News Digest — 1/29/24

Israel’s Accusation Against UNRWA Workers: “They Kidnapped And Handed Out Weapons’

The New York Times on Sunday (28th) published details on the accusations that Israel leveled at workers of UNRWA, the UN agency for “Palestinian refugees,” who are suspected of taking part in the Hamas attack on October 7.

According to the report, one of the UNRWA workers is accused of kidnapping a woman, another is said to have handed out ammunition and a third was described as taking part in the massacre at Kibbutz Be’eri where 97 people were murdered.

The accusations are continued in a dossier provided to the United States government that details Israel’s claims against a dozen employees of UNRWA according to The New York Times.

Two Western officials confirmed on the condition of anonymity that they had been briefed on the contents of the dossier in recent days.  Although the United States has yet to corroborate the Israeli claims itself, American officials say they found them credible enough to warrant suspending aid to the UN organization.

The Israeli dossier, presented to US officials on Friday (26th), lists the names and jobs of the UNRWA employees and the allegations against them according to The Times.

The dossier said that Israeli intelligence officers had established the movements of six of the men inside Israel on October 7 based on their phones, others had been monitored while making phone calls inside Gaza during which the Israelis say they discussed their involvement in the Hamas attack.

Three others got text messages ordering them to report to muster points on Oct. 7, and one was told to bring rocket-propelled grenades stored at his home, according to the dossier.

Since Friday (26th), a host of countries have announced they would be suspending funding to UNRWA, after its commissioner-general, Philippe Lazzarini, announced that the UN agency has launched an investigation into employees who were allegedly involved in the October 7 attacks.

The US was the first to announce it paused funding to UNRWA –  it was followed by Canada, Australia, the UK, and Finland.

On Saturday (27th), Germany, Scotland and the Netherlands announced that they would suspend funding – followed by France and Japan on Sunday (28th).

UN officials have urged the countries who have paused funding to UNRWA to reconsider their decision.



Lebanese Patriarch To Hezbollah: ‘We Refuse To Be Sacrificial Lambs For Cult Of Death’

Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi spoke out against the escalation of tensions between Hezbollah and Israel on Sunday (28th), saying that residents of southern Lebanon had told the Maronite Church that they refuse to be “sacrificial lambs” for a “culture of death” in an apparent criticism of Hezbollah’s escalation along the border.

“The people of the border villages in the south express to us their pain at the state’s abandonment of them and of its duties and responsibilities towards them,” said Rahi in his Sunday sermon (28th).  “They, both old and young, are living through the brunt of the war imposed on them and rejected by them, as they consider that Lebanon and the Lebanese have nothing to do with it.”

The patriarch stressed that the residents of southern Lebanon told him that they are, “experiencing the psychological pressures of war” and that the children in the area are unable to go to school due to the conflict.”

“[Southern residents] continue: ‘You can imagine the extent of failure, chaos, and anxiety resulting from this bitter reality, and its repercussions on the educational and psychological future of our children,’’’ added Rahi.    

“They added: ‘Allow me to say it loud and clear – it’s not as an abandonment of national or Arab issues, but rather out of my honesty with myself that I refuse to make myself and my family members hostages, human shields, and sacrificial lambs for failed Lebanese policies, and for the culture of death that has brought nothing but imaginary victories and shameful defeats to our country.”

Rahi has been a vocal opponent of Hezbollah and the escalation of violence between Israel and Hezbollah.

At the end of December, Rahi rejected the extension of the war between Israel and Hamas to southern Lebanon, saying, “It must be stopped, and the Lebanese people, their homes, and their livelihoods must be protected, as they have not yet emerged from the disastrous results of the Lebanese War.  We demand the removal of any rocket launcher planted between homes in southern towns that would require a devastating Israeli response.”

The patriarch called on everyone to “respect Security Council Resolution 1701 with all of its provisions for the good of Lebanon.”

In the past, Rahi has called for the Lebanese Army to disarm Hezbollah and take back control of southern Lebanon. 



Netanyahu To The Wall Street Journal: War Against Hamas Going ‘Better Than Expected’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview published Friday (26th)  in The Wall Street Journal that Israel’s war efforts against Hamas are going “better than expected.” 

“It took the US and its allies nine months to defeat radical forces in Mosul,” he said, referring to the 2016-2017 war against Islamic State in Iraq.  Mosul is smaller than Gaza and does not have the massive terror underground in infrastructure.”

Speaking to a contributing columnist to the paper,  Netanyahu added that despite what it might look like from the outside, he believes he represents the views held by the majority of Israelis when it comes to the day after the war in Gaza, and the future of the Palestinians.

“Some in the United States believe that the obstacle to peace with the Palestinians is me,” he said in the interview.  “They don’t realize I reflect the views of most Israelis.”  Regarding a future two-state solution, Netanyahu said that any future agreement would require Israel to retain “overall security control” of all areas west of the Jordan River – including the Gaza Strip.

While calling October 7 the worst day in Israeli history, during which Hamas massacred close to 1,200 people in Israel and took another 253 hostages, the prime minister did not say anything to the news outlet regarding those responsible for preventing the attack.

Netanyahu did express concern over the growing sentiment against Israel in Western Public opinion, specifically mentioning the December Congressional hearings of three Ivy League university presidents, in which they refused to condemn genocidal calls against Jews, and a recent poll showing that 20% of US adults between the ages of 18-29 hold positive views of Osama bin Laden.

“America is the vanguard of freedom and the guarantor of liberty in this century,” he said.  “If a younger generation emergers in America that supports the head-choppers, it is a problem for civilization.”

When asked about the South African case against Israel in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Netanyahu said that  “What South Africa did was shameful.  South Africa is basically aligning itself, in the name of opposing genocide, with the genocidal murderers of Hamas. 

Netanyahu repeated this sentiment in a press conference on Saturday night (27th), calling the allegations of genocide against Israel “ridiculous” and saying that they prove “that many in the world have not learned a thing from the Holocaust.”

Netanyahu also told The Wall Street Journal that his actions and close relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin prevented Iran from building “a second Hezbollah base” in Syria.  However, the premier conveyed disquietude over the Islamic Republic’s warming relations with Russia:”Iran has become the chief arms supplier to Russia and we’re obviously concerned about Russian reciprocation,” he said.



Aharon Barak’s Chilling ICJ Testimony: ‘Nazis Failed To Take Our Humanity’

“Genocide is more than just a word to me,” wrote Aharon Barak, former Israeli High Court President and Israel’s appointee to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) panel, where South Africa had accused Israel of committing genocide as it fights against Hamas in Gaza.

Barak wrote these words within the framework of the ICJ’s decision in The Hague, in a document that, beyond being part of a legal ruling, also includes a personal testimony.

“I was a 5-year-old boy when, as part of Operation Barbarossa, the German army occupied my hometown of Kaunas in Lithuania,” he wrote, “within a few days, almost 30,000 Jews from Kaunas were taken from their homes and placed in the ghetto.  It was as if they were sentenced to death, and we awaited execution,” he went on to say.  “On October 26, 1941, all the Jews in the Ghetto were ordered to gather in the central square, known as ‘Democracy Square.”  About 9,000 Jews were taken from the square that day, and executed by machine gun fire.

Barak opened his remarks by criticizing South Africa’s appeal to the court.  He then reminded Israel of its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention of Genocide, alongside acknowledging Israel’s right to defend itself, and emphasizing the importance of providing humanitarian aid to the residents of Gaza.  He noted that the court emphasized that “all parties in the conflict in the Gaza Strip are subject to international law – which certainly includes Hamas as well.”

Barak explained in great detail why he opposes the demand for an immediate cessation of hostilities, and the definition of Israel’s actions in Gaza as “genocide,” a concept that represents, in his view, calculated destruction, and human behavior at its worst.”  According to him, “this is the most serious accusation possible, and it is woven in the experience of my personal life.”

Barak also told about his personal experiences as a Holocaust survivor.  “There was constant hunger in the crowded ghetto,” he wrote.  “It was a community of people condemned to death, but in their hearts there was a spark of hope, and a desire to preserve their basic human dignity.”  He recounted one of the particularly painful episodes in the history of the ghetto: “At the beginning of 1944, the Nazis rounded up all the children under the age of 12, loaded them onto trucks and shot them.”

“It was clear that I had to leave in order to survive.  I was smuggled out of the ghetto in a sack and I was taken to a Lithuanian farmer.  A few weeks later, my mother and I were transferred to another farmer.  We had to be very secretive, so the farmer built double walls in one of the rooms.  We hid in this narrow space until liberation by the Red Army on August 1, 1944.  Only 5% of Lithuanian Jews survived.

The former Israeli High Court President then detailed the impact of the Holocaust on his life and work: “I thought a lot about how this experience affected me as a judge.  In my opinion, the effect was twofold: First, I am deeply aware of the importance of the existence of the State of Israel.  If Israel had existed  in 1939, it is possible that the fate of the Jewish people would be different.  Secondly, I am a great believer in human dignity.  The Nazis and their conspirators wanted to turn us into ashes and dust.  They wanted to take away our dignity as human beings, but in this they failed.

“In the most difficult moments in the ghetto, we preserved our humanity.  The Nazis succeeded in murdering many of our people, but they failed to take away our humanity.”



International Court Of Justice Accepted That Claim Of Genocide In Gaza By Israel Was Plausible – David Horovitz

While Israel’s main TV stations headlined that the International Court of Justice “did not order a halt to the fighting” in Gaza, the court’s decision was awful nonetheless, practically and morally.  The court determined that South Africa’s claim of genocide was plausible.  Making plain that it was not finished with Israel and the interim stage of the claim of genocide against it, the court also required Israel to report back within a month on its progress in implementing the judges’ demands that it “take all measures within its power” to prevent the killing or injuring of Gazans.

The court, citing at length a series of comments by Israeli leaders interpreted as suggesting that Israel’s war is against all Gazans, quoted UN officials describing Gaza as unlivable, and air-brushed out Hamas – the instigator of the conflict and the prime cause of Gaza’s deepening catastrophe.

The court’s measures were misdirected. It is from Hamas, not Israel, that Gaza’s noncombatants must be protected by international measures.  Were it not for Hamas, they would not be in danger.  There would be no war.  Israel would not be mourning its dead and seeking the return of its hostages..  And tens of thousands of Israelis would not be internal refugees, displaced from their communities by Hamas – another part of the reality the judges overlooked.

It should be obvious that if Israel had any intent to commit genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza, there was nothing to stop it bombing Gaza to oblivion.  Except it wouldn’t do such a thing.  Its leadership would not have ordered such an onslaught.  Israel’s conduct of its war against Hamas has been overtly designed to protect noncombatants – notably by pleading with them to leave war zones and overseeing humanitarian corridors for their evacuation.

The overwhelming majority on the court essentially backed a monstrous aggressor, protecting a barbaric, death-cult Islamic government, indifferent to the well-being of the populations it governs, with genocidal ambitions against the state next door.  And its judges are not done yet.



Hamas Fights With Weapons From Iran, China, Russia, and North Korea – Michael Biesecker

An AP analysis of videos and photos from three months of combat in Gaza shows that Hamas has amassed an arsenal of weapons from around the world – much of it smuggled past a blockade that was aimed at stopping such a military buildup.  These include Iranian sniper rifles, AK-47 assault rifles from China, Russia, and North Korea – and Bulgarian-built rocket-propelled grenades.

Experts who viewed the images were able to identify distinguishing features and markings that show where many of the weapons wielded by Hamas were manufactured.  Many of the weapons appear to be relatively new.

“The majority of their arms are of Russian, Chinese or Iranian origin, but North Korean weapons and those produced in former Warsaw Pact countries are also present in the arsenal,” said N. R. Jenzen-Jones, director of the Australian-based Armament Research Services.  An Israeli military official said most of the smuggled weapons are believed to have been brought in through Egypt.