News Digest — 10/24/23
French President Emmanuel Macron Arrives In Israel
In a push to prevent a regional escalation with Iran, French President Emmanuel Macron landed in Israel on Tuesday (24th) for a one-day solidarity visit.
Macron met with the families of the victims of Hamas’ October 7 infiltration into southern Israel in which over 1,400 civilians and soldiers were killed and another 222 were taken hostage.
“We are bound to Israel through mourning,” he told the families.
After the meeting, he tweeted that 30 of the dead held French citizenship as did nine of the missing. Macron then met separately with Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
His itinerary included meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister Benny Gantz, and former prime minister Yair Lapid.
Macron was also scheduled to travel to Ramallah where he will meet with Palestinian Authority officials.
Macron arrived in the country as Israel and the US are concerned that the Hamas war will develop into a two-front war that would include the Iranian proxy group Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border.
At a Foreign Press Center briefing US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that Iranian proxy groups “like Hamas and Hezbollah and militia groups in Iraq and Syria” have over the weekend attacked “some of US facilities and our troops, as well as our diplomats.”
“I can tell you that we are certainly not blind at all to what Iran is doing,” Kirby said.
Greek Prime Minister: ‘Israel Can Count On Our Support And Our Help’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Monday (23rd) with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu stated: “Prime Minister my good friend Kyriakos, it’s so very good to see you here. I always say the best thing about standing with Israel is standing in Israel. And you’re doing that. I appreciate the solidarity of you, your government, and the people of Greece at this darkest hour. It’s a battle against civilization. It is civilization against barbarism. We’re on the side of civilization. We have to unite, all together, against Hamas, which is ISIS.”
Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis stated, “Dear Bibi, I come here not just as an ally, but as a true friend. What happened was truly horrible, and we, from the very first moment, defended and supported the right of Israel to defend itself in line with international law. And we drew a very clear distinction between Hamas and the Palestinian people. We will continue to be able to support you and hope that whatever happens will be without too much of a humanitarian cost. But you can count on our support and our help.”
The Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Director of the National Security Council, the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, the Prime Minister’s Military Secretary, the Prime Minister’s Foreign Policy Adviser, and the Greek Foreign Minister, Minister of State, Diplomatic Adviser, and Ambassador to Israel also attended the meeting.
Analyst: This is How Hamas Is Delaying The Ground Invasion
Channel 12 News military analyst Nir Dvori believes Hamas is trying to delay the ‘ground incursion’ by releasing hostages bit by bit.
“Is this reasonable,” Dvori asked. “How do we look in the eyes of our neighbors in the region? Israel needs to be leading processes, not being led.”
Dvori stressed, “We need to defeat [them], all the options are bad, but the question is, to where are we headed?”
On October 7, 1,500 Hamas terrorists and 1,400 Gazan “civilians” infiltrated Israel, taking over key posts and entering Israeli communities massacring families, beheading babies, raping women and girls, burning homes, and plundering their victims’ belongings. At the same time 222 Israelis were taken hostage and taken to Gaza.
Earlier this week, Hamas released a mother and daughter who hold dual citizenship and who live abroad, and on Monday night (23rd), the terror group released two additional women, both elderly, whose husbands are still being held hostage in Gaza.
Nasrallah Remains Silent, While Thousands Flee Southern Lebanon
The exchange of fire at the Lebanon-Israel border between the IDF and Hezbollah terrorists, as well as local Palestinian terror groups, continued on Monday (23rd). The IDF shot down a Hezbollah UAV over Acre that entered Western Galilee from the sea, and its forces attacked targets across the border. Since the start of the fighting in Gaza, more than 29 Hezbollah terrorists have been killed according to the Iran-backed group, while residents of south Lebanon flee north to avoid harm.
Israel estimates Hezbollah’s fatalities to be around 40. Lebanese sources have also reported an additional 11 casualties among the Palestinian terror groups, alongside four civilians who lost their lives in the crossfire.
In recent days, tensions on the Lebanon border have escalated, despite the warning messages sent by the United States to Hezbollah and its patron, Iran. These warnings included the deployment of significant naval forces near Israel’s coast. Now, the looming question is whether Hezbollah will opt to open another front in a full-blown war as Israel fights Hamas in the south or if they will maintain relatively low intensity clashes in the north.
Unnamed sources, purportedly close to Hezbollah’s strategic thinking, were cited in a Reuters report Sunday (22nd), saying that the current attacks are intended to keep Israeli forces engaged on the border but not necessarily to instigate a significant battle. One source described this tactic as the management of “small wars.”
Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, remains, for the most part, tight-lipped and in hiding, maintaining an air of mystery. Nasrallah suggested Sunday (22nd) that as the group’s leader, he is meticulously monitoring the developments in southern Lebanon and Gaza. He is directly overseeing the fighting against Israel with the field commanders.
Hezbollah’s spiritual leader, Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadullah said that “Nasrallah conveyed to the families of the martyrs that ‘all martyrs’ are his children.“
“Nasrallah is directly involved in the confrontations with the field commanders, and his absence from public appearances is part of the battle. When he sees the need, he will appear, “ Fadullah said.
Hamas Terrorists: We Were Told ‘Whoever Brings A Hostage Gets $10,000’
Israel’s Shin Bet and Police force jointly interrogated six detainees from Gaza who participated in the destruction and mass murder of October 7, 2023.
The footage from the interrogation was released on Monday (23rd) and selected clips were shown from six separate interrogations.
Each terrorist had a slightly different experience, but Israeli intelligence forces noted a number of common themes. All the Hamas agents were given explicit instructions to kill and kidnap civilians including the elderly along with women and children. While they did this, their commanders stayed behind in Gaza.
One of the terrorists told Israeli forces that they were told “whoever brings a hostage back to Gaza gets $10,000 and an apartment.”
They said the plan had been to take over the towns they attacked and hold positions there once they had finished killing and kidnapping the residents.
The video released by the Shin Bet and the police shows the various Hamas operatives going into extreme detail on their activities on the morning of Oct.7. “The instructions were to kidnap women and children,” said one. Another described an encounter with a dead body, saying: “Her body was lying on the floor. I shot her, and my commander yelled at me for wasting bullets on a dead body.”
They (Terrorists) made it clear that when it came to murder, they were not to distinguish between civilians and soldiers.
“When we finished,” another Hamas operative said, we burned two houses.”
He continued: “We went to another house, and took out a woman – an old woman.”
He then was asked if family members were used as human shields, and answered “yes.”
Another terrorist who was at Be’eri, told interrogators: “When I entered the town, I saw two (terrorists) on a motorbike take a woman about 65 on the bike.” “Where did he take her?” the interrogator asked. “To Gaza.”
The terrorists also described a variety of horrific activities including using smoke to force civilians out of their shelters and shooting several pets. Although the footage is heavily cut, many of their stories feature dead bodies lying on the ground and people crying and trying to run away.
At the end of the video, each of the Hamas agents were asked if what they did was permissible in Islam. They all answered the same way: “No, Islam does not permit the killing of women and children.”
Arab-Israeli Reservists Are Fighting Fake News In Arabic – Roy Rubenstein
During the current war against Hamas, Arab-Israelis who served in the Israel Defense Forces in a variety of roles have been recruited to the reserves to assist in the effort to inform the Arab world of the Israeli point of view.
Yahya Mahamid, 26, from Umm al-Fahm, who served in the Nahal unit, serves in the reserves as an IDF spokesman. “I prefer to serve where I am most useful. If they had told me I was more useful at the front, I would have gone there,” he says. Mahamid understands the difficulty he faces in explaining the Israeli side to the Arab world. “We are an iron dome in the cyber world,” he said.
Muhammad Kabiya, from a village in the Jezreel Valley, became a network star recently after he was interviewed by the BBC in Arabic and stated that the terrorist attack by Hamas on Oct. 7 is against Islam. “This is not the first time I have been interviewed by the BBC, and I always assume that it will not be easy and that the interviewer will not be pro-Israel,” he said. “But against all his questions I use my weapon – the facts. With them we always win because the truth is on our side.”
“I also receive support from Israeli Arabs – of course there are a few who attack, but the majority are in favor. This is happening because what Hamas did that Saturday was shocking, and shocked the whole world. Forget that they also murdered Arabs there, this goes against everything in Islam and every basic human standard.”
IDF: There Is No Humanitarian Crisis In Gaza
The IDF’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) office reported Sunday (22nd) that it has set up a mechanism to monitor the humanitarian situation in Gaza to avoid deterioration to a humanitarian crisis. On Saturday, (21st) 13 trucks containing medical supplies, 5 trucks containing food, and two trucks containing water entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing.
Hamas has prepared for the war for months, accumulating many resources which it chooses not to share with hospitals in need. Hamas owns a fuel reserve of 1 million liters. On Sunday (22nd) Hamas confiscated 50,000 liters of fuel from a private vendor. When it infiltrated Israel, Hamas destroyed 9 out of 10 power lines to Gaza.
There is no evidence of severe food shortage in supermarkets, despite some localized shortages. There are no reported shortages in UNRWA shelters. The list of medical supplies ‘demanded’ by the Gazans isn’t proportional to what is needed for a hospital in an emergency state, according to the expert opinion of the IDF medical corps.