News Digest — 12/13/23

IDF Recovers Bodies Of Hostage Eden Zacharia And Soldier Ziv Dado From Gaza Tunnel

The IDF recovered from a tunnel in the Gaza Strip the bodies of Eden Zacharia, 28, of Rishon LeZion and Sgt. Maj. Ziv Dado, 36, from Rehovot, the IDF allowed for publication Tuesday evening (12th).  During the operation to recover the bodies, Master Sgt. (res.) Gal Meir Eisenkot and Master Sgt. (res.) Eyal Meir Berkowitz both were killed. and other soldiers were injured.

Zacharia was kidnapped from the Nova music festival at Kibbutz Re’im on October 7, where she was with friend Ofek Kimchi, 23, who was murdered.  Her mother Orin, said Tuesday evening (12th) that her daughter is no longer alive.

“Eden, my love, may your memory be blessed,” she wrote in a Facebook post.

Dado was kidnapped and fell while serving as a logistics officer in the 51st Battalion of the Golani Brigade, and to this day he has been recognized as a “fallen soldier in captivity.”

After an identification procedure carried out by medical officials and military rabbis, together with the National Center of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir and the Israel Police, representatives of the IDF and the police informed the families that the bodies had been recovered and returned to the territory of the State of Israel.

The bodies were recovered from the Gaza Strip and brought to Israel by the IDF in an operation of Unit 504 in the Intelligence Division and Brigade 551.

“We share in the grief of the families and will continue to support them,” the IDF said in a statement.  “Our national mission is to locate the missing and return all the hostages home.  We are working together with security agencies, and with all intelligence and operational means in order to return all of the hostages home.”

A few days after October 7, Eden’s mother said that “when the alarms started, we asked in the family Whatsapp  group if everyone was okay, and Eden managed to answer that she and Ofek were on their way back to Ofakim.  Then she spoke on the phone with her dad and said, ‘They are shooting at us, it’s close.’  After that we weren’t able to reach them and we drove and searched the whole area where they were, and we didn’t find anything, not even the car.”

Dado’s funeral was held on October 25th at the military cemetery in Holon, after he was declared missing for 17 days.  

Stav, his wife told Mynet  after his death about October 7: “We were home in Rehovot with our daughter Mia around 6:30 am.  There were alarms.  I woke up.  Ziv was already awake with Mia – and we entered the secure room.”  According to his wife, “at 7:38 am –Ziv  got in the car.  He was really in a hurry.  His eyes were fixed like, ‘Here is an operation, that’s what I’m serving for,’ and he left.”



‘Call Sinwar For Ceasefire’: Israeli Envoy Shows Hamas Chief’s Number At UN

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan held a sign showing the phone number of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar’s Hamas office at a United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting on Tuesday (12th).

“You want a real ceasefire?” Erdan asked as he admonished the members of the UNGA as he held up a sign depicting Yahya Sinwar’s office phone number and told them to ask him directly, “as Sinwar and Hamas bear the true responsibility for the current conflict.”

“Call…and ask for Yahya Sinwar.  Tell Hamas to put down their arms, turn themselves in, and return our hostages.  This will bring a complete ceasefire that will last forever,” said Erdan.

The United Nations General Assembly called for a Gaza ceasefire Tuesday (12th), in a 153-10 vote, with 23 countries abstaining hours after US President Joe Biden warned Israel it was losing support for its campaign to oust Hamas.

The resolution, the second of its kind since the war began on October 7, was greeted with applause.

The United States and Israel opposed the measure, as did Austria, the Czech Republic, Guatemala, Liberia, Micronesia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, and Paraguay.

The UN Security Council had already met over the weekend at the request of the organization’s Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, and discussed the war in the Gaza Strip.  The vote on the resolution for a humanitarian ceasefire fell during the same debate after the US vetoed the proposal.  97 UN member states had voted in favor of an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.



Gallant: Northern Gaza Is On The Verge Of Collapse

On Tuesday (12th), Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant held an operational situation assessment in the Division 162 headquarters, together with the Division’s commander, Brig. Gen Itzik Cohen.  Minister Gallant was briefed on the division’s operational progress, particularly on combat in the northern region of the Gaza Strip and in fighting Hamas terrorists both above and underground.  Following the briefing, the minister joined the troops in lighting Hanukkah candles.

Minister Gallant revealed that among the dozens of Hamas members who surrendered, the IDF located the two brothers of Ahmed Randor, Hamas’ Northern Brigade Commander in Gaza, who was eliminated.  During interrogations, the brothers provided information about Hamas activities.  Minister Gallant said: “After the IDF eliminated Randor, the Northern Gaza Brigade Commander, his brothers surrendered and now they are providing information to the IDF and ISA.”

“Following the situation assessment, I can conclude that Gaza City and the northern area of the Gaza Strip are on the verge of collapsing [in reference to Hamas’ infrastructure].  This Division eliminated hundreds of terrorists on the eastern flank – in the area of Jabaliya and its surroundings.  Hundreds of terrorists have surrendered.  These operations are conducted above ground, but our troops also descend deep underground to locate Hamas bunkers, command centers, communication rooms, and weapon storages.”

“These activities are very serious – you were very determined and you have the results to show for it.  The Northern Brigade Commander in Gaza City, Randor, who was eliminated, was one of the terrorists we fought against.  His two brothers, terrorists in their own right, are currently being interrogated in Israel.”

“They [the terrorists] are already telling us about the murders conducted on October 7th, among other things.  We are expanding our achievements, and soon we will eliminate the entirety of Hamas’ infrastructure in Gaza City.”

“The fighting is ongoing – including in the south.  We need all the strength and determination of the nation of Israel for this war.  We are resilient.”

“On this Hanukkah holiday and every other day, the people of Israel are united.  We are united and determined to strike Hamas and destroy this evil organization.  We will achieve our goals – we will return the hostages and we will destroy the Hamas terrorist organization.”



Report: IDF Has Begun Pumping Seawater Into Hamas Tunnels In Gaza

The IDF has started an operation to flood Hamas’ underground tunnel network in the Gaza Strip with seawater, a report published Tuesday (12th) by The Wall Street Journal said.

The report which cites U.S. officials familiar with the Israeli military’s strategies, said the process could  be an effective way of countering tunnel operations.  Some officials have warned that it could have an environmental impact, with long-term consequences on the ground water quality of the Gaza Strip.

IDF Chief Herzi Halevi, in a statement last week, hinted at the effectiveness of this method, describing the flooding of the tunnels as “a good idea,” although he refrained from discussing the operations specifics.

Both the military and the Prime Minister’s Office have maintained a policy of not publicly disclosing details about their efforts to dismantle the tunnel infrastructure.

The IDF added two pumps to an existing set of five, US officials told the Journal.  These five original large pumps, installed north of the al-Shati refugee camp last month, are each designed to pump thousands of cubic meters of seawater into Hamas’ underground tunnels.

This method of tunnel flooding is not without precedent.  Egypt employed a similar strategy in 2015, using seawater to flood tunnels connecting the Gaza Strip with the Sinai Peninsula.  The Egyptian operation faced some backlash for allegedly causing damage to the soil in the affected areas.

Last week, journalist David Ignatius reported in The Washington Post that the IDF was considering the move.

The move would negate the need to risk soldiers’ lives by sending them into narrow and booby-trapped corridors.

“Water is a powerful force of nature – even more so when it is amplified by pumps.  One thing about tunnels is that they are vulnerable to flooding, even if they have elaborate drainage,” Ignatius wrote.

He stressed that no Israeli officials had confirmed such a plan, but added that Defense Minister Yoav Gallant had made the “cryptic” comment that “you need an industrial solution.”

Bombing hundreds of miles of underground passages may not be a particularly efficient method of killing terrorists, Ignatius noted.

Previous experience backs his theories up.  When the IAF destroyed miles of the so-called Gaza City “Metro” in a massive single attack during 2021’s Operation Guardian of the Walls, the pilots dropped some 450 missiles on 150 targets but the number of enemy combatants who died was in the dozens.



We Must Destroy Hamas Before Any Ceasefire – Maor Elbaz Starinsky

October 7, 2023, has become a day of infamy for the State of Israel.  Proportionately, the attack on Israel is the equivalent of more than a dozen Pearl Harbors.  No one could imagine America, or any other country in the world, suffering such a devastating, unprovoked attack and then accepting a ceasefire with the aggressor without first bringing the perpetrators to justice and ensuring that such an atrocity could never be repeated.

Calls for a ceasefire in Israel’s ‘just and forced-upon war against Hamas’ are calls that would give Hamas and Iran, a victory.  Hamas would emerge stronger, spreading greater terror across the region.  Their Iranian sponsors would declare their strategy a success, then plan, fund and sponsor similar atrocities for its proxies across the globe.  Moderate voices for peace and reconciliation will remain terrorized, with no choice but to continue capitulating to Hamas’ extreme ideology or face death at the hands of Hamas barbarians.

Israel cannot accept any ceasefire until Hamas’ ability to govern and act militarily against Israel has been destroyed to no less extent than the U.S. responded to Japan’s attack of Dec. 7, 1941, and al-Qaeda’s attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.  Until Israel is victorious, all good people must stand with the brave men and women of the Israel Defense Forces.  Our fight is the fight of all free people; it is the battle of good against evil.

The Writer is Consul General of Israel in Miami.



Israel Security Agency Chief: “We Are Determined To Complete Our Mission In Gaza” – Ben Caspit

• In November, Israel Security Agency chief Ronen Bar wrote to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, saying, “We are determined to complete our mission in Gaza.  All those who aspire to see a safer world should refrain from interfering or stopping us.”

• “During the activities of  Hamas on Oct 7, 2023, there was no respect for rights whatsoever.  The UN was founded to ensure ‘never again,’ anywhere in the world.  But on the day of the massacre, in October, it returned in full force.  Jews were brutally murdered, just for being Jews.  The IDF is an army that operates in accordance with the highest moral principles.  We do not act deliberately against civilians.”

• “Reality forces us to act in a civilian environment.  We are forced to do this by a terrorist organization that acts as a sovereign on the ground and kills civilians, Israelis, and Gazans alike, from the first day it was founded…. Yahya Sinwar himself was sentenced to five life sentences in Israel for murdering Palestinians, not Jews.  Gaza should be free from Hamas, not from Israel.  Hamas is ISIS.”

• “I heard your statements regarding the recent events in Israel and Gaza.  You set up a symmetry between the acts of cruelty and the violation of human rights between Israel and Hamas, and nothing could be further from the truth.  Crimes against humanity and war crimes were committed against Israel, Israelis and other nationalities.”

• “War crimes were committed when Hamas used hospitals as combat headquarters and humanitarian aid as a cover for terrorist operations.  The attempt to create a moral parallel between the terrorists of Hamas and the defense forces of the IDF is wrong and repulsive on a moral level.  There is no way to balance when you compare acts of murder nad torture of children and babies to the unfortunate but necessary suffering of civilians who are cynically used by Hamas as human shields.”

• This is not a war about ideology or religion, it is a fight between the good and the bad.  Israel stands on the first line, as the last line of defense, for the defense of the free world, standing between darkness and light, between barbarism and humanity.  We are the protective layer between those who mourn death and those who worship it.”