News Digest — 11/29/23

Liberman: ‘An Extended Ceasefire Means Victory For Hamas’

MK Avigdor Liberman on Wednesday morning (29th) responded to the extended ceasefire with Hamas.

“The Israeli government must not agree to an extended ceasefire with the Hamas terrorists, without reaching the goals of the war,” Liberman wrote.

LIberman also reiterated the goals of the war: “1. Release all the hostages.  2. Eliminate Hamas and the leaders of Hamas, in Israel and abroad.  Not one of them should die a natural death. 3. Complete destruction of all terror infrastructure within the Strip. 4. Throw Hezbollah back behind the Litani River, in accordance with UN Security Resolution 1701.

“An extended ceasefire, without meeting the goals of the war, will mean a victory for Hamas and the continuation of the Yahya Sinwar regime – something that will critically harm Israel’s deterrence.”

“No resident of the south or the north will return  home.  We must not agree to this.  We must defeat Hamas, we must win,” he concluded.



Chief Of Staff: IDF Is Ready Today To Continue Fighting

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said Tuesday afternoon (28th) that the return of the hostages is a silver lining and added that the IDF is ready to continue fighting.

“76 hostages have been returned to their homes so far,” Halevi said.  “Children, women, civilians and soldiers, who were kidnapped by Hamas, a cruel, merciless terrorist organization and not all of them are back yet.  Each one that returns is a great relief, but there is no relief in the fact that there are fewer left.  We will work to return them all.”

He also said: “The return of the hostages is a silver lining for all of us.  It is also another testimony to the results of significant military pressure and resolute ground operations, which created the conditions for the return of our civilians home.”

Regarding the end of the ceasefire, he said: “The IDF is ready today to continue fighting.  We use the days of pause as part of the framework to learn, strengthen our readiness and approve future operational plans.”

“In the last days, I met commanders and fighters who came from Gaza, after fighting with courage, determination and daring.  I told them – ‘You have brought many achievements, thanks to you, the hostages are returning home, and we have many more challenges ahead.’  I heard from them an equally important answer: “We want to fight until we bring back every single hostage.  This is how we operate!”

“We are preparing to continue fighting to dismantle Hamas.  It will take time, these are complex goals, but they are justified beyond measure.”  

“Today we are in the north of the country, and from here I want to address the residents of the north.  They have been evacuated from their homes for some time – I know how difficult the situation is, I know how uncomfortable the situation is and above all, it is filled with great uncertainty.  Earlier this morning, I met the heads of the authorities in the north.  I was very impressed by their leadership in this complex period.  Together we will ensure that the residents of the north return to a different, better and more stable security reality.”

In addition, he warned Hezbollah: “The IDF’s ground operations in Gaza City, a very dense and complex area, aim to achieve a worthy and necessary goal.  We will know, if necessary, to activate all these strengths in the north as well, in order to safely return the residents of the north to their homes, to their cities and to this beautiful and very important region.”

“I have met with our precious reserve soldiers in the north, south, center and inside the Gaza Strip.  Nearly eight weeks have passed since they left their lives and came to defend their home and country.  This deserves deep public appreciation.  I greatly appreciate it.  Their readiness and seriousness as well as their experience.  I send my thanks, great appreciation and support to their dear families – full partners in the effort to defend our home.  I know this comes at a cost.”

“Also, I have not met a single commander in the IDF since the beginning of the war, in which I did not see a heavy sense of responsibility.  Right now, everything is dedicated to fighting.  We will not stop until we restore security to the State of Israel,” the Chief of Staff concluded.



Hamas Attacks Israeli Forces In Gaza Amid Ceasefire Extension Efforts

Israeli forces in the northern Gaza Strip were targeted by three explosive devices in two separate incidents on Tuesday afternoon (28th) in violation of the ceasefire agreements between Israel and Hamas.

Additionally, shots were fired at Israeli forces in one of the incidents.  Several soldiers were lightly wounded in the attacks and IDF soldiers responded by firing at the sources of gunfire.  The IDF has stayed with the agreed-upon lines of the ceasefire, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit stressed. 

Shortly before the IDF statement about the incident, the spokesperson for Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades Abu Obeidah claimed that Israeli forces had committed a “clear violation” of the ceasefire in the northern Gaza Strip and that Hamas had “dealt with this violation.”

“We are committed to the truce as long as the enemy has committed to it, and we call on the mediators to pressure the occupation to adhere to all the terms of the truce on the ground and in the air,” said Abu Obeidah.

Palestinian media claimed that shortly after the reported incident, Israeli fighter jets were scrambled over the Gaza Strip.

The IDF was unsure initially whether the attack signaled an end to the temporary ceasefire, was an intentional test of limits and attempt by Hamas to pressure the IDF, or was a mistake undertaken by a rogue low-ranking Hamas or Islamic Jihad cell.



Why Sinwar Met With The Captives And What Is His Endgame? – Dana Ben-Shimon

There is no doubt that Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar has a good reason to be satisfied with the headlines that have been circulating in Israeli news and newspapers in recent days.  It’s exactly what he had hoped for.  For a man who speaks Hebrew fluently due to the many years he spent in Israeli prison, and closely follows every piece of information coming out of Israel, it is important to hear what is being said about him.

He listens and sees what is happening in the Israeli media, devouring every report and interpretation that emerges.  This helps him read Israel, and especially understand how Israel interprets him.  

The reports that he met with some of the Israeli captives in a hidden place and supposedly reassured them by saying, “You are protected here” are, in his view, designed to help him twice.  Firstly, this helps shed the reputation of a ruthless mass murderer and helps him gain some empathy after the demonization campaign against him,” and secondly, it presents him as someone who controls the events and manages things with a cool demeanor.

This drama, in which he suddenly appears in a basement and speaks with women and children in an authoritative voice, is like a scene taken right out of a horror movie.  For Sinwar, who seeks this action and enjoys it, it’s good for his reputation.

But along with that, he is not naive.  He knows that the attack on Oct. 7 has made Israel act like a madman and that this time things will be different in how it responds.  This means that he is also busy with survival, not necessarily of Hamas as an organization but of himself.  The fact that he has been hiding since the beginning of the war shows that he wants to survive but it can also be reversed, and the moment he sees an opportunity to come out to get another image of victory, he may do so.  Palestinian sources have described him as a “control freak,” and he may very well be that.

We have already seen that Sinwar knows how to manipulate well and is an expert in broadcasting confusing messages.  He would have preferred not to join the ranks of Hamas leaders and “the martyrs” who were killed by Israel, but on the other hand, he doesn’t care if it happens, say Palestinian sources.

In his view, he has already cemented his place in “Palestine history” as someone who hurt Israel and humiliated it in the harshest way since the establishment of the state.  What remains for him now is to delay as much as possible the “death penalty” that has already been imposed on him, and find a way to buy time during the lull in fighting.

Although he himself desires a long-term ceasefire with Israel and sees it as a convenient way to end the war, he does not give Israel the pleasure of having an easy task.  If he can disturb, abuse, and provoke in the meantime, why not?  From his perspective, it is even desirable.  Perhaps the only card left in his hands is the Israeli captives.  Therefore, as someone on borrowed time, it is not surprising that he continues to allow himself to taunt Israel and engage in endless harassment and provocation.



As If Israel Simply Woke Up One Morning And Chose To Attack Gaza – Alan Shatter

On Nov. 4, four weeks after Hamas’ barbaric, murderous assault on Israel, the Irish Times published a grotesque, fact-free letter by 620 Irish academics accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing and genocidal violence.  Any uninformed person reading the letter would have assumed Israel had simply woken up one morning and chosen to attack Gaza.

The 620 regarded the entirety of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza as occupied territory and called on “all universities in Ireland to immediately sever any existing partnerships or affiliations with Israeli institutions.”  Put simply, over 600 of Ireland’s academics and scholars proposed that all engagements between Irish and Israeli universities end until Israel ceases to exist and then they can be revived, which is something of an oxymoron.

Their call was fully aligned with the objectives of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Iran.  But in Ireland, outside of a few critical letters, no one cared.  It seems the academics’ perspective coincided with that of many Irish journalists and too many of Ireland’s politicians and general public.

Hamas’ obsessive commitment to Israel’s extermination and its consistent violent opposition to any permanent peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has brought nothing but disaster to both Israelis and Palestinians.  A more intellectually rigorous approach by the 620 would have been a call on Hamas to stop the rockets, release the hostages, and surrender to prosecution for their egregious war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The writer is a former Irish Minister for Justice, Equality & Defense,



On An Israeli Farm Near Gaza, Rescuing A Crop – Howard LaFranchi

Inside a 3-acre greenhouse less than 3 miles from the Israel-Gaza border, an army of volunteers snips red-ripe tomatoes from towering vines.  The city dwellers-turned-farmworkers say the day’s labor gives them a sense of solidarity with fellow Israelis in an area devastated by the brutal Hamas assault that killed 1,200 people on Oct. 7.

Within days of the Hamas rampage, a region that furnishes 75% of Israel’s domestically produced vegetables, 20% of its fresh fruit, and nearly 10% of its milk was deteriorating into a wasteland.  The thousands of migrant farmworkers who normally tended the fields, mostly from Thailand, had fled home.  Some were killed or taken hostage by Hamas.

In the greenhouse, Mati Fishbein, a real estate agent, said, “I was an officer in the army for 25 years.  I was the guy who delivered the message that your son had been killed in battle.  That same sense of service you get in the military, you’re seeing it here.  This is the power of the Israeli people.  In times of war we are trying to help each other.

Elizabeth Blum, a math teacher, said, “I was a peace activist.  I really believed in it.  But then the atrocities of Oct. 7 occurred.  Now I really don’t believe peace is possible.  I lost all trust in any person, and any desire for peace on the other side.  I’m done.”

Idan Alon, who works on the farm, says, “People have to feel secure.  They can’t do a good job with their farms or whatever work they do if they are worrying every day that their family might come under attack.  Unless they feel safe, Israelis won’t come back to the kibbutzim and the farming towns in the area, and the foreign farm workers won’t  return to Israel.”