News Digest — 10/12/23

Israel Forms Emergency Government For Hamas War, Gantz To Join Netanyahu

An emergency government was formed on Wednesday afternoon (11th) after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Unity leader Benny Gantz met in the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv earlier in the morning.

The meeting lasted half an hour, after which lawyers representing the Likud and National Unity stayed behind to finalize the details.

As part of the deal, Gantz and fellow party members Gadi Eisenkot, Gideon Sa’ar, and two others will be sworn in as ministers for the duration of the war.

Gantz will join a war cabinet with Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and Eisenkot and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer will be observers.  A spot will be kept open for opposition leader Yair Lapid should he join the emergency government.

The agreement also states that throughout the war, no legislation that is unrelated to the war will be done in the Knesset.

There has been a widespread call for an emergency government in Israel since Netanyahu declared war on Hamas on Saturday (7th) following their massive attack on Israel that morning.

Gantz was immediately joined by opposition leader Yair Lapid and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman in saying that they would be willing to join an emergency government.  Coalition members also expressed support for the move.

Netanyahu and Gantz have held multiple meetings over the past few days to discuss the details of the emergency government, but it took five days to come together.



ISIS Flags Found On Bodies Of Hamas Terrorists In South

The flag of the terrorist group ISIS was discovered on the bodies of the terrorists in Kibbutz Sufa in the aftermath of the attack on the community.

Israeli authorities believe that the terrorists, who killed many residents of the kibbutz, had planned to raise the ISIS flag but were eliminated by Israel counterterrorism forces before they could carry out their plan.

More than 1,300 people were killed, and over 3,000 others were injured in the Hamas terror attack on the communities in the Gaza area, which began last Saturday (7tth).

The commander of the 99th Gaza Brigade 99, Colonel Barak Hiram, on Wednesday (11th) described the horrors he witnessed in one of the kibbutzim he visited. “During the searches, we found people tied up and shot, wounded children, babies in strollers.  There was no mercy.  Bringing well over 100 terrorists to this kibbutz was not an occupation mission – it was a slaughter mission.  It was not just entering to conquer the place.  We had to remove more than 100 civilian bodies from the kibbutz at the end of the fighting. 

In a briefing to the media held by IDF spokesperson, Brigadier-General Daniel Hagari, earlier on Wednesday (11th), he said that at least 1,000 terrorist bodies have been found throughout Gaza.  “This indicates the magnitude of the attack.  They had equipment and plans for occupation, not just looting and killing, but occupation,” he said.



Israel’s Ambassador Slams The UN: “How Many Dead Jews Does It Take?’

 Israel’s Ambassador to the UN this week slammed United Nations officials and the UN Human Rights Council for their equivocations and failures to condemn Hamas’ massacre of more than 1,300 Israelis since Saturday (7th).

“Israel just suffered the gravest human rights atrocity since the Holocaust,” Gilad Erdan said.

“How many dead Jews does it take to justify a proportionate response against a genocidal terror organization?  Is it 1000?  Six million?  Maybe it’s 10 million – the population of Israel.  This is, after all, Hamas’ publicly declared goal .  So I ask you, how many murdered Jews does it take for you to support Israel’s right to self defense?”

Erdan was responding to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk,who in a statement on Tuesday (10th) called for a ceasefire and did not mention Hamas by name, referring instead only to “armed Palestinian groups,” and said it was “horrific and deeply distressing to see” hostages being ill-treated, as well as reports of killings and desecration of their bodies.”

Turk also expressed concern that the largest single-day massacre of Jews since the Holocaust could  provoke Islamophobia.

“The human rights chief expressed deep concern at how hate-speech and incitement to violence had surged since Saturday (7th), fueling anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in the region and globally,” his statement said.

Erdan also slammed the UN Human Rights Council for its “distorted moral standard” and promised that Israel would “obliterate Hamas terror infrastructure.”

“The Human Rights Council has lost its moral compass,” Erdan said.  “Sadly you refuse to differentiate between good and evil, murderers and perpetrators.  Your moral comparisons sent a clear message to the terrorists that if they hide their rockets and weapons under schools and hospitals, and use the people of Gaza as human shields, the Human Rights  Council gives them immunity for their heinous crimes.”

Erdan’s condemnation comes as the UN’s Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Israel announced on Tuesday (10th) that it was investigating war crimes committed by “all sides” in what is called “Israel’s latest attack on Gaza.”

In a press release, the commission acknowledged that there are “reports” that Hamas has killed hundreds of civilians before pivoting to what they allege to be “Israel’s” crimes.

“The commission is gravely concerned with Israel’s latest attack on Gaza and Israel’s announcement of a complete siege on Gaza involving the withholding of water, food, electricity and fuel which will undoubtedly [sic] cost civilian lives and constitute collective punishment,” the commission said.

The commission – which is formally titled the “Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Including East Jerusalem, and Israel” and was established by a resolution in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva – has faced extensive criticism from Israel, the United States, and others for the alleged bias of its commissioners and its open-ended mandate.

One of the COI’s commissioners, Miloon Kathari, was forced to apologize in August 2022 after saying in an interview that social media was “controlled largely by the Jewish lobby” and that he “would go as far as to raise the question of why Israel is even a member of the United Nations.”

The COI investigation was also touted by the UN’s Special Rapporteur for Palestine, Francesca Albanese, who posted about the investigation on X (Twitter) on Tuesday (10th).  In an interview with Al Jazeera on Monday (9th), Albanese, who has described the United States as being “subjugated by the Jewish lobby” and last year told a Hamas conference that there was a Palestinian “right to resist,” blamed Israel for Hamas’ slaughter.



Nearly 8,000 Israelis Request Firearm Licenses Amid Hamas War

The National Security Ministry said Wednesday (11th) that it has received over 7,946 new requests to carry arms since fighting with Hamas began in Israel’s South last Saturday (7th).

Over 545 permits for personal handguns have been processed with 970 new licenses being issued overall.  To address the high demand, the ministry is allocating 60 additional staff members to assist the department.  Notably, more than 27,000 permits have been granted from the start of the year.

“Every city resident will be able to get an armament license,” National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said Wednesday morning (11th) at the Sderot police station.  “We are facing Operation Guardian of the Walls 2, so we will be ensuring that we are prepared, with guns on every street corner,” he added.

Correspondingly, the National Security Ministry has overseen the purchase of 10,000 firearms, out of which 4,000 assault rifles have been bought in a deal that costs around NIS 23 million.  These guns were purportedly distributed Wednesday (11th) alongside other protective gear, to emergency response units in 400 locations across Israel.

The terms for obtaining gun permits have been eased considerably following recent events.  According to the ministry’s updated conditions, any Israeli citizen interested in obtaining a permit, either for self-defense or because they are serving in the IDF, will be entitled to a gun license, provided that they have medical approval, police approval, and pass the exams for carrying private firearms.

In addition, those interested will only have to undergo a quick phone interview, rather than having to appear in person, after which the permit will be issued within a week’s time.

Others may apply for a license as well on the condition that they either live in areas that have been declared danger zones; have army training designated Rifleman 07 and above; or are currently serving in the IDF or other Israeli security forces with the ranks of lieutenant, staff-sergeant-major. or higher.

Additional eligible candidates include those who have served in special units, firefighters, police officers, or employees and volunteers serving in various rescue divisions.  Finally, those holding expired or provisional permits will be given extensions, whereas those with valid licenses who have yet to undergo a refresher course or training will be able to get their weapons back.  

“Ammunition saves lives.  We will be ensuring that as many Israeli citizens as possible will be able to get personal firearms, and we will continue to make certain that the process for this is straightforward,” Ben-Gvir emphasized.  “We have replenished weapon supplies for existing emergency response units, and we will be opening new such units across the country to make sure no area is left unprotected.”



Now Comes The Test Of Who Supports Israelis’ Human Right To Self-Defense – Natan Sharansky

World Leaders have denounced Hamas’ barbarism and affirmed the legitimacy of Israel’s right to self-defense.  But what about tomorrow?  What will happen as the Palestinian death toll rises?  Hamas has a powerful unconventional weapon: Palestinian civilians used as human shields.  The more Palestinians who die because Hamas terrorists cynically hide behind them, the more the  free world will turn against Israel.

It is only a matter of weeks, or days, or even hours, until articles will appear in major publications depicting the Israeli government as indiscriminately targeting innocent Palestinians, and the UN will pass resolutions demanding that we cease our war of self-defense.

I was a member of Israel’s security cabinet when we made crucial decisions about how to fight terror during the Second Intifada in the early 2000s, at a time when hundreds of Israeli civilians were targeted and killed simply for living in the Jewish state.  In light of these experiences, I know with certainty that Israel expends more effort than any other country during wartime in trying to minimize harm to innocent civilians on the enemy side.

The world would benefit immeasurably if Saturday’’s (7th) attack were to prompt free nations, together with leading human rights organizations, to finally unite completely in the fight against terrorism – and in the belief that every state, Jewish or not, has the right to defend itself against the indiscriminate murder of its citizens.

The writer, a former Soviet dissident and refusenik, was an Israeli government minister and chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel. (Washington Post)



History Will Judge Those Who Fail To Stand Against Hamas – Israeli President Isaac Herzog (TIME)

• Not since the Holocaust have more Jews been murdered in one day.  Not since the Holocaust have we seen such images of innocent Jewish mothers and children, teenagers and old women loaded into trucks and taken away into captivity.  Hamas has imported, adopted, and replicated the savagery of ISIS.

• Whole families have been wiped out.  Mothers and fathers, with babies in arms, murdered in cold blood.  Massacred.  A young couple, Tamar and Yonatan, murdered in their home along with their six-year-old twin daughters Shachar and Arbel, and 4-year-old son Omer.  A wheelchair-bound Holocaust survivor in her 80s who was taken into captivity by Hamas terrorists.

• Israel will act firmly and with full force to defend its people and eliminate this threat.  This is our solemn duty.  However, the international community also has a duty to fulfill here.

• For too long, when Israel has faced incursions or rockets from Gaza, elements of the international community have sought to justify Hamas’ actions, swallowing their lies.

• Over the next days and weeks, Israel will be doing all it can to secure its borders, to remove the threat posed by Hamas, and to return its captive civilians and soldiers.  It will demand the support of the international community.

• History will judge Hamas for its crimes against humanity, along with all those who failed to stand against them.