News Digest — 1/22/24

Gallant: ‘Smoke Will Hover Over Gaza Until We Reach Our Goals’

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday (21st) visited the 100 Squadron of the Israel Air Force at the Hatzor Airbase, and participated in a flight over Gaza, together with the squadron’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel S.

After the flight, Gallant held a conversation with the pilots, squadrons, and air crew members, and met the crews on the ground who are responsible for armaments of the aircraft.

He expressed his appreciation to the air and ground teams, and emphasized the importance of coordination between the Air Force and the forces operating in the Gaza Strip in order to achieve the operational goals.

“I just got off a flight with Squadron 100 on a patrol over the Gaza Strip.  I saw the forces operating in the north of the Gaza Strip, in the center of the Gaza Strip, in the south of the Gaza Strip – I witnessed a real-time attack by the Air Force in the south of Gaza City,” said Gallant.

 He added: “The precision, the quality of the execution, the perfect coordination with the forces, are very impressive.  We are actively operating in the Khan Yunis area and the operation will continue to expand.  The smoke of the tanks, of the cannons, and of the aircraft of the Air Force will continue to cover the skies of the Gaza Strip, until we achieve our goals, chief among them – the defeat of Hamas and the return of the hostages to their homes.”



General Among 5 IRGC Commanders Killed In Alleged Israeli Strike On Damascus

Three Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers killed in an alleged Israeli airstrike that flattened a building in Damascus on Saturday (20th) were described in Iranian state media with an honorific used only for generals, suggesting the targets were senior commanders.

Tehran vowed on Saturday (20th) to take revenge on Israel after the strike, which it said killed five guards, and an unspecified number of Syrian troops. 

Ambulances and fire trucks gathered around the site of the strike, which had been cordoned off, a Reuters journalist at the scene said.

A security source in a network of groups close to Syria’s government and its ally Iran told Reuters the multi-story building was used by Iranian advisers supporting President Bashar al-Assad’s government.  It was completely flattened by “precision-targeted Israeli missiles” the sources said,

Portraits of the five Revolutionary Guards carried on Iranian state media referred to three of them with an honorific used for generals, while the others were a major and someone holding a lower rank.  The security source said one of the generals was head of information for the elite force.

“The Islamic Republic will not leave the Zionist regime’s crimes unanswered,” President Ebrahim Raisi said in a statement condemning the strike, state broadcaster IRIB reported.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on X: “The activities of Iran’s military advisers in the fight against terrorism and securing the region will continue with full strength.”

There was no comment from Israel, which has long pursued a bombing campaign against Iran’s military and security presence in Syria but typically does not discuss such attacks publicly.

It has killed Iranian Guards in several such strikes in a stepped-up campaign in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by militants of the Iranian-backed Palestinian terrorist group Hamas from Gaza.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an Iranian-backed Palestinian faction present in Syria and Lebanon condemned the airstrike but said that none of its members were wounded, dismissing reports that some were at the bombed-out building.

Iran and its military allies in Syria have entrenched themselves in wide areas of eastern, southern and northern Syria and in several suburbs around the capital.

In December, an Israeli airstrike killed two Guards members, and another near Damascus on December 25th killed a senior adviser to the Guards who was overseeing military coordination between Syria and Iran.

Israel responded to the Hamas assault on southern Israel on Oct. 7 by unleashing a devastating air and ground war in Gaza with the aim of eradicating its ruling Islamic group, Hamas.  The conflict has reverberated across the Middle East with violence surging in Syria, Lebanon, northern Iraq and in the Red Sea.

In Lebanon, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah as well as local wings of Palestinian terrorist groups have fired rockets across the border at Israel in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

On Saturday (20th), an Israeli strike in southern Lebanon killed a member of Hezbollah and one other person as they were traveling in their car, two security sources said, after earlier saying two Hamas members had been killed.



IDF Discovers Child’s Drawings, Caged Cells Where Hostages Were Kept In Tunnels

When the IDF accessed a tunnel after a fight with terrorists in Khan Yunis, they found a child’s drawings, mattresses, caged cells, and other evidence of hostages being held on the premises, according to the IDF.

The IDF entered the tunnel which was half a mile long and 22 yards deep with hidden explosives.

After battling the terrorists in the tunnel, the IDF emerged through blast-proof doors to a space underneath the house of a terrorist.

In the area, they saw mattresses, caged cells, kitchen and food supplies, and a drawing that was made by 6-year-old Emilia Aloni who was freed in late November.  Inside the tunnel, conditions were humid with little air, and very dark with no sunlight..

The IDF spokesperson said, “We saw five caged cells where we believe up to 20 hostages were held at various times, without daylight, limited air (oxygen), and terrible humidity.”

Some of the hostages held there were freed and others were moved to different locations.

Images from the tunnel showed a makeshift kitchen, a water heater, a fan, water bottles, a toilet, and clothes belonging to the hostages.  After the troops took photographs of what they saw, they destroyed the tunnel.

The conditions the IDF witnessed have taken a physical and psychological toll on hostages.

Over a month since more than 100 hostages were released from Gaza, many are still receiving medical or psychiatric care according to a report from Israel’s Welfare Ministry.

Two of the freed hostages remain in hospitals and the National Insurance Institute has provided 54 with caregivers offering services such as different therapies and treatments.

The hostages are all receiving ongoing medical care and 85 are supervised by nurses.

Regarding the living arrangements of the released captives, 18 have returned to their regular homes, 27 are now staying in hotels after their communities were destroyed on October 7, and 26 are currently staying with other family members.



Israeli Surgeon Hopes To Bring Movement Back To Amputees From October 7 Massacre

For ten years, nearly 120 amputees around the world have been given new lives after undergoing arm or leg transplants from deceased donors.  They can move their new limb and feel heat and temperature.  This highly-complex surgical procedure requires dozens of coordination and extensive preparations.  But now, an Israeli orthopedist who has participated in such transplants and personally transplanted limbs, disclosed in an interview with Maariv that this surgery is now available in Israel.

In 2010, American Marine Sergeant John Peck lost all his limbs in Afghanistan.  Six years later, he successfully underwent arm transplantation surgery.  After the initial months of rehabilitation  at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Peck demonstrated the movement of his new arm.

The complex surgery, which lasted about 12 hours and involved orthopedists, vascular surgeons, neurosurgeons, transplant nurses, and technicians, connected the blood vessels, nerve fibers, muscles, bone tissue, and skin from the donated limb to Peck’s 31-year-old body.  The next day, he woke up attached to someone else’s arm.

Peck was among the many success stories of limb transplants performed worldwide in recent years.  Most of these transplants were arms, and a leg transplant was performed in at least one case.  The work on such a surgery is complicated: it requires many approvals, maximum tissue matching between the deceased donor and the recipient, matching the shape and length of the transplanted limb, and of course, the knowledge and experience of the transplant teams.

One of the few doctors in Israel who has participated in limb transplant surgery abroad is Dr. Zvika Steinberger, head of the Microsurgery Unit at Sheba Medical Center.  Since October 7, Steinberger has treated severely injured patients with upper and lower limb injuries,some amputated and some saved from amputation.  Over the years, he has operated on dozens of patients who underwent hand or leg amputation and, in some cases, reattached them with the help of operating teams.

“Israel, unfortunately, is very experienced in treating limb amputees,” Steinberger said in an interview.  “We treat dozens of amputation cases a year here, we know how to reattach a hand, arm, and leg that has been partially or completely severed.  These surgeries are very complex and take many hours, but we know how to do them and also have the experience.  But this surgery is more complex, requiring coordination, finding the right donor, knowing exactly where to attach the limb of the donor and to cut in the right place at the right height, to connect the artery veins, tendons, bones, and muscles, so that the limb can perform both the rotational movements and the sensation.  This requires great precision.

But it’s not just the coordination and preparations for such a transplant surgery that are complex:  the rehabilitation of the transplantees is also very long, and after many months of recovery, they have to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of their lives.  “Despite the many difficulties, if you ask me, it will be a tremendous achievement if we can bring these transplants here to Israel and a great joy for me as a surgeon to see a soldier who lost an arm or leg for the defense of the country, manage to move the limb again and to feel, something he could never do with a prosthesis.  This is the least we can return to the lives of the brave soldiers who protected us and lost so much,” Steinberger concluded.

Dr. Tamar Ashkenazi, the director of the Israeli National Transplant Center at the Health Ministry, explained, “Consent to donate an internal organ is not the same as donating an external organ.  Such a donation must reach agreements with the families of the deceased, public awareness, and increased awareness.  It’s a process that will require a change in perception.  However, any action that can save lives or significantly affect the quality of life of an injured person is certainly worthy of feasibility consideration in the country.”



U.S. Administration’s Pathway To A Palestinian Terror State – Bassam Tawil

• As Iran and its proxies continue the jihad (holy war) to murder Jews and eliminate Israel the US administration has not abandoned its dream of creating a Palestinian terror state on Israel’s doorstep.  The last thing the Middle East needs is another Iran-dominated terror state that would destabilize security and stability and pose an existential threat to Israel.

• According to the US administration, the current war in the Middle East is the result of Palestinians not having a state of their own.   Creating a pathway to a Palestinian state is the best way to stabilize the wider region and isolate Iran and its proxies, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday (17th).

• By continuing to obsessively stick to the creation of a Palestinian state, the US administration  is actually sending a message to Iran and its terror proxies that terrorism pays –  that if they inflict more pain and casualties on Israel, the Americans will reward them with a state of their own next to Israel to facilitate their mission of continuing their jihadist murder spree against Jews and finally obliterate Israel.

• A future Palestinian state would be controlled by Palestinians who reject Israel’s right to exist.  The most recent public opinion poll published by the Palestinian Center For Policy and Survey Research showed that since the Oct. 7 massacre, Hamas’ popularity has increased and its support has more than tripled in the West Bank compared to three months ago.  The poll found that 64% of Palestinians oppose the idea of a two-state solution, while 53% support a return to the “armed struggle” against Israel.

• Polls have consistently shown that a majority of Palestinians believe that Hamas is more deserving of representing them than the PA.  This means that if and when a Palestinian state is established, as the US administration is hoping, it will be ruled by Hamas and its masters in Iran.  It means that Hizbullah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Houthis and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps would be overlooking the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway and Ben Gurion International Airport.  It would mean copy-pasting Hamas-ruled Gaza to the West Bank, bringing the danger to the center of Israel.

• Creating another Arab state alongside Israel would incentivize Iran and its clients to escalate their jihad against Israel: It would send them the message that the more Jews you murder, the more land you get – as a launching pad to attack Israel.  What the US administration seems unable to grasp is that there are still too many people among the Palestinians, and many other Arabs and Muslims, who have yet to come to terms with the right of a nation that is not Islamic to remain in its home in the Middle East.



For Palestinian Arabs, The Problem Is Israel’s Existence, Not Its Borders – Dr. Harold Rhode Interviewed by Bennett Ruda

Once a land has been conquered and is “open to Islam,” it is Muslim forever.  In the Muslim mind, though their physical control over Spain ended in 1492, Spain still belongs to the Muslims and will never be a part of the non-Muslim world.  Turkish President Erdogan still talks about southeastern Europe as being “part of the Ottoman-Muslim area.”

In 1949, after Israel defeated five Muslim armies, at the Rhodes talks the Muslims insisted on the phrase “ceasefire lines” instead of “borders.”  The word “borders” implies recognition of the people living there.  But a Muslim would find that unacceptable because those lands should remain Muslim forever.  To the Arabs, the lines drawn in 1948-1949 do not matter.  The land is completely Muslim.

From the Western point of view, we’re talking about how to divide up land; this is the point of pushing for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.  However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu understands that the Arabs are not talking about how to negotiate Israel’s borders.  They are talking about Israel’s existence.  And People cannot compromise on their existence.

Dr. Harold Rhode, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, lived for years in the Muslim world and served as an adviser on the Islamic world for the U.S. Department of Defense for 28 years.