News Digest — 1/15/24

‘We Won’t Let The World Forget Atrocities Of October 7th,’ Said Israeli Defense Minister

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant vowed that the IDF will continue operating in the Gaza Strip until Israel has achieved its objectives, rejecting foreign pressure to wrap up the war against Hamas.

In a tweet published Sunday (14th) to mark 100 days since the October 7th invasion of southwestern Israel, Gallant highlighted terrorist atrocities committed during the invasion, saying Israel will not allow the memory of the massacre to pass.

“It’s been 100 days since Hamas launched a brutal attack on Israel – murdering, raping and torturing, children, women, and men,” Gallant tweeted.

“It’s been 100 days since our loved ones were taken hostage to Gaza.  We will not let the world forget.”

Echoing comments by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday (13th), Gallant pledged to continue the war against Hamas until the terror group is defeated.

“We will not leave the hostages behind, and we will not stop until Hamas is defeated.”

“The IDF is fighting the most just war in our history.  And while we face a brutal enemy, we continue maintaining moral and professional standards, taking measures to distinguish between the civilian population and terrorists.  It’s been 100 days, yet we will not stop until we win.”

On Saturday (13th), Prime Minister Netanyahu slammed South Africa’s genocide allegations and the ongoing war crimes proceedings at The Hague., insisting that neither would stop Israel from destroying Hamas.   

“We will restore security to both the south  and the north.  Nobody will stop us – not the Hague, not the Axis of evil and not anybody else.”

“The hypocritical  onslaught at The Hague against the State of the Jews, that arose from the ashes of the Holocaust, at the behest of those who came to perpetrate another Holocaust against the Jews – is a moral low point in the history of nations.”



IDF Unit Commander: ‘We Must End The War With Significant Achievements’

Major Eli (res.), a unit commander in the 28th battalion spoke with Israel National News on the intensive military offensive after 100 days of fighting.

“You say 100 days and you suddenly realize that it is a lot of time – but it doesn’t feel that it is that long,” Major Eli says.  “We set off on this military campaign out of a sense of panic and urgency, and from that same feeling on the first day, we are still here now.  Time is passing quickly for us.  We are doing quite a few things, but our heart is with those inside and we need to release them.”

“We understand what we are doing and why we are doing it, and we are also looking into the future on behalf of the people of Israel.  There is no sense of a show-off war or just some quick battle.  This is a war that was forced upon us and we must ensure significant achievements so that this does not happen again, and again and again,” he added.

According to him, “We are in a campaign that has complex and heavy prices.  We have many dead and wounded as well as the heavy price that we all paid at the beginning.  There are, of course, also the prices of being away from home for over 100 days.  Of course, all of our careers have been stalled, but ultimately, with the complexities, we all understand why we are here.”

Major Eli mentioned the feelings between the soldiers and the strength it gives each one of them.  “This is a brave group that is really united most unbelievably and totally focused on our mission.  The atmosphere is wonderful and it is amazing to see it – both in regard to maintaining our routine and in the operational activities.  We are a regiment of lions.”

I’m not fully aware of what is going on outside, but I do know that we understand what we’re doing, and that everything we do is promoting the goal.  We’re also clear that there’s no quick job to be done here.  We have to put in a lot of effort.  We’re here and we’re privileged to be those who are defending our country.”

Finally, he spoke about the divisive arguments and political quarrels that he encounters at home.  “It’s not so clear to me why this is happening.  We have all been reminded that there is so much more that unites us than separates us.  I see how everyone is together here, and I have no doubt that the social discourse will also change the day after – there is much, much more that unites us.”



Hezbollah Anti-Tank Missile Kills Israeli Mother And Son In Their Home

Anti-tank fire from southern Lebanon struck a home in the northern Israel town of Kiryat Yuval Sunday afternoon (14th), killing a member of the local emergency response team, Barak Ayalon, 48, and his mother Mira, 76, in their home. 

Barak Ayalon was found dead at the scene and his mother Mira, who sustained serious injuries, was transported by helicopter to a hospital before she succumbed to her injuries.

After the passing of Ayalon was announced, a statement was released, “It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of Barak Ayalon, a member of the alert squad who fell  while defending the community.”

The statement continued, “We, members of the alert squad, and the town’s management and council, bow our heads in sorrow.    A separate announcement will be made about the date of the funeral,” it concluded.

In addition to the attack on Kiryat Yuval, the terror group also fired missiles into the northern towns of Zar’it and Shomer.

The IDF responded by hitting Hezbollah Targets including a command center and terrorist infrastructure.

Hezbollah responded with more strikes, but they landed in open fields in Misgav Am and Goren.

Last weekend, Hezbollah fired its most intense missile attack against Israel since October 7th, firing 40 rockets that set off alarms in 90 Israeli communities.

According to a Hezbollah statement at the time, the attack was a response to the killing of Hamas terror chief Saleh al-Arouri in Lebanon.

Although Hezbollah boasted of significant Israeli casualties and injuries, there were no reports of people killed or wounded in the attacks.

Many of the missiles were aimed at Mount Meron, which houses a military radar station in northern Israel.

In response , the IDF hit a terror cell in Lebanon from where many of the rockets had been launched. 

The IDF reported striking targets in Ayta ash-Shab, Yaroun, and Ramyah which included missile launch areas, military centers, and terrorist infrastructure.



Report: Hamas Leaders In Lebanon Flee Country In Fear Of Assassination By Israel

As per a source in the Gaza-based terrorist group, Hamas has taken significant measures to ensure their leaders’ security following the targeted killing of Saleh al-Arouri.

Most of Hamas’ military leaders based in Beirut escaped the Lebanese capital due to fears of being targets of assassinations, KAN news reported Sunday night (14th), citing a source within Hamas.

Arouri was killed along with at least five other people in an alleged Israeli drone strike in the southern suburbs of Beirut.  Arouri was not only viewed as one of the master planners of Hamas’ October 7 massacre in southern Israel, but it was also one of the reasons the Iran-backed leader was in Lebanon.

According to the KAN report, Hamas officials left Lebanon and soon were deported to Syria and Turkey.  In addition, senior leader Ghazi Hamad had reportedly fled to Qatar and has not returned to Lebanon since Arouri’s assassination.

Early on Sunday (14th), Israeli forces arrested Dalai and Fatima al-Arouri, the sisters of the former Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri at their homes in al-Bireh and Aurora in the West Bank, according to Palestinian reports.

The two are suspected of spreading incitement, according to Army Radio, and were taken for interrogation.



Israel Rebuts Genocide Accusation At International Court Of Justice – Jess Bravin

Israel denounced South Africa’s claim that it is committing genocide against Palestinians, telling the International Court of Justice on Friday (12th) that it was outrageous to liken the Jewish state’s military response to Hamas attacks launched from Gaza to Nazi Germany’s systematic extermination of six million Jews during the Holocaust.

Tal Becker, chief lawyer of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, said South Africa’s recitation of the destruction in Gaza ignored that Hamas provoked the war, continues to attack Israel, and locates its personnel and armaments in civilian facilities.

“The absurd upshot of South Africa’s argument is this: Under the guise of the allegations against Israel of genocide, this court is asked to call for an end to operations against the ongoing attacks of an organization that pursues an actual genocidal agenda,” he said, citing Hamas’ dedication to killing Jews and eliminating Israel.

“Israel seeks neither to permanently occupy Gaza or to displace its civilian population.  It wants to create a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike, where both can live in peace, thrive and prosper, and where the Palestinian people have all the power to govern themselves, but not the capacity to threaten Israel.”  (Wall Street Journal)



Germany Joins UN Case On Israel’s Behalf, Says ‘No Basis’ For Genocide Charge

Germany’s government said Friday (12th) that it will request to join the International Court of Justice case as a third party on Israel’s behalf, saying there is “no basis whatsoever” for genocide accusations.

Under the court’s rules, if Germany files a declaration of intervention in the case, it will be able to make legal arguments to support Israel at the merits phase of this case to address how the genocide convention should be interpreted, legal experts say.

“That would come after the court issues its decision on South Africa’s request for urgent measures to protect the Palestinian people in Gaza,” said international lawyer Balkees Jarrah, associate director of the International Justice program at Human Rights Watch, in an interview from The Hague where she attended the ICJ hearings.

Berlin’s support for Israel carries some symbolic significance given Germany’s Nazi history.

“Hamas terrorists brutally attacked, tortured, killed and kidnapped innocent people in Israel,” German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said in an interview Friday (12th).  “Since then, Israel has been defending itself against the inhumane attack by Hamas.”

“We know that different countries assess Israel’s operation in Gaza differently,” Hebestreit said.  “However, the Federal Government firmly and expressly rejects the accusation of genocide that has now been made against Israel at the International Court of Justice.”

Hebestreit said Germany “sees itself as particularly committed to the Convention against Genocide.”  He added: “We firmly oppose political instrumentalization.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the announcement, saying the gesture “touches all of Israel’s citizens.”



Foreign Interns Keep Gaza-Periphery Dairy Farms Afloat – Bernard Dichek

Dairy farms along Israel’s Gaza border have been supplying milk uninterruptedly since the outbreak of the war on Oct. 7 owing to a small cadre of staff that remained behind, as well as university students from Africa and Asia.

“Without our agricultural interns from Ghana and Tanzania we would have had a hard time milking our cows and feeding our calves,” says Gabo Altmark, the manager of the Kibbutz Zikim dairy farm.  The students were offered the opportunity to relocate, but unlike Zikim’s foreign workers who were quick to leave, the students insisted on remaining.  “Because of the good treatment and support we received in the heat of the war, we decided to stay,” says Kwabena Frimpong, 28, from Ghana.

More than 3,200 university students from 30 countries in the developing world are training at farms across Israel, including 92 from Indonesia, which does not yet have diplomatic ties with Israel.  About 250 were on the farms near Gaza.

“My mother has called me every day since the war began,” says Phearan Ke from Cambodia who works at the Kibbutz Gvaram dairy farm.  “I explain that my year here is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and though the situation was tough for the first few days, now that soldiers patrol the kibbutz, we feel quite safe.”

Unlike the temporary foreign workers who usually come from small villages and have a limited education, the agricultural interns are all university-educated and many are aspiring entrepreneurs.