Monday, March 4, 2024

Israeli security chiefs were meeting Sunday to discuss security plans for the Temple Mount in Jerusalem over Ramadan, given concerns that the Muslim holy month could amplify tensions stemming from the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, according to Hebrew media reports, including Ynet and Maariv.

The discussion between IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai, and Shin Ben chief Ronen Bar came a week ahead of the start of Ramadan, set for March 10.

The IDF Spokesman’s office said the consultation was held to boost coordination ahead of Ramadan, amid the need to ensure freedom of worship for Israeli Arabs and in the West Bank while taking security considerations into account.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to meet with National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and Shabtai on Monday to hear their recommendations on what restrictions to enact, alongside discussions between Shin Bet security agency and IDF officials.

Ben Gvir has sought to impose sweeping restrictions to prevent West Bank Palestinians from praying at the Temple Mount during Ramadan, and is even reportedly pushing for banning Arab Israeli citizens below the age of 70 from visiting the site amid the month of fasting, citing the security situation. READ MORE

Hamas claims it doesn’t know which hostages are alive, so can’t hand Israel a list

In an interview posted today, a Hamas political official tells the BBC that the organization cannot give Israel a list of living hostages because it does not itself know who is alive and where all the hostages are.

“We didn’t until now submit any list,” politburo member Basim Naim tells the BBC from Istanbul in a Sunday conversation. “But first of all, technically and practically, it is now impossible to know exactly who is still alive and who has been killed because of the Israeli bombardment or who has been killed because of starvation because of the Israeli blockade.”

He adds that the hostages “are in different areas with different groups and therefore we have called for a ceasefire to be able to collect the data.”

Naim repeats the Hamas demand that it will not agree to a deal without an end to the war and a full withdrawal of the IDF from Gaza.

Netanyahu’s bold, realistic plan for ‘the Day After Hamas’

This article appeared on the Middle East Forum with a link to its completion as it was publoished in The Wall Street Journal, March 3, 2024.

Prof. Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum and author, most recently, of “Islamism vs. the West: 35 Years of Geopolitical Struggle.”

Wonder Land: If you were an adversary looking at a U.S. uncertainty about its global leadership, what would you do? Answer: Up the ante—which is exactly what Iran, Russia and others are doing.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month presented Israel’s security cabinet with a short document: “The Day After Hamas.” Its key passage states that Jerusalem plans to work primarily with Gazans to rebuild their territory. “Civil affairs and responsibility for public order will be based on local actors with ‘management experience,’ ” it says, and “not identified with countries or organizations supporting terrorism” or receiving payments from them.

In a step toward this program of self-rule, the Israeli military has begun an informal pilot program of what it calls “humanitarian pockets” in parts of north Gaza cleared of Hamas. These local governing bodies consist of community leaders, whose duties will include distributing humanitarian aid and revising school curricula. READ MORE

Report: Biden not speaking to Netanyahu following Gaza stampede

US President Joe Biden is refusing to speak with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following a Thursday incident in which over 100 Gazans were allegedly killed, Sky News Arabic reported.

In the incident, Gazans stampeded around the aid truck, some of them threatening the IDF soldiers charged with ensuring the safe distribution of the aid. The soldiers, realizing the danger they were in, began to fire at those threatening their safety.

Speaking to Sky News Arabic, a source said that, "What contributed to the widening of the gap between the two is Netanyahu's failure to stand by his promise to Biden to keep the aid crossings open."

Netanyahu's office has said that the report is fake news: "The Prime Minister's Office did not request to speak with the President after the event, and the Americans, who regardless had not blamed Israel for the event, did not request a conversation with the Prime Minister."

On Thursday morning, the IDF reported that Gazan residents gathered around the aid trucks acted violently and looted the supplies: "Early this morning, during the entry of humanitarian aid trucks into the northern Gaza Strip, Gazan residents surrounded the trucks, and looted the supplies being delivered. During the incident, dozens of Gazans were injured as a result of pushing and trampling. The incident is under review."

Later on Thursday, the IDF provided aerial surveillance of the humanitarian operation in northern Gaza, adding, "The footage shows how numerous people surrounded the trucks and as a result, dozens were killed and injured from pushing, trampling and being run over by the trucks."

The IDF stated that 10 people were struck by fire from troops, while the rest of the casualties were caused by people being trampled and run over by the aid trucks.

"The IDF will continue to assist in the transfer and coordination of humanitarian aid," the military stressed.

Hostage's brother: ‘Ramadan is month to murder Jews; not a holy time’

Yair Mor of the Tikva Forum, brother of Eitan Mor, who was taken hostage to Gaza, participated in a Knesset debate on Monday and said he did not understand the discussion on easing restrictions for Palestinian Authority Arabs during Ramadan.

"Hamas destroyed the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah for us, so the simple equation is that they should not have Ramadan either. They talk to us about the easing restrictions for them, that we should reach some wanton deal before Ramadan. Why? Because it's a so-called holy holiday. So no, Ramadan is a holiday of murdering Jews. It's not a holy holiday. Who cares about their Ramadan? We care about our hostages. Because we care about the hostages, we should be increasing the military pressure, especially during Ramadan, so that they see not to mess with us," said Mor.

"I don't understand how all the Israeli media is talking about Ramadan and not about military pressure that will lead us to the hostages? Common sense says is that we should be increasing military pressure throughout the month of Ramadan. Any normal, life-seeking country, anyone who wants the hostages alive and home now, will increase military pressure, especially during Ramadan," he added.

He stressed that, "We must not agree to a partial and dangerous deal that will sentence my brother to more years in captivity, because there is talk of a deal for 40 hostages now. Any deal that doesn't include everyone is bad."

"In order to reach a deal, we must come from a position of power. We should be the local bully, not Hamas. I don't understand how they still dictate the terms of the deal to us. How come we still don't have a list of all the live hostages who will be released in any deal? I support the Prime Minister who is not willing to move things forward until we receive a list of all the hostages, whether alive or dead. Already 150 days have passed and we have no idea who is alive and who is dead. This is just ridiculous.

"I call on the War Cabinet not to take Ramadan into account in any way, [and] to increase the military pressure, because if the Cabinet says that military pressure will lead to the release of the hostages, then we must increase the military pressure," Mor concluded.

Cleared for publication: Security forces foil ISIS IED attacks in Hebron

The ISA, IDF, and Israel Police raided a terrorist cell in the Hebron region last month. The cell had planned to carry out IED attacks against IDF forces.

During the operation, four individuals from the PA city of Tarqumiyah were arrested: Morad Markatan, Hasin Markatan, Muhammad Markatan, and Ahmed Markatan.

ISA questioning of the suspects revealed that they had intended to carry out IED attacks against IDF forces in their area.

For this purpose, they prepared approximately 100 IEDs by following instructional videos online and training from ISIS. Morad Markatan served as the point of contact for ISIS and the leader of the cell.

It was also discovered that members of the cell had illegal possession of M16 and Carl Gustav firearms which they had intended to use for additional acts of terror. All the IEDs were detonated in an undeveloped field by police EOD personnel, and the firearms were confiscated. Indictments against the four were filed with the military court in Judea.

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Gaza deal close to collapse: Hamas refuses to list living hostages

The negotiations for a Gaza hostage and ceasefire deal were near collapse, Israeli media reported on Sunday, after Hamas refused to provide information on the status of the remaining hostages in the Strip.

Representative from Hamas, Qatar, and the US have arrived in Cairo, Egypt for a renewed round of hostage negotiations. The Israeli delegation is thus far absent, with a KAN News report quoting an official as saying that the delegation "will not leave until a response from Hamas is received."

The Hamas delegation is being led by the terror organization's deputy chief in Gaza, Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official told Reuters. Al-Hayya was the Hamas official leading the Islamist group's delegation for the Cairo hostage negotiations in February. He has previously acknowledged that Hamas has military capabilities in Rafah.

As per Israeli reports, Qatar informed Israel that Hamas's response leaves little room for progress in talks.

Deal not close to being finalized

When asked if a deal was imminent, Reuters noted that a Palestinian official familiar with the ongoing talks said that one was not yet close to being finalized. READ MORE

Netanyahu said fuming over upcoming Gantz trip to US planned without his approval

War cabinet minister Benny Gantz was set to travel to Washington for talks with senior officials on Sunday, reportedly infuriating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who did not authorize the trip and was said to chastise him that the country has only one premier.

Among those Gantz will meet are US Vice President Kamala Harris, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and Republican and Democratic members of US Congress, his office said in a statement Saturday.

Details of the trip, and an allegedly tense phone conversation between Netanyahu and Gantz about the visit, were first reported earlier by the Ynet outlet.

Netanyahu was said to have been unaware of the visit until Gantz, who leads the National Unity party, called him on Friday to let the prime minister know of his plans and to discuss what messages to convey to the Americans.

A source close to Netanyahu said the premier “made it clear to Minister Gantz that the State of Israel only has one prime minister,” Ynet reported. READ MORE

Security officials warn against 'dithering' in Gaza

Security officials have issued a warning against what they call “dithering” in Gaza, saying “The IDF is unnecessarily extending its time in Gaza”.

Walla reports that the warning comes from the current state of the IDF’s forces in Gaza, who are not actively executing any operations. Security officials claim that this creates a situation in which terrorists can approach Israeli forces and attack them with IEDs or direct fire.

The IDF is preparing for the ground offensive to expand to the central Gaza camps and Rafah. Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi will soon be required to present political officials with his recommendations for the continuation of the offensive.

Security officials favor intensive operations in Rafah to dismantle the Hamas infrastructure there. At the same time, there is intense international pressure on Israel not to invade Rafah.

Two brigades are currently stationed in northern Gaza under the 162nd Division, and four in the Khan Yunis region under the 98th Division.

Former Defense Secretary: Putin's next target after Ukraine

Former US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta claimed that Russia intends to invade another country if it manages to defeat Ukraine.

Panetta claims that Moscow's next target will be Georgia, and so the United States of America should strengthen relations with Georgia to ensure its security.

He also stated that Russia sees supreme importance in disrupting the democratic processes of America and other Western countries.

He stated that it was clear to him that stopping Putin was crucial for protecting US national security.

Last month Estonian intelligence published a report detailing Russia's intentions, and stated that Russia does not intend to invade any other countries in the next decade - but following that period, another invasion becomes possible and even likely.

According to the report, when the Ukraine war ends, Moscow will begin efforts to recover military power, and so NATO should begin a parallel process of strengthening its armies.

The report states that Russia intends to double the number of soldiers on the Finnish border over the next decade, as well as with the Baltic states of Estonia and let me with the Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia.

IDF facilitates dozens of air drops of aid into Gaza

The IDF announced that it has coordinated 21 airdrops of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip over the least few weeks.

"Yesterday (Saturday), In coordination with the IDF, U.S. Central Command and the Royal Jordanian Air Force conducted a combined humanitarian assistance airdrop into Gaza," the IDF's Spokesperson's Unit stated.

"Additionally, over the past few weeks, in cooperation and coordination with several countries; Jordan, France, the UAE and Egypt, more than 450 packages of food and medical aid were distributed through 21 airdrops to the Gaza Strip."

IDF Spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said: “We will continue expanding our humanitarian efforts to the civilian population in Gaza while we fulfill our goals of freeing our hostages from Hamas and freeing Gaza from Hamas.”

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Tactics and strategy in the war with Hezbollah

The targeted killing of three Lebanese Hezbollah members by Israel this week constitutes a significant escalation in the limited war now underway between Israel and the Lebanese Shi’ite Islamist movement. 

Lebanese Hezbollah regional unit commander Hassan Hussein Salami was killed while driving in the village of Majadel in southern Lebanon. Elsewhere, Israeli jets struck targets in the Hezbollah heartland area of Baalbek. Two other Hezbollah members – Hassan Ali Younes, and Ahmed Mohammed Sindiyan – were killed in this second strike, near the town of Aadous, according to an announcement by the organization. 

The area targeted is 18 km. from the city of Baalbek. It is located east of the Litani and about 75 km. from the border with Israel. Hezbollah also announced the death of a fourth fighter, Mohammed Ali Musulmani.

These killings came in response to Hezbollah’s downing of an Israel Hermes 450 drone, using a surface-to-air missile. The organization responded, in turn, by launching a barrage of rockets at the Golan Heights and the western Galilee, causing no casualties.

While Salami was the highest ranking of the targeted Hezbollah men, the decision to extend the range of Israeli attacks to Baalbek, and thus the killings of Younes and Sindiyan, appear to be the more significant details of these latest attacks. READ MORE

In DC, Jewish students tell House committee: ‘It’s open season on Jews on our campus’

NEW YORK — The House of Representatives’ Education and the Workforce Committee held a bipartisan roundtable Thursday with Jewish students from nine American universities to hear testimony about their experiences with antisemitism on campus.

Testimony given before the Education and Workforce Committee’s last hearing in December led to the resignations of Harvard University president Claudine Gay and University of Pennsylvania president Liz Magill.

“These students are dealing with antisemitism at their respective universities on a daily basis. Their courage to speak out and share their stories will give the American people a new look at what is truly happening on college campuses around the country,” Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said before the roundtable in a statement. “This roundtable will help inform the committee’s next steps in the antisemitism investigation as it continues to hold postsecondary education accountable for rampant antisemitism.”

The students, some wearing “Bring Them Home” dog tags in honor of the 134 hostages held by the Hamas terror group since October 7, testified to the members of Congress about their experiences as Jewish students at Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tulane University, Rutgers University, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, Cooper Union, Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.

Each student painted a picture of a campus rife with harassment, prejudicial treatment and acts of violence against Jews, and each one said their respective schools did not consistently enforce school codes of conduct or local laws against perpetrators of antisemitism. READ MORE

What would Donald do? Here’s what we know about how Trump would handle Israel and Gaza

WASHINGTON (JTA) — For months, poll after poll has been clear on one thing: Most Americans don’t like the way US President Joe Biden is handling the Israel-Hamas war.

In December, a New York Times poll found that 33% of voters approved of his approach to the war, and earlier this month, an AP poll put the number at 31%. And the divide isn’t just partisan: The AP poll found that most Democrats also disapproved of Biden’s Gaza war policy, which has backed Israel’s aims.

Still, there are concrete signs that the dissent could tank Biden’s reelection chances: This week, 100,000 people voted “Uncommitted” in the Michigan Democratic primary, many of them in protest of Biden’s staunch support of Israel.

But Biden isn’t the only candidate cruising to his party’s nomination: As the November election nears, a rematch between Biden and former president Donald Trump appears all but certain. And if a significant number of voters ditch Biden over Israel, it would likely be a boon for his Republican predecessor and opponent.

So what would Trump do about the war if he were elected president? READ MORE

Calls intensify for probe into Gaza aid stampede as global criticism of Israel mounts

International calls intensified Friday for a probe into the deaths of dozens of Palestinians clamoring around an aid convoy in northern Gaza a day earlier, with many countries blaming Israel for the disaster and threatening diplomatic steps.

The calls came as officials involved in talks for a temporary ceasefire and prisoner swap expressed cautious optimism that such a deal could be struck before the start of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, on March 10.

“We are hopeful that we can reach a cessation of hostilities and exchange of hostages. Everyone recognizes that we have a time limit to be successful before the start of Ramadan,” said Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey on Friday.

Family members of people held hostage in Gaza also expressed their hope a deal would be reached before Ramadan. Family members held a demonstration outside the US consulate in Tel Aviv on Friday demanding US President Joe Biden pressure the government to accept a deal.

“The [Biden] administration is more committed to the issue of the hostages than the Israeli government, therefore the families of the hostages, together with other activists, will call on the responsible adult to apply pressure and save the abductees from Hamas captivity and the extremist government,” Ynet quoted the organizers as saying. “These are critical days, a deal is on the table, Ramadan is approaching and every hour must be used to bring about an orderly solution.” READ MORE

US: Houthi surface-to-air missile hit in strike, amid ‘imminent threat’ to aircraft

US forces struck and destroyed a Houthi surface-to-air missile in Yemen Friday after deciding it posed an “imminent threat” to American aircraft, the US Central Command in the Middle East announced on X.

It is unclear if there were any casualties on the ground.

The Iran-backed Houthis, who control much of war-torn Yemen, have been attacking shipping in the Red Sea since November in a campaign they say is in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza amid the Israel-Hamas war.

The US is spearheading a naval coalition to protect vessels in the vital waterway, and has also conducted air strikes in Houthi territory, both on its own and alongside Britain.

On Friday afternoon, US “forces conducted a self-defense strike against one Iranian-backed Houthi surface-to-air missile that was prepared to launch,” CENTCOM said in a statement, adding it had “determined [the missile] presented an imminent threat to US aircraft in the region.” READ MORE

Report: US fears Israel will launch spring offensive against Hezbollah in Lebanon

Officials close to US President Joe Biden are concerned that Israel is planning to launch a ground operation against Hezbollah in Lebanon in the coming months, US media reported Thursday.

According to the CNN report, the Biden administration has held intelligence briefings on the matter, preparing for the possibility that the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group cannot be made to retreat from the border through diplomatic measures.

Speaking to the network on the condition of anonymity, one senior official said that the Biden administration was “operating in the assumption” that a ground operation would occur in the coming months

The official added that it does not expect an operation to be imminent “in the next few weeks” but “perhaps later this spring.”

“An Israeli military operation is a distinct possibility,” the official stated. READ MORE

Erdogan accuses Israel of genocide in Gaza, FM Katz fires back

Foreign Minister Israel Katz on Friday fired back at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, after Erdogan accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza.

Erdogan said earlier on Friday that the crisis in Gaza is a testament to the collapse of the current global order.

Speaking at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum, Erdogan said Western powers that have been unconditional in their support for Israel are "complicit in the bloodshed with their hypocritical policies."

"What is happening in Gaza is not a conflict, it is a genocide, because even wars have their own rules," he said, according to the Anadolu news agency, adding, "I'm talking about treacherous, dishonorable targeting, barbarity that lacks any sense of honor."

Erdogan said Turkey is "following Israel's barbarism with deep concern," adding he was referring to "dastardly barbarism that targets civilians waiting in line for aid."

Responding to Erdogan later on Friday, Katz wrote on X, “Erdogan, who is carrying out a regular massacre of Kurds in Turkey and the region, accuses Israel of committing deliberate genocide in Gaza. Mr. Erdogan, we are not like you. We are fighting against your partners from Hamas whom you hosted in Turkey and enabled them to carry out the massacres and murders. You should be silent and be ashamed!”

Israel and Turkey formally announced in August of 2022 that they would normalize relations by returning the ambassadors and consuls, after years of tensions.

However, since the start of the war against Hamas in Gaza, Erdogan has resumed his frequent verbal attacks on Israel.

In one speech, the Turkish President said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “committed one of the greatest atrocities of this century in Gaza and has already put his name down in history as the butcher of Gaza."

Erdogan later said that Netanyahu is “no different than Hitler”.

US to airdrop aid into Gaza, Biden announces

US President Joe Biden announced on Friday that the US will begin airdropping humanitarian aid into Gaza in the coming days.

In his announcement, Biden stressed that the current flow of aid to the Strip is not enough and added, “We’re going to pull out every stop we can."

Biden was critical of Israel for the lack of humanitarian aid entering Gaza, saying, “In addition to expanding deliveries by land, as I said, we’re going to insist that Israel facilitate more trucks and more routes to get more and more people the help they need. No excuses.”

“Aid flowing to Gaza is nowhere near enough… Innocent lives are on the line and children’s lives are on the line,” the President said. “We should be getting hundreds of trucks in, not just several. And I won’t stand by, we won’t let up and we’re… trying to pull out every stop we can to get more assistance in.”

A White House official told CNN earlier on Friday that Biden plans to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the efforts that the US is making to address the dire situation that civilians are confronting there.

The US military is working to carry out the airdrops in the coming days, a US official told CNN.

Friday’s announcement comes two days after US officials told Axios that the White House is exploring the possibility of airdropping aid from US military planes into Gaza as deliveries by land become increasingly difficult.

According to the report, the amount of aid reaching Gaza fell by half in February, compared to January, after Hamas' civilian police who were escorting aid trucks walked off the job, opening the door for armed gangs and Palestinian Arabs desperate for supplies to attack and loot aid trucks.

Officials also said that Israeli air strikes and the fighting in some areas have hit aid workers, making it increasingly difficult for humanitarian groups to continue their operations.

The administration was skeptical of such an idea early in the war, but support for it has been growing, the official added.

The warming to the idea comes after Jordan conducted several rounds of aid airdrops in Gaza. Its most recent drops were done with the cooperation of Egypt and France.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II himself participated in an airdrop of humanitarian aid to Gaza earlier this month.

Friday, March 1, 2024

The Possible Return of Donald Trump Sends Deep State into Tailspin

The intelligence community is reportedly “on edge” over former President Donald Trump’s potential return to the White House and what it may mean for those who oppose him.

Politico — the outlet that published a debunked article implying the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian disinformation — interviewed 18 former officials and analysts who worked in the sprawling bureaucracy as either appointees or career officials, with the majority wanting to snipe at Trump anonymously, allegedly to “avoid provoking backlash.”

The piece cites Trump critic Fiona Hill — a Russia analyst and former intelligence official who served under George Bush and Barack Obama and went from the liberal think tank Brookings Institution to join the Trump National Security Council, where a number of holdovers from the Obama administration served.

Hill — who also just appeared on CBS News to bash Trump — told Politico:

He wants to weaponize the intelligence community. And the fact is you need to look with a 360 degree perspective. He can’t just cherry pick what he wants to hear when there are so many U.S. adversaries and countries that don’t wish the U.S. well. … If he guts the intel on one thing, he’ll be partially blinding us.

The critics and anonymous former officials warned that Trump could “overhaul the nation’s spy agencies in a way that could lead to an unprecedented level of politicization of intelligence.” They warned that Trump would “push even harder” than his first administration to oust people hostile to his political agenda. READ MORE

What game is Iran playing, suddenly slowing down its nuclear program? - analysis

Iran sent very strong signals between last November and this January that it was pushing the envelope further with its nuclear-weapons program. Why, then, did it suddenly slow things down in February?

Is this a larger policy change? Or is Tehran just playing games again, just before the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors is due to meet in early March?

Iran has reduced its stockpile of 60% enriched uranium by 6.8 kilograms, after having grown it almost continuously since early 2021, the IAEA reported Monday.

On the one hand, this is significant. It not only is complying with the West’s request to freeze its 60% highly enriched uranium progress, but rather, it is also reducing the existing stock.

Sixty-percent enriched uranium is only one level away from the 90% weaponized level. So, while meaningful symbolically, in statistical terms, the change is not worth much. READ MORE

Pentagon head says over 25,000 women, kids killed in Gaza, inflating Hamas claim

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday that more than 25,000 women and children had been killed by Israel Defense Forces since October 7, adding that Israel should do more to protect civilians.

The figure cited by the Pentagon chief went beyond even Hamas’s own claim of around 22,000 women and children killed in 146 days of war, out of some 30,000 unverified deaths, and contradicted Israel’s claim that over a third of those killed have been combatants.

“It’s over 25,000,” Austin told lawmakers when asked during a House Armed Services Committee hearing for the figure on women and children killed by Israel.

Asked about precautions Israel was taking to protect civilians, Austin added that “based upon the results and the significant loss of life, there’s more that should be done.”

A few hours later, Sabrina Singh, a Pentagon spokesperson, said that Austin was citing an estimate from Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry and was referring to total Palestinians killed, not just women and children. READ MORE

As Hamas tries to regroup in north Gaza, IDF forces are determined to root it out

ZEITOUN, GAZA CITY — Less than 48 hours before he lost two of his officers and saw seven more men seriously wounded in a deadly incident in Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood, Lt. Col. Aviran Alfasi, commander of the Givati Brigade’s Tzabar Battalion, laid out the threat posed by Hamas there.

“There is resistance, but it’s not like it was at the beginning,” Alfasi, 34, told The Times of Israel from his command post set up in an upscale Zeitoun home. “They shoot and run away.”

“The battle is way less complex than it was,” he said.

The Tzabar Battalion, part of the Givati Brigade, but currently attached to the Nahal Brigade, is involved in a weeklong offensive in Zeitoun, attacking north from the Netzarim corridor that splits the Strip in two, from Kibbutz Nahal Oz in Israel to the Gaza coast.

While his battalion has freedom of action in Zeitoun, “there is still more work,” said Alfasi. READ MORE

EU chief ‘deeply disturbed’ by Gaza crush, adding to pressure on Israel to launch probe

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen Friday declares that she is “deeply disturbed by images from Gaza,” where dozens of Palestinians were killed as they swarmed a convoy of aid trucks yesterday morning.

“Every effort must be made to investigate what happened and ensure transparency,” the European Commission president writes on X. The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell earlier denounced the incident as a “carnage.”

Hamas blamed the IDF for the deaths, but the military has said most of the casualties were caused by a stampede and people being run over by the supply vehicles. Gunmen also opened fire in the area as they looted the supplies.

Chair of Republicans in Israel: Obama folks run the White House, promote PA state

Attorney Marc Zell, Chairman of Republicans Overseas Israel, spoke to Arutz Sheva-Israel National News.

On the shift in US support for Israel during the current war in Gaza, going from 100% support from President Joe Biden to pressures and demands, Zell says that “those of us who understand what's going on with the Biden administration said very early on that Joe Biden and all of his strong support for Israel, that may have been his personal view. But the people that run Joe Biden, that is the Obama folks that run the White House and Obama himself in his basement near Washington or wherever he happens to be, have a different view about Israel. They were never friendly with Israel."

He continued, "You remember the Obama administration. So, when the Americans expressed shock after October 7th, that was something we understood. But remember what they said. They said ‘we will do what is necessary to let Israel defend herself. We have her back.’ There were statements like that. What they didn't say at the time was ‘we support Israel's war objectives to go in, smash Hamas, take them out for all time, return the hostages and then make Gaza a place with which Israel can live in peace in the future.’ That is not what the Americans ever said.” READ MORE

Thursday, February 29, 2024

'Lebanon will be next': Iran greenlights Hezbollah attack on Israel - report

Iran has given Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah the green light to escalate its attacks along Israel's northern border, the Arabic Post reported on Wednesday, citing high-level Iranian and Lebanese sources.

The Islamic Republic has reportedly set conditions for Hezbollah, ordering it to launch a large-scale attack on Israel only after it "had become certain of Israel's intention" to carry out an invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

As per the report, Tehran gave the go-ahead amid fears that, after the IDF completes an invasion of Rafah, southern Lebanon "will be next."

Nasrallah calls emergency meeting with Quds Force chief over Israeli threats 

A source from Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) told Arabic Post that Esmail Qaani, the IRGC's Quds Force commander, visited Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah on Monday to discuss "the latest developments" along Israel's northern border. READ MORE

Nuclear War with Iran: Israel's science-based options

 “I learn a science from the soul’s aggressions.” - St. John Perse

The evidence is compelling.

In various parts of the world, including the Middle East, a nuclear war is increasingly plausible. Still, identifying meaningful time frames for any such unprecedented conflict would be problematic. Determining a usable hierarchy of war probabilities would be logically impossible.

These conclusions are drawn from science-based queries. In logic and mathematics, judgments of probability must always be based on the determinable frequency of pertinent past events. Ipso facto, such judgments are indeterminable for circumstances that lack relevant precedent.

A nuclear war – any nuclear war - would be unique or sui generis. By definition, therefore, it would lie beyond any scientific assessments of probability. In the case of small and beleaguered states in world politics, however, best-possible estimations could still prove vital to fashioning viable strategic doctrine. Arguably, such estimations could be indispensable.

For us, Israel is the “case at hand.” For Israel, a country much smaller than America’s Lake Michigan, nuclear weapons and nuclear strategy are utterly integral to national survival, and even unscientific probability judgments could be manifestly “cost effective.” If the nuclear warfare threshold were first crossed elsewhere (e.g., India-Pakistan, Russia-Ukraine-United States or North Korea-United States), the consequences of such seemingly unrelated conflicts would still be broadly international. If this critical threshold were first crossed in the context of a US-Russia nuclear war, the consequences would render all other planetary threats conspicuously moot.

In these matters, history will deserve pride of place. Israel’s “bomb in the basement” goes back to early days of the nation. During the 1950s, David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, understood the need for a dramatic "equalizer" vis-a-vis larger and more populous regional enemies. In essence, “the old man” sought to best secure his country’s existence in a fragile world of continuous anarchy and expanding chaos. READ MORE