News Digest — 11/27/23

Netanyahu Visits Gaza; Is First Israeli PM To Do So In Two Decades

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became the first Israeli head of state to travel to Gaza in two decades when he visited IDF troops stationed there on Sunday (26th) and was shown Hamas tunnels.

“We continue until the end – until victory,” Netanyahu said as he pledged to continue the Gaza war until Hamas is ousted from Gaza.

“Nothing will stop us.  We are convinced that we have the power, the strength, the will, and the determination to achieve all the war’s goals, and we will,” he said.

Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, destroying 21 settlements there, and handing over control of the territory to the Palestinian Authority.  Hamas forcibly seized control of Gaza in 2007 in a bloody coup, in which it expelled the PA’s Fatah party from the enclave.

Netanyahu’s visit to Gaza comes amid a four-day pause in the Gaza war which was sparked by Hamas’ infiltration of southern Israel, during which the terror group killed over 1,200 people and seized over 239 hostages.

The hostage deal that allowed for the four-day pause in exchange for the release of 50 hostages is set to expire at midnight Monday (27th), unless it is extended.

The IDF however, has remained in Gaza so that it does not lose any battleground. 

Netanyahu promised that all the hostages would be freed.

“We will make every effort to return our captives, and eventually we will return them all.” Netanyahu said as he stood with the troops, wearing a helmet and flak jacket.

“We have three goals for this war: eliminate Hamas, return all our captives and ensure that Gaza does not become a threat to the State of Israel again.”

He recalled that he had seen graffiti on a wall stating, “The Jewish People Live.”

Netanyahu said he wanted to extend the phrase to also state, “The Jewish People Live And Are Victorious.”



Minister Of Defense Yoav Gallant Conducts Situation Assessment Sunday

Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant on Sunday (26th) conducted a situation assessment in Division 210, near Mount Dov, together with the Division’s senior commanders.

Minister Gallant was briefed on the troops’ activities in the eastern area of the Lebanese and Syrian borders, including their efforts in air defense, thwarting firing squads, and exacting a price from Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations.

Upon completing the assessment, Minister Gallant expressed his appreciation to the commanders, soldiers, and reservists for their determined actions in defense of the northern communities and in thwarting terror operatives in the area.

Minister Gallant said: “Here, in the Lebanese eastern front, which also looks toward Syria, the forces are doing an excellent job.  The result is the injury and elimination of over 100 Hezbollah terrorists and the destruction of dozens of observation posts, warehouses, bunkers, and headquarters, and the retreat of Hezbollah forces from the front into the depths of Lebanese territory.”

He continued: “These are very impressive results.  The combination of all these tactical achievements will translate into a new situation, which will later enable the return of Israeli residents to the northern communities under completely different conditions than when we started this campaign.”

Yesterday (Saturday, 25th) I visited the forces in the Gaza Strip, in the depths of the territory, in order to study the situation and see the results of IDF activities.  We have someone to trust – the forces are alert, determined, and they have achieved excellent results.  Their achievements on the ground created the conditions necessary for the return of hostages over the past days,” said Gallant.

He added,” Every hostage that is brought home to the State of Israel is important to us – we will make every possible effort to bring them all home as quickly as possible.  We are committed to this – I am personally committed to it.”

“At the same time, the forces are organizing and preparing.  Last week, I directed the IDF to prepare for a return to high-intensity combat in Gaza.  We will return to fight and strike Hamas as soon as the temporary pause ends.  We are ready to complete this task, and we will know how to continue operating until the complete destruction of the Hamas terrorist organization, and until the return of the hostages to their homes,” concluded Minister gallant.



Palestinian Prisoners Swapped Are Criminals Unlike Israeli Hostages

As of Sunday night (26th), around 40 Israelis taken hostage were released, with approximately three times as many Palestinian prisoners being released in return – in addition to the temporary ceasefire between the sides.

But because the vast majority of the Palestinians being released are women or minors and all of the Israelis released are women or minors, many in the global media have lost sight of the fact that the Palestinians have all been convicted or charged of violent crimes, many terrorist crimes.

In addition, some of the Jewish minors are as young as babies and toddlers, whereas the youngest Palestinian due to be released is a teenager and most are above the age of 16.

Rajah Abu Kias of the West Bank, and connected with Fatah, was arrested when he was 16, on July 2, 2021 for opening fire on Jews.  Because he did not succeed in killing anyone and was a minor, he was given a lenient sentence of five years and two months in jail, before Israel added him to the list of releases.

Saadi Abu Adi of the West Bank and connected with Hamas, was arrested when he was 17 on April 2, 2023 and will turn 18 in March of 2024.  His arrest was for opening fire on Jews as well as throwing rocks and breaking traffic laws.  He was in pre-verdict detention pending the outcome of his trial.

Marah Bechir of east Jerusalem  and connected with Hamas, was arrested in 2015, at age 16 after she stabbed a Border Policeman, who survived.  She was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison.

Another prisoner to be released is Ahmed Marzouk, 18, arrested four months ago for assaulting police, arson, possession of weapons, and other charges.

Next, Amani Heshim, 37, was arrested in December 2016 and charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm, armed with knives and daggers.

Walela Khaled Fozi Tangi, 26, arrested in August last year was charged with attempted murder and possession of weapons and explosives.

A review of these releases and other prisoners due to be released which will reach 150 at the end of the first four days, and could reach 300 if the ceasefire is extended by several days, finds that a significant majority committed crimes which could have killed people, while the remaining majority supported or were involved in a terror group in some way.

The oldest Palestinian on the list is a 59-year-old woman.

The prisoners were released from Damon, Megiddo and Ofer Prisons.

The Justice Ministry published the list last week in anticipation of the deal with Hamas playing out.  Besides Hamas and Fatah, other prisoners are affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Those to be released were tried or charged in military and civilian courts depending on whether they were residents of the West Bank or east Jerusalem.



Israel Kills Senior Hamas Commanders In Underground Targeting, Hamas Confirms

Hamas confirmed on Sunday (26th) that the IDF killed the commander of its Northern Brigade, Ahmad Al Ghandour, and of its Rocket Division, Ayman Siam.

The military reported during the night that a total of five senior Hamas officials were killed, with the targeted assassinations occurring before the ceasefire began on Friday morning (24th).

Walla has reported that their bodies were taken out of the ruins of a tunnel, a fact that could mean that this was the first underground elimination of terrorists.

“Al Ghandour (Abu Anas) is a member of the military council and the commander of the North Brigade,” Al Qassam Brigades said in a statement published on their Telegram channel.

A senior member of the terrorist organization, Ghandour had been in his position for at least 18 years, and was a key figure at the top of the organization.  The senior official was responsible for many terrorist attacks carried out against Israelis.

Siam was saved from several assassination attempts, both in 2009, when his home in Jabaliya was bombed and in 2014.  In his previous role, he had served as the commander of Hamas’ artillery unit.



Hamas Executes Three West Bank Palestinians For Spying For Israel

Two Palestinians were murdered in the city of Tulkarm and another was murdered in Jenin in the West Bank on Friday (24th) under suspicion of spying for Israel.

Many people had either participated or watched the event and took very graphic photos and videos documenting the murders, which can be seen on X, formally Twitter.

The two that were murdered in Tulkarm were 31-year-old Hamza Mabarech and 29-year-old Azzam Joabra, according to N12.  A Palestinian mob could be seen in the videos abusing the bodies and hanging them on an electric pole as crowds surrounded the area, screaming, “You traitors” N12 reported.

Hamas’ military wing in the West Bank published a hard document of the two Palestinians who were executed, which was later revealed to have been done by a firing squad, KAN reported.

The document confirms the charges that the two Palestinians were accused of collaborating with Israel.  They were hanged after their murder on an electric pole with crowds surrounding the place.

The two were also accused of providing information to the IDF and Israeli intelligence, about wanted individuals.

There were no reports about the  Palestinian executed in Jenin.



After Sweeping Dutch Elections, Geert Wilders Declares ‘Jordan Is Palestine’

Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, head of the Freedom Party (PVV) which swept last week’s legislative election – declared Saturday (24th) that “Jordan is Palestine.”

The statement implies that the Palestinians should be relocated to Jordan and not be granted their own state, as proposed by many world leaders, with a capital in east Jerusalem.

Wilders, who heads the largest party in The Netherlands and is often referred to as “The Dutch  Donald Trump” was condemned for his post on X by a number of Arab governments.

The Palestinian MInistry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates responded, “Geert Wilders’ comments are not only offensive but also dangerous.  They deny the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and their own independent state.”

The Ministry demanded that the Dutch government condemn Wilders’ post and added his statements amounted to “a call to escalate the aggression against our people and a blatant interference in their affairs and future.”

Jordan’s Foreign Minister also reacted fiercely to Wilders’ comments, ”Jordan rejects any proposal that undermines the rights of the Palestinian people or their quest  for an independent state.”

He continued, “We remain committed to a two-state solution with east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, in accordance with international consensus.”

Wilders, while sparking the ire of many in The Netherlands and abroad, has expressed a consistently pro-Israel position and has in the past encouraged further expansion of settlements in Judea and Samaria.

After the October 7th attacks, he displayed an Israeli flag beside the Dutch flag and criticized  the Dutch government for not doing more to deal with pro-Hamas sentiment.

Despite the controversy over some of Wilders’ remarks, it appears that The Netherlands, like many other countries such as Argentina, are seeing a political shift to the right.

In early elections on November 22, 2023, Wilders’ Freedom Party emerged as the largest in the Dutch Parliament.



Female IDF Tank Crew Ran Down Hamas Terrorists On Oct 7th

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 12, IDF soldiers who were part of a company of all women tank operators in the Caracal light infantry battalion said that on the morning of Oct. 7, they left their base on the Egyptian border and drove north as fast as they could in tanks and an armored Humvee.  As they approached Kibbutz Holit, Michal, an armored crew commander, said: “We started firing bunker busters at the terrorists that were up close, and then mortar shells at those further away.  I could see the hits, I saw them fall down.”

Another commander, also called Michal, said that at Kibbutz Holit, “We saw terrorists everywhere, and I told the driver – just run them down.”

Col. Shemer Raviv said the female armored crews battled terrorists for 17 hours straight on that day.  “When the tanks arrived, they broke up the battles….The terrorists understood they could either run or they would die.  And the girls in those tanks, the warriors, with three tanks at that point in the attack, they fought in a most impressive way….Thanks to their actions in that area, we prevented the attack from moving further south.”

A commander identified as Tamar said, “You keep saying ‘heroines’ and ‘historic.’…I don’t feel like a hero.  I feel like I’m a soldier that was given a job, and I did my job.  I think anyone would have done that.”  Hagar, an officer said, “You think about the civilians trapped in their homes and the people that needed us.  You understand that there is no room for fear.”