News Digest — 10/20/23

Prayers Held At Western Wall For Safe Return Of Hostages

A special prayer service was held on Thursday evening (19th) at the Western Wall for the safe return of hostages held in the Gaza Strip and for the success of the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli security forces in the war against Hamas.

Avichai Brodtz, whose wife and three children were abducted and taken to Gaza, and Shmuel Rabinowitz, the Rabbi of the Western Wall, participated in the event, which included the recitation of Psalms and prayers for the IDF’s welfare.

Such gatherings at the Jerusalem holy site are held during times of national emergency.

The IDF said on Thursday (19th) that 203 hostages are being held in Gaza.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the families have been notified and stressed that the number will likely rise, as the military receives new information.

Some of the notifications were made with high confidence and others with moderate to low confidence, per Hagari.  Other families of missing Israelis have been told that their loved ones are not hostages.

Nearly two weeks after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel’s Gaza border communities, many Israelis remain unaccounted for.  The IDF is continuing to search near the border, and forensic experts are working around the clock to identify bodies.

More than 1,400 Israelis were killed and as many as 4,600 others wounded in the attacks.



Prime Minister Visits Troops, Vows To Use ‘All Our Might’ To Achieve Victory

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the troops on Thursday (19th) near the Gaza border, vowing that Israel will crush Hamas.

“We will emerge victorious with all our might,” Netanyahu said to the group of soldiers.  Everyone in Israel is rooting for you, and we are going to deal our enemy a forceful blow to get to victory.”

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told the troops gathered at the Gaza border on Thursday (19th) that they will soon see the Palestinian enclave “from inside,” suggesting an expected ground invasion, with the aim of annihilating Hamas, could be nearing.

“You see Gaza now from a distance, you will soon see it from inside.  The command will come,” Gallant told soldiers.  Gallant also said the battle will be long and hard.  Shortly after Gallant’s statement, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu issued a video of himself with troops near the border promising victory.  

Israel pounded Gaza with more airstrikes following the Oct.7 rampage by Hamas gunmen who killed 1,400 Israelis, as British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak followed US President Joe Biden with a visit to Israel to demonstrate Western support for the war against Hamas terrorists.

Troops were not expecting to enter Gaza while foreign ministers were visiting.



European Parliament Calls For Hamas To Be ‘Eliminated,’ Urges Release Of Hostages

The European Parliament on Thursday (19th) called for the Hamas terror group to be “eliminated” in a scathing rebuke of its devastating onslaught on southern Israel on October 7.

In a non-binding resolution passed 500-21, the body demanded the “unconditional release” of hostages held in Gaza, blasting their kidnappings as a war crime while expressing sympathy for civilian victims on both sides of the conflict.

The parliament “condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the despicable terrorist attacks committed by the terrorist group Hamas against Israel and expresses its support for the State of Israel and its people, and reiterates that the terrorist organization Hamas needs to be eliminated.”

War erupted after Hamas’ October 7 massacre, which saw at least 1,500 terrorist burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air, and sea, killing some 1,400 people and seizing over 200 hostages of all ages and several nationalities under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.

The vast majority of those killed, as gunmen seized border communities. were civilians – men, women, children and the elderly.  Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 260 were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists in what was highlighted by many as “the worst massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust.”

In the 13 days since, Israel has responded with an intense bombing campaign.  Israel says its offensive is aimed at destroying Hamas’ infrastructure, and has vowed to eliminate the entire terror group, which rules the Strip.

Israel has vowed to eradicate Hamas, and says it is targeting all areas of Gaza where Hamas operates, while seeking to minimize harm to civilians.

The EU includes Hamas on its terror blacklist, but it has been removed several times in the last decade as the result of court rulings and appeals.



Former IDF Commander: Gaza War Could Take 6-8 Months

The former commander of IDF’s Gaza Division says ground operation into the Hamas-ruled enclave won’t be measured in days or weeks but months.

Following President Joe Biden’s visit on Wednesday (18th), a former senior commander said he was heartened that America is on Israel’s side in the current war, while predicting that a ground operation in the Gaza Strip will take at least half a year.

“The United States is expecting us to destroy Hamas,” said Major General (res.) Gadi Shamni, former commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division and a former military attache to the US.

Even without this greenlight from the US, Shamni said, Israel should not stop the war until “Hamas is utterly beaten… and Gaza demilitarized.”

Although Shamni said a ground operation in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip would be “complex,” he maintains that the IDF has the “combat soldiers, the weaponry, the fighting spirit, and the determination” to win.  He anticipates a few weeks for the Israeli Army to take control of Gaza.

Once this is accomplished, the former Gaza Division commander thinks it will take a further six to eight months for the IDF to kill off enemy forces.  They must also capture and jail “thousands” of Hamas troops for use as “bargaining chips” to free the approximately 200 Israeli hostages being held in Gaza.  This can only be accomplished with a ground war, Shamni said.  “There is no choice…the IDF must move forward with full force.”

After all the hostages are returned and the war has ended, Israel will decide about the reconstruction of Gaza, and whether or not the Palestinian Authority should return to power there, he said.

The Major General maintains that the IDF will also need to defeat Hezbollah in the north, as well as take control of the West Bank.  Things are worse now at the Lebanese border than they were before the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war, he said.  Shamni feels that diplomacy will not work with Hezbollah, but they must be pushed back by force.



Israel’s Iron Beam: A New Era In Defense Technology

Israel is set to revolutionize defense capabilities with the deployment of a cutting-edge laser weapon system known as the ‘Iron Beam.’  This system, which was not expected to enter service for several more years, is being fast-tracked into active combat service.

The Iron Beam system is designed to act as the short-range component of the Israeli integrated missile defense system.

It is capable of shooting down incoming threats such as rockets, drones, artillery, and mortar shells.  This new technology is expected to significantly strengthen Israel’s air defense capabilities against various threats.

The Iron Beam system uses a fiber laser to destroy airborne targets.  It can operate by itself or integrated as part of an air-defense system.  The moment the surveillance systems identify a threat, it is tracked by vehicle platforms and eliminated.

One of the main advantages of using a direct energy weapon like the Iron Beam over conventional missile interceptors is the low cost per shot.

The cost of each interception using the Iron Beam is estimated to be around $2,000 per shot, covering all expenses.  This is in stark contrast to the $100,000 to $150,000 per interceptor firing costs associated with traditional systems.

The Iron Beam has a range of up to 4.3 miles and also has the ability to target and take down unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).  It will be the sixth element of Israel’s integrated missile defense system, along with Arrow 2, Arrow 3, David’s Sling, and Iron Dome.

In 2023, it was reported that Iron Beam’s energy levels could possibly reach 100 KW or more, and the defense system could focus on a beam the size of the diameter of a coin at 6.2 miles. 

In conclusion, Israel’s new Iron Beam system represents a significant advancement in defense technology.  Its potential for strengthening air defense capabilities, combined with its cost-effectiveness and impressive capabilities, make it a game-changer in modern warfare.



Sickening Anti-Israel Bias In The West – Allister Heath

• We have just been subjected to a grotesque masterclass in misinformation, moral inversion, anti-Semitic hate-mongering and hypocrisy.  Within minutes of Hamas claiming, with zero proof, that Israel had bombed a hospital, the world erupted into instant, unequivocal condemnation of the Jewish state.

• The utter certainty with which the allegations were repeated on the broadcast media, the uncritical acceptance of the vilest propaganda from terrorists, the willingness to attribute the worst possible motives to a tiny democracy fighting for its survival: it was a chilling spectacle – the successful whipping-up of a global lynch-mob.

• Millions of people in Britain, Europe, America and the Middle East knew – they just knew – that Israel must have bombed the hospital, that Hamas’ claims must be true.  The extreme irrational demonization of Israel is the new blood libel of our times.  This allergic reaction to Israel is so acute it can only be explained as the current iteration of the world’s oldest hatred – anti-Semitism.

• The same people who spent days claiming that the massacre and incineration of babies by Hamas was “unverified,” who conveniently ignored the fact the murderers had live-streamed their atrocities – these very same people all immediately jumped to judgment.  Hamas’ word was enough.  No proof was needed.  The bias, the lack of objectivity, points to an abhorrent, endemic culture of anti-Semitism among swathes of the West’s cultural elites.

• Anybody who understands anything about Israel, about the Israel Defense Forces’ legal apparatus, about the values of its people, knows that it is more committed to a clean war than almost any other democracy, let alone all the tyrants and fanatics that surround it.

• There is such a thing as a just war, one conducted for the purposes of self-defense, even one that requires invading another country and fighting street by street until total victory is assured.  It is what happened in the Second World War, when the Allies liberated Europe, and in myriad other conflicts, though Israel would be far more restrained than most Western armies ever were.

The writer is editor of the Sunday Telegraph