News Digest — 1/18/24

Netanyahu: ‘We will Fight On Land, Sea And Air Until We Achieve Total Victory’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited an IDF air force base in Southern Israel on Wednesday (17th), vowing that his government will “eliminate” the Hamas terrorist organization and rebuild border towns devastated during the October 7th invasion.

During his tour of the Nevatim Air Base, Netanyahu inspected the Israel Air Force’s 116th Squadron, nicknamed the “Lions of the South” which flies the F-35l “Adir” stealth fighter, the latest addition to the IAF and the most advanced warplane in Israel’s arsenal.

Netanyahu also received an operational briefing from Nevatim Air Base Commander Brig.-Gen. Yotam Sigler, and from 116th Squadron Commander Lt.-Col. D (whose full name has been redacted) on its activity up till now in the fighting in all sectors, and on its various missions, including assisting the ground forces in Gaza, strikes on Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon, discovering and intercepting hostile aerial targets, and other missions.

The prime minister reiterated his pledge to continue the ongoing war in Gaza and to crush the Hamas terrorist organization and to return Israelis still held captive in the coastal enclave.

Netanyahu vowed that Israel would take steps to prevent Gaza from threatening Israel in the future, but has yet to offer details on his plan for the “day after” in Gaza regarding security control and civil administration of the area.

“The war is continuing and it will continue until the end, until we achieve all of its goals: Returning the hostages, eliminating Hamas and ensuring that Gaza never again constitutes a threat to Israel.” 

“Let nobody misjudge us.  We will continue to fight on land, at sea and in the air until total victory.”



Gallant Visits Israeli Navy Seal’s Base

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Wednesday (17th) said during a visit to the Shayetet 13 Israeli Navy Seals base in the northwestern city of Atalit that the IDF needs to double the number of killed Hamas terrorists from 9,000 to 18,000 or more.

Gallant said, “There is only one legal response for actions like those perpetrated on the seventh of October – elimination of the organization.  Hamas has more than 9,000 dead, we need to double that number, and even that will not be enough.”

Given that the rate at which the IDF is killing or arresting Hamas terrorists has dropped significantly in the last month – it was unclear how Gallant thought Israel would accomplish this.

The defense minister also responded to implicit calls by his fellow war cabinet ministers Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, as well as Opposition leader Yair Lapid and many media commentators to put returning Hamas’ Israeli hostages ahead of completely defeating Hamas.

He stated, “I hear the rumors about a hostage exchange deal with Hamas without full victory, but we will continue fighting until victory.  Not near, not almost, not basically, but until we smite the Hamas organization, take away all of its significant military capabilities and remove it from power in Gaza.”

“As long as there are hostages in Gaza,” he said, “we have no right to stop the fighting,” adding that, “the only way to bring the hostages home is military pressure.”

Gallant continued, “What is being done in the northern area of Gaza is a dismantling of all the capabilities of Hamas, the frameworks of their battalions, and as a result, IDF brigades can maneuver from place to place, including Beit Lahia, Beit Hanoun, and Jabalia, and the same is true of the eastern part of central Gaza, and we will get there in Khan Yunis as well.”

He also promised Hamas it would see unspecified “surprises” regarding the hostages.



Members of Indian Bnei Menashe Tribe Say Seeking To Enlist In IDF

Hundreds of young people from the Bnei Menashe tribe in northeastern India want to immigrate to Israel and enlist in the IDF to join the war.  The tribe recently held a march in support and in solidarity with Israel in the city of Aizawl in the state of Mizoram in northeastern India to mark 100 days since the outbreak of the war in Gaza.

Participants waved Israeli flags and called on the government to bring them to Israel immediately so that they could enlist in the IDF and fight alongside its soldiers, whom they call “our brothers and sisters.”

According to the Shavei Israel organization, which has been working to bring members of the group to Israel for over 20 years, 215 men from the Bnei Menashe tribe are already serving in the IDF and taking part in fighting against Hamas and Hezbollah.  According to the organization, 75 of them are active duty soldiers (most in combat units) and 140 in the reserves.

The organization also said that, as a general rule, the rate of recruits among the Indian immigrants was very high and stands at 99% among the men.  10% of the women enlist in the IDF and 90% do national service, for religious reasons.

“The members of the Bnei Menashe community are passionate Zionists and care deeply about the State of Israel, its citizens and their security.  It is not by chance that many of them choose to serve in combat units in the IDF, and we are proud of their willingness to risk their lives like other IDF soldiers,” said the founder and chairman of the Shavei Israel organization, Michael Freund.

“Since the outbreak of the war, we have received hundreds of requests from young community members in northeastern India who wish to immigrate to Israel and enlist immediately in the IDF to fight shoulder to shoulder with their brothers and sisters.”

According to the tradition passed down through the generations, the members of the Bnei Menashe community in India consider themselves descendants of the Menashe tribe (tribe of Manasseh), one of the Ten Lost Tribes that were expelled from the Land of Israel at the end of the First Temple period, more than 2,700 years ago, by the King of Assyria.  Their number is currently estimated at approximately 10,500 people.  So far, about 5,500 Bnei Menashe immigrated to Israel thanks to the Shavei Israel organization, and about 5,000 are still waiting in India for the opportunity to immigrate, but the Israeli government, so far, has yet to respond to their requests.



South Africa’s False Charges Of Israeli “Genocide” – Max Boot

Israelis struggle to understand how their country could be accuse of carrying out genocide in a war they did not start.  If any party to the conflict is guilty of attempted genocide, it is Hamas.  This terrorist organization, which is explicitly dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state, has carried out war crimes, including the murder of Israeli civilians, the kidnapping of more than 200 Israelis (including old people and young children), and the widespread use of rape and violent assault against Israeli girls and women.

There is no denying that Israeli forces have inflicted large-scale death and destruction in Gaza.  This is a great tragedy for the people of Gaza, but the primary blame must be with Hamas, because it launched an unprovoked attack on Israel and uses civilians as human shields, in violation of the laws of war.

But there is no evidence that Israelis have engaged in a deliberate campaign to “destroy, in whole or in part,” the Palestinian people – which is what “genocide” means in international law.  If Israel, with all the firepower at its disposal, had been trying to commit mass murder, the death toll would have been higher by orders of magnitude.

Far from trying to deliberately slaughter Palestinian civilians, Israeli forces have made extensive efforts to notify them in advance of military operations and urge them to move out of the line of fire.  Israeli forces ordered “humanitarian pauses” to facilitate relief efforts and created a “humanitarian corridor” for evacuations from northern to southern Gaza.

Israel has also facilitated the entry of more than 8,000 trucks carrying more than 145,000 tons of food to Gaza since the start of the war, some of which Hamas has seized for itself.  These are clearly not the actions of a nation bent on exterminating the Palestinian people.  (Washington Post)



Netanyahu Rejects ICJ Prosecutors’ Claim That Bible Quote Was Call To Genocide

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a response to the claim at the International Court of Justice in The Hague that Netanyahu’s quote of a biblical verse regarding the destruction of Amalek was a call for genocide.

South Africa charged Israel with genocide in its war against Hamas, and in an attempt to prove the intent to destroy the whole, or part of a people, Netanyahu’s quoting a biblical verse was presented by South African officials as an argument that Israel’s goal was to destroy the Palestinian people.

Shortly after October 7th, the prime minister compared the savagery of Hamas’ crimes to Amalek, a people who in the Book of Exodus attacked the Jewish people as they left Egypt and deliberately targeted children and those who were weaker.

Netanyahu quoted the phrase from the Bible,”Remember what Amalek did to you.”

The statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said, “The Amalekites mercilessly attacked the Children of Israel after the Exodus from Egypt.”

The statement continued, “The comparison to Amalek has been used throughout the ages to designate those who seek to eradicate the Jewish people, most recently the Nazis.”

The Prime MInister’s Office pointed out that the verse is often quoted to remember persecution and is not interpreted as a call to commit atrocities.

The statement said, “That is why the words on a banner on a permanent exhibit at Yad Vashem, Israel’s famed Holocaust Museum, urges visitors to “Remember what Amalek did to you.”

It continued, “This same phrase appears in The Hague at the memorial for Dutch Jews murdered during the Holocaust.  Obviously, neither reference is an encitement to genocide of the German people.”

“So too Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reference to Amalek was not an incitement to genocide of Palestinians, but a description of the utterly evil actions perpetrated by the genocidal Hamas terrorists on October 7th, and the need to confront them.”



How To End The Suffering Of The Palestinians – Bassam Tawil

In Syria, Palestinians are worried about a new government law that considers them “foreigners,” which would deprive them of the ability to purchase real estate.  In Lebanon, Palestinians are also considered to be foreigners and are “prevented from employment in 39 professions, such as medicine, law and engineering,” according to UNRWA.

Arab citizens of Israel, by contrast, have Israeli citizenship, can own, buy and sell property, can vote and run in national and local elections, and have equal access to public healthcare and education.  Many serve in senior positions in hospitals, universities, colleges, courts, the civil service, and even in the Israel police and the Israel Defense Forces.

Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011, 4,214 Palestinians living there have been killed and more than 15,000 wounded, according to the Action Group for Palestinians of Syria (AGPS).  3,076 Palestinians are currently being detained in the prisons of the Syrian security services, while another 333 have gone missing.  Fayez Abu Eid, a spokesperson for AGPS, said the Syrian security services have killed 643 Palestinians under torture in their detention centers.

Those who are condemning Israel for defending itself against the savagery and terrorism of Hamas care nothing about the plight of the Palestinians in Syria or any Arab country.  So-called pro-Palestinian groups in the U.S. do not speak out against Arab crimes against the Palestinians; they are too busy unjustly demonizing Israel.

If these activists want to end the suffering of the Palestinians, they should be demanding that the Arab countries end their discriminatory and repressive measures against their Palestinian brethren.  The real anti-Palestinians are not the Israelis at all, but those who cannot be bothered to learn the truth about the actual human rights abuses of Palestinians, delivered at the hands of Arabs.  (Gatestone Institute)