News Digest — 12/12/23

Netanyahu: ‘First We’ll Win In The South, Then We’ll Deal With The North’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participated Monday (11th) in the discussion of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee and referred to the continuation of the war against Hamas and the possibility that another front would open in the north.

“First of all we will win in the south and then we will deal with the north.  As a first step, we will push Hezbollah beyond the Litani River and later we will also have to take care of the organization itself.  If we open two fronts we can find ourselves not winning decisively in either of them,” Netanyahu stated.

He also explained that Israel must bring humanitarian aid to Gaza so that the military operation against Hamas can continue.  “If there is humanitarian collapse in Gaza – I will not be able to manage this campaign,” he said.

He also referred to the role the US has played and the attempts to pressure Israel to take the war in specific directions.  “We are exerting counterpressure back in the US and in the relationship with the administration also through prime time interviews.  There it’s not like it is in the studios here – there they let you talk.”

In his opinion, the Palestinian Authority cannot in any way be considered to be a solution for Gaza the day after the war.  “Oslo was the mother of all sins.  The difference between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority is only that Hamas wants to destroy us here and now, while the Palestinian Authority wants to do it in stages.  We cooperate with them against Hamas when it serves their interest and ours up to a certain limit.  We decided a few months ago that we don’t want them to collapse so that Hamas does not rise up in Judea and Samaria as well.”

Netanyahu said that the State of Israel will have sole responsibility for security in Gaza the day after the war.   “Only the State of Israel will be responsible for the demilitarization of the Strip.  The Gulf countries will invest in reconstruction and we will have to build an entity that does not want to destroy us, that will manage the civil administration there.  We will allow anyone who wants to go out to do so.  Today, Hamas does not allow this.”



IDF Hit Hezbollah Targets Via New Intelligence–Based Targeting Method

IDF Northern Command Chief Maj.-Gen. Uri Gordin is spearheading a new approach to targeting terrorist compounds that serve as launch points for Hezbollah attacks on Israel.  Through meticulous gathering, the IDF identifies these areas and systematically launches accurate attacks on the infrastructure that the Shiite terrorist organization has built over the years.

Notably two specific locations, Kurin and Aita al-Shayib, situated about a kilometer north of the Lebanese border near Shtula, were targeted based on intelligence from the Intelligence Division and Northern Command.

By leveraging the collaboration between the Israel Air Force and ground forces, the IDF successfully located and attacked Hezbollah’s infrastructure in these areas.  Security officials emphasize their commitment to providing precise treatment to any area used to launch attacks on Israel.

Have the IDF strikes on Hezbollah been effective?

According to security sources, the IDF’s relentless efforts have resulted in the deaths of over a hundred Hezbollah terrorists since the beginning of the conflict.  To conceal the true extent of their losses, Hezbollah has resorted to labeling deceased individuals as “disconnected.”  The IDF’s heavy firepower has made it increasingly challenging for Hezbollah operatives to locate the bodies of their fallen comrades.

Despite this, the IDF plans to continue targeting Hezbollah’s infrastructure in response to ongoing rocket launches, infiltration attempts, and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles into Israeli territory.

Sources within the security system indicate that the Israeli government will not wait for the political process mediated by the United States, France, and the United Nations between Israel and Lebanon.  Instead, the IDF will proactively work towards removing Hezbollah from the border. 



Minister Of Defense: ‘Gaza Operation Success Will Affect Judea and Samaria

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, on Monday, (11th) held a situation assessment at the Central Command together with the commander Yehuda Fox, Major General (ret.) Amir Abulafia, commander of the Judea and Samaria division, Brigadier General Avi Bluth, commander of the command, Brig.Col. Roi Shitrit, head of the Civil Administration, Brigadier General Fares Atila, and representatives of the Shin Bet and Border Police. 

Gallant received an overview of the defense operations in the communities and roads throughout Judea and Samaria and the operational activities being carried out to eliminate the terrorist forces in the refugee camps, the confiscation of weapons and the thwarting of the terrorist infrastructure.

He emphasized that “the main goal is to preserve the quiet in the area alongside exacting a significant price from the terrorists and making every effort to support the IDF’s operation in Gaza.”

The Minister of Defense thanked Lt. Col. Avi Belot, who will finish his post as commander of the Judea and Samaria division this week, for his work to strengthen security and counter-terrorism throughout the area.

“In assessing the situation, I closely follow the great efforts that are being made here day and night to fight terrorism and protect the civilian population.  The IDF is working in the refugee camps to prevent anyone who tries to initiate a terrorist attack.  This operation is carried out by regular and reservist personnel in close cooperation with the IDF, the Border Guard and the General Security Service, in an impressive, precise, and high-quality manner,” Gallant said.

He added, “This whole arena is secondary to the main effort we are carrying out in Gaza.  Similar to what is happening in the north.  We have no interest in escalating the situation in both the north and here, and are making every effort to prevent it.  The forces here are doing their job well, it is very important that Judea and Samaria remain quiet, in order for us to be able to complete our mission in Gaza, eliminate and eradicate Hamas, remove it from its military and governmental capabilities and bring about the desired results there.  When it becomes clear what the IDF did in Gaza, this will reflect both on Judea and Samaria and on all other places.”



In First: IDF Airdrops Supplies To Soldiers In The Gaza Strip

In recent days, the IDF airdropped about 7 tons of supplies to hundreds of troops currently engaged in combat in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip.

The operation, dubbed a “Gift from the Skies,” was carried out through the use of a Shimshon (Super Hercules) aircraft from the 103rd Squadron.  The equipment was parachuted into the western regions of khan Yunis, where the territory is relatively broad.

The IDF stated that “Self-Driven Logistics” is an advanced operational system that facilitates precise airdrop of supplies, autonomously guiding itself to ground forces with accurate navigation capabilities.  This marks the first operational use of this system and the first operational airdrop since the Second Lebanon War.

Traditionally, the military highlighted that one of the unique operational capabilities of the 98th Division is its ability to operate independently in situations where ground supply is not feasible.

“A unique aspect of the 98th Division is the ability to provide logistics even when there’s no direct land access,” a senior officer said.  “We know how to reach our forces by air, sea, or any means necessary.  We will operate and do whatever it takes to ensure our troops have everything they need to decisively eliminate Hamas.”

It was discovered that Hamas is now using female terrorists as it continues to battle in Khan Yunis, and as the fight intensifies.

Dozens of terrorists have been eliminated in the fierce fighting in Khan Yunis, and the elite IDF 98th Brigade identified a new alarming trend – the deployment of women as terrorists, serving in roles as observers and carriers of explosive devices.



Freed Bedouin Hostage Said Hamas Kidnapped Family ‘Even Though We Are Arabs’

Bilal Ziyadne, 18, a bedouin hostage freed along with his sister, Aisha described how Hamas kidnapped his family even though they were Arabs.

He recounted to Channel 13, “I told them we were Arabs.  They said to us even though we’re Arabs, they-re kidnapping us.”

Bilal and Aisha are the only two members of their family who have been freed so far.

Hamas also kidnapped Bilal’s older brother Hamza and his father Yousef, who are still being held in Gaza.

Bilal reported that during his captivity, he and his sister had no idea there were other hostages taken.

The Bedouin family members were treated better than the Israeli hostages because the family members were kept together, were given mattresses, blankets, and pillows to sleep on, and were given “normal food – bread, beans, tomatoes, falafel, things like that.”

Freed Israeli hostages have reported being separated from relatives, kept in dark tunnels, and sleeping on cold, hard floors with only meager rations of pita and rice and salty, sandy water to drink.

Bilal said the Ziyadne family feared airstrikes more than the Hamas terrorists and didn’t realize the seriousness of the conflict. “We didn’t think that the war would take that long.  It felt like such a long time – we prayed to be freed.”

The four members of the Ziyadne family were taken hostage when they were working on Kibbutz Holit.

One relative, Abdul Ziyadne, 29, was killed by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7th when he was camping on Zikim beach, and his body had been shot so many times that it looked as if it had been “smothered” by bullets.

Another relative, Yosef Ziyadne, 48 showed heroism when he rescued 31 Nova music festival attendees into his 14-seater minivan and managed to escape Hamas gunfire.



The UN’s Anti-Israel Bias Must Be Addressed – Amb. Tzipi Hotovely

• This year, the UN General Assembly has adopted 15 resolutions singling out Israel for criticism.  All other countries in the world combined have had six resolutions passed against them, with just one resolution each condemning Iran, North Korea and Syria.

• The Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres,  invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter to call for a ceasefire at a time when Hamas still has significant military capabilities.  Making any such call is like saying to the Israelis that you do not mind if Oct. 7th happens again.  Israel has no other choice than to take this threat seriously.  Indeed, we are obligated to, under international law, in order to protect our citizens.

• The current war between Israel and Hamas is tragic.  It is a war that we did not want, and a war we did not start.  Hamas made the choice to murder, rape, behead, torture and mutilate over 1,200 innocent people on Oct. 7.  We are fighting a war of self-defense.

• Yet on Oct. 27, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that did not even mention the atrocities committed by Hamas nor the legal right that Israel has to defend itself.  

• Widespread torture and abuse of Israelis continues in Gaza.  There are still 137 hostages – men, women, children and pensioners – being held illegally inside Gaza, each constituting a war crime committed by Hamas.  The thought of what they are going through should frighten us all.  Every second counts while our 137 hostages remain in Hamas captivity.

• UN-funded schools, meanwhile, have allowed anti-Semitism to flourish.  Their textbooks teach Palestinians to hate Jews, glorifying jihad and martyrdom.  These same buildings are also used by Hamas terrorists for military purposes.

• Sadly, the UN long ago abandoned its commitment to the universal application of human rights, evidenced by its glaring double standards applied to Israel.

The writer is the Ambassador of Israel to the United Kingdom.