News Digest — 1/4/24

Chief Of Staff:  ‘We’ll Change Our Routine Defense Measures’

IDF Chief of the General Staff Herzi Halevi on Wednesday (3rd) held a situational assessment at the northern border, together with top commanders.

Among those participating in the assessment were the Commanding officer of the Northern Command, MG Ori Gordon, and the Commanding Officer of the 210th Division, BG Zion Ratzon, along with the brigade and battalion commanders from the reserve units guarding the sector.

“Based on my impressions, we are in a very high state of readiness in the North,” Halevi said.  “I visit here often.  I think our readiness is at its peak.  There is a lot of expertise, great capabilities, and high morale.  We are in very high readiness in all sectors and we are currently focusing on fighting Hamas.”

“This war started at a difficult point.  I think we talked about it last time we met, we won’t elaborate on it now.  But it also creates an opportunity in these very difficult circumstances to create a very significant change to the situation, in the south, in the north, and in terms of general regional stability.”

Halevi stressed, “Looking forward, we are going to change our routine defense measures, we are going to have more soldiers on the borders for at least the next year, and we will reach something much stronger.  Because of this event, as hard as it is –  and we will talk about it a lot more – we could have known or we couldn’t have known – it cannot repeat itself, that’s for sure.  And we need to provide a very very strong response to this matter.”

“In our decisions, I know that there is a trained, prepared, ready force, with a lot of spirit.  And we are going with that, that’s our security, we don’t have anything stronger than that.  That’s the best.”



IDF Proof: Hamas, PIJ Use Young Children For Gaza Terrorist Activities, Incitement

A large amount of evidence has been collected as part of the IDF’s ongoing military campaign against Hamas in Gaza proving the indoctrination of children from a young age to hate Israel and Jews, as well as theoretical and practical military training.

The IDF published on Wednesday (3rd) collated photos and videos showing children undergoing military training, posing with weapons,and even simulated drills in a mock tunnel.

It is also well documented by international organizations that Palestinian textbooks used in Gaza’s schools, including those run by international agency UNRWA, contain anti-Semitic and anti-Israel tropes, and over the 16 years that Hamas has been in power, hundreds of thousands of children have enrolled in the terror group’s summer camps, where children are also taught to shoot weapons, fight against tanks and even kidnap soldiers.

These camps are known as the early stages of training for Hamas’ military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades.  ID cards collected by the IDF also show children’s membership in Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

Even during the ongoing war, when holding such training camps is impossible, Hamas continues to utilize those underage for various tasks, including sending children to deliver both messages and ammunition.

Children are used to transfer ammunition with the understanding that the IDF will not harm them due to the Israeli military’s compliance with international law.  Examples include the transfer of explosives in vegetable bags by children in Gaza and the sending of children to combat zones after attacks in order to assess the damage and report it to Hamas terrorists who are hiding in shelters.

Israeli hostages who were released from Hamas captivity described how some of them were also kept in the family homes of Gazans, which included children, who helped to attend to the hostages.

Hamas is also known to use children’s schools and playgrounds as military infrastructure, including hiding weapons there as well as constructing entrances to tunnel shafts.

In December, Israeli soldiers located and exposed a Hamas terrorist ambush at the entrance to a tunnel shaft, using dolls and children’s backpacks in an attempt to lure soldiers who were looking for hostages.



Mossad Chief: ‘Those Who Took Part In Oct, 7 Massacre Signed Their Own Death Warrants’

The head of the Mossad spy agency David Barnea declared Wednesday (3rd) that anyone involved in carrying out Hamas’ Oct. 7 onslaught “signed his own death warrant,” a day after the terror group’s deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri was killed in an alleged Israeli strike in Beirut.

Barnea made the comment at the funeral of former Mossad chief Zvi Zamir, likening Israel’s ongoing declared mission to eliminate Hamas’ leaders to the decades-long operation – launched by the late spy chief – to hunt down the Palestinian terrorists responsible for the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

“Let every Arab mother know that if her son took part in the October 7 massacre – he signed his own death warrant,” Barnea said.

“Today, too, we are in the middle of a war,” Barnea said at the funeral.  “The Mossad today, like 50 years ago, must hold to account the murderers who invaded the Gaza border area on October 7 – the planners and those who sent them.” 

Zvi Zamir, who died Tuesday (2nd), aged 98, led the Mossad from 1968 to 1974, six tumultuous years that saw the organization and its straitlaced chief embark on the worldwide hunt for the Black September group of terrorists following the Munich Olympic attacks.  He also served as spy chief during the Yom Kippur War in 1973.   

 The current war erupted on October 7 when some 3,000 terrorists led by Hamas burst through the border from the Gaza Strip and rampaged through southern regions, slaughtering over 1,200 people in Israel, mostly civilians, amid brutal atrocities.  Over 240 people of all ages, including small children and the elderly, were abducted and taken hostage in Gaza.

Aside from possible assassinations abroad, the Mossad and Shin Bet have reportedly formed a special operations center tasked with tracking down and killing members of the Hamas commando unit that led the October 7 attacks.

According to the Ynet news site, the unit will be named after the World War I-era Jewish underground organization Nili, an acronym for a Hebrew phrase that translates as “the Eternal One of Israel does not lie.”

Israel has already announced the killing of several Hamas commanders in Gaza during the fighting, though the group’s local leader Yahya Sinwar and his deputies remain at large.

Israel has remained mum on the explosion that killed al-Arouri on Tuesday (2nd) and shook the Lebanese capital’s southern suburbs, which are a stronghold of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group.

However, sources in Washington have told media outlets that Israel carried out the assassination.



US Official: Explosions In Iran Look Like An ISIS Terror Attack

The two explosions at a ceremony in Iran on Wednesday (3rd) looked like a “terrorist attack” of the kind Islamic State (ISIS) has been responsible for in the past, a senior Biden administration official said on Wednesday (3rd), according to Reuters.

The official, speaking to reporters, said, “it does look like a terrorist attack, the type of thing we’ve seen ISIS do in the past, and as far as we are aware, that is kind of our assumption at the moment.”

Meanwhile, the United States rejected any suggestion that it or Israel were behind the blasts in Iran.

“The United States was not involved in any way, and any suggestions to the contrary is ridiculous,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said, as quoted by the AFP news agency.

“We have no reason to believe that Israel was involved in this explosion.  We do express our sympathies to the victims and their loved ones who died in these horrific explosions,” added Miller.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday (3rd) that Israel informed its allies that it was not involved in the explosions in Iran.

Sources familiar with Israeli operations said that the style of operation does not match the pattern of the attacks attributed to Israel in Iran in the past, which were often more precise, and aimed at specific individuals or military infrastructure in the country.

At least 103 people died in the explosions which took place as mourners gathered on the fourth anniversary of the elimination of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).  Soleimani was eliminated in a US drone strike in Iraq in January 2020.



Erdan At UNSC: ‘Houthi Attacks On Ships Are Precursor To Dark Future In The Region

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, spoke at the UN Security Council on Wednesday (3rd) regarding the Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea.

“The Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea are a precursor to the dark future expected for the region and the entire world if significant action isn’t taken against them urgently.  The Ayatollah regime in Iran is the only factor that connects together all the perpetrators of destruction in the Middle East,” said Erdan.

“This council has already previously recognized the Houthis as a terrorist organization.  Now is the time to impose sanctions on them and on those who finance or arm them.  It is time to talk about the Shiite elephant in the room: the Ayatollah regime in Iran.”

“Iran is hiding while it is the one pulling the strings, arms, and finances its terrorist organizations.  The Houthis, terrorists who belong to one of the poorest countries in the world, would never have obtained ballistic missiles and exploding drones without Iran and would not have had the ability to locate ships without receiving intelligence from Iran in real time.”

“It’s time to expose this to the world and take action.. This could be the moment when the council will respond to the real threat to the Middle East,” concluded Erdan.

The discussion was initiated by the US following a series of attacks by the Houthis against ships carrying goods to the area.

This is not an Israeli problem, it is not even a Middle East problem.  This is a threat to the entire world.  A complete closure of the Bab-el-Mandeb strait will cost the world economy 6 billion dollars every day.



 Does The World Hate Gaza and Gazans? – Lt.-Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

• Over the last 500 years, at least, the Gaza Strip has been a backwater.  For the last 100 years, Gazans have increasingly been used as pawns, by both the Arabs and the international community, in their efforts to vilify Israel and the Jews.  Paradoxically, Israel did more for the Gazans than any other of its changing rulers.

• For 400 years (1517-1917), when the area was part of the Ottoman Empire, it was never recognized as linked to Judea and Samaria.  From 1948 to 1967, Gaza remained under Egyptian control.   Yet Egypt merely administered the Strip under perpetual military law, never granting its residents Egyptian citizenship.

• At the same time, no UN resolution ever called on Egypt to end its illegal occupation of the Strip and withdraw or to recognize the new Arab state envisaged by the UN Partition Plan.  The areas that are now so often referred to as the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” do not appear to have been “Palestinian territories” until they were liberated by Israel in 1967.

• Despite Israel’s “disengagement” from Gaza in 2005 and its redeployment to the Armistice Line of 1949, the international community invented the claim that Israel remained an “occupier” of Gaza.  In no other situation in the world is a country considered an “occupier” of another region without “boots on the ground” and without exercising effective control.

• On October 7, 2023, over 3,000 terrorists led by Hamas, infiltrated Israel from Gaza and murdered more than 1,200 Israelis.  Israel responded by declaring all-out war on the Gazan terrorists.  In normal circumstances, a war situation almost always results in the creation of refugees forced to flee the fighting.  But the war in Gaza created no new refugees.  Instead of welcoming their Arab brothers, Egypt refused to allow Gazans to cross into the Sinai Peninsula, lining up tanks and armored vehicles along the border to prevent the Gazans from fleeing.

• The international community may not actually hate the Gazans.  Rather, the international community hates Israel and is willing to do its utmost to vilify and condemn the Jewish state.  To serve this goal, the international community uses the Gazans as pawns and cannon fodder.  Gazan’s lives don’t matter to the international community unless they can be weaponized against the Jews and the Jewish state.

The writer served for 19 years in the IDF Military Advocate General Corps and was director of the Military Prosecution in Judea and Samaria.