News Digest — 1/8/24

Defense Minister: ’Israel Is Fighting An Axis, We Aren’t Going To Give Up’

Israeli Defense MinisterYoav Gallant told the Wall Street Journal Sunday night (7th), in an interview,  that Israel is not fighting a single enemy, but an axis.

Speaking to the WSJ, Gallant said: “October 7 was the bloodiest day for Jewish people since 1945. The world needs to understand.  This is different.”

Gallant’s “basic view,” he said, “is that Israel is “fighting an axis, not a single enemy,”

“Iran is building up military power around Israel in order to use it,” he added.

At the same time, Israel is also moving from the “intense maneuvering phase of the war” to “different types of special operations.”  This phase, he warned, “will last for a longer time.”

Gallant added that Israel is nearing the next phase in northern Gaza, including in Gaza City, and that Israel “takes into consideration” the large number of civilians in the area. 

“But we aren’t going to give up,” he warned, explaining that Israel’s goal is not only to destroy Hamas, but also to deter other potential adversaries allied with Iran.

Gallant also told WSJ that although Israel does not seek war with Hezbollah, eighty-thousand people need to be able to go back to their homes safely.”

He stressed, “We are willing to sacrifice.  They see what is happening in Gaza – they know we can copy-paste the same to Beirut.”

Hamas leaders “didn’t take it seriously, even when we first went in,” he told the newspaper.  “Should Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran be allowed to decide how we live our lives here in Israel?  This is something we don’t accept.”



Netanyahu Vows ‘Total Victory’ Over Hamas, Warns Hezbollah Is ‘Not Immune’

Israel will strike hostile terrorists operating anywhere, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  said Sunday (7th) in a veiled threat to the Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah, and Hamas terrorists living in exile.

Speaking at the opening of the government’s weekly meeting Sunday (7th), Netanyahu reiterated his pledge that the IDF will continue operating in the Gaza Strip until Hamas has been destroyed, and all of Israel’s captives are returned.

“I have a clear message for our enemies: What happened on October 7 will not happen again,” Netanyahu said.

“This is the commitment of my government and this is the reason why our soldiers in the field are giving their lives.  Our commanders and soldiers, conscripts and reservists, in the north and the south, repeat one thing: ‘We are not coming back until we carry out the mission’ and say ‘We are not stopping until victory.’ “

“The war must not be stopped until we achieve all of its goals: Eliminating Hamas, returning all of our hostages, and ensuring that Gaza will never again constitute a threat  to Israel.  I say this to both our enemies and our friends.  This is our responsibility and this is our commitment.”

Neanyahu also hinted at the possible expansion of the simmering conflict on Israel’s northern border, warning Hezbollah that Israel is prepared to launch a broad counter-terror operation in southern Lebanon if the Iranian-backed terror group escalates tensions.

“Every other consideration must be set aside, and we must continue until total victory.  This victory will be achieved only when we complete our goals and when we restore security to residents of the north and south alike.”

“I suggest that Hezbollah learn what Hamas has already learned in recent months: No terrorist is immune,” Netanyahu said, just days after deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri – who had been hosted in Beirut – was killed in an airstrike last week attributed to the IDF.

“We are determined to defend our citizens and to return the residents of the north safely to their homes.  This is a national goal that we all share and which we are all working to achieve responsibly.  If we can, we will do so diplomatically, and if not, we will work in other ways.”



IDF Chief Of Staff During Judea And Samaria Visit: ‘We Will Be At War All Year’ 

IDF Chief of Staff LTG Herzi Halevi held a situational assessment on Sunday (7th)  in the Judea and Samaria Division, together with the Commanding Officer of the Central Command, MG Yehuda Fox, and the Commanding Officer of the Judea and Samaria Division, BG Yaki Dolf, and the commanding officers of the division’s regional brigades.

“The year 2024 will be challenging; we will be at war in Gaza.  I don’t know if it will be all year long, but we will continue to fight in Gaza, that’s for sure, and this will also hold the other arenas, certainly in Judea and Samaria, to a certain state of alertness,” Halevi said.

“Terrorists are very willing to carry out terror attacks, and it will be very much in our hands how we succeed in preventing this, how we succeed in thwarting this.  What is our role?  Maximum determination in fighting, in thwarting, in fighting terrorism, in entering a residence, in killing the terrorist, maximum determination and values,” the Chief of Staff added.

With regards to the northern front, Halevi stated: “Hezbollah decided to enter into this war, and we are exerting an increasing cost from Hezbollah all the time – they paid yesterday with seven killed – they paid yesterday with two very important targets hit, and we are increasing the price that they are paying.  It will end with us having a responsibility, a duty, to return the residents of the north in security, not under duress, safely to their homes.  It will come either by the pressure we are now applying, which is rising, and will do the job and will create a completely different reality, or we will get to another war.”

The Chief of Staff concluded: “We will do it, we will do it with excellence; even after the long battles already, and challenges in many arenas, we will know how to do it excellently.  To achieve the war goals, we have a long way to go, and therefore, this will take time.”



Palestinian Authority Calls For Terror Organizations Unification To Rule Gaza After War

The Palestinian Authority’s Fatah leaders claimed they are confident that once Israel defeats Hamas’ infrastructure, their leaders will unite with the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror organizations to rule the Gaza Strip, according to a Sunday (7th) Palestinian Media Watch report.

The question of who will rule the Gaza Strip when Israel defeats Hamas is a widely discussed topic that has led to much uncertainty and debate.

In a call for unity between Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, Fatah Central Committee Secretary Jibril Rajoub stated on December 17, “We stand before a great turning point… the time has come for us [Fatah and Hamas] to reach a compromise.”

“We view political Islam, and foremost among it the Hamas movement, as part of the fabric of our struggle and our political and social fabric.  We must preserve our achievements, we are a liberation project, and we are all potential martyrs,” Rayjoub continued.

In addition to Rajoub’s call for unity, Fatah official Muhammad Al-Hourani added, “We believe Hamas is taking action for the freedom of the land.  Therefore we, Hamas, and all the Palestinian factions must think deeply and seriously about realizing the unity of the Palestinian arena under the flag of the PLO.

In contrast to the PA Fatah leaders, the IDF has stated that there will be no chance of unification between terrorist organizations once Israel defeats Hamas.

The role of the PA is planned to be minimized once Hamas no longer has a hold over Gaza.  However, this does not mean that the IDF intends to hold control over the area.

“Hamas will not rule Gaza,” said Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in a press briefing last week.  However, he added that Israel would not hold a civilian governorship over Gaza, instead of the terrorist organizations.

In other words, the plan is to create a transitional stage that would allow the US, European allies, and Arab allies, such as the Saudis, Egypt , the UAE, and others, to assist in the change of governance in the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu has avoided public debates on these issues and has mostly affirmed that there will be no involvement by the PA.



A New Reality Needed On The Gaza-Egypt Border – Meir Ben Shabbat

Israel cannot allow Hamas’ tunnel network to stay in place in Gaza.  Israel must make it clear that as long as there are tunnels, the war will continue.

In addition, it is clear that arms smuggling into Gaza cannot be prevented without effective control over the Philadelphi Route and the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.  Supervision mechanisms and reliance on other arrangements have always turned out to be a resounding failure.  As long as there is a free flow of weaponry from Sinai to Gaza, it will not be possible to ensure the demilitarization of the Strip.

An effective buffer between Gaza and Egypt will serve not only Israel’s security needs but will also contribute to Egypt’s national security – it will prevent Hamas terrorists in Gaza from reaching Egyptian territory.  Hamas is the strongest armed group in the Muslim Brotherhood, a bitter foe of the regime in Egypt.

Further, there is no reason why Hamas should be allowed to continue controlling the distribution of aid.  This allows it to maintain power and govern.  To topple Hamas’ rule, Israel must prevent it from having a grip on the distribution and other resources that only help it cement its status as the governing authority of Gaza.  This is the only way that will lead to a real collapse of the regime in Gaza.

Victory over Hamas requires creating a reality in the Strip that will not allow the resurgence of terrorist elements.  Such a fundamental change requires Israel to act with resolve and over a  long period, without standing with a stopwatch in hand.

The writer, head of the Misgav Institute for National Security & Zionist Strategy in Jerusalem, served as Israel’s National Security Advisor and head of the National Security Council.



Western Civilization Is Under Threat From Without And Within – Brendan O’Neill

On numerous occasions in 2023 I’ve wanted to call out both barbarism and its intellectual apologists, to express disgust for these new enemies of Western civilization.  From Hamas to the radical Islamists in Europe who feel inspired by Hamas, to the West’s own sons and daughters of privilege who make excuses for Hamas – all have proven themselves to be the adversaries of truth, culture and reason.  Surely no one will now deny that Western civilization is under assault on two fronts: from without and within.

The apologists for Hamas in privileged circles have been mind-blowing.  Hamas’ bestial violence against the Jews has been denied, downplayed or outright justified.  A “day of celebration” is how one privately educated pretend radical in Britain described the racist butchery of 7 October.  The sympathy shown by woke Westerners for Hamas’ apocalyptic violence reveals a moral kinship between these two sections of society.  It exposes their shared contempt for Western civilization, their shared indifference to human suffering, and their shared loathing of freedom.

We cannot afford to underestimate how significant it is that many of our young sympathize with Hamas, and view the Jews they butchered, as oppressors.  Both wokeism and Islamism scorn the idea of Western civilization.  Both disavow Enlightenment as Western arrogance.  And both hate Jews.  One side views them as pigs and monkeys, the other as an oppressor class.

Jews have come to be seen as the embodiment of modernity, and therefore the enemies of modernity, whether that’s the civilization skeptics of our own elite universities or the civilization attackers of radical Islam, they both turn on them viciously.  There is a reluctance, these days, to speak of a clash between civilization and barbarism.  Yet its existence can no longer be ignored.  On one side, there are those who have abandoned reason, on the other, those of us who wish to defend it.  (Spiked – UK)