools, shelters, warehouses, and other UN sites.

It will take time for the full details of how Hamas embedded inside UN institutions to come to light. However, news reports and IDF statements provide a lot of details on recent incidents. It is important to understand this in context.

Hamas has always exploited international organizations and the UN in Gaza. It does this in many ways. It knows that UN compounds and schools are sites that would normally be protected during a war. Therefore, it appears that Hamas views these areas as a priority and has tried to use areas near them, or underneath these sites, as command and control nodes.

After October 7 Israel carried out an intense aerial campaign in Gaza, striking Hamas and other terrorist groups. Israel’s ground operations began on October 27. Then, in February, the ground operations were much reduced in intensity and the IDF withdrew from most of Gaza by April.

This enabled Hamas to return to many areas. It returned in force to Shifa Hospital, for instance, overrunning the hospital with hundreds of terrorists. It also began to operate from within UN schools and sites that had become shelters or even aid distribution warehouses.

At the UNRWA headquarters, it appears that Hamas even took advantage of the rebuilding of the site. Ynet reported that “intelligence reveals that Hamas command and control centers, including UNRWA headquarters, have been rebuilt since December, when forces last operated in parts of the city.” In February, the IDF found a Hamas data center underneath UNRWA's headquarters in Rimal.

Hamas knows that when it hides at schools, any airstrike on the site can be used for propaganda.

On July 6 for example, the BBC reported that “at least 16 people have been killed in an Israeli airstrike on a UN-run school in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials have said. Dozens more have been injured.”

The IDF said in response that it had struck a UN-run school in Nuseirat. “Earlier today, based on the IDF’s and the Israel Securities Authority’s (ISA) intelligence, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) struck several terrorists operating in structures located in the area of UNRWA’s Al-Jaouni school in the central Gaza Strip,” the IDF said.

Hamas knows that in this case, it is likely that it may win the propaganda war because most reports will state that the IDF struck a “school” rather than a Hamas site.
IDF pushes into Gaza City, targets Hamas terrorists in UNRWA HQ
The Israel Defense Forces launched a new counterterror operation in Gaza City’s Tel al-Hawa neighborhood overnight Sunday, saying that it followed intelligence indicating the presence of Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives.

In a statement, the IDF said that the terrorist groups had established interrogation and detention rooms in the area, including at the UNRWA headquarters. Terrorist infrastructure and weapons were also found to be in the area, according to the Military Intelligence Directorate.

Israeli forces raided the UNRWA site in the upscale Rimal neighborhood in February, finding a Hamas terror compound underneath the building, including a massive tunnel and a data center including Iranian technology.

The IDF said that it warned civilians ahead of the Tel al-Hawa operation and that it would open an evacuation route for noncombatants.

“The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations continue to systematically operate and carry out terrorist activity from inside civilian infrastructure. The IDF will continue to operate against the terrorist organizations in accordance with international law,” the statement read.

Over 30 terrorists killed in Rafah
Over the past day, IDF troops and IAF craft killed more than 30 terrorists in Rafah in southernmost Gaza, where a military operation has been taking place since early May. In addition, soldiers located tunnel shafts and confiscated weapons in the area.

Condition of US citizen wounded in Hezbollah attack deteriorates
The condition of the American citizen who was seriously wounded by a Hezbollah anti-tank missile fired from Lebanon has worsened, Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya said on Sunday night.

“The 31-year-old wounded man who was brought [to the hospital] from the Zar’it area in serious condition with shrapnel injuries to his upper body was hospitalized in the general intensive care unit, where he was sedated and intubated,” the hospital said around 9 p.m.

“As his condition worsened, the wounded man was admitted to the operating room this evening,” added the statement.

The U.S. national was wounded on Sunday afternoon when a Hezbollah missile scored a direct hit near Moshav Zar’it in the Upper Galilee. Two other victims, including an Israel Defense Forces soldier, were lightly hurt and were admitted to Galilee Medical Center’s surgical department.

The American visitor worked for a company that sold or donated equipment to IDF reservists and had come to the border without permission to instruct troops on how to use drones, Ynet reported. The military was said to be investigating the incident.

The Israeli military confirmed in a statement on Sunday that “two anti-tank missiles were detected that crossed [from] the territory of Lebanon into the Zar’it area. As a result of the launches, an IDF soldier was lightly injured and taken to a hospital for medical treatment.”

A spokesperson for the American embassy in Jerusalem told JNS on Sunday that it “received information regarding the injury of a private U.S. citizen.

“We are gathering additional information and can confirm the individual does not work for the U.S. government. However, due to privacy concerns, we have nothing more to share,” the spokesperson said.
IDF drone kills Hezbollah rocket crew member
A terrorist in Hezbollah’s rocket and missile unit was killed in a drone strike in Southern Lebanon overnight Sunday, the IDF confirmed on Monday.

The death of Mustafa Hassan Salman in Qlaileh, in the Tyre District, was also confirmed by the Iranian-backed terror army, which said he was the 364th person killed since the start of the war.

According to the IDF, Hassan Salman took part in the planning and execution of various terrorist activities against Israel.

Gallant: Hostage deal would not tie IDF’s hands against Hezbollah
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Sunday that any ceasefire deal reached with Hamas in Gaza will have no bearing on Israel’s actions with regard to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“Your goal is to ensure your readiness and to erode the enemy’s [Hezbollah’s] capabilities,” he told troops during a situation assessment in the Hermon region of the Golan Heights.

“Even if we reach an agreement for a hostage deal, and I very much hope that we will be able to achieve it—it does not bind us regarding what happens here [on the northern border],” he said.

“If there is a ceasefire there [in the south], here [in the north] we will continue fighting and doing everything necessary to bring about the desired result [of returning home tens of thousands of Israeli evacuees],” added the defense minister.

Elliott Abrams on What Was Different about His Third Visit to Israel Since October 7
Having recently returned from his third visit to Israel since October 7, Elliott Abrams reflects on the somber mood in the country, in part the result of rapidly diminishing faith in the government’s handling of the war. Abrams considers the roots of this dissatisfaction, and wonders if such problems as the lack of a plan for postwar Gaza could really have been dealt with any better:
[A]ny plan for Gaza’s future that Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel put forward would be dead on arrival. Any proposal must be worked out with the Americans, Emiratis, Egyptians, Saudis, and others in secret, and it’s clear that a lot of diplomacy is underway behind closed doors. If none of it pans out in the next few months (by the end of the summer), the criticism will seem fairer. But with major military actions in Gaza ending in July, diplomacy has a chance. If it works and something comes together, the criticism that Netanyahu had no ideas and no ability to implement them will seem wrong in retrospect.

And of course, Israel cannot implement any plan without outside support unless you favor its ruling Gaza alone. To the extent that there is failure, how much of it is his—and how much that of, for example, Biden and Blinken?

Yet for all the feelings of despair, Abrams observes, Israeli society continues to demonstrate resilience:
No one can visit Israel without encountering an immensely strong civil society, from the soldiers of the IDF (after October 7, the call-up of reservists produced not a 100-percent return to duty but 130 percent) to volunteer groups helping displaced citizens, war wounded, families with a soldier on duty, and the like. Israelis may not trust elected politicians, but they trust each other. That is why even last year, as divisions grew among them, Israelis were still rated (as has happened year after year) one of the happiest nations on earth. They love their country and will sacrifice for it, and they believe their fellow citizens (excepting the haredi issue) will too.
Amazon reverses rejection of book of Oct. 7 testimonies
Amazon changed course after declining to sell Testimonies Without Boundaries, Israel: October 7th 2023, a book about Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre in southern Israel, written by Alon Penzel, 23, a former spokesman for Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

The book features testimony, some of which is graphic, from ZAKA volunteers who collected human remains from the attack sites, from survivors of the Nova Party massacre and from workers at Israel’s Forensic Medicine Institute, as well as evidence Penzel himself viewed.

The e-commerce giant made the title available on its site after Jewish Insider inquired as to why the book was rejected. Amazon did not reply to JI. Its initial rejection message said that the book is “in violation of [its] content guidelines.”

The book was published in cooperation with Israel-Is, an organization that seeks to empower Israelis to improve the country’s image. Israeli-Is CEO Nimrod Palmach, who wrote the book’s foreword, was one of numerous Israelis who drove to the Gaza border on Oct. 7 to rescue civilians, even before he was called up to IDF reserve duty.

On that day, Penzel recounted, he began advocating for Israel on social media, and decided that he needed to do more to help. Within a few weeks, the idea of the book began to crystalize.

“I wanted to take the initiative to memorialize the events so no one could deny or forget them. I am the grandson of a Holocaust survivor,” Penzel, a student at Haifa University who has been involved in Israeli public diplomacy efforts, explained.

Penzel traveled to the site of the Nova massacre, to the kibbutzim and moshavim on the Gaza border, and roadside bomb shelters, and collected the testimonies of more than 60 survivors, volunteers and professionals.

“I tried to include all the elements that represent Oct. 7,” he said.

The book, Penzel said, “is uncensored and not delicate about what happened,” and includes many accounts that have not been published yet, including many cases of sexual abuse of women and men.

“I asked questions that were not so sensitive, in order to reach the truth about the difficult aspects of what they experienced,” he said. “It’s written clearly and unapologetically. I don’t think I have the right to censor or moderate what happened.”

Penzel said he went through a rigorous fact-checking process and only included accounts that he could confirm.
Wikipedia in Arabic denies rape committed as weapon of war
Rape as a tool of war
War rape refers to the systematic use of rape as a weapon of war and military strategy. It involves acts of mass rape, gang rape, and sexual violence committed by soldiers, combatants, or civilians during armed conflict, war, or military occupation against the enemy population.

War rape aims to terrorize, displace, humiliate, and destroy communities, often as part of a larger campaign of ethnic cleansing or genocide. The Syrian civil war has seen a high incidence of war rape, with around 6,000 women estimated to have been raped since the start of the conflict.

One “talk” page of the “Israel-Hamas war in Gaza” Wikipedia article begins with a straightforward claim that “Jihad and Hamas raped dozens of Israeli women,” supported by numerous pieces of evidence.

However, Arab editors' reactions were swift and dismissive: “Don’t waste time writing! If you have proof, put it here or in the article; otherwise...” said Abdullah al-Hassan.

Another editor claimed, “This is slander, not because there is no evidence, but because the religion and morality of Hamas fighters prevent them from doing so.”

Instead of concluding from the many testimonies that Hamas terrorists are immoral and do not act according to the morality described in the Quran, they conclude that the evidence and reality are incorrect, refusing to let facts confuse them.

Other editors demanded objectivity. “Stop deleting evidence,” one wrote, adding a small portion of the available evidence in the form of videos and articles on the Internet.

Such evidence would be considered in any respected civilization, but not on the Arab talk page.

Ahmed al-Hader responded to the provided videos, saying, “Hello. There is no evidence that Hamas ‘raped’ Israeli women, whether sexually, physically or psychologically. The lie about the rape of women. It is clear from you that you are Israeli; I advise you to stay away from the brainwashing you receive from your country. If you adhere to the Jewish state, I want to tell you that Netanyahu is an atheist.”

The result of the discussion on the “Talk” page, which was supposed to address the many testimonies objectively, is that the word “rape” does not appear even once in the Arabic version of the article.

As far as the Arab world is concerned, at least as reflected in Wikipedia, no acts of rape took place on October 7, and Hamas behaved towards women in a noble, moral, and respectable manner, as expected from religious Muslims that follow the Quran.

Although war rape is prevalent, the denial surrounding sexual violence persists in the Arab world. Evidence of war rape of Israeli women by Hamas terrorists is met with dismissiveness and denial from Arab editors in Wikipedia.

It is expected that the most influential online encyclopedia in the world will enforce its standards of neutrality, objectivity, and fairness in its Arabic version. It is important that Wikipedia, as an organization, will demand that the war rape that was done on October 7, 2023, will be mentioned in all relevant articles.

Call Me Back - with Dan Senor
Before today’s conversation, one housekeeping note. We are announcing our second "Call Me Back Live" Event. I will be talking to creators of Fauda -- Avi Issacharoff and Lior Raz. They are scripting OCTOBER 7th, a feature film on the heroic true story of Noam Tibon, who rescued his son Amir Tibon, a Haaretz journalist, and his young family, from Hamas terrorists who had invaded their home at Kibbutz Nahal Oz. Issacharoff is also is a war correspondent who has been embedded with the IDF in Gaza. The event is July 22 at 6pm in NYC at the Comedy Cellar. Part of the proceeds will be donated to Leket, Israel’s leading food rescue organization, which has played a critical role working with farmers and kibbutizm in the Gaza envelope since 10/07.

To RSVP, please go to, click the "lineups" button on the top left and select "July 22".

Now onto today’s conversation. How close is Israel to reaching a hostage deal with Hamas and – with that – a temporary ceasefire that could possibly become a permanent ceasefire? And why does this negotiations process have direct implications for Israel’s Northern border, between Hezbollah and Israel? Could a Gaza ceasefire result in a de-escalation on Israel’s Northern border?

To help us understand what’s going on here, we have two guests today:
-Nadav Eyal is a columnist for Yediot. Eyal has been covering Middle-Eastern and international politics for the last two decades for Israeli radio, print and television news.

-Haviv Rettig-Gur has been a regular presence on this podcast since October 8. He is a senior political analyst for the Times of Israel, and has been an important interpreter for Western audiences of how to understand this conflict in broader historical terms.
American Jews at a Crossroads | Daniel Gordis on the political and cultural crisis facing US Jewry
In this thought-provoking episode of "State of the Nation," Dr. Daniel Gordis delves into the strategic dilemmas facing the Jewish diaspora, particularly American Jews, in light of recent geopolitical events and the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Dr. Gordis explores the internal conflicts within the American Jewish community, the shifting political allegiances post-October 7th, and the broader implications for Jewish identity and safety. Tune in for an in-depth discussion on the intersection of Jewish history, politics, and the complex relationship between American Jews and Israel.

Wayle Mana: Alleged Burgertory arsonist denied bail due to public risk
A man accused of setting fire to a pro-Palestinian activist’s burger shop will remain in custody after a magistrate said his alleged crime spree was “extraordinary”.

The court was told Mr Mana was arrested in January and charged with offences including arson after the Burgertory restaurant in Caulfield was gutted by fire in the early hours of November 10 last year.

He is also accused of assault and car theft in Doncaster the same day.

Prosecutors told the court police had identified three of four people they allege were involved in the incident.

Days before his arrest, police allege Mr Mana was also involved in the firebombing of a tobacco store in Ballarat, where he suffered serious burns to his feet.

After the fire, Burgertory owner and prominent activist Hash Tayeh said he believed the fire was a hate crime, however police later said there was no evidence of racial or political motivation.

The incident prompted a clash between pro-Palestine protesters and pro-Israel supporters at a park near the shop.

Mr Mana was remanded into custody and will return to court next week.

‘Sad and confused’: Sky News host mocks Queers for Palestine activists
Sky News host Danica De Giorgio has mocked “sad and confused” Queers for Palestine activists participating in Pride events.

One transgender man was filmed at a parade being dressed as an Indian woman while waving a Palestinian flag.

“Wouldn’t you love to see him belly dance his way onto the Gaza strip, shimmying his way through the enclave,” Ms De Giorgio said.

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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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